The move to mobile for customer engagement is something most pundits have talked about. Your customer’s mobile device is the one thing they have with them all the time. Interestingly, even the trend towards Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) will make it even more true. You will be able to touch your customers whenever you want to. So, what should you be thinking about? First, rein in the crazy guy in the corner who is thinking about all the nefarious ways to exploit this.
You customer is inviting you in
The first step in this dance is your customer allowing your app on their phone. If you haven’t thought about how to effectively develop an app that is meaningful to your users, you need to. This is the new front lines of the customer engagement war. Give them some hook to get your app on their device and you have been invited into the foyer of their home.
Just like all guests, you need to respect their home
When you are in a friend’s home do you ask if you should take off your shoes? Of course you do. It’s the respectful thing to do. Same here. It also informs what your app should be for, actually. The respect you show for your customers is exhibited in your collection and use of information. Are you providing good value for the customer’s engagement? Do they get something more than just an advertising screen with a store locator? If not, you need to go back to the beginning of the app development and ask the why of what you are doing.
Provide good value in the form of incentives, special access, and contextual content. Ensure that the value exchange is fair and provide good notice of what information you are going to collect. This is where a recent trend towards more location aware functionality helps to inform what you are doing.
Be transparent, help your customer win and provide some connection between the real and virtual world. These are what Michael Hinshaw at CustomerThink puts out there in a recent article. He is spot on, as well as proving out two of my three legs of privacy. Location awareness allows you to get to the nirvana of “be there when they need you.”
“Be There When I Need You”
I have said before that in social a brand needs to be just like that friend who is ready to give good advice and information, but never intrudes on your life. Same here in the mobile space now that your app can know where it is. Helping your customer, if you are a bank, understand that buying that new big screen TV will hurt their savings for DisneyWorld might be one of those things. Think about the information and access the bank needs to deliver that advice.
That is what location awareness provides to brands and companies. The ability to deliver truly compelling advice and solutions to your customers. The problem is one of respect though.
Friends are a value-add, or they aren’t friends anymore
This is a selfish view of friends, I know, but here goes. Friends in your life give you something you didn’t have before. They are a value add to your life. When they give you advice, opinions or information you listen to it. The first time that they do this without your permission you let it pass. Maybe after a period of time you get tired of this and they stop being your friend because they pester you too much. Maybe not. If the value add of your friend exceeds that pain, you may have a higher threshold. Same with brands.
There are brands that have a greater latitude, but at the end of the day if the brand oversteps their welcome, they will quickly be shown the door. Your users will only use your app as much as they need to and no more at that point. You don’t want to be that app.
Think mobile first as you design new experiences
The days of taking your desktop experience and adapting for mobile are past. I propose that it has flipped. You should be designing for mobile first and then adapting for desktop. This isn’t just the user interface. It is thinking about what you can deliver to the customer through mobile as you whiteboard that experience. If you know location what context can you derive? Think about ways to keep your customers engaged through that channel. Here are some good thoughts on developing a personal engagement through mobile on the SAP blog.
It’s about the users
You need to effectively put your users at the center of your thinking. Think like your users. Think about how they will perceive what you are doing. They should be aware of what information you are collecting, why you are collecting it and also how you will protect it. These are table stakes in the mobile experience. If you are not willing to ante up to get in the game, get content with your current market share. It won’t get any bigger.