3 keys to architecting customer experiences that go beyond the desktop
Is your business thinking like a mobile consumer? Columnist Brian Solis details the questions brands should be asking themselves in our mobile world.
When you need to search for something online, in the moment, chances are you reach for the closest device to you: your phone.
This simple act is changing the game for marketers. Google recently announced that mobile search has overtaken desktop search, and while desktop isn’t going away anytime soon, mobile is introducing new customer search behavior that changes how we ultimately make decisions. As a result, the customer journey is being rewritten with every tap, pinch and swipe.
Though marketers are still largely operating in a desktop-first world, everything from discovery to consideration to action is playing out differently on smartphones and tablets. Mobile search not only fosters new behaviors but also creates heightened expectations. This is driving customers to rewrite their journey as they go.
To effectively engage connected customers, it’s imperative that marketers understand people’s demand for mobile-first experiences. This introduces a new set of design opportunities for marketers to re-imagine the buying process — a process that includes what Google calls micro-moments, those small but critical windows when a customer demonstrates intent by reaching for their phone to act on a need in the moment.
Mobile experience architecture
Micro-moments are vital to decision-making among connected customers and thus vital to digital marketers/advertisers. Although UX and marketing may exist in your organization today, they now must work hand-in-hand to design for micro-experiences and journeys that are discoverable in the moment, relevant and optimized for a mobile world.
I call this mobile experience architecture, and it represents the future of customer experience. This is one of the greatest shifts in marketing since the dawn of social media and the internet before it.
These micro-moments are unraveling the traditional customer experience. In the process, these real-time mobile-first moments are uncovering an entirely new way to learn how customer behavior is evolving and everything that matters to them. All of this should be inspiring tomorrow’s architects to build a complementary infrastructure — a new digital architecture — that engages and guides buyers in a purposeful, authentic and useful (hopefully engaging) way.
Google found that in these micro-moments, customers focus their actions by intent, search based on context and desired outcomes, and expect everything to move at the speed of mobile. These behaviors are most often based on the following activities:
Designing a relevant and productive journey starts with becoming the mobile customer, seeing and feeling micro-moments as they do and uncovering new design cues that guide and introduce a relevant customer experience.
Then, you must design for intent, understand context and build for speed.
Design for intent
When someone picks up their mobile device, chances are they want to go, know, do, or buy right now. Whether in the form of searches, app interactions, mobile site visits, or even YouTube video views, these micro-moments happen constantly. In the UX world, this is referred to as Activity-Centered Design.
Intent is the actual need/interest — the primary signal. Marketers must understand all types of intent (including know, go, do, buy) and acknowledge the fact that intent is happening at all stages of the customer journey/funnel.
Context refers to time, location, device and other signals that give greater meaning to the user’s intent.
Consumers align with brands that create snackable, educational content that’s readily available to address the need/intent. For example, as Google highlights in its Micro-Moment Design Playbook, you should design differently for each type of customer scenario.
To determine how you should design, ask yourself these questions:
- Should you have a different presence strategy for I-want-to-know moments when someone is in your brick-and-mortar shop vs. solely online or far away? On a smartphone vs. at home on a desktop or a tablet?
- What do consumers want to learn about you? What’s your value proposition? And do you have snackable content on mobile that answers their questions?
- Do consumers want to visit you? Are you helping them find nearby locations and highlighting in-stock inventory on your mobile site/app and in mobile search results?
- What are users looking to do with your product (e.g., buy a car or home, recover from an injury)? Do you have how-to video content to support their efforts?
- Where are consumers buying your product? How can you support consumers who are buying from you in-store or while on the go? Are you empowering consumers to check you out in whatever way suits their needs, especially on mobile?
Build for speed
Customers believe that they should be able to access information or make a purchase at any given moment, whether they’re in-store, on mobile, reaching you via a call center or across devices.
Here, everything comes together. Intent and context inform the development of a mobile experience architecture that must perform to meet expectations of time, gestures and desired next steps or outcomes.
Here are some ways to expedite engagement and outcomes:
- Anticipate needs:
- What do you know and not know about your mobile customer (e.g., devices, preferences, expectations, desired outcomes)? Think intent + context.
- What is the key action users want to take? How long does it take to perform it?
- Which functions are absolutely necessary? What’s overkill? What’s irrelevant?
- Harness answers and information to common questions.
- Eliminate unnecessary or complex steps.
- Organize journeys around scenarios and outcomes, and optimize each moment based on expectations (Think “one-click” for everything).
- Design for native smartphone functionality (popular gestures, common behaviors and so on).
- Upgrade the back end to load fast, generate custom recommendations and facilitate intuitive steps and seamless transactions.
With mobile experience architecture, you facilitate and optimize important steps. Breaking down each of these areas will help guide mobile experience architecture by giving UX designers and marketers the ability to design with purpose.
Providing an optimized and engaging experience on your mobile site or app is the best way to encourage users to explore and interact with your content/products/people. The result is meaningful engagement in mobile environments that drives desired outcomes.