From the Experts: Ted Schadler from Forrester Chats About The Mobile Mind Shift

The Mobile Mind Shift: the expectation that I can get what I want in my immediate context and moments of need

The Mobile Mind Shift has reared its perky little head throughout our various blog posts and discussions here at Helpshift. This week, we decided to go straight to the source, and address the concept head-on with its creator: Ted Schadler. VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester, Ted co-authored The Mobile Mind Shift, and agreed to chat with us and discuss what this shift exactly entails for the future of business.

HS: Much of your work deals with “mobile moments”. Can you describe what these are, and how they affect customer service via mobile?

TS: A mobile moment is a point in time when somebody pulls out a mobile device to get something done in their immediate context and moment of need. Context is the sum total of everything you know about a customer so you can anticipate and deliver what they need before they even need it. Context includes location, device, preferences, transaction history, visitation history, and it includes what they’re doing in that moment.

Customer service is one of those areas that has been underinvested in for mobile enablement. Customer service should basically be about understanding the intent of the customer. If I can anticipate and understand someone’s intent, then I can route them to the right service as fast as possible. You have to really be paying attention. So a big part of the solution here is contextual relevance that’s driven off of big data analytics. The connection between insights and experiences is direct: you need insights to deliver contextual experiences.

There are a few techniques you need to adopt. How do you identify mobile moments of need? It starts with walking with your customer: there’s a lot of new research you need: ethnographic research, where you ask someone to keep track of what they’re doing; observational research, where you watch people and then ask them about their experience (Delta airlines does this, for instance, in airports); there’s behavioral research where you collect data off of devices so you know where customers spend their time; there’s survey research, where you ask people what their intent is; and finally, you can use focus groups to get specific understandings of what people are doing.

HS: So do you believe that at the heart of offering a great customer experience lies analytics?

TS: At the heart of knowing whether you’re being successful, lies intelligent analytics. At the heart of building a mobile centric company, though, that’s the bigger challenge. It’s not a technical challenge, it’s an organizational, and commitment, and funding and cultural belief system challenge. You need to believe that mobile is important. You need to show that what you’re doing will pay off– pay off in better self service, or higher satisfaction, or faster conversion, or offloaded call centers, or whatever the metric that is important to you, you need to show. That’s why you need analytics. But changing the way you operate and behave is going to be very difficult. We have 20 years of muscle memory and experience and investment doing the web status quo. And so to do the web mobile moments is going to require putting the customer first, putting the interaction first, being very directive. We need a different prioritization approach. It has to be reflecting what customers want. We call it the age of the customer. It’s driving digital transformations.

HS: You’ve mentioned the difference between mobile sites and web. Where do you see mobile heading in terms of sites vs apps?

TS: The move to mobile is not just inevitable and far along, but easy to expand. People are spending more time doing more things on their phones than ever before, and yet, they’re not using more apps. Forrester’s data has shown that people are comfortable in a small number of apps, and that, on average in America, people use 26 mobile apps on a daily basis. And what did they use last year? 26. And then you go, well what about millennials, don’t they use more apps? Millennials do use more apps: they use 28. Hardly any difference at all. And this has nothing to do with storage, it has to do with the fact that people only use apps for things that are really high value, high interest to them. So there’s this interest and importance factor that limits the mobile app. That does not limit the value of the mobile phone, though.

When you think about the web, there are roughly a billion presences on the web today, and when you look at the same data of mobile use of web, it’s growing. People use, on average, 52 different websites, which is up from a year ago. So twice as many destinations for mobile web as for mobile apps. And this is rising. The reason for this is:

  1. People want to get more done on their mobile device
  2. People are building better and better mobile web experiences. They are thinking about what we call mobile moments. They’re saying, “what can I do to help that person in the twenty seconds they’re gonna give me on that tiny little screen that they’re carrying around in their pockets?” We’ve made improvements in design, in navigation, in prioritization– there’s better mobile enabled search engine optimization (Google dropped that big bomb in April when they deprioritized mobile unfriendly sites). But now the risk is, people say “great, we solved the problem let’s move on”.

Making your site mobile-ready is step one. And everybody should be doing that as fast as they can. Step two, is a harder step. Step two is to really understand those mobile moments. What are people trying to accomplish in that specific moment that they come to you. The challenge for companies is that they haven’t built their websites for that. They might have done some lightweight behavioral personalization, like if you click on this you must be interested in it. Or they might have set up some preferences, so people say I want to see more like that. But in general, a website is a corporate catalogue. Well, people don’t really want a corporate catalogue. They just want what they want! And on a mobile device, they’re not going to spend a lot of time or effort to tell you what they want. They want you to know and put it in front of them. That requires a level of personalization and customization of experience that websites don’t do.

HS: So apps kind of have it easy, then, right? Since they’re starting from scratch?

TS: Exactly: when you build an app you’re starting for scratch. Building an app consists of: Identifying the mobile moments, designing the engagement, designing the experience, the layout, the service model, then engineering the solution, and building in the analytics so you can optimize. You identify, you design, you engineer, you analyze, and you do it again. That’s called the IDEA cycle. Companies need to embrace this iterative, agile, rapid, development process for mobile web in the same way they have for mobile apps. And that requires a wholesale change in their approach. They have to think and work differently.

Most of our clients need both: apps and mobile web presences. You build mobile apps for your best customers; you build mobile web for all of your customers. It’s not an either or for more successful companies, it’s both. What I passionately believe is that the web teams (which have not really thought mobile first) need to think about mobile moments, mobile engagement. In 2014 people spent more time shopping on their phones than they spent shopping on their desktops. People should be looking at that and saying “Oh no.” They should be saying “My entire design paradigm, my entire technology stack, is misaligned with these mobile moments”. So what are we going to do? We need to rethink things, we need to take an approach that says it’s not enough just to mobile enable our website, we need to rethink what a customer needs from us on their mobile device. And it needs to be done in a way that uses context to not clutter the customer experience.

HS: At the end of the day, why does the mobile mind shift matter?

TS: Because customers have more choice than ever before. More freedom to act independently and to abandon you than ever before. If you are a company you owe it to yourself and to your customers to put them at the center of the mobile experience. And the payoff will be engaging your customer more continuously throughout their day, being more present in their lives. It’s worth it.

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