Consumers are connected, your company isn’t

The number of connected devices that consumers own continues to grow. They not only own smartphones, tablets, and laptops but also use smartwatches, smart TVs, smart speakers, and more to connect to the internet and access a wide range of services for media, banking, and commerce.

In response, digital business leaders should pursue a portfolio of technologies to serve their customers. The breadth of this portfolio will depend firstly on where your customers are and how they use technology while balancing this with how you want to use emerging technologies.

We used data from Forrester’s H2 2017 Global Mobile Executive Online Survey to assess what firms are currently doing. The resulting maturity framework revealed the following:

  • Shrink-and-squeeze firms pursue consistency: They often focus on providing consistent experiences across devices as they bolt on new channels, shrinking and squeezing experiences from the PC browser onto a smaller screen. They are more likely to use responsive web design and replicate services across channels. Shrink-and-squeeze firms represent 33 per cent of Forrester’s sample.

  • Mobile-first firms see potential in emerging technologies but have yet to execute: They understand that new technologies offer new possibilities but are yet to implement them. They may be in industries where there is less demand from their customers for leading-edge services, such as insurance or wealth management. Their budgets and internal staff are smaller, and they lack senior management support. Mobile-first firms look to juggle their resources smartly to give customers a choice of channel. They represent 22 per cent of our sample.

  • CX transformers understand the full potential of mobile to transform experiences: They use emerging devices, platforms, and channels to enhance customer experiences. Airlines and hotels with mobile check-in and boarding passes or room keys fall into this category, as do a plethora of quick-service restaurants with “order on mobile, pick up in-store” services. Some CX transformers are even using emerging technologies to create new business models.

CX transformers reap the financial rewards of a portfolio approach

CX transformers use emerging technologies to transform both customer experiences and their overall business. They make smart choices to meet customers where they are mdash; and are rewarded as a result. By embracing mobile and emerging technology, 55 per cent of CX transformers in our survey have seen a significant positive financial impact, compared with 16 per cent of shrink-and-squeeze firms.

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Many businesses stop at smartphones and tablets when delivering digital experiences for their best customers mdash; even though these will go out of their way to download apps for emerging devices Julie A. Ask, Forrester

No firm should offer all services on all devices, platforms, and channels. Most, however, fall short on engaging their customers where they already are and keeping pace with consumer expectations. For example, consumers increasingly expect right-sized experiences pushed out to them proactively based on their real-time context, but CX transformers and shrink-and-squeeze firms show the largest difference in their use of notifications. CX transformers take advantage of:

  • Push notifications to drive in-app engagement and right-sized experiences: CX transformers use in-app messaging, interactive push notifications, and rich push notifications at a far greater rate than their shrink-and-squeeze counterparts.

  • SMS messaging to maximise reach: SMS has massive reach and open rates, but shrink-and squeeze firms are still missing out on this effective engagement channel. As messaging becomes critical to delivering great contextual experiences, businesses with a large set of user opt-ins have an advantage over those just beginning their messaging strategy.

  • Web push notifications to deliver consistency across devices: Web push notifications are a simple and inexpensive way to reach customers, as they aren’t limited to desktop sites mdash;Android mobile users using Chrome, Firefox, or Opera can also receive them.

Even CX transformers ignore customer needs in emerging environments

Digital business professionals focus on building experiences for a handful of well-established devices and channels, but many are ignoring or are only slowly developing experiences on new devices, channels, and third-party platforms.

The average US customer, for instance, uses more than 14 devices, channels, and platforms, and they expect brands to meet them where they are. Businesses are connected, but they haven’t gone far enough to meet the needs of today’s evolved customer.

They are failing to:

  • Support emerging devices: Smartphone and tablet support is table stakes; now it’s about emerging devices. While a growing number of customers own these new devices, firms have been slow to embrace smartwatches, voice assistant speakers, or virtual reality (VR) headsets. More are piloting emerging devices, but too many stop at smartphones and tablets when delivering digital experiences for their best customers mdash; even though these will go out of their way to download apps for emerging devices.

  • Deliver owned moments in channels to support longtail customers: Almost every firm has a mobile app, but only a firm’s most frequent customers use it.8 Progressive web apps and instant apps are an effective alternative to mobile apps for medium- and low-frequency users who just want to get something done and get out. However, 92 per cent of firms aren’t using either of these channels, and about a third don’t even know about them yet.

  • Borrow moments on third-party platforms to offer the ultimate convenience: Digital business pros must borrow moments from third-party platforms like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google to reach their customers and offer them convenience by inserting their services into existing task flows. However, less than half of the firms we surveyed have a strategy to meet their customers on third party platforms (see Figure 5). Few of even the CX transformers offer messaging (18 per cent) or chatbots (9 per cent) on third-party platforms. And fewer still are developing voice experiences, even though Forrester forecasts that 26 million US households will have a smart speaker by the end of 2018.

Customers are more connected than ever, yet businesses have been slow to adopt the same devices, platforms, and channels to meet consumers where they are.

Digital business strategy professionals need to benchmark their use of mobile and emerging technology against the technology that their customers and other firms use in order to achieve success in this space.

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Julie A. Ask is vice president and principal analyst at Forrester

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