A mobile-first experience is key to the customer journey

  • 91% of smartphone users look up information "in the moment" of a task.

  • Playing catch-up with your mobile customer experience can be costly.

  • Businesses must take steps now to survive and thrive in a post-Mobilegeddon world.

On any given day, the number of screens that we use is incredible. Smartphones, tablets, smart watches, wearable devices, smart appliances, etc. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention laptops and desktops? Indeed, the customer journey as you once knew it is forever changed. As a result, customer experience (CX) strategies need to not only shift to digital, but also account for this strange new mobile world in which we live.

What if I told you that more than 67% of customers now go through the buyer’s journey digitally? And what if I told you that the journey begins with a smartphone almost every time? In fact, Google recently learned that 91% of smartphone users look up information while in the moment of a task. It’s all real-time, and you reach for the device at hand, which in most cases is a smart phone. While it’s easy to underestimate this “micro-moment,” when you add these small moments together, you’ve got a major shift in the customer journey that carries profound implications for mobile-first customers and the businesses hoping to serve them.

Don’t underestimate the role of mobile in the customer experience

Let me share two other fascinating bits of information that will hopefully shift your perspective, as well as those around you, to compete for the digital customer on every screen and in every micro-moment. Right now, 74% of businesses don’t have a plan to stay competitive in the new mobile world. This isn’t good news. On April 21, 2015, Google changed the way it ranks websites by prioritizing sites that are mobile friendly. If your traffic plummeted after this date, you can blame it on what’s called “Mobilegeddon.” It’s estimated that as many as 40% of the top websites are already failing.

Essentially, if your site isn’t mobile optimized, Google penalizes you as a way of protecting its customer experience, which in this case is the user who visits Google.com to find what they’re looking for. If, for example, a mobile-first customer visits Google.com and the results are not mobile friendly, Google’s customer experience suffers.

If Google is prioritizing mobile sites to improve its customer experience, why wouldn’t you?

I asked the same question of many of the best businesses out there. As part of the research process, my former colleague, Jaimy Szymanski, and I interviewed 23 digital/mobile strategists. Many brands are still underestimating and/or undervaluing the critical role mobile plays in the evolution of the customer experience. You can download my research for free here.

So, why go in on mobile?

One word: relevance.

If customers are in fact becoming increasingly mobile-centric, then to be relevant in important moments of truth requires a mobile-first or even mobile-only experience design.

During our research, I spoke with Andres Wolberg-Stok, Global Head of Emerging Platforms and Services at Citi. He revealed that its mobile-first and mobile-only programs ultimately come down to customer relevance. “Citi approaches digital initiatives as ‘mobile first’ to improve their customers’ lives, then zooms out in strategy from there.”

When it comes to technology, companies too often get stuck playing catch-up to rising consumer expectations. Mobile just becomes part of a larger mix, which is a costly mistake in the wake of Mobilegeddon. Citi’s Wolberg-Stok further explained the need to shift perspective and digital investments toward mobile: “A few years ago, we thought that customers would just go to the desktop for the full menu of functions, not mobile, but increasingly that’s not holding true. Customer expectations have changed. They used to be more understanding if certain features weren’t part of your mobile app, but now they expect to do whatever they want, whenever and wherever they want to do it. ”

So, what do you do next?

Four steps to a post-Mobilegeddon experience

After speaking with some of the best companies out there in mobile CX, we identified four steps to help CMOs and digital/mobile strategists design customer experiences that help you survive and thrive in a post-Mobilegeddon world.

 Post-Mobilegeddon Chart

Image Source: Altimeter Group


Step 1: Map the Mobile Customer Journey.

Study the mobile customer journey as it exists today, including various devices used, challenges, and opportunities with each. Delve into data specific to your mobile customers to define “day-in-the-life” mobile personas that will inform customer-centric strategies.


Step 2: Re-Imagine the Mobile-First and Mobile-Only Customer Journey.

Design a mobile-optimized journey by device, to win in each moment of truth and prevent multi-screening while also investing in and complementing other channels. Define a series of intended mobile experiences at each stage of the customer journey, aligning each with customer personas and related data.


Step 3: Measure and Optimize.

Define the intended customer response and desired outcomes at each step in the mobile customer journey, by screen. Link back to business goals and shorter term KPIs to measure progress and optimize engagement in each moment of truth.


Step 4: Create Alignment Through a Test-and-Learn Approach.

Present customer findings, the newly minted mobile-first journey, and key business outcomes to the greater working team around mobile, digital, and CX. Run a test pilot of the roadmap to validate research and ideas and gain internal support.

To compete for the future, you have to start competing for the moment and the micro-moments that are defining your customer’s journey. And everything starts with mobile…for now.

Learn how to start your business’ mobile journey using AT&T mobility services.


Brian Solis is the author of the book, What’s The Future of Business. He is also a principal analyst at Altimeter Group. AT&T has sponsored this blog post; the opinions are those of Brian Solis.

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