In a book I wrote several years ago, I talked about the Internet moving at the speed of thought. It was true then, and it’s even more accurate today: Think about doing or wanting or needing something, and someone will say, “There’s an app for that!”
And there probably is. Apps tell us how many calories we’re burning, what route to take home to avoid traffic, how a foreign word should be pronounced—they even monitor our PPC and SEO campaigns. Apps are all about making life more convenient, and what could be more convenient than taking everything with you—in other words, going mobile?
And convenience is, of course, one of the tenets of great customer relationship management.
As the speed of transactions has increased so, too, have customers’ expectations. It’s not enough to supply a product; the product must be supplied quickly (if not immediately). It’s not enough to have a mobile-friendly website (you do have a mobile-friendly website, don’t you?), it also has to load quickly … because if it’s not quick enough, customers will abandon it. It’s not enough for the website to load quickly, it also has to offer products via as easy an interaction as possible: if customers need to go through too many steps to order something, they’ll abandon the vendor or retailer and go elsewhere.
Most online retailers imagine that their customers are sitting in front of the family desktop computer or are curled up on a sofa with a laptop. That image is becoming less and less an accurate reflection of reality. More and more of your customers are accessing your websites via tablets and smartphones, and that number is only going to increase.
One of the first questions that any retailer has to answer is: who is my ideal customer? The answer to that question will guide acquisition, engagement, and CRM. And chances are these days that your ideal customer is going to be standing in line at the grocery store while accessing your website, or taking their dog for a walk, or sitting in the minivan outside the school waiting for the kids to emerge. And you need to meet that customer in those places, be part of the fabric of their errands, and do so in as simple and unobtrusive a manner as possible. It means that you need a completely different mindset in terms of addressing those customers’ needs, desires, and communication preferences.
Remember the CRM question that you always need to add to your image of the ideal customer: what does this customer want, and how can I supply it to them?
We all know some of what this customer wants. They want speed: a quick transaction is a great transaction. They want ease of use: they don’t want to guess about how to answer your call to action. They want to know that their information is safe and secure with you. And they want to know that the whole process just works.
There are a few ways to meet these requirements:
If you show your customers that you’re moving along with them, that your website and emails are mobile and agile, then the customer is far more likely to stick with you as they transition from desktop and laptop computers to mobile devices.
How will you know it’s working? It will be far easier to tell when it’s not working, as your competition—possibly more agile than you—may optimize for mobile first … and take your customers with them.
The reality is that at the moment, 58% of online marketers are not optimizing their websites, emails, and special offers for mobile devices, despite evidence that customers want to access retailers through tablets and smartphones. Isn’t CRM about listening to the customer and delivering what they want?
I say it is. And the more mobile and agile your customer communications, the better your customer relationships will be.