A recent report in MobileInsider noted that, despite the heaps of evidence supporting the power of mobile as a platform for reaching and engaging consumers, Forrester analyst Thomas Hussan predicts the vast majority of brands will be under investing in mobile this year. So what gives?

Mr. Hussan attributes this disconnect to a fundamental lack of understanding that a brand’s mobile strategy needs to be about more than a marketing or loyalty points app.  It needs to be about elevating the overall customer experience. On this point, we couldn’t agree more.

When we’re talking about elevating or transforming the customer experience, it ultimately comes down to two things: frictionless transactions (helping consumers do what they want to do more easily and enjoyably) and immersive experiences (giving customers unique opportunities that make them feel special, appreciated and delighted).

Of course, there are exceptions to Mr. Hussan’s rule: companies exist today that are executing brilliant mobile-first consumer engagement strategies. Starbucks, of course, is one we all recognize as redefining the QSR customer experience with its mobile pay and mobile ordering options and, as a result, they are resetting customer expectations for a whole host of retail experiences.  SOL REPUBLIC is a consumer electronics innovator we work with here at Stellar Loyalty that has built a phenomenally successful immersive customer experience with its SOLdier of Sound program designed to elegantly integrate with and enhance its customers’ social sharing-centric lives.

So how can brands reset their mobile mindsets to transform the customer experience?

  • Start with the Customer. As the MobileInsider post rightly points out, consumers typically only use a handful of apps – they are not looking to add more apps. But if you serve up content and experiences they crave and want to share, as well as leverage features like location-triggered popup offers to increase relevance, then your mobile strategy stops being a mere app and becomes an experience your customers will want again and again.
  • Build in the Element of Surprise. You can’t transform the customer experience by serving up the same-old-same-old. It requires giving them something delightfully new and totally unexpected.  Your mobile strategy needs to have the customer insight and dexterity to deliver these kinds of unexpected, yet right on target, “gifts” to the customer.
  • Stimulate with AR and VR. Augmented and virtual reality technologies provide an opportunity for brands to create highly immersive customer experiences (see more on AR in my earlier post).  Whether it’s a smartphone app that lets the customer scan an image for an interactive experience or something more fully embedded in the customer journey, these multi-sensory experiences, by their very nature, feel personal to the customer, and in turn make them feel that much more invested in your brand.

As with most things, the hardest part is recognizing you need to change your thinking. Once you’ve set your mind to reinventing your customer’s experience, the mobile piece follows naturally.