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One of the findings that interested me from our Reducing Customer Struggle report was that almost half of companies said that the quality of customer experience delivered on mobile is poor. 

Our report, produced in association with Tealeaf, found that poor user experience is costing online business billions in lost revenue, thanks to site abandonment. 

A good website experience is crucial for any online business, and as m-commerce grows, the usability of mobile sites and apps will become more and more important. 

At the moment, it seems that there is much work to do to improve customer experience on mobile. Many businesses have failed to keep pace with the growth of smartphone, and therefore mobile internet, usage. 

Mobile is rated the worst of five channels for quality of customer experience, and by some distance. 

Respondents were asked to rate their channels for quality of customer experience:

Just 9% of respondents believed that the customer experience offered on their mobile channel was good, and a further 46% said it was just OK. 46% believed it was poor. 

This poor customer service reflects a lack of investment in mobile for many companies, and the fact that some are yet to see it as a valuable channel. Only a third of respondents said that mobile internet was relevant for sales (30%) and contact or service (32%).

There are a number of challenges that need to be overcome to create an excellent user experience on mobile, the number of handsets and mobile operating systems, variable connection speeds etc, but these can be overcome. 

I think the results reflect the fact that many companies simply haven't done anything about mobile yet.

In the case of retail, while a number of brands have launched mobile sites over the past year, there are plenty who have done nothing. 

While there is a small but growing market for mobile commerce, customers have been frustrated at times by the lack of usability. A separate Tealeaf study found that, while 23% of UK online consumers conducted some sort of transaction on mobile last year, a whopping 83% encountered some kind of problem.

One key point of friction is the payment process, and retailers need to make mobile checkout as easy as possible to use if they want to maximise sales through this channel. 

Another recent study backs up our report, suggesting that many retailers simply aren't ready for mobile commerce yet. Just 18% had fully implemented a mobile commerce strategy, while 28% had no plans the channel. 

Planned investment in customer channels this year:

As the chart above shows, just over half (52%) of the survey respondents do see the value of mobile, and plan to increase investment in this channel over the next 12 months. 

Whether brands have a mobile strategy in place or not, more and more customers are buying smartphones, and many of those will be looking to use these devices to make purchases or find information. 

With many brands still yet to be convinced, or to fully implement a mobile strategy, there is still an opportunity for more forward thinking companies to gain a head start on competitors in this channel. 

Graham Charlton

Published 9 June, 2011 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Ralph Anderson

A poor user experience is often the reason for a high bounce rate from mobile devices.

However, one of the reasons many companies haven't begun to implement a mobile strategy is because their current mobile traffic is still not high enough - in effect there is a solution before there is a problem.
Secondly, for e-commerce websites, the desktop sites are often too large to condense neatly for a mobile platform and companies do not yet have enough data to know what to provide for their users.

In spite of this, considering that mobile internet use is growing fast, it is surprising that companies are still slow on the uptake.

about 5 years ago

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Aniketh Albert Dsouza

Stop looking at Voice Based Customer Service. Start looking at an SMS based solution for businesses by routing it via a GSM number! and above all, stop automation and have a real person to respond.

about 5 years ago

Stephen Thair

Stephen Thair, Director at Seriti Consulting

There is a lot of focus on optimising mobile web performance to help improve the user experience.

In fact, its one of the themes of this year's Velocity Conference which is on next week in San Francisco.

But the current reality is that page performance can vary hugely based in the user's location and hence signal strength (ASU), the type of network (HSDPA, Edge, GRPS etc).

If you have an Android phone you can start to test this yourself. Some examples and more details over here - http://www.seriticonsulting.com/blog/2011/6/9/measuring-the-difference-ldquolocation-location-locationrdqu.html

about 5 years ago

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Shannon

@Ralph I disagree. I think customers ARE ready, and waiting for mobile. To quote the NY Times "85% of shoppers expect to be able to shop on their phones and want the experience to be as good or better than on a computer. Just 12% of the top 500 online retailers have sites compatible with mobile browsers, while just 7% have apps."

While I do believe that retailers should focus on the whole user experience and not rush apps to market, I think companies that are willing to adopt mobile technology will win.

about 5 years ago

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Victoria

I have tried shopping online a number of times, and been successful once I think - things like the size and spacing of links on the page can be frustrating, and that's not even mentioning the use of scrolling boxes - unmoveable on the iPhone!

about 5 years ago

Keith Brown

Keith Brown, Managing Director at paythru

Companies may not want to invest in the mobile channel due to a perceived lack of consumer demand, but the reality is consumer experience is not going to get better without the investment. Those that don’t invest will miss out on revenue that their more forward thinking competitors will gain through implementing a frictionless payment process.

about 5 years ago

Peter Leatherland

Peter Leatherland, Online Sales Manager at Ethical Superstore

Even if you make a great mobile site it the experience will still not be as usable as if you were sat on your computer. Not all to do with the site itself but the phones as well, typing your details into smartphones is never an enjoyable experience. I simply wouldn’t bother for many things, I certainly wouldn’t search and shop online for a physical item, I would rather just wait until I got home and use my PC, call me old fashion but mobile just isn’t ready yet for most people

about 5 years ago

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Hugh Billings

As ever there's great concern over the evidentiary effectivness of the latest channel (see social networks, internet, smoke signal, stone tablet...) The bitter reality for many is: if the message had been more attractive/clear, the audience response might have been better.

about 5 years ago

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Dan

Well if marketers and programmers aren't good yet at implementing a mobile strategy for optimized performance, what do you expect the numbers to reflect?

about 5 years ago

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Craig Sullivan, Customer Experience Manager at Belron International

@Ralph
We're getting 12% of our business from mobile and up to 20% of web based phone channel at weekends are from mobile optimised site ringbacks or phone 'clicks'.

The 'is mobile a big enough segment for me' argument is dead now - if you have decent analytics for device detection (i.e. www.bango.com) then you'll know who is 'trying the door' and can evaluate the large and growing opportunity that a mobile site would bring. My honest opinion is that most commercial web analytics packages (and GA) don't do as good a job of giving accurate device figures (which is very, very important to work out who to support). Bango device detection has been my killer app on some projects.

Our conversion rate is now at 2.2-3.5x higher internationally with an optimised mobile site (versus desktop). I've compared high numbers of devices before and after - your opportunity could be even greater. I have some useful stats here if anyone is interested in device conversion rates.

My starting advice with mobile is to get good stats and ignore market 'predictions', 'ownership' or ' - these are meaningless and don't represent *your* site audience. A good example is that whilst there are many featurephones out there, they don't bring much traffic and are very low conversion.

If you base your site on market stats, it would be like designing an upmarket clothes store based on census data. Your customers are telling you through their 'footfall'. To find the opportunity they represent - look at what devices they want their nice experience delivered on. It's fewer than you think.

Since we're an open company, how about I rustle up some mobile stats on here (alas not visitor numbers though). I can show the relative % of our visitor numbers split by device (handset), device type (tablet, smartphone, games console etc.), country and many other dimensions. Happy to share this as it will blow your mind and shows just what is happening.

@Stephen
Good point and performance is more critical on mobile than desktop. Many large UK retailers have page payloads of 120, 150, 200K per page, which is like stuffing a pig down a toilet using a twiglet. Our payload per page (the actual Kb loads) is about 7-10k, which makes it snappy even on a poor data connection. The simple techniques we followed mainly come from two books (see end of this post).

The other issue you mention is latency and geo-location of the servers that hold the content. We'd recommend you use a content distribution network (Akamai, L3 etc.) so that the mobile content comes from the city you are in, because it is locally cached. This isn't hard to set up and delivers wonderful snappy page load everywhere we use it. The delays you see on desktop are worse on mobile - the further the country from the hosting service, the bigger the page load delay. Adding a CDN, for example to Australia, can lop 90+% of load time from the customer viewpoint and improves conversion rate and google quality score dramatically.

@keith Often the problem is that companies don't have a handle on *what* they should build and for *whom* and *what device*. The other issue is that it is perceived as 'hard' or 'technically complex'.

At the risk of beating our own drum, this site - m.autoglass.co.uk has been tested on 97% of UK handsets arriving in the last 3 months. They all work wonderfully.

So what 'tech' do we use? Disappointingly, the rendering for this 97% is done using three stylesheets. So by working out what devices to hit, we simplified it dramatically.

That's it - no complex software, expensive systems, long development time, site scrapers or translation gateways. Really simple and easy to give a good experience at low cost. Our core build work took a couple of months and wasn't that expensive - good developers are a necessity.

@all

The problem I feel with mobile right now is that:

(1) There is a perception of complexity, time or cost that isn't true.
(2) People don't know what devices are trying to use their sites
(3) Most people don't know that you can do touch, swipe, scroll, telephone, email, GPS (and maps) on a website. You can't do everything than an app can, but it's more than most people *think* you can do. You can even style your site to look like an app. Not hard.
(4) There needs to be more sharing of good, cheap ways to make a successful mobile experience, as nothing works better than watching others eat your lunch

The killer apps:
(1) Device detection
http://wurfl.sourceforge.net/
http://www.bango.com
http://bit.ly/lvf7En
http://www.deviceatlas.com

(2) Usability testing - just do some, with people, and phones

(3) These performance books helped a lot
http://amzn.to/jdEJ26
http://amzn.to/jlAzV4

(4) These two books were the cornerstone of our work - buy them! They look like techie books but if you are in marketing or product, they'll save your life on mobile:

http://amzn.to/jnezLk
http://amzn.to/mjuoa9

Sorry about that humungously long post folks!

about 5 years ago

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Nigel

Hi All,
The problem with large organisations are that they are a couple of years behind new technology. I have noticed that many of these large companies are only just building out Facebook pages. Facebook looks as though its on the slide now so the latest news reports would have us believe. As for apps, these are in decline as well. Many companies cannot afford to develop an app for each and every handset. The webapp is the way to go, just one website for all internet devices. I have been investing and building mobile websites since Sept 2006. I use the .mobi domain name for all my sites, this indicates that to potential users that my website is mobile friendly, unlike every other tld that doesn't tell me the user that its mobile friendly. That's my 2 cents anyway.

Regards

Nigel

about 5 years ago

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Craig Sullivan, Customer Experience Manager at Belron International

And i forgot these sites - check the google stuff out on an Android or iPhone:

maps.google.com
m.foursquare.com
m.gmail.com
amazon.co.uk
m.johnlewis.com
m.marksandspencer.com
wap.ebay.co.uk
m.youtube.com
m.vimeo.com
m.wikipedia.org

For a usability guy, the experiences being crafted on optimised mobile are great examples of an app like experience, but with less cost and greater flexibility. Apps are not replaced with this technology but think on this - how many people search for your app on iTunes versus Google. Is it 80/20? 50/50?

The consumer route used to discover you, your brand, your keywords - will help decide if you do mobile, app or both.

about 5 years ago

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Ralph Anderson

@Shannon You are right that many customers are ready, hence the average 11-15% mobile traffic to websites. However, the highest percentage of mobile traffic deals with social media sites. The main problem here is that the companies concerned haven't fully realised the potential yet, or if they have, can't quite work out how to reduce the content of their sites for mobile.

@Craig Thanks for the info re the statistics and collection. I will have a look at Bango and see what difference there is between that and Google Analytics, however GA does give good breakdowns of operating systems.

I think the major point here is that these statistics are not being presented in such a way to highlight mobile growth and the need for a mobile strategy.

about 5 years ago

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Craig Sullivan, Customer Experience Manager at Belron International

@Ralph - not true - many e-commerce sites are seeing 10%+ in western europe and other developed markets.

Also - Bango gives far better stats than GA because of superior device detection. GA is useful for trending, but not for working out what specific models you need to test. OS splits are not good enough - you need to know what Android models you are testing, for example, as screen sizes differ hugely.

In terms of mobile strategy - there are those who are working with the huge growth to take advantage of it and those who are losing out.

about 5 years ago

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Craig Sullivan, Customer Experience Manager at Belron International

@nigel Those facebook figures are dodgy because they don't include mobile optimised site visitors (m.facebook.com). Our growth also looks stalled or declining on our sites, but we aren't stupid enough to keep the two data pools separate!

about 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Hi Craig,

Thanks for the comments and insight. I'd love to see some of the numbers on your mobile site, and device conversion rates.

about 5 years ago

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Thierry Pires

Hi,
I'm facing same issues as 15 years ago with Internet marketing versus offline marketing : marketers are afraid by mobile marketing (they didn't digest social marketing yet), not confortable with and don't include it so much in the overall strategy. There is a lack of knowledge and confidence, and probably a lack of trainings.
I hope this situation will change quickly!

over 4 years ago

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