Category Archives: User Experience

Telco’s Key Differentiator

Customer Service and the potential in the customer relationship is the biggest asset Telecoms possess.  Whether they effectively leverage this asset or not is still to be seen.

When my local service provider calls my home and offers a service I already subscribe to from them it reminds me of that wasted opportunity and the magnitude of the challenge before these Telcos.

They already know what I subscribe to.  They know my movements and my consumption patterns.  They know that I pick up a coffee every morning and that on most morning I drive to work (and other times I just come back home).  They know this… of course they can’t do anything with it since I haven’t allowed them to – but they haven’t even asked!

If they truly leverage what they ‘know’ about me, even simple CRM-type data, my experience with my local provider would be exponentially improved and I probably wouldn’t play that silly game that Canadians play every 3 years.  The switching Telcos game.  Predictable and a pain.

Real-time, personalized offers would be possible.  My loyalty and stickiness as a customer would increase.  Concerns about the Cost of Acquisition (COA) and retention management (churn) would be less and less… as a Telco’s attention would shift to providing value-added services that would automatically help with the churn anyways.  I would much rather go with one vendor (and that could very well be my Telco) rather than a dozen different ones.  It would simplify my life if Telcos understood me and provided other services that I currently receive elsewhere.

 

 

Mobile Customer Engagement: Some Initial Considerations

What does engagement truly mean? We talk about it a lot don’t we? It’s the buzz word. We can be sure to slide into every conversation if we drop the customer engagement key words. People make money selling it; a lot of it. Yet many have not stopped to really think what engagement means to them and their business.

I must confess that I have a fear. Okay, fear might be an overstatement … but please play along.

This is my fear – that organizations (of any size) will try mobility as a means of ‘engaging’ their own customers without thinking the process through.

To help you along the process and just to give you some food for thought here are some questions to consider along the way:

  1. How deeply do you want to engage your customers while they are mobile?
  2. How well do you really know your customers while mobile?
  3. How well should you know them?
  4. Does your customer need you in the form of a mobile application?
  5. Is a mobile app the best way to engage with your customers?
  6. Can you (should you) influence your customers at the point of decision?
  7. Or would you gain more if you influence them at other points in their buying journey?
  8. Do you want your customers to transact with you through mobile?
  9. Or do you want mobility as a vehicle to raise awareness of your business and its products?

As always there are more questions but 9 seems like a good number.

Value and Experience in Enterprise Mobility

Value and experience are not mutually exclusive in enterprise mobility.  These two can actually co-exist and live happily inside your organization and should both be of equal importance when you formulate (plan, develop, work on, stress over) your mobile strategy.

In fact I argue that these two are dependent on each other:

The better the end user experience the higher the value it can bring to the organization

If I were to say that design influences behaviour you would probably agree with me.  In the same manner your end user’s mobile experience will greatly influence the value of your mobile initiatives and thus the overall return of your mobile projects.  The mobile experience is impacted by the following:

  • Mobile Application: Things like design, colour, flow, clicks, menus, number of screens … and all the other stuff that the more creatively inclined people talk about.
  • Devices: Are you using the right device for the job?  And please do not think for a moment that Apple are the only devices needed for any job.
  • Connectivity: Lo and behold after all these years we are still talking about this.  Make sure that poor connectivity is not an excuse for your mobile workers to not complete a task.
  • Information: Do they have the right information, data, knowledge to perform and complete the required task?
  • Integration: Closely related to the above… but does your mobile worker in their mobile context have access to the enterprise?

Let’s leave at this for now… feel free to comment below.

Mobility – it is not about what you think!

We sometimes forget about the one critical component in enterprise mobility; the one thing that allows the enterprise to be out there and extend itself beyond its four walls.  Sorry… It is not the technology.  Technology is great but it is only a means to an end.

It is more important than technology.

More important than the hardware, the software, the coding or even the connectivity.

I am talking about the end user; the mobile employee.  I am talking about you and me!  Although mobility is about the device, the application, the technology and the connectivity… at the same time it is more about something else… someone else!

It is not about what the latest device can do… but it is about what that device allows us to do that is so important both for the consumer as well as for the enterprise.

Mobile technology is about liberating the mobile worker… and the mobile consumer.  It is about taking the enterprise anywhere and everywhere.  It is about taking brands outside of the stores and into a consumer’s hearts and minds!

I think I may have gotten carried away with the last phrase… :)

Freedom In Mobility

The criticism (more like the complaint) we hear a lot these days has to do with our ‘over-connectedness.’

We are told that people are too connected… That it is interfering with personal lives and affecting our quality of life.

Really?

Is it technology’s fault or is it our inability to say no to technology that is affecting us?

It is like you or I walking into an all-you-can-eat buffet. We have the freedom to eat all we want. But do we? Or do we draw the line somewhere? (I know many don’t).

Connectivity and being connected everywhere (that’s what we call mobility – or better yet freedom) is not ruining our society.

Is it that we are allowing our priorities to get out of whack? Or did that mobile device force you to…?

Mobile technology offers us the freedom to be connected and to choose when to be connected – through that fabulous little feature…the off button.

Isn’t it just like everything else in life?

Mobile Customer Advocates

Time and time again I see one thing being overlooked in mobile.

Can you venture a guess?

Would you believe that organizations actually forget about the mobile user and the mobile experience somewhere between concept and implementation?   This is not done on purpose or through some evil plot from the tethered zombies.  It just happens.

Ideally a mobile project stems from a carefully thought out mobile strategy which began (hopefully) by asking relevant questions that revolved around the mobile user.  Your mobile strategy is an extension of you, your brand, your products, your image, your reputation and even your people.  It reflects you.  It represents you.  It is you.

But a lot can happen from mobile strategy… to mobile project… to mobile implementation (or mobile strategy execution).

Many times the mobile user is forgotten during those deep dive architecture sessions.  As we talk about business requirements and time to market we forget to stop and ask the question: how is this decision going to impact the person we are doing this for?  Does this impact the mobile experience? If the answer no… then great! Move on.  If the answer is yes… then let’s at least talk about it.

It is almost as if someone should be present at every meeting representing your customer.  Your mobile customer.  You are doing this for him or her… why not have them integrated into your process?  Of course I am not talking about just anyone off the street, but someone who will stubbornly represent the customer for whom you are doing this.  Someone with a mobile angle and deep mobile user experience who will ask those sometimes forgotten questions.  Let’s call these people (for lack of a better term) – mobile customer advocates.

If you are a small and nimble mobile development shop you don’t have this problem.  You don’t have to read this (in fact go away).  But if you are a large enterprise executing a mobile strategy make sure you don’t drop the mobile user from the project plan at any point.

But the business represents the customer you say?  Yes … and no.  Remember that your business units already have a full time role and are busy with their day to day tasks… plus they may be looking at that mobile application as a potential increase in revenue and are focused on that one point.  Or maybe you just told them they needed mobile and they are simply complying with your wishes.

It may in fact be an easier process than you think… it may just be about asking the questions…

  • how do these decisions impact our customers when mobile?
  • how do these decisions impact the mobile user experience?

Next time you go into a meeting simply put on your Mobile Customer Advocate hat… and ask those questions.  You may be surprised at the direction your project takes.

Zoompass Announcement Falls Short of ‘my’ expectations

I am not sure I get it at times.  I know that the technology is limited and that a lot of the talk that sometimes goes around is more dreaming than real possibilities.

Today’s Zoompass announcement however strikes me more as a step backwards than a forward one.  This is what happens when the initiative is carrier-lead instead of bank lead.  I realize that these comments are not popular among some of my readers (I know where you work) but as a consumer I am still on the side of banks dealing with my money.

There are two things that dampen my excitement about this announcement:

  1. The first thing is the following phrase: “payment is automatically drawn from the user’s Zoompass stored value account.”    This means that you and I have to manage yet another account.  However easy this may be for you… for me it is a hassle.  I want the money to come out of my bank account directly!  Otherwise for me it is just as easy to load my Starbucks card… or my Timothy’s card at the counter from my debit card.  Am I missing something here?
  2. The other thing is the little sticker… this could almost get me ranting a la Ewan on Foursquare.  But I will not.  A sticker to me seems like a step backwards.  Although they talk about its attractiveness with phrases like “sleek and appealing sticker” … to me it just isn’t.

Bottom line this does not spell convenience to me.

Managing yet another account and plastering a sticker to the back of my phone.

How you view your employees and their knowledge will determine the success of your implementation…

‘Economists, said John Maynard Keynes, should think of themselves as humble specialists, on a par with dentists. But his advice has gone unheeded. Over the past 50 years, economics and its jargon have penetrated every corner of human life. Decisions to marry and inject heroin alike are explained in terms of utility maximisation. Doctors, priests and scientists are lumped together as service providers or rent seekers. Schoolteachers are urged to “add value” to their pupils. The pig philosophy, as Thomas Carlyle called it, has become all-embracing.

Of the many harms inflicted by economics on the English language, “human capital” is the most grievous. Coined by Chicago economists Jacob Mincer and Gary Becker in the 1960s, it refers to the stock of personal skills and qualities that constitutes a worker’s economic value. Such skills and qualities are often costly to acquire and yield returns only over a long period of time, so are readily thought of as a kind of capital. Mincer and Becker’s work has provided the intellectual rationale for the huge expansion of higher education in recent decades. In an economy dominated by the knowledge and service industries, with personality and expertise at a premium, “investment in human capital” is the name of the game.

The phrase “human capital” is now so thoroughly naturalised that we seldom pause to ponder its implications. What is capital anyway? Capital is not a particular kind of good, but any good viewed in relation to certain interests. A donkey is capital to the wood-carrier. A derelict church is capital to the restaurant entrepreneur. Capital, in short, is wealth viewed not as an end in itself but as a means to more wealth. The phrase “human capital” insinuates that human beings too are to be viewed in this light—as instruments of the productive process. We have all of us attained the status which Aristotle reserved for slaves, that of living tools. What a triumph for the dismal science! Keynes naively supposed that economic growth was for the sake of personal cultivation. His modern successors have put him right: personal cultivation is for the sake of economic growth.’

Brilliant. ‘Human capital’ shall not pass my lips again.

Neither will it cross my lips (I hope).

So are your employees assets? Capital? Furniture?
Are they only a means to an end? That end being making a profit for your shareholders… for you?

How you view your employees will determine how well they perform for you and how difficult a new implementation will be. If they feel valued and taken into account they will take ownership of the work and the new tools you are providing for them. If it is mobile technology… how will it help them? Will it improve their workflow? Their work-life balance?

If we see them as assets they will only perform to their stated specifications. If we see them as collaborators in our success they will give more… much more.

Posted via web from Mobile Strategy

Of Context and Content

Here is an obvious statement for you to think about:

In mobile, context and content are inseperable.

Or at least they should be considered inseparable.

Context will affect the way you relate to the content available to you.  At times content may affect the way you relate to your context and even force you to change your context.  However, if I were to choose the stronger one of the two I would have to say that context will win most of the time.

This is where the lifeflows and workflows idea may come in handy.

Do you have any examples where this is true? How has this affected the design of you mobile applications?

Mobile Application Development And Consumers – Going From Workflows to Lifeflows

Much has been written on how innovative ideas are born, evolved and tested first on consumers before they make their way into the enterprise. We have seen it with Web 2.0 and social media and social networking.  This is absolutely true and the consumer market proves to be a wonderful and invaluable living lab for the enterprise.  In most cases the enterprise doesn’t have a choice since after the consumer market tests and likes something they take it to work!

Becoming A Better Mobile Application Developer for Consumers

Today I am going to propose something that will go the other way instead. It goes backwards (so to speak) from the enterprise to the common folk out there. If you learn this small and valuable lesson you will become a better developer of mobile consumer applications. You may not become a rock star in the App Store overnight but your hard work will pay off in the end way after the rock star’s have faded. Your applications will be more relevant, meaningful and useful to the end user.

I made the following point a few days ago:

…if we want to talk specifically about mobile workers the conversation cannot revolve around any one of the above points. Instead it needs to focus on one thing:

the mobile worker as part of a process that adds value to your organization

I was trying to drive the point that you you need to focus on the user and their process if you are going to build a mobile application that will add value to an organization.  Don’t mobilize for the sake of mobilizing!  Do so because it adds value.

From Workflow to Lifeflow

If you are developing in the enterprise you do (or you should) a careful process analysis of those roles you are going to mobilize.  You study the workflow – the steps involved to produce that product or deliver that service…

Crude and Simple Workflow

Crude and Simple Workflow

I have seen a lack of rigour and structure among far too many mobile application developers. The App Store has not helped matters since now everyone wants to develop for that shiny object in the room.  A shiny, distracting object!

If we look at the consumer the same way we look at a field worker, a sales person or any other type of mobile worker I believe we would have better, more user-friendly and truly relevant mobile consumer applications.  You can’t really study someone’s life to the extent that you study a process … but you can certainly take the context and given situations, study and analyze those.  I could almost bet that the best consumer applications out there were either done by studying lifeflows or by folks with a deep understanding and first hand experience of how those flows go (because they lived them).

Lifeflow - Messy, incomplete and mine!

Crude ... but definitely not simple Lifeflow!

Even though I can write for hours about this subject I am not going to… Today I will drop this on you and if there is some interest out there in helping me explore some use cases then maybe we will continue this topic.   If not I will just take my little flow and go home.

(What I would really like to do is start a repository of Lifeflows so others can use these for development purposes… I know it is a stretch… anyone?)