The most effective customer relationship services of today and tomorrow are served up through smartphones. As content offerings for marketing, customer service, and loyalty programs become digital, there’s a huge movement in board meetings to focus on the mobile customer experience. McKinsey & Company has found that digital customer care can offer huge improvements in satisfaction metrics, while driving huge cost savings for the enterprise.
But your app is only as good as your uptime. More demand for digitisation means a heavier workload for IT to keep customers—both internal and external app users—satisfied. The world’s shiniest mobile interface won’t make up for constant latency issues or repeated 502 errors. Let’s take a dive into the decidedly unglamorous side of digital customer experience management: optimising your infrastructure.
Why your back end really matters
According to an Ernst and Young survey cited by ABC, Australians spend 10 hours per day on smart devices, including mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. According to the survey, “23 percent [of respondents] said they actually spend more time talking to their device[s] than they do their partners.” Social media and video add up to a large percentage of this time, as does other content, such as apps. While time spent on mobiles appears to be stabilising, user habits are in a state of flux.
Streaming is also on the rise. Nielsen found that Australians between 18 and 24 years old spend over nine hours each month streaming video on their smartphones. While the explosive adoption of streaming video, media, and other forms of content is good news for your digitised brand experiences, it’s also a risk if IT departments can’t keep up with demand.
When latency or connectivity issues occur, your employees and customers could revolt. Recently, Slack was hit by a multi-hour outage caused by a third-party network failure, resulting in a panicked user base that took to social media to voice their contempt.
According to TechCrunch, a Compuware survey revealed that users expect an app to load in two seconds, and only 16 percent of users said they’d give an app more than two attempts if they experience latency or connectivity issues. Still not scared? Amazon could stand to lose $1.6 billion dollars in sales per year from a second of delay, according to Fast Company. Your employees may not have the option to drop a company app, but they’re likely to get frustrated over productivity lapses. For IT pros, the mobile customer experience is more than just the user experience and quality of content available. It’s also a matter of consistency through smarter infrastructure.
Is your mobile infrastructure customer-ready?
There’s more to an adequate mobile infrastructure than basic components—it’s also about the quality and planning. Until 2014, Facebook’s company motto was “Move fast and break things.” In light of 500 billion API calls each day, they’ve now switched to “Move fast with stable infrastructure,” which Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledges is less catchy but more sensible. This approach has lessons for brands that lack their billion-person-strong user base.
Here’s how to nail it:
1. Strive for elasticity
When demand is unpredictable, IT may need to explore options for elasticity, defined by VentureBeat as the “ability to expand capacity as needed in an instantaneous and ideally automated way.” While this option has the potential to eliminate the latency and connectivity issues associated with static virtual machines, it includes some implementation challenges. IT pros must explore effective, policy-based communication between containers and related security concerns.
2. Fortify your VPN
If your internal or external app relies on proprietary or sensitive data for personalisation, establishing a virtual private network (VPN) is needed to secure data communications. Ensuring your mobile app is connected to a tough-as-nails VPN can prevent interception of data. With stronger user authentication, you can serve up highly personalised customer experiences with minimised risk of data breach.
3. Don’t plan for desktop usage habits
When it comes to an initial app launch, there’s danger in trying to translate desktop usage habits to mobile devices. Mobile engineering expert Farhan Thawar is a firm believer that analytics from web apps aren’t always a great indicator of how people will use a mobile app. Case in point: You may check your bank’s web app once weekly, but you’re likely to open the mobile app several times per day.
In tech, there’s a credo that it’s easier to fix a car before it’s driving. Planning for mobile-specific usage based on existing analytics can allow you to better plan containerisation, demand, and other factors prior to launch.
4. Track and improve
While mobile infrastructure analytics may not be as sexy as user metrics, they’re still critically important to the continued success of your employee and customer experience. Looking beyond stats on adoption and page flow can enable IT to develop an end-to-end understanding of how their apps are working.
If your back end infrastructure isn’t up to the job, your customers may opt to delete your apps and never re-download them, without even giving their features or benefits a chance. A positive mobile customer experience requires stability and consistency in content delivery. Without the behind-the-scenes effort of IT pros, the digitisation of customer relationships is impossible.