As modern, smartphone-connected consumers become increasingly accustomed to satisfying their needs online and on-demand, they also become less tolerant of delays and anything that stands in their way of instant gratification. Indeed, in a study we conducted earlier this year with YouGov, more than 40% of all consumers and more than half of 18- to 24-year-olds told us they are more impatient today than they were five years ago.
People’s expectations of their brand and business interactions are higher than ever, thanks, in large, to the mobile-centred, data-driven personalised services that have emerged with the smartphone-triggered app economy. Companies such as Deliveroo, Netﬂix, Airbnb, and Uber have all taken advantage of better connectivity to offer the convenience of instant access and delivery with minimal friction. And users love it!
As a result, more traditional organisations, from government offices to financial services, need to up their their mobile customer experience (CX game). But it is evident that a large majority are falling at the first hurdle. Recent Google research revealed that 53% of visitors abandon a mobile website that fails to load after three seconds. However, after testing 900,000 mobile sites globally, it found that the average loading time for a mobile page is 22 seconds.
So should companies now focus all their efforts on meeting consumers’ needs for instant gratification by speeding up the CX on mobile?
While speed, or mobile latency, continues to be an important development focus, our research found that there is another CX element that needs to be considered to provide consumers the ultimate experience—consistency. Consistency of CX across channels and platforms topped a prompted list of criteria likely to generate loyalty amongst our respondents. It outranked speed of service 37% to 28%. Drilling down, the age group that most values consistency in the U.K. are 25- to 34-year-olds, whilst, in the U.S., it is 35- to 44-year-olds and 55-plus. Predictably, 18- to 24-year-olds defy the consensus and rank consistency and speed of equal importance.
Therefore, both sides of the equation, speed and service, need to be in equilibrium. The goal for businesses should be to deliver a frictionless experience that consistently meets expectations across online and offline channels. As well as streamlining digital platforms to be as fast as possible, organisations need to be smarter and carefully manage the speed of their operations to meet the goal of a consistent CX.
If you are reducing the steps to mobile website conversion, then product or service fulfilment needs to be equally efficient. For example, Click and Collect only works if the parcel is ready for pickup when the customer arrives. There is no point encouraging people to contact a customer service call centre from their mobile devices if they then must wait in a long line to speak to a representative.
Focusing on speed alone can also be expensive and will drive down margins when attempting to deliver at scale. It may also mean that you don’t engage with or satisfy certain elements of your customer base.
Find The Right Pace
Businesses need to be clear on what the right customer experience is for their product or service and define the right pace of customer convenience required. While an online shopper might be impatient to receive their new shoes at home within 24 hours, they might be happy to wait five days for a new bank card to arrive. When it comes to banking and payment apps, people value security above speed. A recent study by Gemalto shows more than 80% of consumers feel more confident when using an app containing sensitive personal data if they can see security checks taking place on their mobile screen. Essentially, they want a visual cue that they are secure, even if this is technically redundant.
Businesses need to understand their audience’s expectations of what is good customer service in their category—and speed up or slow down the delivery of their offering accordingly. This might alter by age and life stage. While Millennials are keen for “everything, now” today, their attitudes may change along with their priorities over time.
Companies should also research how people behave in real life, which can often diﬀer from their claimed behaviour and attitudes, and explore the field of behavioural economics. Many companies will find there is an argument to consider building “positive friction” into the CX and mobile-specific interactions when they consider human behaviour.
It’s important to be aware of where the customer frustrations currently lie in the intersection between technology and customer experience. We have found that consistency of experience and a clear focus on customer satisfaction will have more of an impact on business success than a slavish devotion to instant gratification. The goal of modern businesses today must be to create consistent brand experiences across all online and offline channels that generate customer loyalty and drive lifetime value.