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Mobile Mindset

Meeting customers’ service expectations in the smart phone era.

Fortnightly Magazine - December 2013
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intolerant of websites that aren’t optimized for mobile, as well as marketing that’s irrelevant and doesn’t match their interests. Fast, smooth performance is a higher priority than marketing presentation. For example, utilities shouldn’t be swayed by the attraction and seeming ease of responsive design to deliver consistent presentation of mobile content on every screen size. The tradeoff for such a solution is heavy files and slow page load speeds. 

An IBM study found that 63 percent of online adults experiencing a problem with a mobile transaction would be less likely to do business with that company via other channels. Speed is integral to a mobile experience, and must be planned thoughtfully. A few key tips can help ensure speed is at the forefront of design goals:

Keep it Lightweight: Make sure the mobile experience has reduced size images, minimal JavaScript, and reduced CSS so that the mobile site doesn’t become a data hog.

Reduce IP Requests: Mobile needs to be treated differently from a desktop experience by minimizing the amount of IP requests. To put this in context, desktop browsers often make more than 100 requests for a single web page to display completely, but mobile sites should aim to be in the 40 to 60 request sweet spot. 

Strong UI/UX: If a website is visually appealing, it will make the user experience overall more pleasant. Utilities should choose colors that stand out and create a touchpad experience that’s straightforward and easy to navigate. Pages with purchase transactions should direct customers to the checkout process with ease and minimize the number of steps to complete it.

Test Repeatedly: The best way to improve performance is to constantly test and retest. Some companies even bring in a third party who specializes in mobile performance testing, for dependable and actionable feedback.

Engagement and Brand Differentiation

Beyond mobile-friendly industries like retail and travel, mobile is an important part of brand and customer experience strategies for all businesses, including utilities. Mobile affects everyone, but the utility’s strategy should be approached with the customer’s needs in mind. The mobile experiences a utility creates should be designed to save the customer’s time, as well as provide critical information and service during outages and other emergencies.

The time is now for utility companies to provide customers with a useful and reliable mobile experience. Utility companies have the opportunity to leverage mobile technology to better establish brand loyalty, offer customers the engaging experience they want and need from their utility companies, and most importantly, establish themselves as a trusted lifeline for users in times of crises.

Endnotes:

1. “Sandy may be the most damaging hurricane in recorded US history,” Examiner.com, Nov. 3, 2012.

2. http://allthingsd.com/20121106/all-it-took-was-a-hurricane-to-make-utility-company-mobile-sites-popular/

3. “What Hot in CRM Applications in 2013,” Gartner, June 20, 2013. Also see “What’s Hot in CRM 2013: Interest in Mobile for Streamlining Sales and Service,” Forbes, June 28, 2013.

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