This post originally appeared on Marketing Tech News.

Companies that focus on customer-centric mobile experiences will outpace those that lead with technology considerations, according to a recent report by Altimeter Group: The Inevitability of a Mobile-Only Customer Experience.

In our research, we found that mobile’s technological implications should remain considerations during the final stages of mobile strategising only, as they represent a means to an end, not the end in and of itself.

Two Smartphones Mobile Second Screen When brands lose sight of customer lifestyles, needs, and problems throughout their path to purchase, it leads to unwittingly optimising digital strategies for mobile in ways that don’t fit with rising expectations. This results in misinformed investments in cross-channel and multiscreen approaches that cause the very problem they’re solving for—channel-hopping consumers who are forced to visit multiple media to complete a task.

My colleague Brian Solis and I spoke with more than 20 companies that are approaching mobile from a customer-centric point-of-view, including Zappos, MasterCard, Intuit, Old Navy, and Citi. We uncovered that, as mobile positions itself as the customer’s true “first screen,” it is increasingly becoming the standard for hosting the customer journey.

Mobile investment’s catch 22

Unfortunately though, investments in mobile are lagging, as strategists struggle to prove mobile’s value among competing digital, marketing, customer experience, and IT priorities. It is a catch 22 as strategists try to make the case to prioritise investment in mobile: executives require results to approve funding, yet funding is required for processes and technologies to build the business case.

Additionally, we found that mobile is often positioned as a facet of digital marketing, which itself is part of a larger marketing division. This buries mobile in slow-moving bureaucracy, unable to nimbly adapt to shifting customer expectations.

When mobile is aligned with a single department, other groups must work in isolation, complicating or degrading the customer journey.

We found that a mobile working group is a powerful solution, acting as an internal lobbying organisation across multiple departments. This aids in showcasing mobile’s importance to leadership, as well as providing the manpower needed to consistently keep tabs on customer experiences and analyse related data.

For those digital strategists looking to make mobile a top priority in 2015, we advise following four key steps to creating customer-centric experiences:

1. Map the Mobile Customer Journey

Study the mobile customer journey as it exists today, including devices used, challenges, and opportunities within each. Delve into data specific to your mobile customers to define “day-in-the-life” mobile personas that inform customer-centric strategies.

2. Re-imagine the Mobile Customer Journey

Design a mobile-optimised journey, by device, to win each moment of truth. Experiment with strategies that both enhance and prevent channel hopping or multi screening, while also complementing other channels. Define a series of intended mobile experiences at each stage of the customer journey, aligning each with customer personas and related data.

3. Measure and Optimise

Define intended customer response and desired outcomes at each step in the mobile customer journey, by screen. Link back to business goals and shorter term KPIs to measure progress and optimise engagement in each moment of truth.

4. Create Alignment Through a Test-and-Learn Approach

Present customer findings, the newly minted mobile-first journey, and key business outcomes to the greater working team around mobile, digital, and CX. Run a test pilot of the roadmap to validate research and ideas and gain internal support.

Once strategists and executives embrace mobile customer experience at the core of strategy development, mobile reaches the company’s DNA level and is no longer treated as a “bolt-on” to existing digital initiatives.

The result is an ROI that moves beyond light engagement metrics like click-through rate (CTR) and app ratings, and into the realm of increased customer satisfaction, retention, recommendation, and—ultimately—customer lifetime value. Now, those are results that will turn any executive’s head.

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