Your customer experience extends far beyond the storefront or a branded website. Today, businesses looking to make customers happier must deliver a seamless, uniform experience across all internet-connected platforms. That means your mobile presence is key towards building a memorable and high-quality customer experience. Mobile searches, apps, mobile customer service, and in-app advertisements all factor into what people think about your brand.

Defining the Mobile Customer Experience

A digital customer experience (CX) isn't synonymous with the overall user experience (UX), but there is overlap. UX in this context only extends to the experience of certain mobile assets, like an in-app advertisement link, a pushed notification, or an app. CX encompasses all of the real-world brand interactions as they happen within a mobile environment.

Streamlining CX factors such as the sales process, advertising, customer service, branding, and competitive pricing throughout the mobile user experience gives brands such as Disney, Bank of America, and Amazon a strong customer experience. No matter how you access these brands on a mobile device, you can generally count on a consistent customer experience.

The Mobile CX Tips Every Business Needs

Consider your current mobile presence. If a customer accesses your brand via a mobile channel, are they seeing all the information you want them to? On some mobile versions of a website, links and navigation look completely different. Some don't even use the same language. The rise of responsive web design has largely eliminated these issues, but some still exist. Consistency between brand interactions is key to a high-quality customer experience. As you consider your business's goals in 2017, use these tips to develop a memorable experience throughout the customer's time on your site.

1. Get onboard with omnichannel strategies.

To optimize mobile CX, companies must consider the experience from multiple stages of the customer journey and multiple digital assets. Mobile customer experience involves listings in Google and Apple maps, the user experience of a branded mobile app, geofencing and geotargeting practices, and more.

2. Proactively manage your mobile reputation.

Your customers won't always go directly to your website or your brand representatives for more information. They often leave reviews and interact with others on third-party websites. Part of what makes a fantastic customer experience is a company's capacity to identify complaints, compliments, and more on third-party applications and websites and then interact with customers on those channels.

3. Invest in evocative and optimized imagery.

Mobile experiences tend to take place on small screens--i.e., smartphones or tablets. Customers will most likely digest visual information before any of the words on the page. Use mobile optimized images that are highly relevant to give your content a boost. Optimized mobile images often include captions and are always formatted with descriptive file names, appropriate attributions, and title text, and they're scaled for mobile load time performance.

4. Get comfortable with user data.

No article will tell you as much about your mobile customer experience as a data-driven customer experience report. Use location-specific information and other analytics tools to uncover your customer base's mobile journey. Dedicate time and money in the channels where your customers (and new prospects) are most likely to spend their time instead of trying to draw them to several branded mobile products.

For example, just changing the colors on your mobile app can have a drastic effect on user behavior and attitude. I talked with TeamBlind about their mobile redesign. It's an app that lets employees at some of the big tech companies chat to each other anonymously in different channels about things like job openings or current job experiences. At one point the app had a red, gray, black and white color scheme. Customers were having too many negative conversations and flagging each other too often.

"We added pastel colors that distinguished between this channel and that channel verses this conversation," said Alex Shin, Head of U.S. Operations. "We saw those negative conversation ratios drop off the radar. Now it's basically a lot more positive, a lot more honest. We saw flaggings drop considerably as well."

5. Make customer service mobile friendly.

Modern customers won't always go into a store or call the customer service line for information and support. Instead, they search for their answers online. Optimize for your customers' behaviors instead of forcing them to call brand representatives. Provide chat functionality, simplify contact forms, and support video calls, if necessary.

Starbucks, for example, created an app that streamlined the customer purchasing process while maintaining user privacy. Many large banks, including Bank of America and Chase, enhance customer privacy with a new optional thumbprint passcode. Every business can create a helpful and value-added customer experience across mobile devices using these simple, though not always obvious, tips.

Published on: Nov 10, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.