Great strides were taken in 2015 toward rehabbing relationships between brands and consumers. One industry buzzword we're glad to leave behind? Omnichannel. It means nothing to consumers, and brands still struggle to connect with them in a way that matters and solves their problems. Whether they're in store, at work, at home, or in the air -- one thing is certain: They have their mobile device on their person at all times.

Mobile has become the lifeline of consumers worldwide, meaning brands can no longer ignore or treat it as a "nice-to-have" part of their strategies. We will see significant investment in enterprise-wide infrastructure that values mobile as the primary medium for customer service, not just another channel.

In 2016 we will see:

  • Mobile's watershed moment continued. In 2014, for the first time mobile visitors trumped desktop trafficon Thanksgiving Day. But what really made businesses take notice was that on Black Friday, 2015, average order value on tablets was higher than sales made on desktops, proving mobile is putting its money where its mouth is, and this trajectory will continue in the new year. Now that we're talking real money instead of subjective site visitors, whose value can be argued, brands will rethink how to best support the highest-earning channel. And there will be fewer "doorbusters" and more "online flash sales" on Black Friday, 2016.
  • Omnichannel will be leapfrogged. If you want to be taken seriously when talking customer service, stop saying "omnichannel" immediately. Mobile is the one channel to rule them all in 2016, and there is nothing "omni" about it. Customers access all the traditional channels through this one device. Businesses will have to adapt to the thinking of newer businesses like Uber, which are built with the only critical channel in mind. That's where their customers are accessing the product, so why would they be anywhere else? Even the lines between brick and mortar and mobile are blurring as smart brands like Macy's leverage mobile to enhance the in-store shopping experience, and The Home Depot connects its pro account holders directly with customer care professionals through its mobile app without making them call.

Bottom line: Companies will need to stop spreading themselves so thin across every platform and build infrastructure to focus on being in consumers' pockets.

  • More frequent, shorter customer interactions. With mobile lowering the wall between brands and consumers, contact will not only be easier and efficient but more frequent as well. While this might seem like an operational burden, it offers brands the opportunity to create relationships that improve lifetime value, retention, and connection between them and their customers. Facebook will make strides in turning messaging between businesses and consumers into a reality, and brands need to be ready for this shift. The report Customer Messaging: Exceed Consumer Expectations and Reduce Costsis a great place to get started.
  • Harry will get off hold. As a result of all the changes above, my friend Harry might finally realize his dream of getting off hold. It's absurd to think about how much our day-to-day communication with friends, family, and coworkers has evolved when we are still forced to use a technology developed in the early twentieth century to get our questions answered by brands large and small.

It's trite to say that mobile is taking over; however, 2016 is time to go beyond merely optimizing your website for mobile visitors and overhauling your customer service backend to support the one place we know for sure they are spending their time and money -- their mobile devices.

For more on how to make 2016 your best year yet for improved connections, check out this infographic to keep your customer service resolutions.

Published on: Jan 11, 2016