Like most Canadian homeowners, I received last year’s property tax bill via snail mail, and paid it over the phone using my credit card. It was a relatively straightforward transaction, but, given a choice, I would have preferred to deal with it the way they do in Arkansas.
In more than 45 counties in the state, homeowners can enter their property address into a mobile Web browser and pay their tax bill – in whole or in installments – directly from their smartphones.
In my Utopia, every interaction with government would take place on a smartphone. I’m not alone. More than half of Canadians own a smartphone, according to Toronto-based search marketing firm Catalyst, and, increasingly, they want to use mobile as their primary channel to connect with business and government.
But neither the public nor private sector appears ready to answer the call for mobile-first in the digital world. Recent research from Altimeter suggests that, while mobile represents one of the best opportunities to engage with customers and constituents, organizations are grossly underfunding investments in this strategic area.
In a report entitled The Inevitability of a Mobile-only Customer Experience, co-authors Brian Solis and Jaimy Szymanski found that most organizations still treat mobile as a “bolt-on” to existing digital initiatives.
“While consumers are quickly adapting to a mobile-only world, businesses are plagued by mobile mediocrity,” states the report.
Mobile is often positioned as just another channel in a broader digital marketing campaign or strategy, rather than a standalone initiative with its own business case, and as such, it receives limited resources and support.
“This buries mobile in slow-moving bureaucracy, unable to nimbly adapt to shifting customer expectations,” Szymanski writes. “Companies must establish collaborative relationships between each level of the digital hierarchy in order to adapt quickly to changes in mobile customer behavior.”
Public sector strategists looking to make mobile a top priority in 2015 can follow Altimeter’s four-step framework to creating citizen-centric experiences:
Map the Journey: Study the mobile journey as it exists to understand the devices used as well as the challenges and opportunities. Then analyze mobile customer data to define mobile personas – the types of people who will use the app or mobile site and how they will use it – to inform strategies.
In a recent Gartner Webinar, Robert DeSisto, VP and distinguished analyst, recommends setting up cross-functional teams that include IT and business unit leaders to brainstorm on how specific personas will use the app.
Reimagine Mobile: Strategists should architect a mobile-optimized experience that is specific to each device or environment, whether it’s a smart phone, tablet or a mobile Web browser.
When National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the U.S. released Alternative Fueling, an iPhone app designed to help the public find alternative fuel stations, it pulled information from a Department of Energy database with location data on the more than 15,000 alternative fueling stations throughout the U.S.
Measure and Optimize: Define intended citizen responses and outcomes at each step. Link back to strategic goals and key performance indicators to measure progress and optimize engagement.
“Defining these actions and effectual returns from the onset creates the foundation for a technology development roadmap,” said Altimeter’s Solis.
Create Alignment: Present citizen findings, the mobile-first journey and key business outcomes to the greater working team around mobile, digital and customer experience. Run pilots to validate research and gain support.