Consumers today no longer see you and your brand in isolated interactions, they journey across devices, mediums, and physical locations in the course of accomplishing a single task. There is a thin line between the physical and digital experience today, as objects are able to exchange live data, thanks to technologies like the Internet of Things. Users have evolved through these experiences and raised the bar.

Consider the touchpoints in making an airline journey: first a consumer may visit the website to search for flights, and do an online booking. She may get the confirmation via an SMS, and details of the flight via an e-mail, which she may read on a smartphone. Next, she may check in using the smartphone, and choose seats from a kiosk at the airport. She may receive in-flight messages on a TV console once she is seated. During the booking on the website, she may come to know about promotional offers and upgrades, and redeem her frequent flier miles. There is a variety of information and interaction at each channel.

Gaps Frustrate Consumers

When organizations do not “mind the gap” in transition between channels, consumers are very frustrated due to the disconnect between what the brand promises and their actual experience.  They do not care about channels, they care about getting what was promised with minimum fuss. And they think of their experiences across all channels and touch points over a period of time.

For example, if an insurance company advertises that it will reliably settle claims without any delay, but makes a consumer go through long-drawn, frustrating steps, from website to call center to emails for that, it will belie their promise.

The Multiple Device Dilemma

Today, a large part of the consumers’ multi-channel journey is carried out online, on various devices. We live and interact in a world that is rich in devices: desktops at work, televisions at home, smartphones and tablets everywhere. Consumers no longer access media or carry out their online activities in isolation or at one go. People hop from device to device and carry out their activity on all of these, either simultaneously or sequentially.

The Multi-Device World Quantified

New data about the connected world is constantly emerging. A very insightful Google survey provides some rich data about consumer behavior in today’s multi-screen world. The key findings indicate that 90% of our media consumption is in the online world (a majority on smartphones). It further shows that 90% of consumers move between multiple devices to complete a task. For details, refer to the survey here.

From this study, it is clear that you need to consider the entire journey your consumer makes with you and create a consistent experience that fulfills what your brand promises and is appropriate to each digital platform.

Ensuring a Seamless Multi-Device Experience

When designing a multi-screen, multi-device experience, the aim is to create a single, yet appropriate conversation with your consumers. Here, we share a few principles that can ensure this.

1) Make your Designs Adaptive

Every device has its own technology characteristics and strengths. For example, smartphones provide you with the user’s location, allowing you to build a ‘digital to physical’ transition feature into your mobile app. The app can have a feature to locate your nearest store or ATM, which may not be so useful a feature on a website. Also, not all channels are right for all tasks, especially due to varying screen sizes of devices. You need to use appropriate adaptive design techniques and pick and choose tasks per channel. If a mobile app is being used to collect movie tickets, it has no place for extensive reviews of the movie.

2) Provide Seamless Transitions between Channels

Users are often interrupted, or they may choose to switch the devices. Ensure that this transition is frictionless to them.

If the device ‘knows’ and remembers the user’s data, preferences and history across all devices, you can predict their needs and actions and proactively present them to users.

Consider someone who was viewing a movie online on his smartphone, and switched to his computer after reaching home. It would be a disjointed experience if the movie did not begin where he had left it off, but seamless if it did.

3) Support Contextual Tasks

People use devices at home, at work, and on the go. Tasks and information have to be presented keeping contexts in mind. Ask yourself: “What are the most common tasks performed on this device?” However, ensure that you support the most important common tasks on all devices.

For example, in one of the cross-channel design experiences we created for FundTech (a financial product), we did not show complicated, extensive financial data on their mobile app. Instead, we focused on making tasks like “pending approvals” handy, while giving more detailed data on the desktop version.

4) Be Consistent in your Identity

Users like consistency. The layout, visual design, functionality, and the tone of messages should be consistent across devices to build trust and emphasize the brand. Once that is achieved, each channel can be linked to another to cross-sell and up-sell. Conversely, if a consumer has a bad experience in one channel, say a store, it impacts the entire brand. And he or she is less likely to order online from the same company, no matter how well designed the web site is.

Being adaptive, seamless, contextual, and consistent in the design of your digital interfaces will help overcome the multi-device challenge, leading to customer loyalty and better returns.

Article by – Mohit Kanakula

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