The way people are using digital devices is changing.
Customers expect their experiences with brands to embrace devices and channels in the same way they do - universally. Understanding the drivers of customer digital behaviours is the only way to deliver effective and engaging digital services that meet their changing needs.
We are constantly surrounded by connected digital devices. Be it the smartphone in your pocket or the computer you use at work, we’re never too far from a screen where we can catch up on news, find useful information, or entertain ourselves with a quick puzzle game.
Because of this, we’re more connected than ever before. With the convenience and availability of media experiences on digital devices, digital is establishing itself as the primary venue for performing all kinds of tasks and consuming all kinds of content.
In 2013, for the first time, digital media consumption outpaced traditional media, including TV, radio and print combined, accounting for 57% of global daily media consumption of any kind. With this shift, has come all of the benefits that digital holds over traditional media: Your newspaper doesn’t know who you are and what’s relevant to you, but Flipboard collects all the latest news in your favourite categories. Your dumb TV, no matter how much time you spend with it, can’t understand when your favourite show is on, but your smart TV will automatically record it and remind you. Your FM radio doesn’t know the name of the song that’s playing, but Spotify can generate a personalised playlist based on it. Your checkbook can’t check your maths, but your budgeting app can track your spending and alert you when you go over the limit.
Beyond the benefits of smarter services, the driving force behind digital’s growth is the overwhelming demand for services on mobile. So great is this demand that it has propelled mobile into the largest single digital device category, holding 60% of the total time spent consuming digital media as of June 2014.
It’s safe to say that this increase in mobile use is rooted in the rapidly increasing capabilities, convenience, personal relevance and the common feeling that mobile devices are just as capable and useful as other kinds of computers. They’re being used, not only as on-the-go stop-gaps between PC access as many used to assume, but all of the time - even when we’re sat right next to other screens like laptops and TVs.
The everywhere-ness of this kind of digital media experience means that it can take place in varied environments, during different activities and on an array of devices.
Whether it’s picking up on your living room TV where you left off on your smartphone during a commute, finishing that email you started writing at your desk after you leave the office, or buying a new pair of shoes on your tablet after researching them on a laptop, more and more digital activities are fractured across devices.
According to Ofcom, 50% of households in the UK have at least 4 connected devices (including computers, phones, tablets and connected TVs or game consoles). These various devices are preferred in different environments and at different times of day. But, while some activities have clear biases towards certain devices (for example, people generally prefer to check recipes on tablets rather than smartphones), the increasing trend is the expectation to be able to access the same content, use the same tools and complete the same tasks, regardless of the device that’s being used.
Services like Kindle and Netflix offer seamless transition from one device to another mid-stream by unpacking services, de-siloing teams and technology platforms, and pre-empting returning users with simple options that bring them the content they were previously consuming - rather than making them look for it.
Businesses that hope to stand up to this shift in consumer expectations need to adapt to survive. Too many organisations are hindered by lack of communication between internal business units, having drawn lines between traditionally separate activities like marketing and customer service.
Customers who experience your brand don’t care how your company is structured, they see your business as a single entity - so when one customer touchpoint fails to match the expected experience of another, it will be perceived as a failure of the brand as a whole.
Buzzwords like omni-channel and transmedia can be useful for capturing fall short of capturing the true extent of these expectations of unified experiences because customers don't care which device they're using, they only care if your service works or not.