Monthly Archives: October 2015

Mobile is dead. Long live mobile. 5 tips for brands in an untethered world

mobile is dead

I recently heard a director of digital and e-commerce of a retail brand say, “we don’t really care about mobile” and nearly shat myself.

I’d recently had Mexican, and it wasn’t agreeing with me.

I’m kidding…their statement did almost cause an involuntary bowel movement.

Luckily I have a strong sphincter (read: I do kegels) and the crisis was avoided.

I was, however, momentarily stunned by the statement of someone I assumed knew that mobile commerce was one of the largest contributors to retail revenues in 2015 – to the tune of a projected $104 billion according to Internet Retailer.

With mobile accounting for more than 30% of all US e-commerce traffic, I chalked the executive’s statement to early morning alcohol consumption, clandestine drug use or undiagnosed Turrets.

But as I thought on it further, I realized that perhaps the functional addict of an exec was actually on to something.

A decade ago websites were the holy grail for e-commerce.

Five years ago SMS was an absolutely essential component of brands’ marketing strategies.

A few years ago having a mobile site or app was critical to a brand’s success.

And now brands are weighing the importance of having a wearable strategy.

All this to drive traffic, increase engagement and conversions on websites, mobile sites, and apps.

With the advent of IoT, wearables, ‘smart’ devices, and thin clients are going to enable incomprehensible levels of engagement – making the actual platform used to connect virtually irrelevant.

This shift is changing the way we interact with the world around us and the brands that want to reach us.

So in honor of the wayward exec I maligned, here is my top 5 list for preparing for an IoT world.

1. Accept that people are always on.

We are always reaching for our devices. Sleep seems to be the only time we’re not literally on our devices. But with devices like the Apple Watch doubling as a nightstand clock/alarm clock, we’re closer than ever to achieving actual ‘always-on’ status. At a glance, we can get weather updates, stock tips, heath status, schedule and virtually any random piece of information one desires. No longer are we required to ‘boot up’ a computer or suffer some cumbersome process in order to get information. Today, we can just ask Siri, Cortana or any of a dizzing number of virtual assistant (even on our damn tvs!) and activate/initiate some desired action. With IoT, there’s no going back.

2. Be diffuse but don’t dilute.

water down

Once upon a time, mobile sites we trimmed down versions of full desktop sites. The thought process was that with the smaller real estate, users wouldn’t be able to process the same amount of information, and that information overload was the equivalent of a poor user experience. So many brands opted for ‘brochure’ mobile sites, stripped of the functionality available of desktop sites save a few basic options. Today we know better. With smart phones housing increasingly powerful processors, greater real estate for presenting content from larger screens, and loads of data about mobile user behavior, having a mobile site that functions like a full desktop site or offers the same utility, and is adapted to mobile user behavior ensures that you’re enabling your users rather than hampering them. In the age of IoT, brands will become adept at applying the lessons learned in mobile to wearables to avoid watering down utility.

3. Meet your audience where they are.

meet people where they are

I’m sure you’ve heard of brands adopting a multi-channel or omni-channel strategy as it relates to targeting their users. Basically, these terms refer to the evolving mindset that you can no longer build it and expect them to come. Today, you’ve got to meet them where they are, which increasingly requires that you first understand where they are, and second how to engage them in those spaces. You cannot simply say, “I’m going to make my website available on mobile and tablet devices and wearables” (unless you want to fail miserably). Yes, you should have an approach or strategy for intelligently being present in the spaces your users are, but don’t blunt the efficacy of your presence with a one-size-fits-all mindset.

4. Build bridges back to you.

hyperlink

I once received an email offer in my inbox with no hyperlink to a landing page or the website for the offer itself. There was no specific call to action or clear indication of how to take advantage of the promotion. Outside of communicating that there was a sale, the brand didn’t make it particularly easy to take advantage of it. Major miss. If you’re a brand with a compelling offer, make sure that you make it super simple for recipients of that offer to take advantage of it. For example, if you’re offering 20% off at checkout and that ad is my entry point, make sure there’s a cookie that auto fills the promo code box at checkout and the user doesn’t have to backtrack to find the code.

5. Think like a user.

personas

I recently read an article about a shopping app, in which the app’s creator was the first user/shopper. The article went on to explain how the app’s creator continued to use the app to shop, even though he had thousands of shoppers and a staff of thousands. Why? Because knowing the user experience from a first person perspective was critical to ensuring that the app contained to meet the needs of shoppers. As a brand, it’s one thing to have an idea and quite another to see how you idea manifests in the real world. Make sure you’re putting down your marker, stepping away from the white board, and walking in the shoes of your users to know exactly what their experience is in the real world. As a corollary to this point, make sure you build personas which speak to the different types of people who will engage your brand, so you’re thinking through not one user journey, but the many possible user journeys of the various users.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under digital advocacy, mobile, technology

Apple Care+ FAIL! Geniuses my arse!

cracked apple watch

Note: You can read this long ass post or skip to the end and watch my video recap instead. The choice is yours!

This post was originally going to be a rant about the Top 10 Things I hated about iOS 9 (.1, .2, etc.), but my recent trip down the Apple Genius Support rabbit hole has me too hot to poke jovial fun at them.

Why am I all hot and bothered, you ask?

Well, because a few weeks ago, after working out and sculpting my exquisite ebony physique, I opened my locker, pulled out my gym bag and heard the distinct shatter of Ion-X glass.

A chill ran up my spine as I slowly looked down to see my precious Apple Watch.

Face down on the cold granite floor.

Even before I reach down to picked it up by one of it’s delicate rubber straps, I knew.

The sound I heard was true.

A horrible crack coursing along the length of the bottom and up the watch face greeted me as I turned it over.

Running my finger over the fissures, I could feel the splintered glass.

Damn! Damn! Damn!

Although I’ve maligned the Apple Watch as a mere toy, it was an expensive toy to which I’d become accustomed.

It’s once annoying subtle haptic taps had become welcomed reminders, alerting me to meetings, calls and milestones reached.

And it told time!

But all was not lost.

You see, I had Apple Care+, so getting this fixed would be nothing but a chicken wing.

When I got back to the office, I popped open my MacBook to schedule a repair appointment.

Alas, there were no appointments anywhere local until the following day.

So I made an appointment to take my watch into the Apple Store at Grand Central at noon.

When I arrived, I was seated by one of the Geniuses, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I waited for an hour and a fucking half before I had to just grab someone and be like “What the fuck?! I’ve been here an hour and a half, is anyone going to help me?”

Befuddled, the genius (notice I’ve gone to lowercase “g”) asked me my name, my appointment time, why I was there (didn’t you have all this already when I checked in?) and scurried off.

A few minutes later (I was giving her the evil eye the entire time – lest she forget her charge) she returned to advise that someone would “be right with me.”

True to her word, two minutes later a multiple-piercing sporting, gauge-earing wearing, mohawk rocking vertically challenged genius walked over to “assist” me.

When I showed him my watch, he told me that they didn’t perform these types of repairs in-house and that my watch would have to be sent out for repair.

He further advised me that it would cost me $79 (or something in that neighborhood) when the repair was done, which I would pay when I came to pick up my watch.

Finally, he said that it would take five to seven days for the work to be done, but that I would get an email notifying me of everything we had discussed.

The entire transaction took 90 seconds.

I waited an hour and a fucking half to essentially hand over my watch.

Un-be-fucking-lievable.

Mind you, did I get a confirmation email, like I did when I scheduled my appointment?

Did I get a follow-up email five to seven days later?

Did I receive any communication whatsoever from Apple regarding my repair.

Thrice, “no”.

And I was missing my watch.

So on the one week anniversary of dropping off my watch, I called Apple Support.

I actually called the Grand Central Station Apple Store at (212) 284-1800, but once I selected ANY option, I was re-routed to their general support call center.

After running the automated attendant gauntlet, I was connected with a human who established that:

  1. I was never assigned a Repair Id typically issued with every repair
  2. The Case No + Serial number combination typically used to track repair orders in lieu of the Repair No. didn’t work

When she finally pulled up my repair status, it confirmed that my watch had, in fact, been left with Apple at Grand Central for repair.

And it further showed that it had been received by the service center, assessed and that a replacement product was ‘pending’.

To figure out why I hadn’t received any notice and resolve the hold up, the operator asked me to hold for a few minutes so that she could contact someone at the Grand Central store for some answers – and presumably reunite me and my watch.

A few minutes on hold became five minutes, then ten, then fifteen before she rejoined to ask me if I wouldn’t mind waiting a little longer while she attempted to get someone at the store.

At this point, I had been on the call for over 30 minutes and wasn’t keen on holding longer.

“I gave you my number at the start of the call in the event we got disconnected, can’t you just call me back when you reach someone?”

“Oh no! We can’t call you back. You’ve got to stay on the line.”

“Well what would you have done if we had been disconnected?”

Silence.

“You know what, I’m going to go.”

By this point, I had learned that the store should have had my watch on premises and decided it made more sense to go to Grand Central and handle it personally than wait on hold for the operator to talk to someone at Grand Central.

Which is what I was originally trying to do before being re-routed to their call center.

But I digress.

Not looking for a repeat of my previous trip, I accosted the first person I encountered with a genius shirt and iPad and asked where my watch was.

Befuddled (they’re always befuddled), the genius asked for my repair id and serial number, plugged them into her iPad and reported that the repair center had determined that the watch could not be repaired and my watch was going to be replaced.

Duh!

She then traipsed off to the back to see if my watch was in stock.

Returning five minutes later, she told me that there was no inventory, but that I’d receive an email when they had more inventory.

I wasn’t going to be so easily put off.

“Can you see if another store has the watch?”

Connecticut.

“Can you ask them to send it?”

Apparently just because it showed up on her iPad as being in their inventory didn’t necessarily mean that they had it in store, and “no” they couldn’t ship it to me.

Satisfied that I was one step closer, I left on her promise that I would be notified when my watch was in stock.

That was one week ago.

Have I been notified?

Do I have my watch?

Negatory.

Oh, it’s on!

New tactic: chat.

I wanted to make sure I had a record of the tom foolery that Apple was putting me through, so I hit them up via chat.

Surprisingly, “Kathleen” was on-point.

She found my repair record, reviewed the notes, and listened to my experience with a sympathetic ear (or eye rather, since it was all being communicated via text – but you get my meaning).

Per Kathleen:

According to our Dispatch, due to a recent update in our system, the store should be providing you a replacement, directly from their stock, which is what Dispatch thought they were doing. It appears the store wasn’t aware of this, which is why I’d like to have a Phone Advisor contact the store with you on the line, to set it up so you can get it right away.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

True to her word, someone was called me while we were still on our chat.

Gratified, I thanked her profusely, let her go and continued my saga with the “Phone Advisor” who was going to get results!

Or so I thought.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

This little hussie wanted to argue with me about what they were telling her at the store.

Why hussie, you ask?

Well because I was on hold for an HOUR only to have her come back and tell me the same shit they initially told me when I called a week prior.

Every time I tried to explain why what she was telling me was pure crap, she starting taking on top of me Apple-splaining why “product replacement pending” meant “repair in progress.”

I was too through.

Too. Through.

I told her that I needed her to put someone else on the phone who could help me, and that’s when I received the coup de grace – Marlene Caldera, Apple Care iOS Senior Advisor.

Now we’re getting somewhere, right?

Wrong!

She got on the call, all official-like, promising that she would own this issue through resolution.

Impressive sounding indeed.

But it was all downhill from there.

She explained that “product replacement pending” actually meant that my Apple Watch could not be repaired, so the store had ordered a replacement watch, and that replacement was not yet in.

Confused, I advised Marlene that this was contrary to what Kathleen had explained about the store replacing my watch from inventory, as well as what the (so-called) genius at Grand Central had represented.

And then our call was promptly dropped.

Yes. You heard me correctly.

Our call was dropped.

As in dial-tone.

Luckily, Marlene had provided me with her direct contact details for just such an event.

So I called her back.

And got her voicemail.

And called her again an hour later.

And got her voicemail again.

And called her a third time an hour later.

And got her voicemail thrice (it’s my word o’ the day).

Way to own this issue, Marlene.

Did Marlene call me back.

Am I pissed as hell?

Well lets just say…

f you guys

Apple is making me very angry, and as Bill Bixby used to say…

I’ve got a few takeaways from my recent experience:

1. Apple Care+ is not the service it’s positioned to be. The service I received makes me wonder why I even paid for it.

2. Never, I repeat never go to the Apple Store at Grand Central Station. It’s one of the nine circles of hell from Dante’s Inferno.

3. Don’t drop your watch. They break and replacing them is a bitch.

For those of you who don’t like to read, here’s my video rant.

2 Comments

Filed under Apple Watch