June 27, 2014
Recently, I’ve been on the go: I’ve just returned from a two-week sprint that took me to five different cities by plane, train, and car. Any frequent traveler is familiar with the logistical challenges that make multimode transport inconvenient – whether it's dashing between connecting flights or strategizing a taxi pickup to catch the train, switching between methods of transportation can make for a trying, disjointed journey overall.
As I settled into one flight by turning off my mobile phone and opening my laptop, it dawned on me that our path through the fragmented digital world is similar to my multiphase journey. As our physical location changes and as we realize the limitations of certain device experiences, we reach for various devices to carry out the task at hand – often, we complete one activity sequentially across screens and expect a seamless experience.
In fact, Forrester's Consumer Technographics® data shows that more than half of US online adults who begin tasks on their mobile phone continue them on their laptop. These consumers are most frequently purchasing products, checking emails, and researching items:
The idea that we live in a multiscreen world and get things done by moving between devices isn’t news; Google published a report detailing such cross-platform consumer behavior in mid-2012. However, the fact that consumers are now more connected (research shows that UK adults shift between devices 21 times in one evening on average) and have come to demand frictionless cross-device experiences indicates the increasing importance for companies to deliver.
In her recent report, my colleague Cory Munchbach says that “consumers’ purchase and decision journeys have become ever more fragmented [. . .] By researching products online and with mobile devices, consumers expose themselves to brands they might not have previously considered, enlarging their consideration set at exactly the point where, according to the traditional funnel, it should narrow.” Today, conducting an online task isn’t as straightforward as boarding a direct flight – instead, various devices are the legs of the journey that lead to certain consumer behaviors. Therefore, those companies that offer the smoothest experience across channels have the best chance of retaining loyalty and enhancing overall customer satisfaction.