Friday, 27 November 2015

Your Customers Need You to Upgrade Even if Some Don't Know it Yet

I upgraded my smartphone this week. I didn't need a new phone for my current uses, but I upgraded because the nature of business communication is changing.

I primarily use my smartphone for calls, emails and texts, and as an alarm clock. More and more, smartphone use is eclipsing my basic needs. People are using them as their preferred business and education tool.

This trend was spotted two years ago by Soundview when they launched their on-line course division. I remember speaking with the CEO who predicted that most leadership development would soon be delivered via smartphone. To enable mobile use, my course, Building Your Change Capability, was filmed in bite-sized fifteen-minute segments that could be accessed anywhere at any time. Education is now mobile.

Statistics tell a compelling story of the expanded role they play in people's personal and professional lives:
  • Over 6.0 billion people use mobile phones  that's 87% of the world's population (Source: Global Web Index)
  • In 2015, the penetration rate of smartphones in Canada grew to 68%, representing a year-over-year growth of 24% (Source: Catalyst)
  • U.S. adults spend an average of 2 hours and 51 minutes a day using mobile devices (Source: eMarketer)
  • About 65% of information searches start on a smartphone (Source: Michaels & Associates)
  • 99% of mobile learners believe this format enhanced their learning, and 100% say they would complete more training in a mobile format. (Source: eLearning Industry)
  • By 2018, at least 70% of mobile professionals will conduct work on personal smart devices (Source: SailPoint)
This communication shift is important to my business and its customers. Part of what makes my change and capability solutions relevant is that they are delivered in formats that my clients use. They now must become more mobile friendly because this is where people's needs are going. To do this well, I must become more mobile savvy.

My first steps were to upgrade my hardware and change my behaviour. As I compared my new and old devices, it was clear that all specifications had been improved  power, connectivity, storage, image quality, screen size, camera features  to enhance the communication experience. Why did I wait this long to upgrade?

It was fascinating to hear the sales representative, Jerry, explain how he uses his smartphone; it enables all parts of his personal and professional life. I am next, I thought.

My learning curve has been amusing. My bigger, heavier phone felt like a brick the first time I made a call. Also, it peaked out of my front pocket as I left the store. Jerry said, reassuringly with a smile, "Don't worry, you'll get used to it."

Yesterday was day one of behaviour change. I started an on-line course on my smartphone. I also read the news and downloaded a F. Scott Fitzgerald book to read on my Kindle app. My new phone is becoming my preferred business and education tool.

The biggest takeaway from my upgrade experience is that we need to evolve with our customers, and ideally faster than they do. This is as true for the advertising agencies promoting customers' products in an increasingly digital world as it is for universities educating students located remotely around the world; relevance is defined by the people we serve. We must upgrade our mindsets, skills and behaviours, even if some of our customers don't know it yet.


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