Rated “M” – Some Material not Appropriate for Mobile

We don’t live in a paperless world – yet. Paper still plays a part in the dramatic pursuit of effective customer communications, but it may have lost its top billing status. The rising star is mobile. Organizations failing to accept this fact may find themselves in the same position as silent film producers after the talkies came out – behind the technology trend and scrambling to catch up.

Paper continues to have its place. Companies won’t be able to decommission their paper document workflows for quite some time – maybe never. Like veteran actors, you can count on paper’s familiarity, experience, and trustworthiness to turn in solid performances where they are needed.

Mobile first

However, it is important to recognize that customers will consume information created by your organization in a number of methods and formats, many of them mobile platforms. Mobile document presentation needs to be part of your customer communication strategy. In fact, it might be smart to start with the assumption that customers will be interacting with your organization primarily through mobile devices. This makes the task of designing and generating documents more difficult than simply converting your old printed items into a PDF. Applying more makeup to aging statements and reports won’t help. To really embrace mobile communications requires a different perspective.

A mobile-first approach provides organizations with a whole slew of usability and interactivity features capable of improving customer experiences and providing new insight into customer behavior.

Here are some areas to consider when re-designing print documents for presentation on mobile devices:

  • Brevity – Review the information included on printed versions and trim out unnecessary items. Try presenting summary or snapshot views of data. Customers who want the details can click on drilldown links.
  • Video – Including video guidance to explain complex documents can lower call center costs while simultaneously improving customer satisfaction; it may even increase customer’s purchase/acceptance of additional features and programs. Use video to deliver more information in less time. Customers may be on the go when they access your documents on their mobile devices, so reducing reading time is advantageous.
  • Readability – Responsive documents that adjust according to the size and orientation of the device are more difficult to create but have a big impact on customer satisfaction. Customers confronted with a document designed for print but delivered to their phone are quick to move to more mobile-friendly content.
  • Variable images – Including data in graphical form can make consumption on small screens easier. Scrolling through columns of numbers is too tedious. Other applications such as infographics tap into human brains which process visual information thousands of times faster than text.

Some companies that migrate away from paper and towards electronic communication models often concentrate solely on reducing the costs connected with paper documents. They may choose the quickest and cheapest way to eliminate those expenses. Porting unchanged legacy print documents to a mobile platform, however, is like watching a silent film in a surround-sound theater. Communication may occur, but it isn’t much of an improvement.