To app, or not to app, that is the question.
We are in a world where smart phones run our lives. That once very simple bit of kit that was plugged into a socket in your house, or sat in a red box on the street, became portable and then became incredibly clever! It can do almost everything for you, and brands are deciding they need an app. But do they?
We talk about and create brand aligned customer experiences with our clients every day. We deconstruct the experience they are delivering to their customers into stages of the journey, and the touch points that deliver them. We assess how their customers currently feel and use the brand and customer input to decide how we should be making them feel at that moment in time. We then create their future experience. I don’t think I’ve spoken to one client where some form of digital interaction doesn’t come up in the conversation. Social media, full web sites, responsive web sites, tablets, smartphones, geofence alerts that trigger communications when you enter or exit a space, biometric hotel room entry... All great tech and all have their place.
However, I’ve always battled a little with the app craze.
When I was at Virgin Media I ran a business wide apps forum. My role was to ensure that all up and coming apps were considered from both a business perspective but also from a customer perspective. If we launched app 1, 2 and 3, do we really need them, does it make sense that they should exist as solo apps, how do they fit together strategically, how would it make the customer’s life easier and does it deliver the right customer experience for our brand?
I learnt that the most successful apps are either a time waster or a time saver. So before you dive in and commit lots of budget (because it’s an expensive mistake to make) consider the following.
Only develop an app if:
- It delivers your irresistible customer experience aligned with your brand and your target audience - if your target audience doesn’t want to or doesn’t feel confident engaging with your app, it’s an uphill and expensive struggle.
- The service cannot be delivered via a website - a responsive website (one that changes shape to look like a mobile app) can be as effective as an app and provides a lot more flexibility for changes.
- It helps customers perform a specific function repeatedly (not just once or occasionally) - ensure there’s a reason to return to use the app, because if there isn’t, it’s a waste of time.
- It helps customers to make best use of a specific function (e.g. location-based services, camera) - mobile technology is constantly evolving and certain functions can only be delivered via the phone, so an app makes total sense.
- It needs to be available offline - we are in an increasingly connected world, wifi is everywhere and more free options are being introduced, but for those moments when you’re not connected, apps can continue to operate. The only health warning is that anything stored on the phone will take up more space, which may put people off.
So my advice is to consider how your digital strategy fits with the stages of your customer journey to deliver the irresistible customer experience your brand desires. Choose the right technology.