Charting the growth of the app store since it launched in July 2008 is to watch a market explode. In just a few short years it has transformed how people use their mobile devices, built many globally successful businesses and changed the way that well established brands connect with their customers.
You only need to look at the rise of mobile banking to understand how a well executed app strategy can have a transformational impact on customer behaviour and the way that businesses are structured. A poor app strategy, however, can lead to an expensive mess that confuses customers and delivers little value to your business.
Apple’s app store now has at least 1.2M individual apps available for download. Many of these designed and launched by major brands in a rush to stake their claim on an exciting global market place with little consideration for whether customers actually want or need what they are offering.
This ‘land grab’ approach may have worked in the early years as companies rushed for ‘share of pocket’ and ‘customer attention’ during a period of exponential growth, but the result for many brands is a highly fragmented and expensive app portfolio with no consistency of experience or real reason for existence.
At Seren, we believe that apps are a hugely important tool for improving customer experience, but only when you take a considered approach to how they are developed and deployed.
1. Think customer first
Research will help you to understand what customers actually want from apps. By focusing on their needs you are able to cut through the assumptions and politics that exist within large organisations and develop an app strategy that is rooted solely in what customers want and value and that will have a positive impact on their lives on an ongoing basis. You want to create something that is embedded into their life, not opened once after installation and then eventually deleted.
Customer insight will quickly allow you to make informed decisions about your existing app portfolio; which should be kept, removed or combined. It will also highlight where the gaps are in your current portfolio that present an opportunity for you to do something different.
2. Take time to understand the context of use
There is often a tendency for app developers to think solely about their own small piece of interaction with a customer and not how their creation could and should fit into your broader experience strategy.
We spend a lot of time thinking about the complete customer lifecycle across multiple channels to make sure that we understand exactly what an app needs to do as a standalone experience as well as how it should integrate with other touchpoints and, in return, how those touchpoints should be configured to help customers get the most out of the app experience.
For example, apps have the potential to drive huge efficiencies through things such as self-care and account management but they will only do this if their functionality and remit are properly considered and sit comfortably alongside the way that you design your call centres and the information that you make available to those teams.
3. Make the experience consistent
A unified digital identity is about much more than making your apps and websites the same colour. Tone of interaction, consistency of navigational structure and the way that app functionality is integrated into all of your other touchpoints are all important considerations.
At Seren we consider this to be the new frontier of branding; designing holistic, customer-focused multichannel experiences that deliver real value to your customers and your business.
4. Give your colleagues the tools to make informed decisions
Customer insight is worthless if it isn’t applied to the day to day operations of your business. We develop strategic frameworks that take customer insight and structure it in a way that is focused on helping your business to make better-informed decisions about how you develop apps.
They are powerful tools for helping you to guide the way that apps are developed, who owns the process and where they sit within your wider experience strategy. Ultimately helping you to use your resources more effectively, control the proliferation of apps across your business and improve customer experience.
We have helped some of the world’s best brands in financial services, telecoms, media and gaming to develop experience strategies and build market leading app portfolios.
Get in touch to find out how we could help you.