Connecting with customers through apps

by Leon Gettler | |   Growing Your Business
Connecting with customers through apps

CEOs have to know how to manage apps to build their markets

Apps are on the rise, they have become an important way to build a market. CEOs have to know how to manage them and use them effectively.

According to Forbes, 78 per cent of American companies are reporting an increase in their mobile app audience. More companies are using apps as part of a post-sales loyalty strategy. They say apps have the greatest impact when it comes to maintaining loyalty post-purchase. The apps are also driving efficiencies. “More than two-thirds of executives report the number of end-users of their internal apps has grown over the past year; they see apps playing greater roles in facilitating sales, communication and training processes as more and more internal end-users rely on mobile devices to do their jobs.”

The Forbes Insights team says that most companies are finding that apps offer at least some exclusive content that cannot be found elsewhere. Only one-third say their apps mainly mirror services and information available elsewhere. The most important benefits seen with customer-facing apps are enhanced customer communication (83%) and customer service (79%), and that is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, with 87% seeing customer communications as the most important benefit in the coming two to three years, and 82% saying the same about customer support. Also important is the ability to facilitate transactions (purchase, order/account look-up) (69%), along with brand engagement (67%). Respondents expect product communications to also increasingly become an important aspect of their public apps. To get word out about their apps, most companies rely on either their websites or email.

They say the big challenge for companies is having marketing departments that can design user friendly apps and who know how to measure app usage, either with content views or with downloads.
The apps builder website has some great tips for creating effective apps. Creating in-app feedback forms is an exceptional opportunity for all app owners to get precious feedback on their app, spot the services that need to be implemented and offer users an alternative channel to complain rather than posting comments on the web. They should also offer customers services that can only be accessed via an app. These services could include weather forecasts, route planners, tip calculators, and discount calculators. The more the company offers on app, the greater the chance of the customer coming back to you. And geo-location features allow the company to target customers geographically, while push notifications let them offer services or products when people are most likely to be looking for them or need them.

User experience research agency UsabilityOne says there are three types of apps to choose from: native apps that require installation, and as such, should be targeted at users who would need to use them more than once and should be designed with the intent of engaging the user in a longer interaction; web apps which don’t require installation and which can be managed centrally and outside of an app store and so updates and improvements to the interface can be made quickly and cheaply and mobile optimised websites which are cost effective in facilitating occasional use without damaging perceptions of the business by providing a poor experience.

How do you manage apps?