The United Nations recently announced that there are as many mobile phones as there are people in the world—6 billion to be exact. To support these billions of devices, there are more than 1.2 million mobile apps in existence, and those are just the ones in the Apple App Store and Google Play store. Of course the first few (hundred) of the top apps were driven by entertainment or lifestyle—think Angry Birds.
However, it seems as though some brands have jumped on the mobile app bandwagon too quickly. Even companies that typically have security and risk concerns, like banks, are charging full steam ahead with mobile app development and innovation. In their haste, many companies are simply designing the latest "me too" app to have a place to send customers. Unfortunately, these formative apps typically look like a cluttered version of the companies' Web sites. While at first both designer and user seem happy, this euphoria doesn't last. Why? Many apps were created to simply look pretty and only be used for brand recognition in the app store, with developers later realizing that there is no reason for consumers to reopen the app.
Brands should be creating apps with the intention that they will continually evolve and provide functional use to consumers. While aesthetics are nice and the need for consumers to return is a must, there is also the need for brands to create access to service into the design of every new communication channel. A customer service phone call doesn't always have to be the answer, but providing some point of communication with a company is imperative—whether it is an email, a text, a tweet, or a Facebook post. There are even mobile customer care solutions that provide smartphone users with instant access to agents in the contact center and beyond, all at the press of a button within companies' branded mobile applications.
With a laser focus on customer service, there is a tremendous opportunity to greatly improve the customer experience on mobile devices. Building apps that make a user want to come back for more takes time and careful consideration. Here are five simple tips anyone building a transformative enterprise mobile app should consider:
1. Declare your long-term goals. What happens after you've got a loyal customer base on your app? How does it help your business? Is your objective to drive attention, innovation, or revenue; cut costs; or offer the best service possible? By clearly stating the goals of the app, you can provide an experience more suitable to the customers.
2. Connect the app to service. Not doing this is the biggest mistake that most brands make. Don't dead-end the experience. You've made the investment in creating the app. Now take that one last step and make customer service easily accessible—and simply providing an 800 number isn't enough.
3. Leverage alerts and notifications. Mobile alerts allow for a new way of sharing that has been unprecedented in the communication between enterprises and their customers. While we saw the beginning of this with social, mobile allows businesses to directly communicate value to their individual customers like never before, on their terms.
4. Present dynamic in-app information. Brands have a unique opportunity to connect with customers in a way they never have before. A smartphone is a personal device, and by providing personally relevant information to a customer, a brand is able to make a connection that may not otherwise be possible on other channels. It is important for a brand to keep the customer wanting more.
5. Continue the conversation. Many interactions between customers and companies have become more fluid; they cross channels and no longer fit into clean little resolution codes or help tickets. These types of positive interactions create long-lasting impressions. In order to continue the fluid conversation, use the customer data you have at each touchpoint.
Marketing has typically led the charge for mobile apps, and the app developers have most likely been given a charter based on form over function. This is great for getting attention in the app store, but it won't keep people coming back. Ultimately, the apps that succeed in the marketplace will provide a compelling utility, not just to download but to use repeatedly.
Mayur Anadkat is the mobile product marketing manager at Genesys. He has more than 14 years of experience in enterprise customer service software, working in a variety of strategic marketing roles. Previously, he worked with Avaya, Hyperion, and Visa. Follow him at Mayur@Anadkat.