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How to Create a Successful Customer-Facing Mobile App

Customer-facing mobile apps are quickly becoming a great way for a business to connect and communicate with customers. The idea is to create an app that will help increase customer engagement and satisfaction which then leads to more sales or transactions.

How can you take advantage of this trend?

You have to do more than just build a mobile app…If you build it, they don’t always come. So in that regard we have identified five important success factors that many of the top customer-facing mobile apps utilize.

What is a customer-facing app?

We should probably start with a quick review of what a customer-facing app is. In a nutshell it is a software product (app) hosted on or connected to your systems that are used by your customers to interact with your company.

A great example would be the Geico mobile app that you see in all those commercials with the pig. With the app you can manage your policy, pay your bill, provide an ID card, or request roadside assistance.

Of course there are all sorts of services a customer-facing app can provide:

  • Content Management Systems
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Work Order
  • Returns
  • Configuration
  • Quotes
  • E-Commerce
  • Customer Integration
  • Vendor Integration

Really with a good design you can accomplish a lot with a customer-facing app.

Five success factors

These factors are all equally important:

  • Platform compatibility – More than likely customers are going to span a standard demographic in regards to device and operating system use. Currently the top phones shipped are Android with an approximate 85% market share. At the same time, Apple still has a dedicated segment. Therefore it makes sense to launch an app on both platforms or risk alienating or disappointing the other group. Would you ever pursue an idea that might alienate 20% or more of your customers?
  • Free of bugs – Most users hate apps with bugs. If an app freezes up or causes the phone to lock up it will be deleted by 80% of users after or one or two tries according to a Nielsen study. That means your app should be tested, re-tested and market-ready before it is released.
  • Value – Obviously this is a big component of any app; what can you do for the customer? Your app must provide some service or shortcut to key, relevant information. Also it needs to do what you say it will because that app is a window into how you do business. You want your app to provide value to the customer.
  • Easy navigation – These days everyone has a smart phone regardless of their level of ‘mobile maturity’ so your app needs to e easy-to-navigate and intuitive in nature. People want to be able to use an app without an instruction manual or confusion.
  • Fast loading – Did you know the median download time expected by users for apps is 2 seconds? Again, you app is providing value and it needs to do that quickly in today’s fast-paced world. If it takes too long customers will get frustrated at you and your app for not providing what they expect.

According to a Nielsen study, the average smartphone user owns 41 apps. Think about that for a minute. After you take out a browser, email program, messenger program and a handful of other basic apps that leaves you with about 25 or so apps yours needs to be better than to crack the rotation.

If you want to create a successful customer-facing app you need to deliver that value along with performance and provide a great experience otherwise it is never going to create that interactive experience between business and customer you designed it for.


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