To App or Not to App? Base Your Plan of Action on This Simple Formula

By Bernoff, Josh; Ask, Julie | CRM Magazine, March 2014 | Go to article overview

To App or Not to App? Base Your Plan of Action on This Simple Formula


Bernoff, Josh, Ask, Julie, CRM Magazine


SHOULD you create a mobile app?

That, it turns out, is a very complicated question.

You already know that your customer is in the midst of a mobile mind shift. Her smartphone will tell her what the weather will be, whether the bus is late, and the balance in her checking account. In a Pavlovian way, each of these actions trains her that whatever the question is, she can find the answer on her phone.

What can you offer her? How should mobile interaction fit into your customer experience?

Your job is to decrease the distance between what your customers want and what they get. How you do this will depend in part on what experiences you already offer. Picture a consultant's two-by-two diagram. Along the horizontal axis is the frequency of the customer experiences that your company offers. Don't count advertising--only count experience with your products or services. If your customer interacts with the company more than once a week--as with a bank or a mobile phone--the experience is frequent; otherwise, it's infrequent.

Along the vertical axis, look at the quality of the customer experience. You could measure this with Forrester's Customer Experience Index, by Net Promoter Score, or with ordinary customer satisfaction surveys.

Your mobile strategy depends, in part, on what quadrant your company is in. If you deliver a frequent, high-quality experience, your customers probably like you. But these customers are demanding. Since mobile is part of many of their other experiences, they'll expect you to be on their phones too.

Companies in this quadrant can extend their positive customer relationships with mobile. For example, Starbucks has saved its customers time and added convenience with its mobile payment application. These customers, who already like Starbucks, have mobile expectations; Starbucks delivers. The result is an increase in loyalty, crucially important for frequent relationships like this.

If you deliver an infrequent, high-quality experience, you can use mobile to give your customer more chances to interact. A great example here is baby products from Johnson & Johnson. People interact with the company infrequently, and there's no obvious role for a baby powder app. But J&J realized that its customer's real problem is not baby products, but rather the huge challenge of taking care of a baby. …

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