THE BLOG

Making Your App a Customer Engagement Solution

05/08/2013 09:45 am ET | Updated Jul 08, 2013

The Challenge: Businesses know mobile apps offer tremendous customer engagement opportunities -- if done correctly. Unfortunately, businesses can also eat up marketing budgets -- without the customer engagement payoff -- if mobile apps are not planned out with customer needs in mind.

According to Forbes, the world has gone from 0 to 60 billion mobile app downloads in just the last four years. However, in a Nielsen Research Study, of the 82 percent of U.S. adults who are now active cellphone users, 43 percent now have apps on their phones. But, 56 percent said they delete the apps they don't use, most within two weeks of downloading them.

Don't be "another" app. Be an engagement tool.

To avoid the dreaded deletion, it is vital to understand why people would want your app, how they'd use it, and why they'd want to return to it.

All too often esthetics or programming issues push their way front and center. But, don't forget that the best applications do more than look good, they:

  • solve a problem
  • simplify life
  • and engage customers

Based on customer analysis and feedback, T.G.I. Friday's decided that they needed a way for customers to easily obtain their check, pay, and be on their way. To facilitate this amenity, they developed the "My Friday's Tab" app that lets customers start a tab, keep track of their bill, and checkout with a click of a button. After its initial release, the company updated the app to include many additional functions that further increase customer interaction and involvement with the brand.

Takeaways: Here's how T.G.I.Friday's got it right and how you too can engage mobile customers:

  • Solve a problem: The app lets customers pay and go without having to track down wait staff or bartenders. This eliminates customer frustration and also frees up staff for more "fun" interactions with customers.
  • Simplify Life: The new app offers access to the rewards program; a "locate a Fridays" function (that also provides driving directions;) customers can get up to date on food and drink specials; and they can review the menu.
  • Engage the Customer: The app enables customers to become a part of their own experience at the restaurant. They can have full control over what location they choose to visit, how to redeem reward points, earn new points, decide what to order, and pay without any staff involvement. The app puts its customers in total control of their visit.

If you are going to go through the expense, and effort to develop an app, be sure that it is an app that your customers will want and use over time. Apps are amazing customer engagement tools. (If they are used.)

Ernan Roman is recognized as a Customer Experience innovator and was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame for creating three transformational methodologies: Voice of Customer Relationship Research, Integrated Direct Marketing, and Opt-in Marketing.
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He was also named by Crain's B to B Magazine as one of the "100 most influential people in Business Marketing".

Ernan is also the author of the widely read blog, "Ernan's Insights on Marketing Best Practices", (www.erdm.com), and author of "Opt-in Marketing" and "Integrated Direct Marketing".

ERDM's Customer Experience strategies achieve consistent double-digit increases in response and revenue for clients, which include IBM, MassMutual, QVC, NBC Universal, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, and Symantec.

As a leader in providing Voice of Customer research-based strategies, ERDM has conducted over 10,000 hours of interviews with customers and prospects of these clients to gain an in-depth understanding of their expectations for high value customer relationships.