September 3 2020

The speed at which digital technology has changed the world is awe-inspiring. Little more than a decade ago, mobile phones were more like telephones and less like pocket computers. Today, they are the primary device used across the world for browsing the internet, communicating with friends and relations, accessing social media, and doing business. 

This ubiquity has its drawbacks. Worldwide, there are nearly 9 million mobile apps available for consumers to pick and choose from. This makes acquiring new customers more difficult. More importantly, it makes customer retention even more difficult. To minimize attrition, and maximize profits, it’s now imperative to find ways to optimize your customer’s experience (CX) with your brand. For app developers, this means building a better user experience (UX) to foster loyalty and develop consumer advocacy with your client base. 

In this article, we will explore the ways to optimize CX for your brand by improving your UX.

The power of personalization for customer retention and procurement

The most important trend in mobile app development today is personalization. By delivering a more personalized experience, e-commerce platforms are bridging the digital gap and developing relationships with their customers. Be it through customization, rewards programs, improved customer service, or plain old convenience; customers are warming to businesses that make an effort to get to know them. As of 2018, nearly 80% of customers say they are more likely to do business with a company that offers a personalized experience. 

Personalization helps in a number of ways, but the two most relevant for this discussion are retention and advocacy. In a market so heavily saturated with apps, it can be very difficult to break through the marketing of your competition to reach new eyes. That’s why keeping the customers you do have is so critical in today’s market, more so than it was before.

The sad reality for e-commerce platforms is that our apps are among the top for customer churn. The window is short – nearly 71% of app users churn out within 90 days of downloading an app. 

While this is a scary prospect, it can be overcome by implementing customer personalization properly. Finding a strategy that engages the consumer while promoting impulse purchases and brand loyalty is a tricky balance that will ultimately tie into your specific product or service. It will take time, investment, and patience but it is an attainable goal. 

The key to building strong customer relationships is being open to feedback from your customers. Regardless of the level of personalization, designing the app to promote conversations between your brand and the customer will help foster loyalty and reduce churn. 

Communication and relationships through UX

Before you jump on the AI wagon, keep in mind that recent statistics suggest that 86% of customers still prefer a human customer service agent to a chatbot. That suggests that the automated customer service aspect of your UX should act as a triage system to get the customer to the right human agent able to help them with their query. While the acceptance of AI customer service is growing, to promote strong loyalty with today’s customers, you will still need a human element available for now. 

That’s not to say you should shy away from automation. Quite the opposite is true. By developing a simple, effective UX for your app, you will not only reduce churn. Over time, the loyal customers you garner will actually help you to attract new customers through word of mouth. In a 2017 report, XM Institute found that customers who rate a brand’s CX as excellent were 86% more likely to repurchase from the platform, and 77% more likely to recommend the platform to others. 

The most important part of fostering direct communication with your customers is the valuable data you will be able to collect. While satisfied customers are likely to spread your brand name, the real value is in responding to dissatisfied people. Not only does a response time of an hour to customer complaints show your customers that they matter to you, but their feedback also helps brands identify the areas they need to improve their user experience for future developments and software patches. Nothing fosters a trusting relationship quite like feeling heard.

Less is more; simple designs get the best results

Since July of 2019, more than 50% of online shoppers are using mobile phones to scroll and spend. That means money in the bank for app developers, but it should also act as a notice to exercise caution. The User experience of your app will largely determine the churn rate, and therefore the long-term profitability of your mobile platform. 

ECommerce apps are the 4th most deleted app category. That means app developers have a steep hill to climb in retaining users. The conventional wisdom being practiced across most customer-facing industries is the integration of rewards programs with their apps. While this can help retain customers and build loyalty, it runs the risk of creating an overly-complicated user experience. 

While your business model may require a somewhat more complex design, finding ways to streamline and simplify your marketing funnel is key to driving up sales and keeping your customers coming back for more. The two words that should frame your development process are simplicity and accessibility.

“Simplicity” refers to the layout of your app, as well as the funnel you use to move the customer from prospect to conversion. Simplifying your customer’s experience by reducing the number of options and customization you offer can result in a huge increase in sales. Social Triggers.com suggests that streamlining your offerings can improve your online sales as much as 1000%

For that reason, simplicity necessitates “accessibility.” How direct is your marketing funnel? If your customer finds your social media ad while scrolling on their desktop, will they be able to seamlessly switch to the mobile app or tablet? If they need help and end up needing to phone your customer service team, how easy will it be for your staff to pull up their information and diagnose the issue? How quickly does your team respond to the reviews you get online?

Accessibility should be a measurement of how well your app integrates with your website and social media, and how easy the customer feels it is to connect to your Customer Service team. Remember, in the wide-world of app development, 96% of customers choose their provider by the level of customer service they receive from your brand. 

Tech is neat, but don’t forget about people

Developing an app for the sake of implementing new and emerging technologies isn’t the right way to do things. PwC suggests that the most important function for your platform to meet is efficiency, sitting in the 80th percentile. Up-to-date technology, by contrast, was in the low 70th percentile for importance to customers versus only 35% in cost-benefits for investment.  

The same survey found that 59% of customers felt that brands had lost the human element to their online and mobile platforms. That’s more than half the users of your product asking for a more intimate relationship with your company. The UX you build into your app will have a direct impact on how your customer perceives your brand, which as we discussed earlier on can make or break your market penetration and customer retention. 

There are a few ways to do this. Integrating omnichannel marketing platforms is one way to ensure a smooth transition for customers as they move towards your checkout. More importantly, omnichannel platforms also give your tech support people the easiest view of where the customer is in the process, and thus the clearest view of where any issues may have happened.  This again comes back to accessibility – how easy it is for your customers to access your products and services through the app, as well as access support if they need it. 
                                                                                                                                       Source: medium.com

Knowledge is power

No matter the purpose your app is meant to fulfill, it will ultimately come down to what your customers need it for. Earlier, we discussed the need for personalization within the app itself. What we didn’t do is really elaborate on how a personalized UX gives you deeper insights into your clientele, and how to use it properly to improve your CX. 

With the focus shifting from acquiring new customers to retaining existing ones, app abandonment has decreased by 3% since 2015. This is largely due to companies allowing customers to determine how much and how often they hear from them. Giving the customer the choice to accept push notifications, for example, reduced first-time app abandonment to just 8%. That’s down from the 21% overall ratio. 

The same study found that using targeted advertisements would also increase customer retention, with 39% of customers starting 11 or more sessions on the app compared to just 21% for broadcast advertisements. With a consumer base that now largely expects personalized service from every provider, this isn’t surprising. In fact, it’s a clear indicator for app designers to design a user experience which makes the customer the center of attention, all while using what we learn about our users to progressively improve our ability to reach them. 

Integrating analytics from Google searches and social media metadata is important, but the best information is the information the customer gives you directly. By building your UX around the individual user, you can develop personalized funnels that will build loyalty and promote advocacy from your customers. The companies which take the time to build up their client relationships will find the new reality of the post-pandemic market easier to navigate. Finding strategies to engage your customers in the development process also helps foster a sense of familiarity which will make your customers more likely to stick around, and even to forgive you if you fail to meet their expectations.

The market is changing, and app developers need to think on their feet if they want to stay ahead. Keeping an eye on emerging trends will help you stay on the cutting edge, but before you jump to the next big technological breakthrough, remember to ask these three questions:

  1. Is it simple?
  2. Is it accessible?
  3. How does it put the user in the driver seat?

If you can answer these three simple questions while designing your UX, you’ll find your customers are satisfied and are talking about you with everyone they know. If you do simple right, you’ll find you get a great boost in sales and retention. If you get accessible right, you’ll find your customers are happy and bring you their friends and relatives. Most importantly, if you get the user in the driver seat, you’ll find the job of innovating your product and staying ahead will be much easier.