Omni-Channel Customer Engagement Article

'Disposable' Apps Keep Mobile Customers Engaged

July 01, 2016

Think of all the apps on your mobile phone. Which one of them are “keepers,” and which ones do you use once and then ignore? First, there are the one-time apps we download and use for a short time, while we’re in Disneyworld, for example, at a concert and while looking for airport services. These apps don’t really need to entice us to come back again and again…by their very nature, they are one-time use events.

But what about the apps that keep us coming back? What’s so different about them? For starters, they’re services we need every day: weather, traffic, messaging, shopping or banking. But there’s more to “sticky” apps than serendipity. Commercial entities should take a good long look at their apps and determine how to best keep customers logging in daily, according to a recent blog post by Aspect’s (News - Alert) Evan Dobkin. It becomes a valuable aspect of a full customer engagement experience.

“These apps are very likely to become a bridging technology so that people are able to get even more out of their interactions with companies in both the virtual space and in physical spaces,” wrote Dobkin.

Dobkin and Aspect tout the usefulness of what they call “disposable apps.” Disposable apps are mobile Web apps written in HTML5 so they are usable on any smartphone without the need for a download.

“A disposable app is ‘disposable’ because it is outbound in nature and focuses on the task at hand – it only lives for the time of transaction. It is pushed as a link, typically via SMS, which can lead to an immediate action/response from the customer through the simple touch of an embedded URL. It leads them directly to a page offering either timely information or the option to respond and take action,” wrote Aspect’s Tobias Goebel.

These type of apps are far more fuss-free for both the company and their customers, and their usefulness makes even occasional use of value toward improving the customer experience, particularly if the apps allow easy input from the customer including natural language (like a virtual assistant), bar code scanning or messaging. Dobkin uses grocery store apps as an example.

“A disposable app could allow me to text free-form the ingredients that I have (fresh produce, meat/seafood or dry items like rice/beans) and use NLU [natural language] feeding data to a knowledgebase to return links to recipes that tell me what and where I need to get the rest the items for my new dinner,” he wrote. “Going a bit further, we understand the power of messaging as an entry point that adds value to the existing functionality in native applications. A simple barcode reader using the phone’s camera could allow me to scan in pantry items to receive recipe suggestions from both the grocer and the manufacturer when I’m at home with more time. We’ve now created significant value for the consumer, the vendor and the manufacturers who have an even better idea of the consumer’s tendencies and how to better engage with them moving forward.”

It’s often native apps – when retailers or other service providers try to build their own from scratch – that lead to poor usage. By taking advantage of disposable apps, companies can avoid the need for high levels of maintenance, and customers can more easily use them without having to download anything, or create new user names and passwords. In the end, customers will be more likely to use these apps…and continue engaging with your company in a convenient channel that keeps them coming back again.

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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