Customer engagement strategies: Building great apps, enhancing the user experience

By James O'Brien

The user experience is an essential element of every mobile app. For enterprise developers, success means elevating the experience from simply good to truly great. To achieve outstanding results, stellar customer engagement strategies must leverage personalized, tailored and proactive app touchpoints for new users and loyal customers alike.

Within the ever-expanding mobile app space, the pressure is on. Nearly 1.5 billion smartphones will ship this year, IDC predicts, which is an increase of more than 10 percent from 2014. As more consumers engage with mobile devices, enterprises are pouring resources into reaching those users through mobile applications. Red Hat recently reported that nearly 70 percent of its polled information technology leaders are prioritizing mobility and mobile apps this year.

When enterprises succeed at building powerful, personalized and popular tools, the rewards include new customers and increased revenue. When developers miss the mark and misunderstand what customers actually want, the results can include audience attrition and the loss of future earnings.

With so much at stake, let us turn to key approaches that can make the difference between apps that are “good enough” and the kind of apps that users — and developers — will count among the great.

Great Apps Create Tailored and Personalized Experiences

A recent IBM Thought Leadership Study conducted by Forrester Research surveyed CMOs, CIOs, IT/app development leaders and CISOs on their app strategies, and compared their responses with the desires of a sample of consumers who use mobile apps. In the report “Why Good Apps Are Not Good Enough” analysts found that customers value functionality, responsiveness and user experience in a mobile app.

To create a great app, the report found, a number of elements must be considered: “The right development tools for rapid design and reuse of functionality, proper security to protect transactions and privacy, and integration with myriad other systems including push notification for maximum targeting and personalization of content and offers.”

Customers want their apps to know their use-case histories and they want their apps to respond to and reflect what those behaviors represent. Nearly one-third of the users polled in the IBM report said they highly valued apps that would respond to the ways they searched, purchased and used its features over time. The users additionally said that they valued apps that could read and act upon these behaviors in real time and in different locations.

News Flash: Customers Expect Proactive Outreach

Proactive prompts and push notifications are no longer just an added perk of successful applications, users are beginning to expect them as a matter of course. According to those polled by IBM and Forrester, the best apps create prompts and push messages offering discounts, coupons and other reward-based incentives. Forty-five percent of the users polled said they had come to expect that kind of proactive engagement from their app.

Despite those strong user sentiments, business leadership may be at risk of underestimating proactive engagement strategies. Just 28 percent of enterprises thought proactive prompts were a key expectation among customers.

Great Apps Put Notification Control Into Customers’ Hands

Enterprise and users were more in sync when it came to matters of user control. Forty-one percent of polled customers said they wanted to be able to manage which offers and content an app delivers to their device. Thirty-five percent of enterprise leaders polled saw control as a key customer priority as well.

Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. When it comes to customer engagement strategies, each enterprise must adjust its plan based on the needs of its consumer base. There has probably never been a better time to acknowledge and enrich the enterprise-to-client relationship. As Eric Berridge points out in a recent Computerworld article, today’s businesses exist in a world of data science. With the power of analytics in hand, mobile apps become a powerful lens into customer interactions. Developers are able to recognize patterns, identify personalized opportunities and serve content or offers to capitalize on those opportunities.

IBM’s report suggests that a great product combined with a successful customer engagement strategy results in tangible upticks in revenue. Companies with great apps saw a 79 percent lift in sales and advertising revenue.

Written By

James O'Brien

Technology Reporter

For the past half decade, James O'Brien has covered technology and the ways it intersects with our lives and work. His points of focus include data analytics, the mobile sector, driver-less cars, the Internet of Things, IT infrastructure, data security, 3-D printing, and technology…

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