Why it's essential to have a customer-facing app
It’s more than a decade since Apple coined the slogan, ‘There’s an app for that’, to indicate the boundless variety of functions – some practical, some fun, some just plain cool – available on its iPhone.
These days, most of us use a variety of apps every day, not only on our iPhones and iPads, but also on Android phones and tablets. Even boring old PC-based software packages like Microsoft Word have been rebranded as apps for the age of the mobile device.
No wonder innovative challenger banks like Monzo and Revolut are basing their offer entirely on apps.
Why should your business have an app?
They days when many apps were gimmicks of questionable utility – or simply glorified, phone-shaped web pages – are long gone.
It’s not just over-eager early adopters who expect the businesses they use to provide an app. People use apps to order their groceries, to book cinema tickets and gym sessions, to hire bikes and find dates. Even to manage their bank accounts with high street banks. Apps have become completely normal and mainstream. Consumers are used to apps.
Why do consumers prefer apps?
With iPhone users now at an average screen time of 3-4 hours per day, it's clear we are becoming increasingly dependant on our smartphones. People use their phones from turning off their alarm in the morning, to setting it before they go to bed, with their apps helping them to get things done throughout the day.
A well-designed app offers a seamless customer experience that’s much more intuitive and easy to use than a website. And not just the ‘on the go’ mentality of 21st century consumers that makes apps appealing or the convenient reach of a smart phones when sitting at home on the sofa.
Try to access your bank account on your PC and you’ll often be asked to use your phone to verify your identity. Because phones are more secure than computers, increasingly, people are learning to cut out the middle man and just pick up their phones. Consumers trust apps.
Won’t an app put off older users?
Nope! It’s a big mistake to assume apps are just for millennials on their smart phones.
That cohort of older consumers who never got used to technology is dwindling fast. Far more numerous are the Baby Boomers who are perfectly comfortable with tech, but who no longer spend their days in front of a computer. Retirees are the real ‘iPad generation’: they’ve learned to do just about everything on phones or tablets. Including managing their pensions!
Do app reviews matter?
Where does the modern, app-savvy consumer go to find new apps or to assess which apps are best for them? There’s an app for that too!
The Apple App Store and Google Play Store are not just where apps are bought and sold, but also where they establish their credibility. Reviews by fellow consumers are the most trusted source of information about apps and for a company's app: the expected quality of service that they plan on delivering to customers. Because of this, having negative app reviews is actually worse than not having an app at all.
Smart app developers and business owners pay attention to those reviews, because they understand they are far more influential than professional reviews in tech journals that most people don’t read anyway. We can tell you, a 5-star app review doesn't necessarily mean that the the app was built to perfection, but that companies are actively listening to customers and developing based on feedback.
App developers also have an opportunity to respond to the feedback provided by reviews. Users value that kind of responsiveness more than they expect apps to be perfect from the get go. They are happy to be part of the process of making them better. Everyone benefits.
So, in short, unless your business is based on offering a ‘ye olde world’ historic experience, you need an app because your customers expect it. And they expect it because it’s a better way to interact, but if you're going to do it, do it well or partner with companies that can do it for you.