How to make your apps useful for customers


4 minute read
Alumni: Kieron Gurner

Alumni: Kieron Gurner

UX & Design Lead

Digital Insights

Over the past year, the app market has exploded. Overloaded with choice, now people want their apps to be truly useful – because if they aren’t, there are plenty of other apps on the market that are. The answer is to move away from making apps-for-apps-sake, and start finding ways to add real value to your customers, and make their lives a little easier.

Help your customers

App stores are difficult to search and promote, so currently, apps aren’t very good tools for marketing on their own. So, throw out your ideas for drawing in crowds with a new app, and instead start thinking about how an app could assist your existing customers, strengthening their relationship with your brand.

Let’s take banking apps as an example. When you’re out, but realise you need to transfer some money from your account (or pay a forgotten bill), knowing that you can do this immediately can be reassuring. Most banking apps have simpler login systems than online banking, based closely on ATM interfaces that remain secure, but offer speed of use. Once you’re in, making transfers can be a case of two or three taps, which again, becomes as quick and simple as using an ATM.

These apps aren’t obvious money-spinners, but Barclays PingIt app proves that if your apps are useful enough, you can even poach customers from your competitors.

Offer Discounts & Extras

Apps like Aviva Drive offer users a chance to earn a 20% discount on their car insurance policy, users just have to download the app, and let the GPS track their driving for a short period. The data that gets sent to Aviva is used to reward the safest drivers with discounts on their policies.

This is a great way to incentivise drivers to download the app and tell their friends about it, as it provide tangible, “real-world” rewards for them. But it’s also a great way for Aviva to get more data out of their policyholders, and get them accustomed to sharing more of their data, which can ultimately lead Aviva to develop their future products more accurately.

The Aviva Drive app is clever in that it provides an opportunity to strengthen a relationship with their customers, not just get a bit of extra data and marketing out of them, because if customers trust that Aviva is using their data in their favour, they’ll be more trusting in the long-run.

Connect with your customers at any time

One strategy is to make the process of interacting with your core business seamless. If you can make access to your services available via mobile, you’re opening the potential for customers to buy from you at any point, from any location.

Asda’s app aims to make online grocery shopping happen at any time, not just when users are thinking about shopping, which can make impulse buying groceries all the more simple.

One of the uses of the app’s barcode scanners is to add any product a user interacts with to their online shopping basket. Suddenly, users are able to do their grocery shopping anywhere by scanning any product barcode – when their work colleague has an appetizing lunch, or when they see products they want in other kinds of shops. This gives retailers the potential to win custom from other business’ marketing attempts, as well as their own.

For those users that are already online shopping customers, the app can reduce the need to search for an item online later. It also makes it easier for customers to buy more things, at more points throughout their day, which increases potential revenue.

So, how do I do the same?

Working out ways to make new kinds of interactions with your customers can be tricky. Knowing when, where and how your customers think about your products or services is the natural starting-point. But you can also think about how to provide more immediate, in-the-moment activities that provide real value.

Ask your customers questions about these things, or about what they find frustrating about interacting with your business. If you get similar answers from a few people, you’re on the path towards a useful idea that you can turn into an app. Get in touch if you’d like to talk about how we could help you do this.


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