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How to engage with customers using a mobile app


You’ve spent thousands on developing your mobile app – and that was the easy part. The real challenge lies in getting customers to download and use it. Struggling to get customers to engage with your mobile app? It’s time to rethink your mobile customer experience strategy, suggests Olive Huang, Research Vice President at Gartner.

Think about what’s on the home screen on your phone — probably e-mails, photos, weather and your favourite social or messaging apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, WeChat or Instagram. It’s unlikely to be your utility company, insurer or local council. Industry studies show that mobile users spend 70-80 per cent of their time on their top three apps. This makes mobile apps a challenging engagement channel. Many brands have apps with low download rates or that are abandoned, forgotten or deleted.

Gartner believes that 90 per cent of large enterprises will not achieve a competitive advantage through their mobile strategies during the next three years, due to siloed investment in mobile customer engagement technologies. This is largely due to the lack of a holistic understanding of customers’ mobile needs and expectations.

It’s not just about the app. Consider also the role that a mobile-friendly website, progressive web apps, chatbots and mobile messaging might play in engaging with customers. Invest in an overall mobile strategy if you want to expand customer interactions and improve their overall experience.

Businesses must think through the support processes required to make their mobile app or device experience seductive and beneficial. If their apps don’t let customers do the things they need to, customers will be forced to go to a laptop or make a phone call.

To effectively engage customers via mobile devices, there are three steps you should take.

Step No. 1. Design a complete engagement strategy.

Team up with your business counterparts to design a complete mobile customer engagement strategy, which may cover uses ranging from mobile marketing to billing and customer service. This will achieve the right balance in the frequency of each type of interaction (inbound, outbound or event-triggered) and the intensity of the engagement. Many organisations suffocate prospects with campaign-driven mobile interactions that encourage them to buy but ignore them after they become customers.

Step No. 2. Observe customers, competitors and other industries.

Start with a detailed study of what’s considered best-in-class mobile customer experience in your geography and industry. Also, be willing to learn what adjacent industries consider to be state of the art and customise your strategy. An often-overlooked step is to publicise and socialise both improvements and additions to the customer experience/capabilities. Call out the fun aspects and the utility of the application improvements simultaneously. Use alerts and notifications to re-engage customers that may be losing interest over time.

Step No. 3. Treat mobile analytics as essential.

Include in-app analytics to measure user engagement across messaging channels, mobile websites and applications. Not only will you find out how much time customers spend on your app and the number of visits on average, you will be able to gauge behaviour based on live usage. Then you’ll know exactly what’s driving engagement, conversion and retention. If you have an app-centric strategy, your mobile app must run so well that there’s no need for customer service. A slow application, or one that is hard to read, navigate and link to the rest of a process, is already doomed to fail. Proper use of analytics will help to mitigate this risk.

Rushika Bhatia

Rushika Bhatia is one of the region’s leading commentators on business and current affairs issues. She is the Editor of SME Advisor magazine - the flagship title of CPI Business. She is passionate about infographics – with special emphasis on data, research and statistics. Rushika has a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University, USA and is also CIMA qualified.