Is Your App Sparking Joy?
Talking about Marie Kondo might be cliché, but making outdated pop culture references is the hallmark of our industry. Fortunately, it is incredibly applicable to the topic of mobile apps in the modern business. Consumer and stakeholder expectations have evolved, and we’re reverting to an ecosystem where having a mobile app is a business luxury and not a customer demand.
From “Think with Google” research to Forbes’ studies, the trends are clear: mobile app users reached peak “Does that company have an app” curiosity in 2013. Businesses must now self-promote their app and continually give compelling reasons to avoid their app being purged. We have ample incentives to prefer a customer have our app than visit our website, from background geofencing to push notifications. But are we giving our user reasons to prefer our app? That’s where Kondo’s methods align with our technologies to form provoking conversations.
Are our apps fast? Do our apps embody our brand & modern mobile design? (Hint: the nostalgia for bevel buttons is not our friend.) Is our crash rate under .01%? Can the customer easily contact us and are we responding? Are push notifications getting delivered at the right times? If any of these answers is a “no”, then we are not sparking joy.
There is no shame in saying, “Our company does not need a mobile app.” A neglected mobile app does more harm to the brand than not having one. As digital leaders we might hate saying no and we might hate shrinking our portfolio, but it is part of our role to make sure all our digital products have the respect of customers and stakeholders. This is where the well-honed practices of data monitoring are the most crucial part of your IT toolbox.
There are three areas where we must watch our apps to understand if they are sparking joy:
• App engagement - Track open rates, time in app, login successes, user flows, installs, uninstalls, upgrades, etc.
• App performance - Track crash rates, load times, device types, network speed, cache utilization.
• App reviews - Track how users are feeling, what they are saying and how we are replying.
Each of these areas is easy to neglect, but it is our responsibility to advocate the importance of these metrics. Limited app engagement can be corrected by joyful marketing and user experience. Bad app performance can be turned around by engaging with DevOps. And app reviews? That’s the secret bringing it all together.
App reviews are a public forum dedicated to the brand, and it is a great place to gain competitive advantage. If a customer loves the app and takes the time to say that, thank them. If a customer is having a problem (whether technical, design or PEBCAK), work with the user to find resolution. Fixing the problem for one vocal user resolves it for one hundred silent users.
The people using our apps are our advocates and occupying space on their phone is a special relationship - a relationship that depends on us. If an app is not helping your company, thank it for its service and retire it. However, when our company’s app sparks joy (or has the potential to), then find delight and inspiration in knowing you want to keep it.