Apps and customer experience

A well designed customer experience:

  • covers every touch point of the user journey
  • is emotionally engaging.

Here we look at how on-line grocery retailers have used apps to provide a complete customer experience, and some of the psychology behind their success.

The better a company’s systems work together the more consistent and engaging the experience.

Apps can help different sales channels and their systems to work together.

By combining the different systems, the retailer allows the user to manage information in the same way the brain does: information is always available, and can be combined in multiple ways at any time.

On-line grocery apps bring together on and off line touch points to combine the physical store with on-line shopping.  Users can read physical bar codes of items with their smart phones, and store them in their on-line account.  They can edit, add or remove items on their shopping list using either their mobile or a computer.  Registration in loyalty programmes is almost automatic.

This increases the efficiency of the each channel used; they reinforce rather than compete against each other.

Productivity is engaging.

Being productive has an emotional impact because it is rewarding.  Whenever we finish a task we feel rewarded because we have achieved something.

The video game is the perfect example of a reward system.  Each time the user wins he feels rewarded and dopamine is released in the brain, affecting the pleasure centres.  The fact that video games usually don’t have a final goal makes them endlessly rewarding and therefore addictive.

So, the more an app provides a feeling of fulfilment or achievement the more engaging the customer experience will be.

In the same way, on-line grocery shopping apps not only make it much easier to complete a task that is often boring and time consuming, but also they allow us to do it more quickly, which makes it more rewarding than going to the store.

Social media and apps work well together.

The online grocery apps use social media to encourage purchase and improve communication with their customers:

  • Customer reviews, the on-line version of asking for advice, help take stress out of decision making, reinforce a user’s choice and encourage purchase.
  • Reviews naturally regulate the market, so poor performing products can be removed more quickly.
  • Social media can support customer service, providing an immediate relief for complaining customers, improving the communication between the company and its customers.
  • The company gets instant feedback about its services and customer preferences, saving time and money in research and planning.

Create and control your own customer experience.

Customer centred apps, which allow the customer to control their own experience and become a creative agent in the transaction, emotionally engage the user.

Online grocery apps exploit this by providing recipes, which adds a whole new dimension to the experience, by encouraging the user to create something, on their own, off-line, and social.

In short, the role of an app, should not be seen as an isolated part of a company’s marketing strategy, but instead, it is an instrument which can align the whole customer experience making it complete, social and engaging.


Article originally published at Customer Experience Magazine in 2011

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