In a SxSWi session moderated by Brian Morrissey, both Shiv Singh and Adrian Ho had good insights on how to improve mobile apps.
While the panel on extending your brand did not touch upon B2B uses for apps, these new platforms are a really good way for brands to interact with customers in contextual ways -- to be there at the moment of purchase.
What would that mean for a financial services firm? Or for a chemical manufacturing organization? What about an IT infrastructure services company?Customer service = access
We're used to thinking about customer service as the conversation that engages when something goes wrong. What would happen if we thought about it as a way to provide access to your business? Access is a very powerful concept.
We like to have options, even when we end up not using them. Think about an app that would give customers more control over the level of contact they have with you. Sure, some will take advantage of it at first. Think about access especially at the moment of purchase. Even with B2B business -- contract signing and setting up.
Take a look at the adoption curve of any app with analytics embedded in it, and you will see that the initial enthusiasm of discovery does not sustain over time. That's where B2Bs can actually outshine B2Cs in the utility and social realm. How?App = instant access to information
You're in the financial services industry -- think about presenting valuable information in a two-way format, with embedded feedback. Take what people search for on your Web site -- certain keywords or types of information -- and find a way to repropose links, cheat sheets, a live chat like feature.
Are there manuals, data sheets, conversion charts that people need in the field and could use an upgradable version for their smart phones?
Much of the information is readily available today. How do you make it more convenient, useful, and social? Can you expand your definition and charter for customer service to be an obvious place to access information and interact a la new marketing?
Ecosystem thinking = sponsor vs. build
Ecosystem thinking is social. It lets you address the sustainability of an application during the customer buying decision journey -- and their service experience. Many B2B companies do business through partnerships, for example sourcing products from the same place.
If you're thinking about catering just to customers, building an app may make sense. However, for it to succeed, check in with Singh's practical advice. Ask:
- is this a passionate brand?
- does it have a great content/utilitarian use?
- does it change on a frequent basis?
You need to have all three to make the investment of time and resources sustainable over time. An app is a platform, so you should not treat it as a campaign. And of course, measurement needs to extend beyond number of sessions and length of sessions to outcomes.
What do you think? Would you use an app for customer service/learning?
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