Mobile is increasingly the first point of contact between a business and a consumer—the first opportunity a business has to surprise and delight a customer. But first impressions are not enough. A business must continue to meet the evolving expectations of its customers. How can you keep them coming back for more?
Give them what they want
Keeping today’s customers engaged is a demanding task. The attention span for most apps is extremely short: As few as 3 percent of apps are kept for a month or more after download. The key to retaining a customer’s attention is to truly understand what a user wants to accomplish in using a mobile app.
Understanding consumer desires means closing the gap between the end-user and app custodians to make informed decisions on what customers want. By closing the gap a business no longer has to play catch-up in understanding how customers are actually using its mobile services. It reduces the chance of reputational damage in the period between the emergence of a user need and it being recognised by a business.
What do we mean by context?
Here are just a few examples:
A map that starts with where I am is contextual. It’s using the context of real-time location
A shopping application that (optionally) starts with a prepopulated shopping list is contextual. It’s using the context of what I did last time.
So too is a travel app that starts by proposing previous journeys. Context is all around us and it’s rather helpful.
Context is everything
Basic mobile applications look the same, and work in the same way, for every customer. But that’s changing. Mobile apps are becoming contextual. This means:
Applications becoming context-aware, providing a personalised service to individual users, driven by their particular needs and interests at any point in time.
The service changes in real time as a user’s circumstances change.
What a user is doing, and where they’re doing it, are becoming essential factors in designing and using mobile applications.
Here are five important benefits contextual mobile services can deliver:
Better customer experience. Personalising an application—whether functionality or content—will mean a more relevant service for each individual user.
More sales. Having the capacity to promote tailored offers to customers, at the right time and in the right place, drives sales.
Lower costs. There are efficiencies in the way that a contextual service can be developed and managed, leading to cost reductions.
Single customer view. A contextual service can support a business in developing a single view of a customer, irrespective of the channel they use to interact with the organisation.
Better analytics. The vast amount of data about a user’s behaviour that a contextual service generates can be quickly and easily transformed into valuable analytics and insights.
The examples I’ve given so far are relatively simple, focussing on position and past action. But more is possible. Context can include patterns observed both within the context of the app (what actions are taken) and outside. For example, the classic usage considerations of "When? Where? Why?" Associated data, contains both context and motivation—the keys to understanding customers.
Plan for change
App owners should ensure that they stay ahead of the game by recognising the value of contextual mobile services and having the capabilities in place to make use of them. Organisations that fail to act won’t be able to keep pace with their customers’ expectations. They risk falling behind their competitors, as other businesses embrace contextual services and become leaders in the mobile services market.
The ever-rising bar
Being an app owner is not an event; it’s a question of continual engagement. In eCommerce, site owners are used to this, pouring attention into optimisation, in order to maximise customer engagement and returns. The same applies to applications; by building context into app design, and refining contextual interactions, the app experience is enhanced.