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Is your mobile app a conversation starter?


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2 min read

Small things get unnoticed

I love being surprised. 
By the most ordinary things, the things you don’t even notice anymore because they’re so ingrained in our behaviors. 
Being able to identify these small, everyday things is a major source of inspiration for me.

Glancing at the home page of my smartphone I happened to notice these two app icons. They were right next to each other, but very different:

One was informing me that I had new messages with a little red badge showing the number of messages.

The other was just sitting there, showing me the name of my bank.

Nothing unusual about that, at first glance

However, this little red badge containing the number of messages got my attention. It was talking to me, urging me to read my messages. Someone had something to tell me, there was something I needed to know. It was important. Good news maybe? In any case, behind this badge there was a personal message addressed to me.

In the other app, nothing. Nobody talking to me. Doesn’t my bank have anything to say to me?

It did, in fact. 

A few days later, I got a phone call from the bank. Apparently there had been a fraudulent charge on my bank card. They would be sending me a new card. 
I waited a few days. I received a new code by mail, and I had to go to my bank to pick up my card.

None of this was in the app. Not a trace of it. 
The bank’s app is not MY application. It’s just a generic app, the same for everybody. It’s understandable, we all have more or less the same expectations for a bank app on a mobile device…

So I’m renting a villa in the country on Airbnb for my vacation.
I’m wondering if I should take out some travel insurance, what would happen if I have to cancel after I’ve paid my deposit. I’d like to ask my bank by sending a message through the app. But I can’t do that either.

Markets are conversations

Most B2C mobile apps are like that. Inert. No options for communicating through the app. There’s no red badge because you can’t communicate with your Customer. Of, course, there are other ways to communicate. I could call my branch or go there.
But that requires a lot more effort from me. 

So instead of looking into insurance options, I’m going to open my messaging app and pop into my social networks. I have some new message notifications. At least with those apps you can talk to people and conduct business.

Ask yourself this: If you make it hard for your customers to communicate with you, will they be loyal? Can a customer who forgets you exist be a “good customer”? No notifications means no future for the relationship.

The 4 golden rules of brand mobile apps:

1/ Foster communication with your customers through your mobile app.
2/ Send customers notifications when there are updates to their account or when you have interesting things to tell them.
3/ Respond to their inquiries as quickly as possible.
4/ Give them plenty of reasons to be loyal and feel positively about your brand.

Originally published Oct 27, 2015, updated Dec 30, 2022

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