Tuesday, 06 March 2018 15:29

How to achieve app happy customers in the application economy

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No matter the size of your business, digital transformation and the journey of continuous improvement awaits you, and the way many will interact in the modern era is via the app or apps your business provides.

The digital world has transformed the way we do and run businesses, in ways we've all become very familiar with over the past decade.

One of the most visible ways of interacting with a business these days is via the apps it offers to its customers, be they internal, external or partner based, and the better the apps offered, the better interactions with all relevant parties, and the better business will be run and customer loyalty won.

One of the companies out there standing ready and specialising in the world of digital transformation and within that, app creation, is CA Technologies, which late last month put out its newest study noting that the need for digital transformation across APJ has reached a "critical level".

So, we spoke to Sushil Kumar, senior vice-president of Product Management at CA Technologies, on the topic of the app economy, and the advice he shared to make businesses and their customers app happy.

Q. How fast do customers want experiences today, especially in a world where instant gratification no longer appears to be instant enough?

Kumar: In the digital world, experience is everything. But more importantly, research shows that all it takes is three seconds to lose a customer’s business. If an app or website doesn’t respond in three seconds, the customer is gone – it’s that quick! This makes it critical to identify and repair issues before they impact the customer.

Q. So, how is the consumer’s ‘give it to me now’ mentality driving the application economy?

Kumar: Our entire environment is going through a big transformation – a digital transformation that has become the primary channel for interaction. In line with this, we’re seeing that the biggest brand consideration drivers have moved away from price and further towards speed and customer experience, which is both a challenge and an opportunity for businesses navigating the application economy.

As the customer experience develops and improves, their expectations develop and grows with it. The opportunity for businesses is in creating greater differentiations and, for some, to marry traditional services with modern capabilities. Quality of customer experience is what separates the winners from the losers in the application economy.

Q. Apps are now commonplace, but apps can also get slow, as if it were a hard drive needing defragmentation. How can businesses mitigate application performance management issues?

Kumar: Application Performance Management (APM) is often an after-thought. But the reality is that if an application isn’t designed to perform, it’s not going to, no matter how you try to fix or shoehorn it. Crashing apps will see a customer move away from that app and use something else.

Any organisation developing an application needs to have the customer experience in mind, right from the design stage; it must be the prime criteria. This means monitoring and measuring through every phase of the application developing and then continuing this when the app is live through a cycle of reviewing and acting on the available data. This ecosystem of continuous development and delivery can only be based on metrics that put the user at the centre of the app, every step of the way.

Q. So in saying that, what do you advise businesses need to do to ensure they aren’t losing customers because of unresponsive or under-performing apps?

Kumar: All businesses agree customer experience is key, but more than half don’t even know what kind of experience their customers are getting today. The point is, if you don’t want to lose the customer, don’t hope for a good customer experience, ensure one! This means making sure there’s a robust process in place for tracking their activities, understanding their interests and anticipating their next move. If you are not monitoring, you’re not serious.

Q. Ok, so what's you're answer to the question of "what's more important, the product or the customer experience?"

Kumar: I know in the US, where I’m from, 83% of consumers say having a positive customer experience with a brand is more important than the product itself. In fact, a good example of this is the way in which businesses respond to an issue. With effective monitoring in place, they should be able to identify and respond to issues before the customer reports it.

This becomes a business opportunity in itself. By apologising for the trouble and offering – for example – a discount voucher by means of an apology, the brand experience has just gone through the roof! This is how you win brand loyalty.

Q. CA Technologies as a decades old company has itself had to have its IT teams overcome complexities from an ecosystem of legacy and new technologies. How do you help your customers successfully navigate the same issues?

Kumar: Today there are a wealth of digital businesses that exist online. They’ve navigated the digital world from the start and built their business around using online tools and software. The greater challenge is not for these organisations but for the traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ businesses that are extending their business into the digital world. CA is helping customers through their digital transformation journey every day and we have an integrated set of tools to do this.

What’s absolutely vital in this process is the understanding that IT also needs to go through a transformation, eliminating silos and thinking more holistically about the customer experience to which absolutely everything should correlate. CA’s goal is to help businesses become the digital natives of tomorrow.

Q. And what if brands diagnose faults in the customer journey? How do you suggest they do this?

Kumar: The key is to know your customers, the issues they’re running into and what their journey looks like. This means using software to ask – where are they abandoning our workflow? And why didn’t they complete their transaction? Every company operating in the digital space should have real-time visibility into what’s being offered, combining information on business and IT functions. Through this, a holistic view is created and the learnings should be used to refine and optimise the customer journey.

Q. Finally, what role do monitoring and analytics tools play?

Kumar: A huge role! It is humanly impossible to collect the level of data on your customers that’s required to create a good customer experience, and of course to compete.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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