The Unexpected Side Effects of Deploying Mobile Apps

A study from Pew Internet shows that 55 percent of Americans said they’d used a mobile device to access the internet in 2012. For 31 percent of users, the primary way they access the web is via a mobile device. That’s almost a third of the American population using the Internet! I suspect mobile Internet usage to be much higher in many countries outside the U.S. Given these statistics, clearly organizations have to develop a strategy on how to engage with their customers via mobile devices, if they haven’t done so already. Note that for this blog, I am using the term customer loosely to mean anyone that your organization serves, be they members, patients, insured, borrowers, or the like, and whether you are for-profit or not-for-profit.

While the percentage of mobile-only users might be a surprise to you, I suspect the fact that your organization needs a mobile strategy isn’t. What really caught my eye this week, was a blog post about the unexpected side effects of providing mobile apps to your customer base. In a recent article on the Harvard Business Review Blog Network, The Unanticipated Consequences of a Frictionless Mobile Experience, writer Peter Kris states that providing mobile apps may very well allow you to reach a portion of your customer base which has not been actively engaged with the organization before.

Think of it this way. Thus far, your organization most likely has a highly loyal core group of customers. Those are not all of your customers, however. Learning more about the less engaged could help you discover ways to bring them into the group of close-knit, loyal customers, ideally resulting in them using more of your products and services. Your discoveries might also shed light on how to convert a greater number of consumers into customers. Up until now, that less engaged group has been hard to reach. However, use of mobile apps provides a way to entice more of them to share information with you.

According to Kris, ”. . . you’re not just getting more of the same customers you already had — you’re adding new ones who represent not just a demographic shift, but have fundamentally different engagement levels.” And as a result, you may find that the information gained from using the apps and the feedback these customers provide, can be extraordinarily valuable. In the marketing world, you have hit gold.

This is a benefit I had not expected from developing and providing mobile apps to customers, but one that I find quite compelling. (Granted, I spent quite a few years in Marketing, so of course it appeals to me!) It also means the mobile experience must be carefully crafted to cater to not just your hard core audience, but also to the less loyal.

Has anyone experienced this phenomenon, either as a consumer or as an employee, and would they be willing to share a few details with our readers?

Thanks for reading,

Rachel Wentink