Making your app

one of the six …

… and not one of the 26

Senior Direct Marketing News writer Al Urbanski reports interesting findings from a recent LoyaltyOne and Northwestern University study. It seems that, on average, smartphone and tablet users sport some 26 to 29 apps, respectively. (That’s all? They should see my phone and tablet.) Yet the average user accesses only about six of those apps on a daily basis. Of those, most are games or music, or utilitarian apps like maps and weather. Branded apps? Not so much.

That’s good and bad news for banks.

On the good news side, your bank’s app is—or should be—the ultimate utilitarian resource. You can’t get much more utilitarian than checking balances, making payments, and transferring.

On the bad news side, filling only a utilitarian role is antithesis of fostering a relationship business with your clients. And, there’s the ever-looming threat of being out-utilitarianed* by a competitor.

But the best sort of bad news is the kind that brings with it strategic takeaways. In this, the above-cited negative items do not disappoint.

On the relationship side, the takeaway is don’t settle for filling only a utilitarian role. Build personality into your app. Make it reflect who you are and what you stand for.** Make interacting with real people via chat and voice not just easy but inviting. While you’re at it, make darned sure that said real people are informed, capable, empowered, and likable. 

As for being out-utilitarianed, you best defense is to lead. Make your app so intuitive that a half-asleep customer couldn’t avoid successfully using it. Make it so fast that there’s minimal finger-drumming time while waiting for a feature to load. Make it save your clients money, perhaps by eliminating or reducing fees incurred with live transactions. Fill it with features that clients want, including a few that fall outside bank services. For instance, now that you know users check weather apps daily, why not build in an easy-to-access local weather report?

In short, have a brand, and let it show by making your app a great experience. The kind no customer would want to give up by going to a competitor. You can do all that, even through an app. If you can’t readily see how, you may have a brand problem to solve before worrying about solving your app problem.

High tech and high touch are normally presented as opposites. They needn’t be.

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*Herewith I declare utilitarian a verb, with utilitarianed serving as its past and pluperfect.

**This begs the larger questions, Who are you and what do you stand for? How do these values set you apart from being just another bank? Do other banks make the same, tired claims? That’s another post, though I touched on the subject here.)

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