Digital customer journeys for businesses using mobile
by Heather Kay-Software Engineer|Fri Jan 22 2021
The events of 2020 pulled the digital customer journey of many businesses out into the spotlight for the first time.
As many people have been forced to stay at home, there’s been a huge increase in the use of mobile technology, enabling people to do all the things they used to in a new digital format.
As we enter 2021, it’s clear that the focus on digital technology and mobile apps is here to stay. In light of these changes, businesses are focusing more on how they can deliver a unique customer experience digitally to stand out from the crowd and encourage business growth.
What is a mobile digital customer journey in 2021?
Customers in 2021 expect excellent experiences and seamless online journeys more than ever.
With the recent surge towards tech (especially in the “workplace”), the mobile digital journey this year is all about standing out from the crowd. Customers are looking for:
The ability to self-serve, yet receive live support when they need it.
Confidence that their data and private information is being used securely.
Businesses should be looking to provide this experience by looking at customer data and trends in the market, and adapting to these changes.
A study showed that 59% of consumers care more about customer experience when they decide what company to support or buy from. Given this, it’s clear that customer experience will play a huge role in dictating purchasing in 2021.
How does a customer journey differ from website to app?
Mobile apps are becoming many customers’ preferred way to interact with their preferred brands.
In 2020, there were more than 592 million app downloads every day, and this figure is increasing year on year.
However, there are a few key differences between a customer journey on an app and on a website:
Customers love to have a tailored experience that feels unique to them, and apps give users the ideal opportunity for personalisation. Even something as simple as a loading page that welcomes the customer by name can have a huge impact on the customer journey.
Personalisation doesn’t end there either. Personalisation can be both data-driven, like location and usage data, and customer-driven, by letting users customise elements of the app.
Data-driven apps allow the customisation of information presented to the user through tools such as location services and usage data. These allow apps to be customised to show the user information that’s completely tailored to where they are in the world, and what they may have looked at previously.
Customer-driven apps let the customer control the information being displayed to them. This includes customisation tools such as the user being able to save favourites, provide feedback on the information offered in the app and choosing different layouts or colour themes for the app, such as dark mode. It’s this element of personalisation that’s offered in an app that can’t be matched in a webpage customer journey.
Another area where website and app customer journeys differ is in their communication with users.
Website customer journeys use email as the main form of communication for notifying customers of any changes in the business. However, email is losing its effectiveness, with people becoming overwhelmed with the volume of emails from so many different sources. (We’ve all spent far too long unsubscribing from mailing lists that we can’t even remember signing up to in the first place.)
A mobile app enables a business to interact with customers in a new way through notifications. An app can use both push and in-app notifications that let a company communicate with users with less intrusion. The information can be delivered to those users in an easy-to-read and more responsive manner too, where customers can easily click through to the app to find out more.
Online vs Offline
Another difference between app and website customer journeys is accessibility.
A website relies heavily on the customer being connected to the internet to provide functionality for most services. Caching can be used in some cases to allow offline access – but a customer needs to be connected to the internet to experience a website’s full functionality.
Apps offer most of their basic content and functionality to customers even when they’re offline. While that user must have access to the internet to download an app in the first instance, once it’s been downloaded, the content can be accessed by them at any time. Some features may still require internet access, but apps offer much greater functionality for their customers in an offline environment.
What are the main stages of a mobile customer journey?
The mobile customer journey follows 5 stages:
Awareness - This is where the customer discovers your business through marketing, advertising and word of mouth. At this stage, it’s important to reach your customer at the right moment and on the right platform; for example, you wouldn’t advertise an iOS-only app to an Android user. First impressions matter, so it’s important that the advertising matches the customer experience the user will receive if they chose to use your business.
Consideration - This is where the customer considers whether the product or service on offer matches their needs. It’s widely understood now that most customers will consult reviews before making a purchase. Using those reviews and genuine feedback platforms can be beneficial at this stage to improve conversion.
Purchase - This is where the customer decides to sign on the dotted line. Here it’s important to have payment options that suit your customers. Customers using an app are looking for convenience, so think about payment services like ApplePay where the user can default to pre-saved details to make the purchase even quicker and more convenient.
Retention - This is where the customer uses the product or service and may interact with the business for help or guidance. At every touchpoint, but especially in the mobile app world, users are looking for fast and easy contact with a business if they need help. Services like live chat, chatbots, or comprehensive FAQ’s help to boost customer retention by enabling customers to resolve any issues quickly, and provide customer services with more info if it needs escalating, so they can provide a better quality of service.
Advocacy - This is where the customer spreads the word about your product/service. This may be positive or negative, so businesses should be equipped to handle both. With the use of social media, it’s important to monitor feedback on all channels to ensure any customer in the awareness phase receives an excellent first impression of your business, driving more customers to your app.
Customer behaviour and mobile app optimisation
Mobile app optimisation is hugely important in the success of an app. With more people using mobile devices for their day to day activities, businesses need to provide an app that will deliver a high-quality customer experience to keep them coming back.
With recent statistics showing adults spend nearly four hours every day on a mobile device, it’s clear that businesses should be focusing on their digital customer experience and mobile apps to ensure they’re reaching their customers, and at the optimum times. Customers are also using digital technology much more in their spending, with 40% of Black Friday sales in 2020 made from mobile devices.
Based on the growing popularity of mobile apps, businesses need to focus on perfecting their mobile experience to ensure they’re making the most of this increase in mobile technology use. Businesses should focus on the following areas:
Page Load Speed: Customers want things to work quickly, and there’s an expectation that if they’re using an app, it should work faster than a webpage.
New devices: With new devices and technology frequently entering the market, it’s important to ensure that your mobile app renders correctly across all browsers and devices. While it may not be possible to test on every single device, the most popular devices should be tested to ensure that the app is performing as expected.
Feature releases: Customers like to provide feedback and this can be a really useful tool for gaining information on what new features they want to see. Plus, you’ll likely want to ‘upgrade’ your app over time as new technologies are released and trends in your sector become apparent. This keeps a mobile app up to date and fresh to ensure it’s responsive to consumer needs – and your brand stays ahead of the pack.
Customer journey examples for healthcare apps
In the healthcare sector, mobile apps are dealing with customers’ sensitive data, so privacy and security should be considered at each step of the customer journey. Alongside this, customers are also looking for:
Reliability - This not only applies to app reliability, but service reliability too. Crashing apps are a disaster in any sector, but are particularly troublesome in the healthcare sector where customers may have entered their personal information only to have an app crash, leaving them wondering where that information might have gone. From a service standpoint, customers want to be able to get help as soon as they need it in real-time.
Personalisation - In healthcare, each customer’s needs are different, and businesses can vastly improve the customer journey by adding personalised features into their apps. Through the use of customer data and analysis, apps can provide a truly unique experience to match each customer’s needs.
Customer journey examples for finance apps
The finance sector covers a wide range of customer needs, from investment to insurance and banking. As a result, finance mobile apps are particularly good at connecting customers to a wide range of information to fit their individual needs. Some important things to consider in the customer journey are:
Self-Service - Customers like to be able to get things done on their own and this is especially true in the finance industry, where obtaining face-to-face support may have long wait times attached. In banking, mobile apps can enable customers to check account details, pay off bills and clarify product information, all in an optimised app format.
Feedback Loops - Financial companies offer a huge range of products and services to their customers and each customer is unique. This can make it quite difficult to offer a mobile app that meets every customer’s needs, which is why feedback is so important. Having a feedback loop enables customers to say what content is helpful as well as where improvements could be made, when customers are struggling to find the information they need.
Customer journey examples for sport apps
The sporting industry is another widespread industry with a huge fan base of users eager to use the apps available to them. Sports fans are hugely passionate and this can be reflected in their customer journeys with the following:
New Technology - The sport industry adapts quickly these days to new technological releases, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). The popularity of these is increasing, as lockdowns and social distancing mean being in a stadium or training ground isn’t always possible. By incorporating new technologies into sport apps, customers are offered new immersive experiences to keep them engaged.
Social Viewing Services - A recent innovation in the sport industry has been social viewing services that let fans connect their stream of a game with their friends to ensure they are all watching at the same time. Some platforms go further allowing users to put comments and video of their reactions on screen. This enhances sport and allows users to create their own memorable moments, building a deeper connection to each platform and sport.
Customer journey examples for retail apps
In retail, customers want an easy and seamless experience, from finding a product through to purchasing it. This experience can be enhanced with:
Optimised Searches - Search functionality in a retail app can make a big difference to a customer’s digital experience. If a customer can find what they want quickly and easily, they’re much more likely to make a purchase. Search functionality can be enhanced to prioritise different products depending on the customer’s past shopping behaviour.
Location-based services - Using location-based services enables the mobile app experience and in-store experience to go hand-in-hand. Businesses can enhance their customer experience by knowing when the customer is nearby and greeting them at the door, providing recommendations based on past purchases, and even personalising special offers and deals.
Customer journey examples for B2B vs B2C apps
A B2B customer journey will look a little different to a B2C app.
B2B journeys focus on building a partnership with another business. The B2B customer journey should therefore focus more on accessible, personalised content that meets buyers’ needs. However, many of the same customer journey stages still apply in B2B marketing.
Here’s a quick breakdown of B2B vs B2C Customer journeys – it’s easy to see the key differences and similarities in the journeys:
B2C Customer Journey
Awareness - The customer first learns about your business through marketing or word of mouth.
Consideration - The customer decides whether the products you’re offering are right for them.
Purchase - The customer commits to the transaction and buys the product.
Retention - The customer uses your product and you support the customer’s use of the product, ensuring brand loyalty.
Advocacy - The customer tells others about the experience they’ve had with your business.
B2B Customer Journey
Awareness - An employee first learns about your business through marketing or word of mouth, and shares it with key decision-makers in their company.
Consideration - The client company researches into your business and decides whether your business and the services you offer are right for them. This may involve some consultation with your business or other businesses.
Purchase - The client company agrees to use your service, signing relevant documentation and setting up a payment plan.
Retention - Once a product has been completed, your business supports the client company’s use of the product, ensuring more work with the client company.
Advocacy - The client company, and everyone within it who had contact with you, tell other businesses about the experience they’ve had with you.
How to get started creating a digital customer journey
A customer journey can be complex, so it’s important to make your digital customer journey focused. Here are some places to start:
Look at the existing data - Before creating a new journey, it’s best to look back at what’s currently in place. Evaluate how customers currently interact with your business, and what’s led customers from awareness through to purchase previously. Once this has been established, take a look at what’s missing and areas for improvement – these should form your focus when building your customer journey.
Think like a customer - User data is incredibly helpful for deciding the focus of a customer journey, but it can only tell you about past customer behaviour – not future trends. This is why thinking like a customer is so important, to keep innovating and providing new experiences to drive new clients to a business.
Review - As technology is constantly changing, so too should your digital customer journey. Once the app hits the market, you should be looking at customer feedback to identify ways their journey can be optimised, fix bugs, and respond to tech updates.