Redefining Customer Experience with Technological Advancements in Mobile Apps

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Have you ever observed your smartphone usage from morning to night? Waking up to the sound of alarm, browsing through the latest global and local news on app, booking a cab to workplace, ordering lunch or dinner and watching your favorite TV show till late night, we are dependent on mobile apps for each and every task.

If you look back, you would know that customer experience of mobile apps has evolved over time. It wasn’t so perfect few years back when it newly made an entry into the market. It is the combination of technology, design and development efforts that resulted in enhanced user experience. Let’s understand how customers adapted to this mobile revolution since the first introduction of mobile phones to what they are now and what can users expect from the future trends.

Transition of Mobile Phones, Apps & Associated Customer Experience

Mobile Phones with In-Built Apps

Do you remember the time when people visited telephone booth for making trunk calls? With the unavailability of mobile devices, people relied completely on these phone booths to connect with someone. This was obviously not a convenient choice for people who desired immediate attention of the opposite party. The introduction of pager phones looked into this dilemma to a certain extent.

Ask a 90s kid about pager phone and he would know what was ‘mobility’ back in those days. The decade from 1990 to 2000 witnessed the fading popularity of this radio frequency device. This is the age when mobile phones entered the market and surpassed the sales of pager much sooner.

Though the display screen size of mobile phones was quite small during those days, it featured some in-built basic apps. Users were given access to Address Book, Calendar, Mail, Calculator, File Manager and Note Pad in their mobile phones. The difference is that people used to call them as ‘features’ instead of ‘apps’.

QWERTY was the New Convenience in Mobile Phones

There was no existence of App Store and people were restricted to use only those apps that came in-built in their device. Observing the rising craze of people for good in-built apps, especially for business purpose, QWERTY keypad phones soon became the preferred choice of people.

The user-friendly keyboard of QWERTY was quite a dominant trend in those days. Though these phones featured limited apps, it effectively served users with easy-to-type keyboard for composing email, conducting business communications along with the convenience of carrying out casual chats.

These phones helped people to organize information with notes, to-do lists and calendar. However, soon there aroused the need of more high end phones that supported more apps, had more memory space and performed faster.

Apple App Store & Google Play Store: Opening Doors for Developer’s Community

Year 2007 marked the release of first iPhone and this handset revolutionized the entire mobile industry. Smartphones took over the market and replaced QWERTY keypad phones with touchscreen ones. These devices came with huge storage space, high-end device specifications and robust nature.

In few years, App Store became available to third party developers where they were allowed to launch their innovative apps for the benefit of iOS users. Over the time, quality of apps being released into the store improved with respect to performance, speed and usefulness.

Soon after the roaring success of App Store, Google followed the footprints and came up with ‘Play Store’ for Android based handsets. If considered the quality of apps that were available in these App Stores at its start and now, there is a drastic change in customer experience as well as user interface.

Present Scenario: Mobile Apps have Transformed How Customers Interact with Businesses

High end mobile apps have revolutionized the way customers interact with different businesses. Let’s know the influence of interactive mobile apps with respect to different industries:

Ecommerce:

  • Mobile apps have made products more accessible and visible to customers.
  • It increases customer engagement with the ecommerce store by sending push notifications to them for new arrivals, discounts and festive offers.
  • User friendly shopping cart that enhances overall mobile shopping experience

Retail:

  • Brick and mortar store, whose future seems dark with the growth of ecommerce industry, now garners attention of customers with beacons and integrated mobile apps.
  • While inside the store, customers get personalized updates on discounts and offers on items placed at shelves nearby to user’s current location.
  • Retailers now manage their inventory and stock with the help of sensors and IoT systems that notify the owners when any particular item runs low in stock.

Travel/Transport:

  • User experiences extreme convenience to browse through different travel options and compare deals to figure out the best one.
  • Travel apps give users the facility to book cabs for daily commute. Based on their daily route, source and destination, users get personalized offers for improved interaction with the app and increased brand loyalty.
  • Uber is one travel app that offers users with convenience of booking can based on your current location and real time availability of nearby cabs.

Customer experience of mobile apps has undergone a revolutionary change with the integration of new and trending technologies. Using analytics tools and tracking user session gives meaningful insights on browsing pattern and in-app usage, which is further utilized for improving UX.

These observations help in understanding major challenges faced by users while accessing the app and accordingly solutions that perfectly address the problem. Getting feedback from users is the best way to know what and how do they feel about the app. Do not think of it as an optional exercise; instead make it an integral part of successful customer experience strategy.

Current Mobile Technology Trends

Integrated and Synchronized User Experience with Cloud-Based Apps

The ubiquity of apps has made all of us addicted to it. It is quite possible for a single user to own and use more than one portable digital device among laptop, tablet and smartphone. Cloud mobile apps provide an integrated and consistent user experience across all digital devices.

Cloud based mobile apps allow for easy retrieval of user’s data, without any restriction of device being used to access it. Such apps are most useful for enterprise level solutions where important documents and files are to be shared among a team. This ensures that each member of the team can work on the project, irrespective of their presence at office or home.

Enterprise mobility has boosted the use of cloud technology to a great extent. Organizations can experience higher efficiency and productivity levels through enterprise mobility. This concept gives employees an easy access to information and flexibility to work at convenience with all dependencies being taken care of.

Location-Specific Customer Experience with Beacon Apps

beacon

Beacon technology and mobile app is the most powerful combination to build innovative mobile apps. Beacons utilize geo-location feature of mobile apps to recognize unique identifiers. These apps offer personalized and location-based updates, which prove to be interesting and engaging for end users.

Suppose you are passing by a retail store that has beacons installed in the surrounding area. This is when you get a push notification through mobile app that says, “Festive season is here. Would you like to check out latest Christmas gifts collection and Xmas tree decorations?”

Such relevant updates from mobile app have definitely resulted in improvised customer experience. The next level revolution powered by Beacon, IoT and Artificial Intelligence is yet to come!

Upcoming Mobile Technology Trends

Virtual Reality Technology: Step into a Virtual World

Virtual Reality has found its application in the mobile phones in combination with wearables. Mobile apps, when introduced for the first time in phones, became popular among audience for gaming category. Considering the response received from audience, developers worked extensively on this category of mobile apps.

VR handsets and corresponding mobile apps capture the mind of user and take him to an altogether new gaming world. This technology has empowered users to widen their imagination power, take a break from real world and enter the virtual gaming world.

Google has recently come up with a prototype for virtual-reality ads. Thus, the technology is fast entering mobile advertising world.

Wearables & Mobile Technology

Wearables market has grown unprecedentedly in the last few years with the rise of mobile technology and its increased acceptance among audience.

Positive response of people to this wearables technology used in combination with mobile apps laid the foundation of more powerful wearables devices. Apart from finding its use in gaming category, wearables and integrated mobile apps have deeply penetrated the healthcare industry too. For example, Apple watch is used by iOS users to constantly monitor their health and track the heart rate.

Immersive User Experience with Augmented Reality Apps

AR

Implementation of Augmented Reality technology in mobile app is still in its budding stage. AR mobile apps build a new world on top of real one with overlaying information and digital content. It incorporates real time inputs from existing world and combines it with interactive and imaginary elements to produce Augmented Reality output.

If you are wondering what enhances customer experience in AR apps, here’s what you need to know:

  • Contextual response to external information
  • Responding dynamically to user’s environments
  • Real time interpretation of gestures with minimal to no special commands from users

Snapchat and Pokémon Go are most popular examples of AR mobile apps that are widely used by people all over the world. Nothing can beat immersive user experience offered by Augmented Reality apps!

Researchers are exploring capabilities of this concept in depth that carries potential to provide completely immersive user experience making it difficult to set apart imaginary elements from the real world. Wouldn’t it be exciting to see this magical AR technology entering mobile app to provide us a redefined customer experience?

Connected User Experience with Internet of Things Apps

Changing-Infrastructure-Automation-and-Building-Smart-Cities
Courtesy:ControlAny.com

Internet of Things is a network of connected devices that can easily communicate with each other in wireless way. The point of contact from where user controls these IoT enabled devices is through its integrated mobile app.

IoT mobile apps provide high level customer experience by introducing an element of connectivity in it. An example of smart home would throw light on user interaction with IoT systems through connected mobile app.

Smart homes are equipped with automatic door/window lock, temperature control, intruder alert system, motion sensors and CCTV camera. Following activities illustrate how users interact with IoT mobile apps:

  • A user leaves for office but is unsure whether he locked the main door of home or not. With IoT smart home app and connected lock system, user can give the command to lock the main door immediately with his mobile device.
  • On the same lines, user can ensure that his room temperature is perfectly conducive when he arrives home after work. This is done by predefining perfect temperature and time schedule in the integrated IoT mobile app.

While this concept is now becoming popular among audience, it has vast scope of expansion. Thinking about it on a broader scale, smart cities and enterprise IoT systems are also controlled by respective IoT mobile apps. Such connectivity through IoT mobile app has drastically improved engagement ratio and contributed to positive customer experience.

Implementation of Internet of Things in mobile app is not limited to smart home alone. It extends to business level and finds its application in diverse domains:

Healthcare:

Internet of Things is transforming healthcare industry with successful integration of all stakeholders and smooth functioning of entire ecosystem. Robotics and IoT have made it possible for doctors to conduct operation remotely without the need of physical presence in the operation theatre. Overcoming the barriers of security and data ownership, IoT has a long way to go in the healthcare domain.

Retail:

Brick and mortar stores usually find it difficult to retain their customers with almost all products available online. The inception of Internet of Things in retail industry came to rescue with its overpowering supply chain management, renewed customer experience and revenue streams. Smart store, connected customer, demand-aware warehouse and smart transportation are some popular applications of IoT in retail.

Education:

Internet of Things has given birth to an entirely new world of connected learners that allow easy data sharing among teachers and students. Cloud technology in combination with IoT has expanded the scope of education and crossed the walls of traditional classroom to make learning open and available to students at any time and from anywhere. Teachers impart education to students remotely through connected devices using interactive learning practices and virtual classrooms.

Futuristic Trends

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Mobile Apps

Mobile phones are no longer just smart; in fact they have become intelligent encompassing capabilities of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML). Developers are utilizing this intelligence to offer apps that understand user’s language and respond back just like a human.

One popular example of AI powered mobile app is Starbucks, an international coffee brand. Starbucks app allows users to narrate what kind of coffee they would prefer to have or specify particular ingredients and taste. Based on these preferences, the app automatically presents users with suggestions using its Artificial Intelligence (AI). This app has become quite famous among users for its user-friendliness.

Voice assistants have found their place in smartphones in form of Siri for Apple and Google Assistant for Android phones. Apart from these, chatbots are quite a norm in apps now-a-days that interact with users in friendly manner and provide intelligent answers to all queries.

However, the utilization of AI and chatbots in mobile apps is not just limited to this. This concept has just evolved, but has a bright future in the years to come. Developers exploring capabilities of AI are stunned to learn about this deep concept. How to effectively use this artificial intelligence in mobile apps still remains a big question.

Wrapping it up…

Combination of emerging technologies and mobility has given rise to limitless possibilities. The mobile revolution has changed our outlook to the world and redefined the way we interact with people and run businesses.

This is a major turning point for the mobile world where people like being served instantly based on ‘everything on demand’ theory. Let’s see how long developers can go in this never ending race of innovation.

Vicky Mishra
Vikas Mishra is Executive Director - Marketing at Hidden Brains Infotech, a leading IT consulting company specializing in enterprise mobility and web solutions. Vikas leverages digital technologies to drive competitive advantage and improve bottom-line results for clients. He is passionate about engaging with customer in the new connected world.

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