This column is authored by Raj Mohan Tella, Founding Partner at Brandlogues
What determines stickiness to your idea? What do you think makes the user come back to you time after time? Without answering it academically or theoretically, just wear the hat of a user. Pick an app of your choice. Then this may become easier to explain, possibly in a much more practical manner.
My choice of app is a food-ordering app. To demonstrate what the possible touch points are. And from there draw those moments of truth, where the user forms an opinion and thinks through whether he/she would like to come back or drop out. Repeat use vs. dropping off? Loyalty vs. attrition?
Here are the various stages:
Stage 1 – Before one actually uses the app
Possible routes to awareness and a context for the user may come from the following:
- A friend
- Another user
- Media write-ups
- An eating-place
- Out of the box – you see a delivery executive on the bike
Once you are aware, you would move to the next stage of knowing/searching more, evaluating the feedback about the app, most importantly attempt to uncover the stated experience of the user.
Stage 2 – the decision process
Let me attempt to break down the experience part into more detail or should I say touch points – where the app or a representative of the app, or stimuli interact with the user. From searching for the right food and restaurant to the fulfilment in the form of the order (food) – search —order—delivery —post delivery…
Possible touch points:
Before placing the food order:
- User Interface of the app
- A call to the helpline
- An SMS to your friend (a user)
- A visit to the provider’s website
- Feedback and rating forums
- Direct one to one enquiry – restaurant owner/delivery executive
- The User Interface overall
- Intuitiveness of the app
- Ease of navigation
- Adequate signposts within the app to flag the decision progress
- Related nudges and information to move the decision process forward
- Quick overview of the decision pathway leading to the order
- Ease in payment and cart fulfillment
- Engagement once the order is placed
- Continuing engagement till the order is fulfilled
Stage 3 – waiting for the order to happen
- Compliance to the features within the app (for example with GPRS location finders do you like taxi drivers or couriers calling you for the location/directions? Irritating at times right?)
- Human courtesies
- Warmth of the food and the delivery executive
- His/her sight, smell and demeanor – food means hygiene, cleanliness, happiness and optimism so they are critical to the brand and the app’s story
- The presentation of the delivery executive – uniforms, their bikes, the bag they carry the food in
- Efficiency of the executive – in terms of recalling the order and aligning it to the user’s needs
- Seeking a tip is a ‘no, no’
- Service behavior as a larger framework? (Frankly most of the time fulfillment is seen as a function, a necessary chore to get done with. How about seeing it as a service and brand representation. Then possibly the orientation of the app company, delivery executive, the restaurant and all the members in the food ordering and fulfillment ecosystem will tailor to deliver customer delight?)
- The packaging of the food (recently I ordered a coffee and it was brought in a bag that was flimsy and gave away when the delivery boy tried handing it over to me. Had to wait a full 30 minutes till the order was redone and delivered!)
Stage 4 – after the order is delivered
- Temperature of the food
- Freshness of the food
- The taste and consumption experience
- Complaints and mitigation if any
- Reengaging the user
- Taking feedback and exploring ways to seeding stickiness or even reinforcing it
- Brand voice – the tone in which it is done; is the user a number/id/token or a name and an individual?
- How will you nudge the user to recommend or come back to use the app with a higher frequency?
- When the user comes back to the app what and how does the app treat him/her?
- Understanding that every user has not only got an order value but a lifetime value
- Plus the larger communication context the app has created in the media space. The word of mouth around the app also reinforces the stickiness or gets new users to come into its fold.
The irony is that we think we know this all. Or we miss the obviousness of the touch points concept. Or we believe that if we build a great app people will willy-nilly come to the app. True possibly… only till a competitor comes along. The clutter, noise and confusion of various digital payment apps are a classic situation – where competition and the lack of differentiation or for that matter the communication of the differentiators is at best weak or tepid. So there is no ‘one app take it all situation.’
Image influences stickiness
Image in simple terms – is what an interested individual thinks of the product/service/company or app. It can be an overall impression, a holistic impression largely helping in differentiating the brand from its competitors. Impressions can be formed over a period of time or they could be momentary, transitory perceptions. Image can also be an overall thing or could also emerge from when an individual is experiencing the product/service/company or app in parts, or specific facets.
Jan Carlzon the legendary President of the SAS Airlines who took over when the airlines was in a bad shape and successfully turned it around (1981 -1994), coined the phrase ‘moments of truth’:
“A moment of truth occurs whenever and wherever there’s a customer contact, because that is the moment when the customer forms a perception of the organization and its products or services. The challenge for any company is to manage these moments of truth so that the perceptions are positive.”
It is evident therefore many aspects form that image. Image is a multi dimensional exercise. Interestingly image is also a reflection. Akin to a mirror, which has the wherewithal to accommodate both a fabricated and projected picture of the product/service/company or app. ‘Moments of truth’ permeate the product/service/company or app image on a continuing basis and this is the awareness that has to coexist for stickiness.
Bon appétit! Brand appétit!
PS: Check these touch points and moments of truth with Swiggy, FoodPanda, Dominos, Pizza Hut and other food ordering platforms.