Let’s admit it. After the Technology revolution, and the Communication revolution, the phase we’re entering now as a modern, connected society is the ‘Convenience’ revolution.
As we aspire to do more and more, we’ve lesser and lesser time to spend on the things that we do. Technology has enabled ways of get things done faster and smarter. Think shopping on Amazon and Google express, and paying tolls on highways through smart cards, sending money through Western Union, and the kids managing their homework online.
In today’s world, ‘Convenience’ has a big premium. That’s what driving the valuations of startups. If an App can deliver quality food to your door or get you to the right plumber with minimum clicks – that App is a hero to the user, the investor and the stock market.
In both the Retail and the B2B businesses, the Customer Engagement App is growing in importance, sometimes even more than the actual service or product. For Uber and Lyft, the fight is more about the quality of their Apps and what it can do, rather than the actual quality of the ride.
Similarly for traditional manufacturing companies, the challenge now is not just to build great hardware products, but also to build the best Customer and Partner Engagement Apps. Customers like to buy good products from companies, which provide the easiest experience in doing so, in addition to offering great products.
The question is, do you have an App that your customers/partners love? Or are they doing business with you despite the App (or lack of it), and not because of it.
Let me share some perspective on some of the things that define a great customer facing App:
- Simple, Intuitive (The importance of the Interaction and UX design can never be over-rated)
- Unified One Stop-Shop (Customers shouldn’t have to deal with multiple apps/systems and logins. Break down internal systems/IT barriers to present a single unified face to the customer)
- Comprehensive Search (All content should be one search term away!)
- Mobile First, Desktop Friendly (If your users can find and buy things while they are on the road, wouldn’t you like that?)
- Secure and Personalized (Show only relevant things based on security models, and allow personalization as needed)
- Great e-Commerce and Transactional Capability
- Unified Knowledge/Community/Service/Support (Relevant knowledge and support information should easily flow between the company and members of the customer community. Combine self help features, with great support/help desk capabilities. Knowledge should flow from the SME to the customers, effortlessly, real time, on demand.)
- Localization Capability (multiple time zones, languages support)
Of course, there are multiple technology stacks, and combinations of them, that can built this App for you. But I want to suggest a technology stack, that’s probably one of the easiest and fastest ways to get your App up and running, yet have the power to scale it as it grows.
That stack is from Salesforce, and would comprise of: Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Communities, Chatter, Knowledge, Force.com, Lightning Design System and Lightning Components.
Why should you choose that stack? For a few reasons:
- Salesforce offers a great set of building blocks, so you don’t have to ‘reinvent the wheel’ on foundational capabilities, for a Customer Facing App.
- Great support for multiple Authentication options (SAML, Social Media and others)
- With Service Cloud, Chatter and Knowledge, you get a powerful set of OOB capabilities for support and collaboration with your customers.
- With Visualforce, Lightning Design System and Lightning components, you get a powerful UI capabilities.
- The Force.com platform provides capabilities for localization, user management, data security, authorization, and solid integration capabilities with webservices support and Canvas.
This stack has special appeal for a B2B scenarios, since the Salesforce licensing model and governor limits are not deal breakers, which they might be for a retail consumer facing app.
With Salesforce Communities as the center of your App, you can quickly build a great Customer Engagement Platform, where you can attract new customers and keep the existing ones very happy!
I’d like to reinforce the keywords, ‘Unified App’. What that implies that even though your business might be complex and large, to the customer it should be a seamless, smooth and a single digital experience to ‘get stuff done’ with your company, on both the web and the mobile.
In today’s ‘Convenience Revolution’, if you haven’t yet started on the journey to building the best unified App for your customers, then the time to start is today.
Or you could be surprised by the loss of business from customers, who still like your core product/service – but don’t love the ‘Experience’ of doing business with you, and don’t think it is ‘Convenient’ enough.