Whilst recently discussing potential updates to our MATRIXX demo app, one idea proposed was that it was more important to incorporate new functionality into the app than it was to change our service usage bars to dials, which could be argued were more communicative (Figure 1). Even though that was a subjective discussion, it did get me thinking – as far as Telco apps are concerned, how important is the user experience (UX) really, and can it be prioritized over a rich feature set? After some deliberation and a bit of research, cited below, I would contend that it is most definitely a balance, but the equilibrium may lie closer to UX than one might think!
Mobile App Retention
Industry statistics reveal that over 80% of mobile apps are discarded within the first three months of being downloaded! Further, the figures below show that the churn rate is highest in month one, after which it trends lower. Those rather stark figures indicate that it is imperative for a Telco app to engage new subscribers from the onset, as it is likely there will be no second chance! During that critical period, as I am sure you will agree, an easy to use intuitive UX is critical in order to engage new subscribers, get them comfortable enough to discover and utilize the app feature set, and critically – not churn!
Feature Rich vs. Feature Poor
It has been asserted that a Feature Rich approach is suited to mature product markets for which a host of features are must haves, whereas a Feature Poor approach is suited to newer market segments that have less predictable customer behaviors. Further, it is also suggested that the latter be executed via a minimally viable product (MVP) strategy which can be evolved over time. Though certain Telco services have been around for what may seem like forever, the Telco app as a means of marketing these services as well as newer Telco services is still fairly new. Also, in my experience Telco apps don’t exactly conform to a set list of “industry” features. Bearing that in mind, I would be compelled to place them in the latter category, in which launching with an MVP strategy is the recommended approach.
Quality Apps vs. Quantity
Apple has consistently demonstrated the value of getting a product right, with its focus on quality over quantity. This is a focus that has served the company well as it has carved out highly attractive market segments and countered challenges posed by lower cost competitors who have focused on feature rich offerings, often at the peril of usability. In taking this approach, Apple has enhanced their brand equity by making the concepts of obsessive attention to detail and superior quality synonymous with the company itself. Similarly, for communications service providers (CSPs), a focus on quality apps will not only have a positive impact on usability – but more importantly, it will also impact their brand!
Customer Experience (CX)
The impact of CX on the bottom line is well established, in fact it is not uncommon for CSPs to measure their performance using CX benchmarks. Usability and in turn UX cannot be conflated with CX (which is a broader concept and is measured over a number of interaction touchpoints), it is in fact one of many components that contributes to CX. As CSPs move towards new operating models that are more reliant on digital interactions and in turn digital touchpoints, I foresee the mobile app playing a more significant role in their operating models – and consequently, the associated UX being an even more significant component of their overall CX.
In line with the points cited above, I would contend that building a great Telco app is not just about building on a feature set, but also about focusing on how each feature may best be used. Circling back to our debate over usage bars vs. dials, in case you were wondering – we did decide in favor of UX and are currently in the process of changing those bars to dials! That said, as for CSPs and their real-life mobile apps, they will go a long way towards delighting an even larger number of customers and reducing churn rates by combining a rich feature set along with a dedicated focus on UX.