In our personal lives, we use dozens of companion apps every day. In this article we’ll explore a number of examples of consumer companion apps and where manufacturers should be looking for inspiration to improve their own customer experiences.
Every Product Needs a Companion
Our more regular readers will know we’ve talked at length recently about the importance of having product companion apps, particularly to accompany equipment and machinery in the B2B manufacturing space, to significantly enhance the capabilities of the operators of those products.
But product companion apps are part of a broader category of technology, which are referred to simply as companion apps. These are seen everywhere in the B2C space, either for digital or physical products and services, and they allow us as users to self-serve, by providing direct access to information we need or actions we want to take.
These mobile apps exists because, regardless of industry, people all over the world want more than just products today. They want great personalised experiences, and demand quick, efficient service at all times.
Because smartphones have made the average consumer highly digitally-literate, now carrying their favourite brands around in their pockets, the vast majority of businesses are having to embrace technology in some capacity to meet those demands. So to remain competitive these days, in every industry, your business must invest in solutions which allow it to engage with customers in the way they want, and with the aforementioned proliferation of smartphones in mind, that is now almost exclusively in a mobile context.
Consumer Use Cases
But when we each have several mobile devices, loaded with plenty of mobile apps that we dip in and out of every day, how does a carefully targeted, custom-designed product companion app add to the services your particular brand or business is offering its customers? Let’s take a look at some examples of companion apps to find the answer:
How do you manage your bank account these days? Over 70% of the UK adult population are expected to use a mobile app to carry out their banking by 2023. These apps allow us to transfer funds, make payments, access useful customer service information, and much more.
We can see here with this companion app review for Barclays, the reviewer mentions the benefits of the pending payments feature, which is a form of self-service. The relationship between that customer and the brand has been strengthened as a result.
Without an app, customers would have to go into a bank branch or make a phone call to access that information. The app removes the need to interact with a bank employee, and gives customers the information with just a few taps on their phone’s screen. This is now seen as a standard part of the app’s user interface, turning a support-based activity into an effortless self-service activity.
Travel and Transportation
When you’re travelling, whether by train, bus, or airplane, time is crucial. You want to be on time, and you want your experience to be quick and easy, so any service or product provided by a transportation company is a natural fit for a mobile companion app.
Take an app provided by a train line which allows you to view train times, book tickets, upgrade to first-class, receive alerts about delays, and manage your journey, all while you’re already on the move. This is a huge point of differentiation from a traditional customer experience when travelling.
This could also be applied in a similar way to hotel services. The Hilton hotel companion app allows customers to enhance their experience with their booking by managing other aspects of their trip, extending beyond just staying in a room to include accessing information about the local area, and booking services such as restaurants, gyms, activities, and so on.
More and more fashion and retail brands have found new and exciting ways to engage with their customers, by providing digital capabilities such as product customisation and personalised design through a mobile app.
Many brands in this space are also now also partnering with celebrities and offering new features to customers who want a far more interactive experience, and using those influencers to push additional targeted products and services to existing customers with companion apps.
Health and Fitness
Health and fitness is one of the fastest-growing industries around at the moment. A huge contributing factor to this is the digital and social media frenzy which has popularised exercise, dieting, and a wide range of related products.
Consequently, many health and fitness clubs and gyms have capitalised on the opportunity to resonate with their members’ preferred means of consuming information – their smartphones – and now use companion apps to attract far more digital engagement and interaction, improve customer satisfaction, and drive increases in revenue.
Many companion apps in this space allow you to manage the entire membership experience, booking classes, facilities, and other services, while keeping track of your own progress and improving your fitness with the support of a personalised digital touchpoint.
Opportunities for the Business
These all create fantastic experiences for customers, but there are significant benefits for businesses who embrace this digital trend to bolster their product offering and improve their customer service as well:
- Greater customer satisfaction
- Additional channels of communication and engagement
- Better customer retention
- New revenue streams
- Up-selling and other after-sales opportunities
- Competitive differentiation
- Cost savings
- Improved employee performance
- Positive brand image and perception
An example of this can be seen in our partner, StreetLink, a service for connecting homeless people with local authorities and finding them shelter in the UK. StreetLink, using its MobileCaddy-powered mobile app (the same technology powering Caddify), has unearthed new channels of communication with its users, and new ways to support its community’s experiences with the service.
With around 160,000 registered users, a large proportion of StreetLink’s interactions are now through its companion app. As a result of this, not only has its user experience significantly improved by translating the service into a digital context, but the organisation is now also providing more support and easing the workload of its customer service agents, saving time, money, and resources in the process.
The bottom line is, your product may no longer be enough for the expectations of today’s customers. They want it all: a fantastic product, a seamless experience, the ability to self-serve, and all at the convenience of ‘anytime, anywhere’.
So, your brand needs to connect with them in new, innovative ways, in order to keep them satisfied and engaged. More often than not, the best way to do that is with companion apps.
B2B companies, especially in the manufacturing space, can learn a lot by looking at how the leaders in B2C are working with companion apps to reduce costs, and improve customer experience and satisfaction, brand loyalty, service and support, and much, much more.