The App That Keeps Customers Coming Back
Keeping existing customers (retention) is easier than finding new ones - which costs money and effort. Consider the cost of some marketing campaigns. Loyal customers ensure a steady stream of revenue. Develocraft recently built an app to keep diners at one restaurant chain coming back for more.
Apps for Existing Businesses
It’s a misconception that every app is its own business. When people think of ‘apps’ they often think of standalone software like Uber, Tinder, or Spotify. But check your phone to see what you have installed and you’ll probably see plenty of apps that support existing businesses, rather than being their company’s only source of income.
Product Design Development
These apps can contribute to the business in different ways. Budget airline Ryanair has an app for finding and booking flights, collecting boarding passes, and making in-flight purchases in advance. Ryanair further monetise their app by advertising related services, such as deals on hotels and car rentals.
This is just one example of a business model (an airline) that predates the smartphone revolution capitalizing on the opportunities presented by the proliferation of apps.
In fact, it can be a necessary step to keep up with the competition in a highly competitive market like the restaurant industry. Here, consumers have enormous choice with enhanced access to a range of providers via apps like Uber Eats.
But almost any traditional business can enhance its operations, support other projects, or boost revenue with a well-developed application.
With Olivka, we did all three.
A Clear Goal
Another common yet false belief is that to get a useful app to help your business succeed, you have to know everything about what you want from it before you even talk to a developer. It’s understandable, because most of our transactions in life are remarkably simple. We’re hungry, we buy a sandwich. We’re thirsty, we buy a soda.
That’s why people expect to have a fully formed idea of what they want before they start ‘shopping’ for it. It’s a well trained habit. But when it comes to getting an app made, it leads to missed opportunities.
Why? Clear goals keep projects on track. Instead of focusing on one narrow component for too long or getting side tracked adding unnecessary feature after unnecessary feature, having a criterion for success gives designers and developers a clear framework for deciding what will push the project to completion and what won’t.
All the client really needs is a clear goal (or goals). In the case of Olivka, those were as follows:
- Increase customer retention
- Spread customer loyalty between the restaurants (‘interoperability’, meaning customers can gather and spend loyalty points between the different restaurants
- Engage users by raising awareness of exciting events in the area, particularly at their locations
Turning a Vision into a Plan
Getting an app made is an involved process requiring consultation and regular communication between the development agency and the client.
This deep understanding of the business objectives of the client allows us to develop a project that’s fit for purpose.
For Olivka, our priority was to make sure that any features we introduced to the app would contribute to achieving the key objective of boosting customer loyalty. Based on our conversations with the client, we defined a full range of features for the finished application.
A Lean App
The core features of a loyalty app like Olivka require it to allow users to create individual accounts with their own secure details, balance, and history. Another essential feature is an incentive for users to keep using it, resulting in a greater likelihood of future purchases.
Every unit of currency spent (in this case, PLN) resulted in ten points being added to the customer account. The users can then easily browse a list of available deals - uploaded by the client - which can be adapted to suit particular times of year (for example, holiday specials).
A Comfortable Business Fit
As Olivka was developed to raise the revenue of an existing company, it’s crucial not to disrupt the operations of that business. We made sure that each feature required as little input from customers and staff as possible to keep restaurants running smoothly.
The key test-case for this was the points collection process during the busy lunch rush. All the locations together must handle an average of 160 transactions between 12PM and 4PM. Collecting or paying with points introduces a new step into transactions, which could slow down service.
We minimized the disruption by developing a quick-scan feature. With a single click the customer could pull up a page on the app that presented a unique barcode.
To add the correct number of points, all the merchant has to do is scan that code. The entire process can take less than a second.
Each feature we added had a business justification. Perhaps the clearest example of this is the location finder.
The largest proportion of revenue generated by restaurants comes from people walking in, ordering food, and paying for it. Professional catering for events represents a minimal slice of income.
For this reason we wanted the app to facilitate as much walk-in business as possible. User testing and research revealed that the greatest obstacle to people becoming customers was uncertainty about the physical locations of each of the restaurants.
This provided an opportunity to increase the usefulness of the app for the end user and service the business needs of the client. By integrating a maps feature directing the user to each restaurant we made the app a direct contributing factor to raising revenue.
We knew that being on the app stores wouldn’t be enough to raise awareness of the app. To raise awareness of this locally focussed application we promoted it in the physical locations where customers could use it.
The team created and distributed physical advertising, such as posters and pamphlets at participating restaurants, particularly at the point of sale.
To further drive uptake, our developers visited restaurant locations, training staff on how to use the app.
This made the process of collecting and spending points smoother for users and had the additional benefit of giving checkout staff the ability to assist customers with the app if necessary.
Easy to Use
What if the end user is also the client? Most apps don’t just have a user-facing (by which most developers actually mean ‘customer facing’) side - they also require a Content Management System (CMS).
A CMS allows the operator of the application - in this case the restaurant owners - to access, edit, and create information it contains - hence ‘content.’
However, some CMS aren’t particularly intuitive, and the admin user may not feel confident that they can control the way information is displayed to the end user (the customer).
Administrators understandably want to make sure that users see what they want them to see for many reasons, including maintaining consistent formatting, avoiding errors, making sure the app is attractive, and ensuring any messaging is delivered correctly.
For example, if an image of a product that looks good to the admin when it’s uploaded appears pixelated to the end user - even for a few moments before it’s corrected - that can damage the image of the brand.
Alternatively, inaccurate pricing data could cause the customer frustration or disappointment, or even drive away customers if the prices displayed are higher than intended, harming revenue.
To avoid these downsides and give administrators maximum confidence when using the system, we included a preview feature allowing them to see exactly what the user will see before posting a new product (or any other user facing information, such as a daily deal).
Total Value of Points Awarded
- Having a clear idea of what you want to achieve is all you need to start a conversation with Develocraft. We’ll help turn your idea into a digital product that can support a business.
- Great digital products, like successful apps, come from active collaboration and regular communication between client and developer.
- By keeping the business objective in mind, only necessary features that will contribute to achieving that objective will be included in the development cycle, saving resources and leading to a lean product.