“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company – from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
– Sam Walton
There probably has never been a truer thing spoken about the corporate world. Think of it this way – someone contacts your company for custom mobile app development, finds your services disappointing, and promptly gets in touch with another firm. You lose that particular business lead, along with a bit of your goodwill (the bad worth-of-mouth reports will take care of that). The concept of ‘providing client satisfaction’ has become too cliched as well. The domain of mobile app making is competitive to the core – and success (or otherwise) lies in the ability of a company to ‘wow’ its customers…give them something that ‘exceeds’ their expectations. In this edition of AppBoard Tuesday (ABT), we offer a sneak peek into easy ways to keep the smiles of your app clients always in place:
- Inquire a lot – Once you have accepted a project and provided a free app quote on it, interact with your client properly. To do a good job, you need to know about every little thing about the iPhone/Watch/Android app that the client wants to be made. Find out about the profile (age/gender/demographics/location, etc.) of the target audience. Prepare the groundwork with care – that will ease the actual process of making the app.
- Solve problems – On average, hardly 2 out of 100 clients have any sort of technical (coding, designing, yadda, yadda) knowledge. All that they have are ideas and concepts, which they want to transform into apps. It’s only natural that they would not get the hang of how professional mobile app developers go about their job – and, as a result, will ask plenty of questions. Resolve each of their queries (however trivial they might be), and do not go about charging money for such doubt-clearing sessions. After all, the clients are the ones paying money…and they have a right to know.
- Offer advice for free – People love anything that’s free – no two ways about it. Apart from giving free quotes on mobile apps, you can work further in this regard. Schedule webinars and online hangouts, and provide information and tidbits about app development to prospective/existing clients. Plan out these free interactions as some sort of teasers – they should motivate the participants to follow up and contact app developers.
- Focus on speed during customer interactions – The quicker you can answer your clients’ questions, the better. Researches have shown that responses given out within a couple of hours of customer queries invariably show up a mobile app company in a good light. Of course, you need to ensure that your response is actually helpful for the client (and with that, we are back to the importance of understanding client-requirements/preferences). No one is going to wait patiently, as you take your own sweet time to come up with an answer.
- Deliver more than what’s expected – And we are not talking only about the quality of the iPhone/Android/WatchKit apps you make. Constantly endeavor to give your clients something extra – something that they are not expecting, they have not bargained for. For instance, if a client wants to see four wireframes of an application, email six wireframes to him/her. That will convey the impression that you are really involved in the project, and are committed to make the app a success. Oh, and this ‘extra’ service also needs to be free!
- Never contradict a client – It’s possible that something that a client is saying is wrong. This is a tricky situation – and while you need to correct him/her, you certainly do not want to directly contradict the person. Coming out of this sticky scenario is no rocket science though – hear out what the (obviously misinformed) client has to say, and then patiently explain your own views and opinions. Do not refer to his/her ideas as ‘wrong’ or ‘crazy’, and yours as ‘right’. Instead, tell that you have an ‘alternative’ plan/method, which would serve the client better. (S)he will come around.
- Be personal in your approach – At the end of the day, clients want to do business with a fellow human-being, and not just an app company. As a mobile app entrepreneur, the onus is on you to ensure that your clients get a personal feel through all your communications (verbal/written) with them. When sending a mail, mention your name first, and then the name of your company. If someone has got in touch with you via Facebook or Twitter, respond from your personal profile – instead of the nameless business page. Faceless app companies do not work, those with caring, sincere, committed leaders do.
- Promote their apps – At many Android/iPhone app development companies, the workflow is like this: accept projects, complete them, deliver them, and…well…case closed. Adopting such a ‘one and done’ approach would be a folly. Just as app clients do not have coding expertise, they are not likely to be masters at mobile app marketing either. Your company needs to take up the responsibility of being the brand ambassador of each app you create (unless, of course, a client tells you not to). In general, customers would love it if you create apps just as they want, and then, promote it…that too for free. If your apps are successful, you can show them off in your portfolio as well.
- Do not ignore general users – The end-users of an app are not your clients. There is no saying that they will never become a client in future though. If an app-user complains about a bug/usability issue in an application that your company has created – find out in detail about the problem, and guide the person with the requisite app troubleshooting steps. It all adds up towards building up a strong, positive reputation for your app development company.
- Take responsibility – App developers, graphic designers, animators – they are all human beings, and as they say, ‘to err is human’. If a glitch in your work is discovered and reported by the client, own up to it, and rectify it as soon as possible. There is always the temptation to hide behind a bunch of tech jargons (most of which would be beyond the client’s comprehension), and try to prove that the glitch is, ultimately, not your fault. It is always better to come clean, take full responsibility of your app projects, and not get into any sort of blame game (“My UI/UX designer had not consulted me while working on this layout”!). A sane client would appreciate your honesty, and your trust-factor would receive a boost.
- Inject a fun, interpersonal element – One of the biggest myths that heads of mobile app companies believe in is that, indulging in some small talk with clients is a ‘waste of time’. Nothing can be further from the truth. You need to present yourself as a ‘partner’, and not just a ‘pay us and we will make your app’ service provider. If an overseas client drops in at your office, take him/her shopping, plan a nice lunch (your wallet, please!), share some local information – to put him/her at ease. How about sending along ‘Happy Birthday’ and ‘Merry Christmas’ emails to clients? We feel that that would also be a great thing to do.
- Do not deliver on the pre-specified deadline – That’s because, your target should be on completing and delivering every mobile app at least a week before the schedule deadline (as mentioned in the app quote document). This would buy you just that extra bit of time to fix issues, if any, prior to the submission of the app at the store(s). Project delays and missed deadlines are surefire things to put clients off, and you should always stay at an arm’s length from such possibilities (presence of a large app development/designing team would help).
- Treat customer feedback as gold dust – If you feel what matters most is how you feel about an app – change your mindset. As developers, your job is to create iOS/Android applications as per the specifications of clients. Once you have built an app prototype, request your client to test it, and provide his/her feedback. If (s)he says that certain improvements are required (even if you feel they are not necessary), implement them. Provided that the overall app performance does not get hampered in any way, the opinion of clients should be given precedence. Always.
- Have a refund policy in place – Another factor that contributes to the trustability of your app development company. Make sure that your client has the option to ask for a full monetary refund, in case the app created by your developers is deemed to be unsatisfactory. It has been seen that the companies that offer such refund policies have the least probability of actually having to make such refunds. The reason is simple enough: you are absolutely confident about your app development services. Your clients will get the idea too.
Be on your best behavior while interacting with a client (a ‘Please’ here, a ‘Thank You’ there can work wonders). Be very careful about the proficiency of the coders, UI/UX designers and mobile app testers you induct in your workforce. After all, they are the ones who will determine whether you manage to live up to your promises to the client.
It’s high time indie app entrepreneurs and CEOs of mobile app companies stopped limiting themselves to delivering ‘customer satisfaction’. It’s all about having the ‘wow factor’ – it can make or break the fortunes of your company.
Okay, so that’s the ‘Teks-gyan’ we have to share in this week’s AppBoard Tuesday (ABT). On a personal front, we have started working on a couple of new app projects…and we are happy to report that clients have started requesting for customized WatchKit apps too. Wish us luck on what will be a new challenge for us.
We will return with yet another topic of interest related to mobile applications, in next week’s AppBoard Tuesday. Till then, take care, work well…and love thy apps!