Hey everyone, and a warm welcome to yet another (this, the 41st) edition of AppBoard Tuesday (ABT). Last weekend, our brainstorming session was all about client-satisfaction, and how to ensure it all the time. The first thing each of our app developers, graphic artists, animators and other staff did was submit two points each – which were likely to disappoint any paying app client. Over here, we will share the most important points among them. Make sure your mobile app company stays away from these:
- Not providing an advance cost estimate – No sane person in the world would think about making an iPhone app without factoring in budget considerations. If your company does not provide free, detailed app quotes, expect most (if not all!) of your potential clients to move over to another app agency which does. Uncertainties and vagueness regarding expenses annoy any person, and those who are planning to get an app made are no exceptions.
- Not providing multiple budget options – Do you have a ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ service charge for creating mobile apps? If yes, you are not likely to ever have a large clientele. The willingness, and at times, the ability to spend money on app development vary from one client to another – and you need to provide multiple budget options for them. Mention the services that accompany each budget option. Never ever be rigid in your pricing.
- Demanding a heavy advance payment – Mobile app development is not particularly cheap – anyone with a basic idea about this field knows that. That, however, is not an excuse for you to ask for a huge advance payment from your clients. Chalk up a payment schedule at the time of drawing the initial contract, break up your total service charge in 3-4 installments, and mention when the payments have to be made. 25%-30% of the total fee is the maximum you can ask for in advance. Do not ask for complete payment before the project is complete and the app has been handed over.
- Not giving regular updates – There is a lot of ‘blah-blah’ going on about how mobile app developers know all about coding and wireframing and prototype-making, while clients generally do not have any technical knowledge per se. Fair enough, but even so the latter has the RIGHT to know how the work on his/her app is progressing (remember, (s)he is the one shelling out the big bucks!). Share mockups, dummy screens, and UI screenshots of the apps to the concerned clients. Make them feel involved in the app-making process. Making a mobile application need not be like a proverbial ‘black box’.
- Not doing the work yourself – There are app development companies which are: a) after quick money, or b) looking to take up as many app projects as possible, or c) both. Understandably, they cannot handle all projects on their own, and delegate at least some of their app development work to other, obscure, third-party companies/indie developers. This teeny-weeny detail is often kept a secret from the clients. Apart from being grossly unethical (the client had signed up for service from you, not some other company), it’s a folly to think that people will never find out about this. The difference in quality of the apps will, more often than not, give an indication that they were probably not made in-house. Never bite off more than you can chew, in terms of accepting projects. The extra effort and the shady smartness are simply not worth it.
- Not completing projects within pre-specified deadlines – The average client wants apps that deliver optimal value, and are made & released quickly. There is a tradeoff between the two (greater emphasis on app quality requires more time, while a rush to finish a project can involve compromises on the quality front). Once again though, this tradeoff is NOT A LICENSE for you to dilly-dally on a mobile app development project. You need to have enough qualified manpower to ensure that the absence of a couple of developers can be filled in by others – and the work on any particular app is not interrupted. Complete apps at least a week before the deadline, and keep your clients happy. Trust us – it matters!
- Not delivering on the creative front – A client wants a certain set of features/functions in an app, you assign a team of developers on the project, they do the required coding, and the app is complete. Nothing apparently wrong with this, right? Actually, there is – since you have not focused at all on adding a creative, engaging touch to your application. There are close to 1.3 billion mobile apps each in Google Play Store and Apple iTunes, and it’s very easy for a boring-looking app to get lost in the crowd. A mobile app agency simply must have a separate team of UI/UX designers, animators, and graphic experts. They are the ones who make an app LOOK GOOD, and that is an important factor when it comes to initial downloads of an application. Why should a person pay money for a piece of mobile software that does not even appear attractive?
- Lack of promptness in query-handling – Remember what we said about clients not having (in most cases) much of technical knowledge? That’s precisely why you, the expert mobile app-maker, have to guide them through the entire development process. It is only natural that clients would pose queries (via Facebook, through email, maybe even a phone call) – and it is your responsibility to ensure that every question (even the slightly silly ones!) are satisfactorily, and quickly, resolved. Never take more than one day to provide free app quotes, or respond to any client query. If your company promises 24×7 service, mean it.
- Not providing free upgrades – A tried, tested, and sad way in which many mobile companies try to earn some extra money. There is no client in the world who will not feel irritated (and yes, it can develop into a war of words), if you charge extra money for releasing new updates on existing apps (for instance, a bug-fix update). Treating app development as a one-shot game and not releasing upgrades at all is another thing that can get clients angry. All the app upgrades you release at the stores should be free, and actually have some additional value about them.
- Not giving prior assurance about intellectual property rights – Who ‘owns’ the app once it is complete? Is it you, who has coded and designed it, or the client who has paid for it? If you think it should be the former – it’s high time you changed your perspective. A client hires mobile app developers and pays them to create applications – nothing more. All the intellectual property rights should remain with him/her, and not the company which had done the coding/designing. Provide a non-competing document at the very start, to keep your clients at ease regarding this issue. At the store, it should display ‘XXX App’ by <client name>, and not ‘XXX App’ by <name of developer company>.
- Presence of app bugs – If your mobile app testing standards are not high enough, your clients will be annoyed. Think about it: who wants to spend money on making an app that is slow, and/or crashes often, and/or affects the performance of mobile devices in any other manner? Frustrations reach their maximum level when a bug/malware is detected AFTER an app has been submitted for review at iTunes. A shoddy, buggy app not only pisses off an individual client – it puts the overall goodwill of your company under a cloud.
Clients also tend to stay away from companies that are not into cross-platform mobile app development. There is no point in getting the iOS version of an app getting developed by one company, and looking for other developers for making an Android version of the same thing. Sincerity and a general polite demeanor helps in keeping clients happy as well. You might be the world’s finest mobile app entrepreneur, your team of developers might be the best – but if your clients are not satisfied, your company will not succeed. NOT.A. CHANCE.
Okay, so that bit of Teks-gyan has given you some idea about how not to get on the wrong side of clients, right? We have been in this line of business for close to a decade now, and we are confident that our insights would help other developers too. If you can think up of any other things that annoy clients, share it with us. We will stay away from that too!
That’s all there is in today’s edition of AppBoard Tuesday. We will be back next week with another interesting topic related to mobile app development. Till the next time…love thy apps!
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