I’ve been traveling quite a bit lately, and, as you might expect, I’ve been using my phone more than usual, too.
In fact, even though I lugged my laptop with me to Florida and New Orleans, I would, ultimately, use my iPhone far more frequently as a means of making reservations, checking reviews, or “printing” boarding passes. Which brings me to a broader point.
I’ve found that, even for businesses that aren’t really predicated on an app – airlines, restaurants, etc – the value a customer places on the larger, non-app experience will be shaped by the firm’s mobile presence and platform – no matter how distant the app is from the actual, physical, good or service. For instance, I’ve flown a few airlines in the last couple of weeks — JetBlue, United, and USAirways. JetBlue and United both have easy-to-use apps that allow you to quickly and easily check in, view a boarding pass, or ascertain a flight status. USAirways, in contrast, has a terrible app that scrounges up only one star in the App Store. My frustrating and time-consuming experience with the USAirways app leads me to a somewhat unfavorable perception of their brand, even though the flight itself – which is, after all, the thing I’m paying for – was largely identical to my experiences on JetBlue and United. Then again, JetBlue does offer free Terra Chips, so it is a tough racket to beat.
Similarly, I’ve long been a customer of a small internet brokerage which I use to manage my investments. Even though the core of the service is the brokering itself – research, low investment fees, etc – my inclination would be to refer friends to more mobile-friendly brokerage services, even if their transaction fees are a dollar or two more.
This dynamic works positively, as well. Part of Uber’s success is that its app is fluid and responsive. Imagine if either Uber’s app, or Uber cars, ran slightly behind those of competitors; which aspect would sooner make a consumer jump ship?
And for me, writing this on my iPhone, using the WordPress app, proves just how critical mobile is – even for non-mobile industries.