New Age Of Customer Engagement

Consumers are at the forefront of a mobile revolution. With most adults in the UK owning a smartphone, they expect access to the information they need and the things they want to do – whenever and wherever they want


At the heart of today’s connected mobile lifestyle are apps – Uber, Starbucks, British Airways, Skype, Google – each of them with a slick, simple, user-focused experience. They are mobile-first solutions in tune with a digitally native generation that knows what it wants and expects it now.

It’s a transformation that many traditional businesses are struggling to keep pace with. As consumers expect greater control, fuss-free transactions and the freedom to access services on their terms, companies whose processes and data are locked up in legacy infrastructure are finding themselves left behind. Customers desert them for a less-frustrating business experience which is easier to use and buy from.

The UK retail industry is missing out on an estimated £6.6 billion a year due to a lack of mobile investment. And while UK consumer retail spend on mobiles and tablets is forecast to hit £53.6 billion a year by 2024, only 3 per cent of retailers say they are at the cutting-edge of mobile. Nearly 20 per cent had no mobile-enabled website or app.

By focusing on the user experience, with design, automation and context, simple, elegant task-based ‘Zapps’, or micro-apps, can be created in hours and days

It’s a weakness that’s holding back the UK as a whole. With cumbersome, outdated processes and limited mobility, the UK’s workforce is currently the least productive of all the G7 economies. Simplifying how they do business – even small tasks – is key to unlocking that potential.

The problem for many enterprises is, quite literally, a pain in the back-end. With traditional app development focused on extracting information from back-office systems via cumbersome system interfaces or application program interfaces (APIs), dragging those systems into the modern world becomes as risky as open-heart surgery.

SETTING DATA FREE

Russell Acton, vice president and general manager, international, of US technology firm Capriza, argues it doesn’t have to be that way. With 57 per cent of searches now done on a mobile, businesses need to provide employees and customers with easy interactions, anywhere, anytime if they are to seize the next wave of growth.

Capriza takes a radical and disruptive approach. Without the need for coding or installing and hardware or software, Capriza can create catalogues of “micro-apps” from an enterprise’s existing systems. By focusing on the user experience, with design, automation and context, simple, elegant task-based “Zapps”, as Capriza calls them, can be created in hours and days.

Gone are the frustrations we are all familiar with when using most systems today. For a great example, visit any mobile phone shop and ask to do something simple. The experience is usually horrendous.

The Capriza process is wrapped in a simple-to-use, mobile-first app that delivers the information users need in a few clicks and tasks can be completed in as little as one minute. End-to-end Zapp creation can be accomplished in under a week and deployment via the cloud is immediate, contrasting with months or even years for typical application development.

THE WAY BUSINESS SHOULD BE

Zapps are designed with the user experience and productivity as the primary goals. Optimising and simplifying the process for the user is, of course, a large part of the design stage. Created around a responsive, mobile-first interface, there’s no separate development for various platforms such as Android or iOS. Zapps can work on any device, from smartphones to tablets and desktop computers. Back-end systems remain in place, so there’s no down-time and no disruption to existing services.

All the investment and tooling around existing permissions also remain, data is encrypted and fully compliant as no information is stored on the user’s device, making this very secure. They are deployed in environments, such as financial services, which has been a tricky area for conventional mobile apps.

The benefits of mobilising and simplifying workflows in this way are huge, explains Mr Acton. Zapps have enabled US satellite TV and broadband provider DirecTV to slash the time it takes on-site engineers to activate customers’ set-top boxes.

“Previously, activation meant an engineer spending up to 45 minutes on the phone to a call centre,” Mr Acton says. “By scanning a barcode on the box with their phone camera within the ‘Activation Zapp’, engineers can initiate an automated workflow that takes a minute or so.”

The Zapp works irrespective of which phone the engineer or contractor uses, and with faster activations, engineering and call centre waiting times have been cut while customer satisfaction has soared. And it’s not just “big” issues as employees are able to do more self-service on the go, from expenses, booking or approving vacation, to even something as simple as a password reset. Frustration levels will plummet.

User-focused Zapps are providing solutions that help to make customers and employees more self-sufficient and less frustrated while reducing costs. With simple, secure access to critical but ageing legacy systems, Zapps are giving employees and customers the thing they’ve come to expect – simplicity, in the palm of their hand, focused on their needs.