Getting feedback is essential to understanding how well you’re serving mobile shoppers. But keep in mind consumers are most receptive to interactions that are contextual, relevant, and personal.

Emily Carrion, head of marketing, Apptentive

Emily Carrion, head of marketing, Apptentive

These days, consumers rarely make a purchase without using their smartphone at some point in the buying journey. Whether mobile is used for browsing, price comparison, or purchasing, over half of consumers use mobile to shop. That includes apps, too—consumers have over four shopping apps on their phones, on average. So how can retailers determine whether they’re providing the customer experience shoppers expect at every stage?

In this article, I’ll discuss the three main questions retailers should ask themselves to identify where their mobile customer experience needs extra love. In addition, I’ll share mobile shopping app benchmark metrics that Apptentive (my company) created by analyzing over 5,000 unique apps, and explain what they reveal about retailers’ customer experience. By comparing your metrics to the benchmarks, you’ll be able to pick up surefire signals on how consumers are receiving your customer experience and how it can be improved.

3 Questions to Ask Yourself

1. Do you know how your customers feel about your brand, mobile app, and overall customer experience?

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If you don’t know the answer, how will you know how to improve their experience? We found that over half of consumers (51%) actually expect you to ask for feedback. Without their guidance, you’re essentially wandering around directionless. The importance of understanding how your customers feel cannot be understated.

The in-app survey response rate benchmark metric for shopping apps is 13%.

There are a number of different tactics available to companies looking to understand customer sentiment and gather feedback, including surveys, ratings and reviews, in-app chat, and more. When customers aren’t receptive to your attempts to engage them, it’s not hard to read between the lines to see that there’s a disconnect between your intention and your delivery.

2. Am I being strategic about when, where, and which customers I reach out to?

Interacting with customers is the goal, but unless done right, you risk being ignored. If customers aren’t engaging with you, it’s a sign that you’re not sending personal, relevant messages at a time and place that makes sense. Companies that blindly send messages to customers inadvertently drag down the quality of their CX.

For example, the in-app survey response rate benchmark metric for shopping apps is 13%. If your app’s response rate falls below that average completion rate, it’s a signal that you’re disrupting your customers’ experience by prompting them with a survey. The disruption could be attributed to the time, place, or length of survey. As usual, there is a time and place for everything.

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Before you start messaging customers, ask the following questions:

When is the least disruptive time to prompt my customers? For example, prompting customers immediately after they open the app by asking them to fill out a survey or leave a rating or review is disruptive to their experience. Let customers accomplish the task they came for first—respect their time.

Where inside the app will be the least disruptive when prompting my customers? For example, surveying customers who are in the middle of checking out will totally disrupt their process, making it more likely they’ll be unwilling to respond. Instead, they’ll be more likely to respond if you survey them directly after they’ve finished checking out, guaranteeing you’re not interrupting what they came to do.

Who is the right target audience for this survey? More often than not, asking for feedback from long-time customers who have real experience using the app and shopping at your stores will yield more valuable insight than asking first-time customers who don’t have as much experience.

3. Am I annoying my customers?

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Obviously, it’s hard to keep your finger on the pulse of your customers without interacting with them. But the benefits of interacting with customers extends beyond knowing how they feel. We found that when mobile customers are interacted with in-app, they’re five times less likely to churn after three months.

Data shows customers appreciate being interacted with, but it’s important to not to cross the fine line that separates respectful communication and blasting customers with messages. Consumers are most receptive to interactions that are contextual, relevant, and personal. Blanket messages pushed out to large swaths of customers without thoughtful consideration aren’t as effective and aren’t an enjoyable customer experience.

How do you know if you’re blasting customers? The number of mobile app customers you’re interacting with is a useful indicator. The interaction rate benchmark, which is the average number of customers who brands are interacting with in-app, is 4% for shopping apps. That means on average, shopping apps are only reaching out to 4% of their customers with surveys, notes, prompts, or other types of messages. For context, the interaction rate benchmark for apps across all categories is 12%. The difference may be related to the number of messages retailers send to their customers outside of the app, particularly via email, which raises the threshold for the number of customers who are receptive to more interactions.

Another indicator that your mobile customer experience is lacking is the response rate you receive to interactions. If your response rate to interactions is low, it’s a signal that you’re sending customers too many messages, they’re irrelevant, or not personal enough—all bad experiences on their own and collectively. For reference, the benchmark for response rates in shopping apps is 53% (and 63% across all app categories). If you’re receiving a response rate less than 53%, it’s time to reevaluate your strategy.

Wrapping Up

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Providing a great customer experience starts with asking yourself three questions:

  1. Do I know how my customers feel about my brand, mobile app, and overall customer experience?
  2. Am I being strategic about when, where, and which customers I reach out to?
  3. Am I annoying my customers?

Trying to improve your customer experience before you have a thorough understanding of how they feel is the retail version of pin the tail on the donkey. Interacting with customers is key to understanding them, but the way in which you interact with customers isn’t as important as how you interact with them. Retailers with the best intentions can go overboard with their attempt to connect to their customers and create an unintentionally bad customer experience.

Remember to reach out to the right customers, at the right place, and at the right time to provide the most value to them and to your company.

Recognizing the signals of a customer experience that isn’t up to par is the first step in course correcting. Watch out for high interaction rates and low response rates—both indicators that something is amiss with your CX. The mobile shopping app benchmark metrics serve as a way to measure your success against others in the retail industry and as a best practice guide for communicating with customers.

Apptentive provides mobile customer engagement software designed to enable brands to build relationships with their customers.

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