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App as Customer Contact Point: Leveraging Reality

Teams with decision-making power, awareness

Takahashi:

In which development steps do you invest a particularly high level of care?

App as Customer Contact Point

Hibiya:

First, it is important to understand the reason a client—such as an enterprise—is involved in this business. This must be understood and accepted by the entire app development team—including us. Only then can the team consider how the goal might be realized through design and technology.
Further, in the area of service development, if there is no capable manager in the spheres of design, technology, and business, the project cannot move forward. For this reason, at the start of a project we always form a team comprising a user experience (UX) designer, who doubles as project manager; a user interface (UI) designer; and, in some cases, an engineer. All members are involved in the project from the discussion stage.
In app development, what we always ask of the client is that they assign a business manager to the project from the start. This is because the project cannot progress rapidly if decisions are not made based on participation in day-to-day discussions, including regular project team meetings.

Monbu:

Certainly it is only natural to adopt the kind of structure you have outlined if there is an awareness that the app will be part of the actual service experience, rather than merely part of a company's promotional program.

Takahashi:

From the production side, there is a tendency for an app to become just another product to be delivered to the client. Moreover, if production is not based on an understanding of how a relationship will be built with customers and how the business will be operated, the app will soon be abandoned by users.
I would say that apps developed on the basis of a thorough understanding of the relationship with customers are able to continue to respond to constantly changing customer demands.

Monbu:

I think it is fair to say that, until now, it has often been necessary for advertisements and campaigns to stand out. Hence, there has often been a need to either create an idea that differs from others in the market, or to emphasize originality.
However, usability of an app user interface (UI) is often enhanced by not emphasizing originality. This means that the development team must consider carefully where originality will be emphasized.

Final goal: app as digital contact point with customers

Takahashi:

For the client, the app is the entry point to digital media in the digital economy. Hence, if an app is not used as a tool for observing and analyzing consumer behavior, and constantly looking at customers' “now,” that app will become outdated very quickly. Through the app which most closely reflects customer actions, it is important to have an awareness that encourages us to think about how we will invest in a digital future and how we will accumulate know-how.

Monbu:

Since the app does not represent the final form taken by contact points with customers, at some stage in the future it may be replaced by a different tool. However, I believe that what will not change is the need for companies to continue thinking about digital contact points with their customers.

App as Customer Contact Point

Takahashi:

What is important is not the app itself, but how to make the digital contact points with people as natural as possible. If we think about AI (Artificial Intelligence), IoT (the Internet of Things), and such advances in current digital technologies as autonomous driving, it is quite plausible that apps will cease to be necessary.
In this context, the current app-dominated era could well be seen as a transition period. So it is important to be aware of the big picture, and to base app function classifications on functions each company is currently building into its apps. However, success will not be attained by simply following some formula based on these classifications. Rather, what is important is whether or not the client is able to add the very functions users want in relation to the service offered and the brand.
Further, it is quite possible that new technology may make more advanced functions available in six months' time. How strong an awareness a company has of these kinds of issues, and whether it can build a structure to deal with a rapidly evolving environment are likely to be key factors in determining future success or failure.

Hibiya:

As operating systems continue to evolve, so too do the things that smartphones can do. Companies and app producers should keep abreast of these developments so that new functions may be included in their apps.

Monbu:

Rather than creating digital content and trying to make it popular, we need to focus on how marketing and the digital content business itself should be seen from a client's perspective.

Takahashi:

Thank you.


Project members

Manabu Takahashi

Manabu Takahashi

Marketing Director
Direct Marketing Department
Dentsu Digital Inc.

Kunihiko Monbu

Kunihiko Monbu

Senior Planning Manager
Business Creation Center
Dentsu Inc.

Sumire Hibiya

Sumire Hibiya

Senior UI Designer
Project Manager
Goodpatch Inc.

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