Consumers Have Defined the New ‘Total Application Experience’

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By Gregg Ostrowski

Throughout the pandemic, consumers have relied on digital services to navigate the most difficult period of their lives. From using messaging tools and video platforms for work as well as to connect with friends and family, video streaming to stay entertained and healthy with online fitness classes, or even to simply try new things. Overall, people have turned to applications to cling to some sort of normality.

The recent App Attention Index 2021: Who takes the rap for the app? report revealed the number of applications people are using regularly has soared by 30% compared to two years ago. People are using more applications, more regularly, to help with more things.

And across the board, among people of all ages and demographics, people have experienced real benefits from increased use of applications. A majority, 84%, report that digital services have had a positive impact on their lives during the pandemic, enabling them to get through this challenging period and to cope and function in most areas of their lives. Applications have made it easier for people to access services and to fit in activities around their other work and life commitments; and, for many, digital services have enabled them to try new things that they wouldn’t have before.

As brands have innovated at breakneck speed to launch new digital services to support customers through the pandemic, consumers have been exposed to a whole new level of digital experience. From food delivery and grocery shopping to learning and personal banking, people have experienced first-hand what applications can and should be offering in 2021.

For the first time, millions of people around the world understand what true first-class digital experience looks like.

Consumers demand the ‘total application experience’

The research also found that across every geography and every sector, consumers are becoming far more selective about the digital services they use. They’re constantly seeking the ‘total application experience’ – a high-performing, reliable, digital service, which is simple, secure, helpful and fun to use. And they want these services to be personalized for their own individual needs and add real value to their lives.

Significantly, consumers no longer see any reason why they shouldn’t have this ‘total application experience’ every time they use an application. Expectations have soared over the last 18 months and people are demanding more reliability, security and personalization, as well as a wide range of other functionality and performance areas.

For brands that are unable to deliver the right level of digital experience, the consequences are severe. As a result of the pandemic, 61% of people say their expectation of digital services has changed forever and they won’t tolerate poor performance anymore.

Consumers have come to realize that there is always an alternative digital service that can immediately deliver the type of experience they want. The moment they encounter an issue with an application, they don’t think twice about switching to another service.

The app takes the rap for poor digital experience, and there are no second chances

When things go wrong, consumers immediately blame the brand regardless of the issue. It doesn’t matter if the problems they’re encountering are caused by factors that sit outside the application, such as poor internet connectivity, mobile network issues or slow third party payment gateways, consumers still blame the brand as well as the application owner behind it.

Application owners may consider this unfair, but they need to accept that this is the environment they’re now operating in. In a world where consumers are relying on applications like never before, the question of ‘Who takes the rap for the app?’ puts the blame firmly on the application owner.

What makes these findings even more alarming for brands is that consumers are now totally unforgiving when they encounter a poor digital experience. As many as 57% of consumers will only give brands one chance to impress them and if the experience doesn’t match their expectations, they won’t use them again.

The stakes have been raised. Unless brands are consistently delivering the ‘total application experience,’ they risk seeing more than half of their customers walk away. Possibly forever.

Gregg Ostrowski is a Regional CTO at AppDynamics. He engages with customer senior leadership to help prioritize their strategy for digital transformation.

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