Business & Technology Review

First impression your only chance

David Noël
Filed on August 31, 2021

The usage of applications has expanded across almost every area of our lives. Research shows that brands have only one shot to deliver the ‘total application experience’

In the latest AppDynamics report, The App Attention Index 2021: Who takes the rap for the app?, we found that the number of applications that people are using regularly has soared by a massive 30 per cent compared with two years ago.

Throughout the pandemic, consumers across the UAE have relied on digital services to navigate through the most difficult period of their lifetimes. Applications truly have become a lifeline to normality — 95 per cent of the UAE's consumers report that digital services have become a critical part of how they go about their lives and 98 per cent (14 per cent higher than the global average) report that digital services have helped them get through the pandemic in a positive way.

Greater reliance brings increased expectation for the ‘total application experience’: For the past 18 months, consumers in the Emirates have suddenly had exposure to the very best digital experiences from a wide range of brands and in these cases, it has translated into strong brand loyalty. Eighty-five per cent of the UAE's consumers report that they are grateful to brands that have made the effort to deliver brilliant digital experiences to support and enhance their lives during this challenging time and 82 per cent (15 per cent higher than the global average) say they feel more loyal to brands that went above and beyond with the quality of their digital services during the pandemic.

But on the flip side, people are now expecting, and demanding, this level of experience from every application they use. Seventy-five per cent of people across the Emirates state that their expectation of digital services has changed forever and they won’t tolerate poor performance anymore and 68 per cent went so far as to say that it is disrespectful to users for brands to offer a poor digital experience in this day and age.

The research shows that expectations towards digital services have increased across a wide range of performance and functionality areas during the pandemic. These include application reliability and security, and the personalisation of digital services.

Across every sector, people are now looking for the ‘total application experience’ — a high-performing, reliable, digital service that is simple, secure, helpful and fun to use. They expect applications to be personalised to their preferences and needs and to add real value to their lives.

The app always takes the rap for poor digital experience: But when the app doesn’t meet expectations or when things do go wrong, consumers aren’t interested in or worried about, the root cause of issues. Instead, they immediately point the finger of blame at the application. In fact, in line with global averages, in the UAE, 69 per cent of consumers believe it’s the responsibility of the brand to ensure that the digital service or application works perfectly.

In some cases, this might be justified, where consumers experience slow page loading, poor response times, downtime, or security failures. But even when the problem is due to external factors outside of the application itself, such as poor internet connectivity, mobile network issues or slow payment gateways, consumers still blame the application and the brand behind it.

The takeaway for brands is clear. In a world where consumers are expecting more from their digital experiences than ever before, the question of ‘Who takes the rap for the app?’ puts the blame firmly at the feet of the application owner — and the brand behind the application — whatever the cause.

No second chances when it comes to digital experience: The UAE's consumers have come to realise that there is always an alternative digital service out there that can immediately deliver the type of experience they want. So, the moment they encounter an issue with an application, or even if they just don’t get the level of experience they have come to expect, they don’t think twice about permanently deleting it and switching to an alternative service. And many won’t stop there — they’ll share their negative experiences with friends and family and publicly on social media.

Perhaps the most startling finding of our research, certainly for application owners and brands, was that 73 per cent of people in the UAE — a whopping 16 per cent higher than the global average — state that brands have only one shot to impress them and that if their digital service doesn’t perform, they won’t use them again.

With 82 per cent of the UAE consumers stating that even as life returns to normal, they know they will continue to rely on the digital services they utilised during the pandemic, this is a pivotal moment for online brands and application owners. There are no second chances. Unless brands are consistently delivering the ‘total application experience’, they risk seeing almost three-quarters of their customers walk away, possibly forever.

David Noël is the GVP, EMEAR at AppDynamics.

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