In the last decade we’ve experienced an explosion of mobile apps. From ordering a takeaway to booking a cab, and even buying clothes – these are all normalised daily tasks we can do on our mobiles.
18-24-year old’s spend an average of 3.2 hours a day engaging with apps (that’s nearly 50 days per year!) so it’s crucial that companies optimise user experience, and customer centricity is at the forefront of Mobile App development.
We wanted to take a look at how this trend has specifically affected the dating game. Is your phone now the best place to find love?
Seconds to get started
Focusing on the shift from online dating websites to mobile swipe apps, we applaud developers for transforming the sign-up process. Now, with a simple click, customers can use social sign-in credentials to create a dating account in seconds.
Not only does this create a quick and efficient customer experience, but it also unlocks additional data capture opportunities for the app provider. With a wealth of data, companies can better understand customers and become empowered to drive even greater customer centricity.
In a recent interview given by David Yarus, founder of JSwipe (the #1 Jewish dating app), he explained that dating apps have solved the sourcing issue. “Suddenly you’re able to meet hundreds of people within a matter of minutes, however we still have a challenging sales funnel ahead. Dating apps have solved prospecting, but they haven’t helped us actually date”. (David Yarus 2018)
David Yarus also touches upon the paradox of choice. The idea that, the more options we have, the less likely we are to choose, and the more likely we are to regret our choice once we’ve made it. As humans we have a maximiser component in our personalities meaning we’re always wondering if there’s something, or someone better out there.
Yarus’ perspective draws connotations to the economics of dating apps, which explores the imbalance of customer types. For example, if an app has a significant gender imbalance, this can affect both the quality and quantity of prospects displayed.
It could result in customers experiencing emotional dis-satisfaction and disengagement if they don’t find love almost immediately, or what is known colloquially as ‘swipe fatigue’. However, a recent article in Quartz magazine challenges this theory, as although ‘swipe fatigue’ may cause disengagement, swiping doesn’t leave the customer financially disadvantaged, and the promise of the occasional match keeps customers engaged.
Dating apps therefore attract a relatively high number of engaged customers, so the focus from developers should shift from app functionality to developing a customer centric proposition to drives loyalty and retention.
So, whose doing it right?
There seems to be a plethora of dating apps emerging in the market in a bid to become truly customer centric and be recognised as ‘the app that can help you find true love’. Developers play on different theories here: do more users necessarily equal a better customer experience, like Tinder? Or is a more targeted proposition like The League more effective in converting customers to advocates?
Coffee Meets Bagel seems to have found a happy medium between the two, by only displaying a limited number of highly curated, pre-selected matches in a bid to personalise the experience for customers whilst minimising disengagement and ‘swipe fatigue’. Matches are chosen based on the user’s personality preferences, interests, and education, theoretically improving the chance of a match.
The League customises this proposition further, by filtering results based on users’ social sign-on and ensuring work network contacts e.g. LinkedIn are never suggested as matches. Great news for users to be able to avoid those awkward moments in the office!
The app is positioned as the ‘Tinder for elites’, with its concierge service requiring applicants to meet a set of tight profile criteria to show they are motivated and educated enough to be in the club. What makes The League even more interesting is that they managed to create so much hype and mystery around the app, by having an extremely long waiting list (on average 3 – 32 weeks).
Elite apps which essentially require users to be ‘attractive and successful enough’ might provide great customer experiences once you’ve made the cut, but for all those who get rejected, the experience is anything but positive.
So, what’s next?
We’re beginning to see some of the elite apps like The League, offer profile recommendations, advice on how to start conversations, and even mechanics to bring people together with similar interests. But the next wave of dating apps should aim to help users with the date itself.
Perhaps by understanding the location of both users and making recommendations on where to go for a drink or dinner. It’s a nice feature and means users don’t need to spend too much time on the logistical planning of the date itself.
Dating apps theoretically have a high customer turnover; customers use the app, find love, and then disengage. However, Yarus’ theory of the paradox of choice and the power of social influencing has turned a seemingly one-time use app into a cultural phenomenon. Turnover is thereby reduced as customers are engaged by the content and buzz around the app.
To maintain this engagement and build brand loyalty against the plethora of dating apps out there, companies need to ensure developers are creating a customer centric proposition, offering personalised matches and content to suit the customer’s need.
As we discussed earlier, swipe apps mean we have moved on from communication via an email style messages to a world of instant messaging. The obvious next step seems like voice and video.
By having real-time visual interactions, users could cut down on a number of first dates where they know within the first 30 seconds that they absolutely don’t want to be there. But perhaps the dating scene is not quite ready for this. People use dating apps at their own convenience, often lounging around at home – not always made up and presentable for video chats!
So, what’s the winning formula to create a customer centric dating app?
- Customer centric functionality: Companies need to remember why the customer is there. Features need to be designed around the primary customer requirements. Customers use dating apps to meet new people, not to simply match with someone who liked the look of their profile. The expire feature (when a match disappears if there’s no interaction within a set number of days) is a great example that really gives users the nudge they need to engage in conversation.
- Value for money: Only add features that add true value for the customer. Of course, the app needs to make money, but first and foremost each feature must drive improved customer experience. If you look behind the paid subscription service within most swipe apps, each feature (in principle) should improve the odds of getting a match. For example, users may be able to see a list of people who have previously liked them, or perhaps undo a previous swipe.
- End-to-end customer journeys: Appreciate that the customer journey does not stop with a match. Consider the full end-to-end customer lifecycle. Apps that prompt customers with date recommendations and offer advice on how to drive a meaningful and productive conversations will help further customise their proposition and become truly customer centric.
- Feedback is a gift: Continuous improvement should be at the heart of app development. Requesting customer feedback at regular intervals will drive a holistic feedback culture and ensure customers feel valued and engaged. This becomes even more powerful if users are rewarded for engagement, for example receiving additional free swipes or an additional match per day.
Keep the community safe: Care for your people and monitor the community. As with all social apps that bring people together, not everyone adheres to the community rules and ethos. The Met Police recently launched their Ask Angela campaign where users can seek support if they feel uncomfortable whilst on a date. Integrating this functionality into dating apps will help create a safe environment where customers can flag and report other users, with the confidence that their comments and issues will be monitored and addressed.
When it comes to dating apps, customers have more choice than ever before. It is therefore crucial that companies and developers ensure their apps are customer centric to maintain engagement and build loyalty in a highly competitive digital environment. In part two, we’ll discuss how dating apps can pioneer a complete digital ecosystem through partnerships with other digital service providers to build rich, connected customer profiles and leverage insights to develop even more personalised offerings and take the online dating customer experience to new levels.