Opinion

Being genuinely useful, app style


Branded apps give organisations the opportunity to deliver high quality content direct to a database of bought-in consumers (who may be on their way to becoming advocates). But is one way app-age enough?

I’ll be honest, my app de-jour is a community GPS gizmo called Waze. I love it. In fact, it’s taken over from Google Navigation as my preferred SatNav app of choice.

It’s not perfect. For a start, there are two different female voices, who occasionally disagree. And, on today’s trip into East Sussex, it completely missed two roundabouts, told me to go right when the only way was left and generally behaved about as well as the average passenger seat navigator.

So what’s so great about it?

For a start, it’s slightly unpredictable. On one journey, the more jaunty of the women will say “Let’s Go!”, and on another, the sterner of the two will give me a “Begin Driving.” Then, out of nowhere, one of them started the journey with “Proceed to the highlighted route – drive safe!”.

That’s fun – and adds a distinctly human element to proceedings.

But, more importantly than that, the app is genuinely social. As you drive along, it works out where you are, what speed you’re doing and feeds this into a database. The system therefore spots when you’re in a traffic jam and alerts other Waze users to slow traffic.

Plus your passenger can report accidents, complete standstill and other useful things that you really wish you’d known before setting off. All in real-time.

And yes, there’s a gaming element as well. You munch things as you drive around – sometimes little dots, other times cupcakes. All of this then goes into some kind of magic leaderboard. I’ve got no idea what it’s for, but it’s cute.

For me, it’s the real-time (passive) collaboration into the community knowledge base that makes Waze a winner.

I would go so far as to say that it’s my “Preferred Navigation Partner”.

Partner? Really?

Partnerships are two-way. Information comes in, information goes out (if an app is one-way, it’s a broadcaster, nothing more). Both parties benefit. As does anyone else who joins in.

And this pleases me. This makes me part of the community, enabled by the Waze brand.

So, my question for today is this: if you’re considering a brand app, how can you make it genuinely two-way for your customer? How can you provide the platform for your customer to become part of the community, either actively or passively?

And what would the world look like if all apps and brands sponsored this open two-way dialogue?

I’d love to hear your thoughts – as well as any other app recommendations – so please comment below!

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