Put Customers First When Designing Mobile Apps

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Speech technologists stand to benefit from a hard-learned lesson discovered in the customer relationship management (CRM) industry—before you start a company project or upgrade, consider how customers might be affected by it.

Early CRM products were inwardly focused, providing benefits mainly to enterprises (i.e., ownership of the customer relationship, better insight into the sales pipeline, productivity enhancements, cost-cutting measures, revenue recognition, etc.). However, many of these efforts didn't provide more value to customers, resulting in organizations using CRM technologies in ways that harmed customer relationships, such as bombarding customers with unwanted emails and disruptive phone calls. Legal pressure, such as the CAN-SPAM Act and the Do Not Call Registry, forced organizations to back off.

Today, organizations are doing a better job thinking about customers' needs first. After all, what's a business without customers? That's why more companies are talking about customer satisfaction scores, Net Promoter scores, voice of the customer campaigns, social media, etc. Before beginning a project or campaign, savvy organizations are asking: How will this affect my customers? Will it help or hurt the customer experience? Will it provide value? If the answer to any of these questions is not favorable for customers, organizations should rethink the project's purpose.

The speech technology industry is primed to capitalize on the popularity of mobile devices. According to our cover story, "Can Mobile and IVR Coexist?" by News Editor Leonard Klie, consumers, when given a choice, would prefer to use a mobile application on their smartphone rather than interact with an IVR. It makes sense for organizations to leverage the talk, touch, and type capabilities of smartphones. But before investing in the application, organizations must be sure that it will be mutually beneficial. One reason Apple's iPhone 4S—with the voice-enabled Siri Virtual Assistant—is so popular is because it's not only cool, but it's also valuable to customers. It enables people to find and share relevant information on the go, using easy-to-use natural language speech technology.

For some suggestions on what to consider when building a mobile speech application, read the cover story. Also, clear your calendar for the SpeechTEK conference (August 13–15, 2012) at the New York Marriott Marquis, as we'll likely have sessions on building mobile speech applications as well.

It's hard to ignore the potential that speech-enabled mobile applications could have for your business. But when designing these apps, don't ignore your customers. Otherwise, they will eventually ignore you.


I'm happy to welcome Speech Technology magazine's latest new hire—Staff Writer Michele Masterson. Michele, who has more than a decade of business and technology writing experience, has honed her skills at some of the largest business and technology publishing companies in the United States. I have no doubt she will be a tremendous asset to the editorial team, and I look forward to working with her. Feel free to contact Michele at mmasterson@infotoday.com.

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