What’s the real cost of your app going wrong?


4 minute read
Tom Melamed

Tom Melamed

Non-executive Director

Digital Insights

In the cut and thrust world of mobile, a broken app can mean a big problem. Most app stores, and certainly the duo of Android and iOS, have a rating system, and any problems often see users reaching for that uninstall button.

As Digital Trends found: “While 79 percent of users will give apps a second chance after it failed to impress them on the first go, that number plummets to just 16 percent that will go back for a third attempt.”

There is a cost to your brand, of course—when Natwest ‘s mobile banking app crashed in 2014, for example, thousands of customers vented their anger on Twitter—but there’s a very real, monetary cost too.

So, what would happen if your app failed? What might the potential losses be? And more importantly, how can you stop it from happening in the first place? Let’s look at a couple of scenarios to find out.

A heritage site experiences app failure

The virtual map for a stately home or garden is down. Visitors can no longer find their way from place to place or get effective information about exhibits and facilities. As a result, they leave early and are unlikely to give the venue a second chance.

This costs the heritage brand revenue but, in this case, the greater damage may be to the relationship with their visitors. One of the UK’s most popular attractions, the Eden Project, enjoyed 960,029 visits in 2015. At £25 for an adult and £14 for a child, it would only take 1% of visitors (assuming 1 adult + 1 child as an average) deciding not to visit to cost them £187,205. If the failure dissuades this 1% from making future visits, the cost multiplies.

An airline booking site goes down

GIven that this app will provide a constant flow of booking transactions, this app breaking means a huge potential loss of revenue. If the app also provides flight information, customers will be frustrated by their inability to plan travel on the move. The Easyjet app accounts for 5% of the company’s revenue, which in 2013 was £4,258,000,000. App down for one day? That’ll be £583,287 please. Ouch.

A UK-wide garage chain has app issues

Unable to book their cars into the garage, customers simply turn to another company. Existing customers are unable to see the status of their repairs and air their frustration on Twitter, branding the firm “unreliable”. Loss of new and repeat business is the result combined with loss of trust. Kwik-Fit saw £515,000,000 turnover in 2014. It only takes a small percentage of customers to up sticks to a competitor to drive that figure down. As above, a 1% customer loss could see revenue dip by as much as 5 million pounds.

It’s important these potential costs are avoided by making sure your app doesn’t break in the first place. For the most part, this comes down to regular maintenance – a cost to be considered before having the app built in the first place. The operating system your app is hosted on can change radically during a system update, with features and functions being added or removed at Google or Apple’s whim. Budgeting to keep your developers on-call is the only way to deal with these changes, which can be frequent.

The cost of retaining a development team can, at times, be greater than waiting to call them when your app breaks. But the cost of not doing so can be greater still. Moreover, regular app maintenance can be valuable in itself, allowing you to add new features and stay ahead of your competitors. A strong working relationship with your developer means performance, features and maintenance can all be accounted for. In turn, your app will generate income and brand value for years to come.

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