I'd swipe right!

Ever noticed how familiar you become with an app or a feature without even noticing it. Double tapping on a picture on Facebook to like it as you would with Instagram, thinking of the most appropriate hashtag to put at the end of your sentence in an email, or swiping left on a photograph or article that doesn't interest you?

Well you're not alone. It appears that there is now some functionality that has become so familiar to us that we just expect such features in applications we use.

It's something you might want to consider if you're developing a mobile application for your customers or indeed a new website. What's even better is that you don't need to spend the millions of pounds of market research to see what options work best, you can actually do most of the necessary research for yourself from the comfort of your sofa and benefit form the experience and time of the top players.

Whether or not you are particularly interested in using it, dating apps offer some of the best features and functionality around. Yes I'm serious. If you think about it this is a huge market with many strong players. The app developers need to engage you then keep you engaged. How they do this is by offering simplicity, ease of use and key features that we have strangely come to expect as standard. 

Firstly logging in and setting up any profile can be boring, requires effort and is one of the most common reasons why consumers don't proceed with applications, profiles accounts or detailed web forms. This is a particular issue for companies because not only is your potential customer now not going to use the very application you've spent a healthy budget attracting them towards you've actually lost them at the first stage due to your own customer journey process. Equally this initial 'sign in' process is important for data capture and customer profile information. Yet somehow we seem to over complicate this first stage.

By far the easiest way to provide ease of use is with an option to log in using Facebook. It's one click for your customer and means they effortlessly populate all your required fields. If your profile or account requires a picture, which could be fairly essential, why not provide the option for auto upload again from Facebook. Chances are most of your customers already have Facebook accounts and you've just simplified the process to allow them to experience your product after perhaps one or two clicks giving you a much higher chance that they will now explore your product and hopefully progress to purchase.

Keeping your customers attention is vital and now you've got your customer logged in and set up help them to easily navigate your app or site.

For this I'd use simple language and probably familiar buttons. You can change the colours to match your branding but use the same shaped buttons. For inspiration I'd look no further than iPhone. If anyone has successfully achieved simple effective functionality it's Apple. So why not embrace it. If you can swipe, like and share without having to read a user manual then you've created something your customer will love! Remember, less is more. Don't overcrowd your page, list the key functions and make it obvious. If more details are required a button to say 'expand details' or 'edit info' is most acceptable. Think visually as well as functionally, if after a customer has made a choice items need to load on a page a little circle rotating with a caption of 'loading' just helps to keep a user informed. What may seem obvious to you might not for first time user experience so explain each stage of the process.

Also don't forget your social media. Customers often spot products for their friends and it's becoming increasingly common and easy to simply 'tag' their friend so they can view the item or indeed share it via a social channel. Also if that friend isn't already a customer it's a fast and effective way way of expanding your database. Additionally by simply adding a share now with links to twitter, instagram, facebook, etc helps you reach a larger audience with no additional marketing spend required. It's amazing how many times this can be overlooked on emails and forms too so double check!

Hopefully that's given some food for thought, I'd be really interested to hear any views. So just tweet to @jamesbiley & @flatlivingloves

Oh and finally I just feel the need to state I accept no responsibility for any damage or arguments caused in relationships while suggesting the exploration of dating apps for market research purposes!

Feel free to like or share this article too and until the next time #bemoresocial

James is now Marketing and PR Manager for Countrywide's Estate and Asset Management and Property Auction divisions.

The #BeMoreSocial column was created for Flat Living and its goal is to drive more effective communication within the property management industry.

If you have a customer service experience using any form of marketing or social media that you’d like to share then tweet @JamesBiley and @FlatLivingLoves using the #BeMoreSocial.