Why Your Brand Could Die in Two Days

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FlipKart's ratings decline over two weeks. Green = 5star, Red = 1star FlipKart, India’s biggest online retailer, recently considered a “zero cost plan” deal with Airtel that killed FlipKart’s brand overnight. The deal would enable users to browse certain mobile apps free of data charges. That special deal infuriated FlipKart’s advocates and the supporters of Net Neutrality; they argue it bullies competitors out of the market by undermining the internet’s level playing ground. A global community campaigned to deter the company by making their opinions known–in just two days the rating for FlipKart dropped from 4 to 1.5.

Why FlipKart’s Brand Took a Hit

Technology once favored large companies, but today mobile has empowered customers to have the deciding impact on a company’s brand and health. The “walled garden” app store infrastructure is effectively designed around consumer opinion. Thus mobile apps simply cannot succeed without communicating with their customers effectively. Forrester calls this mobile phenomenon the “Age of the Customer”: aligning your company with your customers’ ethics is more important than ever when grievances can be made publicly at scale.

FlipKart created a brand promise that they support customers and Net Neutrality. When their actions said otherwise, customers provided app store feedback to realign FlipKart with what they expect the company to be. FlipKart had no choice but to cancel the deal with Airtel while affirming that customer satisfaction is why they exist. The alternative would have been a complete loss of credibility and brand value. This is an apt example of how feedback connects a brand’s promise with customer expectation–and why your app rating is essentially your brand rating.

The App Store Is Your Brand

The app store is a primary method where customers now influence company brand. A bad review is far more damaging than a tweet; poor ratings will directly reduce an app’s organic search ranking, download rates, and profits. 63% of Android and iOS users discover apps organically by searching the store. One mistake–without having an easy way to communicate with users–will mean your competitors receive more than half your organic acquisition in a matter of days. Managing feedback before it hits the app store is essential to win.

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Most customers equate your app rating with the value of your product. 77% of mobile users will not download an app rated lower than 3 stars. A competitor with a higher app store rating has an advantage in brand promise, and therefore an advantage in organic acquisition. Getting high ratings means making it easy to receive customers’ feedback when something goes wrong. Ultimately, the key to going viral with your app is service excellence.

How to Prevent FlipKart’s Mistake

Customers that are retained because of your brand promise become advocates that help you grow virally. Their cost of acquisition is also greatly reduced since they happily refer other customers by word-of-mouth. Yet when that promise is broken, the opposite occurs–your vocal advocates become equally vocal complainants. Both acquisition costs and churn increase as a result.

Remember to communicate with users throughout all stages of your product. Ask your community directly how they feel about company choices and updates. You’ll be forewarned of possible mistakes, and the customer engagement will delight.

So what are the key factors to support your brand’s growth?

  • Mobile–and the app store–makes customers more powerful than ever before when it comes to the perception of your product.
  • Communicating with customers to align your brand promise is now essential in the Age of the Customer.
  • Feedback connects your brand promise with customer expectation, and app store ratings represent the success of your brand.
  • Maintaining high app store ratings is the primary way to compete in the saturated mobile market.
Published April 15, 2015
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