God created an app for that

They say there is an app for everything.  And now, we have seen it all. 

Apps for our mobile devices are supposed to make things easier for us.  With one-touch, we can transfer money through our bank.  With another touch, we can reserve a table for 2 at the swanky new restaurant downtown.  And now, with a single touch, we can deal with that pesky annoyance in our lives – SIN!

Yes, there is an app for SIN now. 

For $1.99 you can download a confession app.  You select your sin and it suggests an appropriate Act of Contrition for you.  It will even allow you to add a sin should you find yourself committing an offense that is not featured on the “most popular” sin list.

Before you comment that this is an attempt to ridicule the Catholic Church, this app was actually designed by the Roman Catholic Church.  (I wonder if it was actually blessed by it as well). 

Mind you, this is the church that has been steadfast in keeping true to their rituals no matter how antiquated or how many people complain about the church being out of touch.  This is the church whose last major change was to actaully face the congregation and speak English now is promoting of a way to skip one of its fundamental sacraments by making a mobile app?  Although they say this app will compliment and promote in-church confession, we all know that once you have an “app for that”, you never go back. 

I don’t get it.

Confession – also known as the Sacrement of Reconcilliation – is one of THE most sacred events in the Catholic faith.  A time where you can be alone with God, examine your conscience and come to the realization that you have sinned against God.  Then, you humbly come into the presence of a priest so that he may absolve those sins in the name of Christ so that you can once again be made whole and may bask in the grace of God. 

As far as interactive experiences go, this is pretty big.  No matter what your faith is, when the entire experience is centered around you talking with God and praying for forgiveness from the Creator of the universe, I would say that is a MOMENT.

So why would the Catholic Church create something to potentially drive more people away from an entire experience like that? 

It is like the “beer app” where you can pour beer into a glass (on your phone, of course).  After the glass is “full”, when you tilt the phone, it looks like you are drinking the beer and the glass becomes empty.  But no matter how realisitc the beer looks, you are not drinking a beer.  All you have is an empty glass.

For the church who is in support of the confession app I would recommend putting more effort into making the real experience of confession better.  Find out why people don’t like confessing their sins to a priest and come up with a solution to enhance the entire church experience.  Stop looking for gimmicks and provide an experience that actually fills their souls and provides a lasting effect. 

The Catholic church is probably hoping that people will have so much fun using the app that they will come back to the church to do the real thing.  My guess is that they won’t. 

No matter how many times you “pour the beer” on your iPhone, you will never feel its real effects.  It will never replace the emotional experience of sharing a cold beer with an old friend.

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A pound of brand – sliced thin, please

When it comes to grocery stores, they are all pretty much the same.  You have aisles of food and products, you have a section for dairy and cold stuff, a section for produce and you have a deli. 

So, how do you compare one grocery store brand with others if they are all pretty much the same?  Price?  Maybe.  Convenience?  Likely.  How they deliver on their brand?  Definitely.

But what makes up a great grocery store brand? 

The way I see it, most of those involved in creating the in-store experience of grocery stores are invisible.  The shelves are stocked in the middle of the night, the floors are cleaned after hours and the merchandising plans are created in an office behind the employee lunchroom. 

Grocery stores are now essentially self-service.  There is not much opportunity for brand building between the store employees and the customer.  You get a cart when you walk in, (usually with a busted wheel that spins incessently) and you parade up and down the aisles.  Up and Down.   

In the olden days, you at least got to speak to the person at the checkout counter.  If they were nice and efficient, you had a good brand experience.  But they have replaced that critical touchpoint with a self-serve scanner where you scan and bag your groceries. 

So who is left to personally deliver the grocery store brand?

The deli people, that’s who. 

Think about it, unless you have trouble scanning your groceries, your only personal contact in the store is at the deli counter.  And this is where the brand is made or broken for me. 

Take two examples:  I usually shop at Butera or Meijer for my groceries.  Butera is 3 minutes from my house and Meijer is open 24 hours.  Both cater to my convenience need.  And both #FAIL at this crucial touchpoint.  There is usually one or two people working the deli counter.  They are slow.  Really slow.  Consistently slow.  Many times, it will take longer to get the deli meat than it does for all the rest of my shopping. 

However, the best grocery store deli counter I have ever experienced is from a local, 9-store family owned grocery chain called Caputo’s.  Their produce section is huge and their butcher shop is staffed with knowledgeable professionals.  But it is their deli that really captures the essence of their brand. 

I was there last Sunday – a very busy day to visit the deli – and counted 10 people working behind the deli counter – slicing, packing, wrapping and taking care of customers – offering samples and suggestions to customers.  They were efficient, friendly and totally focused on my needs. 

While I could go on and on about my experience at the deli, I won’t.  But I will use this example to stress that brands need to look at all the places where their customers come in contact with the brand and look at it from their customers point of view.  

In the new self-service grocery stores, there are only a few places where employees have the opportunity to meet the customers.  Doesn’t it make logical sense to ensure that the best brand stewards work the deli counter?

It is all about the customer experience.  Deliver it by the pound!