App Fatigue: How it’s affecting your community — and how to fix it

By: Kathryn Casna

People spend more time on their smartphones than ever, and most of that time is spent using apps. There’s an app for nearly everything, from ordering groceries to turning on a lamp to tracking your fitness. The average person has 80 apps on their phone.

You might think that’s a good sign for the adoption of apps that multifamily communities use to create the resident experience. But, with so many apps people can download, they’re getting much more careful about what they do download. In a nutshell, that’s app fatigue — and it can make life harder for your residents and your teams.

But there are ways to circumvent app fatigue within your community. And the best way is to be intentional about the apps — or app — you ask your teams and residents to use.

What is app fatigue?

App fatigue is the annoyance or frustration people feel when they have to download app after app on their phones. It’s a growing problem for both consumers and the businesses that want to reach them.

When designed well, apps allow brands and customers to connect in new ways, all powered by the devices people already own and use constantly. Apps often create a better user experience than websites, even websites specifically built for mobile. But people will resist apps if they fall into one of these categories: (1) apps you use only once or (2) apps that do just one thing.

Apps you use only once

Why go through the effort (and data, if you’re not connected to Wi-Fi) to download an app that you’ll use a few times and never open again? Chances are, the app will make you create some kind of account and then learn about all its features. Then you’ll have to uninstall it when you’re done. That’s a lot of steps for little payoff.

Apps that do just one thing

There’s nothing inherently wrong with an app that does one thing very well. That is, unless that thing is only one part of an overall experience.

Let’s take the resident experience. Perhaps your residents use separate apps to pay their rent, see community announcements, submit maintenance requests, unlock their door and adjust their thermostat. That’s five apps they need to simply exist in your community.

But living in your community is a single experience: the resident experience. One group of people (your residents) has the experience, and one group of people (your staff) manages it. So why not put it all together in a single app? Give residents one download and one place to go to get everything they need.

The effects of app fatigue on your team

What about your team? They have app fatigue too, perhaps worse than your residents do. Your staff’s phones and computers are filled with their personal apps — and any apps they use for work. And they don’t have much of a choice about downloading and using the latter.

Your team might use a CRM and a PMS, in addition to apps that control community access, handle maintenance requests, manage Wi-Fi, etc. That means much of their day is spent app-switching—and task-switching. According to the American Psychological Association, that could be costing them a whopping 40% in productivity . It’s probably also causing them stress, and making it harder to onboard and train new employees.

How to solve app fatigue

When you create smart communities, you risk contributing to app fatigue for your residents and staff alike. If your community, like most, uses multiple types of hardware — like Schlage locks, Honeywell thermostats or Dome sensors — you’ll find that each hardware brand has its own app. And building a comprehensive smart-apartment experience could mean using them all.

So, when you’re making decisions about the proptech you need, the key to solving app fatigue is consolidation.

Minimize the apps you need

The best way to cause less app fatigue is to use fewer apps. Consider investing in a solution that consolidates all your hardware brands and their accompanying apps into a single experience — and a single app.

SmartRent’s connectivity platform provides residents a single app that controls all their smart-apartment gadgets—and allows them to pay their rent, submit maintenance requests and see community announcements. As for staff, they can use a single app to manage access control, Wi-Fi, parking, audits, inspections and maintenance.

Minimizing apps can also mean thinking critically about whether you need a particular app at all. For instance, if you have self-guided tours, should this really be an app experience? Will prospects want to download your app for a tour they’ll probably take just once? Or could they take the tour with the help of a thoughtfully designed website instead?

An app might provide a better experience, but if the prospect refuses to download it, they’ll never know.

Make sure your solutions fully integrate

If you must use multiple apps, make switching between them as easy as possible. Choose a solution that fully integrates with the other platforms you use. If you don’t, your staff could find themselves shuttling .csv files from app to app, or even manually duplicating data entry.

Train new users and share tips and tricks

Whether your team uses one app or 10, better training can help them avoid feeling overwhelmed. Consider implementing these training strategies:

  • Appoint an expert for each app, and make sure they can dedicate time to keep learning and teaching others.

  • Have a resource library with all your learnings, so staff and residents can access it and do their own troubleshooting.

  • Include tips in community or team newsletters and announcements.

  • Lean on resources from the solution itself, if available.

The struggle is real

App fatigue can be a serious barrier to adoption and efficiency, and that can make selecting the right proptech solutions for your multifamily community challenging. Choose robust solutions with powerful integrations, and skip the single-purpose and one-time-use apps altogether. This way, you’ll still get all the benefits of proptech without overwhelming your residents or staff.