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Be Mine, Or Don’t: The Trials and Tribulations of Modern Dating Apps

SmarterCX Team
February 07, 2018

5 minute read

US Census Bureau stats show that the rate of adults living sans significant other is climbing—as reported by CNN, 42% of US adults were living without a partner or spouse in 2017, up from 39% in 2007.

But while US adults may be settling into more independent lives, that hasn’t stopped us from trying to find love, especially circa Valentine’s Day. According to MarketWatch, the $1 billion online dating industry experiences a surge in users in the New Year.

The SmarterCX team set out to learn more about the experience of online dating and modern dating apps, and what the popular digital destinations are doing to keep hopeful users returning, date after awkward date. We informally surveyed our friends and colleagues who frequent modern dating apps, and here’s what we learned about their experiences. (Names have been changed to prevent embarrassment.)

Dating apps customer experience - Claire

Claire, 25, New York City

Q: What dating apps do you use?

Claire: I have profiles on both Bumble and Hinge. I use them sporadically but mostly out of boredom and curiosity, not because I’m expecting anything to come from it. If you are a heterosexual on Bumble, the girl has to be the one to start a conversation after a match. It feels like there’s an unspoken expectation to have a creative/funny/witty opening line instead of something boring like, “What’s up?”

Q: What are these apps doing to create a unique experience and keep you returning to the app? Is it working?

Claire: Hinge now gives several prompts you can choose from that are integrated into your profile and it definitely helps to get a better sense of someone’s personality. Questions range from “Go-to Karaoke Song,” to “Childhood Crush,” to “What is the hallmark of a good relationship?” You can “like” someone’s answer or photo and they get notified if you do. If they “like” something of yours in return, then you match.

Q: What are your thoughts, conclusions, etc. on using dating apps? Better than meeting people in person? Worse? The same?

Claire: In my experience, people almost never follow through with starting a conversation after a match or meeting up after talking for a little while. I think seeing someone’s profile before meeting them can create unrealistic expectations. You almost subconsciously start to construct an idea of what the person will be like and vice versa; you think they will have a certain perception of you before meeting and potentially not meeting their expectations is stressful.

dating apps customer experience - Sam

Sam, 27, New York City

Q: What dating apps do you use?

Sam: I prefer Bumble. The pool is smaller and it’s more manageable than other applications in terms of actually carrying on a conversation. I feel like dating apps in general are “tough” because some people have amazing mountainside photography of themselves and others take a more laid back, selfie-style approach.

Q: What are these apps doing to create a unique experience and keep you returning to the app? Is it working?

Sam: Coffee Meets Bagel gives users just 5 new “bagels” or potential matches each day. The app says this is supposed to give users something to look forward to every day. It has kept me coming back but I’ve been growing increasingly frustrated with the app each day, as just 5 bagels per day really decreases the likeliness of matching with someone.

Q: What are your thoughts, conclusions, etc. on using dating apps? Better than meeting people in person? Worse? The same?

Sam: Honestly, I’d love to find the happy medium between dating apps and meeting/finding a genuine connection at a bar or at work. It seems dating apps have changed dating expectations. Not to say I’m a total hater of dating apps all together but I think there’s a healthy balance between connecting with someone you may never have met otherwise BUT also being open to meeting people IRL at a bar, maybe at work. WHAT IS THE HAPPY MEDIUM TO FINDING LOVE?

dating apps customer experience - Sara

Sara, 30, Chicago

Q: What dating apps do you use?

Sara: I have profiles on Tinder, Bumble, and Coffee Meets Bagel.

On Tinder, once two people connect, either person has the ability to make the first move and message the person they connected with. In my opinion, with the creation of new dating apps, Tinder has been moved to the backburner and isn’t as popular as it once was.

Bumble seems to be the most popular app right now. Unlike Tinder, when two people connect, the girl has to message the guy first in order to start a conversation. This puts a lot of pressure on me to say something that engages them instantaneously and I don’t need that. I already have enough pressure from my mom, who worries I’m going to be single forever.

When you set up a profile on Coffee Meets Bagel, you fill out a pretty comprehensive profile with your preferences (height, ethnicity, religion, location, etc.). Each day at noon, the app gives guys several matches (known as “bagels”) to either “like” or “pass.” Then, each day at noon, the app shows its female users 5 men who have already liked them. Unfortunately, if you don’t like any of the 5 men that have already liked you, you’re out of luck until the next day at noon.

Q: What are these apps doing to create a unique experience and keep you returning to the app? Is it working?

Sara: I’m still single so obviously these apps work GREAT. I wish there was a Chatroulette version of a dating app, where you could immediately video chat with somebody once you matched with them. On the other apps, once you’ve connected with someone, messaging back and forth becomes so tedious and rarely moves beyond the “How has your week been?” line.

Q: What are your thoughts, conclusions, etc. on using dating apps? Better than meeting people in person? Worse? The same?

Sara: I think the ones that are geared towards a specific niche are pretty interesting and when you know someone has the same interests as you, it’s a good conversation starter. CONCERN: the ones that match you based on where you’ve been — that freaks me out. The concept is cool, but then you’ll forever know – good match or bad – that they frequent the same places as you.

These apps are doing incredible things for my self-confidence, and by “incredible things,” I mean I feel like the curly-haired kid from Stranger Things when he had nobody to dance with at the school dance.

dating apps customer experience - Andrew

Andrew, 32, Los Angeles

Q: What dating apps do you use?

Andrew: I don’t have any profiles BUT I like to play and swipe for my friends. I like the one to swipe right on because it’s like a game. But, it’s much less terrifying for me since I’m not invested in the outcome. My friends say the ones most relevant to them recently are the ones that spend more time matching — quality vs quantity. I’m not sure of the name, but the app where you get one match a day tees up matches like they’re a more valuable potential lover.

Q: Do these apps seem to be working for your friends?

Andrew: Half and half, and in extremes. It’s either they use dating apps and end up getting married, or the date ends up being a complete psychopath. It never seems like there’s a middle ground.

The conclusion? Even though a digital experience, like a dating app, may not result in a perfect match every time, the definition of a “successful” experience is relative. In both love and CX, sometimes it’s more about creating a memorable, sharable, relatable experience.

Or, as Claire concludes, “Dating sucks. Godspeed to all the single ladies and gents.”

SmarterCX Team
The SmarterCX team is comprised of subject matter experts, writers, artists, designers, and CX professionals who are dedicated to building a smarter customer experience.
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