What's New in Technology for July, 2010

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Technology: Do You Need An iPhone App For Your Business?

If your customers or clients are dedicated smart phone users, a mobile application might be an excellent way to keep your services and cutting-edge accessibility uppermost in their minds. When it comes to reaching customers and marketing your products and services, a mobile application provides a means to personalize your message and share helpful and timely information. A good mobile application can provide product information, updates on special pricing or discounts, facilitate order procedures, provide timely or seasonal reminders and offer other client service features to make your customers' lives easier.

If you are thinking of hiring a software application expert to design a smart phone application to help your business grow, here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Before investing time and money, consider not only whether your application will appeal to people, but also whether or not it will be used regularly. The key to any successful phone application is attentive customer service and customer convenience.  
  • Some businesses are logical choices for specific mobile applications and others aren't. If your app can't provide additional benefits over those you offer online and real-time information is not so relevant, your marketing dollars might be spent better adapting your website to provide a version for smart phone users. If frequent sales (daily or weekly customer traffic) and regular customer contact are the order of business - e.g. food service, entertainment enterprises, retail, health clubs, coffee shops, etc. - customers can access your app to find out today's schedule, special deals or limited offers, how to find the nearest location or to place a takeout order and be alerted when it's ready for pickup. Perhaps if you're in the retail sector (whether it be apparel or rolls of wallpaper), customers would like to know which nearby shops carry the size, color or number of any specific product and the best way to drive to the location.
  • If a mobile app is a good fit for your firm, you will see quickly how it might boost your business and increase sales. Mobile apps can present better product images, provide maps and GPS guided directions to your business or allow clients to request product delivery to specific locations. Apps can be used to send out reminders and allow customers to make and confirm future appointments.
  • How do you let potential and current customers know about your smart phone application? Experts suggest using every possible means to get the word out. The number of available applications is soaring. It's vital that you actively market yours. Help your customers find and download your app: use email or social media such as LinkdIn or Facebook. And don't neglect low-tech communication, including routine correspondence such as invoices and order forms. Signs in your place of business will help, and you might consider prizes or discounts for those who download during the first weeks after you launch the app or for those who are frequent users.
  • Hiring the right software expert means getting competitive quotes and doing the usual due diligence. Your review should include seeing samples of work from candidates, determining how results are quantified, obtaining references from recent customers and defining what is included in each applicant's proposed fee.

Finally, like any form of communication, phone apps need your regular attention to remain relevant. Smart businesses provide end-users with regular updates and tantalizing offers, but not with an overload of messages that antagonize more than they inform.


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