Today, smartphones are everywhere. Approximately 68 percent of American adults own such devices, according to recent survey data from the Pew Research Center. And more than 75 percent of these users regularly download apps.
As a result, businesses in almost every sector are devoting considerable time and money to developing customer-facing mobile portals. For small- to medium-sized service businesses on shoestring budgets, this collective embrace of proprietary app technology may seem a little strange – hasty even. After all, patrons still appreciate classic customer service techniques, right?
In reality, most rank convenience above courtesy and gravitate toward tools that allow them to take advantage of products and services as quickly as possible, hence the rise of mobile apps. These platforms also benefit the businesses that deploy them, offering a variety of back-end capabilities that can create growth.
Service-oriented businesses must maintain direct connections with their customers to truly excel and separate themselves from competitors. In the past, dispatchers and service personnel were responsible for managing those relationships. However, technology has fundamentally altered the equation, opening up new communication channels. Now, when customers need assistance, they can call, email or instant message service providers. They might even be able to solve their own problems by searching them online.
Mobile apps represent the next step in the evolution of businesses-to-customer communication. With these tools, individuals in need of service can reach out at any time – even on the go. Companies then can automate certain internal processes, leveraging push notification and text messaging features to keep customers updated on in-progress services, according to CIO. When issues occur, mobile apps enable patrons to get help without calling. This keeps response times low, an especially serious concern in today’s web-based world in which bad online feedback can carry very real fiscal implications.
Mobile apps also allow businesses to take advantage of the developing self-service trend and provide materials tailored to their offerings. For most patrons, such services are deal-breakers, Forrester Research reported.
These days, businesses must remain flexible to weather changing market trends. This requires the near constant collection and analysis of actionable customer data. Of course, physical invoices and ledgers won’t provide these insights and surveys are often hit and miss. Where can you find the useable data to keep your offerings fresh and compete in the marketplace? Customer-facing mobile apps.
These tools allow back-end users to keep tabs on patron needs and spot service gaps. When these holes are eventually filled, making customers aware of the new offerings is as simple as deploying push notifications or placing platform ads.
“Service-oriented businesses must maintain direct connections with their customers to truly excel.”
While consumers certainly appreciate strong service offerings, they also place immense importance on more superficial variables like branding. Last year, Nielsen surveyed more than 30,000 shoppers in 60 countries on their buying habits. Just over 20 percent of respondents said they had purchased new products based solely on their branding.
“Brands can signify quality and inspire confidence,” Rob Wengel, senior vice president and managing director of Nielsen Innovation, explained in a news release. “For a consumer with limited disposable income, the potential loss from an underperforming product is magnified.”
Mobile apps are an essential part of most successful branding strategies. Why? For one, customers perceive companies with these platforms to be forward-thinking and aware of their needs. Additionally, the simple style cues found in proprietary mobile apps reinforce other sources of branding and the feelings they evoke.
On top of that, customer-facing mobile portals give businesses the tools they need follow through on their core messaging, allowing them to put actual oomph behind the images and words they hope will define them.
Mobile apps hold immense potential for small- to medium-sized service enterprises looking to branch out and ultimately move forward.