Wednesday, 6 June 2012

How mobile applications help you and your customers

With the boom time of mobile applications still showing no sign of fading, more businesses are beginning to address what the medium has to offer for both them and their customers. In this blog edition we examine how the enterprise can emulate lessons of application loyalty in the consumer space.

The advent of social media and its establishment as a primary route for communicating with existing customers and generating new trade. This has close connections with the production, marketing and upkeep of mobile applications. Whilst apps have grown to become a popular piece of the sales and marketing arsenal for many businesses, practical utility is vital in creating a strong and worthwhile application.

Social media is ideal for communicating regularly with customers in a snappy, digestible format, but mobile applications should provide a basic use and fulfil a need – as well as being engaging, compelling and inviting to use. Vanity applications performing no obvious function other than as a platform for branding or a one-time gimmick are unlikely to win much, if any, repeated use. 

Earning user loyaltyABI Reseach examined the connection between smartphone users of retailer-branded apps and their behaviour toward retailers. 45.8% of respondents said the app caused them to visit the store more, buy more of the store/brand’s products and services (40.4%), spread the word about their store shopping experience (35.8%), and even encourage friends to visit the store (30.8%).

Service providers can foster similar loyalty. An application for breakdown service Green Flag offers users the key value of location awareness, which can precisely calculate where a vehicle had broken down and accept information about its problem. Meanwhile, extra value is given in the form of an AA traffic watch feed, providing live traffic information and news. This helps to secure repeated use.

For businesses without mass consumer market appeal, there remains enormous potential for applications with an effective utility to achieve user loyalty.

Making enterprise apps useful

In logistics and fleet management, applications can help users to keep track of vehicles – whether in pre-sale movements or in passing through an auction site. Solutions can be built around this to support users in planning a day’s work. Cookie technologies make it possible to store preference data, meaning that preferences can be tracked and an intelligently tailored feed of information provided to a user.

Image capture functions which are now widely available on smartphones and tablet devices can give the opportunity for huge efficiency improvements. Misinformation relayed over the phone about asset damage can lead to pointless call-outs where a dispatched fieldworker is not able to resolve an issue and subsequent losses are incurred. If an image is instantly delivered via a mobile application there is a much better chance of an immediate, accurate interpretation and an appropriate response. This helps to make a service more efficient.

Handling demand, adding value

Given the popularity of smartphones and the fanatical behaviour of their users, applications give another valuable platform for brand exposure. If associated services are made easy, customers will often prefer the convenience of using a mobile device rather than fight through the noise and distractions of a full desktop website.

Although tablet devices are growing more popular, especially in the corporate space, the internet browsing experience can still be frustrating. Rather than relying on a website to render perfectly and do a job for all users, developing an application can offer the most efficient way of presenting and providing a service.

Extra value can be added with the promotion of special offers to customers through mobile applications, sustaining the customer contact.

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