Your Business Checklist: A Website, A Phone Number, A Mobile App

The data is in:  more people own a mobile device than a toothbrush.

This is not surprising of course. everyone today has a smartphone or an iPad or something similar.  Unfortunately, and I can only speak from personal experience, just about everyone I know mostly still use their mobile device like a toy.  It’s fun.  You can make it burp and play scrabble with a friend or watch Iron Man on the train.  And these are just the business people I know.   Not that it’s all fun and games.  they do talk on the phone, send email and texts and check websites.  Some of us are beginning to use our devices to pay our bills or buy something in a store.  But the reality is this:  for 99% of my clients use their iPhone, Droid or Blackberry is like a toy.

It’s time to stop playing games.  Smart, boring, conservative companies are getting serious about mobile applications.  Slowly but surely, they’re waking up to the potential..no, the needto utilize these applications to develop more business and keep their customers coming back.

Of course, there are consumer-facing companies doing this every day.  like restaurant chain’s P.F. Chang’s new mobile application to help their customers find a location, make reservations and order takeout.  Or Ally Bank, whose recent mobile offering lets their customers check account balances, search transaction history and transfer money between accounts.  most major airlines allow their boarding passes to be sent electronically and a visit to Cinderella’s Castle wouldn’t be complete in this day and age without using Mobile Magic, Disney’s official mobile app, to navigate its parks.

These are big, well-known companies creating cool apps for their customers.  But other companies, both big and not-so-big, are quietly creating mobile applications too.  Boring apps.   But essential to the future of their businesses.

Home Depot’s mobile application allows its contractors to order and pay for supplies from their phones.  Pharmaceutical giant Merck recently released a mobile application to help people with type 2 diabetes.  Chemical maker DuPont’s new mobile application gives service technicians refrigerant data on the go, enabling them to make quick and reliable system diagnostics.   Dayton Superior , a provider of nonresidential concrete construction and paving products recently launched two free mobile applications to give their customers access to product and technical information on demand.   Indianapolis- based Firestone Building Products Company, LLC, just unveiled their own mobile application to help their customers (building owners, facility managers, roofing consultants) get quicker support.  A mobile application software developer, Jomar Softcorp International Inc. is reporting a strong demand for its products amongst its manufacturing customers.

These companies know that mobile apps are not toys.  these are tools.  When it comes to mobile, we’re just getting started.  I believe that the mobile application industry is about to explode over the next few years.  And it will be fuelled by millions of small and medium sized companies who will soon realize that having a mobile application is as necessary as having a phone number and a website to do business.

I can think of two of my own clients who are considering this new reality.

One, a roofing company, wants to enable their customers to have immediate access to their customer service team when a truck is not onsite.  they want their customers to be able to download information about the materials being used on the job, check on their job’s progress, schedule service calls and look up their estimates and job totals.   they want their guys in the field to use a table so that they can fill out work-orders, check their own schedules, get directions and make sure materials are in-house.

Another client of mine manufactures packaging materials.  they want their customers to have mobile access so they can check on the progress of their jobs, order more materials and look up prior jobs.  they also want to make sure their customers can get pricing quotes and place orders from wherever they are.  Oftentimes their customers need more detailed specs about some of their products which they want to view from their smartphones or tablets too.

Your Business Checklist: A Website, A Phone Number, A Mobile App


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