Mobile Apps to Decrease Costs and Increase Customer Service

The AlchemistApplication Services, Business Process Review, Project Management

13241700_mA recent article in the Wall Street Journal highlighted what we’ve suspected for some time: Apps are the new Corporate Tool for Cost-Cutting. Apps aren’t just getting used to provide enhanced customer service or to improve workflow, that they are also getting used to replace real staff. There’s the international shopping centre chain who has realised they can use an app to replace their concierge staff, or a pizza delivery service that now takes most of its orders online or via a mobile app.

There’s a fine line between using an App to reduce staff and potentially annoy your customers, or to use an App to provide an enhanced level of customer service through self-service. Culturally, we have easily embraced the concept of self-service through Mobile Apps, enthusiastically embracing the additional control it provides us with. We can bank anywhere and anytime, we can stay in touch with work or friends whenever we want and we can get hold of the latest music/ movies/ books/ magazines quickly, cheaply and at a time when it’s convenient to us.

It stands to reason that your customers want the same from you. They want to do business with you and they want you to make it easy for them. The good news is that when you make it easier for them to engage with you, it can often simplify your internal process. For example, you might provide your customers with an App that provides a knowledge base allowing them to self-solve their simple support issues. It will give your customers a sense of autonomy and satisfaction, knowing that they can sort out a small problem without the hassle of logging a call or making a phone call. At the same time, it will reduce all the “how do I” phone calls your call centre staff receive, leaving them free to spend more time on the trickier, larger issues. Your App might even provide an escalation method for customers if their problem can’t be fixed by the knowledge base, saving them time and giving you a pre-populated support call with all the right information captured so that your staff can immediately start work.

Sometimes it’s tempting to go for a Generic App and use it as a quick business fix. They’re cheap, they’re easily accessed via one of the App Stores and they can be plugged into a business with a minimum of fuss. However, the downside of the Generic App, is exactly as it says – this app is not designed with your business and your processes in mind. You might need to modify your business processes to work with it, not really ideal for any company, and you could end up using the same product your competitors are, which won’t help to distinguish you in the marketplace. Fundamentally, the Generic App can work but it will never give you the business benefits that a bespoke App created for your business will.

There’s still a belief in the business world that a bespoke App will be out of the company price range, or take too long to develop, or be too complicated a project for the business to take on. But App development is simpler and more affordable than you might think! The tricky part is getting the killer idea and using it to enhance your business offering, rather than just taking what you have now, as is, and translating it onto a device. There’s nothing wrong with keeping things as they are, it just becomes a wasted business opportunity. Technology has the power to bring so many benefits to business life, but only if it’s used the right way.

Two steps are all you need to get your business optimising App in place. The first is to find your killer idea and the second, is to work with the right developer.

1)     Finding your Killer Idea

First, look at what will make life easier for your business. Is it data capture when a tech is on site –  taking photos, notes or time recording? Is it simplifying business forms so that you can avoid hand written site documentation or customer acceptances and speed up your feedback times? There’s no point spending money on perpetuating a broken process, so use this as the opportunity to be proactive and streamline. Look beyond your current process to dream up your ideal future state and how you can optimise your work flow.

Then, think about what your customers might want. Do they need faster OH&S feedback? More information on your product in order to help with purchasing decisions? A way for them to self-serve and purchase, so that they can order on-the-go, as they think of their need?

Your idea will normally evolve as you’re thinking through all these things but if it doesn’t, focus on an item that appears on both lists and work with that.

2)     Engaging an expert

So how do you pick the right expert? It’s important to keep a few key requirements in mind. Make sure you select an organisation or individual who understands the technology as well as business process. This means you’ll be able to rely on your expert to take your idea and business needs, find the right technology solution, and transform it all into something incredible. Additionally, try to pick a development group who works with Agile or Lean methods, which provide shorter development cycles and quick product turnaround. Choosing an organisation that works in this way will give you faster business benefits without the bloated price tag.

Mobile Apps provide a golden opportunity to expand your business capabilities and gain a competitive edge, allowing you to potentially decrease your internal costs and increase your customer satisfaction. Don’t just take what you’re doing now and stick it on a phone – look at where the process can be enhanced. The use of Mobile Apps in our personal and business lives is only going to increase. Take the plunge now and be a ground-breaking market leader, rather than scrambling trying to catch up!

Do you need help finding your killer Mobile App Idea? Or do you have your idea and now need some expert help to develop and deploy your App? Business System Alchemy can do both for you! Contact us for more information by clicking here.

MP900321217The Alchemist comes to your courtesy of Ruxana D’Vine and Michael Meryment, specialists in matching business needs back to technology.


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