Let’s face it, we are in a digital age and there’s no sign of it changing. Technology that was state-of-the-art 10 years ago now seems archaic and tasks that used to require pen, paper and in-person encounters can all be done online. How can anyone keep up? Simple. Create an app for your company that gives your customers immediate access to your services. So, where do you start?
Decide the Purpose of Your App
First and foremost, you need to decide what you want your app to do. Is it more for informational purposes, community outreach, transactions or records? Does it connect your customers just to you or to other parties, like distributors or other customers? Do you want it to bring your customers to your location or do you want them to do things remotely?
An example of a full-service app is a banking app. Customers have access to their accounts, can deposit checks, can transfer money, can pay bills and can find banking locations closest to them. They have access to the branches, other third-party accounts and can even withdraw money from an ATM using their phone. Other companies, like Target®, have simpler apps dedicated solely to providing items like coupons that customers can use in-store.
Identify Your Accessible Services
While this may seem like an easy step, you need to brainstorm any and all services your customers would want access to. If there is a service that can be done remotely, you’ll want to consider putting it on your app to reduce the number of additions/revisions in programming further down the line. Using the example of a dive shop, here are the services that could be included in their app:
- Order Tracking
- Online Shopping Policies
- Past Order Receipts
- Booking for Diving Excursions/Lessons
- Upcoming Events
- Water Temps
- Current Charts
- Info on Local Dive Spots
- Diving Regulations
- Access to Dive Certificate
- Customer Service Contact
And the list probably goes on. The point is, make a list of everything that you could offer through the app and then decide from there what features you need to make your app do what you need it to do.
Get with a Development Team
Once you know what you want your app to look like, then it’s time to get with a creative team to make it happen. Now, it is worth noting that most companies with apps create and manage them in-house. If you have the staff that can do it, then it is best to get with them, as they are already on the payroll. Creating a successful app is not an inexpensive process and does require a strong team to make an app with few glitches and a platform with excellent user-friendliness. So, when getting together your team, make sure to vet previous apps they have made and make sure it’s in tune with your vision before you take the plunge.
Test Your App!
This is the most important step of them all. Test your app over and over and over again. This is how you are going to determine what is functional about it and what should be removed/modified so it can be successful at its launch. You’ll want to test it throughout the creation process from its infancy to its final product and you’ll want to have a lot of people test it. The best way to find out what will and won’t work is to have people involved in your company and people who don’t know your company try your app. That way, you have an idea of what current and new customers will see when they use the app. Get the following groups to test your app for the best idea of its functionality:
- Current employees
- Current customers
- A random sampling of individuals
Release Your App and Watch it in Action
Once you have conceptualized, created and tested your app, the last thing to do is release it for your consumers. Be sure you tie it into your current marketing plans for maximum exposure to your consumers and then watch the magic happen. It might be a little rocky at first, but if you have tested it correctly, the kinks at initial launch should be few and you should see some results from it quickly.
And that’s it―plain and semi-simple. Launching an app can be one of the best ways to keep your customers in touch with you and it is certainly the direction that most small businesses are heading in. Before you embark on this technological journey, though, make sure you meet with your accountant to go over the initial and continuous costs of creating and maintaining an app and configure your marketing budget from there.
Have more questions about how you can expand your business and make it more tech friendly? Call Beaton Accounting today and we’d be happy to help! 631-921-6894.
If you have other topics or questions you’d like to discuss, you can also email us at [email protected]