Wondering how mobile apps can benefit your business? See how your peers are succeeding with these tools. Use of mobile apps by small businesses has increased dramatically over the last two years, and business owners report saving large chunks of time because of them. These findings come from the 2014 AT&T Small Business Tech Poll, which also reveals that two-thirds of business owners who rely on mobile apps say they save at least three hours of precious time each week. Nearly the same percentage (65%) say using apps saves them money, with the majority estimating their savings at up to $6,000 per year.
If you are considering these tools but can’t quite envision how to use them, read these company snapshots to see them in play. The stories are fictional, but accurately predict how mobile apps can streamline operations, improve customer service, and increase revenues.
A boutique owner is increasing sales at street festivals, trade shows, and other locations outside of her store with a mobile payments app that allows her to process credit and debit card payments through her mobile phone. Instead of requiring customers to pay by cash or check, she simply enters their card information into her mobile phone keypad. The app integrates with the store’s inventory system to let her know when product levels are low, and it lets her email customized receipts for purchases. The ability to process card payments on the go helps the shop owner capture more sales, while integration with her inventory system helps her strengthen customer satisfaction by keeping stock at optimal levels.
A medical practice takes advantage of mobile apps to save time and even make decisions related to diagnoses and treatment. Doctors use one app to enter symptoms and receive a list of possible diagnoses, while another provides information about drug dosages and interactions. Doctors have also begun recommending apps to patients to help them monitor their health. For example, patients can record electrocardiograms using their smartphones. They touch sensors on a heart monitor connected to their phone, which produces an EKG that doctors can review.
A small transportation company uses a GPS-based mobile app to improve drivers’ productivity and help ensure they are deployed as efficiently as possible. By providing drivers with mobile phones equipped with the app, the fleet supervisor can monitor their whereabouts, see when deliveries are made, and re-route drivers as needed through any Internet-connected computer. GPS allows drivers to find locations easily—helping to lower fuel costs—while electronic data improves timesheet accuracy and reduces paperwork.
4. Financial Services
A financial advisory firm can serve clients better with a customer relationship management (CRM) app that allows access to contact information, schedules, and detailed notes, all in one place. Employees can update their notes anytime and anywhere. For example, if they learn about a new product or service that might benefit a client, they can easily record it to discuss during their next meeting. They can also access current stock information for clients through their mobile devices to provide more in-depth service.
Through a time-tracking mobile app, a law firm needing an efficient way to track short, billable phone calls and emails is now able to record these communications and capture revenue that might have been lost. Lawyers can set a time threshold for billable events—say 10 minutes—and accumulate shorter events until the threshold is reached. They also use a stopwatch function on their mobile phones to record the duration of face-to-face meetings and work-related travel. The app automatically assigns client and project codes to the events, which helps to improve billing accuracy.
6. Real Estate
A real estate agency has improved responsiveness to clients with an app that allows employees to be reached when they’re not in the office. Employees select a fixed or mobile line for receiving calls, which they can change at any time. When clients dial the agency’s main number, they are routed automatically to the appropriate agent. The agency also takes advantage of a scanning app that allows employees to scan in and share documents directly from their smartphones, saving time on trips to the office.
A construction company with work crews distributed across multiple sites has improved its time reporting with a timecard app that allows workers to submit their hours remotely. In the past, time cards were delayed or inaccurate because some employees reported directly to their job sites and had no convenient way to deliver them to a central office. With the mobile app, time cards are automatically stamped with time, date, and location and submitted wirelessly for approval. Supervisors can access reports of time spent on tasks, helping them assess whether projects are on budget and improve the accuracy of future job bids.
How do you use mobile apps to improve business productivity?
Originally posted on http://www.entrepreneur.com