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The culture of today’s always-on world is neatly encapsulated in the smart mobile device. One minute we’re able to catch up on global events, while video chatting with a friend the next – versatility that has sent modern communication methods into overdrive.

It’s little surprise that smart devices have also revolutionised the way we do business in the 21st century; with six billion of these gadgets predicted to be in use by 2020, business builders neglect the power of the mobile app at their peril.

Experienced bosses and fresh-faced entrepreneurs should be doing all they can to embrace the countless new opportunities arising through apps. Below we look in more detail at some of the measurable benefits they bring.

Reach further, get more back

All businesses want to maximise their reach and broaden the customer base. A mobile app does this in a way that also drives value, so that new customers remain loyal and even spread the word about your products and services.

One of the most immediate ways to leverage this opportunity is by creating a loyalty app, whereby consumers accrue purchase points which can then be put towards discounts off further purchases, or deals with corporate partners. Reward schemes can also be put in place for customers who introduce friends or colleagues to your business through the app.

Research showing that 80 per cent of the customer base preferred app technology as opposed to a plastic card, was behind the decision at Harvey Nichols to adopt a mobile-first loyalty scheme. Boots, Costa Coffee and Tesco are among the giants to be exploiting these means to keep the conversation of special offers open and updated with customers.

Brand identity

Every interaction with the mobile face of business spreads the corporate brand, and familiarity forges trust between the company and consumer.

As it has dynamic features, the app can mobilise your logo in any number of ways, while pop-up messages can provide research snippets that reassure your customer that they’re with the best the marketplace has to offer.

Notifications can be used to advertise new products and services, while dynamic price-comparison with market competitors can further underline how you and your app are saving the customer money.

Optimise customer service

Gone are the days when customer service relied upon the approachable nature of a well-presented sales floor operative. Mobile apps propel customer service through a 24/7 gateway of opportunity for firms who want to show that they never stop caring.

The app’s provision of a uniform and predictable service means the customer knows what they are getting, unlike with real human beings who are susceptible to having bad days at the office.

Data harvesting allows companies to monitor their own performance through feedback forms that can be built into the customer service section of apps. How did we perform? A simple five-starred rating and a small comments box enfranchises the customer, giving an opportunity for them to say thank-you or to point out where you could be doing better. Either way, the insight is invaluable to marketers.

Nick Thompson, managing director at DCSL Software, said: "We’ve been creating mobile apps for many years, and have seen the benefits it can bring to businesses and start ups. There are many advantages to creating a mobile app. It can be a revenue stream, either through subscription or a paid download. The app itself can easily leverage the technology available on the device such as instant access to the camera, voice recorder, speakers, geolocation, accelerometer and much more.

"A great example of an app is DCSL’s Bit Planner – an innovative new way to organise time using Lego, using Computer Vision (meaning the input is based on the device’s camera)."

App, app and away

The development of the app has signalled a sea-change in the way firms do business in the 21st century, and it’s little wonder that by the end of 2017, the number of SMBs utilising the technology is predicted to jump up by 50 per cent.

Ultimately, firms that embrace the mobile app stand to boost social integration and harness mobile payment methods, which impacts positively upon ROI. Furthermore, the ways in which profits rise can be forensically analysed, creating a new digital environment that advances insight, innovation and company growth.

By Stephen White, Amplified Business Content