Many small-business owners have discovered they can save time and money by using mobile apps to run their business. Now they're uncovering another benefit: They can use apps to make their customer experience more enriching and engaging.
Jimmy V's Osteria + Bar in Raleigh, North Carolina offers customers eight iPads that can be used as bar menus to read background information on the wines, cocktails and beers it sells, along with tasting notes. Customers can email themselves names of wines they like or specialty cocktail recipes.
"It is a really cool add-on that the app gives you," Jimmy V’s manager Jack Benton told Raleigh’s News & Observer. "It is just the next step to service."
This summer, the restaurant plans to roll out a new app that allows customers to access the bar’s menu from their personal mobile devices, as well as leave reviews and check in on social media.
As more than two-thirds of Americans now have smartphones and nearly half own a tablet computer, it’s a ripe opportunity for small businesses to create customized apps that help engage customers and bolster loyalty. Many consumers are already using mobile apps to comparison shop online or browse the Internet on their devices while in stores or restaurants. Why not take advantage of that mobile device usage to improve customer service and experience?
Creating a customized mobile app also doesn’t have to be expensive, thanks to some low-cost tools online. Moreover, many apps makers have already created customer service apps that small businesses can use to provide discounts and better engage customers.
Dani’s Auto Sales in Philadelphia offers customers a free app that shows the used auto dealership’s full inventory, provides coupons and discounts and lets users ask questions about particular vehicles. The dealership used a do-it-yourself app maker called Swiftic to custom-design the app.
Within six months of creating the app, 1,000 people had downloaded it, thanks in part to heavy promotion of the app on Facebook and other social media. Many customers come into the dealership with coupons from the mobile app and have already researched autos they want to test drive.
"You have to put it out there, but utilizing an app the right way can really help your business," Yossi Levi, the owner’s son, told Yahoo’s Profit Minded blog last year. "People spend three hours a day on their smartphones. I see this as a competitive advantage."
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