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There’s been a shift in where customers go to decide where to buy. The old days of yellow pages, newspaper ads and “pushing” out your message to prospects are gone.
Today, people are reaching for their smartphones to search out information about companies, including reviews, mobile websites and social media — all in an effort to determine which transportation company is the better choice for their needs.
Helping Your Clients
As more and more companies try to differentiate themselves from competitors, successful companies realize that customers will buy from a company that makes it easy to purchase. Customers often will pay more for superior service, and making the purchase easy to complete is the beginning of an excellent experience for your customers. A smartphone app or mobile website may be a great way to do that, and can gain a customer’s loyalty.
There are more than one billion smartphones in use. Worldwide consumer tablet sales were forecasted to reach 119 million units by the end of 2012. As mobile phone user contracts come up for renewal, even traditional cell phone users are replacing their phones with smartphones. In a couple years, buying a traditional cell phone will not even be an option as “dumb phones” are phased out of the marketplace.
“In just three years, the revolutionary App Store has grown to become the most exciting and successful software marketplace the world has ever seen,” Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, was quoted saying in July 2011. “Thank you to all of our amazing developers who have filled it with over 425,000 of the coolest apps, and to our over 200 million iOS users for surpassing 15 billion downloads.”
Apps Build Loyalty
Welcome to the app: As people have switched from the desktop and laptop, smartphones and tablets are the way of the future. Where websites used to be searched on desktop computers or even laptops, the smartphone is always with you. It’s always on and it carries the apps you choose. To build loyalty, the key is to own a spot on someone’s smartphone. Imagine that when a customer needs your service, he chooses you because your app was already on his smartphone. There’s no trying to remember your name or to find your phone number.
If someone has to search to find you and you are difficult to find, that person will find someone else, maybe even your competitor. Ease of use, speed and an excellent customer experience distinguish today’s winners from the pack. Having an app or mobile website is an investment, but it provides the speed and ease of use that your customer wants and expects. That’s a smart investment.
Instead of continually pursuing new customers for business, don’t minimize the impact and importance of existing customers. They’ve already shown you they have a need for what you offer so they are more likely to do business with you again. Having your app on their smartphones makes it easy for them to keep using your company. If you make it difficult to do business with your company, or if your company or contact information is hard to find, customers will go elsewhere regardless of how well you treated them previously. It’s up to you to stay front-of-mind to them. A smartphone app is a great way to do that.
Get an App Now
There should be a sense of urgency for your company to promote your app. Remember when websites first went live and you could pick any domain name? Now, putting your app on someone’s phone is critical. These are still the first days of the mobile internet and business apps. You should take advantage of that situation by being a leader in your field and offering your customers an app that also can help you position your company in a crowded marketplace.
While you could try to develop your own app, you would be losing time and probably not have as high quality of an app as a company that already develops apps and can customize one for you. You should have your app customized to what your business offers and what your customers care about. If you have more airport and corporate work, then offering flight status and online reservations can be among some of the benefits your app offers. If you have more of a specialty vehicle offering, then you can show photos of the vehicles. (Tip: Always use real, actual photos of your vehicles; never use stock photos). Posting wedding tips or places to go for a night on the town could be another helpful feature. Put yourself in your customer’s position, figure out what they care about, and then offer it to them through your app or mobile website.
The more customer-focused your app is, the more value it will bring to your customers. Once your company has your app in place, you must market it in everything you do, such as on your social media, your website and business cards.
Two easy ways for your customer to put your app on their smartphones are a QR code or via text message.
You probably have seen QR codes. They can be scanned by a smartphone and open to a web page or app with more information.
Bill Atkins owns Red Bank Limo of Red Bank, N.J., and has won the 2010 LCT Operator of the Year Award and many customer service and safety awards. He consistently achieves 20% sales increases every year. Atkins also owns Red Bank Marketing, helping business owners to market themselves without discounting prices.
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