In the last two decades, mobile devices have gone from something of a novelty to a must-have daily gadget. As reliability and saturation have increased, prices have also come down, making mobile tech more affordable for the average person.
The speed of the networks is at an all-time high as well. Look around any public arena, and you’ll see the majority of people with their faces turned toward the blue light of a smartphone screen. There’s no denying cellphones are here to stay and that they connect us all to a vast network that drives our daily interactions.
There are more than 3 billion smartphone users around the world, and experts predict the number will reach 3.8 billion by 2021. What is more interesting for businesses, though, is the expanded capabilities of phones and the Internet of Things (IoT).
People are more connected than ever to what has become a mini portable computer. It’s inevitable businesses would use the technology to reach consumers. Here are five ways mobile tech has changed business already:
1. Kayak and messenger apps
More brands are turning to messenger apps for instant, one-on-one communication with customers. The advantage of messenger apps over live chat is that they integrate better with smartphones, and the conversation is saved for future reference. Messaging is also less expensive than live chat. The average chat costs $3 to $5 per transaction while messaging falls under the $1 range.
Kayak utilizes Facebook’s messenger to interact with customers. The user can send a question, such as “Can you find me a weekend beach house for under $600 in June?” The messenger app makes the interaction personal and also delivers information that might lead to a booking.
2. Kroger and communication
Keeping the lines of communication open with customers is something most businesses work hard at. If you don’t understand the client’s needs and let them know what to expect at different points in the relationship, you risk losing them. Mobile devices offer an excellent opportunity to engage your users.
Kroger offers a new Clicklist service, where customers order groceries and then pick them up at an allotted time. However, Kroger takes this a step further by sending SMS alerts about any products that are out of stock and suggests replacements — which the customer can accept or decline. It also sends reminders when it’s time to pick up the order. The client also receives a thank you after the order is complete and is invited to take a survey for some free Plus Card points, which can be used for gas discounts.
3. Humana and remote work
As mobile data speeds have increased and the reach of cell towers has expanded, the dream of working from anywhere has become a reality. Many businesses now adopt this model, and it opens up the door to the best workers possible because the company isn’t limited to only people who live in the area.
Working from home at least occasionally is also attractive to people. Imagine you have a job and want to go to Florida to visit your parents who live there. You can take your work with you and sightsee in the evenings, allowing you to take a mini-vacation without using precious paid time off.
Humana offers remote work for many of its office-based positions that don’t require direct contact with the public. By utilizing their laptop and a hotspot from their mobile device, workers can complete their tasks from anywhere they can pick up a cell signal. It offers a ton of flexibility for a company’s workforce.
4. Samm’s Heating and Air Conditioning and demos
The use of mobile technology puts all the information a company has in the cloud at the fingertips of workers. Field techs in service industries can use the devices to pull up customer information. They can also be used to demo a new system that’s available or get GPS directions to a client’s home. The many advantages of having mobile devices dedicated to work leads companies to issue smartphones and tablets to their workers.
Samm’s Heating and Air Conditioning is one example of an HVAC company using mobile technology to improve its services to customers. It installs smart home systems, so its techs can pull up a video demonstration to show customers while out in the field.
Devices are also used to report when work starts on an assignment and when it’s completed, making scheduling easier than ever before. Customers can be notified when a tech leaves one job and is en route to their home. Improved fleet management is another benefit of using mobile devices.
5. Primitive Wood-N-Giggles and Mobile Payments
One obvious area where mobile technology has changed life for small businesses is in the ability to accept instant mobile payments. In the past, if an artist set up at a local craft show, they either had to accept cash or a check and hope it didn’t bounce.
Today, small businesses can take a mobile payment immediately with a small attachment added to a smartphone or by pulling up the app and running the information through. They can also accept PayPal, Venmo or Zelle payments from customers simply by sharing their email address.
Primitive Wood-N-Giggles often sets up at local craft fairs or takes custom orders. It can accept a deposit or payment in full thanks to mobile technology. The changes in payment gateways have expanded where smaller companies can do business and how well they manage their cash flow.
Where Mobile Tech Goes Next
As the world becomes more interconnected via the IoT, and consumers expect more mobile device offerings from businesses, expect software companies to come up with new features to offer the public. Games such as “Pokemon Go” remain popular, and advances in artificial intelligence (AI) mean future smartphones will be expected to do more than ever before.
Businesses can remain competitive by paying attention to how other brands use the rapidly changing digital device landscape to attract new customers and keep current ones.