Smart phones are transforming the way people conduct business today. Small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs), in particular, are rapidly adopting new ways in which smart phones can help improve their operational efficiencies.
A 2013 AT&T survey of 1,000 small businesses in the U.S. revealed that about one-third of them use mobile applications to improve their cost efficiencies and productivity. Almost half of those use mobile apps, saying it would be difficult to survive in business without them.
With a number of new advancements in smart phone technology on the anvil, a business’s dependence on smart phones is bound to rise further in an increasingly cost competitive global business environment. Businesses that are unable to maximize the smart phone advantage may stand to lose a definite competitive edge. Here are seven important ways to use a smart phone to effectively run a business.
Enhance Communications Efficiency
A smart phone takes basic business communication ability to the next level by enabling functions such as emailing, texting, instant messaging, voice messaging, and online chatting to take place on the go. In a digitized business world, a business person would be outdated without having access to these basic mobile communication options.
Mobile-friendly business owners can go a step further to increase their communications efficiency by making optimal use of smart phone media functions such as video recording, voice recording, playback, and 3D camera. The smart phone also serves as a digital notepad to type or record any important business information, tasks, schedules, or ideas to reference later.
Improve Customer Engagement and Support
A smart phone is most handy when it’s necessary to engage with an existing or prospective customer on the go. It’s possible to retrieve data on the customer or the prospect from an office CRM program or access order history using a smart phone. This allows for meaningful and conclusive customer engagement on the go.
During a meeting, if the customer or prospect asks for specific information such as product data or sales figures, a smart phone helps access the CRM or business website and pulls out the correct information instantly. All customer contacts are within fingertips with a regularly updated smart phone address book. Response to customer calls and emails asking for urgent backend support is prompt even when the business owner is in the field.
Conclude Sales On the Go
If a deal is successfully reached during a meeting, over the phone, or through an email with the customer, the smart phone can finalize it on the spot. Rather than receiving an order first and formalizing it later from the office, it’s easy to issue a sales invoice using the smart phone. Customer’s electronic signatures can also be received right then and there.
When you perform payment transactions on the smart phone, you impress customers with less paperwork and the digital work efficiency of the business. It’s possible to do more business within the same number of work hours using a smart phone, too.
Collaborate, Confer, and Conduct Meetings
A large number of free and paid smart phone apps are available in the market today that improve business efficiency and productivity. Skype Mobile app allows for free unlimited calls or heavily discounted business and conference calls. Webex app helps you schedule, host, or attend a business meeting.
Universal Inbox app enables managers to track and manage client conversations across multiple channels, including social media. For e-commerce based businesses, apps such as Analytics Pro provides detailed web analytics on the go. A collaborative management app called Asana helps business owners prioritize and track tasks between teams.
Store, Share, Edit Documents Remotely
Enterprise mobility management benefits can easily be seen by workers that need their smartphone to act as a virtual office. Storing data, images, videos, and documents in the smart phone device or a cloud account makes them accessible at the press of a button. Popular smart phone apps such as Dropbox make file storage, editing, and sharing easy.
Performing finance and account-related management tasks with the help of apps such as Expensify is simple. Another useful app is Evernote, which allows document editing and sharing between multiple devices. Smart phones can also be used to record audio or video files and store graphics or presentations, which are available for display or sharing as needed.
Increase Productivity with Innovative Apps
Some of the cutting-edge mobile apps can help business owners and their employees improve their work efficiencies and increase productivity per employee. An innovative app called Square Card Reader, which plugs directly into a smart phone device, enables business owners to accept debit and credit card transactions from customers at any time. Another powerful financial app called Mint provides latest information about budget statements and business accounts.
Most businesses can benefit from an Expense and Travel Management app called Concur, which allows a person to track travel related expenditures and mileage on the road. Another smart phone app for business owners and employees who travel often is Poynt, which can help them become familiar with the local places in a new city.
A BlackBerry smart phone app called Card2Contact can automatically convert business cards to smart phone contacts. Tungle.me app for BlackBerry can help with scheduling organization-wide appointments, share calendar, send meeting invites, and connect with people on multiple platforms.
Deliver Professional Presentations
It’s possible to use a smart phone as a portable drive, transfer all the required files from the office desktop, and connect it to a projector to deliver a fabulous business presentation. Presentation apps available in the market, such as MightyMeeting, can make the task simple, and allow a business owner or a sales manager to make a powerful audio-visual sales pitch on the spot.
If the presentation is made using a PC and a projector, using a smart phone as a remote control device will increase the efficacy of the event; just run the presentation through commands on the phone. Such use of smart phones impresses the target audience. i
Small and midsized business owners can improve their work efficiency significantly if they optimize their use of smartphones. It is one of the simplest and most effective ways to gain a competitive advantage in a cost-conscious marketplace, and deliver the best value for your money to customers with the most efficient and effective use of time and resources.