If your company is tech-forward, you might have not just a responsive website to demonstrate your online presence, but also a blog, active social media accounts, newsletters, an online store, and maybe even a podcast to keep customers informed.
You may be thinking that the next logical step is to develop a company app. If you do decide to move forward, you’ll need to determine who can perform the development. If you have IT staff with the right skills and the time available, using that resource is a good option. Otherwise, take the time to carefully choose a software development company that can meet your needs.
But, before you move ahead, make sure app development is a good move for your business. It might seem like something many other companies have and, therefore, so should yours. Keep in mind that creating a company app could be a tremendous waste of money and time. But, if it fits in well with your high-level goals and customers’ needs, it very well may be an appropriate choice.
Reasons to Have an App
Here are a few reasons your company might need an app. Consider whether they match your company’s needs:
- Make life easier for customers. If you’re considering an app that will enable customers to do something they can’t do now, you’re on the right track.
- Increase customer loyalty. When you give customers the convenience of an app, they feel closer to your company and, therefore, more likely to do business with you again.
- Make the most of mobile. Considering how much time people spend on their smartphones, it’s wise to meet them where they are.
- Increase sales. No matter what your app is designed to do, you can use it for additional purposes, such as announcing deals to customers.
- Beat the competition. If your company has an app and your competitors don’t, that’s one more reason for customers to do business with you rather than them.
Reasons to Skip an App
Even with all these reasons to have an app, there are also plenty of reasons not to:
- Cost. We’re not just talking about the financial outlay, which can be considerable. We’re also talking about the time investment for anyone from your company involved in an app development project.
- Marketing. After the app is completed, you’ll need to launch a promotional effort to get the word out and get the expected ROI on this expenditure.
- Problems. You’ll need to make sure there are people available — either from the development company you’ve hired or from your own staff — to manage issues that come up with the app.
- Integration. Customers expect an omnichannel customer care experience. So, if you want this function to be part of your app, you’ll need to integrate it with your other care outlets.
Questions to Ask
Not an easy decision, right? To make it a little easier, take this brief quiz to find out if your company needs an app:
- Do you have the budget for app development? Typical fees range from $10K for a simple app to $500K for a complex one. Don’t forget the added costs of integration, as described above.
- Do you have the time for app development? Remember, the process will involve meetings, reviews, trials, questions, and potentially some issues that need to be resolved.
- Will the app solve a customer problem? Common tasks include making purchases, managing returns, paying bills, changing services, or chatting with customer care reps.
- Will the app solve a company problem? It might help you cut down on customer care costs, increase revenue, gain new customers, and build brand loyalty.
- Is the competition beating you on this level? With all else being equal, are one or more of your competitors gaining new ground because they have an app?
- Do you have a responsive website? There’s no sense in creating an app that links to your website if your website can’t be easily viewed on a mobile device.
- Do your customers expect an app? Have they told you as much through customer feedback channels? Is it implied within your industry? Is your customer base largely Gen Y and Gen Z?
- Do you have the staff to manage post-development deployment? That includes people to respond to problems with the app itself and a team to perform the marketing campaign.
If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, chances are an app would be a great fit for your company.
Next Steps to Build an App
Start by outlining the specific functions you want the app to have. If you’re working with an internal team, hold a meeting to determine which features are feasible and what will be involved in the development. If you’re seeking an outside vendor, start thinking about high-level project considerations such as timeline, budget, working style, and language and begin a search for the right software development team. Remember to seek vendors outside of your immediate region. For example, if you’re in the U.S., look to South America for a high level of skill plus good English proficiency and compatible time zones.
Everyone loves apps, so it’s understandable if you feel pressured to build one for your company. But don’t do it for that reason only. Instead, take the time to evaluate whether it’s a true business need.