How to Use a Smart Phone to Run Your Business

Today’s smart phones are capable of performing a wide variety of tasks across a broad spectrum of interests. For example, it’s easy to make sure an important deposit hits your account or to check delivery status on your inventory.

It will be important to find the smart phone apps relevant to your industry and check them out. This can help you either get ahead of or keep up with your competition. Here are some ideas on how to put your smart phone to the very best use in running your business.

As a business owner it’s vital that you implement a process to manage your business’ resources and maximize your business potential. In short, you plan your work. Then you work your plan.

In any business, you’ll develop procedures and protocols that are necessary to help you manage specific business situations that come up. Based on their success or failure, you’ll tweak these procedures and protocols in the hope that they’ll perform better in the future if the problem presents itself again.

Project Management

More than ever before, the key people on your team may not always be in the same room. They may not work in the same city. Your key client may be in a different country. Smart phone apps can make this distance seem much smaller by getting creative with collaboration.

Asana, for example, is a great project management app that crosses platforms from desktop to smart phones. It makes collaboration a breeze by organizing projects, tasks, and incoming messages into one user-friendly dashboard. You can add people to your tasks, instruct daily work, and add detail to different projects all from one station. Responses and work details come back to you in real-time.  And asana is free!

Communication Options

A critical part of collaboration among a team is your communication options. Imagine a city the size of Manhattan being built, skyscrapers going up everywhere, with no internet and no smart phones. How terribly inefficient that must have been!

With the smart phone technology of today, you can communicate by text, phone, video phone, email, or instant messaging whether you’re in or out of the office. This gives you tremendous flexibility in managing your business and your team. Here are some ways that you can communicate with your team on your smart phone:

  • Traditional one-on-one phone calls or group phone calls with Skype
  • Individual or group video calls with Google Hangouts
  • Instant messages or texts to individuals or groups with WhatsApp
  • Individual or group emails with your built-in email app
  • Messenger apps within social media such as Facebook

The relationship between you and your customer is the foundation of your entire business. Your business growth will be measured by the number of customers that it attracts. As you grow, it is critically important to be able to manage your customer base, from the start of the business cycle to the end.

The portability of smart phones and their apps can be key to helping you manage your customer relationships in the most expedient manner possible. Access to your customer base and your customer’s experience with your company are both critical to helping you stay ahead of the competition.

Contact Details

When it comes to Customer Relationship Management (CRM), there’s no need for the desktop Rolodex anymore. Each of your contacts can be managed in a searchable database with business card capturing apps. Basically, you take a picture of the business card with your smart phone and the app automatically converts the relevant data on the picture to text, uploading the data from the card in hand to your permanent contact list.

Take a look at the ABBYY Business Card Reader app, for example, available for your Android or your iPhone. The app uses the camera on your phone.

You line up the business card within the borders of the app, and simply take a picture of the card. The app does the rest, converting the business card to manageable text data from any of three dozen languages. This data is then easily uploaded to your contacts and synced across your devices.

Each business card that comes across your desk should be scanned and filed accordingly in your lead database.

Lead Management

The sales cycle starts with you having somebody to talk to about your product. There are many mobile apps available today that incorporate lead management into their CRM technology.

You can categorize your leads by any number of criteria. You can share leads across a sales team. You can capture new leads by camera, and incorporate them into your app and distribute them accordingly. You can set follow-up dates and store other information about the lead.

Salesforce and Sage are both good examples that have provided smart phone app solutions.

Sales Tools

You can also manage your real-time sales with your smart phone. For example, Square can be used to accept instant payments for products or services. And you can even use Square across entire sales teams.

With a quality point of sale system incorporated into a smart phone platform, you will be able to:

  • Manage inventory in real-time by seeing what is selling and what is not
  • Incorporate your new customer’s data into your company database
  • Accept payments via credit card from your smart phone
  • Provide your customer an instant digital receipt delivered to their inbox

Customer Support

The best opportunity to make a lasting impact on your customer is through follow-up after the sale and customer support. It’s during times when your company has less to gain from your customer that you can show them how much you care. It’s for that reason that follow-up and customer service are critical components of the customer sales experience.

Smart phone apps have come a long way in helping you manage customer service. You no longer have to be tied to a desk to stay in contact with your customers. You have real-time data at the ready regarding your customer’s sales experience. Use it to your advantage.

One app making waves in the customer service apps realm is Parature. Parature is a great choice for the small business owner to incorporate multi-channel customer service into the customer sales experience across platforms. Parature allows customers to interact with a knowledge base of your company’s information.

Parature utilizes Facebook to set up a customer service portal on your Facebook account, allowing point and click self-help, or ticket based service so that your customers know that they’re being heard.

Zendesk is another extremely popular customer service platform that has a great mobile app and all the features you need for different size businesses.

Just because management tools are moving away from communicating by e-mail, the fact remains that almost every consumer has at least one e-mail address. Therefore, e-mail marketing will remain a viable vehicle to market yourself well into the future. And, you can easily incorporate e-mail marketing into your smart phone use.

Collect Email Addresses Everywhere

You can take pictures of business cards to collect details, but you can also collect emails directly on your phone. For example, SignUpAnywhere has an app that allows you to collect people’s email addresses even when you’re offline.  You can then download a .csv file with all the addresses later and upload it to your email management platform.

The Friendthem smart phone app takes business card scanning one step further by linking your social media to theirs using their identification e-mail address.

It has never been easier to assemble a quality list for e-mail marketing. The more relevant e-mail addresses that you can collect, the more opportunity you have to get your information in the hands of people that need your product.

June 5, 2015