To app or not to app

One of the key reasons to build an app for a small business is to cultivate customer loyalty. If your App serves only to establish your tech street cred, you’ll do more harm than good.

It seems like every business is in the process of launching its own Application (App). Before you jump on the App bandwagon, you might want to consider whether developing an App for your advising business is what’s best not for you, but for your clients. Here are a few things to consider before investing in developing an App for your advising business.

Many technology gurus will tell you that Apps are being developed by small and midsized businesses in increasing numbers. While some businesses, especially software companies that run on online platforms (Software as a Service or SaaS) have opted for investing in mobile-friendly websites, others have opted for the App. Internet gurus distinguish between an App and a mobile-friendly website. Those gurus argue that having an app, visible on the face of a user’s phone, helps your business be seen repeatedly by users. That “in the way” factor keeps you top of mind.

Before you leap to capitalize on the increased marketing opportunities, you may want to first consider what function your App could serve and what the return on investment from developing that could be. If your App would exist solely to provide general information, forms, messages or alerts, you may get the same options from an enhanced mobile site.

If you build it, will they come? Before you build an App that has no useful features ask if are you risking a reputation that you are less relevant? One of the key reasons to build an app for a small business is to cultivate customer loyalty. If your App serves only to establish your tech street cred, you’ll do more harm than good. Why? Because your customers will remember that the App doesn’t serve them, it serves your business. The world of retirement Apps already allows investors to monitor their accounts, move money from savings into accounts and review projections.

But there are ways that your business could provide better service through an App. If using an App increases the likelihood that employees will enroll in retirement plans, will check their accounts and progress and will keep retirement saving on the top of their mind, then developing an App serves your client because it serves their employees well. Your App might not have much to do with enrollment or changes in account status, but could help with budgeting, savings and retirement planning. Your App could also provide online training on topics like rebalancing, tax law changes, and other topics.

You may want to focus on a few essentials. Will an App make it easier for your client’s employee’s to access their information when they want it? Will your App increase the frequency, ease or depth of communication with your client’s employees? Can your App increase or introduce new ways of learning for your client’s employees?

Another driving reason to build an App may be to have better engagement between your client’s employees and your team. As other articles have discussed, many employees prefer online chats and texting as a new form of customer service. Texting within an App may be an easier way to comply with data privacy protection rules. Those rules require protection for protected information that could be harder to follow if using standard technologies, like an employee’s phone, rather that having protections within the App.

If you do decide to go with an App, how do you choose the right company to develop it? Some businesses choose mobile app building platforms like Como and AppsBuilder. Those platforms remove the need to code and focus on user experience.

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