Smartphones: the office of the future?

For the majority of us the simple thought of leaving the house without our smartphones sends shivers down the spine. No texts or calls, no contacts and emails, no photos and directions.

Smartphones have become so embedded in our daily lives that it feels almost unnatural to be without one.

They’ve also transformed the way we work. From financial management apps to collaboration and creative tools, from photo and video capabilities to advanced storage methods, smartphones have become the primary business device for many digitally-savvy and early adopter entrepreneurs.

The capabilities of today’s mobile devices and the array of amazing digital technology platforms and apps have introduced exciting opportunities to create better customer experiences and boost productivity.

Here are three ways you can maximise the business power of the super computer in your pocket:

Increase your responsiveness with customers at the touch of a button

It is no secret that being able to meet the instant gratification needs of customers can take service satisfaction to new levels. From product availability and delivery updates to being quick to respond to a request, if small businesses want to keep-up with the big fish, they have to play by the same rules.

Some examples of adding value to your customer service via your smartphone can include:

  • Sending additional photos of products before purchase or to show that a job has been completed
  • Offering opt-in communication services that add value to your relationship – like personalised texts to update customers on changes to a product or service, or promotional offers
  • Using video capabilities to provide more immersive customer experiences , from tours of locations and venues to 360 views of new cars
  • Being able to respond instantly to queries coming-in from any of your customer facing channels, whether your website, your office landline or your social media platforms (e.g. Facebook and Twitter)

Find out how your customers prefer to communicate and stay in touch. Start conversations and showcase the products or services that relate to them in a useful or more interactive and visually rich way. Being highly responsive to customers inspires trust, makes them feel valued and can be the make-or-break factor for your business, especially if you’re in a competitive space.

Run your business more efficiently, one click at a time

The rise and reach of apps has not only transformed customer communications but opened up new ways to support business admin. Here are some of my top picks for making your day-to-day tasks that little bit easier and more efficient:

  • Eliminate paper waste by using Evernote to take, organise and share notes
  • Keep an eye on the company’s payroll with Gusto
  • Have an announcement to make? LocalVox lets you publish anything from news to events online and across various social media channels, based on your audience
  • Run out of business cards? Try Bump, an app that allows you to save virtual business cards and share your business details by ‘bumping’ the other device
  • Simplify your finances and ensure invoices are paid faster using Inuit Quickbooks. It also enables you to take photos of business receipts and automatically calculates potential tax reductions
  • And for those always on the run, Tripit organises all of your travel arrangements into one place. Plus, real-time updates on flights and the weather are sent to your mobile as well as directions for getting to your meeting on time

With the multitude of helpful apps now available and the ability to easily move from one to the other, you can unlock new levels of productivity.

Give your business more flexibility

For businesses with a growing team, smartphones give you greater flexibility in the way your team works as you scale-up.

One of the biggest opportunities for supporting business expansion is enabling people to work from wherever they are. So, if you have a team that needs to be on the road while continuing to be responsive to customers, use unified communications to connect their smartphones to your office phones and applications – ensuring a customer call is never missed.

In today’s business world, it’s important to have a company structure that is flexible and enables an agile workforce, with mobility at the very heart of it. By equipping staff with the right tools and the ability to access company and customer information easily both in and out of the office, employees can stay better connected with each other and deliver better customer service. A win-win.

Ten years ago the concept of being able to do your job from home or a café just using your mobile was completely alien, but look at us now! By provisioning the right tech for the job and creating a strategy that champions flexibility, your growing business can reach new heights.

By Phil Mottram, Enterprise Director, Vodafone UK