Here’s how to know if your business needs an app

When the app is out in the wild, it must be nurtured: responding to customer queries, heading off complaints by considering feedback (and building in feedback tools to the app itself, if possible) and bug-fixing over time. This is how apps achieve five-star reviews, after all. Many agencies work on a service-level agreement to provide this, taking a percentage of the cost of the project for continued support, but Nodes doesn’t feel this is always the best solution.

“We moved away from that a while ago, and now have what we call a service-agreement timebox,” Boakes explained. “There aren’t going to be any new [mobile] screen sizes or operating systems any time soon, so why should the client have to pay for [updates to cater for them]?”

Instead, companies pay for a certain amount of support per quarter, but if it isn’t used then the time is rolled over to the next quarter.

This helps to ease fears about high running costs, which is one of the barriers known to stop companies from investing in apps.

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Does your business really need an app?

Does your business need an app?

However, the question is whether your organisation needs an app of its own at all. We asked each of our contributors whether we’re at the same point now as we were when the world shifted from paper-based forms and phoning up from adverts to doing all of our business, online. The consensus was that either we are, or we’ve already passed it. However, despite app developers having a vested interest in encouraging us to shell out for development time, they advised against working on a mobile tool that wouldn’t deliver a return – awareness, revenue or cost savings – for the client.

“Clients often ask what’s the right way to do things, but there is no right way – it depends on your business and your customers”

“I’m in two minds as to whether a mobile app is required in the same way that a mobile website is,” said B60 Apps’ Pete Gatenby. “An app is a permanent point of reference to a brand on your device, so users want to see a return – something of benefit to them, or having fun with an app.”

Gatenby cited Subway and Zipcar as two prime examples where apps not only increase brand awareness, but offered something back, in the form of loyalty points (Subway) or easy interaction with a company’s back-end systems and mobile assets (Zipcar).

“If you look at the younger generation, we’re going to see a complete culture change and a shift towards apps,” said Lexel’s Gaved. “People don’t want to talk to people now. If [as a customer] you can do something through an app you can do it when you want, when it’s convenient for you rather than sitting on a phone line for 20 minutes.”

Nodes’ Boakes feels much the same way: “I think we’re in a time where companies feel they should be engaging in mobile. We’re in an experimental phase. Clients often ask what’s the right way to do things, but there is no right way – it depends on your business and your customers. We’re moving to a time where people will expect some kind of mobile relationship with businesses.”

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