When you first wake up, you might check your email or scroll through Instagram on your phone, which makes mobile apps your first touchpoint of the day.
You might also check your bank account, or shop online, or listen to music.
Like a growing number of Canadians, you could order your breakfast, pay for parking, and outsource laundry, dry cleaning or buying groceries - all through mobile apps.
A 2018 PayPal Canada study found that 2/3 of Canadians use mobile apps for food and meal delivery and 49% of Canadians use mobile apps for parking, and 70% of Canadians take their morning meal on-the-go by ordering coffee and breakfast items.
With so many Canadians incorporating apps into their daily habits, it’s tempting to find a way to get in your customer’s pocket (or purse).
But what are the benefits of a mobile app for your small business? Is it worth the investment?
To find out how your small business could benefit from a mobile app, we sat down with Julian Downes, FBC’s director of information technology systems, to chat about why our company launched FBC Tax Advantage, an app exclusively for Members.
“When we started considering a smartphone app for Members, we were really thinking, here is an opportunity to give benefits directly in their hand, and also a more direct communication between us and them,” Downes says.
Here are 7 ways your small business could benefit from developing a mobile app.
1. Provide immediacy
Your customers expect 24-hour access to your services - anytime and anywhere.
With a mobile app, it’s easy for your customers to access services or information on their own time.
Through the FBC app, our Members can view their completed tax returns and financial statements, and easily share them with their own trusted advisors.
For example, one of our Members was recently in a meeting with a loan officer who requested to see tax returns from the last three years.
With just a few taps in the mobile app, they were sitting in the loan officer’s Inbox.
2. Provide value to customers
You could give your customers discounts or a loyalty program or provide added value through a service your customers can only access through mobile.
With FBC Tax Advantage, Members can take advantage of commonly overlooked tax credits like medical expenses and charitable donations.
Using our app, when you have a medical travel expense, you just snap a photo, upload it and FBC will take care of it when tax season rolls around - making sure you get the tax credit.
3. Improve customer communication
With a mobile app, you can provide another channel of communication enabling delivery of targeted, relevant and timely messaging to your customers.
One way we’ve done this through the FBC app is by alerting Members who have corporations when their tax installment payments are due and reminding them of the exact amount due.
For example, if your tax installment payment deadline is coming up in December, you would receive a notification that you owe $4,000 (or whatever the amount your installment payment is) by December 15th.
It’s an ideal way to be in touch with your customers on a regular basis with meaningful information.
4. Give customers a way to provide feedback
If you give customers access to a help desk through your app, you provide an open channel of communication for customers to ask for help and provide feedback.
You’ll receive useful information about what they like and don’t like.
Downes says the FBC team reads all the feedback through app stores and through the app itself, which helps inform future updates.
“It’s an insight into people's feelings,” Downes says. “That's important because we often buy or renew based on our feelings rather than specific details.”
5. Serve your audience
Downes says small business owners do their research before they buy, and one thing they’ll be looking at is how the company uses technology.
Does your company offer multiple ways of getting in touch with its customers?
Is there a quick, digital way to reach your customer service department?
“The research shows there are segments of the population that expect there will be an app for the immediacy of contact, communications and the access to information,” Downes says.
“There’s a lot of younger people starting small businesses and they expect these kinds of facilities to be in place.”
In Statistics Canada’s 2017 survey of household spending, 97 per cent of survey participants under 30 used mobile services - and spent an average of $127.92 per month on mobile.
And mobile usage is growing with boomers too. In 2018, 57% of Canadian boomers (55+) surfed the web with a mobile device compared to 44% in 2017 and only 24% in 2015 (Canadian Internet Registration Authority report from 2019).
6. Improve customer engagement
There’s a good chance your customer would rather click through a few options in an app than pick up the phone to order something.
More Canadians are incorporating mobile on-demand apps into their daily routines to streamline daily chores and tasks.
The 2018 PayPal Canada study found that one in five Canadians are using mobile apps for their laundry and dry-cleaning (22 per cent), beauty services (21 per cent), and grocery delivery (19 per cent).
If you make things easy for your customers, they’ll keep coming back.
7. Grow your technological capabilities
An app is a big undertaking, but it’s one that can grow and transform your business.
And your first version is a launching pad into bigger and better things.
FBC officially launched our app in January 2019 and we’ve released several major version updates and new features since then, increasing the benefits we offer to Members with each one.
“The Tax Advantage app that we've delivered is a springboard to more and greater things in the future,” Downes says. “We’re learning as an IT team and as a company what our Members value in an app and how to serve them even better.”
FBC is a third-generation family company that works with Canadian small business owners to minimize their income taxes and maximize their assets. Contact us today to find out how we help your business year-round with tax planning, preparation and consulting through our unique, industry leading Membership model.