One of the things I love doing while traveling is observing the difference in adopting technology, both by businesses and the government. But unfortunately, I am seeing a lot of established organizations where technology has a low priority. And since this is something where the difference becomes clear while I am traveling, let’s start right there.
I used to travel a lot from Brussels Airport in Belgium, often flying the resident airline ‘Brussels Airlines’ as well. Unfortunately, the Brussels Airport iOS app was last updated about two years ago and is painfully unpleasant to use. In addition, it’s adding almost no helpful information I don’t have access to using my default air travel app Flighty. I feel this is a bit of a missed opportunity.
At the other end of this spectrum, we have the Schiphol app for the similarly named airport in Amsterdam. As of this writing, the iOS app got an update two days ago... and it shows.
Here are a couple of features I love about this app:
- Live information and predictions of how busy the airport is
- Book and manage parking reservations right in the app
- It has an iOS widget with essential information on your travel day
- Build around an easy-to-understand timeline with my entire travel itinerary
And while I was doing some research for this article, I noticed one negative review for the app, talking about the noise from airplanes one of their neighbors is experiencing. And what did I discover next? Schiphol has an app for this as well!
Their other iOS app, Notifly, is created specifically for their neighbors. They’re able to see all predicted air traffic over their exact location. In addition, they will show their neighbors up-to-date information about the current and expected number of planes flying over their precise location and runway use. The app can even notify you if there will be more overhead traffic than usual.
A mobile app, or any app, is just a layer to make data easily accessible and more functional. And both of these apps are doing a great job at that.
As far as the airlines themselves go, the Delta Airlines app is still my favorite. The Delta app makes it easy to book flights, update existing reservations, and, most importantly, provide me with timely notifications about my trip, like when I need to head to the gate and when my bags make it onto the plane.
Fun fact for the nerds under us, in the backend, the entire airline industry still runs a command line interface program that even gate agents must use to rebook you. This blows my mind.
Here’s a video if you want to learn more about this:
When you are a retail business with repeat customers on at least a monthly basis, you should consider the opportunity for a mobile app or an excellent web app. And although a mobile app can’t be justified for most retail businesses, this is still a significant digital layer to your business.
At the very least you should create and maintain a Google My Business and Apple Maps locations. You’d be surprised how many businesses I still encounter where this is not even the case. People are not going out of their way to figure out how to be customers at your company.
And with the push to first-party data for marketing, it is more important than ever to go even further. People are used to handing over their data if the incentive makes sense.
Here are a couple of initiatives you can start implementing right away:
- Provide your customers with an easy way to buy (or book) your products or services online.
- Create an easy-to-use rewards program, make the incentives worth it, and ensure there is an easy way for people to access the program.
- Use email marketing to deliver personalized offers to your customers.
And don’t just think about how you can make your marketing exciting. Think about how you can make your business exciting as well! For example, if you run an ice cream place, add an ice cream of the day, something people can get excited about, and gives them a reason to come back regularly.
You will need some time to consider the specifics of these initiatives for your business. But once you figure out what those should be, all of these initiatives can be implemented in a week or two.
Even if you are in the services business, you can look at ways to make the digital experience customers have with you a joy.
I have been working on productizing most of my services, and I might continue to productize all of them.
By productizing everything, I will be able to do a couple of things:
- Greatly simplify the entire sales process
- Create a selection of payment links to use at the end of the sales process
- Create a consistent onboarding process
- Design a workflow that consistently delivers a high-quality service for my clients
- Review and improve the entire process, from content creation to client off-boarding
- Save a lot of time, so I can focus on the right things: delivering top-notch services to my clients
It allows me to create a digital interface for my customers to manage their projects with me.
I’m still in the early phases of this transition to productized services, but it has already proven to significantly improve how I work.
We all know people live on their smartphones these days. Your business should adapt to this, if not for your customers (but you should!), then for the immense increase in operating efficiency.
Most apps can basically be boiled down to an Excel document. Think about it, every app, whether a mobile app or a web app, is basically just a nice way to see and interact with data in an Excel sheet.
Now think of it in the other direction, how can you create interfaces for customers to self-serve them?