The Rise of Companion Apps: How B2C Mobile Apps Are Influencing B2B Customer Service

In our personal lives, we use dozens of companion apps every day. Within the B2C space, this could be any mobile app which accompanies a product, a service, or a brand. In this article, we’ll explore a number of examples of companion apps, why they’re so important today, and where B2B companies should be looking for inspiration to improve their own customer experiences.

Every Product Needs a Companion

Our more regular readers will know we’ve talked at length recently about the importance of having product companion apps, particularly to accompany equipment and machinery in the B2B manufacturing space, to significantly enhance the capabilities of the operators of those products.

But product companion apps are part of a broader category of technology, which are referred to simply as companion apps. These are seen everywhere in the B2C space, either for digital or physical products and services, and they allow us as users to self-serve, by providing direct access to information we need or actions we want to take.

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Manufacturers Build Better Customer Experiences on the Foundations of a Digital Companion Platform

A digital companion to a complex piece of equipment or machinery in the workplace, in the form of a mobile app, is now a crucial tool for enabling productivity and maximising customer satisfaction for today’s B2B manufacturers. But a tool like that is not possible without a platform or system of record to support it. Here we explain what a digital companion platform is, why they’re necessary, and how they benefit manufacturers’ customers, operators, and technicians.

Digital trends disrupting manufacturing

We recently explored the benefits of developing digital companion apps, to allow operators and technicians of complex machinery or equipment to self-serve in the workplace, whenever they need information or support with those products.

Thanks to the cutting-edge consumer experiences available with personal smartphones and mobile apps today, this kind of technology is what people now expect to use to get their work done, regardless of what industry they’re in.

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Digital Product Companions Enable Self-Service for B2B Manufacturing Customers

B2B manufacturers have traditionally allowed customers to ‘self-serve’ at the point of need by providing information and guidance with their products in the form of user manuals, training guides, and other similar materials. In today’s digital business landscape, customers demand that same information seamlessly through technology, for easier access and to achieve greater levels of productivity. This article will detail how manufacturers can provide that for their customers.

What do we mean by self-service?

If you’re a B2B manufacturer, your ultimate goal should be to make your customers as productive as possible. In order to achieve maximum productivity from a piece of machinery or equipment in the workplace, its operator must be able to use it without any delays, complications, or issues, and simply be able to get on with the task at hand uninterrupted.

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B2B Manufacturing: Why Does Successful Servitization Require Mobile Apps?

Digital-driven customer trends have forced B2B manufacturers to evolve beyond the traditional business model of solely making products, to embrace servitization. The current market now demands these organisations provide immersive after-sale services and support alongside their products, and we explain here how innovative technologies such as dedicated mobile apps can help them succeed in doing so.

Mobile is Disrupting Manufacturing

We recently took an in-depth look at today’s need for B2B manufacturers to provide mobile customer service and product support directly at their point of use. This is an important step which should be taken if a business hopes to transform from traditional manufacturer to market-leading innovator.

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Salesforce London’s Calling 2018: Todd Talks Einstein and Offline Mobile Apps

rsz_28423962_2013726415548367_5500423501217783306_oLast month, the third annual edition of Europe’s largest community-led event for Salesforce professionals took place in London. London’s Calling is an event designed to bring together anyone working with Salesforce to network, share ideas, solve problems, and learn new skills

We were particularly excited about the event, as our Lead Mobile Technical Architect, Todd Halfpenny, was not only part of the team in charge, but was also presenting for the third year running.

The rest of the great organising and volunteering team was diverse, including Simon Goodyear, Kerry Townsend, Amanda Beard-Neilson, Francis Pindar, Jodi Wagner, and Lauren Touyet. We’re very proud of our contribution to these Salesforce community events, which also extends to our sponsorship of the London Developer User Group.

2018 was the best year yet

The event seems to be getting bigger and better every year, and 2018 promised plenty of interesting attractions and engaging sessions for attendees to get involved in.

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Partitioned Versioning Enables Risk-free Production Upgrades to Salesforce Mobile Apps

Traditional deployments of updates to mobile applications are hard, and harder still in the enterprise world. Mass, uncontrolled updates to users are risky at best. Partitioned Versioning, with MobileCaddy, enables a low impact, highly iterative, approach to application update deployments which minimises the risks.

Mobile applications need to be updated for many reasons. It’s common for an initial release of a new app to contain bugs that weren’t caught in sandbox and developer environments, for example, or for a misunderstanding of workflow to pass through the UAT stage unnoticed.

Beyond this, once an app is live and mature, it will still need to evolve in line with many factors including (but not limited to): new business requirements, regulatory updates, alignment with new OS and hardware capabilities, and of course in our world modifications to support new Salesforce releases.

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Keeping Your Salesforce Mobile Apps Working Through OS Version Updates

Changes frequently occur to mobile operating systems outside your control, and your awareness, which can cause serious problems for your applications. When those apps are supporting critical business processes, it’s vital you’re constantly testing to ensure their performance is never compromised. This article will outline an approach to prevent OS version updates, upgrades, and other environment changes from affecting your enterprise mobile apps.

 

Apple_AndroidOperating and supporting any enterprise application in the context of mobile is challenging, because you don’t have control over that app’s underlying operating systems, nor can you predict new updates, upgrades, or patches being released.

This presents a problem for those responsible, because changes to an OS can cause mobile apps to suffer in their performance, or even stop working entirely. When those apps have been deployed into functions which are critical to the daily running of the business, that effectively renders the employees or community users relying on the app incapable as well, which simply can’t be allowed to happen.

So, firstly… Understand your app

You need to be aware of all the various components which make up your application, how they interact with each other, and what relationship they have with the OS.

Any number of things within your app can change without your knowledge, and the various elements and supported systems mean that continual testing is an absolute necessity to avoid app failure. This becomes even more important when applications are supporting business critical processes and workflows.

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How to Ensure Quicker and Easier Salesforce Mobile App Testing

Mobile app testing is a crucial phase within the development process, and throughout the lifecycle, as it has a direct impact on the eventual success or failure of the application itself. This article will detail a number of ways in which technology solutions, such as the MobileCaddy Application Delivery Framework, remove common challenges in this area for Salesforce project teams.

Code deployment validation

With the MobileCaddy Application Delivery Framework (ADF), code deployment is made simple from a developer’s perspective, thanks to the CodeFlow development environment. CodeFlow enables one-button deployment, from the developer’s local environment up to the Salesforce platform. This bundles up the application logic, UI, and much more into one simple flow.

 

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Following this, an extremely important step in the testing is to ensure that code has deployed successfully. By using the MobileCaddy Platform Emulator, along with the browser’s development console, developers can validate the code immediately after it’s been deployed. This is beneficial because a partially failed deployment, or missing assets, will be picked up for correction before any QA or UAT processes begin.

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Exploring the Developer Skills Needed to Build Apps with MobileCaddy

The MobileCaddy framework removes a great deal of the hard work for developers tasked with building sophisticated enterprise mobile apps. This means the business investing in the app won’t need to seek new developer skills or spend to recruit new team members thanks to MobileCaddy, and the developers can focus entirely on delivering the app itself. This article will detail the many ways the framework makes this possible, giving the business complete confidence it will be getting the app it needs.

 

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You’ll always need capable, competent people to build a mobile app which can add value to an organisation beyond the obvious improvements to basic worker productivity. That’s why finding a solution which allows the people you already have to rely on their existing skills and focus on delivering that app, rather than working on tedious, time-consuming development, is so important.

With the MobileCaddy Application Delivery Framework, developers can quickly and easily build these more advanced mobile apps using a familiar set of skills, as the solution removes the need for specialist development, and provides helpful guidance across all stages of the project.

Here, we’ll answer key questions our partners and clients ask us about the skills needed to begin a mobile project on the Salesforce platform using the MobileCaddy Application Delivery Framework.

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