In order for your business to succeed, customer loyalty must be a top priority. In a past that is quickly fading, loyalty was based on providing a customer with a decent service (or product) at a fair price, but this alone is not enough to compete today. Offering customers incentives to remain loyal to your company is a necessity if you hope to compete with larger corporate businesses today, and smartphones are one of the easiest and most proficient tools available to accomplish this.

As more people are connecting to the business world via smartphones, many small and medium-sized business owners are scrambling to take advantage of this technology. One of the ways they are doing that is through personal apps that provide customers or clients a wide range of services they can access at any time, from any place. These apps can not only help you provide better service to your customers, but also provide you with real-time data on your customer’s buying preferences, as well as allowing the customer to pay for services or merchandise right from the app.

Businesses that offer their customers apps find that those customers are likely to use their business or service more often, especially when the app offers loyalty rewards to frequent customers. For instance, if you run a small business that sells general merchandise, you might offer your customer $10 off their next trip if they spend $100 dollars or more, or if you own a restaurant you might offer a free meal for every 10 meals purchased. Some businesses are also offering a point-based system where every dollar a customer spends earns points that can be redeemed for merchandise or services. By offering incentives to customers who are loyal, you greatly increase the chance of that customer returning to your business.

You may be thinking that actually providing an app to your customers would be costly and difficult to implement, but the truth is that you can get a custom app designed for your business very inexpensively, with a quick return on your investment. Once you have your app out there, you will notice an immediate increase in customers, as most people use their smartphones when looking for a business to meet their needs, and if there’s an app for that, you can bet there will be a customer base waiting to use it.

By providing your current and potential customer with a direct link to your business, you can build a global base of loyal customers, if you use the technology correctly. By using geolocation technology, your app can even tell when your customer is close to your business and can offer a discount or other incentive to stop by. The possibilities are limitless for how you might be able to use this technology to enhance customer loyalty.

If you don’t want to build a custom app for your business, you can still use smartphones for building customer loyalty through third-party applications designed to do just that. There are a large number of emerging apps that focus on helping customers find your business and helping your business find potential customers. Apps such as Pirq, Rewardjunkie and Levelup provide users with a way to find businesses and for businesses to offer rewards to loyal customer through the app. You do not need to have any programming skills or hire a design team to put your name out there, you just sign up with their service, answer a few questions and within minutes you can begin to take advantage of digital customer loyalty service.

Whichever way you decide to go, whether creating your own app or using a third party app, you should realize that this is the future of customer loyalty and service and that this trend is not likely to slow down any time soon. Getting on board now, by offering services and incentives to smartphone users, will likely propel your business forward and keep you ahead of the curve.