Comcast had a need: The largest cable operator in the United States wanted a custom mobile app that could boost the productivity of its field sales representatives while on the road.

The answer came in the form of Salesforce Platform and its mobile services, which Salesforce Platinum partner Acumen Solutions used to build the iPad application Comcast SMB 360. Launched in November 2012, SMB 360 is now used by 1,200 Comcast Business sales reps. Features of the mobile app include the ability to track and schedule appointments with customers, create quotes, proposals and contracts, and capture e-signatures.

Brian O’Rourke, Acumen’s US East Managing Director, shares the three best practices they put into play when building a mobile app.

1. Start with the end user and design back.

When going into a mobile app project, don’t build just to build. First, glean everything you can from what the end user wants. Make a point to ask what functionality would help them the most.

While working on SMB 360, Acumen created focus groups, comprised of field reps and business stakeholders, to get input on the user interface (UI) upfront. They kept these open discussions very fluid by not asking a lot of questions, thus avoiding guiding the subjects in one direction or another. Acumen also spent a week in the field with the reps, observing how they perform their day-to-day tasks.

On the corporate level, Comcast Business ask for a mobile app that would track key sales activities like number of customers visits, contacts, and quotes generated, while the reps emphasized the need for something very different. In addition to the previous mentioned features, the reps most wanted an app that would allow them to give customers accurate price quotes on the spot. Salesforce Platform made it easy to build both requests into SMB 360.

2. Make it easy to use.

Simple is always better. Forget the bells and whistles, and don’t try to build all the functionality that’s in the browser, into the mobile app. Odds are the majority of that information isn’t beneficial to the mobile user anyway.

Comcast Business field sales representatives go door-to-door daily, often making some 50 stops. They need to do this quickly, without pausing between visits to enter large amounts of customer info. Acumen streamlined the business process by keeping the customer form as basic as possible. Salesforce Platform makes it possible for data to be inputted by reps at each stop, eliminating the need for “paperwork” breaks throughout the day. In the three-month pilot version of Comcast SMB 360 alone, the company saw an 11% increase in customer visits.

3) Expect, and prepare for, the app to evolve.

Be ready to add new functionalities to the mobile app after the initial build. This kind of versatility can be found when using a cloud app platform.

As Comcast Business has introduced new products, Acumen has kept pace by updating them in SMB 360. They have also added a more flexible pricing engine. To do this, Acumen pulled all of Comcast’s pricing tables into Now when a new product is introduced or a pricing change is needed, Comcast simply enters the info into, and the update automatically appears in SMB 360. There is no need to release a new app.

Want to learn more about the best practices for building mobile apps? Join us July 11 for a live webinar to hear how Comcast revolutionized its SMB field sales process with an innovative mobile app built on Salesforce Platform. See a demonstration of the Comcast SMB 360 app and also learn:

  • How to provide real-time integration from mobile apps to Salesforce data.
  • Ways to leverage the Salesforce Mobile SDK to develop reusable mobile components.

To register, click the button below.