Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Car Accident? Law Firm Creates an App for That

With the click of a button on your smartphone, you can take photos and video at a crash, locate the site of the crash through GPS, document information about injuries and contact a lawyer at Kingston-based Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn.

Sue Greenfield, business manager at the law firm, came up with the idea for the app. With the growing popularity of social media and mobile apps, she said she thought it was a good idea to have an app for people who are in car accidents and don't know what to do.

Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn is one of a growing number of businesses using mobile apps, which continue to gain popularity.

Recent research from Pew Internet shows as of December, 87 percent of adults in America have a cellphone and 45 percent have a smartphone. As of April, 43 percent of adult cellphone owners download apps.

"I think every business is going to have some type of app," said Kathleen Houlihan, instructor at Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership at Wilkes University, who teaches marketing and technology and a graduate course about social media. "Certainly, that's the way things are going."
The law firm's app directs people where they can find police, a tow truck, an auto repair shop and nearby hospitals. Its features include a camera and a voice recorder for people to use at the scene and a text notepad to record names, telephone numbers, emails, license plate numbers and insurance information, and a one-click link to call the law firm.

"The app literally takes you through everything step by step. It gives you a place to store everything," Ms. Greenfield said. "We specifically designed it to try to get more clients, and it helps the community."

The app was developed by Elmhurst, Ill.-based AppsLegal, said Dan Luvender, information technology manager for Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn.

"We thought it was a good idea because it gives you a safe and secure feeling when you are in accident that you have somewhere to go," he said. "The farther away you get, the less you remember the details, so we just wanted to give you the option to have a direct memory of the accident and what happened."

When someone wakes up the next day after an accident with an injured neck or back, Mr. Luvender said the app enables the person to have all the information available, and a button allows the person to email the details to the law firm.

A key for businesses using apps is to develop a model about what they want them to accomplish, Mrs. Houlihan said. Apps can be used as a service or as a revenue-generator that can drive more business, she said. Businesses that use social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter should figure out a way that using these sites will draw traffic to their businesses, she said.

"Just because 5 million like the site, that doesn't mean they will buy your product," she said. "As long as it makes a connection, it's a great idea."

A strategic way for businesses to use social media, she said, is to get people talking about the information and to create a buzz. She suggested businesses that use social media offer a discount or encourage people to download apps by giving away a prize.

"With social media, everybody else is doing it, too, so you should have a plan how you're going to use it, such as to target customers in new markets or as a service," Mrs. Houlihan said.

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