"Your mobile app sucks," Redtail customers said, according to the CEO.

For many years, Redtail Technology focused on having a responsive website rather than focusing on its mobile app – and as a result its mobile app suffered.

CEO Brian McLaughlin himself admits it.

“We can’t even hide it,” he told ThinkAdvisor. “Go on iTunes or Android store and look at our reviews; they’re s—. They have one star.”

Roughly nine months ago, Redtail decided to change that.

“We decided after really having, honestly, a pretty poor mobile app, [to listen] to our customers who were telling us, ‘Your mobile app sucks. Figure it out,’” McLaughlin said. “So that’s what we did.”

They hired personnel and put a whole project together to do “nothing but mobile,” according to McLaughlin. Redtail now has staff “mobile app developers” that are specifically focused on just mobile apps. The fintech company also committed to a “really rapid development cycle” for its mobile app.

“We started doing a two-week sprint, so every two weeks a new version comes out,” McLaughlin said.

Since the new mobile Redtail CRM (Tailwag version) – which is available for iPhone and Android – launched about nine months ago, it’s had 12 versions or updates to the app. Its latest update was about May 23 for iPhone users and May 19 for Android users.

“We want to show our customers and our partners that we’re seriously committed to the process,” McLaughlin told ThinkAdvisor. “We went from having a basic prototype about nine months ago to having 12 iterations pushed out with a new feature on every single one.”

In the new mobile app, some of the biggest fixes include increased speed, reduced errors, minimized clashes and an improved fingerprint identification. The app allows users to get quick and easy access to information – including a list of the day’s activities, a monthly calendar view, as well as contact info with notes and accounts with asset info.

More Americans own smartphones today than six years ago, which makes mobile apps increasingly important.

“You have to have everything at your fingertips. Every device, every location,” McLaughlin said. “A millennial today, or even just a tech-savvy geek like myself; I don’t wait to schedule meetings with my advisor or anyone I’m working with. I text you the question I have in the moment and I expect an answer shortly; like, very shortly.”

According to Pew Research Center, the vast majority of Americans – 95% – now own a cellphone of some kind. The share of Americans that own smartphones is now 77%, up from just 35% in Pew Research Center’s first survey of smartphone ownership conducted in 2011.

Yet it’s surprising to McLaughlin that more of Redtail’s competitors aren’t making mobile apps. Salesforce and Wealthbox are the only other fintech competitors that have a “real mobile app,” according to McLaughlin.

“In an advisor’s life or any business’s life, you’re dealing with, let’s say, 500 clients. There’s no way you can know all that information on the fly,” McLaughlin said. “Certainly you know your top 5% of clients or top 100 clients; you know enough about them, but there’s no way you’re going to know all the details that allow you to connect on that real time. So, having access to that on your fingertips? There’s the mobile play again.”

— Check out Essential tech tools for advisors in 2017 on ThinkAdvisor.