How to Make Your Customers as Happy as This Cup of Coffee

As your business grows, it will become more and more important to maintain good relationships with your customer base. As a small business, keeping track of customers’ needs is comparatively easy but for larger businesses it is all too easy to become a faceless corporation.

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Ask Your Customers What They Want — Then Listen

All customers have certain expectations and your business should be designed to meet those expectations. If you find that you are going off track and you’re not sure how to get back, asking your customers is the best way to find out what they want. A great way to do this is through a community or forum where customers can share ideas with each other too.

But the key part is listening and acting on their responses.

If there is one thing you can do that will make your customers happy, it is simply listening to them and then making a change. Not every customer will give you a good idea — and you shouldn’t let customers cloud your vision —- but quite a lot of them will tell you how to resolve a problem.

All companies will have moments where they wish they could have done better, but if you are seen to be making improvements or helping customers out, it will do wonders for your brand image.

Invest in the Best Software to Analyse Your Results

To make the most of your conversations with customers — especially if you are running a call centre — you really should invest in some analytics software like Evaluate Quality. This will help you to set procedures in motion to deal with similar problems consistently but it will also give you the opportunity to see where you can improve your relations.  

By giving your team the best software, they can really start to make a difference to the way you deal with customers, improving retention and providing a high quality service.

Be Active on Social Media and Interact Naturally

Social media is both brilliant for companies and a potential minefield. You really do need to watch out for how your social interactions come across and be certain that when you post, you are looking out for the best interests of your audience. Basically, don’t say or do anything offensive!

That being said, there are all sorts of creative ways that you can draw your customer’s attention on social media. For example, you could use light-hearted GIFs, make self-deprecating jokes or even tease rival companies. Social media is a great way for brands to make themselves a bit more approachable so a great social media exec will take you a long way.

As your company grows, customer relations are going to be even more important to you. You need to be able to gather the right information, analyse the results and put processes in place to make sure that you can deal with any problems, encourage other customers to get involved with your brand and, above all, be consistent with your message.

A business is nothing without its customers, so do whatever it takes to make them as happy as that cup of coffee!

How to Protect Your Website from Hackers

Digital marketing blogs often like to compare business websites to old-fashioned main street shop fronts. It’s where customers get to peer in and see what you’ve got to offer. But the parallels extend much further than many bloggers would like to admit. In fact, just as regular physical shop fronts are a potential security risk for criminal break ins, virtual store fronts – that is, your website – is vulnerable to the digital equivalent.

To make the situation worse, unlike with physical property, many companies have a legal obligation to keep their data safe. In other words, if somebody else decides to steal your data, you could be the one in trouble.

So what can you do to eliminate the risk of a website security breach?

Hide your admin pages

Admin pages are a potential security risk because they allow hackers to get control over the tools which control your website. Sometimes, unless you specify otherwise, Google’s algorithms will index these pages, just like all the other pages on your site, which could leave you vulnerable. Use a robot.txt file to prevent these critical pages from being indexed.

Store uploaded files outside of the root directory

Uploaded files are a major potential source of viruses. Once files with viruses are uploaded, they can provide hackers with unlimited access to your site’s features and functionality. To prevent this, store all uploaded files in a separate directory from your root directory. You may need the help of your hosting company to do this, but it is well worth it.

Have security managed externally

Most small companies, especially startups, don’t have the resources to pay somebody to keep an eye on their website 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That’s why many are using an SOC for cybersecurity – a security operations centers which monitor websites remotely and predict when an attack is likely. The benefit of these SOCs is that they not only prevent threats, but they also evaluate both failed and successful attacks with the purpose of making your website defenses stronger in the future.

Make your password policy more rigorous

Office computers are a major security risk for your website. A single office computer account with a weak password can compromise your entire system, providing hackers access to your website functionality. It’s a good idea, therefore, to make your password policy more rigorous. Things like increasing the frequency that people have to change their password and upping the number of letters a password must contain can help significantly.

Keep a software update schedule

Updates are a warning. They’re a sign that somebody else’s system has been hacked, and now everybody using that same system needs a fix if they want to escape a breach of their own. As such, updates are essential to maintaining the integrity of your website and should be implemented immediately. During the period between the hack, the fix and the installation of the update, criminals are able to scan thousands of websites for vulnerabilities, stealing their information along the way.

Why Business Owners Have the Wrong Idea About Software and How to Change It

When someone mentions software to you, what do you think of? Most business owners (unless they’re tech savvy) have absolutely no idea about software and what it actually does, or what could even be classified as software. They usually understand that hardware is their computer, the parts inside of it and also their monitors and peripherals, but the software still mystifies them. Either that or they think they know what software is but they fail to understand how it actually impacts the business.

A good understanding of software, how it works and what it’s for is crucial to business operation. Most of this is typically handled by a competent member of staff that understand computers and how they work, but it’s never a bad idea to learn more about software.

Many managers and business owners don’t have the right knowledge or they misunderstand what software can be used for, so here’s a comprehensive guide on what software is, how exactly it impacts the business and how you can change your understanding for the better.

What Exactly Is Software and Why Is It Important to Understand?

If you want to fully understand what software is, how it impacts your business and why it’s actually important to know these things, then we need to start from the beginning.

Computers are dumb, this should come as no surprise. Without user input, computers can’t actually do anything. You might spend thousands on a complicated computer system, but if you don’t have any software on it then it won’t actually know what to do. Computers are, however, very fast machines.

They can process things faster than any human which is why they’re so useful. Their memories are infinitely better than a human’s as well, meaning they can store vast amounts of data on their hard drives. In addition, they can access this data at blazing fast speeds.

If you’ve ever had trouble recalling a memory then you’ll understand what it’s like. However, computers don’t have this trouble and they can access the data stored in their memory with no issue.

However, despite all of these advantages, computers can’t do any of this without someone telling them what to do. That’s why software is required; it allows the powerful hardware to actually be useful and do something instead of sitting there dormant.

Everything on your computer, be it your operating system or the little boot-up logo that shows when you turn on your computer, is part of the software. It doesn’t matter what operating system you use, it’s all software and every single program you run is software.

With this in mind, you should have a better understanding of how computers work and why some software is as expensive as it is. If there’s a limitation that your business suffers from, then it could be remedied by investing in a new type of software.

Anything that you want to do on your computer, be it mass-organising files, storing vast amounts of data and later looking through it or even generating random messages to add to your products, it can be done with a computer. Your hardware is powerful, but without the right software, it’s almost useless.

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The Types of Software that Can Help Your Business

Everyone knows about simple software such as word processing programs, image editing and perhaps even industry-specific programs such as audio production or video editing. All of these programs come with a cost, which means they need to be accounted for in your expenses.

Certain industry-specific programs such as Adobe Photoshop or Sony Vegas are incredibly expensive, especially when bought as a business. These are, however, incredibly important to certain companies because they serve as the backbone of their workflow.

If you don’t have an image editing program as a design studio, then you’re not going to get very far using pens and pencils exclusively.

In addition to industry-specific software, there are also pieces of software that can be used as a general business assistance tool. For example, Wizper services allow you to track data that is useful for improving customer experiences. It can analyse the traffic on your website, it can judge how well-exposed your business is and it’s accessible on a number of different devices, giving it amazing portability.

These are the types of software that every business can use to improve their business, but analysing your data is just one such example. There are smaller programs that can allow you to connect with office members, there’s software aimed at workflow collaboration and there’s even software that allows you to use a single mouse and keyboard on multiple devices.

With so much software, it really begs the question: what’s good for my business? This is something that is hard to answer because there are just so many different types of software available on the market that it would be hard to recommend a specific program for a specific situation.

The reason there’s so much software on the market is that they all serve different purposes. Even Google Docs and Office 365, both productivity software packages, serve different purposes despite both having similar features. Google Docs is targeted towards startups and businesses that put a heavy emphasis on remote working, and Office 365 is a powerhouse that is targeted towards professional businesses that need a host of extra features that a new startup couldn’t comprehend.

In short, think of software as a solution. Solutions are created in response to problems, so if you have a problem you need to look for a piece of software to remedy the problem. Do you think that your workflow is clunky? Then perhaps you need to find a piece of software that allows you to manage your workflow better such as a scheduling program.

Do you find it hard to deal with your finances? A cloud-based accounting package will help you. It’s important to remember that software won’t fix every issue, but it’s good to look for software solutions if you have a problem.

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Software as a Service

A popular trend that many startups make ample use of is “software as a service”. Instead of purchasing software to be used on your computer, software as a service means that you’re using software by paying a subscription fee.

Most of these involve cloud tools, and they’re usually incredibly useful for anyone looking to lower their operating and startup costs. A good example of software as a service is cloud accounting software and cloud-based website design tools.

Instead of using offline tools that don’t require an internet connection, these types of programs utilise the internet. Most of your data is stored on their servers, meaning you don’t need a hard drive or a powerful computer to use their services.

The advantage of using software as a service is clear; it allows you to lower running costs and increases the possibility of working remotely thanks to the online nature of cloud tools. For instance, your intern is writing a technical report on an upcoming product, hire an editor to read the document outside office hours by using cloud-based tools such as Google Docs.

If you need to quickly look at your business finances but you’re out of the office, then a cloud-based accounting package that has a mobile app will allow you to do that.

Remote working is an efficient way to run your business due to how much flexibility it offers you. Many companies are using the internet exclusively to run their business and they don’t even need an office due to how comprehensive software as a service is. You can use online messaging and web conferencing apps to communicate with team members, documents to collaborate, and cloud-based tools to get marketing and promotional work done.

Software creates solutions for issues that you never even thought about in the past, which is why it’s incredibly useful to think of software as a helpful tool and not as a rigid thing in your business that can’t change. Your business could grow exponentially thanks to software and by changing your understanding of it to fit your workflow.

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Final Words and a Summary

Hopefully, this article has shed some light on what software actually is, how it helps your business and has given you a deeper understanding of how it works. Instead, it’s important to think of software as a solution.

As with all solutions, there needs to be a problem for it to solve anything, but there are times when you can create a solution for something that has yet to become a problem. This foresight is what will give you the upper hand no matter what industry you’re in. Ultimately planning ahead by using technology will give you brand awareness and grow your business.

Remember that software is there to help you achieve your goals, meet targets and ultimately smooth out your workflow.

Move Your Business Steadily along by Using These Business Tools

Every business requires a vast array of tools to help it keep its head above water. And, while this may consist of staff support networks, leadership skills, and other human based processes the future for every business regardless of its size, is on the technological front. It’s vital for every small company who does not have the tech know-how to develop a fundamental understanding of the sorts of things they should have in place to keep its services running, not just in the event of a cyber attack, but have tools that help their staff to work better, and here are a couple.

CRM

CRM is customer relationship management software. It is, in essence, a strategy of managing your business relationships with its customers as well as the potential ones but as a tool in any business, it can help with the managing of contacts, productivity, workflow, and so many other things.

Its key function is that it nurtures your ability to develop a relationship with customers on an individual basis.

And while it is seen as a sales tool it does have an importance in increasing productivity with staff members as a lot of functions can be automated, such as email contact. As a customer relationship tool, it is helping to bridge the gap between business and consumer.

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Bug Tracking Systems

There are many variants on bug tracking, also known as reporting software, it is something that your business can use to report issues swiftly and efficiently, and is something that will help to improve every part of your system processes.

You can learn more about reporting software here but we’ve all seen the impact of one little bug on workflow and productivity, and it shows that having a bug tracking system pays off. The impact a smooth operating system can have on your productivity is a big one, so have the right tools in place.

HR Software

The fact of the matter is that while technology is a fantastic springboard for effective business processes, we still need the right people behind this technology to operate it.

While Human Resources (HR) software is something that can affect every part of the work environment, for example, its effect on payroll or processing a grievance process — the importance of HR software needs to tread that fine line between automating processes but also looking out for the best interests of your staff.

A very useful example of HR software in customer service businesses is the analytics tools which can show staff members in specific terms exactly how productive they are and if they are doing things to the company’s standard. Human resources aren’t just about pay and disciplinary procedures anymore, it’s about monitoring performance and managing staff holistically to help them improve their basic skills, meaning they will be a much more useful tool to your business further down the line.

In this regard, this is what tools should be used for. Your business can embrace the current and future trends in tech, but you still need the right staff behind them.

Adventures “InDesign”: Creating a Promotional Booklet

InDesign CS5 copy

“A limitation is a limitation only because you’ve done nothing to move beyond it.” — S. Drowym

It’s been a while since my last blog and this time I want to write about my latest design adventure.

Last week, I was offered the opportunity to design a promotional booklet and gladly I accepted the job not realising that the best software to create said booklet would be Adobe InDesign. There was a rush on the project and the client would need to have it within three days. Now usually I’m always apprehensive about taking on these rushed jobs, but I jumped at the chance.

So back to Adobe InDesign, it’s stellar software and what it can create in terms of materials for print is beyond amazing. I knew that little fact, but I didn’t know the software. In the past I had attempted to use it, especially because I used Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop so often to create flyers, posters, programs, invitations, and such for clients.

What do you do when you’ve just accepted a job to design an 18-page promotional booklet, but you don’t know the software to execute that project? You tell yourself you can learn the software in 24 hours of course!! That’s the attitude I took, but half of the time I knew I was lying to myself to keep a steady head. Thankfully there are innumerous readings and tutorials online to get pointers and lessons from. I think my favourite might have said something about “InDesign 101” and “11 steps to learning InDesign”; not quoting them verbatim, but you get the idea.

To make a long story short, I decided my best approach would be to learn basic tips, study the commands of the software and make as many mistakes as I could. Ye olde “trial and error” (mostly the latter) never fails. I was able to teach myself how to use InDesign and successfully so, thus creating a really class act design for the promotional booklet. The design only took a mere 28 hours of my life. With so many moving parts, it’s no wonder the software is such a great tool to have. The best part is I just expanded my skill sets and can now take on design projects like creating ebooks, booklets, magazines, and newsletters.

Here’s one tutorial I’ll leave with you if you’ve been thinking about learning the basics of Adobe InDesign. It’s only 11 minutes long, but will impart a lot of good directions: Creating and Applying Master Pages in Adobe InDesign

Until we meet again! Keep designing!