Published By Janet Gershen-Siegel at March 12th, 2018
We have got 5 types of business tech every business owner should be using now. Are you making the most out of your computer and phone, apps, and the internet? Check out what we found for great small business tech apps.
For every small business owner, you need to look bigger than you really are. Plus you often need to try to save time and leverage every free moment that you’ve got, particularly when you are looking for where to establish business credit. Here are 5 types of tech every business owner should be using now which can do one or the other, or both. And – bonus! – Many of these are free.
Zendesk works as a customer relations tool. You can answer comments on social media platforms like Facebook, and also use it as a help desk.
Zendesk keeps track of these customer communications with information on when they came in and who answered them. In this way, nothing slips through the cracks. It also allows for chat with customers and the building of a knowledge base for self-service. You can keep small problems from turning into bigger ones!
There are a few counterintuitive things about Zendesk. Maybe the biggest one is how responding to a ticket within your organization does not change who is assigned to the ticket. That is, if two employees are communicating via internal notes. They each have to remember to reassign the ticket to the other one in order for the other person to actually get a notification of an update to the ticket.
When your team is halfway across the planet or just working from home for the day, there is nothing like a face to face meeting to get everyone fired up and on the same page. But flying everyone to Tampa or Omaha is probably too rich for your blood. At least, on a regular basis it most likely is.
That is no problem with these services. Skype also has a handy chat feature which can be used for fast communications which don’t require a call. Google Hangouts tend to be better for larger teams (more than about six team members). Neither Google Hangouts nor Skype charges you for long distance.
The biggest downside to these apps is buffering. But that is not necessarily the fault of a program. It’s more an issue with slower internet on one side or another. Skype also, at times, will drop calls.
With Zoom, the biggest downside is probably zoombombing—but you can get around that by password protecting all your meetings.
Easy to implement, particularly on WordPress sites, Google Analytics is the premier method for tracking visitors to your site, where they came from, where they went on your site, and what they did when they were there. Amazingly, all of this information is utterly free.
Determine your desired outcomes before you get started. Do you want your customers to sign up for a mailing list, take care of their own help desk problems, buy something, join a group, or something else? Paint a picture of what success will look like to you. Is it six per week of something or other? Or is it six hundred? Could it be six thousand? Once you have a benchmark, you can start to determine whether you are succeeding, or not. All goals should be from MARS:
Google Analytics takes care of the first and the last of these requirements. It’s up to you to determine if what you want to have happen can be improved or changed, and if your expectations are at all realistic.
Here’s some more helpful information about Google Analytics.
Beyond the basics, Google Analytics can be daunting to learn.
It’s not just for blogging anymore. WordPress is a great way to make a website or blog really shine. With numerous plugins and widgets, WordPress can allow for nearly infinite customization options. And with well thought-out themes, you won’t have to worry about design, color choices, or whether your site will look good on mobile. WordPress has the means for creating graphics, adding a shopping cart, and a slideshow, too.
The beauty of WordPress is in its exceptional versatility. The official site dedicated to the American Bar Association is on WordPress. And a site all about the best truck stops in the United States is also on WordPress.
So it is easy to see why it is so universally appealing—these sites are not at all alike—except for how they are foundationally put together. WordPress is also incredible because its support is good. And there are any number of widgets and plugins. In essence, a lot of standard support questions are never asked. Why? Because there is probably already a plugin for that.
Because it is so popular, WordPress plugins and widgets can often be targeted by people looking to steal passwords or take over websites.
Got too much email? Slack gets you.
Got email chains which become convoluted, split off, and out of sync? Slack understands that, too.
Got people who perform work which requires a ton of immediate collaboration? Slack has you covered there, too.
Slack can’t be beat for remote work. It’s a smart group chat type of system which lets everyone see the same files and the same conversations at the same time. Keep everyone on track, and in contact, even if half of your team is on the other side of the planet. And, at the same time, you can tame the dreaded inbox beast.
Another great thing about Slack is its calling capability. Message someone or even a group and you can start up a call. Use video, or not. Share screens if you like. And you do not have to pay a dime for long distance.
With Slack, the biggest downside is how it can sometimes be difficult to find older conversations.
With DropBox, you can create, collaborate on, and share documents easily. Take care of version control issues by just having the one copy of a document rather than everyone having their own person (and dissimilar) copy.
DropBox is also useful for distributing files which may be too large for an email program to handle. Because DropBox is its own storage system, your files will be fine. And this is the case even if your laptop is struck by lightning. So you can even recover files which have been deleted.
While Google docs (another good bit of tech) allows for effortless communications, it does not have the storage capabilities that DropBox does.
The biggest downside to DropBox is you can easily run out of free space!
Well, the truth of the matter is, Google docs and the Google drive are not exactly tech, if you want to get technical about it. They are, rather, a part of Google’s overall collection of business services, the G Suite.
For free, Google provides world-class spreadsheeting, word processing, slide creating, and form creating capabilities. It also provides a drive where you can put all of your stuff. While the space is not infinite, it is still a pretty decent amount of storage for these sorts of files.
Google also does a bang up job converting files in other formats. Hence if you are used to using Microsoft Word or Excel, or PowerPoint, you can upload your files to the drive and then open them in the Google version of your choice. Or keep them the way they are. Hey, Google’s easy.
What is also remarkable is how well Google handles privacy permissions. You can parse them down to the person. Perhaps you want one person to just be able to see everything. And another can edit a few documents, but not others. Yet a third can update everything. And others aren’t supposed to even be able to see the folder where all of these files are. Not to worry. You can do all of that easily, and it is simple to understand and get right.
It kind of makes you wonder why Facebook has so much trouble with privacy and permissions.
For many companies, buying your own mail server is not in the cards. But with Gmail, it’s easy to run professional email straight thataway. Even more impressive – your customers and prospects need never know.
Gmail is convenient, too, because of its capacity for seemingly endless customization. Change fonts, add out of office messages, and set up folders to your heart’s content.
Possibly the biggest downside is there is no database program. Therefore, companies needing data services – assuming they want to gather, store, and analyze data in-house – need to either pay for an expensive enterprise solution or use something like Microsoft Access. Access is decent software but it is fairly expensive.
Another downside is that chart and graph creation in Google sheets can be less intuitive than in Microsoft Excel.
A third downside is security. But that’s the case with everything. So be sure to watch the permissions and password protect documents if you feel the need.
What’s the best tech every business owner should be using? It’s the programs which you can afford and will use, which help you grow and prosper every single day. Keep your small business running like a top with these smart tech solutions.