5 Underrated Tools to Make a Small Business Owner’s Life Easier
As a business owner, you wear many hats. You are faced with overseeing every facet of your operations from A to Z. This can be an unbelievably stressful task. In most cases, there never seems to be enough hours in a day to finish what you want. That is simply the truth of running a small business.
The leanest businesses are constantly looking for ways to make the tasks of their day-to-day lives easier while yielding better results. At the end of the day, the success of your business depends greatly on the organizational systems in place. Luckily, given the current state of technology in the workplace, there are many resources out there to help ensure that nothing slips through the cracks.
Here are five tools that you probably haven’t come across, but have the potential to do wonders to optimize your day-to-day operations in every different sphere, from communication to marketing to customer service.
1. Pure Chat—Customer engagement
There are a lot of website tweaks that boost engagement with your audience as well as potential customers. For one, most people hate waiting to talk to a representative. Consider implementing a live chat function on your website to answer any questions a visitor might have. Live chat has a 73 percent satisfaction rate and ranks the highest in any online customer service channel. Adding this feature to your e-commerce site could a game-changer in boosting brand loyalty.
Pure Chat makes it easy to talk with customers in real-time directly on your website to ensure each of their concerns is being addressed. Additionally, it collects data on visitors to help identify patterns to pre-qualify leads or start proactive chats.
The best thing about Pure Chat is it’s totally free for an unlimited number of users and operators! However, for a subscription, your marketing team can remain in connection with your visitors throughout the customer lifecycle. The behavioral insights you glean from chat conversations enable you to provide a personalized experience to every customer as well as improve your product or service.
2. Nutcache—Project collaboration
Much of the success of a small business lies in the ability to juggle multiple tasks at once. According to Pulsant, 90 percent of global senior executives say that good project management is the key to delivering successful results and gaining a competitive edge.
As your operations start to grow, the need for quality project management will become more and more apparent. For this purpose, many businesses these days are electing to implement an agile system in their day-to-day. In a nutshell, agile project management is a methodology that focuses on team-based solutions, continuous improvement, and critical problem-solving.
Regardless of how big or small your business is; the benefits of an agile system include (but are not limited to):
- Enhanced project control
- More transparency
- Less risk
- Better ROI
- Higher quality output
Nutcache is a battle-tested and refined agile solution designed to manage the entire project delivery lifecycle. Using proven agile methodologies, like Scrum and Kanban, the program is built to be flexible in adjusting to the way your team works best.
Managers can easily visualize projects from A to Z, map out assignments, and monitor progress to competition.
Nutcache’s business-oriented approach enables you to keep an incredibly close eye on your team’s expenses by linking billable and non-billable hours to each of your projects. From here, you can set up milestones for better control of your budget.
All businesses have certain sets of challenges and obstacles for completing projects. Nutcache is built to accommodate the needs of different industries across the board so every business can use it to their advantage.
Collaboration is the key to success, both internally and externally. If your organization is struggling to get tasks done efficiently, optimizing your operations with agile processes is one of the best investments you can make.
3. Unroll.Me—Email management
One of the biggest sources of lost time at work is email. In fact, a survey by Adobe found that white-collar workers spend more than six hours checking emails each day! With numbers like this, optimizing email should be one of your top priorities.
Enter Unroll.Me. This app is built to get rid of the constant flow of clutter and organize your inbox so you can focus on more important issues. If you’ve been using the same address for a long time, you know exactly how many unwanted emails you get day-in and day-out.
This tool makes it incredibly simple to unsubscribe to all the junk mail you get on both your computer and mobile device. If there are email blasts you find particularly valuable, you can combine them all into one condensed message with a feature called “The Rollup.” From here, you can create intuitive categories that automatically organizes your subscriptions so you can find exactly what you want quickly and easily.
Unroll.me works with an array of different email providers like Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, and AOL. If email is a significant roadblock to completing your daily workload, give this tool a try.
4. Streak—Prospect management
If you depend on Gmail, chances are all those important prospecting emails, proposals, and possibly everything to do with your business is buried somewhere in your Inbox. If you’re not ready for a CRM yet, Streak may be your answer (if you are ready for a CRM, check out Infusionsoft). Streak is a Gmail Plugin that groups your leads together, gathers and marks important conversations, and also tracks threads leading to deals you end up making.
Further, every lead can be marked as “hot lead,” “pitched,” or “proposal sent.” Effectively, you can see your pipeline build up right inside your Gmail Inbox. Possible partnerships, funding, sales, and more—it can all be managed from Gmail inbox.
5. Zendesk—Customer support
This is a full-fledged customer service and support system which helps you go beyond just attending to your customers to cultivating a relationship with them.
Zendesk collects all the communication you receive from your customers, in the form of emails, tweets, or comments, and brings it together in one place so that it becomes easier for your customer service agents to capture all the information at a glance, regardless of whether you have a helpdesk dedicated to customer service or handle it yourself.
Zendesk can be set up to highlight items that demand your attention so that you don’t miss any tasks or delay responding to important queries. It also gives you suggestions on how to address the queries by bringing to your notice tools that can help you do so. It’s easy to identify which customers are satisfied and which customers need extra TLC.
Organizations with multiple departments can extract more out of Zendesk, since the customer-related information collected by it is passed on to various departments, thus helping management tweak their strategy to retain and bring in more customers.
However, small businesses can also equally benefit from this tool since it keeps track of all your customer conversations, thereby allowing you to work on addressing issues without delay, and improving your customer service in general. It also allows you to build a “self-service community” with the aim to help users answer their own questions as well as each others.
Finally, Zendesk lets you easily share analyses and dashboards with your team or partners, so everyone can work together to improve the customer experience.
Zendesk is compatible with mobile devices. You can try it out for free for 30 days.
Running a small business is intimidating. It takes a lot of patience, courage, and close attention to detail. However, technology makes all kinds of ventures more viable and sustainable for the long haul. It can help you put your goals in a more attainable perspective. Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried any of these tools or similar ones, and what kind of results you’ve got from them.
Pratik Dholakiya is the co-founder of E2M, a full-service digital marketing agency and PRmention, a digital PR agency. He regularly speaks at various conferences about SEO, Content Marketing, Growth Hacking, Entrepreneurship and Digital PR. Pratik has spoken at NextBigWhat's UnPluggd, IIT-Bombay, SMX Israel, and other major events across Asia. As a passionate marketer, he shares his thoughts and knowledge on publications like Search Engine Land, Entrepreneur Magazine, Fast Company, The Next Web and the Huffington Post to name a few. He has been named one of the top content marketing influencers by Onalytica three years in a row.
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