Monday, October 23, 2017

Nextiva CEO Introduces NextOS, Offers Tips for Better Customer Experience

NextOS

Tech tools can help you create great customer experiences. And a new platform from Nextiva, NextOS, aims to help businesses do just that.

NextOS is an all encompassing operating system for businesses. It includes a CRM system, chat function, survey platform, improved analytics and more. And it’s all accessible from one central dashboard, so businesses can make sure that all of their customer data and action items are consistent across the entire organization.

CEO Tomas Gorny announced the new operating system during a keynote presentation at the Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale as part of NextCon 17. During the presentation, Gorny discussed how the various features of NextOS can help businesses exceed customer expectations. And other members of the Nextiva team joined him on stage to share how the platform can solve problems for various departments and business functions. And of course, all of those features are ultimately aimed at helping those team members create better experiences.

Here are some tips from Gorny’s presentation that might help your business create great experiences that exceed the expectations of your customers.

Capture Relevant Information

You can’t hope to exceed customer expectations if you aren’t sure what those expectations are. For that reason, you have to collect relevant information about your customers. That doesn’t just mean getting their name and email address. It means capturing their actual preferences through buying habits and surveys. NextOS includes a CRM and survey platform to let you collect this information and then access it all in one place so you can make better decisions that actually reflect what your customers want.

NextOS

Predict Behavior Based on Trends

Once you have that information, you have to use it to predict what your customers will want in the future. You can attempt to do this on your own if you work with limited clients. But it’s an inexact science. Instead, automation can help your business take the next step toward predicting customer expectations. More specifically, NextOS has a machine learning component that can help you make sense of the trends and information you collect. Then its automation feature can give you action steps to make the most of that information.

Let Customers Choose How to Interact with You

“Customers want an effortless experience,” said Gorny during his keynote presentation.

This means letting them set the parameters of how they communicate and interact with you. No matter how targeted your customers are, you’ll have some who prefer to call you, some who prefer email or live chat, and others that opt for social media communications. So offering all of those methods is paramount.

Simplify Processes for Employees

Additionally, you’ll probably have multiple team members that interact with customers at different points in the buying process. So you need to make sure those employees all have access to the same information. And the top decision makers at your company should have access to that information as well.

Gorny said, “We need to have a complete view of our customers so we can provide that information to our entire organization.”

This means limiting the amount of apps you use for different functions. You shouldn’t have information from your customers in one spot with survey data in another and prospect data in yet another. Making all of this data easy to access and digest for everyone on your team can make it easier for all parties to provide great customer experiences.

Update Your Technology

And of course, the tech tools you use can make a big difference in the customer experience as well. If you’re using outdated systems that get bogged down with lots of data or don’t have access to all the latest features, your customers could opt to do business with other companies that can better anticipate their needs and provide a more cohesive experience.

Images: Anita Campbell/Small Business Trends

This article, "Nextiva CEO Introduces NextOS, Offers Tips for Better Customer Experience" was first published on Small Business Trends



Nextiva CEO Introduces NextOS, Offers Tips for Better Customer Experience

Data Shows LinkedIn’s Value as a Networking, Branding Tool (INFOGRAPHIC)

LinkedIn Statistics 2017

Back in 2003 when LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD) was launched, it was primarily used for job hunting. A lot has changed since then. Today, it is extensively used for networking and personal branding.

This fresh insight comes from data collected by NumberSleuth, a company helping to discover details about the numbers of your incoming calls.

According to research, 50 percent of LinkedIn members have found a job through a mutual connection, validating LinkedIn’s popularity as a networking and marketing tool.

Connect to Create Opportunities

LinkedIn, for its part, has introduced several new features to help users add more connections. You can now see when your connections are online and are ready to chat.

You may also share in-person status updates, tutorials and behind-the-scenes videos on the LinkedIn mobile app.

In the future, LinkedIn is planning to provide free mentoring services for members, connecting them with seasoned pros who give career advice. The new service will have a limited launch this year in San Francisco and Australia.

LinkedIn for Small Businesses

With more than 500 million users, LinkedIn provides a vast platform for businesses to connect and grow their network. But success depends on how well you leverage your network.

To help businesses take their networking, selling, marketing and hiring efforts to new heights, LinkedIn offers a number of useful tools. The showcase pages, for example, are extremely useful in highlighting your company, a business unit or initiative.

You may also consider LinkedIn Sales Navigator to turn the passive LinkedIn platform into a social selling machine.

For further brand impact, another option is LinkedIn Video. This newly launched feature helps small businesses boost online engagement with potential customers and partners.

If you’re still struggling to understand how LinkedIn can help you build your brand presence, check out LinkedIn Small Business. With readily available tip sheets, LinkedIn Small Business offers a place to learn how you can get the most out of your efforts on the site.

LinkedIn Statistics 2017

To learn more about LinkedIn’s rise as a marketing tool, check out the LinkedIn statistics in the infographic below:

LinkedIn Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Data Shows LinkedIn’s Value as a Networking, Branding Tool (INFOGRAPHIC)" was first published on Small Business Trends



Data Shows LinkedIn’s Value as a Networking, Branding Tool (INFOGRAPHIC)

NextCon17 Conference Launches With Focus on Customer Experience

NextCon17 Conference Launches With Focus on Customer Experience Tools, Speakers, and Sessions

Customer experience took center stage today as an estimated 750 guests arrived for the first day of NextCon in Scottsdale, Arizona. The conference, now in its second year,is put on by cloud business phone service provider Nextiva.

The focus on customer experience is actually a new part of the conference this year. Last year, the conference featured about double the amount of attendees and a more general lineup of speakers and sessions.

However this year, the company wanted to take a more focused approach and only feature speakers, sessions and tools specifically geared toward creating great experiences for customers. For that reason, the conference sold out weeks ago.

NextCon17 Conference Launches With Focus on Customer Experience Tools, Speakers, and Sessions

But in an interview with Small Business Trends, Nextiva’s Chief Marketing Officer Yaniv Masjedi said he hopes those who did make the cut won’t be disappointed with the renewed focus of the conference.

“The approach is far more focused this year. Last year it was more of a general business conference. And this year we chose to focus on just one subject and with that take on the many different angles related to it,” Masjedi said.

Customer Experience Tools Showcase

Over the next three days, at the Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale. At the event, Nextiva and its partners will showcase all the latest tools and methods businesses need to create the experiences that modern customers expect.

NextCon17 Conference Launches With Focus on Customer Experience Tools, Speakers, and Sessions

“We bring the best minds in the world of customer experience and businesses and have them join us on stage for three days, Monday through Wednesday,” Masjedi said.  “And the purpose is to highlight how businesses can improve the customer experience by unlocking the customer experience tools of tomorrow. We’re really passionate about it. And with the needs of customers changing tremendously even in the past five years, businesses need to be moving forward and not just look at what’s happening today. So we bring in the best minds and leaders to share their insights.”

This year’s lineup of speakers includes authors, CEOs and top decision makers at big name companies like Nordstrom, The Ritz-Carlton and Google. While Masjedi says that all of the speakers bring a unique and valuable perspective to the conference, he pointed out two that might be particularly interesting. Brian Solis, futurist and principal analyst for Altimeter is slated to speak on the customer mindset for 2018. And Carol Roth, entrepreneur and author of the best-selling book The Entrepreneur Equation is slated to speak and moderate a panel dedicated to delivering experiences that exceed customer expectations.

Nextiva’s CEO Tomas Gorny will also give a keynote presentation on the first day of the conference, addressing the challenge of exceeding customer expectations in today’s business climate.

“He really is a visionary, a pure innovator,” Masjedi says of Gorny. “So anytime I get the opportunity to see him talk about the world of customer experience and helping companies deliver great experiences, that’s something I want to be a part of.”

The event will feature training and information about actual tools that businesses can use to create those positive experiences, including Nextiva’s cloud based phone system and other communication tools.

In the future, Masjedi says the event will likely continue to change and improve. But he thinks that keeping it focused specifically on improving the customer experience, rather than trying to touch on a variety of different business topics, is a great way to give real value to attendees.

Images: Rieva Lesonsky/Small Business Trends

This article, "NextCon17 Conference Launches With Focus on Customer Experience" was first published on Small Business Trends



NextCon17 Conference Launches With Focus on Customer Experience

DHL Express for Shopify Handles International Shipping for Ecommerce Sales

DHL Express for Shopify Handles International Shipping for Ecommerce Sales

Selling internationally just got easier and more affordable.

Canadian ecommerce company Shopify (NYSE:SHOP) has teamed up with DHL Express to help you access the fast-growing global retail market.

You can now ship with the same premium carrier that major retailers use, with guaranteed express service, negotiated shipping rates and service to over 220 countries.

What’s more, you can even schedule free DHL Express pickups in Shopify, for any volume of packages.

Getting Started with DHL Express for Shopify

DHL Express shipping comes standard with your Shopify plan, if you are a U.S. merchant. And it’s rather simple to use.

You need to make sure your shop is setup to ship internationally with shipping zones and add DHL Express rates to those shipping zones. Once you create DHL Express shipping labels for international order, all you need to do is schedule a free DHL Express pickup.

Conquer New Territories

The global retail market is five times the size of the U.S. market. And according to a PayPal study, Ireland, Austria and Israel are the key markets for cross-border shopping.

Given the growth prospects, if you are not selling internationally today you’re probably missing out on a massive opportunity.

The PayPal study also highlighted the importance of price and shipping costs to drive purchases in the global markets. It showed how in order to succeed, you need to be sensitive to product and shipping costs.

With DHL Express for Shopify Shipping, you can be sure your products reach your customers safely and in a timely fashion. It’s also easy for you to track your shipment because all the information you need will be live on Shopify.

DHL Express Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "DHL Express for Shopify Handles International Shipping for Ecommerce Sales" was first published on Small Business Trends



DHL Express for Shopify Handles International Shipping for Ecommerce Sales

What is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework and Can It Benefit Your Small Business?

What is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework and Can It Benefit Your Small Business?

Understanding best practices when it comes to cyber security is just as important to a small business’s bottom line as a good product. Being hacked or otherwise compromised can drive up costs, decimate profits and even land you in hot legal water.

What is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework?

That’s where the NIST Cybersecurity Framework comes in. It’s a library of sorts where small businesses can learn what they need to know about cyber attacks. It’s called a policy framework in more formal terms, and this set of guidelines is published by the  National Institute of Standards and Technology,  a United States Department of Commerce agency.

How It Came About

It’s the place for small businesses to learn how to detect, prevent and even respond to cyber attacks.  It was first put together by a Presidential Executive Order in 2014. The original idea was a voluntary framework designed to help keep America’s infrastructure safe. However, the idea  has caught on and now small businesses can take advantage of  the 2017 draft titled Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity Version 1.1. But one of the most exciting things about the framework is the fact that it will be continually updated and improved.

Why It Matters To Small Business 

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework is important to small business owners for several very good reasons. The tools and best practices were first put together in 2014 but they were developed over decades by the federal government and industry. Here’s just a few of the critical areas the framework covers that make a difference to smaller companies.

Employee Access To Data

One of the big problems when it comes to small business cyber security is access to data. If you have an office with salespeople who are on the road a lot, this framework can help. The latest publication has worksheets to assist business owners in identifying the kinds of information they have. Making sure only qualified people have access to company information is a critical way to make sure data stays safe.

Employee Training

Understanding all the options when it comes to cyber security is a team effort. The  NIST Cybersecurity Framework has suggestions on how best to train employees.

Technology Must-Haves

The framework also goes through several technology must-haves that small businesses need to bring on board. It allows them a good understanding of the techniques and tools they need like data encryption and best practices in the cloud.

It coaches small businesses about best practices including other critical aspects like patching and updating operating systems. The framework also details other security measures like installing web and email filters. This is great for the smaller company that can’t afford high priced tech help.

A companion guide that goes along with the framework can even help  small businesses perform a cost/benefit analysis when they need new equipment based on some of these security recommendations.

Refreshers

Here’s another benefit of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. Some sections act as refreshers for information small business owners may already know. For example, the framework suggests a reputable cloud providers are a great way to keep data safe, something small business owners have probably heard many times without acting. The framework also suggests the precaution of storing removable thumb drives in safe locations away from your business.

Simple Suggestions

The framework is also useful because it makes simple suggestions that don’t cost small businesses a lot of money. It suggests surge protectors to keep stored data safe during a power outage. There are even tips on purchasing cyber security insurance to act as a buffer if things go wrong.

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework is a potential referennce for small businesses without the funds or time to learn everything about cyber security.  If you’re a small business owner looking for the latest updates, you can click this link to learn more.

NIST Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "What is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework and Can It Benefit Your Small Business?" was first published on Small Business Trends



What is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework and Can It Benefit Your Small Business?

Add 2 Sources of Additional Revenue Through New CorpNet Partner Program

Add 2 Sources of Additional Revenue Through CorpNet Partner Program

Does your small business help other entrepreneurs establish their own company? CorpNet has created a new partner program designed to help you manage the formation and compliance of businesses for your clients. At the same time, you can become a Corpnet Reseller or Referral Partner to increase your revenue.

Introducing the CorpNet Partner Program

With this service, CorpNet will handle formation and compliance issues as your silent partner. The automated process will manage your clients’ compliance documents and notify you of important due dates and compliance deadlines.

There are many accountants, bookkeepers, business coaches, and consultants that maintain the business filings and corporate compliance of their clients. In many cases, these are small businesses with a small workforce. The new program from CorpNet will take care of these services, so you can focus on the core functions of your company. 

CorpNet Reseller or Referral Partner

As a Reseller Partner, you control the customers for your brand, while CorpNet does all the work as a silent fulfillment partner. This option is good if you are a business looking to add more value to the services you offer for your clients.

As a reseller, you can access the resources of the company by speaking with a business filing expert to answer questions about all 50 states.

If on the other hand you just want to earn a commission for referring a client to CorpNet, the Referral Partner program may be a better option. CorpNet will take care of business startup and compliance services and pay you for the referral. The company says the commission can go as high as 25 percent.

Becoming a Partner

According to CorpNet, CPAs, accountants, bookkeepers, lawyers who assist small business owners, and others who consult or advise these businesses and startups can become partners. The partners are accepted after what the company says is a very selective screening process.

Even if your small business doesn’t provide business formation and compliance services, the Corpnet Reseller or Referral Partner program could be a new way to increase your revenue and attract new customers.

Image: CorpNet

This article, "Add 2 Sources of Additional Revenue Through New CorpNet Partner Program" was first published on Small Business Trends



Add 2 Sources of Additional Revenue Through New CorpNet Partner Program

These 8 Direct Marketing Franchises Focus on Serving Other Small Businesses

Direct Marketing Franchise List

The heart of a small business’s success lies in its marketing. The trouble is, many small businesses simply don’t have the time, resources or knowledge to implement successful marketing campaigns. Hence, outsourcing marketing requirements is growing in popularity.

Imagine being able to offer small businesses marketing services? You’d always be in demand, right? If running your own marketing business sounds attractive, you may be interested in becoming a marketing franchisee.

Take a look at the following list of direct marketing franchises serving other small businesses.

Direct Marketing Franchise List

Valpak Direct Marketing Systems Inc.

Valpak has a network of over 150 franchises across the US and Canada. From online marketing to mailbox and mobile device, Valpak provides a variety of ways to connect small businesses with consumers.

The company offers franchising opportunities for local marketing consultants to help businesses in their community grow. To be a Valpak franchisee you’ll need to enjoy sales, have good business acumen, be friendly and self-motivated, and have a background in sales, marketing or business.

A Valpak franchise typically costs $32,500 to start and candidates will need a minimum of $75,000 in liquid assets.

Minuteman Press International

Minuteman Press International provides digital print, design and promotional products and services to businesses, designed to help them grow. The company offers franchising opportunities to business-minded, ambitious people who are looking to build relationships within their community and help local businesses market their products and services.

Successful printing and marketing service franchisees with Minuteman Press International will benefit from regional support and face-to-face assistance, multiple revenue streams, and a limited royalty structure to help maximize your income.

Opening a Minuteman Press in the US could cost between $108,115 and $163,865 but qualified franchisees may be able to access financing to reduce that to $30,000 to $50,000.

The Inside Coup

The Inside Coup recognizes direct mail is a multi-billion-dollar industry. The Inside Coup provides a range of solutions to the direct mail sector and provides self-motivated individuals with the opportunity to be part of the direct mail industry.

Through social media, online, mailboxes and mobile phones, The Inside Coup assists small business in reaching new customers. Successful owners of an Inside Coup franchise can develop multiple revenue streams trough a proven proprietary sales system, virtually no ongoing overhead expenses, and many more perks.

Candidates will need to have a total investment of $50,950 to $289,950 to own a franchise with The Inside Coup.

BirthdayPak

Got a flare for marketing and a strong business acumen? You may be interested in becoming a BirthdayPak franchisee. BirthdayPak provides a marketing platform that brings local “upscale businesses” together with their best customers. This is achieved through personalized direct mail and other marketing techniques offered through the franchises.

BirthdayPak provides franchising opportunities to experienced marketing and sales professionals, looking to develop their own businesses with the advice, assistance and support of a well-known marketing brand.

BirthdayPak only works with so-called upscale businesses, such as spas, salons, restaurants and boutiques. Experienced marketing and sales professionals will need a total investment of $30,000 to $40,000 to become BirthdayPak franchisees.

Money Mailer

Money Mailer believes direct mail remains one of the most cost-effective ways for small businesses to reach new customers.

Providing business-minded marketing experts with its shared mail product combined with social media and other online channels, Money Maker creates in-demand marketing consultants who the company says can solve the marketing needs for businesses in their local communities.

The total cash investment to own a Money Mailer franchise is $75,000. Successful marketing consultants with Money Mailer can enjoy making large potential earnings, monthly repeat business and an extremely fast start-up.

SMS Masterminds

Text message marketing is becoming an increasingly effective way for small businesses to market their products and services and ultimately grow their businesses. SMS Masterminds exploits the unique power of SMS marketing via mobile devices.

The company offers the opportunity for driven individuals looking to own a marketing franchise to use SMS Masterminds’ experience to streamline their individual paths to success. The company further guarantees franchisees will acquire at least 10 merchant accounts or $3,000 in a single month’s revenue within their first 150 days as a licensee.

To become an SMS Masterminds’ licensee, you will need to make a total investment of $34,900 to $35,800, however.

Go Mobile VIP

Go Mobile VIP is another franchise in the highly lucrative mobile marketing industry. The company provides the opportunity for individuals to own their own Go Mobile VIP businesses and become part of the rapidly expanding mobile marketing sector.

With the company’s unique mobile coupons feature, Go Mobile VIP business owners create custom one-time-use mobile coupons within seconds, the company says. A minimum cash investment of $15,000 is required to own a GO Mobile VIP business. Successful candidates receive training and can operate their businesses from home.

Four Step Marketing Consultants

Four Step Marketing Consultants offers a licensing program to help those wanting to run their own marketing businesses with everything the company says they will  need to be successful. Four Step Marketing Consultants says its edge in the industry is the special tech systems, unique marketing tools, ongoing support and high level of training franchisees are provided.

The company says no marketing experience is required to become a Four Step Marketing Consultants francisee, just drive and ambition. A minimum cash investment of $17,995 is required.

Customer Support Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "These 8 Direct Marketing Franchises Focus on Serving Other Small Businesses" was first published on Small Business Trends



These 8 Direct Marketing Franchises Focus on Serving Other Small Businesses