Using Hold Music To Influence Customer Behavior

Using Hold Music To Influence Customer Behavior

Ever been on hold?

Like… FOREVER on hold?

At the time I started writing this article, my time on hold with my bank is 38 minutes, 13 seconds. It’s been a roller coaster of emotions based both on the situation and maybe the music. 

How Much Thought Goes Into Hold Music?

A lifetime ago I was the manager of a large customer support group for a regional ISP (Internet Service Provider). On a normal day hold times were in the low single digits and often were nearly zero.

However, there was a time in the infancy of broadband DSL service where the Code Red virus and other worms caused a huge spike in issues and hold times. Way back then there was no consideration of the types of hold music being played, and the hold times jumped to nearly a half hour. Customers were furious, as were the technicians, who spend the first five minutes on a call calming down a client instead of fixing the issue. (hold time – now 43:06).

But as I sit here on hold and typing this post I started to think, have modern call centers put thought and effort in the hold music to manipulate client behavior?

How Casinos Use Sound, Scent and Sight

It’s a well known fact that casinos have mastered customer manipulation. There are no clocks and minimal windows to make sure you lose track of time. Scents are pumped into the casinos to cause certain reactions. Lighting is carefully controlled to make the machines and other games “pop.”

But sound is a huge part of the “game” as well. An article on how the sound of slot machines can manipulate players was published in 2013 by the Washington Post.  The main theme of the article was how slot machines use sound to think you’ve won when in reality you’ve won only a portion of your wager. You may have bet $1, but maybe you hit a sequence that only paid out $.25, but the sounds are very similar to winning $1 or more. A computer scientist even called the term the “Awww Shucks Effect.”  (Awww shucks, still on hold. Now 51:52).

Do Call Centers Choose Music To Affect Behavior?

Being a DJ for over a quarter century I can attest to using music to manipulate behavior in night clubs and wedding venues. Beats per minute and sound energy can do some amazing things when used correctly.

So doing some very quick internet searches while on hold I was able to find some articles on why you would like “some” music on hold. An article on using music to improve customer retention states 52% of callers hang up with silence within one minute, 13% with just music, and only 2% if there’s music with some information.

In another article on what customers think of hold music a callers stated “I was on hold to Primus yesterday and they were playing LCD Soundstystem… when did corporate music get so cool?” (And… disconnected at 58:15!)

But the same article re-enforces the point that music and other sounds can cause different reactions. One client wanted a way to opt out of “bad” hold music. Another was happy the hold music was the Cheers! theme.

If You Never Answer The Call, Music Means Nothing

But my question still stands… are call centers using hold music to manipulate behavior? No one really comes out and says it, but I did notice a change in the music style and other pieces of the puzzle. The beats seemed to be slower the longer I was on hold, which in a night club is used to calm things a bit with slow songs or just reset the BPM. There were no voiceovers after the first 10 minutes so I didn’t have to listen to “we’ll be right with you” or a sales pitch. The music wasn’t popular music so I could ignore it while still “hearing” it. 

All of this created, I guess, a satisfactory experience. But it still came down to this… THEY NEVER ANSWERED MY DAMN CALL/QUESTION! You  can have all the best music and other behavior modifying features in your technology, website, or call center, but if you don’t handle the customer, it’s meaningless.

I guess I’ll go into the bank building and ask my question when I run to the post office later today. Since I’m doing things from the 70’s today, maybe I’ll grab a newspaper and stop at the arcade for a game of pinball.

 Do you have information on using music to manage call centers? Send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

Run All Your Business Processes From One Tool – Accelo

Run All Your Business Processes From One Tool – Accelo

Using Accelo To Manage Your Business

Geoff McQueen - AcceloOn this episode of the BeBizzy Break Podcast I interview Geoff McQueen, CEO and Founder of Accelo, on what prompted this wonderful invoicing, time management, ticketing and lead management system to be created and how you can use it to manage your business.

I’ve been a user for a little over a month, and having set it up myself, have seen the good, the great, and the “I should have asked for help” parts of Accelo. Check it out at https://accelo.com and get that free trial started!

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What is Accelo?

Accelo is a cloud-based “Service Operations Automation” platform. From here you can set up management of : 

  • Leads
  • Projects
  • Tasks
  • Time Tracking
  • Proposals
  • Support Tickets
  • Invoicing
  • … and just about everything else you need to run your business.

Geoff and his team have built a wonderfully useful tool that, while it’s been effective for thousands of businesses, is still customizable to your business needs in nearly all phases. 

Manage All Of Your Client Work In One Place

As Geoff says in the podcast, many of us in small business services have a “cocktail” of software and systems in place to do all of the things needed to run the business. Instead of using Accelo as a hub for everything I was using:

  • Toggl for time tracking
  • Wave Accounting for invoicing
  • Shoeboxed for expense tracking
  • Freshdesk for support tickets
  • And about 10 project and task management systems over the years.

Accelo allows me to do ALL of these things in one place. So I open it in the morning, or on my mobile devices, and I can get to everything listed above. The time savings alone are worth the small monthly fee for the system.

accelo-logoBuilt For Your Service Business

“Easy-to-use, automated and intelligent” is how Accelo describes itself. Unlike very focused software that can only do one thing, Accelo does a great job of making needed systems available in one tool. It breaks down into four or five silos.

  • Sales – A good CRM (customer relationship management) software can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars just to bring in leads and manage the sales process. Accelo handles an amazing spectrum of sales processes including integrating with your email account to document a stream with contacts, appointments, estimates, billing and invoicing, and more. 
  • Projects – Accelo does a great job of project planning and tracking. There’s a project module that allows a Gantt Chart-like system to be automatically created when planning a project, complete with cost and resource estimates. There’s a wonderful task tracking system as well that is easily managed and edited with smaller sub-tasks. And there’s ways to bring in outside resources and the client when needed. 
  • Service – No one wants to do work without getting paid. Accelo has wonderful time logging, ticket tracking, expenses and billing. So instead of logging time in one place, support tickets in another, and then billing in yet a third you can do everything right here. And each timer can be logged against a project or company making it easy to track time on very specific projects.
  • Retainers – A fairly new addition is retainers. Geoff referenced how it’s good business to partner with some of your best clients by offering them a certain amount of work each month 
  • Integration With Other Big Platforms – Accelo integrates with dozens of the biggest, most popular services in the world. I process payments with Stripe, get email and calendars in GSuite, communicate with vendors and even some clients with Slack. All of these are essentially plug-and-play with Accelo (well maybe not P-N-P, but close!) which only increases the ability to mold the tool to my business, not the other way around.

How To Get Started With Accelo

Accelo is very customizable, so unlike many products it’s easy to make the tool do what you need, rather than change a process to fit the tool. That being said, some recommendations for tasks to complete before starting with Accelo are:

  • Sit down and think through how you server your clients. These are the things that are similar for each client, and here’s what is different.
  • Draw out project and sales process flow on a whiteboard or paper.
  • Accelo offers up some integration services if the scope is too large, or it’s thought best to use the experts to set the system up. 
  • The documentation is wonderful, and support is not instant, but quick enough and the help is always good.

The best way to move forward is simply to go to Accelo.com and sign up for the free trial. Cost is based on what is needed, how many team members will be involved, and how hands-off the setup will be. 

Are you an Accelo user? Let Accelo and I know about it @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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Optimizing Social Media Posts with RiteKit

Optimizing Social Media Posts with RiteKit

How RiteKit’s Tools Can Help You With Your Social Media

Most of us in business post to social media accounts, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and many others. But many of us post on each site individually, and if you do use a management tool like Hootsuite or Buffer are still not using it in an optimal fashion.

RiteKit CEO Saul Fleischman gives us some guidance on how RiteTag, RiteForge, RiteBoost and Rite.ly can make things way easier!

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What is RiteKit?

RiteKit is actually a collection of four tools:

  • RiteTag – Get instant hashtag suggestions for images and text, anywhere on the web and mobile. Must-have for Instagram and Pinterest.
  • RiteForge – Craft, schedule and publish remarkable posts with the auto-magical Enhance button and many other time-saving tools.
  • Rite.ly – Soft-sell on all links you share. Add self-branded Calls-To-Action on links and track clicks and conversions. Exclusive video CTAs available.
  • RiteBoost – Already got a favorite publishing tool? Enhance posts in Buffer, Hootsuite or anything else. Create Enhanced posts in bulk from RSS, Feedly or Pocket.

Each of these tools can help you increase your response from your social posts by helping you keep in front of them with custom links, get #hashtag help, and more all from your browser with browser extensions and mobile apps.

RiteTag

RiteTag is a hashtag and posting assistance engine that will build a post and suggest relevant hashtags based on the page, titles, images and other factors. These hashtags can be used on any social media platform including Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn. The RiteTag tool allows the suggested hashtags to be placed at the end of your posts, or even integrated into the copy. You can even choose which language to suggest hashtags!

RiteForge

RiteForge is a next-level product compared to RiteTag. It still suggests hashtags, but now you can add animated GIFs, emojis, find influencers and even schedule evergreen content multiple times over the course of days, or even months. It’s still a browser extension is easy to use. Simply click the RiteForge button and “enhance.” There are additional options there. Or, you can highlight text, right-click and “Share with RiteForge” and select from a series of options to use special background options, edit the text, add emojis, preview the post, and then submit to a pre-built group of social platforms, or select them individually. Like RiteTag you can also get suggested hashtags that are color-coded as hot, overused, never used, etc.

Finally, RiteForge allows you to schedule when the posts will go out, but also schedule a post to be sent out multiple times.

Rite.ly

Rite.ly is the default short-URL generator has a number of benefits when compared to other short-url’s like bit.ly, goo.gl, and more. The main benefit is for a customizable popup to be seen by your visitors when they go to the linked page. Some of the customizations include a video popup, some text, ads, and just about anything else.

You can even customize the URL to be branded by your own url or a desired URL.

Rite.ly works very well with RiteForge.

RiteBoost

RiteBoost provides the ability to add the Enhance feature across all social media platforms like Hootsuite, Buffer and more. It adds a button on you favorite posting method (Hootsuite for me) that makes it very easy to post and customize your post from your favorite social media program. RiteBoost also provides ways to bring in content from feeds from RSS, Pocket, Evernote, Reddit and many more online properties.

I’m going to start using RiteKit

As mentioned in the podcast, the RiteKit tools solve some huge time-sucking issues faced by many of us that use social media for our businesses. Finding relevant hashtags, making the posts engaging by enhancing with imagery and emojis, scheduling future posts, using multiple social media sites…all are possible using one or more of the RiteKit tools. Listen to the podcast for more great tips from Saul, sign up, use the tools where you are… on the page, in Hootsuite, in Facebook.  

Enjoy and optimize your business social media with the RiteKit tools. 

Have you used any of the RiteKit programs and have some comments or suggestions? Leave them @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile

Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile

Donna Serdula of LinkedIn-Makeover.com

Today we are featuring an interview with Donna Serdula.

Donna pioneered the concept of LinkedIn Profile optimization and is the author of LinkedIn Optimization for Dummies. Through her website, LinkedIn-Makeover.com, Donna and her team of 40 writers, help thousands of LinkedIn users strategically write their profile in order to engage with their audience and grown their brand.

So if you’re looking for some tips on building or optimizing your LinkedIn profile, listen to the podcast, then if you think there’s a need for some professional help, engage Donna and her team at LinkedIn-Makeover.com.

Enjoy the interview!

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Why Should You Be Creating A LinkedIn Profile?

Typically, something happened in your life that prompts the creation of a LinkedIn page/profile. 

  • Looking for a new job
  • Graduating college
  • Start hearing rumbles of a job going away
  • Started a new business
  • Skipped over for a promotion
  • Press releases featuring you
  • Cold calling
  • You lost a big client
  • Going to a conference

Something has happened and people are now going to be looking at you. LinkedIn provides a way for you to feature information you want presented to those looking for you, your name and your company online.

It is often used as an online resume. But if you put some strategic thought into LinkedIn being your career future, not a digital resume. 

People are searching for you all the time. Resumes are for your professional history, but your LinkedIn profile offers a chance to talk about you along with your company or product.

Common Errors on Your LinkedIn Profile

  • Pay attention to your profile photo – get a professional headshot. No partners, kids, annoying backdrop. Smile. No selfies! Use a resource like headshotcrew.com
  • Background Graphic – Replace the default graphic with something that illustrates your brand, your message or your company. Unsplash.com and linkedin-makeover.com has some great images.
  • LinkedIn Headline – replace the default name/company data with a custom message (120 characters) that’s a “tagline” to capture attention. That headline moves all over LinkedIn with you when you recommend someone, search results, activity and more. A better headline will result in more clicks and views. LinkedIn-Makeover.com has a LinkedIn headline generator to spit out an engaging headline that you can copy and paste into your headline.
  • Contact Information – Make sure your email address, your phone number and other information is visible. Also put it at throughout the profile at the end of the profile, at the end of job information, and just about anywhere else. There is a chance you will get some unwanted calls, but weight that against getting valid prospects or leads.
  • Summary – This is where many people copy/paste their resume. Sit down and carefully craft a 2,000 character story that includes relevant keywords, and is about what makes you different. What are you good at, what do you offer, what do you like to do? This is really a great place to work with professional writers like Donna’s company to make this work for you. Finally, don’t brag, just tell the story where a potential client or hiring manager comes away feeling good about you. Finally, keep this up to date. You never know when that new client, new project or new education will separate you.

Other LinkedIn Tips

  • Regular posting shows you are active and engaged – Even if it’s not making profile changes, sharing relevant articles or your own blog posts show you are here and it’s good content. 
  • Paid vs. Free Accounts – There are advantages to premium accounts, it’s important to just start using LinkedIn. For most people the free version is more than enough, but salespeople, recruiters and others can find larger pools of prospects and candidates.
  • Building Your Following on LinkedIn – There are two types of relationships on LinkedIn. The “connection” is where you’ve invited a person to connect and they say yes. These are 1st degree connections and you can see how everyone is connected to 2nd and 3rd degree. A “follower” is where you can see what is being posted on LinkedIn. If you want to find people you should have a good, relevant sized connection network. A good rule of thumb is to make your online network reflect your offline network. Go back in time and connect with past co-workers, friends, classmates because you never know where opportunities will come from. 
  • Are LinkedIn Groups Dead – LinkedIn groups are absolutely worth joining and utilizing. Group members are added to your network so strategically it makes sense to join groups. Find and join groups that are lined with your interests and industry and it will branch out your reach. And LinkedIn is revising how groups are working and things should be improving. 
  • #Hashtags – Hashtags have sort of replaced groups by grouping messages and posts with a common message or theme into a searchable feed. Put hashtags in your posts and search for hashtags to find information 

Setting Yourself Apart on LinkedIn

To set yourself apart on LinkedIn is looking at the platform in a strategic way. Design your images, your headline and your message in a way that answers “Why am I on LinkedIn?” New job, new clients… vanity? Figure out what success on LinkedIn looks like to you. Then figure out who is the target audience? Hiring managers, potential clients, the press? Then determine what keywords will be searched to find you? Finally, write the profile and headline towards that strategy and use those keywords. 

Have any questions or suggestions on using LinkedIn? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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The “I Need A Website” Scam (and do you accept credit cards?)

The “I Need A Website” Scam (and do you accept credit cards?)

It’s a scam!

itsascamI received an email through my contact form today from “Carl” or “Amos.”

Hello, how are you doing today? My name is Carl Amos, I wanna know if you can handle website design for a new company and also if you do you accept credit cards ?? kindly get back to me… so i can send you the job details.Thanks Amos

Sounds good if you’re a web designer, right? Here’s a tip… it’s a scam.

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Just Like Superman 3

Back a few years ago in December 2016 I received a similar email message, except the website product was gacillia nuts.  They wanted a website, provided very few details at first, and wanted to know if I accepted credit cards.

When you respond that you do indeed accept credit cards, you get some more information. Here’s the email I received:

Thank you for your quick response. I have business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in IN and the company is based on importing and exporting of Salon Equipment such as Dryer, haircream, Weavon, Hairdressing, Clippers, i need the best of the best layout design for it. Can you handle that for me ?. so i need you to check out this site but i need something more perfect than this if its possible.DEMO_WEBSITE_URL_REMOVED... I have a private consultant that has the text content and logo for the site. the site would only be informational, so i need you to give me an estimate.
1. I want 10pages with the example site i gave you to check excluding videos and blogs.
2. I want only English language
3. I don’t have a domain yet but i want the domain name as DOMAIN_NAME_REMOVED
4. you will be updating the site for me twice in a month.
5. i will be providing the images, logos and content for the site.
6. i want the site up and running before ending of 2 to 3months.
7. My budget is $6,000 to $12,000
8. Give me your personal cell phone number
9. Are you the Owner

office-space-printer-scene-amazonHere’s the flags:

  • Usually an “importer” of products, either hairdryers or gacillia nuts.
  • The scam almost always seems to be 10 pages.
  • Only English language.
  • The sample domain name they send always gets an error that it cannot find the server, even though they say in the email they would like a domain “like XXXXXX.com.”
  • Hint in one of the first emails that they already have a graphic designer or project manager that will need to be paid.

Here’s where it gets weird.

I sent a response back to CarlAmos, asking if I should build a site like this? THIS being a link to a website documenting this exact scam. CarlAmos responded with “Yes, that’s it!” and asked for an estimate. 

If you pursue this little game a little further, the actual scam comes to light. The scammer, CarlAmos in this movie, has an associate who is a project manager, graphic designer, or content developer. CarlAmos will pay you whatever your estimate is, plus a little bit more via the credit card. In turn, you have to write a check to the PM/GD/CD that works for them. They won’t sign a contract, won’t fill out a 1099 as an independent contractor, nothing. Just cut them a check and keep the rest. 

What happens next is how they make their money. You wrote a check to pay their contractor. That check is cashed for real money, not deposited. They will then do a chargeback on the credit card transaction, which withdraws the money from your account, you pay a chargeback fee/fine, and when you try to stop payment on the check (which has a fee associated with it), the check’s already been cashed so they have their money. You’re out the initial payment, the money in the check and the chargeback fee. That might leave a mark…

Luckily I’ve seen this movie before, might have been Superman 3, and knew it was rotten. I’m most likely going to just let this go, and then maybe send CarlAmos this link so they know I’m on to them and they can remove me from the list. 

In the past when I’ve pushed them to get on a call to discuss I’ve gotten a response that they have a hearing impairment and rather than going through a relay service, it’s best to communicate via email or text. That’s B.S., they just don’t want to talk face to face and have the curtain pulled back when you can hide behind email. 

too-good-to-be-trueBut here’s the reason I posted this today… if something seems a little to good to be true, it probably is. I’m a small web design firm in North Dakota. Sure, I’ve done work for companies in New York, San Diego, LA, Boston, Austin and more, but to get a guy from IN (India?) wanting a website built for him, an importer, just triggered a few warning bells.

Take a few moments to qualify your potential client. Get the company name, look everything up, including the content of the email, and see if anything weird pulls up. Sometimes it hurts to walk away from potential business, but in cases like this it’s a good decision.

Have you been sent this scam or something similar? Let me know @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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Using Mind Maps To Plan Your Business

Using Mind Maps To Plan Your Business

Mind Maps Make Meetings Better (and more productive)

Every have to take meeting notes?

How about use the meeting as problem solving method? And everyone sits in a room to defend their business silo, but no one wants to talk about the primary issue that needs to be addressed?

Well using mind maps might be the way to draw out the best solutions from the group.

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What is Mind Mapping

  • Way of visually getting ideas you don’t know are in your head or trapped in a team and representing them in an easy to use format of subjects, ideas and sub-ideas.
  • Essientially here’s how it works
    • Start with a main topic or issue, the Subject. Say, SEO for Website
    • Start populating the second level, or Ideas, with possible issues or groupings of drill-down items. In this case. Internal teams, External Resources, Training, Measurement Criteria, Other Items, etc.
    • Then, inside each of these ideas, there are sub-ideas, resource details, questions to ask, action items, etc.
      • All of these can usually be signified in the software with either custom icons like a checkbox, question mark, etc, or with different text colors.
    • Each of the Ideas start a branch of “bubbles” on the mind map, which then branch out again, and even again if necessary. All of this forms an easy to use diagram, which in many cases can be converted to a more traditional outline format if needed. 

Why is Mind Mapping Better Than Plain Old Words?

  • Ever try to add an item in a traditionally list on paper or a white board? Your options are to erase and move items, add it to the bottom and signify it needs to be somewhere else, or draw an impromptu mind map with lines, bubbles and some text anyway.
  • Humans consume visual data quicker and better than plain text. Ever wonder why TV and magazines and of course, the web, have ousted newspapers? Highly visual and easily consumed ideas instead of long, wordy sentences. 
  • Mind Mapping encourages grouping of ideas and expanding on those ideas, whereas simple text can be limited by the format.

How to Mind Map?

  • Start with an idea or subject that is easy to solve. If the subject is too complex, break it down and then build mind maps for an easy to consume part of the mind map, therefore solving the bigger issue by conquering the smaller ones.
  • Use images, hyperlinks, contact information and more to make the document more useful or easy to follow. 
  • Also use different colors for the different Idea branches to make it easy to navigate inside each topic and subtopic.
  • Use short phrases to capture ideas, especially in the brainstorming portion of mind mapping. You can always go back and expand on issues, but capture what you need, and only what you need initially.

Any Pitfalls to Avoid When Mind Mapping?

  • Concentrating on one item too long. Dump ideas and move on, you can sort everything out later.
  • Not having someone leading the mind mapping that knows how to ask for expansion or more creativity. 
  • Capturing vague ideas and not documenting or expanding them.

What Software Can I Use to do Mind Mapping?

  • Mind Meister : Free for up to 3 maps, $5 for personal, $8 for a Pro account and $12.50 for enterprice (all per user, per month)
  • Coggle : Little more bare bones, not the catalog of templates or “flair” but cost : Personal – free, 3 private diagrams, Awesome is $5/month for most of what you will need, and $8 for an “organization” account if more customization needed for teams.
  • Mind Manager : really a virtual whiteboard but it’s by the company I was first exposed to in Mind Mapping, Mindjet. It’s #349 for Windows, $179 for Mac. All have 30-day trials. Full-featured and wonderful software. 

Have any questions or suggestions on going mind mapping? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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Shared Email Inboxes – BeBizzy Break Podcast EP: 71

Shared Email Inboxes – BeBizzy Break Podcast EP: 71

Does your business have a shared inbox?

Most small, and nearly ALL large businesses have generic email inboxes that are logged into by two or more staff members. Sometimes it can get messy when everyone, or in some cases no one, log into the box to handle customer requests, questions, or just to clean it out.

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Why would you need a shared inbox?

Current and potential clients like to have generic email inboxes they can use to contact your company. Addresses like “info@”, “support@”, and “customerservice@” help them reach the right person. But sometimes it’s never just ONE person, but a group that keeps that inbox monitored. And this can sometimes cause collisions of two people working the same issue, or worse, ZERO people working the same issue because they thought it was being handled by someone else.

Ways to set up a shared inbox

  • Manual – An email gets sent to “info@” and several people all see it in their inbox. Someone has to accept that email, read it, respond back to the sender, then file that email in a different folder or use whatever process is mandated by the business to mark it as complete.The problem arises when the inbox is set up incorrectly and not everyone sees it being read so multiple people start working the issue, or everyone sees it and assumes it will be handled by someone else so no one helps the customer.In this case, there needs to be a documented process of who handles it and when. If rep A is gone, rep B works it. If it sits for more than “x” hours then the manager or someone else is specified to handle it. If there are no documented processes you will have breakdowns or cause extra work on certain issues.
  • Forms on the Website – Putting a form on the website does a couple of things. First, you don’t give out actual email addresses but you can still direct subjects selected by the client to a particular email address. This means all “info@,” “questions@,” or whatever goes to an actual person, not a group of people, but the client doesn’t see who gets it. This also allows some flexibility when someone leaves the company, is on vacation, or is just too busy to handle these types of requests.A second benefit of forms is they allow you to format the information being gathered instead of just letting the sender put whatever information they wish into the form. So you can ask for and even require names, email addresses, phone numbers, subjects, and just about anything else you want or need.Finally, many of these forms can be saved to a database AND sent to a person or persons, so in the event email goes down, a person’s address is terminated for whatever reason, or something just isn’t handled right away, you can look at the data and recover this request and fix the issue.The one drawback is this format requires the user to actually go to the website to submit the form instead of just firing off an email from their phone or email application.
  • CRM – Customer Relationship Management platforms are the next step beyond email forms. They are databases or applications that use form or email information to create tickets that can be handled by one or more people. Some potential CRM platforms in a wide variety of functions and price are Hubspot, Zoho and Freshdesk (what I use at BeBizzy).There are so many benefits to this type of system including:
    • Saved threads of communication with the client
    • Formatted questions that require the sender to provide necessary information to solve the issue like invoice numbers, usernames, phone numbers and more.
    • Many have the ability to add an FAQ, support forum, or other intermediary step where the sender can often solve their own problems or the group can solve it before you can.
    • Most CRM platforms are located off the website network, so it doesn’t affect the traffic or performance of the website
    • It provides an auditable trail to see how long it took to respond, how many interactions did it take before resolution, who handles how many tickets, and more.

Bottom Line

Shared inboxes are a great way to handle client request or questions. They allow your company to respond as a group instead of relying on just one person. But it more control is needed, the first step would be to create some forms on the website that send to specific people and save to a database. If the budget exists, or the need is great enough, a CRM is a great way to handle support tickets, general inquiries or other client requests. If the cost looks too big, weigh the option of what does it cost to lose a current or potential customer because something wasn’t handled right away.

Have any questions or suggestions on going paperless? Leave them below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

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Bluestacks – Run Android Apps on Your Computer

Bluestacks – Run Android Apps on Your Computer

We all have favorite phone apps to run our business, interact with friends and family, or entertain us.

But if you are on the Android system it can sometimes be painful when you can’t use your phone and need or want to use that app. Bluestacks runs an Android emulator right on your PC or Mac!

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Bluestacks

Quite simply, Bluestacks runs an Android emulator on your computer by basically creating a new phone on your computer. You set it up like a new phone or tablet with your Google account, you get access to the Google Play store, and you install the apps you wish to use.

Why Would I Use An Emulator Instead of My Phone?

So why would you use an Android emulator instead of just pulling the phone out of you pocket or purse and using that?

Some of the reasons would include :

  • Your favorite apps may not be available in the Windows or Apple stores, or in the Chrome Extensions.
  • Many favorite apps are available in online versions through the browser, but if you have many tabs open at one, it’s easy to lose track of what’s there and close it by accident or lose information when the browser crashes.
  • Some workplaces simply frown, discourage, or completely refuse to allow the use of smartphones in the office.
  • In multiple monitor uses it allows the Bluestacks app to be placed in a position outside the typical email and web browser locations.

How Bluestacks Works and Looks

First all, if you’ve ever used an Android tablet, it looks and works very similar to that. The interface has large, easy to click/touch shortcuts. Bluestacks will work with both touch screen and a mouse/keyboard so don’t think you need a touchscreen computer to work the app.

Each app will open in their own tab, and music and other media will play unless the “System App” folder is opened to change settings, visit the Google Play store and other maintenance items. There is a small big of lag noticeable, but compared to virtual Windows boxes or other emulators, Bluestacks run very efficiently.

There’s not much noticeable drain on computer resources, but I didn’t test it on a lower-end Windows computer, so there is a possibility of the app not wanting to run efficiently on boxes with low RAM or single-core processors. Remember you ARE running basically another device off your laptop or desktop.

One thing I did not like the tendency of some apps to default to portrait mode. I saw this on my Chromebook as well, and there is no way I’ve found to fix this. The portrait mode happens when an app is not designed to work in tablet mode and switches the emulator window to portrait mode to display properly. Most of the time the window goes back to landscape when another app is opened, but I have seen it stay portrait when switching back.

Should I Try Bluestacks?

Easy answer? Yes! If you’re like me and rely on your smartphone or tablet to handle some tasks like your calendar, task management, time tracking, notes, chat communication and more Bluestack is a great way of handling all of those. I used to listen to podcasts and music, keep Slack open, handle incoming website tickets and view/edit my calendar on my Chromebook and phone. Now my phone sits in my charger and my laptop went back to being a laptop instead of a second primary device.

And when I get the urge to play games like the now popular FIFA Soccer, Hungry Shark World during Shark Week, or the always fun Clash of Clans, I can do it on my large computer screen instead of my tiny smartphone.

Give Bluestacks a try, and let me know what you think!

Got a suggestion for a topic, interview or other show idea? Send it over at BeBizzy.com or on Twitter @BeBizzy

Disclosure: As member of a pretty cool team of influencing users, I receive mobile devices with line of service from Verizon and will occasionally talk about them in blog posts, social media and podcasts. No additional compensation was provided nor did I promise a positive review. All opinions are my own. By the way, many of us meet every Friday @ 2pm CT on Twitter (#MobileLiving) to discuss mobile phones and how you can use them in your daily lives. Join us! 

#BetterMatters #brandpartner

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What to do About Deleting Facebook

What to do About Deleting Facebook

BeBizzy News and Notes

  • Reminder, Tax Day is Tuesday, April 17, 2018.
  • WordPress 4.9.5 was released yesterday. It’s a small update, and just a few minor releases before the big one, Gutenberg, gets released.

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Should You (and your customers) Delete Facebook?

Some Background On The Facebook Issue

  • Facebook has been accused of distributing “fake news” since before the last US Presidential election.
    • The social platform was supposedly manipulated to send articles to those of certain political leanings re-enforcing those beliefs or inciting anger at opposing beliefs.
  • Recently it has been found that Cambridge Analytica obtained the Facebook data of 50 million users UPDATE!! I LIED! This afternoon (4/4/18) it was announced the leak was 87 million accounts!
  • Inside that data is your contact info, who you follow, what ads are clicked on, friends, your timeline, and much, much more.
  • So now that the cat’s out of the bag, what should you do as a consumer, and how does that affect you a as a business person?

First, let’s look at how to get your Facebook data

  • Computer – click on the down arrow to the right of your notifications and select “Settings
  • Under the General Account Settings is a link to “Download a copy of your Facebook data.” Click it.
  • You will be taken to another page (page views anyone) that asks you to click another button to “Download Archive.” Click THAT.
  • Next you will asked to provide your password. It is the same as your Facebook password, then click “Submit.”
  • An email will be sent to your login email stating your Facebook data has been requested, and a followup email will be sent when the data dump is complete.

Now if all that information scares you, you’re not alone. And thousands are deleting their Facebook accounts including Elon Musk, WhatsApp founder Jan Koum (who sold his company to Facebook for $16 billion), Jim Carey and more.

  • Deleting your account is easy, go here and click deactivate your account 
  • HOWEVER, before you do, remember that Cambridge Analytica and others already have your info, so deleting your Facebook account will only cut you off from sharing new info. They can already act on what they have.

So what does this mean to you and your business

Your customers could easily do the same, and once they see who they all follow, like and interract with, there’s a chance they will also either delete their accounts or remove some affiliations.

Instead of deleting Facebook, it’s suggested that users remove allegiances to Apps, Website and Games. You can also see what information is saved as “Your Ad Preferences” , where you can see what’s stored as Your Interests, Advertisers You’ve Interacted With, You’re Information and Ad Settings.

But if your customers go here, there is a chance they will “unsubscribe” to your ads and other information. So now what?

Well, if they do this, you could lose their attention. So there are a couple of things you can do to retain them now before another scandal prompted them to make changes.

  • Post Often – By putting quality, relatable, non-sale related content in front of them often, you could entice them to think of you as a needed resource, entertainment source, or wanted advertiser.
  • Advertise to a targeted list – Obviously when looking at your data you can see just how targeted your ads could be blasted. Be more selecting when you send out an ad instead of throwing it out to as many people as possible. It will save money and keep other timelines from being clogged.
  • Focus on things other than Facebook. Get your website’s SEO fixed, look at Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn as possible avenues of driving traffic, and look at marketing automation as an option.

If a user has made up their mind to delete Facebook you will simply loose that method of reaching them. If you have hitched your wagon, traffic and marketing to only Facebook, now is the time to start looking at other solutions.

WordPress Plugin of the Week

Mergebot 

Wish I would have sought this one out a few weeks ago before I moved a very large, active site. What it does is you install Mergebot on both your LIVE site and a DEVELOPMENT site. As your visitors interact with the site with sales, contacts and other things the information is passed through the cloud the Mergebot. Also, as you make changes to the development site these database changes are also sent to Mergebot, where the cloud database combines the two making it easier when the DEV site goes LIVE by syncing all the database changes in one place.

It’s not cheap, but if you’ve ever moved a large site or database and had to keep a version live while you migrate or change it can be a huge headache when it comes time to merge the data. Mergebot could help you with this.

Cost is $249/yr to migrate one site at a time, $349/yr for three, and $589/yr to do five sites at a time. Again, not cheap, but compared to the hours you could spend messing with database sorting and merging, it could be a lifesaver. Wish I would have used it before I migrated the last site, but I won’t make THAT mistake again!

Got a suggestion for a topic, interview or other show idea? Send it over at BeBizzy.com or on Twitter @BeBizzy

Disclosure: As member of a pretty cool team of influencing users, I received mobile devices with line of service from Verizon. No additional compensation was provided nor did I promise a positive review. All opinions are my own. By the way, many of us meet every Friday @ 2pm CT on Twitter (#MobileLiving) to discuss mobile phones and how you can use them in your daily lives. Join us! 

#BetterMatters #brandpartner

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Samsung Galaxy S9

Samsung Galaxy S9

Episode 66 of the BeBizzy Break Podcast : Samsung Galaxy S9

We’re back after a few weeks of traveling, too much work, and an illness thrown in for good measure with episode 66 of the BeBizzy Break Podcast where we discuss the Samsung Galaxy S9 phone and how it compares to the Samsung Note 8 and the Google Pixel 2 XL.

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Before we get into the main portion of the podcast, I have a few smaller items to talk about; a cautionary tale and two reasons to back up.

  • Cautionary Tale : woman has a computer break down, needs to write an article on her iPhone. Instead of using one of dozens of apps, she instead chooses to write the article on the tiny iPhone keyboard and uses her texting app, thinking when it’s done she can send it and then migrate it to a computer. Being mostly done one evening, she left the app running and went to sleep. The next morning, she picked up the phone, hit the space key, and ERASED everything she had previously written on her article. There is NO WAY to recover that information. Had she used one of the many office or note taking apps available for little or no cost, this would not have been an issue.
  • Backup Reminder One : Was asked by ANOTHER person last week if it’s possible to recover photos lost on a now-defective iPhone. This individual has never turned on their iCloud backups, Google Photos, Dropbox, Carbonite, or anything else, just left them on their phone. Now that the phone is dead there is NO way to recover these treasures without expensive recovery processes which may or may not work. BACK UP YOUR DATA!!
  • Backup Reminder Two : Many of my websites were attacked last week. I knew this by getting warned by the Wordfence app, which notifies me if anyone has a failed login attempt or if any critical files were changed. By using a weekly backup, all I had to do was restore a backup for the sites and change some login info.

Samsung Galaxy S9 Review

  • Had my Samsung S9 phone for about a week and it’s finally time to provide my review, and my comparisons to the Samsung Note 8 and Google Pixel 2 XL.
  • I’m lucky enough to be a member of a pretty cool team of influencing users, I received mobile devices with line of service from Verizon. No additional compensation was provided nor did I promise a positive review. All opinions are my own. By the way, many of us meet every Friday @ 2pm CT on Twitter (#MobileLiving) to discuss mobile phones and how you can use them in your daily lives. Join us! 
Spec S9 S9+
Price $800 $930
Operating System Android 8.0 Android 8.0
Screen Size 5.8″ 2960x1440 Quad+ Super AMOLED 6.2″ 2960x1440 Quad+ Super AMOLED
Processor Exynos9810 Exynos9810
RAM 4GB 6GB
Storage (as tested) 64GB 64GB
MicroSD Slot Up to 400GB Up to 400GB
Rear Camera 12.MP 12 MP
Front Camera 8MP 8MP
Battery Life 11 13
Weight 5.74 oz. 6.67 oz.

Look, Feel & Design

Compared to the Note 8 and the Pixel 2 XL, the Samsung Galaxy S9 is only 3/4″ of an inch smaller, but boy is it noticeable! Carrying in my front pocket was much less bulky, and holding the phone in my hands was significantly different that the other two giant phones.

Typing and some other “business” uses were a bit more difficult with the smaller screen, so if you do a LOT of critical functions like posting to work social media, composing long emails, or maybe even typing notes, the S9+ may be a better option that the S9.

Battery Life

If there was one place I saw a drastic difference in the S9 compared to the other two phones it was the battery. I’m a big power user so the more battery I have the better. The S9 only has a 3000mAh battery, but the S9+ has a 3500mAh battery which is more comparable to the Note 8 and Pixel 2 XL. The larger form factor has the benefit for more room, which is largely taken up by the battery.

Performance

The new Samsung Exynos 9 processor in both of these devices is fast! Boot times, app opening, even page transitions are noticeably quicker than the Note 8 & Pixel 2 XL. There’s some discussion on whether the Exynos 9 is on par with the A10 processor in the Apple iPhone X and tests seem to place it right in between the A10 and the Snapdragon on the other flagship phones. Either way, this is really quick  even compared to just the last version of the S-series phones.

Software

Luckily the Samsung S9 and S9+ come with Android 8 Oreo installed so the security and feature updates are available. Not surprisingly the Google Pixel 2 XL is running an even more advanced of Android. But what IS surprising is that the Note 8 is still running Android 7.1. As of this recording AT&T has started rolling out Oreo for the Note 8, but we’re still waiting on Verizon (hopefully we’re just waiting until after the Easter holiday weekend to make sure there’s no run on the call center, so next week?)

Sound

While the Note 8 still had the standard single speaker on the bottom of the phone which can easily be covered up and muted, the Samsung S9 has some amazing sound quality built in. They are running a surround system with Dolby Atmos technology and plays back great sound even if the exposed speaker is covered by the hand, clothing or other method. It’s not quite as good as the Google Pixel 2 XL, but this is simply because the Pixel 2 has stereo front firing speakers built into the bezel, which costs a little real estate on the screen, but features great sound.

Camera

I’ve saved the best for last. The Super Speed Dual Pixel camera on the S9 is simply better than the Pixel 2, which as been crowned the best smartphone camera for several months. The Auto function does a great job of selecting the right white balance, exposure and focus. And if you go to the Professional mode, you can get really creative with all of those functions. But on the video side, the Super Slo-Mo camera is really innovative. At 960 frames per second for short burst the super slo-mo camera delivers crystal clear slow motion video. And it didn’t really matter how fast the video was moving. The low-light capture is stunning with no artifacts in the darker sections of the photos. FYI, to open the camera quickly you can double-press the power button.

Summary

As a phone for personal and light business use, I would have no problem recommending the Samsung Galaxy S9. It’s the fastest phone I’ve ever owned, the screen is great, sound is amazing and the camera is the best smartphone camera available.

I’m a bit of fan of the larger form factor, and while I didn’t get a chance to test the S9+, I have held one in a Verizon store and played with it. The form and performance is similar to the Note 8 making typing and other tasks a bit easier for me.

You can check out both phone and dozens of others at your local Verizon store, or at VerizonWireless.com.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the BeBizzy Break Podcast on your digital assistants like Amazon Echo, Google Home and on your podcasting apps like Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio or wherever you get your podcast files from, like the PocketCasts app!

Got a suggestion for a topic, interview or other show idea? Send it over at BeBizzy.com or on Twitter @BeBizzy

Have a great easter weekend everyone, stay safe on April fools, and we’ll see you next time on the BeBizzy Break Podcast!

Disclosure: As member of a pretty cool team of influencing users, I received mobile devices with line of service from Verizon. No additional compensation was provided nor did I promise a positive review. All opinions are my own. By the way, many of us meet every Friday @ 2pm CT on Twitter (#MobileLiving) to discuss mobile phones and how you can use them in your daily lives. Join us! 

#BetterMatters #brandpartner

Some photos and videos from the S9

 

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