How A.I. Can Work for Your Small Business

AI Small Business

A.I. can sound scary, or it can seem like it’s only something large companies can afford to use. Thankfully, it can be for your small business as wellArtificial intelligence is becoming the answer to everything, but it can be a powerful tool if you know how–and when–you use it. We’d like to share the story of Cary and how the use of A.I. solutions helped his business.

Thinking about making changes to your business? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

What Is A.I.?

In simple terms, artificial intelligence uses the power of computers to recognize patterns in data that might not be obvious or discernable to the naked eye. By quickly spotting patterns that correlate to desired outcomes, A.I. can help optimize our efforts by telling us where to put our resources. For example, a program like this can tell us what content drives more people to click or buy on our websites. However, it is important to realize that A.I. is driven by mathematics, not by compassion. It’s important to make sure your A.I.optimized message is what you want your brand to be. The program and the intention might not be the same thing.

How Cary Uses A.I.

Help improve HR functions and HR automation

Cary runs a large events and catering business. His temporary and full-time employees manage the company’s training, reviews, and payroll. Most of his staff works hourly, and turnover is high, just by the nature that this is second job for most of his staff. We worked with him to identify 3 areas where HR automation made sense. 

revenue
      1. Hiring – While it may seem a bit odd to have a bot interview and screen people, it’s not a crazy as it seems if you are using it for simple entry-level jobs. Tools like Entelo can help you  to find which behaviors correlate to strong job performance. Armed with that data, you can more effectively screen candidate so you can spend more time interviewing the best candidates instead of scouring of hundreds of resumes that would never make the cut.  
      2. Turnover risk – there are a number of products that conduct automated engagement surveys. We used Qualtrics, but Hyphen is good as well. By taking these regular pulse checks, Cary could see which parts of the organization were less engaged and therefore higher turnover risk. 
    1.  

Marketing automation

In all honesty, A.I. is further along in B2Cs than B2B small businesses. A.I. is also more powerful in categories with higher concentration (few players, large market shares) than fragmented (many players, low market shares). In concentrated categories, there is more data on each company, making the correlations more obvious and powerful. 

Brandwatch is an example of an A.I. for small business
Brandwatch is an example of an A.I. for small business

Cary used tools like Crayon to monitor his competitors across multiple channels: their websites, social media and mobile apps. This monitoring provides valuable insights into our competitors’ strategies by flagging changes in price, product mix, and messaging. These insights can help you build effective strategies by leveraging the right target(s) where he had a competitive advantage. He also used Brandwatch to help provide insights into his consumer segmentation. He also used AI to help with messaging and targeting as discussed above.

The most valuable tool for Cary was automating his small details. He used Marketo, which allowed him to launch your pre-planned digital ads, social media posts, and email and mobile notifications so that they reach the right targets at the right time and continuously nurture a relationship with customers.

Improving customer service

One of the more effective ways that Cary’s small business used A.I. was in customer service. By leveraging past behavior, he was able to serve up the product and services that his customers were most likely to want based on what they searched or purchased in the past. As well as helping through optimized offerings, he used chatbots to engage his customers with the FAQs. This provided immediate feedback rather than wait for an e-mail or voice mail. While chatbots don’t replace people, and their overuse can have negative impact on customer perception, they are most useful when they can quickly guide customers to the information that they need. 

How A.I. Helped Cary's Small Business

A.I. helped Cary’s small business in three many ways. First, it helped him reduce the time he and his team spent screening resumes by 45%. He was able to recruit new candidates many weeks faster than before A.I. was used. Second, he was also able to reduce turn-over rate by 20%. Second marketing automation helped him do more with his current staff, saving himself the cost of a marketing intern. Finally, customer service was able to connect with potential customers to direct them through his website. 

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

4 Amazing Ways Automation Can Help Your Small Business

Automation

Automation technologies are improving constantly, and costs are dropping. As they do, these automation processes are much more accessible to small businesses. Here are 4 amazing ways automation may be able to help your small business.

Thinking about making changes to your business? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

1. Productivity

Productivity is hands-down the best area where automation can help. Its most basic objective of technology is efficiency. Automation can increase efficiency by leaps and bounds. It can decrease the time it takes to do the boring and mundane tasks. Notably, repetitive tasks are the best area for automation. AI has improved exponentially in recent years, but it cannot yet replace people for complex human interaction. 

2. Collaboration

All businesses requires a number of different activities to work in tandem. Small businesses usually require people to wear multiple hats to get those activities accomplished. When you are juggling multiple things, it’s easy for things to get lost in the cracks. 

Automation can simplify communication, ensure the latest documents are up to date, provide an easily accessible database for reference, and track deadlines and progress. So, by tracking progress, you can allocate resources where they are most needed. 

3. Accuracy

People make mistakes. Automation can help improve the accuracy by double-checking or proofing the work. This happens in lending and can help your personal business as well. This can help ensure that errors do not go unnoticed until they cause problems. For example, we are using Grammarly right now to check for typos. When used properly, the whole process can become simpler. 

AI and Lending

4. Retention

People hate boring and monotonous tasks. They become tedious and demotivating. People feel undervalued and morale suffers. Automation can take over some of these tasks, so employees can focus on more interesting tasks where human interaction and creativity are needed. People tend to be happy when they are being challenged and creative. It also can help with customer retention.

How to Adopt Automation

It’s best to take it bite-sized pieces. Start with the most mundane and repetitive tasks you have. See if they can be automated. You can usually see a nice ROI on employee morale, productivity, and accuracy right away. Another area to focus on is collaboration. If your staff feels overworked or overwhelmed, is there a way to make their lives easier and simpler by taking some of the communication burdens off their plate? 

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

LinkedIn Imposters – What You Need to Know

fake profiles

If you are on LinkedIn, then you’ve probably met more than a few imposters. Most are easy to spot. They say the work for a major company, but their location is nowhere near any of the company’s locations. Maybe they have no experience but come with a pretty face and nice sounding title. Needless to say, they’re all over the place. And you should probably pay attention for the sake of your own cybersecurity.

Thinking about making changes to your business? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

The Good News Is LinkedIn has Acted

In the first half of 2019, LinkedIn blocked nearly 22M fake accounts. Yes, that’s an M for Million, but it’s only 3% of the total # of users. LinkedIn has more the 645 M users. But, as anyone know who is active on LinkedIn knows, that number seems very low. According to LinkedIn, 98% of the fraudulent accounts were removed or blocked using the automated defenses put in place by the network, while the remaining accounts were spotted by people, according to GeekWire.

LinkedIn Imposters are hard to

Why Should You Care about LinkedIn Imposters?

There are two reasons that you should care. First, fake accounts get in the way of true networking. LinkedIn is an important tool for many people, especially in the professional services market. Fake accounts take up your valuable time as you need to sift through the phony requests to get the those which a relevant to your business. Fake accounts might boost your numbers, but they won’t help you gain more business. If you deal with business-to-business marketing and communication on LinkedIn, then you really need to be certain that you aren’t accidently falling for an imposter.

Second, LinkedIn, unlike Facebook and Twitter, are actually trying to take actions so these fake accounts don’t harm their credibility. We all know the number is higher than 3%, and we can be part of the solution. When you suspect as suspicious account, report it to LinkedIn. I know it’s an added step, but it might help ensure that less of your time is wasted in the future. Plus, you don’t want to become victim to a phishing scheme or something else disastrous. 

These are simple steps to take in order to protect yourself from problems in the future and for the safety of your business.

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

Online Reviews – Quantity over Quality?

Online Reviews

Online reviews matter for small businesses. Good reviews can take your business to another level, but bad reviews are expected to cripple a business. When it comes to online reviews, it may actually be quantity over quality according to a study by WomplyWomply found businesses with over 200 reviews earn twice as much as the average firm. 

Thinking about making changes to your business? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

What Is Womply?

Womply's information about online reviews is groundbreaking
Womply's information about online reviews is groundbreaking

Womply, a San Fransisco based small business software company, used data from more than 200,000 businesses across the country.  They found that roughly 4 out of 5 reviews are positive.  The shocking news was negative reviews didn’t necessarily mean a loss in revenue, and surprisingly, 5-star ratings didn’t necessarily yield more revenue.

Replying Is Key

Based on their research, the three most important things were: having more reviews, recent reviews, and frequent responses. What was surprising was that, according to Womply, businesses that have up to 50% negative reviews online earn nearly the same as the average business (20% negative).   Businesses that respond to more than 20% of their reviews earn over 40% more than those that don’t respond at all.  

Fears of Negative Online Reviews are Mostly Unfounded

Based on these data, it’s more important to interact with those who review you than it is for them to like you.  It seems odd, but that’s what the data say.  And, when you come to think of it, maybe it doesn’t.  It may just be human nature.  If someone took the time to write you a note, you’d probably take the time to reply.  People seem to respect that. 

 

A Bad Review is all it takes to hurt a business
A negative online review used to be scary, but now is something to deal with sensibly

We are often reluctant to ask for reviews out of fear of someone saying something negative, but these data show that those fears are mostly unfounded.  Reviews negative or positive provide an opportunity to improve your business and have a better handle on quality control. 

Other major findings...

      • Not all businesses are treated equally – if you’re a taxi driver, hotel, or in real estate, people can be harsh. 
      • Ignore your listings at your peril: Claiming your listings on at least 3 major sites can yield an extra $100K vs. the average business and $200K vs. those who ignore them. 
      • Google is king when it comes to Online Reviews, over  
      • Consumers spend a lot more at businesses (over 50%) that reply to reviews. 

The Smartest Tech for Small Businesses

Smart Tech Small Business

As small business owners, rarely do we have time to invest in researching new technologies. There are a lot of different kinds of technology out there to be aware of, and there are a number of things to be afraid of, too, when it comes to cybersecurityIn this post, we hope to help cut through the clutter and share with you the best, new smart tech that can save you money, boost sales, and improve service.

Thinking about making changes to your business? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

Smart Tech for Security

A smart security system can reduce your insurance premiums and help reduce theft or shrinkage, which is a major concern for many small businesses. 

Stopping Unauthorized Entry

SimpliSafe and Abode offer very affordable options that cover the basics, doors, windows, motion detectors, etc.  They provide instant alerts to your smartphone and can be integrated with local police.  

A smart lock can help you limit unauthorized access, especially if you have multiple people coming in and out. These systems only provide access when authorized and track entry and exit.  They can be activated by individual codes, cards, or keyless access. “Kwikset Kevo and Schlage Sense are two robust options.”

An example of Smart Tech, a Nest Camera

Reducing Risk 

Many smart tech devices can also protect from damage due to fire, leakage, and other costly accidental damage. They are easily integrable with your smartphone and local emergency departments such as fire, etc. 

Reduce Theft 

A new brand, Kogniz, offers facial recognition software which can help monitor employees and help identify shoplifters and other shady behavior and unsavory clientele. 

Smart Tech for Saving Money

Utility use is not a major driver for most businesses. But if you can save a few dollars here by cutting unnecessary costs, it can add up. 

Smart Thermostat 

A smart thermostat can help cut your energy costs.  You can have it learn your hours of operation and integrate motion sensors to adjust inrealtime to changes in the number of people in the space. 

Smart Lighting 

As with a smart thermostat, smart lighting can also reduce costs. A complete system of LED, sensors, and remote access can really improve both the efficiency of your workplace. This is especially important if you have flexible work hours or less or more access to natural lighting.  Phillips offers a great package, as does Lutron, Wiz, and others. 

Smart Tech in lighting is a major game changer

Smart Tech for Improving Service

There are two new ways that tech has really improved customer service.  These are digital assistants and chatbots, two A.I. based services. 

AI and Lending

Digital assistants 

The most useful role for digital assistants is to provide a more seamless way to schedule meetings, link e-mails, track calls, ensure follow-up, and make sure data are easily accessible.  They can also serve as a hub for all your smart devices.  The one risk is to read the fine print.  Some tech devices are nosier than you think.  You don’t want them eavesdropping on your conversations.

Chatbots 

When used properly, chatbots can be very effective and not off-putting. We all have had bad experiences with poorly executed chatbots.  While many will say chatbots can perform functions humans can, the truth is right now, they can’t.  Don’t waste your time trying.  These are best used when there are simple FAQs that help get people to the right information quickly. 

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

Half of Small Business Owners Worry About Money. Why?

If you worry about money, your business may suffer

Business owners come to us often with a fear that a lot of people have: do I have enough money? Either living paycheck to paycheck or having to take out loans, businesses worry about the amounts of money they have on hand.

A recent study from DaySmart Software reported the #1 worry for US small business owners is making enough money. We’ve highlighted this topic before in our post, “How Not to Live Paycheck to Paycheck when Running a Successful Small Business”. We’ve discussed how to manage costs and not waste money, but thought that we would speak about it again. Because to us, it is clear that this is keeping small business owners up at night.

Money worries can cripple businesses

Feeling like your business isn’t going the right way? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

Using Technology to Manage Day to Day Tasks Seems to Help

Being worried about money can hurt small businesses

Going digital vs. manual is one approach offered to quash your money worries. Remember, this research was sponsored by a software company, but the general technology trends are arguably valid. The adoption of software to help with business management tended to do better than those that did not. Some of the reasons offered were reducing manual labor over paperwork, increased customer satisfaction, and more time.

In Which Technologies Are Business Owners Investing?

The simple answer is operations. The second is in marketing. The final is in digital security. All three are sound investments. Simplifying operations by using a simple POS system is much better than manually managing a cash drawer. Automating invoicing and accounting makes a ton of sense. Automating social media is another way to save time and money. Even automating some marketing functions such as e-mail drip campaigns and the like are also time savers. As we mentioned before, security threats are real and are focusing more on small businesses where hackers believe security is laxer.

What’s Holding Business Owners Back From Their Money Worries?

The main barriers to faster adoption are money, lack of expertise, confusion over the right tools, and security threats. Just Google one of these services and it’s clear why business owners are confused. There are a dizzying array of options. The key takeaway from this survey is that business owners are worried about money. Technology can help alleviate that worry somewhat, but we need help to know what would work best to keep on growing as a company.

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

The Unfortunate Truth of E-Commerce Failures

e-commerce failures

Technology has been changing business for a long time now, but recent developments are particularly groundbreaking. A new survey from MarketingSignals reported that the unfortunate truth about e-commerce businesses is, 90% fail within the first 4 months of starting up. In contrast, the survival rate of the first YEAR for brick and mortar stores is 78% according to the Small Business Administration. In other words, almost 8 times more brick and mortar stores live to see their first birthday than e-commerce sites do. Let’s identify why there are so many E-Commerce failures.

Your business is doing well. But what’s next? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

Why Is There SUCH a Stark Difference?

One word. Marketing. According to MarketingSignals, “Poor online marketing performance coupled with an overall lack of search engine visibility [was the reason for market failure].” In simple English, if people don’t know you exist, how can they buy from you?

E-Commerce businesses are vast but fail at a rate larger than normal commerce businesses

It’s probably fair to assume that most people don’t think all you need to do is put an e-commerce plug-in on your website, and you’re golden, but few probably realize the amount of effort and resources (time and/or money) required in order to be successful. The survey points this out.

What Causes E-Commerce Failures?

Nearly 4 out of 10 new businesses failed because of poor online marketing. When you look across the top 10 reasons for e-commerce failure, the top 6 are all marketing related.

The top ten reasons why e-commerce startups end in failure:

1. Poor online marketing – 37%

2. Lack of online search visibility – 35%

3. Little to no market for their products or services – 35%

4. Running out of cash – 32%

5. Price and cost issues – 29%

6. Got outcompeted – 23%

7. Retail giants dominating a large share of the market – 19%

8. Lack of customer service – 16%

9. A poor team – 14%

10. Product mistiming – 11%

How to Avoid E-Commerce Failure

We have outlined before the ways that you can develop a successful marketing plan that won’t break the bank.

“Many tools can be used to increase their [businesses] brand awareness and search visibility in their first few days and weeks, where consumer trust and loyalty hasn’t yet been established.”

Marketing Signals

Unfortunately, they weren’t as forthcoming as to say where. We’re not surprised. In fact, our experience has been that there are no quick fixes. You need to be careful. It’s very easy to get ripped off if you don’t know what you are buying. In our post, “Google Small Business Portal – Marketing Gimmick or Value-Add”, we show how even large companies are willing to take your money.

E-Commerce relies on maintaining a customer base that keeps coming back to your website, which is helped by having a good marketing program

In the end, we found you really do have to put in the hard work. You need to educate yourself on the fundamentals of digital marketing. You can find some great courses offered through SCORE or the SBA. We highly recommend you take a least one of them before you start your business. You might want to consider a mentor or hiring an agency or a consultant to help.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither will your e-commerce business. However, you can put in the work, find the right support, and avoid the scammers to be one of the E-Commerce success stories instead of an E-Commerce failure.

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

How A.I. is Transforming Business Lending

AI and Lending

The rise of Artificial Intelligence has completely shifted all forms of business practices. Specifically, A.I. is transforming small business lending in ways both positive and negative. On the positive side, it helps detect fraud, increases the speed of underwriting, and levels the playing field somewhat. On the negative side, A.I. loan monitoring can be both a blessing and a curse. So, it is wise to be aware of what these changes mean to your small business.

Your business is doing well. But what’s next? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

Funding is One of the Biggest Pain Points for Small Businesses

As we’ve said in multiple posts, small to medium size businesses employ nearly ½ of the nation’s workforce, but the sector is often overlooked. Whether it’s healthcare, retirement, or taxes, small businesses rarely have the advantages that big businesses do.

Funding is no exception. Small to medium-sized businesses often struggle with traditional lenders. Traditional lenders make the most money on big loans. Microloans and SBA loans are not their main focus. While SBA loans are hands-down the best option for small to medium-sized businesses, the application process is slow and cumbersome. We’ve discussed these challenges before, but digital lending may help alleviate some of these challenges.

Fraud Detection

Machine learning allows for better fraud monitoring

When it comes to small business lending, underwriters are always concerned about fraud. A.I. has vastly improved the fraud detection process with algorithms based on credit-bureau data, ID verification systems, and numerous other data sources. These algorithms provide a predictive probability of fraud, which can immediately flag risky applications. Thereby, it speeds the process along.

Somewhat Leveler Playing Field

The traditional lending process is laden with bias. Both gender and racial biases are well-documented. A.I. has the potential to lessen these biases, but its track record so far is a bit mixed.

That said, the A.I. models do use a significantly larger data set to help paint a more detailed picture of creditworthiness. This does helps avoid the Paydex paradox. In other words, you need a load to gain sufficient credit history, but how can you do that if you’ve never had one. It’s the “insufficient credit history” trap. While A.I. doesn’t eliminate all bias, it does help to level the playing field somewhat.

Hands-Down, A.I. has Dramatically Improved Efficiency

The best time to ask for capital is when you don’t need it, but few small businesses have that luxury. Historically, the review process for larger loans can take weeks at best, months at worst. Not to mention, the time it takes to collect and provide all the necessary documents and follow-up questions. Even if you didn’t need the capital at first, you could be in more dire straits by the time the process ends.

A.I. has made programs more efficient

The best time to ask for capital is when you don’t need it, but few small businesses have that luxury. Historically, the review process for larger loans can take weeks at best, months at worst. Not to mention, the time it takes to collect and provide all the necessary documents and follow-up questions. Even if you didn’t need the capital at first, you could be in more dire straits by the time the process ends.

A.I. solves this issue with its predictive models. These models dramatically streamline the underwriting process. The model can quickly provide eligibility parameters in hours vs. weeks. Thereby, it makes the process simpler for everyone.

Improved Loan Monitoring Through A.I.

This helps the banks, but not necessarily the small business borrower. However, this is the price we pay for the benefits above. Since lenders now have access to all this data, tracking your business is much easier. Those same A.I. models that were trained to improve fraud detection, level the playing somewhat, and speed things along, also were trained to predict default.

This is where a dose of caution is worthwhile. While improved loan monitoring does make small business lending less risky and more profitable for the bank, it does make it a bit more risky for the borrower. Lenders are a conservative lot. Therefore, given any mixed data, they are likely to interpret it more negatively. So, while you may think the business is fine, the A.I. model may not. It could be much harder in the future to secure a small business loan.

On the whole, the changes to small business lending due to A.I. are mostly positive, but with any new tool, it helps to understand how it can be used for you and against you.

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

Use Social Media to Improve Small Business Customer Service

social media customer service

Social media interactions can make or break a small business. So, here are some simple ways to use social media effectively to improve customer service in your small business. If you are looking for help, please contact us for more information.

Unsure of how to take your business from good to great? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

Customers Expect a Quick Response

For instance, ½ of Twitter users expect a response within an hour, a recent study reported. 4 out of 10 Facebook users expect the same. Therefore, timely responses are key. Importantly, if you wait more than an hour, you risk disappointing a large portion of your customers. As a result, your small business customer service suffers. Because social media is so immediate, it can help to improve small business customer service greatly.

First, Using Social Media to Improve Customer Service Response Times

Where Social Media Chatbots can Help Customer Service

When a customer sends you a message, it’s important to address it quickly. Often, people use Facebook Messenger or Twitter, and they expect a response within an hour. That’s why chatbots are so important. It’s relatively simple to set up a frequently asked question trigger. The chatbot can use these triggers to help deliver a timely response. For example, if your business often gets questions about your services, the chatbot can deliver custom responses based on a generic term “services” or “what do you do”.  In addition, they can be triggered off of a specific service item.

Chatbots are a Quick Fix not a Solution

This approach can be used across a number of simple questions. However, if the question is more complex for instance, you should program the bot to have a live operator take over. Chatbots are good, but the can seem fake. If relied on too heavily, they can do more harm than good.

Second, Don’t Argue. You Won’t Win

As Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high.”. Always keep your head. Regardless of how insulting or false a review may be, always take the high road. As tempting as it may be to take the Donald Trump approach, it rarely succeeds. For example, it can make you look petty, vindictive, and defensive. While it may grab people’s attention, the potential damage to your brand is significant.

Use Social Media to Bridge to Your Benefits

Instead, think of it as an opportunity to re-sell your benefits. So, if someone didn’t like what you did, ask them why. Importantly, it makes them feel heard and defuses the situation. Also, you may learn something new. If you can solve their problem, awesome. For instance, they may edit their review, or at least take the sting out of the original. Finally, every comment allows you to repeat your benefits.

An Example Interaction of How Social Media can Improve Customer Service

For example, let’s consider this interaction:

User: Product X sucks! It’s a waste of money! Don’t use it!

You: I’m sorry that you had a bad experience. Might you tell us why you feel this way?

User: It’s so complicated to use. I spent 30 minutes trying to make it work, and it’s still not running. I wasted $X on something I can’t use.

You: Typically, each box contains a step-by-step guide. Attached is a copy in case yours was missing. We’d be happy to set up a time to walk you through it. When it is set up properly, we believe Product X can provide [benefit], and we want to make sure it’s doing that for you.

User: Thanks! I never saw the guide. This is much clearer.

User: I used the guide and got it to work in 5 minutes. This was awesome. 

You: We’re thrilled that…[repeat benefit]

Avoiding a Bad Review

These interactions are critical. They not only affect your ratings and search engine rankings but also help your brand and reputation. Therefore, it’s important to be friendly, empathetic, and human. More importantly, if the bot is chatting, it has to sound human and not artificial. Otherwise, even the best responses can sound canned. As a result, even if it resolved the customer’s problem, they are less likely to react as positively as you would like.

Lastly, Utilize User Groups as a Social Media Tactic to Improve Customer Service

A user community can be very helpful in providing a balanced response from multiple sources. For instance, members have a way of self-policing other members. Also, they can provide supporting and independent points of view. You will need to set guidelines and have a bot filter, but they are worth the effort. Finally, having a moderator can help ensure that the group runs smoothly.

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.

Google Small Business Portal: Gimmick or Value-Add?

Google Small Business Portal

In June 2019, Google launched the Google Small Business Portal.  We were intrigued by it, so we gave it a try.  Here’s what we learned.

Thinking about making changes to your business? ProStrategix knows how to help. Read some of our other articles below, or feel free to connect with us and get a complimentary thirty-minute consulting session.

What is it?

This quote from Anthony Ha from Techcrunch sums it up well.

So, on the new site, they can enter their company name and website (assuming they have one), then answer a few questions about their business and their goals. Google will then create a customized, prioritized list of actions, which may involve launching ad campaigns, or building up their online presence, or installing Google Analytics.

Techcrunch

Is it a Gimmick of Value Add?

The truth is, it is both. Here is a quick slide show of what it looks like:

Regardless of the options we chose, we wound up with the same recommendations. 

Google Small Business Portal Value-Adds

Google Analytics is definitely a value-add for any small business. It can be a very powerful tool if you have the time to learn it and use it. G-Suite is both a value ad and a gimmick. It depends on your business. If all you need are the basics, G-Suite is awesome. If you need more powerful tools, G-Suite is the poor man’s substitute to Microsoft, in our opinion.

Google Small Business Portal Gimmicks

There is a static flow that you need to follow if you want to get all the suggestions. In other words, when we tried it, if we didn’t sign up for G-Suite, we couldn’t go any further than the first page. As we mentioned, G-Suite is great, but it’s just not great for us. The next step was Google Ads, which is definitely a gimmick. While search advertising can be very useful, it’s not always right for everyone. If you’re a small business, you’re likely not going to rank highly, and therefore will have to pay more per click. While $1-2/click doesn’t sound that bad, if only 2% (industry average) actually convert, you will be paying $50-$100/lead.

Should you use Google Small Business Portal?

If you are Ok with what G-Suite provides and want to explore or can afford search advertising, it’s a very user-friendly guide to Google’s products. However, if you don’t necessarily want to spend money on Google’s products, you won’t get very far in the guide. Given Google Small Business Portal’s forced path, we are luke-warm about it. The hype was much better than the actual experience.

However, as a small business, the Google Small Business Portal may help you raise brand awareness, which was on the “4 Simple Steps to Write a Successful Marketing Plan

At ProStrategix, we know you have concerns.  We’re designed to help give you the business support you need so you can focus on doing what you love.  If you would like to learn about how we might be able to help you, please contact us.