Business Emergency Preparedness Checklist You Should Uphold

In the event of an emergency, businesses and people alike are affected. If you have been looking to sustain your business without the risk of getting into losses during an emergency, you need to understand some of the procedures that assist you to protect the business as well as facilitate recovery from the disaster. Preparedness is the key to ensuring you get complete control over the frustrations that emanate from disasters. You need to put in place plans that will not only help your employees, but also the business to stay afloat in the period after the disaster. Here are few guidelines that can help you manage your business in the face of disasters.

Understand the most likely disaster in your region

To make adequate preparation, you need to understand the emergencies that are likely to occur within your region so as to act accordingly. Find out the disasters that have occurred in the past and the impact these emergencies had on businesses as well as residents. Reviewing hazard vulnerability is necessary to help you come up with a defense mechanism that is suitable for the kind of disaster you have identified.

Who to contact when emergencies occur

To respond to disaster, you might need technical assistance, so it is also good to keep a list of contacts to reach in case an emergency occurs. These are people who are trained and prepared enough to help you deal with the emergency whenever it erupts by coming in with the required technical input. Some of the options you have in this case include the locate state police, emergency and medical services department, fire department, the emergency management office of the local government, electric and gas companies, and local red cross chapter. Keep contacts of at least three of these organizations.

Continuity operations

After the emergency, regardless of the damage that would have happened, you would also like to have business continuity. This cannot be possible when there is not enough preparedness to handle the aftermath of the disaster, so while drafting a preparedness report also make sure to include plans about continuity of operations. You need to identify staff to carry out the continuity operations and if you have information stored you need to know how to back it up so you are able to retrieve important files that would help to facilitate a continuity of the business after the disaster.

Acquire necessary emergency response tools

To also ensure you take part in thwarting the effects of the emergency, you need to have the right tools. Get tools that will help your business deal with the emergency to restore operations. One of the suppliers that can help you in this case is My Patriot Supply. The company stocks all kinds of emergency supplies and will even go ahead to offer you instructions on how to work with some of the equipment. Also remember to work on training your employees so they are able to understand how to work on reviving the business during an emergency.

How Customer Feedback Facilitates Growth for SaaS Startups

The technology industry is – without a doubt – fiercely competitive. This is especially true for startups that offer Software as a Service (SaaS) as their survival obligates them to meet demands of constant innovation, adaptability and customer satisfaction. Consequently, these businesses must know how to successfully exploit new opportunities for growth as well as deliver an exceptional customer experience.

Kees Wolters, Mopinion Co-Founder and Managing Partner: “At Mopinion we help digital teams (at startups, medium- and enterprise businesses alike) make sense of customer feedback from their websites and mobile apps and turn it into real-time insights. These insights can reveal how your business is performing, for example, in terms of digital content, online sales funnels, user experience and customer loyalty.

As a fellow SaaS company, Mopinion very familiar with all the ins and outs of making a product successful and maintaining a certain level of innovation, while simultaneously meeting the needs of current and future customers. We are seeing a sizable increase in popularity of customer feedback solutions among both SaaS startups and scale-ups and expect to see this growth continue further in the future.”

A unique online customer journey

If we look at the online customer journey, SaaS startups have a slightly different ‘itinerary’ from other industries. This is mainly attributed to the fact that SaaS is more complex in terms of use. In order to capture the right insights, startups must focus on several Moments of Truth (MoT) along the journey. MoTs are impressionable moments when the customer interacts with a brand. The impression the customer gets can have a lot of influence on how/if the customer moves forward in the journey.

Helps optimise website content

Website content largely defines the success of a startup. It must be clear and effective in reeling in your customers.

Take your value proposition, for example. Your value proposition is the primary reason your prospect should choose your software. And for obvious reasons this proposition should be communicated clearly on your website for those who are scanning for different solutions and are unfamiliar with your brand. Using feedback, you can gain first-hand insights into what your visitors think of your content and how it can be improved to achieve more clarity.

Website content also encompasses components such as product descriptions, videos, and images. How many times have you still had some unanswered questions after researching a product or service on a website? This lack of information leaves customers in a kind of limbo. And when they cannot get the answers they’re looking for, it’s likely they’ll start searching elsewhere. This is a great opportunity to collect feedback from ‘confused’ customers and see where they are struggling. Subsequently this feedback can serve as guide for restructuring this content.

A time-saving and cost-effective alternative to having a customer service team on staff is the application of online support services. Online support has become very popular among SaaS businesses considering the fact that if more visitors or customers are helped and given service online using these support tools and valuable product content, the more money you can save on building up service and support teams. Online support services often include pages such as forums, online communities, FAQs, instructions and E-manuals. The clarity and helpfulness of these pages can be gauged using a simple feedback question: Was this helpful?

Improves the onboarding process

While website content and the initial phases of the online customer journey (including awareness, consideration and preference) are very important, what really sets the SaaS industry part is what happens after the trial sign up or purchase. This is considered the onboarding phase.

This is an important and delicate MoT because this is essentially when your customer makes their first acquaintance with your service. Should the customer be confused, overwhelmed with instructions or unable to find what they’re looking for in this stage, it’s up to the business to make sure any issues are resolved in a prompt and fluid manner – otherwise it can be detrimental to growth.

Activity-based feedback is a smart strategy for collecting feedback in this phase. For example, many SaaS companies utilise a step-by-step onboarding process to get the user set up. Should something go wrong during any of these steps, your company can initiate feedback triggers based on visitor behaviour (e.g. exit intent, time on the page or mouse movement). This allows you to capture insights regarding customers who are struggling to move forward in the process.

Plays a role in product development

As previously mentioned, constant innovation is compulsory for SaaS startups that have intentions of ‘sticking around’. To maintain a competitive level of innovation, an iterative approach is often required. In terms of product development (and according to the Lean Start-Up methodology), this approach translates to making constant product improvements by applying short feedback cycles before and during product development.

With these cycles, SaaS companies can test out new models of products using feedback from customers, buyers and partners. The feedback is then used to make additional improvements and enhance the product.

Measure and boost customer loyalty

Bringing in new customers can be a difficult task for startups, which is why a great deal of focus should be placed on retaining actual customers. Customer churn, for example, is a widespread issue among many SaaS companies. There are several factors that are pulling customers away including the high level of competition, which often involves aggressive pricing strategies from many low wage countries as well as the high chance that new features will be copied by competitors.

To manage this, it’s important to know where you stand with your customers. How content are they with your product or service? Would they go so far as to recommend you to a friend? These are the insights businesses need to foster strong relationships with their customers.

Using loyalty metrics in feedback forms, such as Net Promoter Score (NPS), companies can learn a lot about their customers and gauge how they regard your brand and its services. But it’s important to keep in mind that this metric is not as important as the actions you take to improve the overall customer experience – that is the true differentiator. Responding to or resolving what arises within feedback results can also be used to make the journey more personal as it makes the customer feel ‘heard’. Follow ups are especially feasible for startups with lower levels of traffic and customers.

Harnessing the right data to create valuable change

There are countless startups that have already chosen to collect feedback – a feat which can be applauded. However, the real challenge is making sense of the data and creating valuable change.

Considering much of the feedback businesses collect often comes in large numbers, dashboard analyses are particularly helpful. Dashboards can help the user visualise feedback all at once, making it easier to identify trends. And for a closer look at what is driving these trends (in other words identifying the root cause), users can hone in on particular items and see where things are going right or wrong.

Once the data has been analysed, coming up with a plan of action must not be forgotten. Where do you go from here and who should be involved in making sure things go as planned? These last steps (analysing and actioning feedback) are the crux of the whole process.

What impact will customer feedback have on SaaS startups?

Many startups currently put the height of their focus on the success of the product itself – in other words, adding more features and updating existing features. But how does this help them maintain customer loyalty? And better yet, how will they know if their developments are actually meeting the needs of their customers?

This is why customer experience (and therefore adopting a customer feedback programme) is seen as a key differentiator for SaaS startups. Having a deeper understanding of customer expectations will give you a huge competitive advantage. Feedback will also put you in a better position to maintain customer loyalty ass it provides you with the knowledge needed to keep your customers satisfied and coming back.

A Synopsis of Customer Feedback

Customer feedback is a critical component for SaaS startups that can be applied in various ways across the online customer journey. It enables these businesses to optimise the journey for customers who experience issues during the most critical MoTs for SaaS companies: purchasing, onboarding and post-purchase.

What comes next is equally as important – analysing and actioning these insights. Analysing feedback starts with performing root cause analyses on a regular basis to discover the origin of issues. And in order to alleviate these issues efficiently, it’s important to have the right team members involved to ensure a smooth transition from insights to action. The last step in the process is to ‘close the loop’ or follow up on the feedback. This is a surefire way to positively influence customer retention and satisfaction.

Measure the customer experience continuously. In an evolving industry that demands constant development and emerging innovations, a lot of things are changing. This is why it’s critical to consistently measure customer experience and evaluate both your performance and the satisfaction of your customers. This is the best way to achieve continuous growth.

About Kees Wolters, Mopinion

Kees Wolters, is co-founder at Mopinion, has a background in digital marketing, web development and design. He has worked for both large enterprises, such as Philips, as well as smaller web agencies. With this experience under his belt, he ultimately started up his own web and mobile app development agency with two former colleagues. A wise decision, as it led him and his team to discovering the importance of user and customer feedback and subsequently the development of their own platform – Mopinion. After taking off in its first year and signing on some major clients, Mopinion is now one of the fastest growing companies in the digital customer experience space.


Online Reputation: Why Should You Care?

The internet is a realm of opportunities. Businesses go online to expand their markets. Business owners are still rushing to claim their piece of the online real estate pie in a digital village. Just like an offline store, it takes significant resources to get your online presence to a profitable level.

Online reputation refers to the goodwill your business or brand enjoys online. A good online image encourages customers to interact with you. This leads to increased sales. Bad reviews and a general negative online image can adversely affect your business. Online reputation management involves monitoring your online image with the aim of improving your standing among competitors. It ensures that people find useful and positive content about your business.

 

How Does Your Online Reputation Go Bad?

Your online storefront is open to everyone with internet access. Negative content could affect your business. Your employees could post embarrassing photos on your social media pages. Unhappy customers may attack your products and brands with negative reviews. Your competitors may pay for negative marketing strategies and online content that tells a different story.

Disgruntled or fired employees may want to get back at you by posting negative opinions online. Additionally, you may have failed to update your online content. This might make it misleading. Similarly, it may be a case of miscommunication on your part. In other instances, frivolous matters from a distant past may come back to haunt you. For example, details of a past dismissed lawsuit could come back to dominate your online conversations.

 

The Importance of Reputation Monitoring

survey sponsored by GE Capital shows that majority of customers research a business online before purchasing from them. This means bad reviews can change their purchase decisions. Reputation management ensures people find the right information about your business.

It also increases brand loyalty. Consistently engaging people empowers them to identify with your brand. It is easier to maintain a positive image than it is to repair negative online reputation. Reputation monitoring helps you engage your target audience better. You can use the insightful feedback received to guide business policy.

Reputation monitoring enables you to discover new platforms and channels where people may be talking about your business. It helps you identify and correct misleading information in time. This puts you back in control of your online conversations.

 

Tips To Improve Your Online Reputation

These tips aim at countering or eliminating harmful content online. This is by proactively building positive content. It enhances your good standing and credibility as well as customer’s confidence. Some of the things you can do include:

  • Create strong, positive, and accurate online content. Tell your story.
  • Use platforms where you can directly control the conversation. This includes your websites and social media platforms.
  • Decide when to respond to detractors. Silence may be the best answer to some specific situations.
  • Monitor where sensitive personal details are posted. Avoid populating people-search sites. Do not use services that are likely to resell your data.
  • Do not open the negative links. Similarly, don’t promote them by sharing the information or word of mouth.
  • The internet never forgets. Assume everything you or your associates post online will be available to the world permanently.
  • Develop a consistent strategy to counter harmful content timely and effectively.
  • Provide interactive spaces where customers can engage with you. Use incentives such as discounts to encourage positive reviews from your customers.

It is important to decide early when to work with reputable online reputation management experts. This helps you avoid pitfalls where the result is the same as the beginning. Protect your business by engaging professionals to help you repair and improve your online reputation. Aaron Minc is a renowned attorney and online reputation defender. He offers practical tactics to effectively deal with online defamation, cyber-attacks, and harmful content.

What Are The Benefits Of Hiring A Consultant For Your Business?

Business consulting is a field that has continued to gain application, especially with the growth of technology. New methods of developing a business have popped up and it has become easier to manage challenges with the ideas that are shared by experts. You might be grappling with the idea of hiring a business consultant but cannot find a reason to do it because you think your business is doing well and for some reason you don’t foresee any challenges. If that is the case, then you might want to reconsider your position because there are endless reasons why you need an expert to help you.

Cut costs while enhancing efficiency

One of the things you need to do while nurturing a business is to cut costs and achieve higher efficiency while doing so. This is not easy to fathom especially if you don’t have a deep background in business. The only way you could understand how to optimize your business to reduce costs while raising efficiency is if you can work with an experienced consultant in that area. Consulting, basically, will save you money in the long run that you could have spent to pay for services you don’t need in the first place.

Make the most of your resources

Having limited resources is not an impediment if you know how to optimize your business to use these resources to the maximum benefit of the business. A consultant is someone who can spot opportunities you are not aware of that can help your business to achieve growth using the little resources available. Make the most of what is available by choosing effective ways of doing things that will allow you to push your business to its extremes. Consultants like Charles Lubbat think outside the box and their input could raise the performance of your business.

Get the most effective strategy for your buck

You also don’t want to spend a lot on strategies that have no proven results or the potential to take your business to the next level. Since there are many options to go for, especially when it comes to marketing, you could get confused about which strategy to pick for your business. This is where the support of a business consultant comes in handy as this is an expert who can easily separate working strategies from ones that will only eat up on your budget. Don’t pour money into a process that has not been authenticated by an expert yet.

Do you have an effective marketing plan?

Without marketing, you cannot reach the target audience that can help your business to achieve its goals. However, choosing an effective marketing strategy is a problem in itself that you have to hand over to an expert who is able to advice on what your business needs to succeed. Choosing the right marketing plan allows you to use your resources in the best way and you can push your business to grow within a short period of time.

Benefits of Embracing Test Case Management

Every business aspires to make progress and with this progress earn profits. But this is often derailed by the lack of reliable tools that can make the production process smooth. Software companies need to automate tests so they are able to get information about the products they build. Having a clear timeline of the processes that are needed eliminates time wastage and leads to the development of bug-free applications. Managers who have large teams find it challenging to understand test cases when they opt to pursue every detail manually, but with a test management system, all data needed is shared through a platform that gives a representation of the achievements each developer has made.

Agile planning an execution

A good example of tools that can be used to improve the relationship between teams is using the QASymphony test case management tool, which brings together agile teams including testers, developers, and managers to collaborate to address high-priority issues raised by customers. This is not often the case in many production processes and if such a decision has to be reached it takes a lot of time to resolve the problems noted. Coming together in one system ensures accurate answers are given to settle the problems at hand so production can proceed with a focus on producing high-quality software.

Test scheduling automation

Manual test methods are time consuming and tedious. They are also prone to errors, so managers need to come up with automation processes that can allow them to easily observe the development process. Many test case management tools allow you to schedule testing and automate the processes so you are able to receive relevant information whenever needed. For example, you should be receiving messages about errors lodged into the system so you can take the most appropriate action to speed up development. Automation means you don’t need to perform manual test runs, all you need is to adjust your settings and the system will give you a report of what is happening in the production process in real-time.

Better control features

Working with teams is a perfect idea, but how these teams are able to handle different processes is what determines if you are doing what is expected of you to come up with superior products. Test case management tools allow you to control of who does what based on the metrics recorded about the performance of each individual. It helps you to assign the right individuals to handle the right roles.

Intelligent error detection process

Error detection and handling is a vital process that every manager should include in the management of production. Making software is different from producing other types of products because you need to observe for the occurrence of errors. Even the slightest mistake in the development process could affect the final product and this is why having a test case management system is necessary so errors are lodged immediately they are detected. You are assured to move from one step to the other without carrying defects along and this leads to the development of high quality software.

What Are The Benefits Of Corporate Philanthropy?

Corporate philanthropy is a case where businesses take action to improve the communities around them and society in general. This could include donations of things like medical equipment to nearby hospitals, supporting the nurturing of talent, offering support to educational programs that benefit the community and fundraising for a good cause. Businesses that engage in corporate philanthropy enjoy several advantages that stem from their actions to the communities. Below are some of the advantages a business can get for supporting the community through philanthropy.

Support from the community and market creation
Offering support to projects that help the community to achieve different goals brings people closer to the business and creates a positive relationship between the two. The community is made to feel part of the business due to the inclusion brought by these philanthropic projects. Therefore, they will always respond by giving support to the products sold by the company, which translates to market creation. Businesses that invest in nearby communities boost their sales and are guaranteed to have a stronger base of customers. Additionally, offering support to communities leads to greater economic success, so with the purchasing power earned they are able to contribute to the growth of the business.

More confidence in the business
Philanthropy convinces the communities targeted that they are considered a vital part of the business, and in this spirit, they feel more secure using the products offered by the business. Therefore, giving to the society helps by allowing the company to enjoy more support in whatever products it sells. It creates a market and reinforces the support received from the communities. In a market where there are many competing businesses, this is one of the ways a business can create an image for itself.

Market development through reputation
As River Cohen cites, reputation can make or break a business. A good reputation is cultivated and this means spending both on refining products as well as buying the trust of the market through things like philanthropy. To develop a market, a company can come up with philanthropic projects that help by raising its reputation and trust among buyers and the market in general. It is the easiest way to beat competition and to reiterate the mission statement of a business by touching on values the community considers vital for its growth and prosperity.

However, despite the benefits that come with corporate philanthropy, there are things that businesses should beware of to avoid plunging into a crisis. First, supporting philanthropic projects is time consuming and costly. The business has to also make huge decisions every day, which could interfere with its operations if the process is not monitored well. Excessive focus on philanthropy could hamper the goals set by the business, which in turn could delay the implementation of vital projects that can enhance growth. Ensure you have a set plan that should be followed while running philanthropic projects and the business will reap the benefits that come with giving back to the society.