2018 is shaping up to be a good year for productivity. Faster than ever before, business processes across industries are being simplified by cloud-based applications and software. This new wave of technology is affordable, easily accessed, and designed with ease of use in mind.
Businesses of any size, in just about every industry stand to reap the benefits of this technology—without the right tools at your disposal, your business is likely wasting money and billable hours on tasks that have been streamlined by cloud-based apps. Otherwise grueling tasks like email, phone calls, paperwork, and bottlenecked communication are a breeze with the right technology.
We’re here to guide you through six essential tools businesses can’t afford to overlook. Each is tailored to a specific task and when combined, will make your day-to-day operations faster, easier, and they just might save you some money along the way.
1. A cloud-based phone system
We know there’s no such thing as an “average day” in business. Some are short, most are long, but there’s one constant: the phone. It’ll always be there, and using the wrong phone system system will eat up your time and money.
Enter the cloud-based phone system: Affordable, free of contracts, and packed with features perfect for optimizing a business’s phone communications. Using VoIP technology, a cloud phone system puts your firm’s phone calls wherever there’s an Internet connection. But that’s not all:
- Route calls to any of your devices at your convenience, or even an answering service—we’ll discuss that further in just a moment.
- Access voicemails and call recordings from your email, where they can be downloaded and shared easily—essential for keeping track of messages and client information
- Assign an extension to each user, so callers quickly reach exactly who they need
- Set up your system in minutes. There’s no hardware required, which means no costly maintenance, which means a smaller bottom line on your phone bill.
Cloud phone systems (like Tresta!) feature local and toll-free numbers, allowing you to tailor your business’s appearance to appeal to the widest range of potential clients. Don’t forget: 75% of people think that calling is the most effective way to get a quick response—are you equipped to answer?
2. A dedicated answering service
The fact of the matter is this: there simply isn’t time to answer every phone call. However, it’s certainly in your best interest to try: 80% of callers to a business won’t leave a voicemail and won’t call back if their first call isn’t answered.
This leaves little time for phone tag with potential clients. If you don’t answer their call, someone else will. This is precisely why a 24/7 answering service is there to pick up the slack when you’re busy. With an answering service, any calls you don’t have time to answer are picked up by experienced agents who are trained to deliver the experience of an in-house receptionist at a fraction of the cost.
Agents follow a customized script which allows them to answer frequently asked questions, take messages and contact information, and just about anything else you need. Each call is recorded and followed by a detailed report sent to you so you don’t miss any information, no matter how busy you are.
It’s important to note that not all answering services are designed to work with certain types of businesses. When weighing the options, look for these details:
- -Prior experience taking calls for a business like yours
- -24/7 availability
- -Bilingual services
- -The ability to integrate with software you have in place, such as tools for appointment scheduling, order processing, or a CRM
Pro-tip: If paired with a cloud-based phone system like Tresta, calls can be scheduled to your mobile phone during the day, then to the answering service on nights, weekends, or even during your lunch break.
3. Everyone’s favorite—a live-chat function
People love the option to chat in real time from a business’s website. It’s proven to improve a visitor’s perception of a company and lead to an overall more satisfied client. In fact, a survey by eMarketer found that 63% of respondents were more likely to return to a site where they’d used a chat function like LiveChat. The reasons for this are fairly clear: It’s convenient. It allows potential clients to multitask. Possibly the most important, however, is this: it’s much easier than making a phone call.
While researching and considering options, a visitor to your website might have a question about your service that they don’t think is worth picking up the phone to ask. At that point, there are two options: they continue browsing your site and their question remains unanswered, or they quickly open your website’s chat box and talk to a member of your team. Their question is answered quickly, allowing you to immediately communicate your expertise and stand out to the potential client.
4. Intuitive CRM
This one’s a no-brainer. The right management software, like what’s offered by Salesforce, HubSpot, or Zoho, streamlines all of the time-consuming administrative tasks associated with every new client, saving you time and keeping you organized.
The top CRM providers can do just about anything that gives you a clearer insight regarding your client relationships. They’ll notify you when a major potential client browses your sight or opens your email. They’ll analyze your market and help segment your customers, assign reps, and make the most of your territory. Analytics tools let you visualize and plan sales forecasts, for a realistic and actionable plan for the present and future. This is barely the tip of the iceberg, however. If you’ve steered clear of CRMs in the past thinking they can’t help your business, now’s the time to think again.
Don’t forget, some (not all!) answering services can integrate with your CRM software of choice, so your records stay current no matter where you are.
5. Content management and file sharing
Imagine the classic dusty yellow filing cabinet.
Pretty unimpressive, isn’t it?
Now imagine that it’s inside your computer and can securely store a limitless amount of files you can easily organize, find, download, and share with anyone.
With cloud-based file storage applications like the aptly-titled Box, all of your documents are organized and accessible with just a few clicks. Storage apps like these are super easy to use and backed by state of the art security measures, so there are no privacy issues to consider when it comes to sensitive information.
6. Simplified Internal Communications
The right tool for internal communications likely won’t eliminate the need for internal emails, but it’ll certainly stave off that feeling of dread that inevitably follows opening your inbox in the morning.
Apps like Slack are perfect for larger teams or ones that include members working from different locations. Organize your team into channels based on departments, specific projects, or anything else for which you’d need a designated space to communicate. Send instant messages, photos, documents, and more from your computer or mobile phone.
It’s quicker and more convenient than sending an email, and leaves just a little more space in everyone’s email inbox for whatever else they have going on.
There you have it. Six tools you might not have heard of that are affordable, easy to use, and work together to keep your practice organized and productive. Each is powerful on their own, but when combined, form a seamless unit designed to save you time and allow you to focus on what matters.
- Tresta – Route your calls anywhere you want them with a cloud-based phone system
- PATLive – Save time by letting expertly-trained agents answer calls while you’re busy
- LiveChat – Impress potential clients by answering their questions in real-time from your website
- CRM- Keep every client, file, and contact organized—or let your answering service handle it for you!
- Box – Eliminate paperwork headaches by organizing every document and file securely in the cloud
- Slack – Simplify internal communications and make some space in your inbox by instantly sharing messages and files with your team from anywhere
Who is PATLive?
PATLive is a live answering service based in Tallahassee, Florida. Since 1990, we’ve been answering calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for law firms of all shapes and sizes. We know your calls are important and presenting the right image is everything—that’s why we only hire the top 2% of applicants to answer calls, then train them for a minimum of 80 hours before they get to work for you in our answering center.
Using our customized call scripts, our agents say whatever you want them to say and sound exactly like a member of your firm. They’ll take messages, schedule appointments, and even work with your management softwares like Clio and Lexicata to keep cases updated accurately and securely.
Photo via Shutterstock
How about chatbots? Are businesses now using this? As for me, I don’t really like it when a chatbot answers my query. I’d prefer if it were human.
Aira: I think we will see the chat bots coming strong over time. A chat bot could be use for “filtration” and a division of labor technique for real human interaction. Minimize long waiting lines on the phone (“you are a very important customer, and you are number #50 in line, waiting time about 30 minutes…”), by using chat bots for immediate response.