Customer Service is the New Marketing

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou

Have you ever wondered why customer service is more important than ever?

Do you wish you could use social media can help you improve your customer service?

Have you ever thought, ‘how can I surprise and delight my customers?’

We all have! These are common challenges for all of us in business.

Mel Kettle has a Master of Business in Marketing, has run her marketing practice for 11 years, and is a highly sought after speaker and mentor. She has helped clients from around Australia, as well as Canada, England, and USA to communicate effectively and authentically so they attract, engage and retain customers.

We were lucky enough to feature Mel in a recent webinar on why Customer Service is the New Marketing, which you can replay here:

We do business with people we know, like and trust, and Mel discusses how it’s possible to utilise social media to have conversations with our customers and build trust in us and our brand.

Organisations that use social media to engage positively with customers have a higher rate of trust and, research shows that a higher rate of trust can lead to 76% more engagement for a business.

We know that it costs more to attract a new customer than it does to keep an existing customer, so how can we can work smarter at keeping our existing clients happy? Customers generally decide how they feel about a business based on their customer experience. They tend to talk about a business publicly when their experiences are a) terrible and b) awesome, but not when they’re just average. Better service isn’t unique, but a better experience is.

There are three ways we can give customers a positive experience – we can provide great service, have conversations and provide opportunity. It is in the intersection of these three vital elements that we are able to truly engage with our customers, communicate well and individualise their experience and give them a positive experience with our business. Mel explains this in more detail in the webinar.

Mel offers a number of practical examples of how businesses have surprised and delighted her as a customer, including her recent experiences at Weber and when the owner of Dello Mano reached out via Twitter after Mel had experienced the sudden loss of her mother. It is due to the positive experiences with these businesses that Mel continues to talk about them publicly, and thus the one seemingly small act of excellent customer service has led to very positive marketing benefits.

Social media expert Mark Shaefer says we need to “Be more human. In every engagement and comment.” We need to make our customers feel valued. These days, people expect a timely response to their comments on social media. Some organisations manage their client’s expectations on social media really well. Royal Dutch Airlines has a banner on their Twitter account that is regularly updated (every five minutes) with the length of time in which you can expect to receive a response to any tweet.

How can we fall more in love with our clients, rather than our own business and products? Research shows that just a 5% improvement in customer service can lead to significant increase in profitability. Going above and beyond for our clients can go a long way. GE had a great response to their #healthyshare campaign, sending surprise gifts to their customers and generating goodwill for the company. While this is a big budget example, even just a handwritten note to a customer can serve to surprise and delight them.

After a terrible, drawn out experience when his guitar was broken flying with United Airlines, Dave Carroll wrote a catchy tune called ‘United Breaks Guitars’ which led to a subsequent PR disaster for United Airlines. As a great example of a business being open to opportunities, guitar manufacturer, Taylor Guitars, responded by providing a new guitar to Mr Carroll and reminding customers that they offer a repair service.

Mel concluded the webinar by discussing how just saying thank you to our clients can be a simple yet powerful communication to enhance their experience of our business.

Speaking of thank yous, we are very grateful to Mel Kettle for her time in preparing and presenting this webinar and sharing her insights and knowledge on customer service.

Six Marketing Strategies You Can Action to Drive More Traffic to Your Website

This is a guest post by Lucy Benton.


Even if you have the most helpful and interesting content in the world that is beautifully optimized for SEO, there is no guarantee that a lot of people will be visiting your website.

Does it mean that your website just sucks? Well, if it has a responsive design and loads quickly, then maybe the problem is something else. How are you currently driving traffic to your website?

If you feel that a lack of great marketing ideas is the problem, then keep reading. We’ve gathered a list of strategies and resources that you can use to drive more traffic to your website and build your business in the right way.

1. Post Content More Frequently

According to Neil Patel, the frequency of posting content on your website’s blog plays a huge role in generating more traffic there. For example, when he started posting high-quality articles six times per week instead of five, he saw an 18 percent increase in the blog traffic.

Patel stresses the importance of maintaining the quality of the content when increasing the number of articles on your blog. Simply producing more low-quality content will not help to achieve more traffic.

2. Automated Emails

Email marketing is among the most effective ways businesses can get traffic on a regular basis, and, consequently, obtain a great return on investment (ROI). In fact, the National Client Email Report by DMA reports an average return for each $1 invested in email marketing can bring a return of up to $38. Many larger businesses now use marketing automation software, such as Hubspot and InfusionSoft, that sends unique one-to-one messages based on customers’ preferences and actions on their website.

The key to using this powerful method is to build a database of email addresses for your leads. There is no perfect size for this list, but the more quality leads it contains, the better. But how can one build this list quickly? See the next tip.

3. Content Marketing Strategy for Social Media Page

Assuming that you have a social media page for your website (if you don’t, create it right away!), you can utilise its power to generate a collection of leads’ email addresses. The following are the content marketing ideas that you can apply for that:

  • Offer promos where visitors have to provide an email address in exchange for a lead magnet – here are some examples of opt-in offers as an incentive for leads to leave you an email address.
  • Run contests where the only condition of entry is the provision of the email address: creative photo contests, biggest fan photo contests, product customization contests, location-based contests, guessing games, and suggest a new product contests – check out this list of 50 ideas to get you started!

4. Create a YouTube Channel

As surprising as it may sound to some, YouTube is the most effective social media platform for driving the most engaged traffic. According to Shareaholic, the average number of pages visited by referred visitors from YouTube is 2.99 (for comparison, Facebook’s result is just 2.09).

As a starting point, have a read of this great guide to building a successful YouTube channel from QuickSprout.

5. Ask a Popular Blogger (Influencer) to Guest Post

Influencer marketing is huge these days. According to Influencer Orchestration Network, businesses generate an average $6.50 for $1 invested in influencers. The secret to utilizing the power of this strategy is to approach them in the right way and utilise the power of collaboration.

Here are the steps you need to follow to ensure a good relationship with an influencer:

  • Follow his or her account on social media
  • Engage with their content by leaving positive comments (don’t mention your business!)
  • Ensure that your product or service is a good fit for their audience before you approach. Are the values of your audience and theirs in alignment?
  • Send them a friendly message, or get an introduction from a person they trust
  • If they are keen to collaborate, make sure you are both happy with the agreed terms so it’s a win-win for both parties.

6. Start a Podcast

Today, the popularity of podcasts continues to grow. They are especially popular when they are related to professional topics and hosted by experts in their fields. In fact, the number of people who listen to podcasts on a regular basis has been increasing since 2013, according to BI Intelligence and Edison Research.

Lifehacker’s guide to starting a podcast says that that it’s best to start out with proper equipment such as a decent quality microphone and audio editing software, but you don’t need to spend a fortune. Also, you should narrow down your topic and find your niche to increase your chance of success.

Tools for Creating Your Content

If you need some assistance creating the content that will help drive more traffic to your website, here are some handy online sites you can try:

  • Audacity – free, open source audio software for recording and editing that allows to produce podcasts of professional quality.
  • If No Reply – an easy-to-use email marketing automation software that works with Gmail and provides personalization and follow-ups.
  • Assignmenthelper – if you need some assistance with writing, this is a handy tool for content creation that can be tailored for your audience.
  • Omnistartell – with this tool you can create a referral program and integrate it with your website. Once integrated, customers can start to refer your business to their family and friends.
  • Canva – create some awesome graphics to give your website some pizazz using this free website.
  • For planning out your blog posts and podcasts, and to keep track of your tasks, you could use Google Calendar and Trello.

Final Word

Building website traffic can take time, but don’t underestimate your power to make big changes to your website stats by starting with just one strategy listed above and taking consistent action. What small change can you begin today and increase your chances of success?


Lucy Benton is a marketing specialist and business consultant who currently works at Awriter. She helps people to turn their dreams into a profitable business. Lucy studied Creative and Professional Writing at the Maharishi University of Management. Now she is writing for marketing and business resources. If you’re interested in working with Lucy, you can find her on FaceBook and Twitter.

The Small Business Download: an event roundup

Guest post by Aimee Engelmann from Beepo.


 

On Thursday afternoon, 7 September, we gathered for the inaugural Small Business Download event for small business leaders.

First up, Loft Bar in West End, Brisbane, was an awesome venue and it was great to witness a connected bunch of business leaders ready to learn and network.

Here’s a roundup of the main points from the afternoon of learning:

Virtual teams are becoming super popular and Mia covered off the basics in cloud based tools as well as the factors that are essentials to get right when it comes to running a successful virtual office. Training is one aspect perceived to be hard, so Mia shared tools like Jing that make it easy to record your training as you do it and make video clips for up to five minutes for free.

Adam from Reload Media helped remind us that, when it comes to marketing, it’s all about the customer (just quietly, my fave topic). We picked up some tips on checking out Google trends, which helps you see the search history for your product and service keywords, and how search demand falls and rises. Adam introduced Frame, a newish tool that helps build an audience profile based on their purchases and media consumption.

Site search in Google Analytics came up in Adam’s session – also loved this tip. Site search in your analytics account help you understand what customers are searching for on your site. Great way to help build FAQs and new content that you need to add to your website. I see this as one of the best tools to help you re-form your web site content to keep the customers point of view at the heart of everything you do (back to my fave topic).

Adam ran through the digital marketing tactics for each stage of the buyer journey, and weaved in case studies. He called out the truth that customers generally don’t care about blog content that is about your business (he gave the example of sharing a post about you moving offices) – instead we need to be creating content for the customer.

Katie from WattsNext spoke about HR in our modern world of enormous change, and how to focus on the one ‘constant’, which is the human element. She discussed creating a great organisational culture (which is not just about pool tables and bean bags), and making sure our business has a ‘heartbeat’ by setting vision, mission and values (and the true meaning of these concepts). She had valuable advice on how to put people at the centre of our businesses. Katie gave everyone a great worksheet to take back to our businesses to help us facilitate better conversations and action points about our team and culture.

Peter from Datto then opened very transparently by telling us he was about to scare the c&%p out of us! He shared various case studies and scary statistics about data security, and I learnt that Malware has some serious implications. I got a little lost in the part about mechanics of Crypto but the essence is that there are real risks, and it can be undetected even by modern malware virus protection. I definitely don’t want to be “Crypto’ed”. What scared me the most is that Crypto even has a affiliate program – what the!?! Great presentation and a hard act to follow.

As the final speaker for the afternoon, I closed out by sharing the four secrets of high growth businesses. I’d love to share the secrets with you but it was attendee-only premium content! But if you’d like access to 107 ideas for outsourcing your sales and marketing, you can use this link to download my free handbook.

After the official part of the afternoon, we moved into the lounge bar to continue conversations over a wine and canapés. We heard some great feedback about the event and I loved knowing that the business leaders who attended came away with actionable ideas to make a real difference in their businesses.


Aimee Engelmann is a Speaker, the current CEO of Beepo and recipient of the 2015 Young Entrepreneur of the Year Trailblazer award. Aimee has a passion for helping Australian businesses build more profitable and sustainable operations. She is a frequently requested speaker as an expert in the offshoring and outsourcing industry and business growth.  

Using Microsoft Flow to sync database to Mailchimp

How we use Microsoft Flow to sync our Client Database to Mailchimp

Using Microsoft Flow to sync database to Mailchimp

Like a lot of organisations, Grassroots IT has a ‘main’ software application that we use to run the business. In our case, it’s a product called Connectwise, which is specifically designed for IT service providers just like us. It’s what we use to manage all service tickets, projects, procurement, CRM, invoicing and so on. We consider it to be the ‘one true source’ of information in our business.  

There’s a lot that Connectwise does really well, but there are some bits that it either doesn’t do at all, or that it doesn’t do very well. For these areas we use other applications that can integrate well with Connectwise. For example, we use Xero as our accounting platform because firstly, Connectwise simply doesn’t have this functionality, and secondly because we can seamlessly integrate Xero with Connectwise so that information automatically flows freely between the two.  

Another add-on product that we use to complement Connectwise is Mailchimp, which we use for all of our email marketing. Unfortunately though there is no native integration between Connectwise and Mailchimp, so keeping information updated in both has long been a manual process. Thankfully though using Microsoft’s workflow automation tool called Flow, we’ve been able to implement realtime two-way sync between Connectwise and Mailchimp to ensure that both databases are now automatically updated.  

What is Microsoft Flow?  

Microsoft Flow is a fairly recent additional to Microsoft’s range, offering similar functionality to existing services such as Zapier and IFTTT. The advantage that Flow has over these other services is it’s deeper integration into the extensive Microsoft stack of products and services, such as Office 365, SharePoint and so on. In fact Flow is embedded right within SharePoint Online already, and is included at no extra charge if you use Office 365.  

Basically Microsoft Flow can be thought of as ‘middleware’, or a service that can sit between two other services. You define a ‘trigger’, and a resulting ‘action’. For example you may define a trigger to fire when a new email arrives, and a resulting action may be that you want any attachments on that email to be saved to a folder on your computer. And the best thing is that (for the most part) you create these ‘Flows’ with an easy to use graphical interface and no need to know any complicating computer coding. 

The list of things that can be connected with Flow is extensive, including services such as Facebook, Twitter, SharePoint, Salesforce and Mailchimp just to name a few. Have a look at the Flow website to browse the full list of available connectors, and see some examples of what can be achieved 

How we connected Connectwise and Mailchimp 

As we started looking at this particular problem we realised that we needed to syncronise changes in Mailchimp and Connectwise in both directions. That is to say that changes made in Connectwise needed to be synchronised to Mailchimp (such as a new Contact being added), and changes in Mailchimp needed to be synchronised to Connectwise (such as someone unsubscribing). The good news is that both Connectwise and Mailchimp have mature API’s available which allowed us to define what’s called a Webhook on each.  

When an item is updated in Mailchimp it sends a Webhook into Microsoft Flow, telling Flow details about what has just happened. Flow then takes that information, and talks to Connectwise to make the corresponding change. There is a similar Webook in Connectwise which sends notifications back the other way through Flow, which then updates Mailchimp.  

For the super-geeks out there, here’s what the first part of one of our Flows looks like. For the rest of you, this isn’t nearly as complicated as you might think! 

Microsoft Flow screenshotThe other cool thing that we were able to do using Flow was to post status updates into a Slack channel each time a Flow runs. This gives us a super quick and easy way of monitor what Flow is doing.  

What could you do with Flow? 

Have a think about your existing business software and  processes, and where some automation could help to either speed things up, or reduce manual handling. What software do you already use that could be better integrated? Do you use Excel? What about SalesForce? Facebook? Email? All of these things can be easily automated and brought together using Microsoft Flow. Honestly, the possibilties are endless.

How we operate seamlessly between Brisbane, Auckland and Clark

How We Operate Seamlessly Between Brisbane, Auckland and Clark

It’s been an amazing few years at Grassroots IT, not least of all because of the international growth that we’ve experienced both with our clients and our team. If you had have asked me five years ago whether Grassroots IT would one day not only be supporting multinational clients, but have our own workforce spread across three countries, I would have replied with “Maybe in 20 years”. Yet here we are, doing just that.  

It turns out that running a geographically and culturally diverse team can be pretty rewarding but, like anything in business, it’s not without its challenges. Issues such as organisational culture, HR and, of course, legal and accounting matters all become so much more important when working with a diverse team. The good news is that there are some great resources available to help navigate these areas successfully. 

Day to day operational activities also need careful attention to ensure that staff can operate effectively. Simply transferring a phone call to a colleague can become an entirely different proposition when that colleague is in a different timezone. Again, there is good news with a number of technology tools available to help.  

Read on as we run through a selection of the tools that we use at Grassroots IT to let our diverse staff effectively support our clients across multiple countries and timezones.  

Voice over IP (VoIP) Telephones 

Advanced managerial VoIP phone on beech desk.

Voice over IP (VoIP) is a technology that lets us run our phones over network and internet connections, rather than traditional phone lines. Using VoIP means that we’re not physically constrained to a particular location the way that we would be with traditional phone lines, as well as having some great features that are either hard or expensive to come by with traditional telephony.  

Here are some examples of how we are using this to our advantage: 

  • All of our staff have an extension on our phone system, irrespective of what country they are in. They can answer calls, make calls, and transfer calls easily.  
  • Most of our staff do not use a physical telephone. Instead they use a softphone application on their computer or smartphone. This also means they effectively take their extension with them when working from a client site, or home.  
  • We have multiple phone numbers coming into the one phone system. For example we have a local phone number in Brisbane and another in Auckland, both ringing into the same phone system.  

 We haven’t done a direct comparison of our call costs using VoIP vs using traditional telephony, so I can’t comment on that, however I can say that we could not operate the way we do without the unique flexibility that VoIP provides.  

 Slack for team chat 

I’ve written before about how much of an impact the introduction of a team chat tool made to our business, so I won’t rehash it all here. It’s fair to say though that a huge part of our team communication these days happens via Slack.  

Whether you go with Hipchat, Slack (which we have now moved to), Microsoft Teams, or some other tool, a team chat will be a godsend in helping cut down on the unproductive email threads, while helping develop a strong sense of inclusion for staff spread across multiple locations. 

 Skype for Business for video calls 

Nothing beats a face to face conversation, but for staff in different countries a video call can be the next best thing. We strongly encourage all of our staff to use video calls whenever possible, in preference to an audio-only call. In our experience the visual element can convey so much more than voice alone, and ultimately leads to more effective communications and relationship building.  

Our preference for video calling is Skype for Business, which is included with Office 365 and provides an excellent quality experience for all parties. It also integrates well with Outlook for scheduling Skype Meetings, such as the regular team huddles our various teams have across timezones. As more and more of our clients move to Office 365 and become familiar with everything it has to offer, we are also finding ourselves using video calls more and more with clients instead of a plain voice call.  

Other alternatives you might consider include Zoom and Skype 

businessman sitting on the green grass, holding tablet pc and waving his hand to young smiley woman

 SharePoint & OneDrive for document storage 

Even though we find ourselves using fewer documents, such as Word and Excel files, they are still an important part of our business, and often need to be accessible to staff in mutliple locations, as well as remotely from home or a client site. Traditionally we have used a shared folder (which we called our G Drive) on one of our servers, which remote staff would need to access via a VPN. These days with far more powerful and flexible options available, we no longer have a G drive at all.  

Microsoft SharePoint in conjunction with the OneDrive sync client (all part of Office 365) is currently our preferred method of file storage and sharing. It is worth noting though that this hasn’t always been the case. You see, the OneDrive sync client that is an integral part of this solution was, up until fairly recently, rubbish. Thankfully though a brand new version has been released which is actually extremely good, which is why we’ve now moved ourselves almost entirely across to this solution. Being part of the Office 365 suite, this solution also has super tight integration with so many of the other systems we use.  

You may have noticed a common thread running through all of these systems that we rely on – namely that they all support, at their core, the two concepts of Cloud and Mobility. The reality is that cloud and mobile friendly applications are now the norm (for very good reason), and if you’re not embracing this yet in your business, you can be confident that your clients and competitors are. In our case these solutions have enabled our business to evolve in directions that only a few years ago would have been very challenging and expensive.  

Why a 4G Backup Internet Connection is a Smart Idea

We have all experienced the disruption and frustration that comes when the internet connection drops out. With so many of our business applications now cloud based, when the internet drops out productivity can screech to a very frustrating and expensive halt. Even for businesses not heavily dependent on cloud based applications, the loss of email and Google searches can be enough to bring howls of annoyance.

via GIPHY

Internet outages are an unfortunate reality irrespective of what type of internet connection you have, or how much you pay. Of course some internet connections (such as fibre) will be better and more reliable than others (such as ADSL), but at the end of the day if a backhoe digs up the cable outside your office it is going to take both ADSL and Fibre connections offline.

Of course, wayward backhoes are only one potential cause of an internet outage. There are numerous other possible causes such as equipment failure (either at your office or with your ISP) and good old human error. Consider, too, that although some outages may be very short and easily resolved, other more complex outages may last for hours, days or even longer.

So how do we mitigate this risk to our business? Quite simply, by having a backup internet connection in place that we can fail-over to in the event of the main internet connection suffering an outage. The important thing is that we think about this before we experience a disruptive outage, and not in a mad panic with the whole business offline.

For many small businesses using a 4G internet connection as a backup is an ideal option, as compared to, say, an ADSL connection. A 4G connection uses a mobile phone signal to connect to the internet, meaning that if your outage has been caused by that rogue backhoe operator digging up the cables in your street, the 4G connection will be just fine, whereas a backup ADSL connection would likely also be offline.

The 4G networks in Australia now are also fast enough to provide an excellent experience for all users, although of course this can depend on which 4G network you use, and how strong the 4G reception is at your location. Using a 4G connection for your internet will likely cost more than your ‘normal’ internet connection if you need to download significant amounts of data, but ideally you will only be using the 4G connection for a few hours or days while your main connection is fixed, so costs should be easily contained.

Setting up a 4G backup internet connection can be a very cheap exercise, depending on what features you want. For example we have a number of clients who, in the event of an internet outage, will simply tether their computers to their iPhones and keep working away happily. In other cases your existing internet router may accept a 4G ‘dongle’ and, with a small amount of configuration, be able to share that connection with your entire office. It is even possible to setup these connection so that they will automatically fail over to the 4G when required, minimising your time offline to almost nothing.

A 4G backup internet connection can be an affordable and effective way of protecting your business from expensive downtime. If you’d like to get an internet backup solution in place before an outage occurs (and the howling ensues) give us a call today on 1300 554 138 so we can chat about what you’ll need.

10 Online Writing and Editing Tools to Help You Produce Quality Content for Your Website

This is a guest post by Gloria Kopp.

In the not too distant past, websites were the exclusive domain of huge multinational enterprises, and not particularly necessary for small or medium sized businesses. However, those times have changed very quickly, and now businesses of all shapes and sizes maintain an online presence, whether they are making the most of social media, websites or a business blog. While it can be hard work to maintain an online presence, the following web-based tools make creating quality, polished content for your audience much more simple than ever before.

1. Ginger Software

Ginger is being used by students, professionals, and amateur bloggers alike as an efficient way to polish their written content. The real beauty of this software is that it can be used on multiple devices, so you can post amazing content even from a mobile device, when you’re on the go.

2. Paper Fellows

When you first start posting online on behalf of your business, it can be incredibly difficult to know where to begin, or if you’re doing anything right. Fortunately, there are some great courses and forums in the Paper Fellows free writing community that can help you gain both skills and confidence.

3. Readability Test Tool

Every business has an idea of the main demographic they target. Their audience will likely have similar interests or tastes, and so you know the appropriate style and tone when you address them. This is a great tool to assess if your writing is too complicated or simple, depending on the academic level of your target audience.

4. Assignment help

Both SEO and your audience are fuelled by perfect spelling and grammar – you look authoritative and competent. One of the best ways to ensure your writing is perfect is to engage the services of a qualified editor or proof reader from this website.

5. Keyword Density Checker

Stuffing your content with keywords will make your business look spammy, and may make your audience think you’re a scam. However, using too few keywords is also bad for SEO, and could make you hard to find. This tool helps you find the perfect balance for your keywords.

6. Pro Writing Aid

This is one of the most comprehensive editing tools available as it reviews your style, and offers you a multitude of suggestions on how to improve your phrasing. This tool ensures that your tone, style, and syntax are a perfect match for your content and audience.

7. Spell Check Plus

Sometimes, we need to post for our business from a mobile device or on the fly while we’re commuting. However, it’s still important to ensure your posts are of a quality standard, so having an online spelling and grammar checker to use before you post can be extremely helpful.

8.  Assignment writing service

When posting for a business, it’s often tempting to ask colleagues to review the content before you post. However, they might be too busy, provide too subjective an opinion or may be worried about offending you, at which point it can be much more effective to hire a professional proof reader or editor from this website to provide an objective opinion.

9. Easy Word Count

It’s now acknowledged across the web that your SEO benefits massively from content that is over 1000 words long and that engagement is optimised by posts that are 1500 words long. You can monitor this aspect of your content using this user friendly tool to count your words.

10. Language Tool

In this global economy, very few businesses now exist in a national vacuum, and almost every company has some kind of international element. If you need to post or write in another language occasionally, this editor is a great way to check over anything that’s not in your mother tongue, as it can accurately proof read over 20 languages.

Maintaining an online presence for your business can be a lot of work, however using the above tools, you can ensure that you are delivering content of a very high standard to your audience via your blog, website and social media.

Are there any writing or editing tools you use regularly?


Gloria Kopp is an digital marketer and an e-learning consultant from Manville City, USA. She graduated from the University of Wyoming and started a career of a web content writer and an educator, now she works as a content manager at Academized company. She is a regular contributor to such websites as Engadget, Boomessays, and Huffington Post.

Two things you should consider before switching from PC to Mac

I admit that I’m pretty much in love with my Apple MacBook Pro laptop.

As the marketing component of the Grassroots IT team, however, I must write a disclaimer saying that this a purely personal opinion from my creative, hippy perspective, and is not necessarily based on any technical knowledge and expertise of the Mac system.

I do know that a Mac isn’t right for everyone, and the decision to move from a Windows based laptop to a Mac has to be given careful consideration. So, what do you need to think about before you switch operating systems?

Here’s Ben’s take on what to consider before making the switch:

So, in summary, there are two main things that need to be considered before moving to a Mac:

1. Does the software you need run on a Mac?

While generic software suites, such as Office, are generally compatible across both Windows and Mac platforms these days, there is still a lot of software that will only run in a Windows environment. Cloud based services (such as Xero cloud accounting, Office 365) are usually fine because they are internet based and run in a browser. However, if your business runs software that is tailored for your industry, you should check with the software designer whether you will be able to use the software in the same way, or even run the software, on a Mac. Perhaps you could make a list of all the software/applications you use on your existing computer and check each one to make sure it will run well on a Mac.

Also, if your company has a network that primarily runs Windows based machines, have a chat to your IT provider to ensure that joining a Mac to your network is possible and can easily be supported.

2. Do you know how to use a Mac? Does your team know how to use a Mac?

While using a Mac isn’t necessarily difficult, there are definite differences between the two platforms, so just because you know how to use a Windows machine, it doesn’t mean you know how to use a Mac. And just because your team members know how to use a Windows machine, it doesn’t mean they know how to use a Mac.

Before I made the switch to Mac, I had been using a PC most of my life. Despite being an avid computer user, there was definitely a period of transition as I worked out new ways to do simple tasks on the Mac that I was very familiar with in Windows. I spent a fair bit of time Googling and watching videos to get up to speed. Now using a Mac is second nature (and I would probably find it just as hard to go back to Windows!), but it definitely took some time to become familiar with the Mac environment and processes.

In my personal opinion, Macs are awesome, but just factor in a dip in productivity while you come up to speed with new platform. If you are going to make the switch, I wouldn’t suggesting doing it when you know you have a busy period approaching. Make the change when you’re in a quieter phase on the work front so you have time to become familiar with your new Mac without the added stress.

Here are a couple of other things to factor in before you make your final decision: 

  • Will you need to buy any new licenses or applications so that you can use your software on a Mac environment? If so, you’ll need to factor this into the budget.
  • If you’re planning on moving your data from your older Windows machine to your new Mac, ensure this is given significant forethought so that it is done properly. It may take a considerable amount of time.

Before you rush out and purchase a new Mac laptop or computer, go into an Apple store and have a play with the Operating system and specific Mac machine you are looking to buy. Take a list of questions you have about the Mac and ask the staff at the Apple store (they are called Geniuses for a reason!).

Of course, there are pros and cons to both Mac and Windows based machines, so it’s important to make a carefully considered decision on whether a Mac is right for YOU and your business

skype for business

Skype for Business: Quick Start Webinar

Are you looking for effective communication methods within your business? If you haven’t used Skype for Business before, you might not know how well it integrates with Office 365 as a communication solution for your team, connecting them together from any location. If you’re already using Skype for Business, check out the webinar below to see how you can make the most of its great features.

In this webinar, Ben shares his experience and suggests different uses that can be implemented into any team communication practices. Annie has put together an awesome visual map of the notes so you can follow along with the webinar.

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Skype for Business:

If you have Office 365, it’s more than likely that your subscription includes Skype for Business and (the best part is) you can use the same login.

If you’re familiar with Skype, you’ll know the basics include instant messaging, voice call and video call. Skype for Business goes beyond these features and allows you to:

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  • categorise your contact list
  • co-author documents
  • share your desktop screen
  • share particular files or presentations
  • and do all of this in individual or group chat rooms.

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Create Skype Meeting invitations in Outlook.

Easy integration with Outlook lets you jump directly into a Skype Meeting from your Outlook Calendar invitation. If one of your attendees doesn’t have Skype for Business, it will take them to a web based version so they don’t miss out.

As it is now, you can only set up a Skype Meeting in your own calendar, not in other calendars that have been shared with you. This is a feature that may change in future updates.

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Use features to engage a large group:

Use whiteboard, polls and Q&A features to help energise and engage your group discussions.

skype for business

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Your questions answered:

Q: How many can participate in a S4B meeting?

A: Across all Office 365 options, you are allowed 250 participants.

Q: How many can simultaneously co-author a doc?

A: Default 10, Max 99. You may find that if you have more than 10 users co-authoring a document at the same time the user experience will degrade gradually.

Q: Is S4B call conferencing available?

A: Yes with the E5 plan or as a paid addition to the E3 plan.

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By now you should be ready to collaborate with your team. Remember, you can use Skype anywhere that has a good internet connection (SFB is a bit bandwith hungry!), so stay in the office and chat with your team while they’re onsite.

Ready to put your new found knowledge into practice? Follow this link to download Skype for Business.

 

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microsoft bookings

Microsoft Bookings for Small Business

Small businesses are getting Microsoft Office 365 feature just for them – a full-service system for scheduling appointments for their services over the internet.

Microsoft Bookings is a new service that allows businesses to create a business page on the app with scheduling features, so customers can book appointments online.

Customers will be able to use the app to look up price lists and then schedule a time for an appointment with their selected staff member. Bookings then emails a confirmation to the customer, including a calendar invitation for a reminder.

For businesses used to running the same process through a series of emails, phone calls, or text messages, it will put that time to better use. It works for businesses such as beauty salons, dental offices, law firms, financial services providers, and mechanics.
microsoft bookingsOn the back end, business owners are able to see a calendar of scheduled appointments of each team member that they manage.

Microsoft Bookings has been rolling out its first release to customers in Canada and the US who subscribe to Office 365 Business Premium Plan. They’re planning to roll out all Business Premium customers worldwide in the coming months.