12 Cloud Services We Can't Live Without in 2017
Cloud services enable us to connect with teams and customers located all around the world with much greater ease and flexibility. With the tools and products available today, SMBs can increase productivity and scale efficiencies with cloud-subscription models.
Presently there are a dozen such cloud services that we are fans of at Telzio.
Help Scout for Customer Support
Help Scout is a streamlined help desk designed for small businesses. Help Scout tries to make customer service more human, by making the service ‘invisible’. This means customers don’t deal with a customer portal, ticket numbers, or a canned email template. Instead, the service provides your support team with everything they need to deliver personalized customer support.
What we like about Help Scout is the ability to collaborate on support cases between users and teams, and the tools to stay organized and ensure that every customer issue gets resolved timely and thoroughly.
Procedures are simplified and streamlined from start to finish. From the first point of contact from the customer, our support agents can quickly create a support ticket, add notes, and assign it to the appropriate team. Once a ticket is assigned it can be efficiently tracked, followed up on, and completed, while keeping the customer updated along the way as needed. You can even set triggers to notify you when tickets are falling behind.
Transferwise for Sending Funds
Transferwise is an alternative solution to bank transfers for paying vendors and sending money overseas. Similar to Stripe and Shopify, Transferwise integrates with Facebook as well. This platform allows users to send money internationally via Facebook’s Messenger app.
As a major disruptor to the banking industry, Transferwise charges 1 percent for transactions below $5000 and 0.7 percent for amounts higher. In so doing, it claims to be eight times less expensive than banks. It’s able to do that since its peer-to-peer model uses a proprietary algorithm. The model matches customers with their counterparts in another country looking to transfer money in the other direction, avoiding currency-exchange firms and banks.
Zapier for Integrations
Zapier is a simple way to integrate Telzio with thousands of apps, including Salesforce, MailChimp, Dropbox, and Zendesk.
The integration automates data sharing between Telzio and Zapier, which hence enables Zapier to integrate your telephony platform with other applications.
Customer.io for Email Marketing
Customer.io automates email marketing campaigns, sending perfectly time-triggered messages. With Customer.io analytics, you can track which campaigns and emails are performing and continuously improve your targeting.
Marketing professionals like Elizabeth Jenkins describe Customer.io as:
One of the most flexible marketing automation tools out there. It works well for smaller businesses as you are able to easily implement basic campaigns as well as create HTML personalization for more strategic targeting. One of the best parts about this tool is the fact that they have a free option that allows for up to 400 emails every month. If your business is very industry specific, like ours is, this free trial may be everything you need in an automation tool!
Moz for SEO Analytics
Moz is a software as a service (SaaS) that sells inbound marketing and marketing analytics software subscriptions. The company started in 2004 as a consulting firm, and then with their expertise shifted to SEO software development in 2008.
Using data analyzed from your website, Moz gives you insight on recommended keywords, your keywords rankings, and how your rankings have changed.
With time and diligence, Moz can give you the basis to continuously improve your SEO method, which is critical for early and growing companies.
PagerDuty for System Alerts
PagerDuty is an agile incident management platform that comes with hundreds of native integrations with operations tools to automate scheduling and reporting. The really handy aspect of PagerDuty is that it centralizes all your system alerts into one place, and from there you can distribute alerts to your team and rotate alerts based on team schedules.
VTiger for CRM
Telzio offers integration with VTiger providing SMBs with an enhanced CRM platform tied into their phone system. With the integration, data between calls and contacts are shared, creating an entirely different experience for the user.
With VTiger’s built-in webphone, users can click directly on a contact to initiate a call through their Telzio service.
Alternatively, when the user receives a call on their Telzio number, they receive customer information from VTiger in real-time, giving them more tools and insight to improve the customer experience.
Slack for Team Chat
A service we’ve mentioned before, Slack is one of the most popular team chat services and a $3 billion start-up based out of San Francisco. Adopted early on by many, we count Slack as one of our most important communication tools. Slack itself has a number of useful integrations. You can connect the service to Google Drive, Dropbox, Salesforce, and numerous bots.
On a more informal note, Slack enables users to express themselves in more ways than chat. Popular with today’s social media crowd, is their Giphy feature. By simply typing “/giphy” you can add a gif that gets the point across in a way that sometimes beats spelling it out.
Stripe and Shopify for Commerce
Differing from Paypal, there are two mobile commerce platforms that are integrating with social networks. Both Stripe and Shopify have learned to fish where the fish are. Since neither Facebook, Twitter, nor Pinterest has built out their own payment-processing systems, both of these software tools have seized the opportunity and filled that void.
Companies like Pinterest, which introduced Buyable Pins in June, use Stripe to power its payment processing. Despite its user base is smaller than Twitter and Facebook [with just 100 million monthly active users,] Pinterest accounts for the second-highest eCommerce referral traffic after Facebook.
Facebook recently revamped its Pages to feature products and services for small businesses. Businesses using Shopify were the first to gain access to the buy button to sell items to customers without forcing them to leave the app.
The implementation similarly allows users to buy an item in just a couple of taps. The social network also recently rolled out a new feature called Collections [a competitor to Snapchat Discover], which allows brands and influencers to show off a selection of products available to purchase directly from Twitter.
Telzio offers its own integration with Stripe, enabling SMBs to accept payments by phone.
GoCo for HR
For a small business to grow, it needs to invest time in administrative tasks — such as onboarding employees, charting career paths, managing health and retirement plans, and processing payroll — all of which are time-consuming tasks. In fact, human resources occupy 25% to 35% of a business owner’s day, according to a 2014 study by SCORE, a nonprofit association that offers free counseling to small businesses.
GoCo provides an all-in-one online HR, benefits, and payroll platform, and expert advisors to help you along the way.
Believe it or not, GoCo charges you nothing for the service. The company is able to provide the HR software to your business free-of-charge because they receive commission directly from the insurance carriers of the employees, who can keep all their personal insurance plans if they so choose — or if they lack a provider, GoCo can help them secure one.
CEO at GoCo, Nir Leibovich says:
By combining our technology with Digital’s nationwide system of respected benefit advisors, we deliver a state of Zen that no other SMB approach achieves. Without a strong advisory system, solutions offering software to clients in exchange for becoming the broker-of-record are off balance. Employers and their employees need access to experienced advisors to help navigate the healthcare system and maintain compliance. Our solution provides the missing link. GoCo.io focuses on technology; Digital delivers advisory expertise; and the union is the most responsible way to provide service to clients.
One of the reasons we really like GoCo is their team of dedicated advisors who help navigate throughout the HR journey. Combined with their web interface, GoCo is HR modernized.
G Suite for Email and Collaboration Tools
Last September, Google announced its Google Apps for Work [formerly Google Apps for Your Domain] was being rebranded to: G Suite. Ryan Tabone, Google’s director of product management for this service indicated the company wanted to make it clear to potential small business and enterprise users that this was a unified collection of tools and not simply a set of individual offerings.
The suite package uses machine intelligence – something Google has been investing in for over a decade. For instance, technology has been used in a variety of other initiatives, including instant translation and photo recognition. It also powers the Smart Reply feature in Inbox, launched last year.
A new feature called Quick Access in Drive is featured on their Android operating systems. It will reduce the time in half it takes to locate the right file, by eliminating the need to search for it, says Google. Instead, machine learning will predict which file you need before you type and then display those near the top of the screen.
Ron is part of the marketing team at Telzio, covering everything from tips and tech for growing businesses to customer success stories for the Telzio blog.