Monthly Archives: June 2017

Is Your Current CRM Software Holding You Back?

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Businesswomen find ACT! Contact Management Software critical to operations In the Office

If you are still only using one of the traditional tools like Excel and if you are having trouble with your contact relationship management software, these could be signs that you are due for an upgrade. When you have the right CRM system, you will give yourself the ability to not only organize your business processes but automate them as well. When you can automate your entire business processes through every stage of the customer buying process, you will give yourself a better opportunity to maximize your sales. You will also be able to retain your current customers and bring in more customers.

How will you know if it is actually time for you to reconsider how you have been managing the relationships you have with your customers?

Where Is Your Data Located?

If you are still using Excel to document your customer’s information, you are not giving anyone else the ability to use this information. If you are not satisfied with your current CRM system, you have probably already turned to other methods to document every interaction that you have with a customer. However, no one else in the workplace will be able to obtain this information. If a customer calls more than once to receive information about an order or if their call was not resolved in one phone call, your other sales team members need to have access to this information.

How Is Your Workplace Communication?

When you are using a CRM system that is effective and efficient, you will not have any internal communication problems because everyone will have an insight to what is going on across the entire workplace. Every sales team member will have access to the previous customer interactions. If your workplace has poor internal communication, this could be due to your current CRM system. Do you have to answer the same questions? Do you have to constantly send out the same messages to customers because you are unsure of where they are in the customer buying process? Do you have essential customer data, but you are not sure how you are supposed to gain access to it?

Is The Customer Data Stored In A Safe Location?

Have you ever found yourself searching your entire office for important customer information? If customer information is lost, you are putting your business in a difficult position. Losing important customer information can definitely limit the growth of your business. If you have to send customer information to others via an email, you have a problem on your hands. You want your business to grow, and the growth of your business depends on how well you maintain and manage your customer records.

How Is Your Customer Data Accessed By Employees?

If you do not have an efficient way to store all of your customer information and company data, it will not be an easy task for any of your employees to work out of the office. Many of your employees will appreciate the opportunity to access important data if they have to work from home or if they are traveling. If your employees cannot access customer data remotely, they may decide to use their own computers or mobile devices to store the information, which will allow them to have access to the data whenever they need it. However, this will mean that none of the other sales team members will know about the customer interactions.

The business world is definitely a competitive environment, and it is important that you understand how you should connect with your customers. When you have effective relationships with your customers, you will be able to give yourself a better advantage over the competition. Are you struggling to keep your business running the way you want? Do you think your CRM software is holding you back?

If you want to know what it feels like to have a CRM software that will take your business to greater heights, do not hesitate to contact us today.

IT Help Desk: The Customer Satisfaction Method

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Woman answering calls at an IT help desk.

From the many points of contact between companies and clients, the IT help desk is the number one opportunity to inspire long-term loyalty in customers. Customer service representatives have clients on the phone at their most vulnerable moments, when the product has failed to work and they must ask for help. These reps have the power to ease frustration, quickly solve problems, rescue customer data and overall turn a tenuous situation into one of customer relief and happiness. Customers who receive high quality, fast, and friendly technical support will stay forever because they know any problems that occur will be easily solved by company experts. To achieve this ideal standard of service, your help desk team needs to adopt the right attitude, and implement the customer satisfaction method.

Start with Positive Listening

Usually, by the time someone calls for tech-support, there has already been some long frustrating journey. They have gone through the trouble of identifying the issue, have probably tried to fix it themselves, and have finally accepted that they need assistance. Remember that their negative feelings are about the problem and stay positive and friendly as they explain their experience with the technical issue. You will probably need to pick out the relevant technical data from their personal account, so let them finish and consider taking notes when you hear a detail that could aid in the solution.

Understand the Customer’s Point of View

Many people are aware that their mistake caused the problem, and should be reassured that technical mistakes are easy to make. Explain to them why they made the mistake and try telling a few stories about other issues caused by similar mistakes. This assures the customer that they’re not alone in their technical challenges and a few funny accounts of other bugs can do a lot to alleviate tension. While your official duty is to fix the bug, easing customer worries and cheering them up after a challenging technical experience is a valuable service any help desk agent can provide.

Explain the Problem & Teach the Solution

The chance is high that your customer is interested in what went wrong and how it was fixed and in most cases it’s safe to explain it to them. When you understand the problem, lay it out for the customer in a way they can understand. Whether it was a slipped decimal point, missed semicolon or an accidentally mismanaged email, it is interesting information and can help them prevent the same issue in the future. If the solution takes a little bit of time to implement, you can use that phone-time to explain what you’re doing to the customer. You may be surprised at their enthusiasm to learn your methods and repair procedures, and the involvement will make the customer feel more deeply included by the company as a whole, building connection, and loyalty.

Build a Reputation

High-quality customer service is rare enough, but help desk agents that can simultaneously solve problems and cheer up their customers will become legendary. When people share their tech support horror stories, your customers will feel compelled to chime in with their unusual tale of when the tech support agent made them laugh and taught them something cool. When you offer excellent help desk service, your company’s reputation for customer care will skyrocket.

Optimized your help desk methods are an important key to long-term customer retention and loyalty. Any company with a help desk can benefit significantly by training agents to be positive, assuring, and informative with every customer that calls in. If you have a help desk or are preparing to set one up for your company, contact us to speak to one of our IT experts.

The WannaCry Attack & How Webroot Protects You

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The headache of WannaCry ransomware attack

On May 12th, 2017, a ransomware virus known as “WannaCry” rapidly spread through private networks and the Internet. The ransomware soon held data “hostage” in hundreds of thousands of computer systems, disrupting Great Britain’s National Health Service along with other institutions and businesses across more than 150 countries. However, systems with Webroot SecureAnywhere software installed found themselves thankfully protected from the virus.

Initial wave of attacks

The WannaCry ransomware virus uses a worm-like mechanism, or “cryptoworm,” to spread across private networks and the Internet. Once it affects a system, it encrypts the system’s data and holds it for ransom. The ransomware demands that the system owner’s deposit several hundred U.S. dollars’ worth of Bitcoins into a specific account before the ransomware will release their data.

The WannaCry virus works by exploiting a vulnerability in Windows operating systems. The vulnerability has a complex and storied history and may have been known to the U.S government long before it was known to Microsoft. However, soon after learning of their software’s security vulnerability, Microsoft released a security patch on March 14th, 2017 to protect supported systems.

The initial attack took place on May 12th, 2017 and quickly affected more than 300,000 systems whose owners or administrators had not yet installed Microsoft’s patch. Perhaps the cyber attack’s most prominent target was Great Britain’s National Health System. On May 13th, Microsoft took swift action against the attack. Although it had already released a patch for supported versions of Windows, the company now released an emergency update for legacy versions, including Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, despite the fact that Microsoft no longer officially supported these operating systems.

A security researcher who blogs under the name “MalwareTech” effectively halted the initially wave of attacks. Inadvertently, the researcher found that by registering an extremely long domain name found in the code of the WannaCry malware, the attack came to a halt. In short, registration of that domain was the “kill switch” for the virus.

Further attacks and findings

At least two variants of the initial WannaCry virus began to impact still more computer systems on May 14th, 2017. However, Matthieu Suiche, founder of Comae Technologies, found another kill switch in the code of one of the two variants. According to Suiche in a Tweet with an accompanying graph on May 15th, his company halted roughly “10K machines from spreading further.” As a result, the second wave of attacks was not as effective as the first.

After the initial two waves of attacks, further variants of WannaCry have continued to affect systems across the globe. As of May 25th, 2017, the most recent attack making headlines is WannaCry’s apparent penetration of the postal service in Russia.

Webroot’s protection

One indication of the effectiveness of anti-virus and security software such as Webroot may be customer call volume during an attack. One would expect call volume to spike as users suddenly find their systems compromised. However, according to Webroot’s LeVar Battle, responding to a comment on the company’s May 13th update to the Webroot Threat Blog “our call volume has not been impacted at all by this threat.” The post explains that despite the virus’ widespread impact, the basic structure of the malware itself is “similar to what we’ve seen before.” It is the worm-like propagation of the virus that has taken so many systems by surprise. According to the May 13th blog post, “Webroot SecureAnywhere does currently protect you from WannaCry ransomware.” At the same time, Webroot strongly recommends updating to the very latest version of your system software, a best practice that ensures mult-layered security. Moreover, they recommend becoming as educated as you can about ransomware and other common security threats.

Webroot’s latest post, addressing the second wave of attacks, reinforces their earlier reassuring statement and further maintains that Webroot is continuing to develop new solutions to protect their users against WannaCry variants as they arise.Â

Staying secure

The WannaCry ransomware attack is one of the most damaging cyber-attacks in years. The virus’ worm-like method of propagation exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft operating systems. Although Microsoft released a patch for supported systems well ahead of the attack, many companies and institutions did not install the patch in time. As a result, WannaCry’s initial wave of attacks affected more than 300,000 computer systems across more than 150 countries. Although cybersecurity researcher MalwareTech inadvertently halted the inital attack with a kill switch, new variants have continued to arise. Thankfully, users of leading security software Webroot SecureAnywhere found themselves protected from the attack.

Contact us to learn more about how Webroot can help protect you from malicious security threats such as WannaCry.

Hosting your own Microsoft Exchange Server: The Pros and Cons

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Hosting Exchange in-house

Whether or not you should host your company’s Microsoft Exchange Server in-house depends on a number of key considerations. These include your company’s budget; data security concerns; and need for flexibility, just to name a few. With these factors in mind, let’s have a look at the potential pros and cons of hosting Exchange in-house:

 

 

The Pros

Greater control over your data

When you host your own Exchange server, your company’s data is under your company’s control and no one else’s. If you’re uncomfortable with a remote third party potentially having access to, and control over, your company’s data in the cloud, then you may want to host your server in-house.

Flexibility with your configuration

If you host your Exchange server in-house, you can configure it to your precise specifications. However, with a hosted solution, you will probably find yourself limited to the packages and options the host provides. Of course, they may offer a completely customizable solution, but this may come at a substantially higher cost.

Saving money on bandwidth

With an in-house solution, the emails and attachments your employees send one another will bypass the Internet, as long as everyone shares the same LAN. This can translate to significant savings on Internet bandwidth.

Performance

Large attachments, especially those that contain audio or video, may suffer a delay in transmission if your employees are sending them through a hosted Exchange server. In this case, every email attachment essentially becomes an upload or a download to your Internet-based server. Given this constraint, if your company’s communications are especially media-intensive, an in-house solution could save you time and frustration.

Using email attachments to store files

If you are hosting your Exchange server in-house, your staff can easily store files by adding them as attachments to their emails. However, this common practice is much more difficult, impractical and expensive when using a hosted server. After all, you are now sending your file attachments over the Internet, and storing them in the cloud, costing you bandwidth and storage space.

Less exposure to Internet outages

If you have an in-house Exchange server, any employees on your LAN can continue to send emails to one another during an Internet outage.

The Cons

Requires vigilance

A hosted solution will generally have systems in place for handling all the responsibilities, ongoing tasks and potential issues surrounding Exchange server management. These include handling outages; performing scheduled backups; updating your version of Exchange; and any number of other server-management tasks and concerns. On the other hand, when you are hosting your own Exchange server, your in-house or hired networking specialist will need to be vigilant to stay on top of all of these same issues.

Requires IT expertise

Hosting and managing your own Exchange server requires either in-house or hired networking expertise. If you don’t have the trained expertise in-house, be sure to hire a highly-qualified networking specialist or team in your area. However, only hire networking professionals that are specifically trained in setting up and managing Exchange servers. You will also want reassurance that your hired specialists will make themselves readily available to respond to any outages; answer any questions or concerns; and take the time to properly train any members of your staff that will work with your Exchange server.

Potentially higher cost

Hosting your server in-house will require an investment in equipment, setup, expertise, and maintenance. Depending on the size of your company, your chosen server configuration, and a number of other factors, an in-house solution could potentially cost more than a hosted solution. However, if you are saving money on bandwidth by hosting your server in-house, you might find that your savings can more than offset any potentially higher costs of in-house hosting.

Making your decision

Whether or not to host your own Exchange server is an important decision that depends on a number of key trade-offs. Before making your decision, be sure to carefully consider your need for control over your data; your budget; your access to in-house or local networking expertise; your employees’ use of large file attachments; your need for flexibility; and any other concerns you may have. Contact us to help you decide whether hosting your Exchange server in-house is right for you.