Top tools for service-based startups
For most services-oriented start-ups, there’s never quite enough time, staff or money to go around in the early days. Putting your new customers first is the top priority, but behind the professionally confident façade you’re presenting to them, it can be a major struggle to manage priorities and achieve balance.
Thankfully, service-based start-ups these days can easily locate the additional resources they need in core areas from accounting to data security and back-up, marketing and sales, IT, eCommerce, social media management, project management; and work collaboration.
Let’s look at some of the best cloud tools available to new service-based ventures who don’t have deep pockets or a crowd of in-house experts.
Put your Cash Flow Management on Automatic
Many service-based small businesses run into big trouble or go out of business because they simply run out of cash. When you're too busy servicing new customers, it's tough to also monitor accounts receivable and cash flow, plus chase down outstanding invoices.
Start getting paid on time with InvoiceSherpa, a cash flow software solution that integrates with your existing accounting software and puts your cash flow on automatic; automating your accounts receivable and accounts payable.Integrating easily with all major accounting software, InvoiceSherpa is packed with automated features to get you paid faster. Automate due bills and follow auto-sent invoices from generation through to efficient online payment.
Customized payment and penalty reminders can be automatically sent and paid via your payment gateway, while other automated features include thank-you notes and handling recurring invoices.
Get a free trial and choose between three pricing plans on offer for sole proprietors, small business, and bigger businesses.
Collaborate and Share Information
In order to provide excellent customer service, you must have excellent internal communication. Cloud storage service Dropbox gives you a secure, shared space online to back up data, store files and information that teams are working on and easily share documents, images, videos and other work-in-progress.
Its integration with Office 365 lets you edit and work with Word and Excel documents within Dropbox, tagging workmates that you’ve made comments and changes. The service is accessible from any device, so you can contact, share and alert colleagues from wherever you’re working.
Everything you store in Dropbox is automatically synced to all your devices, so you always have the latest information.
The basic Dropbox service is free, and initially, its capabilities and storage space may be quite sufficient. To get a terabyte of space, upgrade to the Pro Plan with its modest per-user monthly charge, or for unlimited storage and a set of advanced collaboration tools choose the Business Plan, which also provides you with email and phone support.
Email Marketing Made Simple
Whatever other marketing and communications initiatives you have in play, email remains one of the strongest channels for marketers and businesses to use for campaigns, communication, and building and managing your database.
The market-leading MailChimp email mailing system is popular worldwide, its free and low-cost plans integrate with all major database software, third-party systems and applications, while its analytics functionality allows you to monitor the performance of your campaigns or newsletters. The interface and setup are easy-to-use, presenting you with mobile-friendly templates and mailing capabilities to customize, send and track email messages and newsletter mailings.
If your email database expands beyond 2,000 subscribers, or you’re looking for split-testing or other advanced analytics capabilities, upgrade toMailChimp’s Growing Business plan from $10 monthly, or if you’re handling higher volume mailings, go for its Pro Marketer plan at $199 per month.
CRM and Customer Support
Good customer service is one of the fundamental platforms of a successful service start-up, so luckily lean start-ups can call on expert help across customer relationship management and support.
Identify effective channels for your particular business to interact with your customers in real-time. This could include adding on live chat capabilities like LiveChat or Zopim to your website, letting customer care representatives talk with site visitors and quickly answer their questions. Because representatives can talk via live chat with several clients at once, it is a cost-effective CRM strategy and will help with staff productivity levels.
Social media is now a valuable CRM platform for nearly all service businesses, with consumers accustomed to being able to reach out to brands on their social media channels to comment on or get answers to their issues with your company.
Keeping up with one or more social platforms is definitely time-consuming, so you will want to look at sophisticated solutions like Hootsuite or SproutSocial to help you offer excellent customer service via your social profiles and pages. Feature-rich Hubspot CRM is another market leader in this area,
automatically syncing with your social platforms (including your website and emails, and offering free and premium versions of its marketing capabilities.
Get all the help you need to get it right!
Every business has different needs, with these and multiple tools now available online, companies can locate and hire expert contractors and freelancers for almost any type of business project. Try the international freelance site Upwork, or simply search online for freelance help in your region or specialty.
Use any of these cloud-based solutions solo or in combination to get the professional help you need to provide top service to your customers and meet your business and customer service objectives.