Ready-to-Use Text Message Templates for Businesses

Illistrated SMS marketing concept, with a giant phone sending messages to people

With the pandemic forcing businesses to increase their digital presence, there’s never been more pressure to ‘cut through the noise’ to gain new customers while retaining existing ones. A survey from Esendex shows that 30% of people receive more than five emails from businesses every day, compared to just 6% for text message; and they’re 10% more likely to read messages sent through their phone than via email too.

But how do you catch your customer’s attention and actually get them to engage with you? James Bosley, marketing manager at Esendex, has put together some quick and easy SMS templates that’ll be useful for various teams across your business.

 

Debt collection

It can be time and money intensive chasing customers that have outstanding debt. It’s also a difficult-to-raise topic that must be handled with sensitivity and care. The onus lies with businesses to ensure their customers feel supported while offering various payment options.

Statement/invoice

 

  1. Dear [customer name], your latest statement is now available to view here [link]. Please remember to make the minimum payment of [amount] before [time period], by [method].

First reminder

  1. Hi [customer name]. You have an outstanding balance of [amount]. Please visit [link] to make a payment as soon as possible or call [number] to discuss the matter further. Thank you.

     

  2. Hi [customer name]. Unfortunately, we have not seen any payments for the last [time period] days, we just wanted to make sure everything is ok. Please call [phone number] to update us on your current situation and to avoid any further collections activity. We are open [dates and times]. If you have been in contact with us in the last [time period] days to update us on your situation, please ignore this message
SMS marketing final payment reminder example message

Final reminder

 

  1. Dear [customer name], unfortunately, we have still not received payment for the outstanding sum of [amount]. We urge you to reply to this message within the next [time period] to avoid any legal action that may be taken to recover your debt.
SMS marketing example message of overdue payment

Payment options

 

  1. Dear [customer name],
    Your payment of [amount] is now overdue. We want to give you some options to help.

    Make a part-payment
    Set up a payment plan
    Talk to us
    <once customer replies>
    Thank you [customer name]. Please follow the link to make a secure online payment, or call [phone number] [link].
SMS marketing thank you for payment example message

Thank you

 

  1. Thank you. Your payment of [amount] has been received and will be processed within [time frame]. Your authorisation code for this payment is [number]. If you’d like to turn on payment reminders for your account, reply with ‘remind me’.

Customer satisfaction

One of the most important parts of running a business is ensuring that your customers are kept up-to-date and are happy with the service and/or products you provide. Running regular surveys are a great way to receive feedback and get to the heart of what your customers want.

 

Notifications, reminders and alerts

Deliveries

 

  1. Hey [customer name]. Your [product] from [company name] has been dispatched and should be with you shortly. While you wait, would you like to check out some [product] we think would go well with your [product]? We’ll even throw in a 10% discount for you.
  2. Your parcel is scheduled to be delivered between [time] and [time]. If this is no longer convenient, please reschedule – [link].

Appointment management

 

  1. Hi [customer name], your appointment is at [time] on [date]. Please confirm if you can make it.
    Yes, see you there!
    I need to reschedule
    <if the latter>

    No problem, your current booking is now cancelled. Follow the link to rebook online or text us back if you prefer:
SMS marketing message of an appointment reminder example message

Feedback

 

  1. Do you have any specific feedback about your experience you would like to share with us? Please reply with any comments you wish to share.
  2. Hi [customer name], thank you for your recent enquiry with us. Was your question answered? Y or N.

 

<If customer replies yes>

 

That’s great! Out of 10, what rating would you give the person who spoke to you based on their helpfulness?

Thank you. Finally, would you recommend us to a friend or colleague? Please provide us with a score from 0-10 (0 being definitely not).

  1. We hope you had a good experience with [company name] today. We would love it if you could spare a few minutes to fill out our customer feedback survey [link]. There is an opportunity at the end of the survey to be entered into a prize draw to win [product]. Thank you.

Marketing

 

Sending marketing and promotional messages can be a great way to reward loyal, returning customers, while enticing potential customers to make their first purchase.

Welcome message

 

  1. Hi there, welcome to [company name]. You will receive updates on your orders as well as exclusive deals right here in messenger. Is there anything else we can help you with today

    [Give options]

  2. Hooray! Welcome to the [company name] family. You’ll never struggle with [problem] again! We’re always happy to help and love receiving feedback too, which you can submit via our online form here <LINK>. Why not follow us on our social media pages too where you can keep up-to-date with [insert words here].

Flash sale

 

  1. Get FREE shipping on all orders placed today. No minimum required. Shop now: <LINK>.
  2. Hi [customer name], flash sale – for the next 3 hours only! Get 30% off on all [product] before [time].
  3. Hi [customer name], show this text in-store to get an EXTRA 20% off on all [products]. Strictly for this weekend only and while stock lasts.

New products launch

 

  1. Hi [customer name], the wait is over! The NEW LIMITED EDITION [product] has arrived. Hurry and shop now before they sell out [link].
  2. Hey [customer name], we’ve just launched our new [product] range and would like to offer you some exclusive deals. Check out [link].
SMS Marketing example message offering discount

Personalised offer

 

  1. Happy birthday [customer name]. Enjoy [percentage] off site wide on your special day by using the code [code] at the checkout. Valid until [date].
  2. Hi [customer name], we have it on our records that you’ve previously purchased a [product]. We have some similar [products] you might like and would like to offer you an exclusive discount on them using the code [code]. Valid until [date].

Referral programme

 

  1. Love our [products/service]? Recommend us to a friend and you both get [discount] when they [sign up/order] using the code [code]
  2. Will you help us spread the word? Give your friends and family [discount] off their first [insert word here] when they use your personal referral code [code]. You’ll get [discount] when they do!

Business Continuity

 

It’s equally as important to keep in touch with your employees as it is to keep your customers in the loop. Alongside recruitment, businesses can use SMS messaging to notify employees of new or upcoming shifts, and to relay crucial information in times of an emergency.

Business critical communications

Temporary office closure

 

  1. Good morning. Overnight we had a power outage at the [location] branch/store, which we’re working hard to fix. Please log on remotely and await further instruction. We thank you for your patience.
SMS marketing example message of office closure warning

Local emergency

 

  1. ATTENTION! There has been an emergency in [location]. Please confirm your location and status as SAFE or REQUIRE ASSISTANCE by responding to this message with your employee ID number. If you require emergency assistance please dial 999.
  2. ATTENTION! A member of staff in the [location] office has tested positive for Covid-19. If you have been in contact with this person since [date], please inform your line manager. Please visit the NHS website for more information and advice.

Mobilise teams

 

  1. ATTENTION! Mains pipe damage alert at [organisation name] [address] your assistance is required. Please confirm receipt of this message and estimated time of arrival for yourself and your team as soon as possible. For more information, please contact [person in charge] on [phone number] as soon as possible.
SMS marketing example message of a local mains pipe bursting

Shift management

 

  1. We have an available shift this [day] from [time] to [time]. If you are available for this slot please reply directly to this message.
  2. Hello. A [job title] is required this afternoon at our [location] branch/store. If you are available to work, please contact [name] on [phone number]. Thank you.

 

 

Employee surveys

 

  1. Hi [name]. We work hard to ensure we’re an employer of choice and would to hear how you find working at [company name]. Please could you spare a few minutes to fill in this feedback form <LINK>
  2. Hi [name]. [Number] a year, we like to gather feedback from our employees through a short feedback form which you can find here <LINK>. The survey should take no longer than <time> to complete, but will provide us with valuable insights. Please note that you can leave your name, or remain anonymous if you prefer.

 

 

Employee recruitment and onboarding

 

SMS messaging can be used to alert job hunters to new opportunities, set up – or rearrange – interviews, and assist with the onboarding process. With a 95% open rate for SMS, it ensures fast communication between the business and its employees and prospective employees, and is less likely to be missed.

 

Recruitment

 

  1. Hello [Name], we have an exciting job opportunity in the finance sector, based in London. If you are interested please reply MORE INFO to this message or call the team on [Phone number].
  2. Hello [Name]. We can confirm your interview on [date] at [time] with [Interviewer name]. Please attend [Location]. Thank you.

 

Book Staff

 

  1. Hello [Name], [business name] requires extra staff on [date] in [location]. If you’re available to work, please text back or call [phone number]

 

Onboarding

 

  1. Hello [Name], welcome to [company name], we’re excited to have you on board. Your first day will be at our [location] office, please arrive at [time] on [date]. If you have any questions please contact [manager name] on [phone number].

7 Ways to Boost SEO in the Fall

Man outside in the autumn checking his phone

People find new businesses in many different ways. Some get a referral from a friend. Others see a shirt they like and ask a stranger on the street where they bought it. While these can help your business grow, one of the most effective options is to leverage search engine optimization. People are searching for services and products online every day. They use their smartphones and computers to find exactly what they are looking for. With the right SEO, your business can rise to the top of the list. Here are some of the best ways to boost your SEO this fall and in the months to come.

 

Create Seasonal Content

A great way to engage your audience is to use seasonal content in your SEO. Discover what keywords are trending and how it relates to your business and create content around that. You’d be amazed at how many people want to find seasonal sales on things like home décor, clothing, and even technology. Maybe you aren’t launching an orange tablet this season, but you have cases that can be customized with fall messages. The important thing is to consider your products and your audiences to find the best SEO keywords to use.

 

Use Internal Links

If you aren’t using internal links in your blog content you are missing out on a big SEO opportunity. When you want to get found for certain keywords, and you have relevant content, link back to it from your blog. It’ll tell the search engines that you have something valuable to offer with those keywords and make you jump closer to the top of the list when people search those words. It’s a great way to build your SEO and connect with new customers who are searching for products like yours.

 

Compete for Relevant Keywords

Keyword research is boring. Let’s face it. Searching for what keywords are popular and which ones relate to your business isn’t the fun part. But when you can tag along with trending searches, you can easily start competing for those relevant keywords. You’ll have more success in the fall for instance if you create content around those trending fall searches. Take some time to learn about what your customers like and what they are searching for in this season. Use what you discover to compete for those keywords.

 

Add New Products

The fresher your portfolio, the more interesting your content is to the big search engines. When you add new products, it gives the search engines even more reasons to pull your content to the top of a relevant search. With a great product description, a good photograph, and an excellent title, your products will get found by just the right people. Creating relevant and new products helps your SEO in the fall and all year long.

 

Get Creative With Your Marketing

It’s easy to get stuck in a marketing rut. If it’s working for you, then keep doing it. But find ways to get creative with how you connect with new clients. Marketing for accounting firms, tech companies, and even healthcare may seem unnecessary, but it’s critical to leverage creative methods of finding new business. The best marketers use a combination of data and unique ideas to help reach their target market year-round. This time of year is all about pumpkin spice, apple cider, and cozy sweaters, so think about how to incorporate those into your fall SEO campaigns.

Your website should not be static all year long. By adding fresh marketing campaigns, new products, and even regular blog posts, you can be sure your business will be near the top of the list for search engines. A fall marketing campaign on your site makes it fresh, fun, and applicable to the season we are in. It’s in your best interests to use your creative team to write content, make graphics, and direct a marketing campaign to encourage new sales in the fall months.

 

Use 3rd Party Review Sites

This strategy is two-fold. It gives your company credibility when there are good reviews. It also adds another location to put your website link. During different seasons, you can add in fresh content to help people know what’s happening in the fall and other seasons. Third-party review sites are an excellent part of a good SEO strategy no matter what industry you are in.

PayPal Launches Cryptocurrency Trading in UK

Man sitting at a laptop

Digital payment pioneer PayPal—a world leader of the “revolution” using technology to make financial services and commerce more convenient for more than 20 years—has now announced the launch of a new service enabling its customers in the UK to buy, hold, and sell cryptocurrency.

 

Discover opportunities and risks in cryptocurrency before transacting

The initiative signals the company’s first international expansion of its crypto service beyond the United States market and is touted to encourage customers to research and discover opportunities and risks in cryptocurrency before transacting.

Four cryptocurrencies are available—Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash—for buy and trade via the PayPal website or mobile app, where customers can view real-time crypto prices and explore educational content answering common questions.

The service drops into the crowded space vying for best trading platform UK, giving the many others such eToro, Libertex, and Fineco Bank a run for the money. Depending on where you look for advice, eToro is rated by many reviewers as the overall best platform in the UK, offering 2,400+ stocks from 17 UK and international markets, with zero fees.

 

Bitcoin breaches $50,000 for the second time

As investors seek to diversify their portfolios—and notwithstanding the extreme volatility of cryptocurrency assets—crypto has emerged as an investment destination of choice, especially for a younger, well-heeled demographic seasoned and confident in all forms of online transacting. Recently Bitcoin breached $50,000 for the second time in two weeks, defeating a previous sell-off that failed to dent the appetite for the currency.

PayPal believes that it offers an environment that customers know and trust, and for as little as £1, traders can enter the cryptocurrency realm cautiously, affordably, and securely. PayPal boasts 400 million consumers and merchants in more than 200 markets.

Customers can fund their PayPal crypto account from a bank account or debit card, choose from pre-determined purchase amounts, or decide their own purchase amount, with no fees to hold cryptocurrency. Upon sale, funds are shipped quickly to the customer’s account for spending in the usual way.

“The pandemic has accelerated digital change and innovation across all aspects of our lives— including the digitisation of money and greater consumer adoption of digital financial services. We are committed to continue working closely with regulators in the UK and around the world to offer our support—and meaningfully contribute to shaping the role digital currencies will play in the future of global finance and commerce,” Jose Fernandez da Ponte, PayPal’s Vice President and General Manager, Blockchain, Crypto and Digital Currencies, said in a press statement.

12 Top Tips and Considerations for Successful CRM Integrations

CRM Migration

As any IT manager will tell you, integrating CRM projects with external data sources can be one of the biggest pain points of an installation.

Creating a single customer view across all touch points when linking your CRM with websites, ERP systems, SQL databases and other data sources is crucial, but sometimes difficult to get right.

Paul Rutter, Head of Product Management at Preact, who are specialists in implementing and supporting CRM solutions, has come up with 12 top tips and points to consider to help you manage this complex part of your CRM project and overcome some of the common challenges that crop up.

Preact is a top-ranked Microsoft provider supporting businesses through Microsoft Dynamics 365 solutions built on the power platform. This year the company was awarded the Microsoft Business Applications Inner Circle award for the fourth year running.

To find out more about Preact, visit https://www.preact.co.uk/

 

1. Integration vs Migration

Let’s start by defining what we mean by integration and how this differs from migration.

A migration is a process to move data from one system to another. A migration may be run multiple times during a project timeline to conduct trial migrations, but this will be one-off process to extract, transform and load data into a new system. A migration can be handled from a series of spreadsheets or require a more sophisticated solution to address anomalies before moving data between systems.

An integration is the bringing together of your CRM system with a third-party application for continuing benefit. This is an ongoing process, allowing data to pass between these systems which removes duplicated data entry and allows routine workflows to be efficiently handled as data seamlessly flows between these.

An integration could potentially also be used to handle a migration whereby data will flow into CRM and then periodically refresh. But data inconsistencies often require dedicated migration tools to first identify and then resolve these issues.

 

2. Types of Integration

How two systems are joined together will be dependent on an organisation’s requirements and what needs to be achieved. Specifically, why is this data needed in the destination system?

Often there is a need to interact with data to update this within the context of a business process. In these scenarios, it’s possible to develop an integration that will write data into Dataverse so it can be edited through Dynamics 365 or another model-driven app.

However, if users just need to view this data, the integration solution will differ.

In these instances, an integration can be implemented that will expose data in the target system on a read-only basis. For example, a Power BI report could be embedded in a record which queries the external data source and filters the result down to the context of the current record.

 

3. How Virtual Tables can simplify integrations

Virtual tables (also known as virtual entities) are a relatively new approach for completing an integration by representing data from external system as tables in Microsoft Dataverse, without data replication and often without needing custom coding.

Virtual tables can create, read, update, and delete operations which offers the prospect of simplified set-up and reduced ongoing integration admin. This can replace client-side or server-side methods to integrate external data which rely on customised coding and may present limitations.

 

4. What is the business process across these systems?

Before any integration can be built, it needs to be clearly understood by all parties.

Think about the traditional sales process. A lead comes in and is converted to an Account, Contact and Opportunity. Multiple quotes are raised with a pricelist with varying combinations of products and units of measure.

Once the deal is won, an Order with lines, products, units of measure is created and passed to an ERP / accounts system for fulfilment. But this isn’t the end of the process because the order must be fulfilled and an Invoice should appear in CRM so that the sales team, who don’t have ERP access, can see if the customer has paid.

This is an example of the main source of integration complexity, and it’s important to note that complexity isn’t related to how many tables, fields or records are involved. Complexity occurs when combining different data models of two, or more, systems to ensure that the correct data is accurately mapped between these in a timely manner to support the business process.

 

5. Which system is master and what direction does data flow?

In distributed computing we refer to the separation of concerns – essentially, each system should be responsible for a discreet piece of functionality or logic – we should never replicate this logic across multiple systems and expect the same answer. The same can be applied to integrating data. Ultimately, one system should “own” a record such as a contact.

We’ve seen numerous examples over the years where organisations held different version of a contact record in CRM, another in their marketing system, in ERP and in multiple spreadsheets…

To ensure a single source of truth, control must be enforced around which systems can update the central “master” representation of each record. For a contact record, this will usually be the CRM system and for products, an ERP system will typically be the master, where product and pricing detail is passed from ERP to CRM. Depending on the precise process these values may be set as Read Only in CRM.

A one-way or uni-directional integration is relatively straightforward to manage, but greater complexity will creep in where two-way (bi-directional) integration is needed.

For example, if a record is updated in system A, the change will need to be passed to system B, and vice versa. But what happens if two users change the same record in each system at the same time? Which one should win? This may seem an unlikely, but these scenarios do occur, and a robust integration must plan for these contingencies.  

The level of complexity will increase further if more than two systems are being integrated, for example a website, order management system and CRM. Each will have a concept of a customer which must be kept up to date so data must be shared correctly across these.

 

6. Understanding Data & Assessing Data Quality

Poor quality data is frequent barrier which should be addressed before any integration is implemented. Ultimately, data management will always remain the ownership and responsibility of the customer because no other organisation will know the data as well as you.

It’s important to include the following as part of your reviews and checks:

Unique data keys – a unique property must be established for each record. A Globally Unique Identifier (GUID) is best, but any “primary Key” will suffice which can even be made up of compound keys. When a record needs to be updated, the unique identifier is used to define the target.

  • Duplicate records – these are frequently seen in the context of the multiple versions of the “same” contact or account. But if each has their own unique key, which is correct? This is another instance where data ownership will always rest with the client.
  • What are the data types and lengths – the underlying schema and format of data in the various systems can often be a frequent source of errors. For example, if there is an attempt to pass a decimal number to Integer field, or a date/time entry being captured as text. Or, putting a 200-character string into a 100-character length field. All of these scenarios can potentially cause problems.
  • Do mandatory fields have a value? – Are there any NULL fields in one system that we need to use in a business process in another system? If so, how will these be handled?
  • How will data be filtered? – There may only be a need to integrate just the most recent x months of data from a relational database, but wider consideration should be made of the relationships involved so referential integrity can be preserved. An integrated record may be dependent on another record that falls outside the defined time frame, so in these situations what should be done? For example, should the related record be brought across, even though its outside the specified window, or do we just leave that field as null?  

 

7. Comparing data models

On the face of it, different systems may have the same entities, but the way these are used in each may vary greatly.

Going back to the sales process example again, an ERP system would normally be expected to look after “product catalogue” that will include Products (Items), Units of Measure, Price Lists. These would be synchronised from ERP to CRM in one direction. CRM also has the concept of Products, Units of Measure and Price Lists but these are used in a different way.  

The Dynamics 365 Sales product catalogue is built on a model, whereby, if you want to sell a customer a product, the product must exist on the pricelist associated with the order. For customers who have special pricing, you create a price list for that customer to includes every product that you want to sell them at the revised pricing. Across multiple products, this can become a significant admin overhead.  

Often, ERP systems take a different approach. You may have a price list with products, or “Items” on but, if you agree special pricing for a customer, you configure that one product with a special price against the customer.

As a result, unlike Dynamics 365 Sales, you don’t need to add multiple products into a list just to set a special price on one item. When you create an Order in the ERP system, at the point of adding the product to the order, the system looks through the default pricelist AND any special pricing a customer may have agreed and selects the best price for the customer.  

 

8. How frequently does the data need to be updated?

This is another crucial factor in determining how complex the integration will be. If the data needs to be available in the other system in real-time, a form of orchestration will need to be built to push data to the target system. Real-time integrations prompt additional questions, and inevitably result in greater complexity, around error handling, retry logic and what is presented to a user.  

Generally, most integrated business processes can tolerate some delay in the system. If a salesperson places an order in CRM, does it really need to be in ERP a second later? To simplify the complexity involved in this process, will that second really make any operational difference? If not, what will be an acceptable time for this entry to be picked up in the other system? A minute’s delay? Or 30 minutes?

The frequency that an integration will run depends entirely on the business processes tolerance. For example, new order integration processes may be set to run every 10 mins, but sync processes to add new products maybe only needed once each day.  

The tolerance in this process will determine which integration model is adopted:

  • A Push Model – sends data from source to target and receives an acknowledgement before continuing with the transaction.
  • A Pull Model – polls the source system periodically and passes the records to the target.

 

9. How is change identified?

When dealing with a “Pull Model”, identification of change in a system is crucial. That’s because we want to avoid synchronising every record each time the integration runs. This will be wasted effort and unnecessary cloud consumption if items haven’t changed. Also, depending on the size of data, a complete sync process may take several hours but business rules may dictate that data should never be more than an hour old in both systems.

Some examples of net change pattern identifications include:

  • Last modified timestamp – Each record is date/time stamped with the last time it was modified. The system can then be polled to query any records that have changed since this process last ran.
  • Status Flag – A status flag can be added to the records so that when the integration runs, only the records in a status of new or updated are requested. For example: N = new record, U = updated record and P = processed.
  • Change tracking – Dynamics 365 has the concept of change tracking for entities and when enabled this allows tokens to be used that will retrieve the changes since the last time you checked.  
  • Particular attention will need to be given to record deletions in these processes. Change tracking can be used if the source table is Dynamics 365, but for other systems once data is deleted, it’s gone so a separate approach will need to be agreed, such as a Shadow Table.    

 

10. How will an external system be connected?

All third-party systems have different ways of integrating with CRM, but not every system has an API we can talk to.

Most modern systems do have some form of API that we can connect, but this will be limited to what the creator of the third-party system has exposed via their API. The majority of API’s that Preact encounter reflect common industry standards, such as: Odata, custom Rest based or SOAP. But there is nothing to stop a developer writing their own way of talking to their system.  

Direct database access may be an available option, provided an appropriate database driver is accessible and data is only being read in the source system. Create, update and delete operations will not ordinarily be directly written to the database unless we have complete agreement and acknowledgement of the risks from the vendor/client.  

Other ways to pass data between systems can include message queues and service buses that will loosely couple discrete systems, but these would normally only be used for larger scale integrations involving multiple systems. 

 

11. Error Handling

At some point, an integration will fail and often this will be caused by bad data. If a process fails because of a transient error, can we retry? If so, how many times should this be done before we give up. If a failure occurs, who should be notified? What actions should be taken to correct the issue and potentially retry?

These are further considerations that will define an integration process and its accompanying documentation.

 

12. Requirement led integrations

In developing integrations, it’s important to consider an acceptable level of risk, with the choice of technology a secondary consideration.

For example, building an integration in Power Automate is effective for some requirements, but this isn’t recommended for handling any integrations where a highly fault tolerant technology is needed. As the analogy goes, you shouldn’t knock a screw in with a hammer, you could technically do it, but it’s not the right tool for the job. The same applies for integrations.

How Online Tech Can Help Your Retail Business

Animated concept: three people lookng at a large screen with a map and pinpoint of the local area

There is a whole category of tech that is geared toward online use. That still doesn’t narrow down the category very much. It can be everything from modems and networking, to SEO and social media marketing. It seems pretty obvious that the domains of retail and online business require bespoke tools. A physical retail store needs a physical OPEN sign. Such a tool would be meaningless for an online business. An online business requires the use of advanced HTML. In a physical space, HTML is nothing more than alphabet soup.

But the fact that the domains are different doesn’t mean there is no crossover in regards to the tools needed to make them successful. After all, whether physical or online, business is still business. Customers are still customers. Opening day is still exciting and profit and loss have the same impact on your bank account. If you have a retail business, you might think there is no reason for you to keep up with the side of the business that depends on internet technology. But failure to do so could leave you and your business falling behind the competition. They will be using every available tool, whether or not it was made for retail. A hammer makes just as good of a paperweight as it does a tool for pounding nails. These are some of the online technologies you can better leverage for your retail business:

 

HR Services

There is a new generation of HR tools and services that were born online for the online generation. Most workers seem to view them as an improvement over the traditional way HR used to be done. You no longer need to make an appointment with someone in the HR department to talk to them about insurance. You can go online and source your own short term disability insurance. It does not have to be a part of a package negotiated by your company. You can mix and match benefits that are right for you from providers that meet your needs.

That does not mean you have to get rid of your HR department. There is a lot of benefit in having someone on the premises to talk to about work issues not appropriate to discuss with your supervisor or employees. It is not about choosing one over the other, but doing what is best for you at any given time. As times change, so do your needs. Integrating online solutions will provide you with more flexibility.

 

Video Conferencing

One of the most ubiquitous technologies to emerge since the pandemic is video conferencing. Zoom is the clear winner of the video conferencing providers. These days, people just think of all video conferences as Zoom meetings regardless of the software being used. There is a very good chance that at some point in the previous year, you have had a video conference. Even doctors are starting to use the service to see patients.

The pandemic also taught us that sometimes, we will not be able to do business in person. Those with a good solution at hand will have the advantage. Companies that did a lot of business online knew what they were doing and didn’t have to retool. Companies unfamiliar with the tech had a much longer and rougher transition. Even if you have never had to use video conferencing to date, it is a technology that can be a valuable addition to your business, regardless of the type of business you have.

 

Local SEO

Foot traffic does not account for all your business. And if it does, you are leaving a lot of money on the table. You can help more people find your physical location by leveraging the strengths of local SEO. Regardless of whether your business is physical, digital, or both, people will try to find it using a search engine, likely the one on their smartphone. That is why every business needs to have some part of the budget pointed at search engine optimization.

 

Whether it is HR services, video conferencing, or local SEO, these online tools can make all the difference in your physical retail business.

Supporting Your Remote Workforce: Cloud Migration for Your Business in 5 Steps

Migration Cloud

Many businesses are already utilising the cloud in some way, with 61 per cent moving their workloads into the cloud in 2020. However, many are yet to carry out their full cloud migration.

For some, the migration was sped up by the coronavirus pandemic. The work from home order saw many businesses rushing to implement cloud solutions to allow their staff to work remotely. In fact, 51 per cent of decision-makers whose business migrated during the pandemic said it saved their organisation from collapse.

If your organisation is yet to complete the move to the cloud, there are a number of steps you’ll need to take to ensure its smooth and cost-effective. Here, we cover those steps.

 

1. Understand why you’re migrating to the cloud

There are so many reasons businesses choose to migrate to the cloud, including:

  • A reduced cost of ownership
  • Allowing remote working
  • Higher system availability
  • More stringent security protocols
  • Increased productivity and efficiency.

Having these goals at the forefront of your preparation means you’ll be able to migrate in a way that helps you achieve these goals. You may want to achieve all of them, but it’s likely that some are higher priorities than others. For example, you might want to prioritise data security because your on-premise system was recently breached, so that should be your main focus when planning and completing your migration.

 

2. Decide which applications you’re migrating

In an ideal world, a cloud migration would involve moving all of your business-critical apps to the cloud in one go. However, it’s not that straightforward in reality.

Most businesses will still have ageing legacy systems that, for many reasons, can’t be moved to the cloud. It’s well established that maintaining legacy systems is significantly more costly than switching to new systems – the Public Accounts Committee found that HMRC spent 80 per cent of its COVID-19 budget on maintaining its aged IT systems, which accounted for a huge £53.2 million. However, it can be daunting to switch, especially if that legacy system is custom-built.

Your first step in your cloud migration journey is to identify which applications you can migrate to the cloud. We also recommend reviewing your costly legacy systems to see if there are any existing cloud-based alternatives that could replace them.

 

3. Determine your migration strategy

Once you’ve assessed all your applications, you’ll need to determine how you’ll undertake the migration – even for those that you aren’t migrating right now. There are a number of ways you can complete your cloud migration, and most businesses will use a combination of strategies which are commonly known as the 6 Rs:

  1. Rehost: moving applications with no changes.
  2. Re-platform: moving applications with small modifications based on their new cloud environment.
  3. Repurchase: replacing your legacy systems with newer, cloud-based alternatives and operating on an SaaS payment model.
  4. Re-architect: redeveloping an application, which can involve using new cloud features.
  5. Retire: eliminating a system from your IT portfolio.
  6. Retain: leaving an application as-is and revisiting at a later date.

It’s unlikely that you’ll only use one of these methods, so once you’ve determined the applications you’re migrating to the cloud and the ones you aren’t, decide which of these methods you’ll use.

 

4. Choose your cloud services provider

A question that many ask is: who is the best cloud provider? The answer isn’t as simple as giving you one provider, as each will have its own benefits. You might want to use multiple cloud providers so that their combined solutions meet your unique application requirements.

If the systems you’re migrating use a lot of data, you’ll need a cloud service provider who can keep up with those demands. If you’re migrating applications that store a lot of personal or sensitive customer data, you’ll need one that has strong security certifications. If scalability is important, make sure the provider you opt for can provide this service easily.

The hybrid cloud, a combination of on-premise servers, public cloud platforms, and private cloud platforms, is the solution most businesses will opt for. Public cloud options such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure are trusted because of their rigid security protocols. Private clouds, meanwhile, allow you more customisation, and you can choose whether to manage them yourself or outsource this to a third-party provider.

 

5. Tap into a cloud consultancy expert provider

Reducing costs is one of the key reasons many businesses move to the cloud, with a Microsoft survey identifying this as a top benefit of cloud migration. However, the cost of the migration project itself also needs to be taken into consideration.

Some businesses will undertake this exercise in-house if they have an IT team that is big and experienced enough to take on the project or to keep costs low. But if your internal IT support team is small or you already take out managed IT services, we recommend utilising a third-party provider.

A business with expertise in cloud consultancy will manage the entire process for you and ensure that your migration goes as smoothly as possible. Their extensive experience in deploying cloud solutions and cloud migrations means you’ll experience a smoother journey to cloud computing.

While carrying out this project in-house may seem more cost-effective on the face of it, cloud experts will help you to reduce costs by considering every possibility and mitigating any potential risks.

 

Moving workloads to the cloud is an essential step for businesses that are looking to reduce IT operating costs, increase security, and improve efficiency and productivity. It’s a project that requires a number of steps to ensure a smooth, efficient, and cost-effective migration. By taking these steps, you can ensure your cloud migration is as seamless as possible.

How Artificial Intelligence Is Set to Revolutionise Industries

AI Industry Revolution

There’s no denying that technology has been the key to evolution for almost every industry. From transport to gaming, sports to healthcare, improvements to processes and capabilities have been attributed to rapidly innovating technology. This is particularly prominent in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). What was once reserved for sci-fi movies is now actively a part of our everyday lives, and it’s set to pave the future – perhaps autonomously!

In this article, we take a look at how AI is set to ignite several key industries.

 

Transport

While we are still a few steps away from fully autonomous vehicles becoming an everyday part of our lives, AI has already woven its way into the transport industry. From drones taking off with parcels to deliver to traffic management, the unseen eye of artificial intelligence is already keeping a keen watch over the safety of drivers.

Some outlets have suggested that, while autonomous vehicles are already a present-day perk, fully autonomous driving may come to fruition within the next ten years thanks to AI. With cars able to drive themselves, we could see a massive shake-up across several areas at once – would we even need to own cars if one can pull up and pick us up on command?

For those of us who already go car-free, AI is revolutionising public transport and will continue to do so. Advancements in rail connectivity have seen the average train journey go from a simple affair of sitting at your seat reading the newspaper on the way to work to being able to work remotely as you make your way in – setting up a speedy travel office with train WiFi or ticking a few extra items off the home to-do list while you commute into work.

It’s not just passengers who are benefitting. Rail operators stand to benefit from AI improvements, especially when it comes to monitoring safety. AI technology will allow them to receive instant alerts of critical failures, keeping everything from passengers and staff to assets protected. Whenever an incident is detected onboard, AI technology will generate automatic alerts so that operators can respond faster than ever before.

 

Sports

AI has upgraded the way we travel, and it’s also upgrading the way we move ourselves. Previously, AI has been used in the sports sector as a way to monitor and improve an athlete’s performance. Now, we’re seeing AI stepping onto the field in new and exciting ways – and, in some cases, quite literally too.

The Olympics has a long history of rapid technology adoption, and AI has been no different. From tracking big data to calculate the potential of athletes to delivering photo finishes, AI has been interwoven with the Games for many years. More recently, we’ve even witnessed robots at the Olympic games shooting hoops! CUE5 stunned the world with its hyper-accuracy powered by artificial intelligence, shooting free throws and three-pointers before its captivated audience.

 

Gaming

AI is at home in real-life sports games and in the digital competitive field. Its presence in the video game industry is nothing new –back in 2008, players were stunned by the AI “Director” lurking behind the scenes of cooperative shooter Left 4 Dead, as the artificial intelligence monitored each player’s skills, in-game location, and even perceived stress levels before using the information to decide where to place enemies along a player’s path.

The industry has come a long way since then, arm-in-arm with AI’s ever-growing capabilities. Nowadays, the technology is able to make in-game characters “remember” encounters with players and adapt accordingly, and research divisions of some of the world’s largest gaming companies are actively seeking to utilise AI to create characters that “will mimic human players. To some extent, they will think.”

 

Across several sectors, AI is shaping the present in preparation for a more efficient, safer, and exciting future. In fact, AI might very well become the next everyday innovation that we all simply take for granted.

3 Types of CRM Systems: How to Choose the Right One for Your Business

CRM

Jenna Bunnell – Senior Manager, Content Marketing, Dialpad

Whether we’re boosting our social media presence or teaching kids programming, we’re always looking for new ways to use technology. For modern businesses, the CRM system is an essential tool. It allows them to communicate more effectively, better understand their customers and polish their overall marketing efforts. 

Today’s CRM systems generally fall into one of three categories, each of which responds to different business challenges. To help you pick the right CRM system, this article highlights the unique features and benefits of each one.

 

What is a CRM system?

CRM stands for customer relationship management. A CRM system helps us understand the behaviour of our customers in more detail. It brings together relevant information and presents it to us in a way that helps us boost sales, attract new customers, or retain existing ones.

CRM responds to the way today’s customers communicate with brands. There are many different channels that customers now use (such as emails, social media and even SMS, which is great for SMS marketing). CRM helps bring these different data sources into one location, benefiting business and customer alike.

 

What should I look for in a CRM system?

There are some criteria that apply to all CRM systems, regardless of type.

For starters, you need to know where your customer data is located. Good CRM systems can bring together data from different locations; this allows you to share insights with multiple departments. If you’re shifting contacts and automations from a previous CRM, your new one ought to make this as simple as possible. Data security is also essential; since you’ll be storing customer interactions, it’s vital only your staff can access them. Look for a CRM with a track record of good security—a data breach can strike a serious blow to your reputation. 

Ease of use is another key consideration. A CRM should be something your staff can use without extensive training. It should also integrate properly with any relevant technology you’re already using—particularly since this existing technology often contains the data CRM systems need. Should you need support, this should be an actual person you can talk to. While customers are often happy with bots and AI—at least up to a point—you’ll need someone who knows what they’re talking about.

If you expect your business to expand in the future, consider the system’s payment model. A small business might use an onsite CRM system for a handful of staff members. However, these can be tricky to scale and may not receive useful software updates. A cloud-based system is more convenient in the long run, and although it demands an ongoing fee, it can ultimately help you reduce costs for your business. It’s also more popular than on-premise CRM by a considerable margin.

Make sure you understand the financial impact of your CRM system over time. If you’ve already invested in a cloud phone system, however, the benefits may already be apparent.

The simplest criterion for a good CRM is its impact on your workload. If a CRM is creating more problems than it’s solving, take your business elsewhere.

 

What are the three types of CRM system?

The three types of CRM system are operational, analytical, and collaborative. Each of these systems has its own strengths and responds to different demands.

 

Operational CRM features

An operational CRM system tracks the full journey of your customers. They also help you understand how a customer finds you in the first place.

A major part of operational CRM systems is automation; like robotic process automation, this helps you to save time and solve problems. When somebody interacts with your business, this system can make any updates to their contact details. If you’re wondering which leads to prioritise, the system can help you work out who’s likely to become a customer, or spend the most money. 

Operational CRM systems can also help your staff complete tasks more easily. They can assign them tasks (instead of automating them) if they offer value over a certain threshold. Alternatively, they can notify staff of the best way to move a lead down the sales pipeline. 

These systems can even drop customers into a relevant email funnel—if you have enough information on them. Purchase history, product interest, and prior staff interactions are some useful information sources.

If you need assistance with customer service more explicitly, an operational CRM system can highlight pertinent information before a support call. It can even send your customers a survey if you want to get feedback on your performance.

 

Is an operational CRM system right for me?

Operational CRM systems are great if you want to save time on sales and marketing tasks, or keep information in one place. You should consider one if you struggle to organise contact information, or want to understand your customers in more detail. 

They’re also ideal if you spend a lot of time assigning tasks to your sales team, or if you’ve shied away from lead scoring or email marketing in the past. If you feel your customer-facing departments aren’t performing as well as they should, an operational CRM’s automation helps provide staff with the information they need to excel.  

 

Analytical CRM features

An analytical CRM system is ideal for understanding all the data you collect in greater detail. It’s best for higher-level strategizing, but it can help improve customer interaction as well. This analysis is an excellent way to drive innovation in your business.

These kinds of CRM systems draw on data from multiple sources—monthly revenue, customer retention rates, and so on. This data is then stored in a central location, and mined by the system for useful insights. By mining the data, the system finds patterns that can aid your marketing efforts.

On a basic level, analytical CRM systems let you split up your customers into distinct groups, based on age, gender, purchase history, and other factors. This helps you target people with marketing messages that resonate with them. The system also allows you to build buyer personas—outlines of wants and needs that help you further refine your marketing. 

These systems offer a range of other insights into your customers. You can see which leads are most likely to make a purchase, and which marketing campaigns are the most effective. You can also accurately attribute revenue to specific interactions, including multiple interactions from a single customer. If your products are subject to seasonal sales spikes, you can use the system to create more accurate sales quotas. 

Outside of marketing efforts, analytical CRM helps improve customer service. You can see what customers complain about, and how quickly your customer service teams solve problems for them. 

 

Is an analytical CRM system right for me?

An analytical CRM system is ideal if you have a lot of data you’re not sure how to use effectively. If you already track stats like average speed of answer, you can certainly appreciate the value of this CRM system. 

While tools like Excel automation handle a lot of grunt work, analytical CRM can help you understand why customers are (or aren’t) buying your products, and reduce time spent looking at spreadsheets for business insights. If you want to use data to improve your overall sales strategy, an analytical CRM system is also a great choice.

 

Collaborative CRM features

A collaborative CRM allows you to share data more easily between different departments and locations. It also helps you share data with people outside the business, such as suppliers and distributors.

While the other CRM systems are concerned—explicitly or implicitly— with acquiring new customers, collaborative CRM systems focus on keeping existing ones. They do this by tracking the ways customers interact with you—the channels they use (like a VoIP phone system) and the nature of the interactions themselves (e.g. its subject and any resolution). Some collaborative CRM systems also help store customer documents from multiple departments in a single, easy-to-access location.

By granting multiple departments access to the same information—and allowing them to communicate with each other—your staff gain new insights into keeping customers happy. Pooling knowledge helps you sell to customers more effectively, anticipate customer demand, and improve your marketing materials. 

New customers can benefit from collaborative CRM systems, too. Sales teams can glean customer preferences and goals, which they can then share with their colleagues. This results in a more personalised experience and ensures new customers are likely to become regular ones.

 

Is a collaborative CRM system right for me?

This CRM system is suitable for any business with communication problems—if you’ve got staff spread across multiple locations, for example. You might have tried using a whiteboard online (or something similar) to facilitate dialogue; this system makes communication easier still. If your customers are complaining about having to repeat themselves, this is probably the system for you.

Even if all your staff are under one roof, this system can help strengthen ties between different departments. It’s also a good choice if you want to respond to specific customer preferences, or share information with vendors more easily. 

 

In brief

A CRM system is an excellent choice for many businesses, but it’s important to understand the unique requirements of your own. By having a clear idea of the improvements you want to make, you’ll pick a system that has a major, positive impact on your business.

3 Business Tech Trends That Will Continue Post-Pandemic

Business tech

Although the phrase “post-pandemic” is a bit premature, current events would lead you to believe that the end is near. People are getting vaccinated against the coronavirus and the world is slowly starting to reopen. For businesses, these new developments mean making adjustments to accommodate their target audiences as they re-enter society. A large part of that encompasses enhancing the consumer experience. 

People are anxious to get out of the house and engage in everyday activities, from paying a visit to the bank or grocery store to shopping and eating out. However, underneath that excitement is also some fears and concerns about life after the pandemic. 

Essentially, providing a sense of relief, comfort, and convenience for your customers can help make this transition more manageable. Though there are several ways of improving the customer service experience, here are some effective tech solutions used during the pandemic that will likely remain for years to come.

 

Remote And Hybrid Work Schedules

Your employees play a significant role in customer experience. Whether they interact with consumers directly or indirectly, their skills and ability to perform their jobs effectively matter. When your employees feel unsafe, uncomfortable, or inconvenienced, it impedes their productivity levels. A worsened morale and poor output ultimately lead to dissatisfied customers. 

Businesses are using technology to improve customer experience by developing exclusively remote and hybrid positions for employees. Such options enable employees to select a convenient schedule for reduced exposure, better work-life balance, and improved emotional health. These positives ultimately manifest in their work and trickle down to your customers. 

 

Contactless Service And Payment

Though more people are getting vaccinated and the coronavirus threat is subsiding, there are still many fears. Consumers worry as they start engaging with others again that they increase their risk of contracting or spreading the virus. Not to mention, many people have grown accustomed to the modern conveniences afforded to them during the pandemic. 

Take contactless delivery, for example. Whether someone wanted to order takeout from a local restaurant or buy household products online, they could do so safely and conveniently. They could shop for things they want, make a payment, and have the merchandise dropped off at their front door. 

Brick-and-mortar establishments want to provide the same sense of security and convenience for their target audience. That’s why they’ve invested in technologies like touchless-ordering applications for an improved in-person experience. For instance, a family visiting a restaurant can place their order, request additional services, and make a payment in a matter of seconds. Wait staff can essentially focus on providing a positive experience as the platform streamlines processes and accommodate consumer needs more efficiently. 

 

Virtual Services

Not everyone is ready to get back into society, despite the improvements with the pandemic. There’s also a large group of consumers that enjoyed the convenience of receiving services in real-time. Businesses that chose to shift to eCommerce platforms and utilize digital tools to interact with their customers at the height of the pandemic can’t help but notice organizational and financial benefits. It enabled them to reach a wider audience and save on overhead costs.

Ultimately, eStores and virtual services will become a formal business practice. Brands will continue to push their products and services on their websites. Healthcare professionals, attorneys, and even real estate agents will continue to rely on video conferencing software, file-sharing apps, and other tools to treat patients, meet clients, show properties, and complete other transactions. 

 

The onset of the coronavirus pandemic was challenging for businesses. It forced them into survival mode as sales declined. Those that made it through those trying times were companies that thought outside of the box to implement new strategies to reach their target audiences. Although adjusting took some time, the integration of technology enabled them to enhance employee and consumer experience. These concepts kept everyone safe, improved productivity, and increased sales. As such, these tech trends will remain a staple in business operations post-pandemic and beyond. 

The Evolution of Frictionless Payments

Closeup of hands using contactless payment and credit card against a blue background

Frictionless payments are essential for e-commerce platforms to reduce the barriers between online shopping and completed checkouts. The buying process needs to be easier for both the customer and the seller, because an enjoyable user experience leads to higher conversion rates and fewer abandoned shopping carts.

Effective frictionless payments are essential for both large and growing businesses. When done right, frictionless payments improve the checkout process by eliminating waiting times, which creates a faster checkout experience. It’s all about reducing barriers and the steps towards a completed sale. Ultimately, frictionless payments should feel like a natural part of the customer experience.

Understanding how frictionless payments have developed and reviewing the history of buying processes will help us understand how businesses will be able to continue their growth in the digital age. So, let’s explore the evolution of frictionless payments and predict how businesses will drive higher conversion rates and create better customer experiences in the future.

 

1950: Debit and credit cards

The credit card was developed in the mid-twentieth century, but it wasn’t until 1973 that the card payments system was computerized. This frictionless payment reduced transaction times to just one minute and gave rise to the era of electronic consumer payments. Computerized payments would eventually allow for future online transactions, where e-commerce businesses could contact banks to finalize payments with ease. In 1994, Stanford Federal Credit Union in California was the first financial institution to offer online internet banking, leading the way for online transactions to begin in 1995.

 

1999: 1-Click

Bookseller turned global conglomerate Amazon patented an online transaction process called ‘1-Click’ in 1999. This allowed customers to buy products with just a click of a button. Items could be purchased at the product level, without adding to a shopping cart, meaning that customers could buy a product in a flash. Voila: no shopping cart abandonment. With 1-Click, personal details and your bank account details are stored online, safely assuming that users are content with the same delivery address and bank account being used for every transaction.

The patent has since expired, meaning a flurry of businesses can now utilize this frictionless checkout method. Given the global average rate for shopping cart abandonment is 69.8 per cent, skipping over the shopping cart means that e-commerce businesses can maximize their conversion rates and generate more sales through this simple process.

 

2003: Chip, pin, and tap

Going back to credit and debit cards, a more recent development contributed to the evolution of frictionless payments. In 2003, the introduction of Chip and PIN in the UK allowed cards to store data in a small chip on the face of a card. This data could then be accessed using a four-digit PIN, authorizing the payment. The American conversion to chip and PIN was announced in 2012 and completed in 2015.

Not only did this process increase efficiencies for both customers and businesses by automatically authorizing payments rather than signing a receipt, but it also curated a secure form of payment. Only those with access to the card and the secret PIN could access the account. The advance demonstrates how frictionless transactions can be made easier, but importantly, more secure at the checkout.

Contactless payments were introduced in 2007, making the checkout process even easier. Today, one in five card payments is contactless.

 

2011: The mobile revolution

As mobile phones became smaller, they became as much an essential accessory as a wallet or purse. They’re with us all the time. So it’s not surprising that these handheld devices have become ingrained in the checkout culture. Leading mobile manufacturers, Google, Apple, Android, and Samsung all launched digital wallets between 2011 and 2015, allowing users to complete transactions with them rather than their debit or credit cards.

These transactions had the added security benefit of authorizing payments through a fingerprint or facial scan. Furthermore, these digital wallets could be used in-store or online, storing personal data to automatically fill in those arduous forms with personal details, delivery addresses, and billing addresses. The innovation helps further speed up online sales and transactions.

 

Now and the future…

As online transactions become easier and quicker on the customer side, some obstacles for businesses to achieve a completely frictionless payment remain. Businesses must ensure that they balance the risks and rewards that come with streamlining checkout and ensuring protection from fraud and abuse.

As the popularity of omnichannel sales, digital wallets and one-click buying continues to develop, innovative ways to maximize sales without being affected by fraud and abuse have been developed. Commerce protection platforms, such as Signifyd, drive automated decisions on all transactions, approving more good orders and recovering lost revenue from chargebacks. This streamlines the customer experience, limiting the need for authentication forms and processes. Overall, commerce protection platforms feel like a natural part of the checkout process, going unnoticed by customers, and they can increase conversion rates by four to six per cent on average.

Frictionless payments will continue to improve, creating better customer experiences and improving business performance. As more sales move online, and transaction speeds and efficiencies increase, it’s important to tackle attempts of fraud and abuse. At every stage of the evolution of frictionless payment, new processes are helping to make every transaction safer and more worthwhile for customers and businesses.

Why Companies Need to Take Cyber Attacks More Seriously

Cyber attacks

Reports reveal a rise in hacked and breached data throughout the coronavirus pandemic, these being from such sources as IoT and mobile devices – devices increasingly common throughout the workplace. In fact, research shows that U.K. businesses experienced a 31% increase in cyber scam cases in 2020 from May to June.

The pandemic pushed businesses and workforces away from their usual routines and reliable systems, creating opportunities for hackers to take advantage of. In addition to this, as many would now prefer remote working to stay even once pandemic restrictions have lifted, it’s essential that companies take cyber-attacks, and furthermore their cyber security and adaptations to this amidst the pandemic, seriously. 

Cyber-attacks can be ruinous for owners of a business, a report from Statista released the 25th of May 2021 revealing:

“The average cost of cyber security breaches in the last 12 months in the United Kingdom was 2,670 British pounds across all businesses, however, this figure becomes greater as the size of a business increases. The cost of a cyber attack is not only financial, with companies having to spend time on recovering from the attacks.”

 

Ways to Protect Your Company from Cyber Attacks 

There are numerous ways companies can help to protect themselves from cyber attacks, including those listed below: 

  • Cyber insurance
  • Penetration testing
  • Firewalls
  • Employee training

 

By adopting these methods, business owners can help to strengthen their business’s cyber security. 

 

Cyber Insurance 

Cyber insurance can help to protect a business against malicious cyber-attacks, supporting them in the event of such an attack in various ways. Cyber insurance can cover the following after a cyber attack:

  • The costs for investigating the cyber crime
  • Reputation management
  • Loss of income that’s been caused by the shutdown of the business
  • Restoration of computer systems
  • And more…

 

The full extent of what’s covered by cyber insurance will depend on the provider and the details of the cover a business has opted for. 

Pricing from Get Indemnity starts at just £26.91 per month for a basic cyber insurance policy. 

 

Penetration Testing 

Penetration testing helps to identify vulnerabilities in a firm’s computer system by simulating a cyber attack against it. A penetration test, or pen test for short, can be used to try and breach numerous different application systems, the insights collected from such tests able to then be utilised to address vulnerabilities in the hopes of preventing against real, malicious cyber attacks in the future.   

There are a handful of really specialist companies that offer pen testing, which start from just a few thousand pounds.

 

Firewalls

A firewall is a type of security device used to help protect a network. It offers this protection by filtering traffic whilst blocking any outsiders from getting unauthorised access to private data stored on computers.  

 

Employee Training

With so many teams now working from home, it’s vital for a company to ensure that their employees understand how to both avoid and identify cyber security threats. 

It might help to conduct training sessions with staff on cyber security, helping a workforce to become better educated, and therefore more aware, on just how important the cyber security of a company is, and how to protect against cyber-attacks. 

E-Commerce Checkout Tech Trends to Improve the Customer Experience

woman using a smartphone to complete an online transaction

The customer experience is essential for improving conversion rates in the e-commerce market. It’s important to make the buying and checkout process as simple as possible, creating fewer barriers to a complete sale.

While online sales have become the new normal for quick and efficient shopping, there’s still room for improvement and growth. Here, we explore the expectations of customers for an easier and more enjoyable checkout experience, and the innovative solutions that are shaping the online marketplace.

 

Frictionless transactions

It’s never been easier to buy online. Gone are the days where consumers would have to trudge through countless forms, filling in personal details, delivery address, card details, billing addresses, and authentication. Today, many large brands use a more efficient transaction process to help consumers buy their products. It takes just one click.

Frictionless transactions are essential for online shops looking to increase their conversion rate from basket to checkout. Did you know that the average shopping cart abandonment rate across all industries is 69.8 per cent? Reducing the barriers to a complete checkout is essential. This is achieved through processes such as one-click shopping, where customer details are stored to allow a speedier buying process. The reduced time prevents any second thoughts on the customer’s part, meaning that businesses can increase their conversion rates. Ultimately, the customer gets the product that we all know they want.

There is potential that this could damage the customer experience. Quicker shopping processes increase the potential for fraud and abuse. Businesses may use checks, such as a captcha, to ensure that customers are legitimate. This is another barrier to a complete checkout that genuine customers may struggle with. Eventually, a customer may abandon their cart. To avoid this, commerce protection platforms such as Signifyd are optimising the transaction experience. Intelligent and automated modules can accurately identify risks of fraud and abuse, stopping them in their tracks, while customers get to enjoy a streamlined order fulfilment process. Overall, the customer experience is improved so much that these automated agents can increase conversion rates by four to six percent on average.

 

POS lending

E-commerce is increasing its share of the global retail market. In 2015, online transactions accounted for 7.4 per cent of all retail sales. By 2020, this figure had leapt to 18 per cent. The ease of purchase and variety of choice makes the online world a fierce competitor for traditional brick-and-mortar stores. But being unable to view or experience a product before purchasing may prevent try-before-you-buy shoppers from visiting online stores.

Some stores consider POS lending or Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) services as the solution to attracting these customers. At the checkout, customers can opt to pay for their products later. Once they’ve received their products and are satisfied with them, customers can complete the purchase. If they’re not convinced and want to return the products, they can by cancelling the loan without any money leaving their bank account.

These BNPL services work a little differently from loans. They don’t make their money through interest on the loan but instead take a small share of your final bill from the retailer. The tech quickly checks your eligibility before approving your small loan.

This trend is popular among clothing retailers, where customers may want to try a variety of styles and sizes before they commit any money to the purchase. Items that don’t fit or are not suitable can be returned, allowing customers to only pay for what they’ve kept.

Will this trend stick? It’s uncertain, as some European legislators – like the UK Treasury – are beginning to regulate these services. They believe that these small loans should fall under the Financial Conduct Authority. They warn that the BNPL market, valued at £2.7 billion ($3.7 billion), may encourage people to spend more than they can afford. Therefore, this trend may be short-lived or come with greater barriers in the future.

 

Prioritising the mobile experience

The way we pay continues to change. In-store, we’ve used cash, cards, and now contactless payment. Online, our options are similarly expanding. Where computers and card payments had given rise to e-commerce checkouts, today mobile traffic and digital wallets are helping to improve the customer experience.

As of February 2021, mobile activity made up 56 per cent of all online traffic. Meanwhile, mobile searches equate to 60 per cent of all online searches. It’s clear that mobiles are the most convenient and preferred way to view information online.

However, the e-commerce conversion rate on mobile devices is only 2.25 per cent. Meanwhile, desktop conversion rates stand at 4.81 per cent. The trend for online traffic does not correlate with our e-commerce checkouts. This may be because businesses have not optimised their online checkout for mobile devices. E-commerce businesses must improve the customer experience on mobile devices, understanding how it differentiates from desktop buying.

Digital wallets are one example of an optimised mobile experience. Allowing customers to purchase goods using their mobile-linked bank account means that purchases can be made using the security of fingerprint or facial scanning, automating the process of delivery and billing.

Other checkout trends make the mobile customer experience easier and prevent cart abandonment. Unnecessary buttons which can navigate away from the checkout, such as hamburger menu icons, are removed during the checkout stage. All the buttons needed to complete the transaction should be kept in the ‘thumb zone’ – this means that all essential buttons are within easy reach of a mobile user. This makes the checkout experience more comfortable for the customer and can speed up the checkout process.

Adopting innovative solutions to the e-commerce checkout experience will help drive conversions, improve your business, and assist customers in their buying journey. Understanding how technology is changing and the new ways that we use it ensures that businesses can grow with the e-commerce revolution. Businesses can be proactive in fraud prevention, user experience, and diversifying payment options to create an easy and enjoyable customer experience.