Online tools save time, increase efficiency and can make you more money. I am always looking for new tools to try and you should be too.
In this article, I wanted to ask business owners what they consider the top tools for their daily professional lives, and how they use these tools to increase efficiency and maximize success.
Here are their answers, along with how these tools truly impacted their efficiency.
More data means management challenges
The more data a business has access to, the more trouble it can be to process and manage that data. This is certainly true in a “big data” context, but it also applies in a more traditional operational data setting. Karl Copenhaver, Managing Partner at Premier Coach Works, describes how his business solves this problem using a data management and processing tool:
“One of the newest tools that we have adapted is a tablet app from CCC One for work order generation. We are able to scan vehicle ID tags right from the vehicle, and the app decodes the vehicle identification number (VIN). With the proper make and model of the vehicle, we can then add all of the other information we need: mileage, color, damaged area, etc., as well as take 4 corner photos of the vehicle and photos to document the damage. Once the estimate is written, we can then submit this electronic file directly to the insurance company for approval. This app has allowed us to collect more accurate information in a timelier manner.”
Websites also generate a large amount of data and analytics, and for online businesses, this data is especially important to manage. Tom Wilkerson, CEO of ForkliftCertification.com, explains how he easily overviews his online data:
“With my online business’ success completely relying on our website, Google Search Console is my go-to tool to make sure everything is running smoothly. Without this, I would have to check a variety of online tools to double-check if my website is being indexed by search engines, whether we’re growing or declining in website traffic or if anything is broken. With Google Search Console, all of this information is in one place, thus making website maintenance more efficient.”
Better project management tools
Project management is always a challenge, but this is one area that software tools and apps have really excelled in. Different tools work best for different companies, and of course personal preference plays a role. Here’s what our respondents had to say about their favorite project management and collaboration tools.
Patrick Suh, Director of Marketing at ExpoMarketing, points out the importance of both verbal discussions and visual collaboration tools. He comments:
“We use a project management software called iMeet central. This helps our company manage all internal- and client-facing projects. We use many features on the software to help us meet important deadlines. iMeet central provides opportunities for creative proofing, automated workflows, gantt charts, and discussion threads to be easily accessible. The tool is important to our organization because it eliminates the need to follow email threads on all projects. This has significantly increased our efficiency on projects because we don’t need to have more production meetings that take up valuable time.”
Carter Wigell, CEO of Ideator, highlights tools which meet a different set of needs—namely rapid growth, real-time verbal discussions and international collaboration tools. He says:
“Salesforce.com is a no-brainer for customer relationship management (CRM). It also grows with you, a key for any startup or high-growth company. Intercom is also necessary for us. It allows any of our teammates to easily speak with any of our users to answer questions, get feedback and build relationships. Slack is another go-to product for Ideator, not just within the organization, but outside it as well. We’re plugged into many of the entrepreneurial hubs around the world in real time with Slack.”
Streamlining customer service processes
Customer service, especially in a social media and online shopping world, can quickly become a neglected area for many businesses. Companies like Kombucha Kamp are using technology to help solve this problem. Alex LaGory, President of Kombucha Kamp, describes how software tools have helped his business rise to the customer service challenge:
“For the last 6 months we’ve been using Help Scout, which has streamlined our customer service email process dramatically. Of the many options available, one reason we chose Help Scout was because it allows our small family business to keep the natural feel of email when communicating with our clients, rather than a ticket system which may seem impersonal. Beyond that, it offers a great way to manage internal communications right in the stream with the customer’s original email. We’ve also integrated it with our store to display the client’s order and shipping history next to their inquiry, which saves a lot of time.”
Automated office functions
Healthcare costs aren’t just pressuring patients; they’re inspiring doctors to maximize efficiency in their offices and improve patient experiences, too. The simplest way to do this without negatively affecting the standard of care is to automate administrative office tasks. Jill Darrah, Director of Marketing for Changes Plastic Surgery, comments on the practice’s use of efficiency tools:
“Tools like DoctorBase and Real Patient Ratings interface with the practice management and scheduling programs like Nextech, allowing the practice automated appointment reminders and review curating. This streamlines our practice by allowing employees to spend more time with patients and less time on phone calls.”
What are the top tools you are using in your business to increase efficiency?
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