Tag Archive for 'Customer Relations Management'

8 Tools To Manage Your Time More Effectively

We’re always talking about tools to make you more productive, but the key element of productivity is managing your time as effectively as possible. Overdoing it on productivity apps and services can be daunting but there are a number of applications that you should be using to a) visualize your workload, b) handle it more effectively, and c) see and analyze your results. Here are some great tools to manage your time as efficiently as you can to avoid falling into the trap of not having enough hours in the day.


Customer relationship management isn’t just important in ensuring the best possible customer experience, it’s a great way to visualize what needs to be done, monitor what your team is doing, collaborate with your team, and analyze results. Solutions range from free basic CRMs like Zoho to large feature-rich CRMs like Salesforce.com or Sugar CRM. This is not just a way to stay on top of everything without spending a lot of time, it’s also a great way to make sure your team is on the same page.


All brands need a social media presence, but it can be incredibly tedious to manage all those accounts. With HootSuite, you don’t have to. All of your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and FourSquare accounts are all in one place. You can schedule posts, see analytics on how well your posts are doing, allow your team to post to the accounts while monitoring activity, and it helps you save a ton of time on your social media efforts.

Remember The Milk

Remember The Milk is probably the most popular task management platform out there. Aside from just creating a list of tasks, the app lets you break projects down easily, sort your tasks, schedule reminders, sync with Google, Twitter, or Outlook, and create collaborative lists for tasks for your entire team. Doris is another good application that does the same things as well.


We’ve mentioned Toggl before but it’s definitely worth mentioning again. It’s a very simple time tracking tool and you can quickly put in tasks and time how long they take. This helps with billing and invoicing (the app will even do the math for you and integrate with BaseCamp, Freshbooks, or Quickbooks) as well as visualizing where you’re spending your time. If your team is under 5 people, the account is free, larger accounts are $5 per month per user.

Rescue Time

While Toggl helps you keep track of your work hours, RescueTime is a personal analytics service that monitors everything you do on your computer and mobile device and reports back with very simple-to-use analytics and graphs. By seeing exactly how much time you spend doing things online, you can spot inefficiencies in your day and make real analytics-based changes to improve the effectiveness of the time you spend using your computer and mobile device. Plus, it’s free.

StayFocusd/LeechBlock/Self Control

All three of these are the nuclear option for people who can’t stop going on time wasting websites. StayFocusd for Chrome, LeechBlock for Firefox, and Self Control for Mac block access to specific sites for a specific period of time. This keeps you from drifting over to check your Twitter feed by sending you to a friendly reminder to get back to work.


Thymer bills itself as the project management app for people who hate project management. It’s a lightweight and simple platform that really does make it easier to manage large projects and break them down into tasks. It’s very intuitive and well laid out. It allows you to collaborate and share docs with your team and keeps track of their hours and costs. You can try it for free but plans cost anywhere from $25 to $75 per month.


This is a nice and simple invoicing app that helps you save time on…well, tedious invoicing. You can simply customize your invoice as much as you want, set up recurring invoices, integrate with online payment platforms like PayPal, send pre-invoice estimates, track expenses and costs, and track hours for yourself as well as your team. Ronin offers a limited free account but real accounts range from $15 to $50 per month.

Staying in Touch With Clients For Repeat Sales

We all know it’s easier and cheaper to keep an old client than to find a new client, so why aren’t you doing everything you can to make sure your clients are satisfied and to keep your business name on their minds?

Every customer wants to be treated like they’re cared about, and not like just another email address on a list. You want to make sure that every customer is satisfied with your service and knows about any new products, services, or deals that your business may be rolling out. At the very least, you want them to remember you next time they need your service.


Sometimes, it’s enough to just check in on a customer or client’s satisfaction. “Are you happy with our service? Do you need anything else? Okay, I’m available whenever you need.” Don’t just let a person do business with you, make sure they are satisfied enough to come back or recommend you to their friends. You shouldn’t be satisfied with a one-time buy. You want to get the most out of every sale.

I bought a small piece of music equipment a few months ago from a company called Sweetwater that I found on Google. It was a small purchase and I had never intended to use them again, but just to buy and get on my way. Then, AJ called about my $8 order. He wasn’t trying to upsell me or get me on a list, he just wanted to make sure I got what I needed and that I know that if I ever need anything else, he knows a lot about that stuff and can help. He then sent an additional email when the order was shipped and another when the product arrived (with a thank-you note from AJ). I was never going to use them again but because of the way they treated my tiny $8 order, you better believe I’ll use Sweetwater again if the opportunity ever comes up. I feel very comfortable reaching out to them.


Just in case I forget about Sweetwater, they remind me of their existence, their products, and current deals with a monthly email newsletter. Though you have probably heard of the importance of email newsletters already, their relevance can’t be overestimated.

If you are a business, you need to collect the names and information of your customers. Use that info to tell them what you need to tell them. You have a direct line to every customer who gave you their email address, phone number, or even mailing address.

If you’re overwhelmed by the idea of a regular newsletter, remember that they’re not blog posts: they don’t need to be sent out at specific times every couple of weeks. A few months ago, I purchased “Louis CK: Live at the Beacon”, a stand-up comedy special that he released himself online. He has sent me only one email since, and when he did I knew it was something important about him and his business that he wanted me to know. Because he sent just one email in months, it was way more effective than frequent, regularly scheduled newsletters that I usually just end up unsubscribing from anyway.

The goal of the newsletter is to tell your past clients what they need to know, not bother them with filler.

Social Media

More and more focus on social media means you have an additional outlet available to reach your customers. Whether you use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+ (or all 4), ask your customers or clients to follow you. Don’t just use it to promote, be useful and helpful. The beauty of social media isn’t that it offers a chance to market directly to the consumer but the ability of the consumer to interact directly with you and your business.

Using The Right Tools

MailChimp is arguably the best email list tool out there and its users are very satisfied. It’s very easy to use and requires very little time to figure it all out. Simply create your list, customize your template, and start a campaign. The best part of the service is the result tracking features that tell you who is opening, clicking, Tweeting, and coming back for more. Accounts with under 2,000 and 12,000 monthly emails are free but larger accounts start at $10.

Another good option and old standard is Constant Contact, which does both email and social media campaigns.

For better control over your social media outreach, consider a tool like HootSuite, which allows you to see your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, FourSquare, and other accounts all in one application. They provide great analytics and offer a free account for up to 5 social profiles. The Pro account for unlimited profiles, message scheduling, and better integration costs $10 per month.

Test Everything – The 4-Hour-Workweek Way

Business decisions are tough, especially when you have to make them blindly. You wouldn’t pick a flavor of ice cream the same way, so why let the possible fate of your business rest on a guess? In the 4-Hour-Workweek, author Tim Ferriss talks about his need to test everything, not just the flavors at Baskin Robbins. By investing a small amount of money or time into split testing ideas, advertising, copy, content, marketing, and anything else, Ferriss never has to make a business decision on a whim. He has cold hard numbers to tell him where to go.

When Ferriss wrote his book, he focused largely on PPC ads for testing, but with sites like Twitter and Reddit becoming massive successes for users and marketers alike, you don’t even have to spend a buck on testing. Let’s take a look at all the parts of your business you can test.

Test Your Product

Is there a market out there for your product or service? There’s only one way to find out: put it out there and see if anyone wants to buy. Ferriss recommends doing this before you actually shell out a bunch of money to a manufacturer or suppliers. This means you can’t actually capture the orders or credit card info but you can see how many people are actually interested. If the numbers show a legitimate market, go for it. If not, maybe it’s wise to go back to the drawing board.

Test Your Headlines

Sometimes it isn’t the product, it’s how you sell it. Split testing headlines and slogans goes back to long before the internet, but with web tools like PPC ads, Tweets, and Reddit you can compare the success of different product headlines quickly, simply, and affordably. This comes down to simple numbers. No need to assume, go with the headline that generates more clicks.

Test Your Copy

Everything on your site and blog is a key element of your sales and marketing strategy. But is it effective? The best way to find out is to put it out there and see if you get any bites. Don’t look at your analytics as a measure of success, look at them as a road map that tells you what works and what doesn’t.

Test Your Marketing Strategy

In the past, businesses would pay thousands to get a focus group together and develop a marketing strategy around their target buyers’ needs and wants. Today, you don’t have to spend a single dollar to zero in on your target market and get their input on how to make the product work better for them. Hit the Twittersphere, Facebook, or even your email list and ask your users or potential customers what they want from your product – no more guesswork required.

Using Metrics The Right Way

When you test everything, you also need to measure everything. When split testing, there’s not much to it except comparing the number of clicks between A and B. When testing things like your website, your content, and your product, you need to look more on user behavior. Where are they clicking on your page? How long do they spend on specific pages? What page converts users to the next step and which page sees a huge bounce rate?

Your users will tell you everything you want to know about your product and strategy, you just have to find their answers.

Use Your Customers To Improve Your Product or Service

There’s no need for guesswork or highly-paid consultants to find the best ways to improve your service, product, or customer experience. Instead, you need to go right to the source. No matter what industry you’re in, your goal is to a) sell and b) make the customer experience as good as possible so you can… sell some more. The old adage “The customer is always right” applies to nothing more than it does to learning how your customers use your product and what they want to gain from it.

Unlike the past, when you’d have to gather a focus group together to gain any kind of insight into your customers’ minds, your customers are available to you via Twitter, Facebook, and Email at all times. Don’t waste their opinions, learn from them – they’re the experts when it comes to buying and using your service or product.

They are already talking about you. Sometimes you don’t even need to ask customers directly – they’re likely already talking about you on the web. See what people are saying in online discussions and on social media sites about your product as well as your competitors’ products. If you see a trend in positive comments or reviews, you’ll get a better idea of your strengths. If you see a trend in negative comments or reviews, you will instantly discover ways that you can improve your product or user experience.

Use your social network for something other than marketing. Too many businesses are lost when it comes to using Twitter, much less getting the most from their followers. People who follow or like a product or company are very likely to help you make it better for them. While marketing is important, the information you can get from loyal users is invaluable to your business.

Go right for the inbox. This is another case where businesses focus too much on sales and not enough on interacting with a loyal customer base. If they’re subscribed to your newsletter, they are interested and want to make the most of their product. Just like followers or Facebook fans, these are the real experts in using your product or service. Use your email newsletter to seek out beta testers, ask users to fill out surveys, or just request any general feedback to get anecdotal accounts of what it’s like to be on the customer end of your business.

Do it all the time. Since there’s no need to round up a focus group, the entire internet becomes one big focus group. Keep soliciting feedback, particularly in the early stage of your business. Early on, you’ll focus largely on qualitative data – users describing the pros and cons of their experience, problems they are having, etc. As your user base gets larger, you will need to go bigger scale and focus more on surveys and learning user behavior through in-depth analytics.