Tuesday, 9 December 2014

UK Broadband still patchy - of course it is!

I've just been reading this article on the BBC news website outlining the gap between the fastest and slowest broadband speeds in the UK.

The results come as no surprise to me, as having a business based in rural North Devon our office is at the end of the line and doesn't have the best speed, but I do know that it is faster than some neighbouring villages/properties. As broadband speed is so bad here I know of many people that have gone down the satellite broadband route just to get any form of decent bandwidth.

I don't expect that if/when we get fibre broadband to our exchange that it will make much difference, we are probably still too far from the exchange to make any difference.

Here's a speed test that I have done this morning - 9th December 2014

As you can see from the results, the download speed is is certainly a lot less than the average reported of 23 Mbps (Mega bits per second), and even for a business it is less than an average typical household requirement of 10 Mbps. With more and more official documentation having to be logged online nowadays it is imperative that all should have access to a decent broadband service.

Even though things are supposed to be improving there will always be some of us that will not get as good as service as others, just because we choose to live and work in a rural location we should not have to miss out on better broadband speeds or have to pay an additional cost to a satellite provider if we don't want to.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Windows Server 2003 - End of support July 2015

Are you currently using Windows Server 2003? It has been announced that support and upgrades will end on 14th July 2015 - this might seem like a long time away but it isn't. Start thinking about what you would like to do in your business NOW!

The following video will explain more:

If you're unsure of how you would like to go forward we offer consultancy services to help you make the right decision for your business.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Celebrity Leaks from iCloud - is the cloud secure?

Further to recent reports in the press of the leaking of personal photos and videos from the iCloud service this has prompted me to think of a few things regarding security and the type of information that was leaked.

First though, I have just seen a news article stating that Apple will be tightening security after the recent leaks, but is this too little too late?

I don't personally use iCloud, the cloud services I use are Microsoft services which includes the OneDrive cloud storage solution so I am writing from the perspective of a non-user of the service that was affected and these opinions are all my own. I use my OneDrive as a back up of my photos and documents, but after reading about the content of some of the pictures etc that were leaked I don't feel that is the appropriate type of material to be storing in a cloud environment.

Reading the article it wasn't the security that was breached but passwords were guessed or the accounts were hacked into via phishing. This is an ideal time to remind you to ensure your passwords are very strong, don't use things like your date/place of birth or your name and don't click on any suspicious attachments in any emails you receive.

Cloud services are secure I've been using them for a while now personally and for work, it's down to users to ensure that they do the best they can to protect their accounts.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Do you have negative perceptions of Internet Explorer? Microsoft considered changing its name.

Popular Browser Icons
I've recently read an article on the Forbes website explaining that Microsoft considered changing the name of its Internet Explorer (IE) browser due to negative perceptions of it.

Although it has 58% of the web browser market share there have been some issues with it having a bad reputation in the past due to issues with security in previous versions.

Personally, I don't think a re-brand would have made much difference, if you have a perception of something and don't like it a new name wouldn't make any difference and you probably still wouldn't use it. Another point is that you would also know that it's still developed by Microsoft.

I think most users of the Internet have their own favourite browsers be it Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox or another altenative, therefore why change from what you like to something else? As for me I need to use all of these browsers, mainly for testing that any websites that we develop work well in all, but in some cases certain sites will run better on one browser over another.

What do you think? Do you have a favourite browser that you use? Should Microsoft have changed the name of Internet Explorer to something else? I look forward to receiving your comments.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Cloud Technology - The Future?

I have recently been reading this article on the Future of Cloud Computing that was written in 2010 discussing how we would be working by 2020 and thought I would look at how the technology has developed in just 4 years not the 10 years as predicted by the article. I have selected just a few points from the article and the comments I am writing are my personal opinion.

Quote: "A solid majority of technology experts and stakeholders participating in the fourth Future of the Internet survey expect that by 2020 most people will access software applications online and share and access information through the use of remote server networks, rather than depending primarily on tools and information housed on their individual, personal computers. They say that cloud computing will become more dominant than the desktop in the next decade. In other words, most users will perform most computing and communicating activities through connections to servers operated by outside firms."

I agree that a lot of software applications are now online, but from experience some firms are still skeptical about using cloud technology and like to have information held on their own devices. Using cloud technology firms are able to allow their employees to work from various devices, mobiles, tablets etc. This allows a more flexible way of working as employees are able to access documents etc not just when sat at their desk but when away for work or if they work from home. In this respect cloud computing is starting to become more dominant for those firms that operate flexible working policies.

Quote: "The highly engaged, diverse set of respondents to an online, opt-in survey included 895 technology stakeholders and critics. The study was fielded by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center.  Some 71% agreed with the statement:

By 2020, most people won’t do their work with software running on a general-purpose PC. Instead, they will work in Internet-based applications such as Google Docs, and in applications run from smartphones. Aspiring application developers will develop for smartphone vendors and companies that provide Internet-based applications, because most innovative work will be done in that domain, instead of designing applications that run on a PC operating system.”

Rather than using Google Docs, in my business we access documents etc using Microsoft's Office 365 but there are certainly many ways in which to access your documents using cloud technology. Documents can also be saved and/or shared using OneDrive or a similar document storage application. These applications can be used from a range of devices, including a smartphone or tablet device. There are now many more developers that specialise in the development of Apps for these devices, but I feel that there is still a place for software that is developed specifically for PC's, especially if it specific for a business and they have no need to access their applications via cloud technology.

Quote: " A number of people said cloud computing presents difficult security problems and further exposes private information to governments, corporations, thieves, opportunists, and human and machine error."

When selecting a cloud computing provider, it's imperative that you check that you will be using a provider that offers security protection for you and secure servers your data. You must also ensure that the servers which hold your data are located in a country that will conform with any local data protection laws. Yes, human error can occur, but this can happen even when you are using a network server or local PC.

Why not take a look at the full report and form your own opinion? I strongly believe that cloud technology is the way forward and we have been using it and offering cloud solutions to our customers for quite a while now.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Planning is the Key

A question that is quite common is -  “How do I design a successful Web site?”

As you might suspect, the answer is, “Lack of proper planning beforehand.”

Let’s put it another way, in programming, there’s an old saying, which states: “The sooner you start your coding the longer it takes to finish.”

Planning out your website before you build it is essential. To borrow a technique from the film industry, I recommend that you create a storyboard or mind map, which is a type of a flow chart of your new website design. You don’t have to be an accomplished artist to draw out your idea, but it’s essential to create it on paper or using a mind map first.

On each piece of paper if creating the storyboard, the goal is to have room for an image at the top, plus space underneath for writing down information. As you might suspect, the first page to start with is your home (or welcome) page, which will typically have the most information as it will contain the page the people visit before they enter your site and as people go through your site, the will encounter more information (in tiers) as they go down.

Typically, the home page links to 5-15 pages below that, which we could refer to as Tier 2. Each of those pages links to another 5-15 pages, which you could call Tier 3.

If you use all of these pages, you’ll wind up with an extensive Web site design, of at least 226 pages (including the home page).

If you are using a mind map, you will go through a similar process to above, but on one piece of paper as a type of flow chart. A basic example is shown below:

It’s during this process that all sorts of problems will crop up. But it’s much easier to solve them on paper than in the middle of building the site rather than when you are finished, although if you are developing a content managed website such as our ConvallisCMS sites the content can easily be changed, but it's a bit more difficult to change the template design.

Working things out on paper or a mind map will give you a much better idea of how things will work and how to fix problems. And, if you have knowledgeable friends, get a second opinion. Once you’ve completed the on-paper/mind map process, and you and your web designer are satisfied with the results, you’re ready to translate it into code.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Thinking of investing in a CRM? Some things to consider.

Putting the customer right at the centre of the organization is the be-all and end-all of successful Customer Relationship Management (CRM). To do that you have to know what your customers really want and really think about your business and then use that to deliver better products and services, improve customer service and increase sales opportunities yes CRM has a purpose it is not just a concept!
Companies that invest in CRM systems can learn even more about their customers and offer more personalized products and services because they receive relevant information daily in a way that allows them to spot trends.

Implementing new business strategies always includes an element of risk but proper change management practices can reduce this dramatically. The reason many projects fail lies with poor project execution. Many companies have made the mistake of rushing headlong into CRM without a well thought out plan. So when investing in CRM:
1. Have a CRM strategy because CRM initiatives launched without a strategy invariably cause pain. Do not think of CRM as a project separate from your overall business plan. That way madness lies. CRM only works when there is clear understanding of why the organisation is doing it and how it will improve service and loyalty, cut costs or increase revenue.
2. Understand the technology. Far too often CRM is considered an IT project not a business initiative and it should not be thought of like this; but this means that the business has to understand the technology and what and how it can do for them and what it cannot do for them. The greatest success will come from the coordinated efforts business users, IT and supplier.
3. Focus more on business processes than technology. CRM is about an organizations internal and external business processes becoming more customer-centric. Understand your “customer flow”. The systems are merely the enablers, not an end in themselves.
4. Don't try and design the perfect CRM system that will meet 100% of each and every persons wish list and do not expect the new CRM solution to just mirror current business processes. Instead, accept that not everyone can have everything they say they want and use the new system as an opportunity to invent and use new processes that improve customer service, reduce costs and provide better customer service.
5. Do not try to change the whole organization overnight. Go for the highest priority and highest return areas first. Take small, manageable steps not giant leaps and bring the whole organization along with you.
6. Think about the user interface and plan it carefully. For people to use the system, it must be useful to them and easy to use. Every extra field you ask the people to complete, especially mandatory ones, the greater the chance that they will enter garbage or only use the system under duress.
7. Especially if you haven't implemented a CRM system before get help and expect to pay for it even if it is just a day of a suppliers time to go through the issues. They'll see the pitfalls that you can't and you will not waste time and money on trying to do things that can't be done, expecting them to happen in a certain way and then be disappointed or miss out on crucial issues that are essential to successful implementation.
8. Make it somebody's responsibility to own the data, and to make sure that it is correct and complete. Sounds obvious but so many projects just ignore this central detail and CRM systems stand or fall by their data integrity and data quality.
9. User acceptance is the single most important success factor for a CRM system so invest in training. Training is essential to ensuring user acceptance. Never let an untrained employee have customer contact.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

What businesses can use a CRM?

CRM Word cloud
When I go out networking and to other businesses about what we do, when I mention CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solutions I often get asked 'Well what kind of businesses use that?' and 'Why have a CRM?'

We have many different business sectors using our ConvallisCRM product. These include sports clubs, retailers, cleaning companies, a pyrotechnic company and holiday cottages. These businesses have a varying number of employees and users of the system.

If you are just starting out in business you may think that you do not need a formalised system of recording your contacts, maybe you keep a box of business cards, a record in a notebook or a spreadsheet. Over time this will become uncontrollable and you could potentially lose some essential information. Getting a CRM system in place early on allows you to keep control of your records from the start in one central location and reduces the need to do something later on when your data may be starting to become out of control.

As your business grows you might end up taking on more staff. A CRM allows you to add additional users (you may have to pay for additional user licenses) to enable everyone in your business access to important client data. This reduces the need for multiple contact spreadsheets - sometimes duplicating data more than once - not very efficient I hope you agree.

Going back to the original question, 'What businesses can use a CRM?' personally I think any size business would find a use for a CRM to help keep accurate records and to have a central database for all their contact data, I say this as we have businesses from one single user to 50 users using our CRM.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Ensure your website looks professional.

A professionally presented business website is a powerful and essential marketing tool: it’s the first thing prospective customers will look at before they decide to contact you. If the copy on your website is not written to an acceptable standard, it may be losing you customers. It's not enough just to have amazing graphics and imagery: you need the words to make it complete. Is the spelling correct? Are punctuation marks in place? Does the copy make sense? These are questions that your website designer and you should be asking before a new site is uploaded.

One of the biggest flaws with website copy is inconsistency: for example the word website. Some sites spell it as one word, website, some as two words, web site; as far as I am aware both are acceptable, but not both versions on the same site! Personally I prefer website. In my opinion, a lack of consistency will deter a significant amount of would-be customers from using the services of a company that has not taken the trouble to proofread their website.

Poor spelling on a website is another costly but avoidable mistake.

The majority of visitors will leave the site very quickly if they find too many spelling errors. This again will give them the impression that the site owners don't really care; and they would be right! I am also convinced that copy that has been padded out with insignificant trivia is also a big turn-off for visitors clear, concise and informative is the order of the day.

Anything containing textual content should as a matter of course be proofread: it’s important that not only are mistakes in spelling, punctuation and grammar found and corrected, but that the text flows smoothly for the reader. The copy on a website should not be treated as the ‘poor relation’ of the project. You can have the most up-to-date, eye-catching graphics available but you will still need well-written copy to compliment them.

There are the odd few web design companies around that will happily inform visitors how they can supply them with a state-of-the-art website but then insert second-rate copy, which totally negates any good work they have achieved. This will reduce the initial impact of the site, and more often than not will have an adverse effect on business. Here at Convallis our customers generally provide us with content, either from themselves or a copywriter. It is difficult for us as an IT company to totally understand another business (we like to learn as much as we can about our customers and their business), but in the end it is you the business owner that knows the most about your own business.

It pays to have the copy checked professionally; it may cost a lot less than you think to have a website proofread – it could cost you considerably more if you don’t!

Remember: if visitors to your site cannot find the information they are looking for because of badly written copy they will simply leave the site. The only people to benefit will be your competitors.

Are you looking for a new website? Take a look at our website packages, a range of affordable website solutions.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Listening to your Customers

What do you do when you receive customer feedback about a product or service you supply?

Here at Convallis Software customer feedback has played an important part in the development of our ConvallisCRM product.

ConvallisCRM has been developed and improved over many years and this improvement is ongoing, quite a bit in part to feedback received from our customers. The software started out as a very simple contact management solution but over time has been developed into a far more functional customer relationship management (CRM) solution.

One example of a feature that was integrated in the software following customer feedback is the 'personal' details section.
ConvallisCRM personal infromation tab
Example of Personal information in ConvallisCRM
This feature came after talking to two clients, one runs a holiday let and wanted the medical conditions box to make notes if their clients were disabled or ill and needed and special facilities and/or access. The date of birth feature came from a club that wanted to make a report each month of their member's birthdays so that they could send them a birthday card or special offer for their birthday.

This is just one example of how listening to your customers can allow you to improve a product or service, but don't forget that as businesses we may sometimes get negative feedback. This should also be acted on appropriately and can still help to improve your business product or service.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Are you still using Windows XP?

Are you still using Windows XP as the operating system for your PC or laptop?

In September of 2007 Microsoft communicated their plans to end support for Windows XP SP3 and how that may affect your business.  Microsoft recognizes how integral Windows XP may have been in your operations and valuable to your employees, thus they have provided support for these past 12 years. The time has come for Microsoft and us to invest our resources toward supporting more recent technologies such that we can continue to deliver great new experiences for you as your IT environment evolves to meet the changing needs of your users in this increasingly social and mobile world. 

After April 8, 2014, technical assistance for Windows XP will no longer be available, nor will automatic updates be sent that have helped protect your organization’s PCs (including home users). For specific details, please review Microsoft’s Windows XP end of support information here

Microsoft continues to take steps to help all users, including home users, of Windows XP understand what end of support means, when it will take place, and what steps they can take to move to a modern operating system (ie. Windows 8.1) and Windows devices. Therefore, beginning March 8th, 2014, users using Windows XP (Home and Professional editions) who elected to receive updates via Windows Update will receive an end of support notification through Windows Update.   The message will state, “Windows XP End of Support is on April 8th, 2014. Click Here to learn more.”  While the message is scheduled to recur monthly, users have the option to click “Do not show this message again.”  Enterprises that are managing their infrastructure using WSUS will not receive the notifications.

If you are still using Windows XP now is the time to consider upgrading your operating system, we use Windows 8.1 here at Convallis and can assist with your upgrade decision.

Don't leave it too late and leave your computers vulnerable plus don't forget not all modern software works with Windows XP.

Monday, 3 March 2014

What is CRM?

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. This is an integrated system of managing data which is used to schedule, plan, and control both the post-sale and the pre-sale activities engaged in by an organization. CRM’s objective is to improve long-term profits and growth of a company. Contact activity, indirect and direct sales, tasks and marketing efforts are some of the things that can be covered by CRM applications.

It is believed that CRM systems provide more accurate feedback and better-focused data concerning the aforementioned areas. Reports can be generated directly from the CRM to provided this detailed data.

The first component of CRM that was ever made available was SFA, or “sales force automation”. Automated field service, call centre activity, and SFA were all running down parallel tracks during most of the 1990s and late in that decade all of those began to merge with marketing plans to finally emerge into CRM.

So. CRM is actually not a technology and not something tangible at all. During the dot-com era, many people began to think of CRM as a technology in its own right. There are those who have implemented CRM technology just because they are technophiles or think that any new technology can in and of itself increase their business’ profits. But CRM technology is not about that. Too many businesses start using CRM technology without the slightest idea of how it is supposed to be used, or what the true CRM principles are. This is nothing other than putting the cart before the horse.

CRM is supposed to reflect your methodology of doing sales and marketing and customer service, supported by data and by the interpersonal relationship that you have with each individual customer that does business with you. CRM technology enables a front line person, a sales or marketing agent or a customer service rep, to instantly access all of the most relevant and important data about a client when that client contacts you, and use that data to give a personalized, relevant, and up-to-date response to the client. CRM technology implementation lets you have smooth transitions between stages of a client’s relationship with you both in terms of projects and in terms of the client’s own activity. At the same time, you keep very detailed and accurate notes about every contact with a client.

If you are looking to implement a CRM solution why not take a look at ConvallisCRM and take a free trial today.

Adapted from: http://plrplr.com/89090/what-is-crm-2/

Monday, 24 February 2014

What is Software Development?

One of the services that Convallis Software offers is custom software development, but what exactly is software development?

There are various opinions that I have discovered where some people think that software development and software programming are the same thing, and others that say that they are totally different things altogether.
In my personal opinion they are totally different things, programming is part of the process involved in creating the final software product. Software development is the complete process from inception to installation.

Developing software can be a long process which starts with planning what the software needs to do before even starting coding. The actual programming process can take a long time, and along the way the software needs to be tested to ensure that the software being developed actually works as it should. When programming has finally finished more extensive testing is then carried out to ensure that everything works as it should and there are no underlying bugs. More often than not the final testing before release to a customer is done by someone other that the programmer as they will more than likely act more like a user of the final product.

Once the customer has their software installed they can then test and use it in a working environment which is better than a development environment, there may be some minor adjustments required, but this is not always the case.

If you are thinking of investing in custom software for your business please get in touch to discuss your individual requirements.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Problems that can be resolved with CRM

As a business grows you will continue to encounter problems. In this article I hope to give you an idea of some of the problems that can be resolved by using a CRM.

  1. Looking up addresses and telephone numbers: A CRM in its simplest form is basically a contact management system. It allows you to have a centralised database containing addresses and telephone numbers of your contacts allowing you to find the essential information you need with a few simple clicks of your mouse rather than having to look in directories or search engines.
  2. Communication: Poor communication is not a good thing in a business because if a message is missed you could lose out on a major order or a new customer. Capturing and recording all messages is essential for effective customer service. A CRM can allow all in your business to record every communication with a contact against an individual contact record.
  3. Tasks and Deadlines: Missing tasks and deadlines can be very costly to a business. A CRM system can record tasks and deadlines for the tasks and also assign them to a particular member of staff. Having this information available to all that use the CRM allows staff to set priorities of the work due to be done.
  4. Too Much Paper: How much paper are you generating in your business and then just filing away never to be seen again? Keeping your documents electronically filed associated with a contact record reduces the need for filing cabinets and increases your office space.
  5. Multiple Databases: Most businesses have many different databases with duplicate information. A simple task such as changing a telephone number or address will have be be changed on each individual database. A CRM system should only contain one record for a contact so it is easier to change information if necessary.
  6. Who Do We Market To?: CRM records all products and services purchased or they have shown interest in within the contact record. This means you can build a clear picture of your clients requirements. You can create reports and set up mailing lists to generate specific campaigns for your services and you will save time by mail merging letters, emails and SMS.
  7. Why can't I get the information I need now?: How many customers of a specific product do I have? Who is on a particular mailing list? Can I get a report of all customers in a certain demographic? Information that can sometimes take a long time to collate can be data-mined and created in a report within the CRM to generate lists which can be exported into a spreadsheet for mail merge documents or general reporting.
  8. Where are your Staff Today?: Do you know where everyone is today, tomorrow, next week?  A centralised calendar system within your CRM means everyone knows where everyone is at any time. Appointments can be made for you or assigned to any member of staff plus your contacts can be added as attendees of an appointment if needed.
  9. Getting Everyone Onboard: With CRM you can record all of the information you need to successfully carry out a project to its conclusion. Everyone has access to customer expectations, documents and the client records. Allowing all staff being able to see what is expected of them and the tasks they are assigned makes the job planning process so much easier.
  10. Keep Yourself in the Picture: It is important that you are kept up to date with what is outstanding with any of your contacts. Each time you log on to your CRM system you will be able to view a wide range of matters that are outstanding including appointments, tasks, sales items and much more.

CRM helps you to look after your existing clients effectively: the more you know about them, the easier it is to identify new prospects and increase your customer base.

If you want to find out more about ConvallisCRM, our CRM solution available as either a desktop or cloud application please take a look at our dedicated website or contact us to discuss your individual requirements.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Safer Internet Day: Let’s create a better internet together

Today is the eleventh annual Safer Internet Day and is  taking place with the theme ‘Let’s create a better internet together’. 

Celebrated globally in over a hundred countries, Safer Internet Day aims to inspire the safe, responsible and creative use of technology.

This year’s theme covers the responsibility that everyone has in making the internet a safer and better place. For young people, Safer Internet Day is a chance to celebrate being kind and creative online, while educators, parents and carers can help to empower young people to embrace the positive by equipping them with the digital literacy skills they require for today’s world. Industry should work in partnership with others to create and promote a positive online environment for young people.

Coordinated in the UK by the UK Safer Internet Centre, Safer Internet Day brings together hundreds of organisations from across the UK in promoting the safe use of technology.

At Convallis Software we will be taking the opportunity to promote the day and will hopefully make more people aware of the event and the activities taking place.

To mark the day the UK Safer Internet Centre will be presenting a live TV Show from Belfast as well as hosting a youth event at Microsoft’s head offices in London.

SID TV will be broadcast live at www.saferinternetdaytv.com with advice and practical information from experts and providers such as Facebook, Twitter and BT for teachers, young people and parents on internet safety and issues such as cyberbullying, sexting, parental controls, reporting and privacy.

The Safer Internet Day 2014 Youth Event will bringing together a panel of young people with experts across government, industry and education to hear more about what a better internet means to each of these important audiences.

As Will Gardner, Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre, says:

“This Safer Internet Day looks set to be the biggest one yet - the fantastic range of supporters really reflects how widespread and important this issue is, and we are delighted to see such collaborations where schools, civil society, public and private sectors are all championing the same cause. Safer Internet Day is a time to celebrate the great work that everyone across the UK is doing to create a better internet together.”

For more information on the activities taking place to celebrate Safer Internet Day, visit the UK Safer Internet Centre website.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Why I use Office 365.

It's been a while now since I last posted about Microsoft Office 365 and how as a business we moved our documents etc to the cloud. I thought I would let you know how I'm getting on with it and the advantages that I've found.

Because we have offices in North Devon and Exeter it makes life so much easier using Office 365 as I am able to access any of my important documents via the cloud at whichever location I am working from. For example if a colleague is at our North Devon office working on a document that I may need to access and work on and I'm in Exeter I can use Sharepoint to access the document and then if I need to edit it online using the Office Web Apps.

Another advantage of keeping our documents in the cloud is that should there be any problem with our server or hard drives on our computers we can still access anything important from another device such as a tablet or mobile phone. Office 365 offers the flexibility to be able to do this so I don't necessarily need my computer all the time. Although I would still recommend having a suitable backup solution for your machines such as secure offsite backup or external hard drive which is kept away from any machines that you are backing up.

Offering 99.9% uptime, great security and a range of options to suit all businesses I would suggest that you seriously consider migrating to Office 365.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Why Have a Website?

The following post was originally written by Richard Isaac on the Convallis Software website in 2009 but I think that the points are still relevant today.

Over the past 12 months I've seen 3 or 4 news articles saying that, shock horror, many UK small businesses don't have a website. One such article put the number at something like 44%, but I suspect that figure might be on the low side.

These days it seems that it's taken for granted that a company should have a website and that if your company doesn't, then it is somehow missing out. I'm not sure that is entirely true, after all there are a minority of businesses for whom having a website is an unnecessary expense, but for the vast majority there are good reasons to have one:

  • A simple 'brochure' type site provides useful information about your company, who you are, what you do, where you are
  • Marketing your service/product 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Global as well as local reach
  • Allows those customers who use the internet to find you when they need your service/product
  • E-shops can provide another income stream
  • Low cost compared to a high street shop front

While a website is an expense, there's no getting away from that, site owners don't need that much technical knowledge to get them up and running and so the cost can be much less than you think, but the return on investment could be large indeed, although it may not be something easily quantifiable.

How many times have you searched for a company online, perhaps doing a little research on them before getting in touch? Perhaps you were put off when you found that they didn't have a website because you couldn't find out what you needed to know, so you searched for another company that did have a web
site and found what you wanted. Now just think for a minute, that could easily be a customer looking for information about your company!

Convallis Software offer a range of website packages as well as custom website solutions. Why not get in touch today to discuss your individual needs.

Friday, 24 January 2014

What have you invested in your tech?

There are many forms of investment that we make in our tech, fiscal, intellectual and sometimes emotional. We can relatively easily measure our fiscal investment as we generally know what we've spent on a PC or application, but what about the intellectual investment that we have made in our tech?

As we work on our PC's or read this article on our tablets or smartphones I'm sure we can all appreciate some of the intellectual investment we've made. We've had to take the time to learn how to browse the web and find this article, even how to switch the machine on and start the browser application up. All of this requires an intellectual investment on our part.


Monday, 13 January 2014

Do you ask for Customer Testimonials?

How do you get an independent review of your business? Are you asking your customers for testimonials?

Testimonials are a great way of getting feedback from your customers and also offer an independent review of the work that you have done for them. If a customer is happy with a product or service and you approach them for a testimonial most are happy to provide one for you so don't be afraid to ask.

Once you have a testimonial for your business make sure that you put them on your website, if you add a link to your customers' website it will be positive for them too as your website visitors might be interested in what they do. Other uses for testimonials are your marketing materials, add quotes to your leaflets and brochures and let your potential customers know what a good job you have done for your previous customers and give them an idea of what to expect from you.

Like to see some of our testimonials? Please check out the links below:


Website Testimonials

ConvallisCRM Testimonials

Thursday, 9 January 2014

How to Deliver a Quality Service to your Customers Using CRM

In these challenging economic times we are all aware how important and cost effective it is to retain existing customers and build future loyalty when securing new business.

Many small to medium sized businesses find that as they grow, to ensure efficiency and effectiveness, it is vital to move from informal systems to more efficient computer based records. This helps to ensure that any information that you have is up to date and accurate, contacts are made when promised and all staff can access a central database for consistency.

To deliver a quality service to customers you need to:
  • Keep Clear Records: if you want to give a professional service you cannot rely on a messy collection of scribbled notes plus a random collection of sticky notes, held in different places or even by a number of different people! Consistency and ease of access have to be the order of the day. A computer based system can help store emails, details of quotes and orders, notes from telephone calls, letters, appointments etc and recall them at the touch of a button.
  • Save Time: you don't need multiple software packages. Use a CRM to store all of your customer or contact information allows you to have instant access to it in one place. This helps save time searching for what you need and helps improve efficiency. A CRM also allows searches to be saved to use again and again.
  • Ensure Everyone has Access to Consistent Records: anyone from your business who speaks to customers should be able to access customer records. People are busy and wish to achieve their outcome in a single call where possible, so help them achieve this. All staff involved in service delivery need to know of the promises or deals made, so then can ensure successful, timely delivery.
  • Email/SMS: save time by sending messages directly from your contact information. Use mailing lists for sending messages to specific groups and personalise these messages.
  • Target Your Marketing: marketing is now probably more vital than ever before, but it can be expensive in terms of both time and money. Ensure that all marketing and sales activities are as targeted as possible by mailing specific sectors of your database.
  • Use Mail Merge: set up your own direct mail campaigns to promote your special offers, exhibitions, vouchers or other events. Remember you need a critical mass of people to hear about your offers to help ensure that your marketing initiatives succeed!
  • Create Task Lists: start each day with a clear list of things to be achieved and ensure that every promise to contact a prospect or customer by a certain day is honoured. Ensure you never forget that follow up call or mislay contact details again!
If you would like to deliver a quality service to your customers why not consider ConvallisCRM a simple to use customer relationship management solution. Available as either desktop or cloud based solution please take a look at our dedicated website and take your free trial today.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Why Ask for Advice?

In all aspects of running a business there are times when you don't have an answer to a question and you need to ask the advice of an expert - or do you?
With the advent of the Internet and search engines such as Bing, Google, Yahoo etc many of us (me included) look at this as the first port of call to get the answer. Yes, I agree the answers can be there, but quite often there could be conflicting advice as to what to do so you could still be in the same situation as you were at the start.

IT consultancy meetingThis is where asking an expert for advice is a great idea. If you have a problem it's worth asking your friends, contacts if they know someone with the expertise that you need and then get in touch to get advice to resolve your problem. I know getting advice from an expert will cost you money, but consider how much time and money you may have wasted looking for conflicting advice online. Sometimes advice is not just for resolving a problem, it's for help in getting a new product or some software that could help with your business growth.

As a business we offer IT Consultancy to help you with not just your IT problems but helping you gain the most for your IT investments. This could be recommending you have some software developed for your business or just some general advice.

If you would like us to come and help you with your IT issues or are thinking of having some software developed to help run your business more efficiently please don't hesitate to get in touch today.