PSA Software – The Best Tool for Growth

PSA Software – The Best Tool for Growth
Professional Services Automation software, often referred to as PSA software, can be a big boon to any service provider when it comes to streamlining operations and providing greater efficiency. Perhaps that is why it is used by everyone in the IT services industry from consultants to cloud service providers these days. But if you have never used PSA software in your business, you may be wondering what it is that makes it so effective. While it is true that the old in-house tools such as spreadsheets and call lists are still used by many smaller service companies, more and more businesses that excel at providing top-notch service to their customers rely on PSA software to keep them on their toes. Here are just a few reasons why.

Customer Service
If you are in the business of providing a service, any service, then you know that having great customer service can make or break your company. This is where having PSA Software can really make a difference. As we mentioned in an earlier blog post about customer service, your PSA software can put all the information your customer service staff needs at their fingertips. When you back this up with staff that can go out of their way to take care of customers, you have a winning combination. But they can't do their job without the right information, and that is where your PSA software comes into play. By having not only information on the client, but a call log of their earlier requests, an ability to access the status of current projects for that client and vendors that are part of that project, your service staff can help your customer quickly and efficiently.

Project Management
When your entire service team uses PSA software to track time and materials, project management becomes a tool to ensure profitability across the company. Using a PSA software tool such as EzPSA at the planning stage will manage work flow, create estimates for client approval, and in the end generate sales orders and invoices. Because it integrates with customer service and is assess-able by techs in the field via its cloud configuration, your entire workforce is connected to it at all times. This allows quotes to be more accurate, changes to be reflected instantly and gives you the information to continually improve against your competition.

Standing Out from the Crowd
You can use your PSA software to differentiate you from other service providers in your area. If the local service providers are still getting by without this tool, it can be the key to providing faster and more thorough customer service. Your techs know exactly what that client needs, your customer service staff are aware of any special problems they have had in the past and your quotes are accurate. These are the things that make your business stand out in the crowd, and are all easier with a PSA software tool like EzPSA to help.

The Bottom Line is Profits
In the end, a tool that allows you to follow the financial story from concept to project to final billing will give your company the bigger picture on its financial health. With the old fashion fragmented system, time would be wasted comparing apples to oranges as spreadsheets, call lists and customer complaint logs were scrutinized for clues to profitability. Using just one software tool this is an easy snapshot that connects all the dots for your business. At the end of the day, that is truly the difference that makes using PSA software all worthwhile.

Five Tips for Organizing Your Service Business Desk

Five Tips for Organizing Your Service Business Desk
How many times have you said you were going to get that service desk organized? Like so much of our lives, the service desk is both the most indispensable and also most cluttered part of any service business. It is often where everything that comes in the door lands and is also where most of your communications flow for your service business. But because it is such a vital part of the whole enterprise, it is also important that it is organized so nothing important is lost or mislaid. If your job is to manage the service desk for a business, here are a few tips to help you stay on top of that clutter and keep the company organized as well as your desk.

Everything Needs a Home
If you have a designated place for things that are always connected to your service desk, you will find it is easier to find them when you need them. While this may sound a bit obsessive, in the end you will find it makes your job that much easier. No more looking for the storage locker keys or your favorite pen while getting ready to run out for a meeting. No more shuffling papers to find a paperclip for that note you wrote. If you keep all basic supplies in a designated spot, you will soon find that you gain not only the time you would have spent looking for them but also a bit of peace of mind.

Labels Make it Easier
I have always found that labeling files, setting up a labeling structure and then sticking to it means I find what I want when I want it. It helps if you use a small easy to handle label maker that can sit in your desk when not being used. Best of all, when everything is labeled others who use the space can also find what they need quickly and easily. Shelves, files, containers, bins, baskets and everything else that holds anything should be clearly labeled, front and back, to ensure that label is always easy to read.

Take to Meeting Bin
Every office should have a folder or bin for that next meeting. As you go through your day or week, things that would be good for the next meeting can simply be tossed into the bin or folder. When it is time to head out to the meeting – presto! All those great ideas you had are here and ready to go.

Telephone Logs are Golden
It used to be that everyone used a telephone log because so much of our business was done via the phone. Nowadays we use the Internet so much that many of us have let this valuable tool fall to the wayside. If you keep a notepad next to the phone and jot down the time and basics of each call, you will find it invaluable for making sure you have a record of all your conversations in one handy place.

Professional Services Automation Tools
Of course, since we designed the EzPSA as a professional tool to help service businesses stay organized, you can bet we think it is the best tool of all for you. At the service desk you can use it to keep track of client requests, check on the status of current jobs, or even handle purchase orders and client invoices. No matter what size your business is, from a two person office to a world-wide enterprise, if you are in the service business using a handy PSA like our own EzPSA just makes it that much easier to stay organized.

Marketing 101: Do You Have a Winning Name?

Marketing 101: Do You Have a Winning Name?
One of the most important marketing decisions you will ever make is the name of your company or product. It is also often the thing we spend the least amount of time considering. It will be the one thing that identifies your business, quickly tells potential clients if they should consider your goods or services and if it is memorable, will recommend you to others. But how does anyone find just the right name? It turns out; there are some tried and true considerations for business names just as there are with baby names. Since this company is your baby, let's look at a few things you should consider when naming that new business.

Trying Out the Basics
The name of your company drives how potential clients see your business. Here are a handful of approaches you can try that have been very successful for businesses in the past.

  • Using the Founder's Name – This worked great for Hewlett-Packard and Bell Telephone. It is more common these days in lawyers firms, accountant firms or any kind of business where personal integrity is an important part of the business presentation.
  • A Description of What You Do or Offer – A great example of this is Southwest Airlines. Sometimes it needs tweaking. An example is Western Hotel which changed its name to Western International when it expanded and now is simply called West-in.
  • Use the Experience or Image of Your Product – This can be harder but Sprint is a good example of this. It can be tongue in cheek, like Mail Chimp which implies even a monkey can use their product.
  • Go for Broke and Take a Word Completely Out of Context – Apple is of course the great example of this, but there are others. The trick with this is to pick a word so unrelated that it will come to be connected only with your product or company.
  • Make Up Your Own Name – You see this far more these days with online businesses. Of course, the prime example of this is Google, which has now become a verb relating to the company.

Considering Your Target
You also need to consider the audience you want to appeal to with your company. Once you have decided on the type of approach, here are some questions to help you narrow your options when it comes to your target market:

  • Who is your target audience and what problems are you solving for them?
  • What are the benefits you can offer this audience and what kinds of words best describe these?
  • List your five largest competitors and then list how you differ from them Now that you have those answers you should have created a list of at least 7-10 names you think might work.

Can you pronounce them easily? Are they easy to spell and understand? How do they look written out?

The Best Laid Plans
Of course, you can do all of these things and still find that your name doesn't say quite what you intended. That is where it is always a good idea to try out several options on friends and neighbors first. A good example of this is right here at EzPSA. We knew what we wanted to say with our name. It is as easy as could be to use our Professional Services Automation software. But then we heard recently that PSA has another meaning (or three!). It was pointed out that a PSA is also a "prostate-specific antigen" test that any man over 40 should have on a regular basis to test for prostate cancer. As you can imagine, having an "easy" PSA test is probably an oxymoron in medicine. A quick check in Google shows that a PSA is also

  • A "professional sports Authenticator" in the world of sports card collecting
  • A "provincial specialist association" in Canada, such as for teachers
  • A "property sports association" such as the PSA World Cup for Soccer
  • A professional association called the "Photographic Society of America"

Of course, I don't really think that our own software company EzPSA will be confused with any of these organizations, but it never hurts to check these things out first! So take some time when planning that new product name or company. As your business grows, that name will grow with you. While you want to take these ideas into consideration, don't let that stop you from moving forward and finding the best possible name for your new venture.

Using EzPSA Technology for Better Customer Service

Using EzPSA Technology for Better Customer Service
Great customer service is more than just answering the phone or tracking down orders. To really deliver great customer service you need two things: smart informative employees that are well-trained and the right technology to help them deliver exceptional customer service. But what if you could bring your level of customer service up a notch and make it anticipatory customer service that can help your customers by anticipating their unexpressed desires? That is how the Ritz-Carlton explains its top of the line customer service, and you can do it too.

Creating that Emotional Customer Commitment
When you deliver customer service that anticipates your customer needs, you move your company out of the acceptable business experience into the kind of experience that creates real loyalty. It is easy to see why, once you look closely at what they need you to deliver. We aren't talking about spam here but real customer service that understands customer needs and anticipates them for them. Keep in mind that although having the right technology can help you to deliver this exceptional service, it is only part of the equation. Great people and top notch training combine to make this an unbeatable way to keep customers coming back again and again. When your customers see that you anticipate every roadblock for them, they can relax and leave it all in your hands. This is the kind of service anyone would come back for, and you can deliver it with the right mindset and the technology to deliver it. Here are just a few examples.

Delays in Service – The moment it is obvious that something has happened that can delay a service being delivered, a part being shipped or an event taking place as anticipated, let them know. If you offer travel services and a flight is delayed, offer to rebook and give them options. If that order needed to be in time for the holidays and it might not happen, tell them the instant you know.

Keeping Track – Some services happen regularly, such as delivering prescriptions or handling mortgages. If you have a business that has this kind of cyclical service, why not do the basic steps to ensure there are no delays? My Internet provider recently sent a notice they were changing their billing cycle to give customers more time to review the bill, which they send out reminders for via email. They now would send those notices two weeks in advance of billing instead of just a few days before. This is responsive and thoughtful.

Keeping the Human Touch
While using technology, such as your EzPSA system, can be a big part of organizing the information that helps you deliver anticipatory customer service, remember that in the end it always comes down to the human touch. Always give your customer a way to talk to a real live human being when sending out notices of changes or updates. Salespeople sweat blood for human contacts so always give your customer a human alternative to a tech solution when a problem pops up.

Even if you are using your PSA technology to contact them, they should always have the option to talk to a person. We developed our EzPSA system to help business stay in touch with their customers and serve them better. Taking the next logical step and making that customer service become an anticipatory service is just one more way you can use technology to deliver the best service possible and in turn have customers who wouldn't think of doing business with anyone else.

Tips for Marketing A Service Business

Tips for Marketing A Service Business
If you have a small service business, you probably cringe at the idea of finding out the best way for marketing a service business on the web. Like many business owners, the idea of online marketing sounds complicated. But the reality is it isn't if you know where to begin. The tips listed below can help any small businesses, but particularly a service business, to get the edge when it comes to marketing a service business on the web.

Of course, if you have some smart business tools to keep your business organized, you can capitalize on this increased business. That is where using the right professional services automation software or PSA software can really help. Combine smart marketing online with a great PSA to make your service business work smarter instead of harder and you have a formula for success.

Tip #1 – Tell Us Your Services
All too often when I am visiting a service business website I see the same mistake. Their services page may list their services, but never tells me about them. This is the perfect opportunity to both let others know what it is that makes your services the best and a great way to increase your page rank by giving Google more information. It is far easier for people to find you through a search on Google if you devote more space and words to describing what the services are that you have to offer. Making a list just won't cut it. Every major service that deserves a bullet point on your services page also deserves its own page. Just take the time to write 3-500 words about it on a separate page. You would be surprised how many people looking for that particular service will find your page and from there your company. To be compelling each page should have:

  1. A good description of what you offer. This should be at least 300 words long and include any key phrases that someone might use when looking for this service. 
  2. Pictures tell the story so include before and after photos whenever possible. Think about them the next time you are on a client call and take pics as you go. Don't forget to label those photos so that Google knows what they are. 
  3. Include testimonials. Everyone feels more comfortable trusting the word of someone you have actually done business with. Ask your clients at the time of the job if they would be comfortable giving a testimonial on your service. Making a video tape with your phone can be an easy solution, but even if you don't want to use video, always ask.

Tip #2 – Use Social Media
Every business should have its own Facebook page, Google+ page and Twitter account. These three social media accounts alone can create dialogue about your business on the web. If you have a very visual business such as a hairdresser or interior designer, you might want to add Pinterest to the mix.
These days many consumers will look through social media to find out more about a business before contacting them. If they don't see you on it, they may assume you aren't a good risk. Spending a few minutes at the start of each day on these sites can make a huge difference to your Internet profile. You answer email, why not chat on each of these formats each day to let others know your business is out there and looking for new clients?

Tip #3 - Get Listed
While I am not saying to list your business on every business directory on the web, local ones can be a big help. Add to this any directories that are for your industry and you have a quick way to make your company more visible on the web. Not sure where to find local directories? Why not check out Moz Local and let them find local directories for you. The great thing about these is that you do it once and you are finished. Remember, web users can utilize many different ways to find you and you want your business to be seen on all of them.

These are just a few of the ways marketing a service business online can contribute to your bottom line. While having a website is a good start, don't forget to make the best use of what the Internet has to offer to keep your service business relevant in today's modern business climate. Adding in blogs, newsletters and special events can also be smart approaches to marketing a service business that brings in new customers. Just remember, it isn't brain surgery and plenty of smart service businesses like yours have benefited from these new marketing tools. You can too.

Managed Service Agreements – Why Your Customers Need Them

Managed Service Agreements – Why Your Customers Need Them
While you may think that managed service agreements are small potatoes when compared to the larger projects you take on such as upgrades and moves, these steady incremental agreements have value. For one thing, when you offer your small and medium business (SMB) customers the ability to control costs with a managed service agreement (MSA), you are helping them to control the bottom line. But the biggest reason your business should consider expanding into the role of managed service provider (MSP) is the ability of the agreement to keep your competitors out of your own backyard. This is why when it comes to creating and pricing, you need to think about all the reasons both you and your client will benefit from a managed service agreement.

Know Your Competition
These days it isn't just other IT service companies that you will be competing against for your customer's money. When it comes to offering managed services, everyone from their office supply company to the manufacturer of their computers is eyeing the option of including the role of MSP. As your clients grow, they will want to streamline their processes by reducing the number of vendors they have. You want to be sure that when they do, you are on the short list of who they continue to do business with, not who they intend to drop.

Why Your Clients Need a Managed Service Agreement
If you have SMB clients who are strained to cover all their IT bases, they are the perfect company for offering an MSA. You can take on their day-to-day IT operations, freeing their staff to focus on key goals such as the roll-out of new projects. This allows you to put out the fires that tend to come up with any SMB while they work on building their business. The kinds of services you should be offering include:

  • Networking Services 
  • Security Services 
  • Storage and Disaster Recovery 
  • Email 
  • Web Hosting 

Identifying the crucial services that each particular client needs will be your most valuable tool in selling this service to them. You know your clients, and that means you know their strengths and weaknesses too. With over half of the companies surveyed saying that they chose their MSP because of either the service they offered or the fact that they already had a relationship with the company that they trusted and valued, you have won half the battle if you consider these factors as you put together your proposal.

Creating the Proposal
While it will be tempting to give each client a proposal that is tailored exactly to their needs, it may not be the best approach. Most MSPs offer a flat fee service. You will need to decide how often you want to bill them (annually, quarterly or monthly) and exactly what is and isn't covered in the agreement. Flat fees are easier to manage, especially if you plan to ramp up your offerings. However, they require careful consideration regarding how many devices are supported and exactly which services the customer will need to have included. Keep in mind if offering flat fee services just how much service this customer tends to need. Underestimating the service hours can erode your profit quickly.

Your EzPSA Software and MSP Agreements
The core of the information you will use to provide a clear picture of what your customer needs for their MSP agreement will come from your own records in the EzPSA software. Here you can pull a clear picture of the size of the business, the devices that will need to be serviced and a history of how this particular company is growing. It will help you to pinpoint problem areas for them and address them in your proposal. If you already offer your clients IT services, then this will be a great tool for creating an interactive proposal that takes their needs well into consideration. But even if you use your EzPSA software for a non-IT service business, you can pull client records, get the big picture of growth and problem areas and create a proposal that will allow you to address your client needs.

Building a new MSP business may sound intimidating. Truth is you have the tools and knowledge right now to take on this new profit center for your company. Taking the time to gain an understanding of what a client expects from a managed service agreement, and talking to others, who are already doing so, will help. In the end you will find you are servicing your clients more proactively and helping them to become more successful.
Isn't that truly what we want for all of our clients?

Tips to Get More Clients for Your Service Business

Tips to Get More Clients for Your Service Business
In the service industry, like every small business, finding out how to get more clients and keep them is a top priority. But how to do it with a small or non-existent staff is the question. The truth of the matter is that in this situation size doesn't count half as much as smarts. But then every great service business knows getting more clients comes from giving great service. The key to this is to commit from the beginning to providing outstanding service and using both your ties to the community and your knowledge of technology to serve your customer base better. You do those things, and you have a head start. Want to know the details? Here are a handful of tips to help you get more clients for your IT service business or any service business, no matter what the size of your company.

Tip#1 – Talk it Up
You love what you are doing, let people know. Make sure you tell at least three people every day about your business and what you do. Get out from that computer and grab a coffee at the local coffee shop. Find out where prospective customers hang out and go there; network where they network. Hand out cards, talk about the services you offer, let the folks you meet know you are the kind of pro-active service provider they would love to have. Don't wait for customers to come to you, get out there and toot your own horn.

Tip #2 – Speak Up on Social Networks
If you are savvy about the net, you know that social networks are the best place online to talk up what you do. But do you just post updates or are you truly active? Find social network sites that speak to your passions in your business and then join the conversation. Lurkers don't get points for listening; you have to let others know about what you have to offer. Be a valuable part of your social network by offering good advice, helping others and answering questions. Above all, be consistent because sporadic comments don't help your reputation.

Tip #3 – Follow up on these Conversations
It doesn't help your cause if you meet people, give then advice, get a nibble of interest and then do nothing to follow up on it. One of the worst sins that many entrepreneurs do is network and then never follow-up. It's a waste of your time and your potential client's time. Don't say you are too busy, make time to follow-up on every card, response and email you get, and do it in a timely manner. This shows you are just as serious about what you do as they are about what they need. Never "leave money on the table" from opportunities lost.

Tip #4 – Use Your Website
Your website is not just a giant business card; it is an interactive representation of you and your business. When potential customers come by your site, what do you have to offer them? There should be a no-strings-attached download to build trust and an opt-in offer such as a newsletter to convert them to a customer. They are there to solve a problem, do you have a solution? Show them by the content of your site that you are familiar with their problems and are the one to solve it. You worked hard at that event or on that social network to get them to your site, make it worth their while.

Tip #5 – Make Customer Service Responsive
All of this doesn't help if you don't have someone at the other end of the phone who can help turn that potential client into a paying one. This is where having a great customer service desk and the right software to manage it counts. The right software means that everyone on your service desk has all the tools they need to give your customers and potential customers what they need, when they need it. Make sure that your customer service people care about your product because if they don't neither will the callers. Find those people who are passionate about what you do and they will ensure that your customers will sing their praises. If you have an auto response system, make reaching a human being the first option to accommodate those customers who need to talk first. It all adds up to making the best use of your resources, human and otherwise, to service the customer's needs.

Great Tech and People Get More Clients
In the end, as you can see, it isn't just the great technology you use and offer or the people. Just as you would expect, it is the combination of passion, smarts and great technology that will help your company to get more clients that want your services. In the service business, people are our first priority. Reaching out and helping those in our community, wherever that community is, can be a great first step to not only getting more clients but also to keeping them.