Lowering emissions without breaking the bank

India’s economy is booming, driving up electric power consumption to unprecedented levels. The nation’s installed electricity capacity, which increased fivefold in the past three decades, is expected to triple over the next 20 years. At the same time, India has committed to limiting its carbon dioxide emissions growth; its Paris Agreement climate pledge is to decrease its carbon dioxide emissions intensity of GDP (CO2 emissions per unit of GDP) by 33 to 35 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels, and to boost carbon-free power to about 40 percent of installed capacity in 2030.

Can India reach its climate targets without adversely impacting its rate of economic growth — now estimated at 7 percent annually — and what policy strategy would be most effective in achieving that goal?

To address these questions, researchers from the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change developed an economy-wide model of India with energy-sector detail, and applied it to simulate the achievement of each component of the nation’s Paris pledge. Representing the emissions intensity target with an economy-wide carbon price and the installed capacity target with a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), they assessed the economic implications of three policy scenarios — carbon pricing, an RPS, and a combination of carbon pricing with an RPS. Their findings appear in the journal Climate Change Economics.

As a starting point, the researchers determined that imposing an economy-wide emissions reduction policy alone to meet the target emissions intensity, simulated through a carbon price, would result in the lowest cost to India’s economy. This approach would lead to emissions reductions not only in the electric power sector but throughout the economy. By contrast, they found that an RPS, which would enforce a minimum level of currently more expensive carbon-free electricity, would have the highest per-ton cost — more than 10 times higher than the economy-wide CO2 intensity policy.

“In our modeling framework, allowing emissions reduction across all sectors of the economy through an economy-wide carbon price ensures that the least-cost pathways for reducing emissions are observed,” says Arun Singh, lead author of the study. “This is constrained when electricity sector-specific targets are introduced. If renewable electricity costs are higher than the average cost of electricity, a higher share of renewables in the electricity mix makes electricity costlier, and the impacts of higher electricity prices reverberate across the economy.” A former research assistant at the MIT joint program and graduate student at the MIT Institute for Data, Systems and Society’s Technology and Policy Program, Singh now serves as an energy specialist consultant at the World Bank.

Combining an economy-wide carbon price with an RPS would, however, bring the price per ton of CO2 down from $23.38/tCO2 (in 2011 U.S. dollars) under a standalone carbon-pricing policy to a far more politically viable $6.17/tCO2 when an RPS is added. If wind and solar costs decline significantly, the cost to the economy would decrease considerably; at the lowest wind and solar cost levels simulated, the model projects that economic losses under a carbon price with RPS would be only slightly higher than those under a standalone carbon price. Thus, declining wind and solar costs could enable India to set more ambitious climate policies in future years without significantly impeding economic growth.

“Globally, it has been politically impossible to introduce CO2 prices high enough to mitigate climate change in line with the Paris Agreement goals,” says Valerie Karplus, co-author and assistant professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management. “Combining pricing approaches with technology-specific policies may be important in India, as they have elsewhere, for the politics to work.”

Developed by Singh in collaboration with his master’s thesis advisors at MIT (Karplus, and MIT Joint Program Principal Research Scientist Niven Winchester, who also co-authored the study), the economy-wide model of India enables researchers to gauge the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of different technology and policy choices designed to transition the country to a low-carbon energy system.

“The study provides important insights about the costs of different policies, which are relevant to nations that have pledged emission targets under the Paris Agreement but have not yet developed polices to meet those targets,” says Winchester, who is also a senior fellow at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.

The study was supported by the MIT Tata Center for Technology and Design, the Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy, and the MIT Joint Program.



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How the Capital One Data Breach Could Affect Your Small Business

Capital One Data Breach - How Your Small Business Could Be Affected

The news of the Capital One data breach comes just as Equifax paid a $700 million fine for its 2017 incident. And this undoubtedly will have consumers and businesses more on edge about the security of their financial data.

Capital One Data Breach

Even though the perpetrator of this crime was arrested, it wasn’t due to Capital One or the authorities. The theft of the data took place on March 22 and 23, 2019. However, no one knew about it until a tipster warned Capital One its data may have been leaked. This was on July 17, almost four months after the fact.

This further highlights the need for everyone to keep an eye on their financial records on a regular basis.

You can set five minutes a week to go through your records to make sure your data hasn’t been compromised. Those five minutes will save a lot of headaches. Headaches that can last for months or even years if someone steals your information and destroys your credit.

As this case clearly points out, you can’t depend on these companies to monitor your data at all times. After all, they have hundreds of thousands or even millions of customers around the world. You are the only one that can give your data the attention it deserves.

The best you can hope for is for a quick reaction once an organization finds out. And in the case of Capital One that is exactly what it did.

So, What Happened?

As the Justice Department says in the release, these are just allegations and a person is innocent until proven guilty.

According to the Justice Department, a Seattle tech worker named Paige A. Thompson (aka erratic) posted the theft of information from Capital One on GitHub. On July 17, 2019, a user saw the post and alerted Capital One on its Responsible Disclosure Program.

Capital One verified the information on July 19, 2019, and it alerted the FBI. The FBI was then able to identify Thompson as the person who posted the content. Agents then executed a warrant at her residence and they seized devices which contained copy of the data.

Thompson was able to exploit a misconfigured web application firewall that enabled access to the data.

For its part, Capital One says, “We immediately addressed the configuration vulnerability and verified there are no other instances in our environment. Among other things, we also augmented our routine automated scanning to look for this issue on a continuous basis.”

If guilty, Thompson can face up to five years in prison along with a $250,000 fine.

You can take a look at the complaint below.

Thompson Complaint by jonathan_skillings on Scribd

The Stolen Data

Capital One says the victims in this crime total 100 million individuals in the U.S. and another 6 million in Canada

The majority of the information comes from consumers and small businesses who applied for credit card products from 2005 through early 2019. The information includes names, addresses, zip codes/postal codes, phone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth, and self-reported income.

Thompson also allegedly obtained portions of credit card customer data; customer status data such as credit scores, credit limits, balances, payment history, contact information; and fragments of transaction data from a total of 23 days during 2016, 2017 and 2018.

The company goes on to say this didn’t affect bank account or Social Security numbers. However, it did affect around 140,000 Social Security numbers of its credit card customers and roughly 80,000 linked bank account numbers of its secured credit card customers.

In Cananda, 1 million social insurance numbers were stolen.

Capital One will notify all affected individuals and make free credit monitoring and identity protection available to them.

In the end, Capital One says this incident will end up costing the company anywhere from $100 to $150 million in 2019.

You Have to be Proactive

The threat to all financial institutions is a relentless attack which takes place 24/7/365. And eventually, people will break through.

Before this happens, you have to take matters into your own hands. This means being proactive in the protection of your digital data. Monitor your credit report with all three agencies, update the software on your computing device with the latest version, and change your passwords on a regular basis.

These are just a few of the things you can do, but if you want to take additional measures the Federal Trade Commission has a guide you can follow here.

Image: Capital One

This article, "How the Capital One Data Breach Could Affect Your Small Business" was first published on Small Business Trends



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How the Capital One Data Breach Could Affect Your Small Business

Capital One Data Breach - How Your Small Business Could Be Affected

The news of the Capital One data breach comes just as Equifax paid a $700 million fine for its 2017 incident. And this undoubtedly will have consumers and businesses more on edge about the security of their financial data.

Capital One Data Breach

Even though the perpetrator of this crime was arrested, it wasn’t due to Capital One or the authorities. The theft of the data took place on March 22 and 23, 2019. However, no one knew about it until a tipster warned Capital One its data may have been leaked. This was on July 17, almost four months after the fact.

This further highlights the need for everyone to keep an eye on their financial records on a regular basis.

You can set five minutes a week to go through your records to make sure your data hasn’t been compromised. Those five minutes will save a lot of headaches. Headaches that can last for months or even years if someone steals your information and destroys your credit.

As this case clearly points out, you can’t depend on these companies to monitor your data at all times. After all, they have hundreds of thousands or even millions of customers around the world. You are the only one that can give your data the attention it deserves.

The best you can hope for is for a quick reaction once an organization finds out. And in the case of Capital One that is exactly what it did.

So, What Happened?

As the Justice Department says in the release, these are just allegations and a person is innocent until proven guilty.

According to the Justice Department, a Seattle tech worker named Paige A. Thompson (aka erratic) posted the theft of information from Capital One on GitHub. On July 17, 2019, a user saw the post and alerted Capital One on its Responsible Disclosure Program.

Capital One verified the information on July 19, 2019, and it alerted the FBI. The FBI was then able to identify Thompson as the person who posted the content. Agents then executed a warrant at her residence and they seized devices which contained copy of the data.

Thompson was able to exploit a misconfigured web application firewall that enabled access to the data.

For its part, Capital One says, “We immediately addressed the configuration vulnerability and verified there are no other instances in our environment. Among other things, we also augmented our routine automated scanning to look for this issue on a continuous basis.”

If guilty, Thompson can face up to five years in prison along with a $250,000 fine.

You can take a look at the complaint below.

Thompson Complaint by jonathan_skillings on Scribd

The Stolen Data

Capital One says the victims in this crime total 100 million individuals in the U.S. and another 6 million in Canada

The majority of the information comes from consumers and small businesses who applied for credit card products from 2005 through early 2019. The information includes names, addresses, zip codes/postal codes, phone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth, and self-reported income.

Thompson also allegedly obtained portions of credit card customer data; customer status data such as credit scores, credit limits, balances, payment history, contact information; and fragments of transaction data from a total of 23 days during 2016, 2017 and 2018.

The company goes on to say this didn’t affect bank account or Social Security numbers. However, it did affect around 140,000 Social Security numbers of its credit card customers and roughly 80,000 linked bank account numbers of its secured credit card customers.

In Cananda, 1 million social insurance numbers were stolen.

Capital One will notify all affected individuals and make free credit monitoring and identity protection available to them.

In the end, Capital One says this incident will end up costing the company anywhere from $100 to $150 million in 2019.

You Have to be Proactive

The threat to all financial institutions is a relentless attack which takes place 24/7/365. And eventually, people will break through.

Before this happens, you have to take matters into your own hands. This means being proactive in the protection of your digital data. Monitor your credit report with all three agencies, update the software on your computing device with the latest version, and change your passwords on a regular basis.

These are just a few of the things you can do, but if you want to take additional measures the Federal Trade Commission has a guide you can follow here.

Image: Capital One

This article, "How the Capital One Data Breach Could Affect Your Small Business" was first published on Small Business Trends



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8 of the Best A/B Testing Tools for 2019

In the marketing industry, we treat experts like they’re village elders, soaking up every tip and trick they have to offer so we can implement them into our own work, desperately hoping for similar results.

But, when you really think about it, marketing is always changing and experts often don’t have visibility into your unique context.

This naturally begs the questions -- what should you do when you can’t find a solution to one of your problems on the internet? To find the answers to your unique problem, consider channeling your inner Sherlock Holmes and become an investigator. Investigators forage for information that’ll lead them to the answers of their own specific questions. And, as a marketer, one of the best investigative tools at your disposal is A/B testing.

Every company has a different set of customers, so there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for designing the most optimal website, crafting the most compelling copy, or building the most effective product. To figure out which website design, line of copy, or product feature will produce the best results for your company, you must discover what your unique set of customers prefer.

To help you do this, we’ve curated eight of the best A/B testing tools for 2019 that’ll help you optimize your website design, copy, product, and, most importantly, help you find the answers to your own specific situation.

1. HubSpot & Kissmetrics' A/B Testing Kit [Featured Tool]

kissmetrics_Abtestkit_headerimageDownload a free kit with everything you need to run A/B testing – an A/B test tracking template, a how-to guide for instruction and inspiration, and a statistical significance calculator to see if your tests were wins, losses, or inconclusive. 

This tool is ideal for businesses just getting started with A/B testing, or for businesses that need a way to track their existing tests. Download the kit for free to get started with A/B testing in your business

2. VWO

A/B Testing Tools - VMO

Image Credit: VWO

G2Crowd Rating: 4.2/5.0 (130 reviews)

Trusted by over 4,500 enterprise brands including eBay, Target, and Virgin Holidays, VWO is an A/B testing and conversion rate optimization platform tailored specifically for enterprise brands. In their suite, you can build A/B tests, Split URL tests, and multivariate tests with a drop-and-drop editor.

To gauge the performance of your tests, VWO offers a robust reporting dashboard. VWO also offers a SmartStats feature that leverages Bayesian statistics to help you run faster tests, give you more control of your tests, and reach more accurate conclusions.

3. Optimizely

A/B Testing Tools - Optimizely

G2Crowd Rating: 4.3/5.0 (104 reviews)

With 24 Fortune 100 companies as customers, Optimizely is a digital experimentation platform for enterprise marketing, product, and engineering teams. Using their powerful A/B and multi-page experimentation tool, you can run multiple experiments on one page at the same time, allowing you to test various variables of your web design.

Optimizely also offers testing on dynamic websites, various experiment dimensions like ad campaign, geography, and cookies, and various experiment segmentation parameters like device, browser, and campaign.

4. Omniconvert

A/B Testing Tools - Omniconvert

G2Crowd Rating: 4.5/5.0 (47 reviews)

Omniconvert is a conversion rate optimization platform that offers an A/B testing tool, as well as survey, personalization, overlay, and segmentation tools. Using their A/B testing tool, you can run A/B tests on desktop, mobile, and tablet. Additionally, you can turn winning versions of an A/B test into the control for a future test and leverage Frequentist or Bayesian statistics to validate your tests.

Omniconvert also blends their segmentation tool with their A/B testing tool to let you test over 40 segmentation parameters, like geolocation, traffic source, and visitor behavior, to improve your website’s user experience, product features, and content’s ability to engage and convert. If you work for a medium-sized business, Omniconvert could be a great A/B testing solution.

5. Crazy Egg

A/B Testing Tools - Crazy Egg

Image Credit: Crazy Egg

G2Crowd Rating: 4.0/5.0 (28 reviews)

Crazy Egg is a website optimization software that offers A/B testing, heat mapping, and usability testing tools. Their A/B testing tool lets you test variations of every single page on your website by adding one snippet of code to the pages you want to experiment on.

Crazy Egg also lets you build A/B tests without any coding experience, sends more traffic to the optimal variant of your test once it recognizes it’s the winner, and offers intuitive conversion tracking and reporting tools. If you work for a small business, Crazy Egg is definitely a tool you should consider.

6. AB Tasty

A/B Testing Tools - AB Tasty

Image Credit: AB Tasty

G2Crowd: 4.4/5.0 (25 reviews)

Trusted by brands like Sephora, Ugg, and Carrefour, AB Tasty is a conversion rate optimization software that offers A/B and multivariate testing, data insights, marketing, and personalization tools.

Using their experiments tool, you can build and run A/B tests, split tests, multivariate tests, and funnel tests with their visual editor. You can also leverage their advanced targeting to test based off various criteria like URL, geolocation, weather, and more. To help validate your tests, AB tasty offers reports that display your tests and their confidence levels in real time. If you work for a medium-sized business, AB Tasty could be best suited for you.

7. Freshmarketer

A/B Testing Tools - Freshmarketer

G2Crowd Rating: 4.5/5.0 (24 reviews)

Freshmarketer, which is the marketing arm of the business platform Freshworks, is a conversion rate optimization software that offers A/B testing and split URL testing. Their A/B testing tool can test, target, and validate your experiment, integrate with Google Analytics, and even track the amount of revenue your experiments have generated.

Freshmarketer’s Split URL testing tool can help you test multiple variations of URLs, turn winning test variations into real web pages, and grasp the effectiveness of your web design by offering heatmaps of every variation of your split URL test. Freshmarketer could be the A/B testing solution for you if you work for a small business.

8. Convert

A/B Testing Tool - Convert

Image Credit: Convert

G2Crowd Rating: 4.7/5.0 (21 Reviews)

Trusted by brands like Sony, Unicef, and Jabra, Convert is an A/B testing and web personalization software that offers A/B testing, split testing, multivariate testing, and multipage experiment tools. Convert also offers an advanced segmentation tool that allows you to segment users based off their historical behavior, cookies, and JavaScript events.

Additionally, Convert can gauge the performance of all your tests by reporting on a large mix of metrics, from your variations’ click-through-rate to its return-on-investment. If you want to use Convert in conjunction with your other tools, they offer a ton of integrations with third-party tools, like WordPress, Shopify, and HubSpot. Convert is best suited for small businesses.



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Non-Disclosure Agreements: When Does Your Business Need Them?

A Quick Helper to Understand Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs)

In the past, a small business owner might not consider using a Non-Disclosure Agreement (also called a confidentiality agreement or an NDA). But times have changed, and today having an NDA in your toolbox is a must.

With freelancers now regularly taking part in projects with small businesses, you have to use an NDA. And if you don’t make your freelancer sign one, it could have negative repercussions down the road. But NDAs can also protect you with inventions, purchase or sale, development of a project, and even a private party.

A new infographic from LegalTemplates has some valuable information about NDAs. Additionally, LegalTemplates provides some free NDA templates and everything you need to know about NDAs.

So, What is an NDA?

An NDA is a contract between a disclosing and receiving party, and It recognizes a legally binding relationship between them.

Anyone can be the disclosing party, such as an individual, company or an entity. The receiving party is the one getting confidential information, such as an employee.

When you sign an NDA, you agree not to disclose information which is in the agreement.

According to LegalTemplates, an NDA is also known as Confidentiality Agreement (CA); Confidential Disclosure Agreement (CDA); Proprietary Information Agreement (PIA); Secrecy Agreement (SA). This will depend on the region or industry.

Cases Where You Need an NDA

There are many cases which require an NDA. If you are not sure, you can err on the side of caution and have one drawn up. But it is best to consult a legal expert to make sure you are doing the right thing and you have the necessary elements in the contract to protect yourself.

NDA may be required for:

Employees – Notifies employees not to discuss business information.

Interviews – Because sensitive company information can be revealed during an interview, an NDA ensures it is protected.

Inventors – Inventors use NDAs with investors or other parties when they discuss details of their creation before they get a patent.

Real Estate – This type of NDA protects the buyer, seller, broker or anyone else involved in a property transaction.

Trade Secrets – Companies use this NDA to protect their trade secrets when talking to third parties.

Anyone can draw up an NDA contract to ensure your information and privacy is protected. As long as both parties agree to the contract and sign it, it is valid.

What Happens if You Don’t Use an NDA?

Whether you have invented the next big thing in tech, or you are protecting the recipe for your fried chicken, an NDA safeguards your information. But if you don’t use an NDA, someone can potentially use the information as their own.

As a legally enforceable agreement, an NDA will ensure the parties involved can’t use your information for their own advantage.

Some of the information an NDA can include are business practices and/or strategies; customer lists; drawings, designs, documents; financial information; marketing materials; proprietary information; prototypes or samples and much more.

Types of NDAs

There are two types of NDAs, a unilateral (one-way) and mutual (bi-lateral) non-disclosure agreement. Although both NDAs protect confidential information, they are not the same.

In a unilateral NDA, only one party is disclosing valuable information, only one party promises to protect the information, and it is used by an inventor and potential investor.

On the other hand, in a bilateral NDA, both parties are disclosing valuable information, both parties promise to protect the information, and it is used in a joint venture or merger.

Take a look at the LegalTemplate’s infographic below for more on NDAs, and make sure to visit their site to get the free templates here.

A Quick Helper to Understand Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs)

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, "Non-Disclosure Agreements: When Does Your Business Need Them?" was first published on Small Business Trends



via Small Business Trends Business Feeds

Non-Disclosure Agreements: When Does Your Business Need Them?

A Quick Helper to Understand Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs)

In the past, a small business owner might not consider using a Non-Disclosure Agreement (also called a confidentiality agreement or an NDA). But times have changed, and today having an NDA in your toolbox is a must.

With freelancers now regularly taking part in projects with small businesses, you have to use an NDA. And if you don’t make your freelancer sign one, it could have negative repercussions down the road. But NDAs can also protect you with inventions, purchase or sale, development of a project, and even a private party.

A new infographic from LegalTemplates has some valuable information about NDAs. Additionally, LegalTemplates provides some free NDA templates and everything you need to know about NDAs.

So, What is an NDA?

An NDA is a contract between a disclosing and receiving party, and It recognizes a legally binding relationship between them.

Anyone can be the disclosing party, such as an individual, company or an entity. The receiving party is the one getting confidential information, such as an employee.

When you sign an NDA, you agree not to disclose information which is in the agreement.

According to LegalTemplates, an NDA is also known as Confidentiality Agreement (CA); Confidential Disclosure Agreement (CDA); Proprietary Information Agreement (PIA); Secrecy Agreement (SA). This will depend on the region or industry.

Cases Where You Need an NDA

There are many cases which require an NDA. If you are not sure, you can err on the side of caution and have one drawn up. But it is best to consult a legal expert to make sure you are doing the right thing and you have the necessary elements in the contract to protect yourself.

NDA may be required for:

Employees – Notifies employees not to discuss business information.

Interviews – Because sensitive company information can be revealed during an interview, an NDA ensures it is protected.

Inventors – Inventors use NDAs with investors or other parties when they discuss details of their creation before they get a patent.

Real Estate – This type of NDA protects the buyer, seller, broker or anyone else involved in a property transaction.

Trade Secrets – Companies use this NDA to protect their trade secrets when talking to third parties.

Anyone can draw up an NDA contract to ensure your information and privacy is protected. As long as both parties agree to the contract and sign it, it is valid.

What Happens if You Don’t Use an NDA?

Whether you have invented the next big thing in tech, or you are protecting the recipe for your fried chicken, an NDA safeguards your information. But if you don’t use an NDA, someone can potentially use the information as their own.

As a legally enforceable agreement, an NDA will ensure the parties involved can’t use your information for their own advantage.

Some of the information an NDA can include are business practices and/or strategies; customer lists; drawings, designs, documents; financial information; marketing materials; proprietary information; prototypes or samples and much more.

Types of NDAs

There are two types of NDAs, a unilateral (one-way) and mutual (bi-lateral) non-disclosure agreement. Although both NDAs protect confidential information, they are not the same.

In a unilateral NDA, only one party is disclosing valuable information, only one party promises to protect the information, and it is used by an inventor and potential investor.

On the other hand, in a bilateral NDA, both parties are disclosing valuable information, both parties promise to protect the information, and it is used in a joint venture or merger.

Take a look at the LegalTemplate’s infographic below for more on NDAs, and make sure to visit their site to get the free templates here.

A Quick Helper to Understand Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs)

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, "Non-Disclosure Agreements: When Does Your Business Need Them?" was first published on Small Business Trends



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Building for Small Business: New Features That Help You Meet Your Customers Where They Are

Sponsored Post

Building for Small Business: New Features That Help You Meet Your Customers Where They Are

Although my desk at the Salesforce Tower might seem far removed from the kitchen table where I worked as an entrepreneur, small businesses continue to be the heart and soul of everything I do. Prior to working at Salesforce, I co-founded a small children’s lunchbox company with my wife — and we were fortunate enough to be featured on “Shark Tank.” During that time, I learned a lot about what’s important when running your own business. You need to be passionate and believe in yourself to see it through. You need to be resilient because there will be hard times and long nights. And you need to pick tools that are easy to use and can grow with your business. That last reason is why I came to Salesforce. I couldn’t pass up the chance to work on a product like Essentials, an all-in-one sales and service CRM app designed specifically for small businesses. I feel like there’s no better place to build a CRM product for small business than at Salesforce.

To build the best products, you need a real understanding of what challenges customers face. That’s why our team can often be found on the road, meeting with small businesses and listening to their needs. One thing that stands out in all these conversations is that building relationships with customers is critical to their success. But it’s hard for many small businesses to stay on top of customer conversations and even more difficult to maintain an individualized level of service as they grow. That’s where Salesforce comes in.

Adding new conversation channels in Salesforce Essentials

A personalized customer service experience can mean the difference between a bad review and a happy, repeat customer. That’s why I’m so excited about the new conversation channels in our latest release. Many small businesses have grown-up on social media platforms and need to be able to communicate and engage with customers on their preferred channels — from Facebook Messenger, Instagram, YouTube, web chat or on the phone. Our new features are easy to set up with a few clicks and are included with Salesforce Essentials at no additional cost — in fact, our small business customers can turn them on today.

Easy channel setup with walkthroughs and live help

While my wife and I ran our lunchbox company we didn’t have a lot of spare time. Between product design, manufacturing, marketing, and a dozen other things, we didn’t have time to struggle with difficult systems or learn complicated processes. That’s why my team and I want to make Essentials simple and easy. We have in-product walkthroughs for each step in adding new channels, and if you need more support, we have a team ready to help you get up and running. We even offer free hands-on workshops to get you on the road to success.

user interface of setup screen

Seamless conversations across social channels

Today’s customers increasingly reach out to businesses on Facebook and Instagram. But it’s challenging for them to track all of these conversations and make sure they answer every customer’s question. To address this, we’ve enabled real-time conversations via Facebook Messenger from within Salesforce. When a customer sends a company a question via Messenger, the message is routed to an employee who can have a live conversation without ever leaving Salesforce. We also provide notifications when customers comment on your Instagram and YouTube posts, so you can respond to all customers from one place. These new channels expand our existing support of Facebook pages and Twitter.

example of social conversation interface

Real-time chat conversations from website or help center

One of the things I discovered as a small business is that nothing beats a real-time conversation. Most customers want help immediately, not hours later. That’s why we enable small businesses to add a Salesforce chat widget to their website or help center, with capabilities that include having each new chat routed immediately to an employee. At the start of a chat, complete customer information is automatically presented — previous interactions, case history, open sales opportunities, and more, all without searching through different systems.

screenshot of chat feature

Native phone support built into the #1 CRM

We also help small businesses save time with Lightning Dialer for Essentials, an easy-to-use call center solution built right into the CRM. When someone on your team makes or receives a call, the customer’s profile and account information pops up within Salesforce, giving them a detailed customer history for fast and personalized service. Calls are automatically logged, reducing manual data entry and making sure that information doesn’t get lost.

user interface of native phone support

Continuing innovation for small business success

Since launching Essentials in 2017, we’ve doubled-down on helping small businesses succeed with innovations ranging from online buying and check-out, guided set-up, and Essentials for Service, to in-app help and a team of dedicated coaches. So far the response has been great. Businesses of all sizes — from sole proprietors to companies with ten or more employees — have embraced Essentials. G Photography, which creates stunning portraits, PepTalkHer, which works to close the gender pay gap, and Mission.org a leading podcast provider are just a few of our customers. We continue to invest in new features that will help small businesses thrive and grow — while remaining at a price point they can afford.

If you’re a small business owner interested in innovation, I’d love to hear what’s important to you @ppedrazzi. And if you haven’t already, you can check out Essentials for free for 14 days. So, go ahead, take it for a spin!

Photo via Salesforce

This article, "Building for Small Business: New Features That Help You Meet Your Customers Where They Are" was first published on Small Business Trends



via Small Business Trends Business Feeds

Building for Small Business: New Features That Help You Meet Your Customers Where They Are

Sponsored Post

Building for Small Business: New Features That Help You Meet Your Customers Where They Are

Although my desk at the Salesforce Tower might seem far removed from the kitchen table where I worked as an entrepreneur, small businesses continue to be the heart and soul of everything I do. Prior to working at Salesforce, I co-founded a small children’s lunchbox company with my wife — and we were fortunate enough to be featured on “Shark Tank.” During that time, I learned a lot about what’s important when running your own business. You need to be passionate and believe in yourself to see it through. You need to be resilient because there will be hard times and long nights. And you need to pick tools that are easy to use and can grow with your business. That last reason is why I came to Salesforce. I couldn’t pass up the chance to work on a product like Essentials, an all-in-one sales and service CRM app designed specifically for small businesses. I feel like there’s no better place to build a CRM product for small business than at Salesforce.

To build the best products, you need a real understanding of what challenges customers face. That’s why our team can often be found on the road, meeting with small businesses and listening to their needs. One thing that stands out in all these conversations is that building relationships with customers is critical to their success. But it’s hard for many small businesses to stay on top of customer conversations and even more difficult to maintain an individualized level of service as they grow. That’s where Salesforce comes in.

Adding new conversation channels in Salesforce Essentials

A personalized customer service experience can mean the difference between a bad review and a happy, repeat customer. That’s why I’m so excited about the new conversation channels in our latest release. Many small businesses have grown-up on social media platforms and need to be able to communicate and engage with customers on their preferred channels — from Facebook Messenger, Instagram, YouTube, web chat or on the phone. Our new features are easy to set up with a few clicks and are included with Salesforce Essentials at no additional cost — in fact, our small business customers can turn them on today.

Easy channel setup with walkthroughs and live help

While my wife and I ran our lunchbox company we didn’t have a lot of spare time. Between product design, manufacturing, marketing, and a dozen other things, we didn’t have time to struggle with difficult systems or learn complicated processes. That’s why my team and I want to make Essentials simple and easy. We have in-product walkthroughs for each step in adding new channels, and if you need more support, we have a team ready to help you get up and running. We even offer free hands-on workshops to get you on the road to success.

user interface of setup screen

Seamless conversations across social channels

Today’s customers increasingly reach out to businesses on Facebook and Instagram. But it’s challenging for them to track all of these conversations and make sure they answer every customer’s question. To address this, we’ve enabled real-time conversations via Facebook Messenger from within Salesforce. When a customer sends a company a question via Messenger, the message is routed to an employee who can have a live conversation without ever leaving Salesforce. We also provide notifications when customers comment on your Instagram and YouTube posts, so you can respond to all customers from one place. These new channels expand our existing support of Facebook pages and Twitter.

example of social conversation interface

Real-time chat conversations from website or help center

One of the things I discovered as a small business is that nothing beats a real-time conversation. Most customers want help immediately, not hours later. That’s why we enable small businesses to add a Salesforce chat widget to their website or help center, with capabilities that include having each new chat routed immediately to an employee. At the start of a chat, complete customer information is automatically presented — previous interactions, case history, open sales opportunities, and more, all without searching through different systems.

screenshot of chat feature

Native phone support built into the #1 CRM

We also help small businesses save time with Lightning Dialer for Essentials, an easy-to-use call center solution built right into the CRM. When someone on your team makes or receives a call, the customer’s profile and account information pops up within Salesforce, giving them a detailed customer history for fast and personalized service. Calls are automatically logged, reducing manual data entry and making sure that information doesn’t get lost.

user interface of native phone support

Continuing innovation for small business success

Since launching Essentials in 2017, we’ve doubled-down on helping small businesses succeed with innovations ranging from online buying and check-out, guided set-up, and Essentials for Service, to in-app help and a team of dedicated coaches. So far the response has been great. Businesses of all sizes — from sole proprietors to companies with ten or more employees — have embraced Essentials. G Photography, which creates stunning portraits, PepTalkHer, which works to close the gender pay gap, and Mission.org a leading podcast provider are just a few of our customers. We continue to invest in new features that will help small businesses thrive and grow — while remaining at a price point they can afford.

If you’re a small business owner interested in innovation, I’d love to hear what’s important to you @ppedrazzi. And if you haven’t already, you can check out Essentials for free for 14 days. So, go ahead, take it for a spin!

Photo via Salesforce

This article, "Building for Small Business: New Features That Help You Meet Your Customers Where They Are" was first published on Small Business Trends



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In the Spotlight: Woofie’s Makes Animal Care its Pet Project

In the Spotlight: Pet Lovers Unite to Form Woofie's to Offer Personalized Pet Care

The pet industry is surging. But there are still some markets where it’s hard to find quality dog walking, pet sitting and grooming services.

The founders of Woofie’s experienced that gap in the marketplace with their own pets. So they decided to do something about it. Read all about their story in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Offers pet sitting, dog walking and mobile pet spa services.

Co-Founder and Co-CEO Amy Reed told Small Business Trends, “Each client’s pet is matched with the best pet sitter, dog walker or groomer in order to offer a truly exceptional experience. Woofie’s holds multiple fundraisers on an annual basis to raise money for local animal shelters.”

Business Niche: Personalized Pet Care

A focus on customer service.

Reed says, “We built our business on this approach from day one and we have never deviated from it.”

In the Spotlight: Pet Lovers Unite to Form Woofie's to Offer Personalized Pet Care

How the Business Got Started

Because of a common interest.

Reed and Leslie Barron were neighbors and friends who shared a love of animals. Over time, they realized the lack of a quality pet care service in their area. So they thought others might appreciate what they had to offer as well.

Biggest Win

Getting their first two franchisees to invest in the brand.

Reed says, “I can’t think of a higher honor and validation of the Woofie’s business model, our team members and the Woofie’s brand.”

Biggest Risk

Narrowing their service area.

Reed explains, “While all of the other pet sitting companies in our area had large service areas, we scaled ours down so that we had a small, highly concentrated service area. We gave away a lot of business to our competitors who were in those other markets (which was especially tough to do in the early days of our business) but we felt it was the right thing to do for our long term strategy.

We made this decision because it allowed us to know our clients on a much more personal level, thus providing them with a better customer experience. It also enabled us to be an integral part of our local community and it gave us the opportunity to support our team members better by keeping them close by. This resulted in our business growing quicker and more efficiently over the years than our competitors who had large service areas. This is also why we ultimately decided to franchise our Woofie’s business. We wanted to give other pet lovers the opportunity to invest in a Woofie’s franchise in other markets.”

Lesson Learned

Automation saves time.

Reed adds, “[If I could do it over again] I would automate more of our business processes from the very beginning and I would document all of those processes in detail.”

In the Spotlight: Pet Lovers Unite to Form Woofie's to Offer Personalized Pet Care

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Building tech for clients and franchisees.

Reed says, “We would use it to help build our Woofie’s University grooming school and to make additional enhancements to our customized client software system.”

Hiring Practice

Interacting with dogs.

Reed says, “We always have dogs in our office during employee interviews to see how the applicants interact with the pups. This allows us to see if the applicants are a good fit with our company and how they would treat our client’s pets. All applicants and any vendors who work with Woofie’s must be 100% dog-approved!”

Favorite Quote

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” – Mark Twain

* * * * *

Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program

Images: Woofie’s; Top Image: (rom left to right) Caroline Murphy (VP of Franchise Development & Support), Renee Ventrice (VP of Marketing), Amy Reed (Co-founder & Co-CEO), Jack Ceschin (Golden), Maggie Cruz (VP of Recruitment Operations), Leslie Barron (Co-founder & Co-CEO)

This article, "In the Spotlight: Woofie’s Makes Animal Care its Pet Project" was first published on Small Business Trends



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