Lately, I have found myself helping to implement simple cloud based tech tools within small and medium size businesses and there seems to be a pattern emerging with which products work and which ones don't...
This morning, A customer I am working with called me. He explained...
I almost just got into a fight with the guy that was trying to sell me their [tech tool]. He wouldn't listen to what I needed and just kept telling me that I should run my business in the way that the software works.
This seems to be the trend with some products. Just not listening to the customer. As an entrepreneur myself, I have fallen into this trap myself in the past. The "This is my idea, don't tell me I'm wrong" problem.
Some of these technology products are great, They work beautifully, automate a process, connect to every other products and seamlessly save us time, money and head space. Others do not...
The "Others" make you replicate customers details, work separately to the other software and require a Ph.D. to set up and train staff. These tools end up creating more admin and never end up providing any value at all.
There are roughly 10,000 of these tools to choose from, so choosing the right one is essential! If you get it wrong, you may find your laptop thrown against the wall!
So I have a created a set of simple criteria that seems to be working in regards to choosing the right products for businesses. Hopefully, for us "the customer", some of the SaaS products might just start to listen as we stop using them.
#1 It must connect to a cloud based integration and automation tool like Zapier, DSync, Flow or IFTTT
This is the first thing I look at now. I get so much value from products like Zapier that I only choose tools for customers that can connect with it. I can sit with the customer and automate any process they throw at me without any developer cost. All cloud based tools have limitations but I have found that this requirement removes most of the barriers to implementation.
#2 The customer information must come from the CRM
All successful companies use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) in some way or form. This is where the customers should be entered and edited. If you edit a customer, you shouldn't have to go into the other tool and edit it again.
Every tool seems to want to be the CRM as well. This does not work well. The tools that seem to work best simply show you the customer as it is in your CRM and when you change it, it changes in the tool. If the tool meets #1, this is usually easy to implement in any case.
#3 It must have a companion Mobile App and work on all devices and browsers.
Since the smart phone revolution, most businesses rely on working remotely and this is going to become more important as we stop working from the desk. As a sales person, if we want to look up information on the way to a meeting, it needs to be easy.
Recently I asked a large CRM company why they don't make the address clickable (or any copyable) so the sales man can view it on a map and get directions. I was told that's a good idea, no one has thought about that.... Weird!
#4 It must have a RESTFUL API and great online documentation and test area.
Sorry - this is the tech geek in me...ignore the tech Jargon if you don't understand it for now.
If all else fails, a good API (Application Programming Interface) can save me as in implementor to create the integration businesses need. Usually, if #1 is met, you don't need this but it is useful for all the technology the tool is missing.
The API's must be RESTFUL (This is a geek term). This is just a standard that makes implementation easier. Demand it!
#5 It must look simple to use out of the box (with a good walk through)
Simple clean looking user interfaces make the learning simple. Think Google, Xero or Pipedrive... all nice simple interfaces. If you find it hard within the first 10 minutes, move on... there will be another.
The product should walk you through the main points of the program and give you ample time to evaluate the technology before giving them a credit card. If they ask for a credit card straight away it's because they expect you to cancel in a month.
Feel free to get in touch or see me at the next "Technology for Business" free evening with Vodafone and the Auckland Chamber of Commerce if you would like to know more.
Andrew Radcliffe, Founder of Tech Tools