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PSPinc will help your business thrive by providing for all of your technology needs. We offer a wide array of products, including Web & Email Hosting, Website Development, Email Marketing and Data Storage Solutions. Visit pspinc.com to learn more.

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What to Know about Internet Speed

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What to Know about Internet S...
One thing to consider when moving to the cloud is the speed of your internet – which is where the cloud lives. When researching different internet service providers (ISPs), you hear different terms that describe what you are getting. You need to be “in the know” when selecting your type of connectivity because it will affect your team’s productivity once you move to the cloud. Here are some key things to consider:

Speed:

Yes, “the bigger, the better” rule does apply to internet speed. Did you notice we use lowercase b instead of uppercase B when describing internet speed?

Usually your connection speed is described with a unit called Mbps (Mega bits per second). It’s measured in terms of “bits” rather than “Bytes,” hence, the lowercase b reference. And how many bits can move per second is commonly used to measure the speed of internet. 1 Byte consists of 8 bits. So, if you are thinking 10Mbps is the same as 10BM (Megabytes), you are mistaken. In actuality, 10Mbps = 10,000Kbps / 8 = 1,250K Bytes (or 1.25MB).

You might want to review your internet connection by speed testing it in your browser. You can type “speed test” in Google search and find a program to run a test of your computer’s connectivity.

ISPs tend to give you faster download speed instead of upload speed. They generally offer options where you can get the same speed for uploads or downloads, but the price may be higher than your regular connection.

Types of Connections:

There are different types of connections: DSL, Cable, Ethernet, and Fiber. In certain areas, you may have radio and satellite connections.

Most of us are familiar with DSL, Cable and Ethernet. They all transmit over copper cables. Although the delivery methods are different, the speed is not affected by the distance from the ISP's Point of Presence (POP) to your office, however, the signals do get weaker as you get further away. Also, be aware that your internet speed may be slower than what the ISP tells you on paper.

Fiber relies on light instead of electricity to transmit data, which makes it faster, and it does not wear off like the signals over copper do. Unfortunately, Fiber installations are not yet available in all cities and streets so check with your providers to see if they can deliver it for you.

Research your choices for internet connectivity and speed before you purchase. Don't be deceived by how fast technology works on television. You need to ask questions about your connectivity options, especially when it comes to your business.
#PSPinc #Blog #CloudTechnology #CloudComputing #InternetSpeed #SmallBusiness #BusinessTips #Connectivity

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What to Consider before Moving your Business into the Cloud

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What to Consider before Movin...
According to statista.com, the size of the cloud computing and hosting market worldwide grew from a $30 billion size industry back in 2011 to $80 billion today, which will grow to be over $100 billion industry in a year or so. That is big.

The accessibility, availability, and affordability of the cloud are driving that cloud computing growth because those benefits to businesses are almost too good to be true. But there are a few key elements to consider when evaluating whether or not your business should move into the cloud.

Cost:

The initial cost to move into the cloud may be way lower than trying to get a similar system in your office. For example, if you are looking at a new inventory software, you will not need to purchase any computers, server operating systems, etc. Depending on your choice of software, you could subscribe to a SaaS (Software as a Service) instead. You will need to analyze the initial costs vs. the subscription-based running costs.

Workflow & Policies:

Once you move your data and software into the cloud, your business workflow and policies must be reviewed and re-established accordingly. For example, your cloud-based data storage may be charged based on the average space used. In which case, you don’t want your employees to save every single thing in the cloud since it will cost you more. Make sure they know what needs to be in the cloud and what doesn’t, and ask your team to follow those procedures accordingly.

Internet Speed:

You will be at the mercy of internet connection once you move to the cloud. Luckily, even our cell phones now have faster speed but be aware - it will not work the same as you running your software on your own computer. Your office (or home) internet speed may affect your productivity once your projects move into the cloud.

Monitoring & Troubleshooting:

When your in-office server access was slow, you used to just reboot it. But once you move your server to the cloud, how will you monitor and troubleshoot any issues? Depending on the service you choose, you may have different protocols to follow. You can’t simply unplug the power of the server. You and your office staff need to know who to call and what to do at any time.

Plan B:

No matter how you put it together, no system is 100% perfect. Trust me, at PSPinc Web Hosting in Bellevue, we have run our own servers and data centers over 20 years. Murphy’s Law does exist: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” So be prepared, have a Plan B, and don’t put all your eggs into one basket.
#PSPinc #Blog #CloudComputing #CloudTechnology #TheCloud #SmallBusiness #BusinessAdvice

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Types of Software in the Cloud

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Types of Software in the Cloud
In my last post, we talked about the basics of the cloud, and I mentioned accounting software as one of the applications you can get in the cloud. Today, we will cover some of the other services available for your business in the cloud:

General Office:

One of the most commonly used cloud solutions is online storage space. You might be familiar with:

- iCloud
- Dropbox
- Google Drive

Many have similar features to keep your files “in the cloud” with the ability to access them from other devices. Most of them now have sharing features so you can define other users and let them access the files you have. In coming years, new features will roll out that focus on collaboration but I will expand on that point in a future article.

Accounting:

Accounting and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) can be helpful if you need people to work remotely on your books and financials. It enables outside help to access your company’s accounting files without being in the office. No longer would you need to set someone up with remote access to your accounting machines.

CRM:

Customer Relationship Management also used to be on local machines but now it is shareable via the cloud. Like our own service, www.FlatCRM.com, being able to access the company’s data outside of the office allows us to work more efficiently.

What you need to be aware of is not all systems are perfect. Your access to the cloud relies on the speed of your internet, for one. Many of these programs are run on web browsers so sometimes the controls and the user interface will not work the same as when you run it on your local computer.

Remember, if your software is running as a service in the cloud, you have to allow a bit of time between you and the server in the cloud to communicate. And no service is perfect, so always have a backup and a plan B.
#PSPinc #Blog #CloudComputing #CloudSoftware #CloudTechnology #SmallBusiness #BusinessTips

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Cloud Computing Service Models & Environments

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Cloud Computing Service Model...
Cloud computing enables us to access information anywhere, anytime. Essentially, by working in the cloud, we have access to all of the information and resources on our computers via the internet. Today, many service providers are offering cloud computing services.

There are three types of cloud computing service models that build on each other:

1) Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Customer rents networking space, storage and processing power.

2) Platform as a Service (PaaS): Customer develops its own applications using cloud provider’s operating system and platform.

3) Software as a Service (SaaS): Customer uses the cloud provider’s applications/software via the network.

For example, a payroll processing company may run their management software on PaaS so they can share the resources of infrastructure with the platform already built in the cloud. An example of applications that run on SaaS are Gmail, GoToMeeting or WebEx.

These cloud computing tiers exist in different settings and different environments.

- Private cloud
- Public cloud
- Community cloud
- Hybrid cloud

Private cloud is an environment for one organization to provide IT services for its internal users. Public cloud is a multi-tenant environment where you can get server space hosted by an outside provider. It’s appealing because the provider is responsible for management and maintenance of the data center – a great option for small businesses that lack internal resources. Unlike Public cloud, Community cloud is where infrastructure is shared between several organizations from a specific community with common concerns or objectives. The combination of any of the cloud environments is called Hybrid cloud.

In each cloud model and environment, there are pros and cons, costs and security concerns. As with all new technology, new challenges arise, however, I’m confident they will improve as the technology evolves. Even if you are not interested in cloud computing and doing business in the cloud, we should all be aware of what is trending in online technology. It’s important to keep up with the way the world is moving, particularly when it comes to business.
#PSPinc #Blog #CloudComputing #CloudEnvironments #CloudModels #SmallBusiness #TheCloud

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What it Means to be 'In the Cloud'

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An Original Mainframe Compute... An Original Mainframe Computer
Photo Credit: computerhistory.org
Once upon a time, computing was limited to businesses with enough money to afford big, centralized machines known as “mainframes.” (See image above.)

Today, even our smart phones are more powerful than those big mainframe computers of yesterday. During the 20th century, with the evolution of personal computers and internet, we became empowered with quick access to information and faster processes. In the 21st century, smart phones and tablets revolutionized and mobilized our internet and computer access.

Now we’ve entered the age of “cloud computing,” which is “a type of Internet-based computing that provides shared computer processing resources and data to computers and other devices on demand,” according to wikipedia.org.

More simply, cloud computing means storing and filing data on the internet versus on your computer’s hard drive. So when you hear someone say a file or photo is “in the cloud,” they’re likely saying they’ve saved it within an online network that is connected to our computers and devices for easy information retrieval and file sharing – wherever you happen to be. By putting files in the cloud, you reduce the storage taken up on your hard drive and you gain the ability to pull up a document remotely from any device.

Before cloud computing became popular in business, we had to process information on our computers and on-site company servers. Many big companies like Amazon and Google have always needed big data centers with powerful computers. Technically, in the cloud those companies now have data centers, infrastructures, and computers connected to each other online.

Now that cloud computing is available, many content providers are moving into the cloud. For example, your accounting software might have been on a server in your office before cloud computing. Now software companies offer their solutions in the cloud so you don’t have to install it on the server in your office. In fact, they won’t charge you to purchase or download such software, but rather charge you a subscription fee instead, or charge based on your usage.

In the end, many businesses are now running in the cloud instead of owning the centralized servers and software. The benefit of being in the cloud is being able to use various applications and IT resources and have unlimited storage for files that are backed up and easier to share.
#PSPinc #Blog #CloudComputing #CloudTechnology #SmallBusiness #Internet

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Customer Service Best Practices on Social Media

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Customer Service Best Practic...
Generally we think about customer service going through direct communication channels such as telephone, in-store, live chat, and emails. But what about social media? Can it become a channel for customer service communication?

I say why not?

There are 1.7 billion users on Facebook, 400 million users on Instagram, 320 million on Twitter, 300 million on Google+ and 100 million on LinkedIn. We all have accounts on many of these so it is safe to assume there are at least 1.7 billion people communicating on social media. The world population is 7.6 billion so it is safe to say 1 out of every 5 people in the world has one or more social media accounts. Which makes it unwise and unrealistic for modern businesses to avoid social media interactions with their customers. If companies want to grow and reach more people, they must connect and get feedback from current and potential customers via social media.

Check out these helpful tips for good customer service practices on social media:

Don’t avoid social media.

As stated earlier, you cannot avoid social media today unless you are happy with stagnant growth. Assuming every business would like to grow and give good customer experiences, business-to-customer social media communication is a MUST today.

Don’t ignore negative posts.

We all hate negative feedback and customer complaints, but it is possible to turn it around. We all make mistakes but how we deal with it matters the most. Negative feedback and complaints can turn into a positive experience if you handle it with grace and sensitivity.

Be genuine in your communication.

When dealing with tough issues, don’t lie or try to cover anything up. Be genuine and make sure you follow up. Even when posting commentary on social media, customers can tell if you are genuine or not.

Be quick to respond.

In today’s digital era, people want things quickly, which is also true for getting answers and responses. So when you see a post or private message from a customer, make sure someone from your customer service team answers as soon as possible.

Respond no matter what.

Even if you don’t have an answer to the question or response to a customer post, respond quickly just to say you will look into it and get back to them asap. No matter what, the customer wants to be recognized and know that someone is working on it. All you have to do is say we heard you, and will get back shortly!
#PSPinc #Blog #OnlineMarketing #SmallBusiness #Marketing #SocialMedia #CustomerService

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New Silkroad Wine & Spirits Website

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New Silkroad Wine & Spirits ...
Silkroad Wine and Spirits, Inc., a customer of PSPinc, recently updated their website! This beautiful website was designed by Silkroad Wine and Spirits and lets their customers easily browse their inventory.

You can visit the new site here: http://silkroadwineandspirits.com

If you think your business would benefit from a responsive website, or you just need a site built on an easy to use CMS so you can update it yourself, contact sales@pspinc.com to get started!
#Blog #pspinc #webdesign #silkroadwineandspirits

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Happy Customers make Great Brand Ambassadors

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Happy Customers make Great ...
A “brand ambassador” is someone hired by a company to positively represent their brand in the market. The brand ambassador’s job is to spread the story of the company and create more brand awareness within ads, events, trade shows, etc., and often times, large corporations try to hire public figures to be that important, influential representative.

For example, Leonardo DiCaprio is a famous TAG Heuer watch ambassador, Ciarra a Revlon ambassador, and Will Smith’s daughter, Willow Smith, is now an ambassador for Chanel.

Not all of us have the economic means or connections to hire such well-known public figures to represent our companies, but in these modern times you should consider every customer and follower of your business a potential brand ambassador.

A happy customer can spread the word about their experience and represent your brand by telling the story of their interaction with your company. Whether it’s their transaction experience, or their satisfaction with the quality of the product you provide, there is always a story to tell.

Because of that, you need to make sure you treat every transaction, every interaction, and every communication with your customers or potential customers in a consistent manner that represents your company well. To achieve the consistency of such interactions, it is important you write down some of the basic values you desire within your business operations.

For example, at PSPinc, some of our values are “professionalism” and “courtesy.” We make sure we treat our customers in the same manner we would like to be treated, as we guide them to new technology. If we successfully communicate to our customers with professionalism and courtesy, they will surely tell others about their experience with us, and how well they were treated – positively representing our brand in the marketplace.

So what are your company values? How can you use them to communicate consistently better with your customers and create memorable interactions? Think about the story you want your brand ambassadors to spread about your company, and work to make that a reality.
#PSPinc #Blog #Brand #BrandAmbassador #CustomerRelations #CustomerService #OnlineMarketing #SmallBusiness #Marketing

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Using CRM tools to create Customer Relationships

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Using CRM tools to create Cus...
We often forget that the marketing and selling a product or service is only the beginning of a relationship with our customers. Just like your own personal relationships, knowing your customers better will equip you with a more fruitful relationship. So, ask yourself these questions: How well do you know your customer base? How well do you know their opinions, desires, or behaviors?

To achieve the answers and better understand their customers, many businesses try to keep track of transaction history via Customer Relationship Management (CRM). CRM is a tool to keep all the history, interactions, and other useful information such as birthdays and anniversaries, within records so the company can coordinate more personal interactions with customers.

Do you have a rewards card from a supermarket? This is a kind of CRM.

With the rewards card, companies keep track of your purchase history and patterns to learn more about you. Right now the benefit of having a rewards card is getting the extra discounts, but in the near future I bet they will offer you more personalized discounts tailored to your shopping behavior. You may have already noticed the personalized coupons that get printed at the check stand upon checkout – for the product(s) you’ve purchased before, or even that day. I’m willing to bet grocery stores will come up with even more specialized “just for you” type discounts and transaction opportunities very soon.

CRM data can be far reaching and that is why it’s also known as “Big Data.” Data curation can come in the form of things like cellular phones, rewards card programs, credit card information, or your email habits, so businesses can capture information that allows them to have a more personal relationship with you. It’s how they get to know their customers.

In the 80s and 90s, the popular business trend was to be big - larger retailers with bigger selections and more purchasing power. Today, the trend is opposite – to be more compact and personalized. As we’ve learned from Web 2.0 technology, the younger generation seeks their own empowerment and individualism. CRM will allow us to provide that one-to-one close relationship between customers and businesses so businesses can treat each and every customer as an individual instead of just a number.

CRM gives companies of all sizes the power to deliver the personalized relationship today’s customer will appreciate.
#PSPinc #Blog #CRM #CustomerRelations #OnlineMarketing #SmallBusiness #Marketing

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How to Stay Connected to your Customers

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How to Stay Connected to you...
Many smaller businesses will have one interaction with a customer, but after the transaction is complete, customers go their own way and forget about the company. An important piece of customer retention is communication and reminding the customer what you can do for them. As mentioned in our previous article, with the omnichannel approach, today’s media allows for a variety of ways to keep the business-to-customer relationship going strong.

Here are some easy ways to stay connected with your customers:

Follow-Up Email

Following up with customers via email is easy. If they ordered online, it’s likely you already have their email address. Following up after the transaction to ask about their experience is not only a nice touch, but also an easy way to reinforce your brand.

E-Newsletter

In your follow-up email, ask your customers to subscribe to your e-newsletter where you can update them on new products, tips or promotions. The key is to send the newsletter on a consistent schedule, but not too often. Once or twice a month is a good amount.

Surprise Offers

Everyone loves a good surprise so why not offer one to your customers? Unexpected discounts, “just for you” type of specials, and birthday discounts are some of the ideas you can expand upon to surprise your customers with a “unique” offer. Making them feel extra special never hurts.

Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram keep you connected with customers and grow your followers. We recommend you mix in some fun, funny or lighthearted social media posts that your customers may enjoy, like, or even share. Photos of pets in the office, a fun trivia fact, or good advice on your products or services – things like that should go over well. Remember not to make your posts too long on social media. Videos and photos are usually a good means to deliver your content.

Request Help

Engaging your customers by asking for participation is always a good idea. You can ask them to post images of your products on social media, or give reviews on Google+, as an example. Perhaps you can do a giveaway or a contest. Customers who participate create a great deal of buzz marketing for you for free. If you deal with negative feedback or reviews genuinely and sensitively, those too can turn into something positive.
#PSPinc #Blog #SmallBusiness #WebMarketing #OnlineMarketing #SocialMedia

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