5 Ways to Balance User Productivity with MFA Protocols

One constant struggle in offices is the balance between productivity and security. If you give users too much freedom in your network, risk increases. But add too many security gates, and productivity can dwindle. Yes, you can secure your user accounts AND keep employees productive at the same time. MFA doesn’t have to be a drag.

It’s a fine balance between the two, but one you can achieve. Organizations need to recognize the importance of both. And not sacrifice one for another.

A recent report from Microsoft notes a dangerous lack of authentication security. Just 22% of Azure Active Directory users had multi-factor authentication (MFA) enabled. This means that over three-quarters were at a much higher risk of an account breach.

Why do organizations fail to adopt important security protocols, like MFA? We know that it’s as much as 99.9% effective at stopping fraudulent sign-ins. Yet so many companies aren’t adopting it.

User inconvenience is the biggest reason. MFA is not expensive. In fact, it’s free to enable in nearly all cloud applications. But if users say that it’s hurting productivity and is a pain to use, companies may not bother with it.

But sacrificing security can hurt productivity worse. Downtime due to a data breach is expensive and can put smaller companies out of business. The main cause of data breaches is credential compromise. So, if you’re not protecting your authentication process, the risk of becoming a breach victim is high.

35% of data breaches initiate from breached login credentials.

There are ways to have both secure and productive users. It simply takes adopting some solutions that can help. These are tools that improve authentication security. But do it in a way that keeps user convenience in mind.

Solutions to Improve Security Without Sacrificing Convenience

Use Contextual Authentication Rules

Not every user needs to go through the same authentication process. If someone is working in your building, they have a certain trust factor. If someone is attempting to log in from outside the country, they do not have that same trust.

Contextual authentication is used with MFA to target users that need to reach a higher bar. You may choose to limit or block system access to someone attempting to log in from a certain region. Or you may need to add an additional challenge question for users logging in after work hours.

Companies don’t need to inconvenience people working from normal locations during typical hours. But they can still verify those logging in under non-typical circumstances. Some of the contextual factors you can use include:

  • Time of day
  • Location
  • The device used
  • Time of the last login
  • Type of resources accessed

Install a Single Sign-on (SSO) Solution

A report on U.S. employees found they use a lot of apps. Workers switch between an average of 13 apps 30 times per day. That’s a lot of inconvenience if they need to use an MFA action for each of those logins.

Single sign-on applications solve this problem. They merge the authentication process for several apps into just one login. Employees log in once and can go through MFA a single time.

Using multi-factor authentication isn’t nearly as inconvenient. Users gain access to everything at the same time. SSO solutions help organizations improve their security without all the pushback from users.

Recognize Devices

Another way to better secure network access is to recognize devices. This is typically done using an endpoint device manager. This automates some of the security behind user authentication. Thus, it doesn’t inconvenience the person.

First, register employee devices in the endpoint device manager. Once completed, you can then set up security rules. Such as blocking unknown devices automatically.

You can also put in place device scanning for malware and automated updates. Both these things increase security without sacrificing productivity.

Use Role-based Authentication

Your shipping clerk may not have access to sensitive customer information. But your accounting team does. One can have a lower barrier to authentication.

Using role-based authentication saves time when setting up new employee accounts. Authentication and access happen based on the person’s role. Admins can program permissions and contextual authentication factors once. Then, the process automates as soon as an employee has their role set.

Consider Adding Biometrics

One of the most convenient forms of authentication is biometrics. This would be a fingerprint, retina, or facial scan. The user doesn’t need to type in anything. It also takes just a few seconds.

Biometric hardware can be costly, depending on the size of your organization. But you can introduce it over time. Perhaps using biometrics with your most sensitive roles first, then expanding.

Additionally, many apps are now incorporating things like facial scanning. User can authenticate using a typical smartphone, making it much more affordable.

Need Help Improving Authentication Security?

Don’t give up important security because you’re afraid of user pushback. Contact us here or give us a call at 317-497-5500 and schedule a security consultation.

What Is Microsoft Secure Score?

Security is a priority no matter the size of your business. Recognizing this, Microsoft has a Secure Score measurement in its 365 Defender dashboard. But what is Secure Score, and how does it help your business? This article explains the basics.

Secure Score measures your security posture. It reviews your activity and security settings against Microsoft’s best practices. The idea is to identify areas to enhance protection and provide suggestions.

In the dashboard, administrators can view the current state of their security score. It considers all Microsoft identities, apps, and devices. There is also a target score. The higher your target score, the more recommended actions you’ll get, although Microsoft cautions that you should balance increased security against user experience.

 

Secure Score Recommendations

Secure Score shows you possible improvements considering security best practices. Secure Store currently offers recommendations for:

  • Microsoft 365 (including Exchange Online);
  • Azure Active Directory;
  • Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, Identity, and Cloud Apps;
  • Microsoft Teams.

The score does not measure the likelihood of a system or data breach. Instead, it looks at system configurations, user behavior, and other security-related measurements. Then, it scores what you’ve done to offset security risk in real-time.

Microsoft not only lists security recommendations but also tracks your action plan. The implementation section shares prerequisites and provides step-by-step advice to complete improvement actions. You can report on status (e.g. planned, risk accepted, resolved through third party, and complete). Rankings also help you gauge implementation difficulty, user impact, and complexity.

 

Scoring Security with Microsoft

The more improvement action you take, the higher your score. For example, you’re given points for:

  • configuring recommended security features;
  • doing security-related tasks;
  • addressing suggested improvements with a third-party application or software, or alternate mitigation.

Microsoft Secure Score also compares your metrics with scores for similar organizations. The data is anonymous, but in the Metrics & Trends tab, you can view how your score compares to others over time.

 

Raising Your Secure Score

How can you have an immediate impact on your Secure Score? These three steps can boost your organization’s security:

  1. Enable multi-factor authentication on administrator accounts in case account credentials are compromised.
  2. Enforce password expiration policies to prevent the usage of leaked credentials.
  3. Set up Azure Active Directory to track, log, alert, and remediate and better protect sensitive data and information.

Our IT experts are here to help you understand Secure Score. We can help enact action plans to apply the recommendations. Contact us today at 317-497-5500.

How Inflation Affects Business Tech

You might be reading about inflation fears in the news, but that doesn’t mean you know how inflation affects your business, let alone your business technology. This article explains both.

Inflation is when things are more expensive to buy. Diminished purchasing power means your business may sell less and see lower profits, all while paying higher costs for things your business needs. Of course, if your business is the low-cost option, inflation may not be so bad, but many do suffer when the cost of living and just about everything else increases.

So, how does that impact your business technology? Well, it’s one of the many costs you may see go up.

Inflation and business technology

Inflation often starts when it’s hard to get goods and services. Heard the phrase “supply-chain challenges” in the last few years? We’re guessing, yes. So, you know firsthand the difficulties of getting some items.

You may have already noticed price jumps in several business tech areas. IDC research found that server and storage prices are up by 10–15 percent, and that costs for laptops and personal computers have risen even more, by between 18 and 20 percent. Even what you’re paying for software or cloud services may have increased. IDC found price jumps of 5–7 percent.

What to do about it

The best thing you can do is to look for business efficiencies and ways to reduce costs. A managed service provider (MSP) can help on this front. Among the many services your tech partner can offer, you can typically expect an MSP to:

  • learn about your business technology and look for cost savings;
  • identify any duplication of services or software licenses (you could be one of the third of businesses, on average, with wasted software spend);
  • install cybersecurity to help you avoid costly downtime and damage to your business reputation;
  • secure better rates by consolidating your resources with fewer vendors for volume discounts.

 

Hiring an MSP can also help you hold on to your existing employees. You can make more efficient use of any IT staff you have on-site. Plus, the MSP can find out how your people do their work and suggest streamlined processes. Retention is easier when people feel productive and supported by your tech offerings.

Most MSPs will recommend you migrate to cloud computing if you haven’t already done so. Yes, some cloud service prices have increased, but not at the level of the hardware you need for your own IT infrastructure. Plus, with cloud infrastructure you can benefit from:

  • enhanced flexibility;
  • scalability and speed;
  • pay-as-you-go pricing.

Partner with us

As your MSP, we’ll look for efficiencies and ways to reduce your costs. It’s what we do, regardless of which way the economy is going. Outsourcing your IT management is a cost-effective solution. Contact us today at 317-497-5500.

Benefits of Monitoring the Dark Web

The Dark Web is a hub for criminal activity. Even if your business is legitimate, you can’t ignore the Dark Web entirely. This article will explain the Dark Web and the benefits of monitoring its thousands of pages.

 

The US government created the Dark Web in the mid-1990s for spies to exchange information. It is still visited today by journalists and law enforcement agencies. People in countries prohibiting open communication might also use the Dark Web.

 

Yet the Dark Web is also home to illegal activity. This is where users can find weapons, child pornography, and counterfeit money. Criminals can also access malware, leaked data, and stolen information (including access credentials).

 

Bad actors like the Dark Web because it isn’t something you can find on your typical browser. The Dark Web is hidden from standard search engines, and you need specific software, configurations, or authorization to access it. Users also hide their IP addresses and use encryption to mask their identities.

 

Why Monitor the Dark Web?

There’s a real threat of your business suffering cyber assault. This could result in brand damage, significant financial losses, and intellectual property theft. If your business isn’t monitoring the Dark Web, you won’t know what is on there that could harm your business.

 

Dark Web monitoring can help you find:

 

  • compromised usernames and passwords;
  • proprietary company information available online;
  • stolen customer lists;
  • evidence of employee identity theft.

 

With Dark Web monitoring, you can limit damage to your bottom line and brand reputation. Surveillance can also help you find weaknesses and plan to prevent future attacks.

 

How Does Dark Web Monitoring Work?

 

Dark Web monitoring checks chat rooms, blogs, forums, private networks, and other sites that criminals visit. Using human and artificial intelligence, scans search for stolen customer lists or data, staff login passwords, and business email domains and IP addresses. You’re notified if there are any issues. Awareness can reduce the time it takes to discover a breach and address weaknesses.

 

Protecting Your Business from the Dark Web

Monitoring is the only way to shore up your cybersecurity. Obviously, it’s better if the scans find nothing from your business. So, it’s a good idea to strengthen your cyber hygiene. You can do so by:

 

  • educating employees about secure passwords and how to spot a phishing scam;
  • investing in password managers and antivirus and anti-malware software;
  • keeping all hardware and software up to date.

 

Monitoring the Dark Web is not something every business can handle solo. Even though the Dark web is far smaller than the Web you’re on every day, there are thousands of pages to scan.

 

Our experts can boost your cybersecurity protections and set up Dark Web monitoring. Contact us today at 317-497-5500 to lower your risk profile.

 

Is Your Business Ready for an Internet Outage?

Cloud computing has given us greater mobility than ever before. We can sign in to video conferences on our phones, collaborate on presentations from a laptop, or edit a file on a tablet on the sidelines of a kids’ soccer match. Yet the one thing we need still is a reliable internet connection.

Think about the country of Canada. Earlier this year, business ground to a halt in an instant. A botched maintenance update by a large internet service provider (ISP) hobbled more than 10 million customers.

Yes, there are many advantages to cloud computing, including:

  • enhanced productivity;
  • scalability;
  • pay-as-you-go price structures;
  • greater flexibility
  • avoiding having to pay for and manage on-premises IT infrastructure.

Yet when you rely on a single internet provider, you could be left high and dry if something goes wrong.

Building a backup plan for internet outage

About one-quarter of Canada’s internet capacity was offline. The downtime lasted only 12 hours for some, days for others. The list of outage impacts is long. The problem halted some point-of-sale payments, some nonprofits lost the ability to serve vulnerable populations, Rogers mobile phone users couldn’t call for emergency assistance, and cellular-dependent traffic signals in Toronto were out of whack.

What can we learn from this? Businesses should prepare a backup.

Backing up your internet

Setting up a secondary internet connection can help your business remain online. You’ll be ready if there are system issues, intrusions, or power a failure. For this to work, you’ll need to partner with a different provider than you do for your primary internet. This cuts the odds that both your main and backup internet will go down at once.

If your primary internet connection is wired, consider a cellular backup. For example, a router with 4G backup would switch you to that network if the main connection failed.

The very nature of redundancy is that it repeats what you already have. That can make some businesses balk: Why pay twice? Yet internet redundancy can help you avoid lost business, productivity, and brand reputation, not to mention the stress of having to try to do business in this digital age without being able to get online.

Maybe you can’t reinforce your IT infrastructure with a second provider. At least reach out to your current ISP to learn their backup plans. Ensure they have failovers established to back up their systems.

The Canadian outage saw many businesses floundering. With the ubiquity of technology today, it’s not unlikely that more ISP outages will happen. Be ready for the worst with plans for redundancy and contingency plans. Our experts can help you cut the risks of inevitable communications failures. Contact us today at 317-497-5500.

What Are the Advantages of Implementing Conditional Access?

It seems that nearly as long as passwords have been around, they’ve been a major source of security concern. Eighty-one percent of security incidents happen due to stolen or weak passwords. Additionally, employees continue to neglect the basics of good cyber hygiene.

For example, 61% of workers use the same password for multiple platforms. And 43% have shared their passwords with others. These factors are why compromised credentials are the main cause of data breaches.

Access and identity management have become a priority for many organizations. This is largely due to the rise of the cloud. As well as the practice of people needing to only enter a username and password to access systems.

Once a cybercriminal gets a hold of an employee’s login, they can access the account and any data that it contains. This is especially problematic when it’s an account like Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace. These accounts can access things like cloud storage and user email.

Below, we’ll explain what conditional access is. As well as how it works with multi-factor authentication (MFA). We’ll also review the advantages of moving to a conditional access process.

What Is Conditional Access?

Conditional access is also known as contextual access. It is a method of controlling user access. You can think of it as several “if/then” statements, meaning “if” this thing is present, “then” do this.

For example, conditional access allows you to set a rule that would state the following. “If a user is logging in from outside the country, require a one-time-passcode.”

Conditional access allows you to add many conditions to the process of user access to a system. It is typically used with MFA. This is to improve access security without unnecessarily inconveniencing users.

Some of the most common contextual factors used include:

  • IP address
  • Geographic location
  • Time of day
  • The device used
  • Role or group the user belongs to

Conditional access can be set up in Azure Active Directory. It can also be set up in another identity and access management tool. It’s helpful to get the assistance of your IT partner. We can help with setup and the conditions that would make the most sense for your business.

The Benefits of Implementing Conditional Access for Identity Management

Improves Security

Using conditional access improves security. It allows you more flexibility in challenging user legitimacy. It doesn’t just grant access to anyone with a username and password. Instead, the user needs to meet certain requirements.

Contextual access could block any login attempts from countries where no employees are. It could also present an extra verification question when employees use an unrecognized device.

Automates the Access Management Process

Once the if/then statements are set up, the system takes over. It automates the monitoring for contextual factors and takes the appropriate actions. This reduces the burden on administrative IT teams. It also ensures that no one is falling between the cracks.

Automated processes are more accurate and reliable than manual processes. Automation removes the human error component. This helps ensure that each condition is being verified for every single login.

Allows Restriction of Certain Activities

Conditional access isn’t only for keeping unauthorized users out of your accounts. You can use it in other ways. One of these is to restrict the activities that legitimate users can do.

For example, you could restrict access to data or settings based on a user’s role in the system. You can also use conditions in combination. Such as, lowering permissions to view-only. You could trigger this if a user holds a certain role and is logging in from an unknown device.

Improves the User Login Experience

Studies show that as many as 67% of businesses don’t use multi-factor authentication. This is despite the fact that it’s one of the most effective methods to stop credential breaches.

One of the biggest reasons it is not used is because of the inconvenience factor for employees. They may complain that it interferes with productivity. Or say that it makes it harder for them to use their business applications.

Using conditional access with MFA can improve the user experience. For example, you can require MFA only if users are off the premises. You can put in place extra challenge questions on a role or context-based basis. This keeps all users from being inconvenienced.

Enforces the Rule of Least Privilege

Using the rule of least privilege is a security best practice. It means only granting the lowest level of access in a system as necessary for a user to do their work. Once you have roles set up in your identity management system, you can base access on those roles.

Conditional access simplifies the process of restricting access to data or functions. You can base this on job needs. It streamlines identity management. This is because it contains all functions in the same system for access and MFA rules. Everything stays together, making management simpler.

Get Help Implementing Conditional Access Today!

Once conditional access is set up, the automated system takes over. It improves your security and reduces the risk of an account breach. Contact us today for a free consultation to enhance your cybersecurity.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Simple Setup Checklist for Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a lot of things. It’s a video conferencing tool, a team messaging channel, and a tool for in-app co-authoring, just to name a few. During the pandemic, the popularity of Teams skyrocketed.

User numbers for MS Teams jumped from 20 million in November 2019 to 75 million in April 2020. As of this year, Microsoft reports a user count of 270 million for the platform. This makes it the most popular business tool for team communications.

But one of the things that makes the app popular is also one that can make the setup complex. Microsoft Teams has many moving parts, but to use them effectively they need to be well organized. Additionally, users need to have a chance to learn the system and train on best practices.

What Can Microsoft Teams Do?

First, let’s look at the different areas of Microsoft Teams and what it can do. Then, we’ll give you a simple setup checklist to help your team get up and running productively.

You can think of Teams as a virtual office in the cloud. It’s a centralized hub where teams can communicate, collaborate, and manage tasks. There is also an external communication component to Teams. You can use the app to video conference with anyone. You can also invite guests to a chat channel.

Here are some of the features of MS Teams:

  • Siloed chat channels
  • Security for team communications
  • Integration with Office apps
  • Integration with 3rd party apps
  • File sharing
  • Video and audio conferencing
  • VoIP phone system (with an extra add-on)
  • Keep all team resources in a single place

Microsoft Teams Versions

Some good news for small businesses is that there is a free version of Microsoft Teams. If you sign up for a Microsoft 365 business plan, you get the app included, but with a few more features.

Microsoft has also been pushing MS Teams for personal use. So, you can use it to keep your departments better coordinated at work. Or to manage family video calls or PTA meeting collaboration. It’s a versatile and scalable virtual office platform.

Easy Checklist for Setting Up Microsoft Teams

1. Set Up Your Teams/Departments

One of the advantages of Teams is that it allows you to set up specific areas for your groups to collaborate. You do not want everyone to set these teams up on their own, or you could end up with an unorganized mess.

Some ideas for setting these up:

  • Set up teams by department (accounting, marketing, etc.)
  • Add a company-wide team (where everyone can collaborate)
  • Set up teams by role (office managers, executives, etc.)

Typically, if you mirror the hierarchy of your organization, that’s a good place to start. Team areas are secured so only those users invited can see or access any of the content in that team.

2. Add Team Members

For each team, add the members allowed to take part in that team. These would be people that can see the resources posted in that team area. It would normally be the members of the department or group that the team is designed for.

3. Set Up Team Channels

The next level beneath the Team is the Channels. These team channels help organize conversations. For example, within a team set up for your marketing department, you may decide to add three channels. This keeps conversations more focused and makes it easier to find things.

For instance, you could have channels for:

  • Website Management
  • Social Media
  • Offline Advertising

Team channels are another area that you want to control. Don’t let everyone set up channels without a plan, otherwise, things get messy fast.

4. Set Up Team Labs

Tabs are a great way to foster productivity. Say that employees on your accounting team need to access a tax reporting website. Inevitably, there can be time wasted asking for that link or a login. This is especially true if someone is filling in for a co-worker.

You can add that website link and info to the Tabs area at the top of the team channels. Just click the plus sign to add a new resource and consolidate things for your team members.

5. Schedule MS Teams Training

One of the reasons that company initiatives fail is that users weren’t properly enabled. If users aren’t trained on using MS Teams, then they’ll revert to using whatever they used before. This negates the benefits of moving to Teams when not everyone is onboard.

Work with a Microsoft professional to train your teams. We can provide tips on the most productive features. As well as short-cut their learning curve quite a bit! Make sure to have a realistic timeframe. You should also survey users on whether they feel they need more training.

Need Some Help Implementing Teams in Your Organization?

We can help you over many of the roadblocks that organizations face when starting with Teams. Contact us today for a free consultation to enhance your collaboration and productivity.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

7 Things to Consider When Getting a New Computer to Avoid Buyer’s Remorse

Have you ever bought a new computer and then had buyer’s remorse a few months later? Maybe you didn’t pay attention to the storage capacity and ran out of space. Or you may have glossed over memory and experienced constant freeze-ups.

An investment in a new PC isn’t something you want to do lightly. Doing your research ahead of time and consulting with a trusted friend or IT shop can help. It will keep you from making major mistakes that could come back to haunt you later.

Here are several things to consider before you put down your hard-earned money on a new computer.

The Amount of Memory (RAM)

One of the big mistakes that people make when looking for a new computer is to ignore the RAM. Random access memory may be called RAM on the specification or “memory.” If your system has low memory, you run into all sorts of problems.

These issues can include:

  • Browser freezing up when you have too many tabs open
  • Issues watching videos
  • Some software not working properly
  • Sluggish behavior
  • Inability to open multiple applications
  • Constant freezes

Memory is the “thought process” of the PC. If there isn’t enough, it can’t take on another task until it completes the current processing tasks. This can cause frustration and ruin your productivity.

People often go for those low-priced computer deals when looking for a new device. But these can include only 4GB of RAM. That’s not a lot if you do much more than staying in a single application or just a few browser tabs.

The higher the RAM, the more responsive the system performance. So, look for PCs with at least 8GB of RAM. Or higher if you do any graphics/video or other processing-intensive activities.

User Reviews for Longevity

Buying a new computer is an investment. So, it’s natural to want that investment to last as long as possible. You don’t want to spend $700 on a new computer, only to begin experiencing problems when it’s just two years old.

Take your time to research user reviews on the specific models you’re considering. You’ll begin to see patterns emerging. Steer clear of models that have consistent complaints about breakdowns sooner than expected.

You may have to pay a little more for a system that has a better track record of performance. But it will save you in the long run when you have more years of usable life before that device needs replacement.

Whether the PC is for Personal or Business Use

If you have a small business or are a freelancer, you may try to save money by buying a consumer PC. But this could end up costing you more in the long run.

Consumer PCs aren’t designed for continuous “9-to-5” use. They also often lack certain types of firmware security present in business-use models. The price gap has also shortened between good consumer computers and business versions. If you’re not looking at the cheap systems, you’ll find that it’s not that much more to get a business-grade device.

The Processor Used

It can be confusing to read through the processor specifications on a computer. How do you know if Intel Core i7 or i3 is best for your needs? What’s the performance difference between AMD and Intel processors?

If you don’t want to do the research yourself, you could call up your local IT shop. We will be happy to steer you in the right direction. We’ll explain in layman’s terms the differences. As well as which processor makes the most sense for your intended use.

For Laptops: The Case Type

If you’re looking for a laptop computer, it’s important that it is durable. Laptops have some unique characteristics that differ from desktops. For example, the screen is often folded down one or more times per day. Additionally, the keyboard is part of the case and is not easily replaced by the user.

If you get a laptop with a cheap plastic case, it’s bound to break during normal use. Keys could also easily pop off the keyboard, requiring a trip to a computer repair shop.

You want to consider the materials used for the case. Paying an extra $20-$30 upcharge for a better casing is definitely worth it. It can help you avoid unneeded headaches.

Storage Capacity

Storage capacity can be a pain point that you experience after the fact. If you buy a computer without paying attention to hard drive space, you could regret it. You may not be able to transfer over all your “stuff” from the old system.

But storage capacity can also be an area where you can save some money. If you store most of your files in the cloud, then you may not need a lot of hard drive space. The less space you need, the lower the price.

Hard Drive Type

If you can get a computer with a solid-state drive (SSD) rather than a traditional hard disk drive (HDD) you should. SSDs are faster and less likely to have read/write issues. They have no moving parts; thus they are quieter as well.

Solid-state drives have come down in price quite a bit recently. There are many affordable options, and you’ll also find some PCs with both a hard drive and SSD.

Come to Us Before You Spend Money on a New Computer

Don’t blindly invest in a new computer without some expert guidance. Contact us today at 317-497-5500 for a free consultation to save you from a bad new PC experience.

 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

7 Apps That Can Help You Improve Customer Experience in 2023

Paying attention to your customer experience directly impacts your bottom line. Companies that are “customer-centric” are 60% more profitable than those that aren’t. In this digital age, customers also expect more from those they do business with.

In today’s world, people can order something on their phones and see it on their doorstep the next day. Keeping up with expectations means leveraging the right technology.

As 2023 is on the horizon, it’s the perfect time to improve your customer experience. Thanks to cloud technology, you don’t have to spend a fortune to do it. Just put in place some of the applications below. These apps focus on making leads and customers happy.

1. Online Survey Application

Doing an annual customer satisfaction survey is a great way to check in with customers. Successful businesses take the feedback they get and use it to make their company better.

But doing these surveys through a Word document attached to an email is so last decade! Use an online survey application to make the process seamless for you and your customers.

Online survey tools are available widely online. If you have Microsoft 365, you’ll find one included. These allow people to fill out surveys on any device and not worry about sending them back in an attachment.

On the receiving end, there is no long process of collating data. Just open your form survey tool and see the results instantly.

2. Smart Chat Bot

Most businesses have a limit on how many hours a day they can pay staff to answer questions. Customer service hours are typically the same as business hours. And staff can get busy, which means answers may take longer to send back to an inquiry.

Putting a smart chatbot on your business website can improve customer satisfaction. It allows people to get an answer right away. They can also get that answer any time of day or night.

68% of consumers like chatbots because they give them fast answers to questions. While they can’t answer every single question, they can handle quite a few. For example, in healthcare and banking, chatbots can take 75-90% of questions.

3. Business Mobile App

People tend to live on their mobile phones these days. They carry them with them everywhere. Mobile apps are often the preferred method of connecting with data and businesses. More Google searches are now done via mobile devices than by desktops.

Think about creating a business mobile app. One that allows customers to connect with you to order products and services. You can use it for customer support, to initiate virtual calls and more.

4. Facebook Messenger Support

Facebook Messenger is the 2nd most popular iOS app of all time. This Facebook-connected application makes it easy to communicate with friends, family, and companies.

Many businesses now use Messenger to connect with leads and provide customer support. When you use an app that is so popular in this way, you make it easier for customers to reach you. The ability to get a quick answer through Messenger can boost a customer’s opinion of your company.

5. VoIP Phone System with Good Mobile App

When customers must juggle different numbers for your staff, it gets confusing. Should they call your sales rep at their desk line or mobile number? Using a VoIP phone system simplifies the entire process.

Employees can have a single number that they use when at their desks, at their home office, or anywhere. Make sure the VoIP service has a good mobile app. One that is easy for employees to use. This ensures they can easily handle customer calls using their smartphone. It also keeps them from reverting to using their personal number.

6. Text Notification Apps

SMS is becoming the new email for many companies. Retailers like Shoe Carnival and World Market have customers opt-in to text messaging. Customers like this for shipping notifications and to get sale and coupon alerts.

There are several services online that you can use for this purpose. Offering text updates can significantly improve your customers’ experience. Use them for appointment reminders, sale notices, or shipping alerts.

7. All-in-One CRM & Sales Platform

One thing that frustrates customers is a disconnect between sales and support. They may have had a conversation with a salesperson to customize an order. Then, find that customer service knows nothing about it.

To streamline the information flow, look for an all-in-one CRM/Sales platform. These are cloud services that offer a CRM module and a sales module, and both connect. There is a single customer record, so all notes from the sales and customer support side are in the same place. Both teams can view all customer interactions.

This improves the customer experience and results in fewer dropped balls. Efficiency and productivity improve as well because everyone is on the same page.

Improve Customer Experience and Get Help with Customer-Facing Technology Support

It’s easy to get lost in a sea of different cloud applications. Let us help you navigate to a better customer experience. Contact us today for a free consultation at 317-497-5500.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Tips for Overcoming Barriers to a Smooth BYOD Program

Bring your own device (BYOD) is a concept that took hold after the invention of the smartphone. When phones got smarter, software developers began creating apps for those phones. Over time, mobile device use has overtaken desktop use at work.

According to Microsoft, mobile devices make up about 60% of the endpoints in a company network. They also handle about 80% of the workload. But they’re often neglected when it comes to strong cybersecurity measures.

This is especially true with employee-owned mobile devices. BYOD differs from corporate-owned mobile use programs. Instead of using company tools, employees are using their personal devices for work. Many businesses find this the most economical way to keep their teams productive.

Purchasing phones and wireless plans for staff is often out of reach financially. It can also be a pain for employees to carry around two different devices, personal and work.

It’s estimated that 83% of companies have some type of BYOD policy.

You can run BYOD securely if you have some best practices in place. Too often, business owners don’t even know all the devices that are connecting to business data. Or which ones may have data stored on them.

Here are some tips to overcome the security and challenges of BYOD. These should help you enjoy a win-win situation for employees and the business.

Define Your BYOD Policy

If there are no defined rules for BYOD, then you can’t expect the process to be secure. Employees may leave business data unprotected. Or they may connect to public Wi-Fi and then enter their business email password, exposing it.

If you allow employees to access business data from personal devices, you need a policy. This policy protects the company from unnecessary risk. It can also lay out specifics that reduce potential problems. For example, detailing the compensation for employees that use personal devices for work.

Keep Your Policy “Evergreen”

As soon as a policy gets outdated, it becomes less relevant to employees. Someone may look at your BYOD policy and note that one directive is old. Because of that, they may think they should ignore the entire policy.

Make sure that you keep your BYOD policy “evergreen.” This means updating it regularly if any changes impact those policies.

Use VoIP Apps for Business Calls

Before the pandemic, 65% of employees gave their personal phone numbers to customers. This often happens due to the need to connect with a client when away from an office phone. Clients also may save a personal number for a staff member. For example, when the employee calls the customer from their own device.

Customers having employees’ personal numbers is a problem for everyone. Employees may leave the company, and no longer answer those calls. The customer may not realize why.

You can avoid the issue by using a business VoIP phone system. These services have mobile apps that employees can use. VoIP mobile apps allow employees to make and receive calls through a business number.

Create Restrictions on Saved Company Data

Remote work has exasperated the security issue with BYOD. While BYOD may have meant mobile devices in the past, it now means computers too. Remote employees often will use their own PCs when working outside the office.

No matter what the type of device, you should maintain control of business data. It’s a good idea to restrict the types of data that staff can store on personal devices. You should also ensure that it’s backed up from those devices.

Require Device Updates

When employee devices are not updated or patched, they invite a data breach. Any endpoint connected to your network can enable a breach. This includes those owned by employees.

It can be tricky to ensure that a device owned by an employee is kept updated. Therefore, many businesses turn to endpoint management solutions. An endpoint device manager can push through automated updates. It also allows you to protect business data without intruding on employee privacy.

The monitoring and management capabilities of these tools improve security. This includes the ability to safelist devices. Safelisting can block devices not added to the endpoint manager.

Include BYOD in Your Offboarding Process

If an employee leaves your company, you need to clean their digital trail. Is the employee still receiving work email on their phone? Do they have access to company data through persistent logins? Are any saved company passwords on their device?

These are all questions to ask when offboarding a former staff member. You should also make sure to copy and remove any company files on their personal device. Additionally, ensure that you deauthorize their device(s) from your network.

Let Us Help You Explore Endpoint Security Solutions

We can help you explore solutions to secure a BYOD program. We’ll look at how your company uses personal devices at your business and recommend the best tools. Contact us today for a free consultation at 317-497-5500.

 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.