Humanizing the Customer Experience with Technology

Customer experiences are being radically reshaped continuously by technologies that are cutting edge and ever-evolving. However, human interaction and empathy are still key in creating a positive customer experience. That’s why companies must focus on an effective personalization plan. Check out some ways you can humanize your client’s experience so that your patients can have their unique needs met – and they return for more of your excellent service and care.

Technology enhances business. It allows companies to operate faster, more efficiently, encourages collaboration, and in return creates growth. However, human interaction is still key in creating a positive customer experience. Taking into account of the last year, with companies forced to rapidly digitize, many business leaders have grappled with the challenge of humanizing customer experience with the new technologies that have been implemented.

Yet, in order to create a customer experience that streamlines the buying process while customizing to fit the consumer’s needs, companies must focus on an effective personalization plan that encourages customer loyalty, customer growth, and an increase in revenue. Personalization and customization are key in targeting a customer base and to make sure a business is serving their specific needs.

According to a Gartner survey 88 percent of consumers report not receiving “tailored help”, and to make matters worse brands are at risk of losing 38 percent of customers because of poor marketing personalization efforts.

Businesses often get consumed by return on investment metrics and pressure to show results, but before the focus on this, business leaders must hone in on serving their customers to seamlessly guide them through a personalized journey. Like the saying, “if you build it, they will come”, taking the time to personalize the customer experience will in return create increased customer loyalty, increase in driving sales, and positive customer experience within a business.

How to Humanize Customer Experience

Create a Hyper-personalized Customer Journey Plan

Companies tend to forget the minutiae included in one single customer journey. When generating a plan to enhance personalization and efficiency, business leaders must take into account aspects such as how interactive and easy to use the website is, how products or services are outlined, the sales process, invoicing process, communication and support.

Customers are looking for companies that provide personalized experiences that are relevant to them specifically, rather than repetitive processes that make the journey seem robotic.

A way to make hyper-personalization naturally occur is by using technology tools that remember documentation when needed the most. For example, if a sales person is on a call with a customer and can see in their CRM tool that the customer had a support ticket two weeks ago on the same issue, they’ll have better context and be able to provide a more customized experience.

Another way to hyper-personalize and humanize customer experience is through technology that provides suggestions based on buying patterns. For example, if a business sells clothing and the user has viewed a specific style of clothes on the site, the technology can generate a suggestion such as, “Since you viewed this, we think you may also like this”.

By using tools that are completely customized to the consumer’s preferences, the business achieves a hyper-personalized and streamlined customer experience. While it may seem like a lot of work to take inventory of these individual aspects, having a plan in place with technology to assist will help businesses create customer experiences that impress and keep customers for the long haul.

Use Smart Technology to Enhance Personalization

Using technology that connects with your customers on multiple channels such as telephone, email, live chat, and social media ensures strong communication so that customers are left with all their questions and needs met. Additionally, utilizing workflow automation will help streamline the lead nurturing process, which is important when wanting to make things as easy as possible for the customer.

AI is also a way to increase efficiency and help enhance personalization. AI can be used in the customer journey to generate advanced lead and deal predictions to help businesses identify specific leads and where they are in their customer journey. It can also help with finding important information from the CRM, sending task reminders, alerts, and suggestions for the best times to contact leads based on your past interactions so that you can provide a preferred experience for your customer.

Also, businesses can utilize AI for sentiment analysis to prioritize which emails should be addressed first. For example, if a consumer sends an email about a negative experience with the business, AI will identify the displeased feedback and flag the email so that it’s addressed first. There are so many technology options out there that help with streamlining and automation, by discovering tools that also help with customization will be essential.

Analyze to Nurture New Clients and Current Ones

While metrics and data points are vital in showing ROI, using analytics to detect buying trends and other data trends around the customer will enable your business to gain new clients and current ones. Using analytic tools that track key performance indicators, including current trends and future predictions will be a critical aspect of the data strategy.

Yet, before diving into the technology, business leaders must ask themselves what key information about the customer they’d like to understand and how this data will help to create a more personalized experience for the customer.

For example, analytics can be used to find out what patterns are critical for customer satisfaction. If the analytics tool detects that consumers that purchased a specific service keep submitting support tickets for the same problem, having that data will help the business quickly find a solution to avoid customer churn.

Along with these questions, business leaders must recognize how they are collecting data to uphold ethical data privacy principles and strong security measures. With the surge of customer data being tracked and collected for monetary gain, companies must consider privacy concern and scrupulously examine the technology vendor they decide to use.

Consumers are rightfully concerned about how their data will be used, and it’s important to ensure that customer data stays private. At the same time, customers are more willing to provide personal information if their customer experience is hyper-personalized. With this in mind, businesses must aim at finding a harmonious balance with creating a personalized experience without jeopardizing consumer data.

Saying technology can make business more human sounds like an oxymoron, but when used the right way technology can enrich the customer experience to fit the unique needs of an individual customer. Because most companies have digitized in the last year, competition for enhancing the online customer experience has risen drastically. This means having a streamlined customer journey is not enough to set a business apart.

However, the core lies within personalizing the customer journey so that consumers can have their unique needs met and exceeded. When it comes to humanizing customer experience, people want to feel special and taken care of; creating a personalized experience with technology that streamlines the buying process for your customers can achieve this, and in the end will be the crux of what sets businesses apart.

Perform Practice Solutions helps practice owners nationwide adjust to the industry’s changing and challenging reality. Our team has smart marketing strategies to offer your clinic an alternative way forward. Call us today at (833) 764-0178  – and also join us and be part of our Facebook community!

Reference: [https://smallbiztrends.com/2021/07/humanizing-customer-experience.html]

Recurring Billing Issues: 7 Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them

We know that recurring billing isn’t a straightforward process. Billing errors can and do happen – and happen often. However, they are 100% avoidable. Learn more about some common challenges and how to overcome them. Consider going beyond with a provider who has your growth in mind. Perform Practice Solutions offers a transparent physical therapy billing platform that shows you exactly where your dollars are, creating a streamlined system to optimize cash flow. You’ll actually have far more money in your pocket. Let us explain with a complimentary consultation to discuss.

Are you finding it increasingly difficult to manage your growing subscribers? Is retention becoming a challenge, or are you losing out on revenue opportunities like upselling? If you face challenges like these, then it’s likely that your billing has become a thorny issue.

You’re not alone – growing SaaS companies often find themselves grappling with the sheer complexity of the recurring billing process. If left unchecked, this results in high churn and low acquisition rates, which become roadblocks to your growth.

Here are some of the common recurring billing issues subscription companies may face and how you can overcome them:

  1. Unscalable Billing Infrastructure
  2. Loss of Revenue Due to Failed Payments
  3. Growing Complexity of the Invoicing Process
  4. Insufficient Operational Rigour
  5. Increasing Difficulty in Recognizing Revenue
  6. Lack of Third-Party Integrations
  7. Inability to Support Global Expansion

1. Unscalable Billing Infrastructure

Most subscription billing companies find themselves at a crossroads on whether to build their billing system or use one of the available solutions in the market. Building billing in-house may seem like a cost-effective option. However, in the long run; it is an inefficient solution for the following reasons:

Managing Growing Customers

As you scale, every additional subscriber, pricing change, supporting different payment methods, upgrade and downgrade requests, flexible billing, and prorations will exponentially add to the code complexity. At this point, running an in-house billing system will feel like running a second product within your core product, which brings us to the second reason.

Time Sensitivity

Any SaaS business on the road to scaling fast should be able to experiment with pricing, discount coupons, and trial management rapidly. However, with a substantial operational dependency on the company resources to maintain a homegrown billing system (still not as powerful as a third-party recurring billing solution), it might take months or more.


Beyond operations, there’s also the matter of security. With your billing system collecting sensitive payment and personal information, compliance to PCI-DSS to a broader regulation like the GDPR and accounting standards like ASC 606 is a must.

On these grounds, it is more viable to use existing recurring billing platforms than building your billing in-house. Billing solutions like Chargebee can streamline your recurring billing, plug the revenue leaks, and make subscription management a breeze with features like:

  •       customizable billing logic,
  •       automated proration handling,
  •       grandfathering,
  •       usage-based billing,
  •       consolidated invoicing, and more.

The same holds if you’re deciding to go for a payment gateway rather than a billing software for two main reasons:

A growing business will soon outgrow the modest billing capabilities of a gateway.

Another fundamental advantage that a billing software has over a gateway is that it is designed to be integrated with multiple payment gateways and payment methods, which helps in;

o   market expansion through multiple payment methods, and

o   minimizing the risk of high payment failures that come with being locked in with one payment gateway.

For more details on the product-level (and service-level) capabilities, you should look for in a recurring billing system, check out our guide on getting started with subscription billing software.

2. Loss of Revenue Due to Failed Payments

It’s one thing when your customers choose to stop paying, but it’s more painful to lose revenue due to churn when your customers didn’t intend to stop paying – and that’s involuntary churn. It could happen for various reasons, from insufficient funds to maxed-out credit cards to even connectivity issues.

About 20-40% of churn is usually from involuntary churn. But here’s the good news – almost all of it is avoidable. For instance, Whiteboard reduced involuntary churn and increased their MRR by 35%.

You can reduce churn through superior dunning management. Dunning is the process of retrying payment attempts and sending payment reminders to customers when a transaction gets declined.

Here are a few methods that you can use to avoid loss of revenue due to involuntary churn:

  •       Pre-dunning emails – send out an email to your customer reminding them that their card details are about to expire.
  •       Backup payment methods – set up backup payment methods for each customer to immediately fall back on when the first payment method fails.
  •       Create dunning personas – group your customers into dunning personas based on their ticket sizes, geo-location, and what kind of payment process you have in place for them (invoice-based payments vs. automated card and online wallet payments). Use these personas to tailor retry cycles.

Additionally, it’s more effective to see the payment failure life cycle as a whole and implement tactics that complement each other through every stage. So, here’s a list of 23 ways to reduce involuntary churn across six lifecycle stages of payment failure.

3. Growing Complexity of the Invoicing Process

If you’re spending weeks creating invoices and chasing payments, it’s high time you choose to automate the process efficiently.

Here are a few steps to ensure you improve your invoicing process:

Say No to Cookie-Cutter Invoices

Invoices are often ignored branding opportunities. Billing materials like invoices and even dunning emails are great places to implement customization. A robust tool should enable you to tailor your invoices to your brand and your customer – including the color scheme, address format, payment details, and more.

Ensure Transparency

Charge exactly when your customers should be charged and charge precisely for what your customers use. Make sure all the information is broken down into a clear, understandable format.

Consolidate Invoicing

When you have a customer with multiple subscriptions incurring multiple charges for the subscription, instead of sending one invoice every time such a change occurs, it is more efficient to send a consolidated invoice.

Here’s a sample of an invoice that consolidates charges for a customer:

Don’t Invoice for Every New Charge

The creation of subscription-related charges should be kept separate from the actual invoicing. For instance, you can add them to unbilled charges. This becomes useful for businesses allow customers to make changes to the subscriptions in the middle of the billing cycle, like;

  • upgrades or downgrades,
  • switching to a different plan,
  • attaching add-ons in the middle of the subscription term, and
  • adding a one-time charge or any other additions or changes to the subscription.

Invoice in Advance

Sometimes customers want to send an invoice before the actual subscription start or renewal date. Advance invoicing comes in handy to schedule your billing to budget for on-time shipping or accommodate a sudden hike in demand for a non-renewing subscription.

Send Out Reminders

Finally, remind your customers a particular number of days before the invoice is due.

4. Insufficient Operational Rigour

Like the importance of having the right weapons at war, the right metrics for business make all the difference. In SaaS, there exists an armory of shiny metrics. Some of the most critical SaaS metrics include MRR, Churn, Recurring Profit Margins (ARR, less the number of canceled subscriptions and the non-growth spend), and Growth Efficiency (the amount it costs to get $1 annual contract value).

Beyond looking at these metrics individually, a combination of various metrics can give you way more actionable insights to be able to answer critical questions like:

  •       Are you making more money than you’re losing?
  •       Which feature is attracting the most revenue?
  •       Is your free plan attracting the right customers?
  •       How long should your trial period be?
  •       How are your new pricing plan changes impacting your business?
  •       Is your customer churn a sales problem or a value problem?

Answering these questions is not easy. You need reports and dashboards that give you actionable insights on what worked and what didn’t.

And for this, you need an analytics tool that gives you a 360° view of your business growth on one dashboard and lets you go deeper into analyzing your metrics to identify your best revenue maximization opportunities.

Diagnose your recurring revenue issues in an instant. Nail down on what’s affecting your revenue now by identifying possible conditions, problems, and resolutions in your subscription flow with RevenueMD by answering a few basic questions.

5. Increasing Difficulty in Recognizing Revenue

Revenue recognition might be simple when you’re starting as a fledgling company. But as you grow, reconciliation and recognition will become complex in terms of time and resources spent.

Here are two key points to note:

  •       Full-scale automation is a necessity for large-scale reconciliation.
  •       Similarly, to efficiently recognize revenue – even without including other complex factors like proration – you need the help of built-in reports.

Hence, it is critical for your SaaS subscription management platform to scale with your business – automate reconciliation and have built-in reports to recognize revenue.

For instance, Chargebee-Xero integration simplifies your accounting process by automatically syncing invoices and related details to the Xero account. It reduces the manual effort spent exporting invoices from Chargebee, importing them into Xero, and increasing data accuracy.

On this note, let’s discuss the next common recurring billing challenge.

6. Lack of Third-Party Integrations

Traditionally, billing might have been a siloed process, only restricted to the finance vertical. But in reality, billing spans different business functions like sales, reporting and analytics, marketing, and customer support. Each of these verticals communicates with each other and needs subscription information to perform their roles. For instance, the sales team needs to pull up subscriber information instantly to issue discounts or coupons. Or, the customer support team needs the same information to address a specific customer’s request. In such a case, you need complete billing system software as a single source of truth to streamline your entire subscription billing process across all business functions. And a proven and efficient way of doing that is through integrations.

To give you an example, Chargebee Integrations covers various business functions like finance, e-commerce, reporting and analytics, marketing, collaboration, sales, and customer support, with close to 40 integrations.

7. Inability to Support Global Expansion

Supporting multiple payment methods, currencies, and various tax rules is the holy grail of any recurring billing system worth its salt. Why?

To penetrate global markets successfully, you need to overcome the challenges that come with international transactions.

When you are foraying into new markets overseas, you also need to meet local tax requirements and compliance with accounting standards. Apart from having your billing architecture take care of localization (multi-currency pricing), support global payment methods and gateways, automating tax computations are vital.

If your payment system isn’t flexible, it will deter you from what’s most important to you – which is growing your business. You need a tech stack that can help you experiment rapidly with pricing.

Best Practices for SaaS Billing

In going through how to overcome the common recurring billing challenges, we have gone through many efficient courses of action. However, to recap, here’s a snapshot of the best practices for SaaS billing:

Increase Reliability with Billing Automation 

Reduce your response time – remove developer dependencies, handle complex recurring billing scenarios, eliminate manual errors, and accommodate unique buying cycles – with the help of automation for streamlined billing.

Enhance Visibility with Analytics

Take decisive actions with comprehensive subscription analytics – find blind spots (revenue leakages) like churn and hidden gold mines (revenue opportunities) like upsell and cross-sell avenues.

Proactively Reduce Churn 

Reduce churn with a robust subscription management platform that can significantly improve your processes for better customer experience, leading to better retention.

Drive Efficiency with Revenue Operations 

Achieve strategic alignment throughout your revenue-driving functions – marketing, sales, operations, finance, and customer success – across the entire customer lifecycle to drive uninhibited growth.

For detailed information on enabling hyper-growth with revenue operations, visit our Guide to Revenue Operations for a High-Growth SaaS.

In Conclusion

We can see that recurring billing isn’t a straightforward process. Billing errors can and do happen. However, these billing mistakes can be avoidable, and they can be resolved.

Go beyond billing with a provider who has your growth in mind. A robust billing system can help you improve customer retention by providing a stellar billing experience and increasing ARPU through upsell add-ons or promotions using coupons. It can also help you stay on top of your sales cycle by having metrics at your fingertips, and a lot more.


Perform Practice Solutions can help you to optimize your day-to-day operations. Make the commitment to improve your clinic’s performance for real this quarter – and not look back. Visit our Facebook page or give us a call at (833) 764-0178 to see how we can help elevate your physical therapy practice! Join our Perform Practice Solutions Facebook Community.

Smart Marketing Can Give Small Businesses An Advantage In 2021

Is it time for a fresh start? Business owners need to focus on recovering. Improve the chances of the success of your practice by boosting your marketing strategy (or implementing one!). We can also help, as marketing can take your time and your patients need your full attention. Moreover, you need an expert team to focus on the many details and strategies to convey your niche areas of expertise, spread your message, and get your phone ringing. 

Businesses are diligently working to recoup last year’s lost earnings following the start of the pandemic. Holiday sales in the United States beat expectations in 2020, but were primarily made online, forcing many small businesses to cut hours and trim staff to stay afloat.

When business owners have to make budget cuts, the marketing budget is often considered as it can be erroneously viewed as a non-essential expense. Research reveals companies who invest in marketing during a recession bounce back faster than companies who opt to cut their ad spending. Small businesses can improve their chances of success by bolstering their online platform and wisely allocating their marketing budget into programs designed to generate results.

Give your business an advantage this year by fine-tuning your marketing strategy to include various methods of reaching customers. New mover marketing, a strong social media presence and community involvement are three ways you can help your brand navigate the current economy successfully.

Think of new ways to add customers.

Businesses who cut their marketing budgets during lean times run the risk of being overshadowed by the competition and preventing new customers from discovering their brand. The pandemic has resulted in people not exploring their local area as often as usual, which is why this is an opportune time to consider a new approach like direct mail and new mover marketing. These methods reach out to consumers without them having to leave their home and guide them to businesses like yours that are seeking customers.

Many people are fleeing their current neighborhoods and relocating to suburbs and small towns to provide stability during this difficult season. An analysis of data from the United States Postal Service revealed more than 15.9 million people moved last year. Targeting new residents will introduce people to your brand before they have a chance to build loyalties with your competitors.

Boost your online presence.

A report from Mastercard estimates online holiday sales increased 49% compared to 2019. This increase shows that shoppers are turning to the internet to price check, shop and read reviews of products and services. Your business should have a strong online presence in order to connect with customers digitally.

Fortunately, social media allows you to share information about your business by posting to your respective profile at no cost. Promoted posts and paid ads, however, do cost money. Social media advertising and promoted posts increased to 83% last year, according to a report from the Content Marketing Institute. Posting on social media can increase your company’s rank in search engines and provides a platform for sharing customer testimonials, website blog posts for customer tips and more.

Keep in mind that social media can become saturated with ads, creating over-stimulation for the customer which can result in the loss of an impression, click or sale. While having an online presence is undeniably important in this day and age, it’s critical to mix in alternate channels of marketing such as the others I’ve mentioned.

Support your local community.

While improving customer service and creating a customer loyalty program will help draw in new patrons, it’s smart for businesses to be active members in the community they serve. Joining the local chamber of commerce and participating in community events are two ways that can make an impact.

Supporting local non-profits is another way to give back to your community and increase brand awareness. In 2019, corporate giving increased to $21.09 billion — a 13.4% increase from 2018, according to Giving USA’s 2020 report.

Some businesses have found success by making community service part of their business model. Toms, a popular shoe brand, touts a one-for-one business model, where they donate a pair of shoes to people in need each time a customer makes a purchase.

While one-for-one giving may not be the right fit for your business, I’m proud to say that our business model supports local communities as well; every new mover who receives our welcome package is gifted one-time-use housewarming offers from our partnered local businesses. Really, it’s the community welcoming program and our clients are the neighborhood sponsors as they graciously give one free gift to new residents — no strings attached.

Another option is supporting a charity that mirrors your company’s goals.

When reviewing your 2021 marketing strategy, be sure to include low-cost, trackable options that raise brand awareness and generate results. Keeping your marketing budget robust will surely help your business succeed in 2021.

Reference: {https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2021/03/01/smart-marketing-can-give-small-businesses-an-advantage-in-2021/?sh=5bbd790134af}

We can help you to run your practice with more efficiency and prepare for your challenges. Perform Practice Solutions can help you to optimize your day-to-day operations. Improve your clinic’s performance now. Visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PerformPracticeSolutions or give us a call at (833) 764-0178 to see how we can help elevate your physical therapy practice!

Let’s talk about your business challenges today.

Our fresh perspectives, experience, and specialized skill sets will get your practice where you want it, and with far less stress. (833) 764-0178

Using Social Media to Optimize your PT Practice

Increasingly, the amount of time being spent online engaging with social media platforms has become an integrated aspect of our daily lives. Nearly 74% of Americans are on Facebook daily- given this exposure we want you to consider: Are you maximizing the exposure of your physical therapy clinic through various social media platforms? 80% of Americans experience some sort of pain and/or discomfort and restrictions with their physicality. If you are not targeting these individuals on social media, that is a lot of money you are leaving behind! We want to outline the ways in which you can use social media to optimize your entity and stand out within the PT world.

Raise Awareness:

Use your practice’s social media account to raise awareness of common ailments, new technology, or rising concerns within your field. If your account provides accurate, relevant, and timely information, it is more likely that new/returning patients will remain engaged with your practice or clinic.

Fight Misinformation:

By the very nature of social media, it is easy for information to spread quickly- the same goes for misinformation. Using your social media account to combat or discredit misinformation will lend credibility and reliability to your practice. This will help build rapport with patients, making it more likely they will come to you for treatment.

Answer Common Questions:

Patients typically raise similar questions at various stages of their health and wellness journeys. Providing “hot takes” or “snapshots” of these questions with a clear answer is likely to motivate patients to work with your practice. With some of the preliminary concerns addressed through easily accessible and highly visible social media posts, patients will feel more confident taking the next step forward in their physical therapy journey.

Destigmatize Talking About Body/Health:

For a lot of people, talking about their bodily ailments can be embarrassing or something they are not comfortable sharing. By bringing the discussion into the public sphere, new/returning patients will feel more comfortable addressing their concerns as your entity has helped to build their trust and assuage any embarrassment or fear around talking about their bodies and their ailments.

New Way to Market:

In 2020, 68% of health care marketers increased their spending on online/social media ads over 2019. The best-placed ads are where people will see them – and share them! – and with the vast majority of Americans on social media, marketing your entity on these platforms increases your visibility. If you do not do it, you know your competitor will, so staying on top of client’s minds is important for your success. Moreover, ads that are placed on platforms such as Facebook can target people in your area- making your ads relevant to those seeking your services.

Make social media work for your physical therapy practice! Perform Practice Solutions has got you covered! From blogs to newsletters to managing your social media account, we are ready to optimize your online presence! We will take care of your digital footprint so you can focus on what you do best- patient care! Visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PerformPracticeSolutions/ or give us a call at  (833) 764-0178 to get us working for you!

The 13 Biggest Small Business Technology Stories Of 2020

One of the best things small businesses can do is learn from the past to improve the future. And there are many lessons to be taken from 2020! Here is an insightful overview of some of the top SMB technology stories to peruse for some takeaways.

Every week I round up the five most important technology stories for small businesses and give an explanation of why. This week, I’ve selected the 13 technology stories that stood out for me. Why? Because they’re about technology trends that not only affected small businesses in 2020 but will continue to have an enormous impact in 2021. Here they are.

1 – Small businesses who pivoted to e-commerce saw record sales during Black Friday weekend. 

According to information released by Adobe Analytics, small businesses saw a 110% average increase in their online sales throughout the 2020 holiday season so far with a big boost coming during Black Friday weekend. (Source: NBC News)

Why this is important for your small business:

Depending on the research you’re reading, e-commerce sales have increased anywhere from 30 to 45% this year over last year. Of course, this was caused by the pandemic, but it really just accelerated an already existing trend. Small businesses that pivoted online were better able to navigate their way through this year’s unprecedented economic downturn. Those who didn’t suffer more…and will continue to be at a disadvantage in 2021 unless they do so.

2 – A hacker group donated their ransoms to charities.

So you’re not going to believe this but a ransomware group named Darkside disclosed that it has been donating portions of ransoms received from companies they’ve hacked to various charities. The group —which has been operating since August of this year—typically attacks big corporations, encrypts and steals their data, then demands a large ransom costing companies millions. The group released a statement that they only focus on big, for-profit organizations, and have taken pride in giving a portion of the paid ransom to charities such as Children International to help children in poverty, among several other non-profits. (Source: ZDNet)

Why this is important for your small business:

Ransomware is a billion-dollar industry and is so profitable that hacker groups, like this one, is literally paying it forward with money it has stolen from companies that paid it ransom. Ransomware and other security attacks – like the recent SolarWinds attack that impacted the treasury, commerce, and other government departments – will continue to wreak devastation on organizations of all sizes in 2021. Backup. Get software. Upgrade your operating systems. But most importantly get training.

3 – A Microsoft engineer was been sentenced to nine years for stealing $10 million from Microsoft.

Volodymyr Kvashuk— a former Microsoft software engineer—was recently sentenced to a term of nine years in prison after stealing over $10 million from the company’s online store in the form of store credit. Over the course of 2016 through 2018, the engineer was in charge of testing the online ordering process to help monitor and ensure all was operating properly. While the testing software prohibited physical shipments to testers, a loophole allowed for testers to buy gift cards virtually. Through the virtual purchases, Kvashuk stole enough to buy a $1.6 million home and a Tesla which cost $160,000. (Source: ARS Technica)

Why this is important for your small business:

Even the biggest companies with the best technologies can still get duped. Microsoft may not even miss the $10 million but employee theft like this could cripple a small business. This issue will continue to be pervasive in the years to come. I offered a few suggestions for protecting yourself here.

4 – Boeing 747s are still using floppy disks. Yes, floppy disks.

A recent report uncovered that Boeing 747s— a plane that’s been around for decades— continue to use floppy disks to get important software updates. Recently, members of the security research team at Pen Test Partners had the chance to fully examine the entirety of the plane’s avionics, discovering a disk drive that still used floppy disks. According to the report, the disk drive was utilized to import vital data that guided the plane’s navigation and required updates once a month that was installed by an engineer who would visit on site. (Source: The Verge)

Why this is important for your small business:

Before you freak out, I actually kind of understand this, mainly because many of my small business clients do the same. Despite all the experts who urge that we always use the latest technologies, there’s a reason to stick with the old stuff: if it works, don’t break it. Perhaps the cost/benefit of changing out these archaic floppy disk systems isn’t worth the effort. That’s a question for Boeing to answer. But countless small business owners use this rationale when they decide where to spend their investment dollars. And in many cases, the decision to stay with older tech makes better sense if the ROI can’t be justified. Replacing older tech with something newer will continue being debated this year.

5 – Twitter announced that employees will be allowed to work from home ‘forever.’

Twitter announced that they will permit their employees to work remotely ‘forever.’ The company was one of the pioneers in allowing their employees to work from home when the COVID-19 outbreak first began. While employees who wish to work in the office will still be able to, they will need to wait until restrictions are officially lifted. Individuals who want to work from home instead will now be able to do so as often and as long as they’d like as long as their role and circumstances allow it. (Source: The Guardian)

Why this is important for your small business:

Kind of surprised that tech companies like Twitter haven’t been doing this for a while. We all know those cloud technologies are good enough to enable employees to work productivity from home. My expectation is that a lot of companies – including many small businesses – will be expanding their work from home policies. And then after a few years, scaling them back when they realize that face-to-face interactions is what really makes an innovative company grow. But we’ll see…

6 – Microsoft Teams is getting fake coffee shops, breakout rooms, custom layouts, and is launching new Cortana features for business users.  

Microsoft also recently announced new features for their Together Mode, which was designed specifically to address COVID-19 remote work meeting woes. While Together Mode is not new to Teams, some of the features — such as virtual conference rooms, auditoriums, and coffee shops — are. (Sources: The Verge, Tech Crunch)

Why this is important for your small business:

Per another report on The Verge back in April, Microsoft claimed 75 million daily active users of Teams, a surge of 70% in a month. Google Meet, Zoom, and Citrix also claim hundreds of millions of daily meeting participants. These applications are accepted, useful, productive and most of all…work. They were instrumental during the pandemic and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

7 — Netflix raised prices on standard and premium plans.

Netflix raised prices on both their premium and standard plans to $17.99 per month for premium and $13.99 for standard. Previously the standard plan cost $12.99 while the premium plan was $15.99 a month. Customers will see the changes reflected in their upcoming bills in the next two months and will also get an alert one month before the change occurs. The basic Netflix plan will stay at $8.99/month, which remains the same as when the entry-level option was rolled out in 2019. (Source: CNBC)

Why this is important for your small business:

This scares me. Why? Because small businesses are more reliant on the cloud than ever – just check out the stories I’ve already mentioned. But although security is a concern, I have a much bigger concern about the cloud and Netflix personifies it. Because Netflix is a cloud company. It delivers an online service. And – quietly – they just increased their prices without much opposition. What are you going to do? Give up another season of Ozark? Never! But for a business owner, the risk is what happens the companies providing our cloud applications do the same thing. We’ve got little means to stop them.

8 — Google now officially supports running Chrome OS on old PCs.

This year, Google obtained Neverware, a company that has provided PC users with the ability to turn their machines into Chromebooks or Macs through their CloudReady software. With the acquisition, Google will begin to implement plans in order to make CloudReady available as a formal Chrome OS rollout. With the transition, users will be able to effortlessly update their software and will be provided with Google support for CloudReady, just like Chrome OS users get. According to the announcement, Google will recognize any current licenses that span over several years and there are also no plans to change prices. (Source: Engadget)

Why this is important for your small business:

This is also a potential game-changer for small businesses, particularly those on a budget. Think of it: you’ve got an old Windows or Apple machine and instead of tossing it you turn it into a Chromebook. By doing so you’ll be able to realize very similar functionalities for much lower hardware investment.

9 —Banks are quietly drifting into accounting.

Wells Fargo and accounts payable management platform Bill.com joined forces to create a feature to assist small and medium-sized businesses in gaining access to automation for accounts receivable and accounts payable processes. The partnership will help streamline workflow into a digital process while adding additional features such as electronically capturing and tracking invoices, to name a few. Meanwhile, TD bank said that they will be introducing TD Online Accounting, which will serve as a new online accounting and payment feature. The addition will be made to their small business online platform and will allow business owners to pay their electronic payments and credit cards straight from their TD Bank business checking, allowing the process of making payments to run more efficiently. (Source: Pymnts (Wells) and Pymnts (TD))

Why this is important for your small business:

These are just two examples, of many during 2020, where banks are either more fully integrating with small business accounting products or simply offering their own bookkeeping options to their small business customers. My prediction is for more banks to gobble accounting software makers and create more cozy relationships with others in the space. It makes sense.

10 —Customer service chats are coming to Instagram DMs.  

Businesses will now be able to provide live customer service agents to assist users posing frequently asked questions through Instagram. With the ability to field questions through Stories and Shops on Instagram, businesses will also be able to merge the social media platform with their CRMs, providing the ability to keep track of order and message history from customers. The most recent version of the messenger is currently being tested by big brands such as Adidas, H&M, and Michael Kors—to name a few—and is not yet widely available. (Source: Engadget)

Why this is important for your small business:

Instagram is owned by Facebook and part of Facebook’s strategy – as told to me in this interview by Rich Rao, Facebook’s Vice President of Small Business – is to expand its e-commerce capabilities. Over the next few years small businesses who sell their products on both platforms will be seeing more tools like the ones mentioned above to sell their products and provide customer service. Could Facebook, with its billions of users, be a better platform to generate revenues for your business than Amazon?

11 — Google Translate now lets you transcribe conversations in real-time.

Google has announced that they launched a new feature in their Translate Android app that will allow users to transcribe conversations—in real-time—into other languages. The new feature will support Thai, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Hindi, German, French, and English. Users will easily be able to touch the new “transcribe” icon from their home screen and select the target languages and source and tap the microphone icon in order to start, stop, pause, or restart their chosen transcription. (Source: CNET)

Why this is important for your small business:

Microsoft and Amazon Alexa now provide similar translation and transcription services. The world is getting closer and that’s going to make it easier for small businesses to do business overseas.

12 —Augmented Reality technologies are growing fast, thanks to the pandemic.

Augmented reality is becoming a key factor in helping companies make sales during the coronavirus pandemic. Brides and bridesmaids can now shop virtually through David’s Bridal website and their augmented reality feature. Shoppers are able to load mannequins in 3-D on their website, select a dress, allowing them a 360-degree view and chance to inspect the dress closely, getting a good look at the fabric and details of the dress. Similarly Avataar. me — which is an advertising platform driven by AI — is helping companies by transforming 2D pictures into 3D in order to help shoppers get a closer look at things like cars, houses, and furniture. (Source: Retail Wire and Your Story)

Why this is important for your small business:

Thanks to Covid, businesses – both big and small – are looking for new and innovative ways to show their products in a safe and virtual way and because of that Augmented reality applications and uses are expanding at a greater rate. This is a trend that will continue to accelerate in the next few years and if you’re in a business that could benefit – retail, field service, real estate – these technologies are important to consider.

13 — This machine makes 700 pieces of sushi per hour.

California roll, anyone? The Suzomo machine is the newest player in the culinary robot field, with the ability to make perfect sushi rolls in mere seconds. While finding a talented sushi chef at a reasonable wage is proving to be difficult, the machine is able to make approximately 700 pieces of fresh sushi per hour, tasting just like handmade sushi rolls. The company says that the popularity of its machines has grown quickly, allowing restaurants to run efficiently with less staff. (Source: ABC 7)

Why this is important for your small business:

Less staff are the two most important words here. As minimum wage and other benefits drive up compensation costs many smaller restaurants are looking for ways to keep overhead (and employment headaches) to a minimum – and so they’re investing in technology. An automatic sushi maker is only one example of how robotics are speeding up food preparation…with no bathroom breaks needed. Smart financial advisors should be making their restaurant clients aware of this major trend.

Reference: {https://www.forbes.com/sites/quickerbettertech/2021/01/03/the-13-biggest-small-business-technology-stories-of-2020/}

Perform Practice Solutions can help you to optimize your day-to-day operations and improve your clinic’s performance. Visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PerformPracticeSolutions or give us a call at  (833) 764-0178 to see how we can help elevate your physical therapy practice!

Let’s talk about your business challenges today.

Our fresh perspectives, experience, and specialized skill sets will get your practice where you want it, and with far less stress. (833) 764-0178

Three Business Lessons Every Leader Should Take Away From 2020

It is a relief to close the door on 2020 and look ahead to 2021. But there are valuable business lessons to take away from the most unconventional year we all just endured. Here are three that are worth reviewing.

We are nearing the finish line of a year that many people will forever associate with difficult challenges and pain. Lessons will undoubtedly emerge from all of the personal hardships.

On the professional front, it’s hard to imagine any employee, manager, or leader who didn’t experience some major shift in their company or the way it operates – some positive things and many negative. They too are walking away from 2020 with key insights and observations that will hopefully strengthen their companies for the challenges ahead.

While there is an infinite list of lessons that we all could take away from this year, some are more critical than others for leaders who are trying to best manage their ship in waves of uncertainty.

Here are three key takeaways that business executives and senior leaders should recognize as we enter 2021:

  • Contingency Planning For Emerging Concerns Is Critical

How will your company react the next time a health crisis starts to appear on the other side of the world? Do your communications teams have an action plan for the next time-sensitive social issues weave through your industry?

Whether it’s planning for immediate changes in how employees work or for addressing company policy standards on relevant social issues, leaders need to have a documented contingency plan for how, when, and to what degree action needs to be taken.

As we’ve seen from events over the last year, no department or functional role is immune to sudden shifts from external forces.

Step one is about developing some type of action plan and communication strategy earlier for emerging events that could have some direct or indirect impact on the business.

While this could seem daunting, focus on what threats would most directly affect your company’s ability to operate, your employees and their well-being, and your culture or your brand in the eyes of your customers. Simply put, ask yourself what events in the business, social, global landscape are surfacing right now that may become a concern for us tomorrow.

You should create or refine a plan for the things on that list that look highly likely or disproportionately threatening. The same should be done for opportunities that arise in the market that could be favorable for your company.

Step two is about ensuring all the relevant stakeholders have access to the plan and communication streams so that everyone knows what to expect when action is needed.

JPMorgan Chase is one clear example of how a company created and actually tested a plan in preparation for what ended up being a necessity. In late February and early March, it was reported that the company used a contingency plan named “Project Kennedy” to test how thousands of employees could work from home in the event that the coronavirus outbreak spread further.

This was well before any other large company issued a formal work-from-home program that was associated with the health crisis. Fast forward to today, it could reasonably be said that it served the company really well.

  • Your Company’s Brand Is Dynamic And Always Faces Risks

Just as a contingency plan can help your organization balance the challenging demands that may emerge from a national crisis or growing social restlessness, your brand needs the same level of thoughtfulness about what you communicate to your consumers, employees, and community. What your company stands for and how it markets itself to the public is less of a headache during good times, but it can truly be a make or break for your brand during bad times.

Topics of equality, justice, diversity, public health, and employee wellness are all among the things being considered by consumers as they engage with brands today. Today’s executives and managers need to view the maintenance of their brand as a true work-in-progress, no longer simply a line item for the marketing department.

When Nike ran a controversial campaign with Colin Kaepernick during the midst of the kneeling during the national anthem debate, it wasn’t immediately clear just how it would be received. When Quinnipiac University National Poll later released their findings, it was clear that public support was in their favor and sales followed.

The company didn’t rest from its prior efforts on social issues, it continued to build consumer trust on a topic that it knows people care about. They remained dynamic with their brand and it served them well, in part, because of consumer loyalty and brand affinity that it earned.

On the other hand, we’ve seen stories recently surface about tech companies that refuse to take a stance on social issues and prohibit political speech. In an age when more companies have taken the opposite approach, it will be interesting to see how actions like these impact a business or a customer’s willingness to support it.

  • All Assumptions Should Be Challenged Regularly

Effective executives and senior leaders create and communicate a message about why the company does what it does. This helps each stakeholder understand how their role fits into a larger vision. Hopefully, when a contingency plan is created, as outlined earlier, everyone has a deeper understanding of how to shift strategies when the situation calls for it.

However, relying on a set of ‘what if’ plans isn’t enough. Successful leaders need to foster a culture and company environment where everyone is regularly challenging traditional assumptions. For example, it’s been well documented that some managers were skeptical of the remote work trend. Be it a lack of trust or inability to measure productivity, the reasons are plentiful.

Changing the assumptions that work is done in a singular place or office may take time, but larger widespread events like the pandemic reinforce how quickly some ideas can shift from bad to not as bad as we expected.

Does a distributed team really work most effectively through asynchronous tools like email? Is a traditional hourly pay structure right when someone is working remotely and may need more schedule flexibility? All of these long-held beliefs and processes are ripe for reconsideration.

Turning Ideas Into Action

All of these questions should be on the table and each leader owes it to their team to think through how the old ways of working can be improved. While these concepts likely won’t be at the top of the priority list, they deserve some inclusion on your ranking of objectives.

You can’t predict the future but you sure can plan more effectively for things that could arise, even if they are low-probability scenarios. That investment in time, effort, and resources could pay dividends in the future.

Finally, consider how your company’s brand and vision could be impacted through all of this. You won’t know for sure how things will land, but the exercise of thinking about it beyond a simple marketing analysis could serve you well.

The beginning of a new year is busy for some organizations but slow for others. Find a way to integrate these concepts and ideas into your annual planning and kickoff events. If 2021 ends up being anything like 2020, you’ll thank yourself for it.

Reference: {https://www.forbes.com/sites/markhall/2020/12/13/three-business-lessons-every-leader-should-take-away-from-2020/}

Perform Practice Solutions can help you to optimize your day-to-day operations and improve your practice’s performance. Visit our Facebook page at  www.facebook.com/PerformPracticeSolutions or give us a call at 702.287.6104 to see how we can help elevate your physical therapy practice!

Let’s talk about your business challenges today.

Our fresh perspectives, experience, and specialized skill sets will get your practice where you want it, and with far less stress. (833) 764-0178


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