The proliferation of mobile technology and social networks have changed the way we communicate with our friends, family and colleagues.
Increasingly, small business owners are harnessing the anywhere, anytime convenience of mobility, and the cloud, to run their business on their phone. Texting a customer to let them know they’ll be meeting them shortly, using messenger platforms like Slack to keep their accountant up-to-date or using Google Hangouts to host meetings virtually. We have come a long way from sending letters, emails or even picking up the phone to call someone.
Every month, over 1 billion people around the world communicate with friends, families and over 50 million businesses on Facebook Messenger, interacting with customers, keeping them up-to-date.
A recent Xero survey of more than 1,200 small business owners found that over 83 percent of respondents now use modern communications channels (social media, text, mobile messaging or online chat) for communicating one-to-one with a customer. With the majority of these tech savvy small business owners (over 80 percent) leveraging these tools weekly, and in many cases (over 45 percent) using them daily.
More than half of respondents reported that they have communicated with an accountant or bookkeeper through one of these mediums, the most prevalent (43 percent) using text messages to stay in touch.
With this in mind, Xero has been working on further integrating our small business platform with products like Facebook Messenger so you can access the information you need, where you want it.
This week at Xerocon, Australasia’s largest accounting technology conference, Xero CEO Rod Drury demonstrated Hey Xero – our chatbot which integrates directly with Messenger.
Built on Amazon Web Services, the chatbot leverages machine learning technology and the $1 trillion worth of transactional data processed in Xero over the past 12 months to enable businesses to query their latest financial data, including who owes them money, when their next bill is due or how much money is in their bank account. It also connects to the Xero Advisor Directory and can recommend a suitable accountant or bookkeeper in their area. Xero subscribers will also be able to discover new apps in the Xero ecosystem.
“Connecting the more than 50 million small businesses on Facebook Messenger with accountants and bookkeepers is a huge opportunity for our industry. We’re opening up access to accounting software, solutions and advisors to help millions of small businesses be more productive and get the advice they need to grow and create jobs,” Drury said.
According to Facebook, more than one billion messages pass between people and businesses every month on the social media platform, and that more than two-thirds of people expect to use messaging apps to talk to business.
Xero is also working to make the tools available to other messaging platforms such as Slack and Apple iOS Messages in the future, enabling Xero subscribers and new customers to access their accounting dashboard from their platform or device of choice.
The Xero chatbot for Facebook Messenger will be available in the near future for general availability.
1. Apple is expected to unveil its new iPhone next week. There have been a bunch of leaks which lead us to suspect there will be a few new products and software updates, new iPhones, iPads, and other surprises. You can stream Monday’s keynote online here.
2. Good old customer service is even more important in online retail. Microsoft data, reported by Business Insider, suggests 66% of US consumers are willing to spend more money with a company that provides them with supreme customer service. More here.
3. Big data can figure out if you’re about to lose a customer. Customer support softwareZendesk, this week released a new feature that helps companies predict and identify users most likely to leave their service. The early warning system called “Satisfaction Prediction,” uses machine learning to pinpoint customers who’ve had the most negative experience.
4. Google is working on some pretty radical tech that will let self-driving cars “see” more than humans can. To help predict what may happen at any given time on the road, the company is investing in a LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) system. It uses lasers to monitor objects around the vehicle and create a real-time map of what’s happening around it. More here.
5. All bets are in the cloud. Google scored a win this week, landing Apple as a client on its cloud infrastructure service, the tech company also uses Amazon and Microsoft. You can see how the infrastructure providers are measuring up in the race to be the king of cloud providers here.
6. The rise of the on-demand worker is real. At over 53.7 million, the freelancing labor force is about the equivalent to a third of the total U.S. labor pool. A big driver recently has been the growth of Uber and Lyft. But Xero research found a majority of these workers don’t deduct work-related expenses, are confused by tax regulations and don’t reach out to professionals for help. Making it likely they’re not maximizing their take home income. More here.
It’s an awesome feeling when you make someone’s day. It’s even better when you bring a smile to a complete stranger’s face, and encourage them to do the same for someone else.\
We have recently become Vend Experts (www.vendhq.com) which means that we have a great understanding of this cloud based POS solution that integrates with Xero.
When you want to register a new business in South Africa there are a few options to getting started. You can either go directly through CIPC ( www.cipc.co.za ) previously known as CIPRO, use a company registration service, go through an accounting company or make use of the service that some of the banks offer.
“Now anyone can create a payroll, faster than ever before.” According to the SimplePay website they have a great South Africa Legislation compliant payroll system that is based in the cloud.
Roll back a few years and the only accounting solutions that I would have recommended, would have been Pastel Accounting.