7 Essential Online Business Tools that Power You Forward

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As a distributed team, we find tools indispensable because we rely on them so heavily to collaborate and create our collective office space in the cloud. We know the beating heart of running a successful business is successful communication internally as a team and externally with our customers — and without helpful tools, we can’t connect.

We’ve rounded up our seven favorite tools that keep us moving forward. What these seven tools have in common is that they’re easy to use and responsive to our needs. And when tools can evolve as we evolve while retaining their simplicity and effectiveness, they have great staying power.

Here’s the quick list:

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Harness the Productivity Power of Automation

All too often, to-do lists end up with more things to do and less things getting done. Humans are awful at completing lists. We often convince ourselves that we can complete our to-do list if we just buckle down and try harder.

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Yet tomorrow, or next week, or next month rolls around, and the list is just as bad as it has always been. Probably worse, if you are like me.

So when we found iDoneThis at Zapier it immediately clicked.

- No more over bearing to-do list? Check.
- Transparency into what everyone on the team is doing? Check.
- Email based? Check.
- Built-in motivation to do meaningful things each day? Check, again.

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3 Tools to Speed Up Customer Service Traffic

Great customer service requires great communicationLaunchBit, an ad network for email newsletters, manages a ton of communication with their publishing and advertising partners. CEO and co-founder Elizabeth Yin shares LaunchBit’s secrets to speedy, efficient customer service, dealing with high volume while maintaining high quality.

When my co-founder and I first started LaunchBit, we were working with just a handful of publishers and advertisers, and it was easy to respond to everyone. As a small startup, speed was our advantage in winning over new customers. Losing momentum with a customer was a real risk, because it was hard to gain back their interest in our product. In those beginning stages, each customer is critical.

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Photo: Biscarotte

Very quickly, business boomed, and we found ourselves struggling just to maintain our individual inboxes. Yet, our priority remains to respond with the same high level of speed and service in order to stay fresh in the minds of our customers.

In a given week, the emails number in the low thousands. So how do we get through them all with just four full-time employees? We found that staying organized and finding tools that can fill the role of a good traffic cop, helping to direct email smartly and efficiently, work best to deliver quality customer service.

Here are three key tools we use:

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Are You Checking Your Attention’s Blind Spots?

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Ever get so caught up in a task that you don’t notice something in plain sight? There’s actually a term for that — inattentional blindness — a state of unseeing created by where you’re focusing your attention.

A famous example of inattentional blindness is the invisible gorilla study. Before participants watch a video of two teams of three people passing a basketball, they are told to carefully count the number of passes made by the team dressed in white (the other is dressed in black). Halfway through the video, a woman in a gorilla suit walks through to the middle of the screen, beats her chest, and then walks offscreen.

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Amazing Productivity Apps: The Best of the Internet

Here’s a sweet short film, Honk if You Love Someone, that will make you smile. (via Dan Pink, whose book, To Sell is Human, just cameout.) And now, catch up with the best of what we’ve shared on the interwebs this week!

We’re among some pretty cool company in this amex open forum roundup of 10 amazing productivity apps.

Did you make any resolutions this year? Here’s why 88% of them fail and how to make them work.

Put just one word into action to refocus your company and motivate your employees.

Don’t wait! Delegate!

If you liked the film and want to make your own signs, try out some guerilla art using post-it notes! Bonus: not having to stand outside!

How Crashlytics Helps Mobile Developers Focus on the Things that Matter

Crashlytics provides real-time crash reporting for mobile apps, down to the exact line of code that caused the crash. We chatted with Rich Paret, Director of Engineering, about how Crashlytics is leading the pack at an interesting stage of mobile development.

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Current mobile performance management options run thin due to a knowledge gap that arises after somebody downloads an app. Rich recounts, “When [our] founders talked to developers about what they were doing to manage the quality of the stuff once it hit the app store, we found out that some software companies were paying an engineer to read the reviews in the app store. Any review that was under 3 stars, they would try to reverse-engineer from the reviewer’s comment what was wrong with the app. That’s a crazy sort of situation to be in.”

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