6 Tips to Help a Struggling Small Business Stay Afloat

It’s a fact that most new small businesses struggle. It’s part of the process. And though some don’t ultimately survive, those that can power through early problems can emerge strong (and profitable). Still, reaching that point is difficult, particularly in a rough business climate. However, there are certain steps you can take to keep you from feeling as though you’re drowning and to help keep your business financially healthy.

Tip 1: Set Yourself Apart

In a recent look at common struggles of small businesses, we talked about the problem of having too many competitors. There, we suggested that business owners use competition to inspire innovation. More simply, use this problem as motivation to figure out how to set yourself apart. In the early stages, that might come down more to messaging than actual business products or services. But the sooner you make your company appear distinct among its competitors, the faster you’ll gain customers.

Tip 2: Address Your Debts

The idea of tackling debts before seeking more gains is actually an investment principle many adhere to — whether or not they’re running businesses. The idea is that debt is usually a compounding burden, with interest mounting over time, and should thus be addressed as efficiently as possible. This is particularly important for a small business in which time is of the essence. While it’s not always as simple as deciding to pay off debts, small business owners should start prioritizing debts. The sooner they’re addressed, the sooner the business can be free to grow.

Tip 3: Take Reinvestment Seriously

When you’re running a small business, it’s important to consider the idea of reinvestment. This is basically the idea that it can be beneficial to take some of the company’s profits and invest them directly back into company needs.

Whether that means marketing efforts, a new employee, better technology, etc., it’s sometimes recommended that you reinvest half of what the company makes. It’s seen as a way of fostering fast growth, and it can also build the business up such that you have to do less on your own. In that sense, reinvestment can double as an investment in your own time as well.

Tip 4: Consider Personal Investment as Well

While there’s always some risk involved, you might also be able to expand your own funding by doing some light personal investing. However, you’ll want to do so carefully. If you’re looking to invest in the most traditional sense — in the stock market, for instance — it may be best to do so through alternative methods. Full-on trading is essentially a job, and it’s a lot for any small business owner to take on, particularly without the requisite expertise. However, there are other ways to grow funds in the market.

If you still want some say over your portfolio, CFD trading is an option to explore. This is a method that allows the trading of shares purely with regard to whether they’ll increase or decrease in value. So, rather than buying a share of stock and timing your sale correctly to maximize profits, you merely make a decision of whether you want to buy it (anticipating gains) or sell it. CFD trading also enables stop-loss orders, which can allow careful investors to automatically limit their losses. If this is still a little too hands-on, there are also more automated or hands-off trading options such as mutual funds or apps that will trade on your behalf.

Tip 5: Cut Costs Where You Can

Usually, a struggling small business will already have cut costs wherever possible. However, it never hurts to do another thorough, numbers-based assessment of where you stand. Is there something you paid for in helping to launch the business that you no longer need? Are you using a supplier you might be able to move away from in favor of a cheaper alternative? Is there anything you have the time and ability to take on your own that you’re currently paying someone else to do? These are all questions worth asking when you’re struggling to make the business work.

Tip 6: Employ Freelancers Where Possible

This is not a suggestion that your small business should be staffed entirely by freelancers. You’ll need some employees to build a sustainable operation. However, where possible, you might want to look into freelance contributions. In-depth analyses have shown that freelancers cost less money, and these days — with so many people unemployed and/or looking to work remotely — they’re theoretically more available than ever. So, for the odd job here or there or for regular contributions that don’t necessarily demand full-time employment, you might want to explore the freelance market.

There are ultimately no guarantees for a struggling small business. Each company’s strategy should be distinct, and a little bit of luck comes into the picture as well. With these tips though, you might hope to keep the business afloat — in a challenging climate or when future struggles arise.

from The Grasshopper Blog – Insights for Entrepreneurs https://grasshopper.com/blog/6 Tips to Help a Struggling Small Business Stay Afloat/
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Entrepreneurship and Our Youth

Louis Detitto Young Entrepreneur

Young adults in America want to be able to make a steady income and lead happy lives. The problem is that there are more young professionals than there are jobs. This creates a problem, and it’s one that might be somewhat solved by young adults pursuing entrepreneurship. Going into business for yourself might be an excellent route to take if you don’t want to roll the dice and hope that you will be able to find a corporate job after you’ve finished college.

Entrepreneurship Provides a Great Opportunity

Entrepreneurship provides young adults with an excellent opportunity for success. You can work hard as an entrepreneur, and the potential is there for you to make great money. Depending on how successful your business idea is, it’s possible that you could become much wealthier than you would have if you just took a job at some other company. However, it’s worth noting that entrepreneurial success generally doesn’t happen overnight.

Regardless, you can appreciate that entrepreneurship is attractive to young people because it allows them to pursue something that they are passionate about. You can start a business that resonates with you, and this can help you to feel dedicated to the work that you’re doing. For some entrepreneurs, running a business doesn’t even feel as if it is work because they really love it. All of this can be combined with the potential for high profits to make entrepreneurship very appealing to young adults.

The Risks of Entrepreneurship

The risks of entrepreneurship are what keep some young adults from wanting to go this route. When you’re starting a business, there is always going to be a chance that the company will fail. You might wind up starting a business at a wrong time, or you could experience a shift in the market that will make your business idea less profitable. Also, entrepreneurship requires a lot of work, even when things are going perfectly.

That being said, the risks of entrepreneurship might be worth it because of the potential benefits. It takes a certain kind of person to succeed in the business world. Many young adults are well suited to entrepreneurship due to their desire for independence and their ability to adapt to emerging technologies. Many young adults will likely look to start their own businesses rather than having to compete for the available jobs.

from Louis DeTitto | Business http://louisdetitto.com/entrepreneurship-and-our-youth/
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Sports and Storytelling

Louis Detitto Sports & Storytelling

Sports generate a large amount of money throughout the world. People connect with sports, and they love seeing their favorite teams compete on the field or court for glory. Sports and storytelling seem to go hand in hand, and most people create a narrative for the sports games in their heads if one isn’t being presented. Many people recognize the power of sports, and they seek to use technology to make more compelling content that is sports-related for people to enjoy.

Emerging Technologies

Emerging technologies have made it easier than ever to capture sports stories on camera. There are so many ways for cameras to capture the action on the field, and many people are also choosing to focus on the action that is going on off the field. People want to know more about their favorite sports stars, and they like consuming content that is related to their favorite sports teams. This could lead to an even deeper relationship between sports and storytelling in the future.

Athletes Creating Media Companies

It’s also interesting to note that many athletes have created media companies to produce content. Famous NBA player Lebron James is an excellent example of this. In fact, Lebron’s 2008 movie More Than a Game received critical praise and told a compelling story of how he and his friends at the time came together to compete for a high school basketball championship in Akron, Ohio. Other famous NBA athletes have now started investing money in production companies, and you could see more movies or different types of content that tell sports stories.

Sports Movies Are Popular

Sports movies are very popular, and there are many different types out there. Fictional boxing movies such as Rocky have captivated audiences for years, and football films such as Remember the Titans have also been met with praise. The public loves sports, and the potential to tell stories within a sports setting is there. Some athletes recognize this, and they seek to take part by creating the aforementioned media production companies.

The desire for new content is at an all-time high due to the streaming wars between large corporations. Various streaming services are competing for new content, and sports-related movies will likely be a part of the package. Sports and storytelling will always go hand in hand. There could be many interesting sports-related media projects on the horizon very soon because of the media production companies that are being formed today.

from Louis DeTitto’s Sports Blog http://louisdetitto.net/sports-and-storytelling/
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How to Write an Effective Email the First Time Around

What does the perfect business email look like? For some go-getters, it might be the 21st century of War and Peace: it’s long, it leaves no stone unturned, and it contains enough detail that anyone who reads it will be impressed by your work ethic and flowery language.

This is wrong.

A good email is less art than it is science. It’s a means to an end, with a clear objective: get someone else to understand something that you already understand. Whether that means a project just finished or you have a new proposal, a well-crafted email should be clear, efficient, and engaging—without demanding too much from the reader.

We spend some 1/3rd of our office time checking and managing our email. It only makes sense to get it right.

Here’s how to construct one without constantly editing yourself:

The Basic Rules of Email

Before you optimize the efficiency of every email you send, let’s get rid of some of the simple mistakes that are only making your written communication worse.

First, double-check that you’re sending it to the right people. In one famous mistake, Aviva Investors sent an email meant to fire one person…to a list of 1,300 people.

Before you hit “Reply All,” take a few seconds to consider what “All” includes. Here’s an example of a faux pas you can avoid if you were to double-check the email recipients every time:

“OK, so I was online dating a lot,” Shirley Goldberg remembered. After each date, she liked to send a summary to her girlfriend. “On the day I hit ‘Reply to All,’ I had four emails open, one of them directed to the entire staff of my school. Somehow I got the emails mixed up.”

This can be even more damaging in the professional environment. That’s why you should aim to keep each email as professional as possible. After all, email still counts as written communication. If you don’t want yourself on record as having said something, don’t email it. In company-wide email threads, it’s possible that even if you don’t send the email to the wrong person, what you wrote can still end up in someone else’s text.

Unsure if your writing is grammatically correct? Consider adding an app like Grammarly to your browser if you’re using web-based email.

Focus on Clarity

The ancient Roman rhetorician Quintilian once said:

We should not speak so that it is possible for the audience to understand us, but so that it is impossible for them to misunderstand us.

Before you do anything else, make sure that your email is clear. That usually means the shorter it is, the better—there will be fewer opportunities for misinterpretation in a 100-word email than a 1,000-word email.

  • Write short sentences. Turn to HemingwayApp for help here. It will point out where you’re over-stuffing your sentences and making too many demands on the reader.
  • Use active voice rather than passive. “I finished the project” is clearer than “the project was finished by me.” It’s also more efficient. 
  • Organize your email paragraphs by topic. Similar to the way you’d structure a high school essay, keep your organization simple: one topic per paragraph.
  • Don’t “bury the lead.” Burying the lead happens when you hide an important nugget of information somewhere within the content. This leads to less emphasis on the important point. If you’ve ever wondered how you can write someone an email and they forgot about its most important message, it sometimes comes from buying the lead.
  • Read before sending. If you keep the email simple, you won’t have a problem reviewing it quickly before sending off. Don’t make more work for the recipient by asking them to read your mind. Make sure the email, as Quintilian recommends, is “impossible to misunderstand” from the outset.

Don’t Waste Time

You’ll enhance clarity when you stick to this rule: don’t waste time.

If you’re sending an email proposal to someone you don’t know, there’s a temptation to spend two paragraphs apologizing or explaining yourself. Don’t! Just include a brief sentence that mentions how you found their email and move on. If their time is valuable, thank them for sparing some. Then proceed to stop wasting it.

One brief sentence at the top of an email is usually enough to let someone know that you’re aware when an email might be out of the blue, or coming in some sort of strange context. If you’re networking, include a sentence that describes a mutual contact, for example. While you should focus on clarity, you’ll still want to display some social acuity when you’re emailing someone new for the first time.

When Scripts are Available (and Make Sense), Use Scripts

If you’re sick of staring at a blinking cursor and want to make some progress, you can always lean on email scripts to get you started.

The key here isn’t to copy and paste everything you write, but to remember the human touch. But once you’ve determined that you’ll do that, you can use some email scripts as reference points:

Practice Makes Perfect

You might not write perfectly effective emails every time. But as you get used to the work environment and routinely send out similar emails, you’ll get a sense of what works and what doesn’t. Pay attention to the questions people tend to ask in their replies and you’ll soon learn that you can answer them ahead of time. Over time, you’ll settle on a natural rhythm to your emails to help you avoid long email chains, back-and-forth question sessions, and even the occasional faux pas.

from The Grasshopper Blog – Insights for Entrepreneurs https://grasshopper.com/blog/How to Write an Effective Email the First Time Around/
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Five Mistakes That Make Customers Hang Up

When a customer hangs up on you mid-conversation, it’s easy to tell what you did wrong. In fact, they probably spent the previous five minutes telling you exactly what their issue was.

But when customers hang up on your phone system before you even get to speak with them, that’s another problem.

According to some statistics, about 80% of callers will hang up on a phone system if they don’t feel like their call is going straight to voicemail. That means that you’re already missing out on most important customer calls by not having a robust, organic phone system in place.

How can you turn it around? Make sure that when you set up your business’s phone system, you avoid these other key mistakes that make customers want to hang up:

Mistake #1: Putting Them in the Driver’s Seat

It sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t any self-respecting customer want to be in the driver’s seat in an interaction with a company?

Yes and no. If you give your customer too much power—or give them too many choices—you run into the problem known as Paradox of Choice, first popularized by an author named Barry Schwartz.

In one study, shoppers were exposed to an astonishing variety of gourmet jam: 24 whole choices, with samples to boot. On another day, the available jams were limited to six.

Researchers found that while more choices attracted more initial attention, fewer choices meant that customers were ten times as likely to make a choice from the jams and bring it to purchase.

What does this have to do with your phone system? Simple: don’t give them too many choices. Give them options, sure—they need to navigate your business as well as possible. But keep the choices limited. Don’t let customers grow frustrated with your never-ending web of call forwarding.

We’ve all been in the situation of being the customer who loses all patience with a phone system and shouts into the phone, “just get me a human!” Don’t make your customers do that.

Mistake #2: Creating a Fancy, Elaborate Script

If a customer calls you on the phone, it’s important to give them a sense that you’re a real person—or at least a real company.

The problem is that some companies believe that to come across “real,” they need to simulate the feeling of authenticity by creating a script. Then they lose sight of why they created a script in the first place and simply want to create the most flowery, over-the-top script possible.

Avoid this instinct. When SoftwareAdvice.com ran a study, they found that customers had a strong negative impression of calls when they thought agents were reading from scripts. If a customer perceived a call as unscripted, their perception of the call improved 78% of the time.

If you’re building a voicemail system for directing phone calls, you will have to use automated messages to guide your customer. The way to avoid the negative-script effect is to keep things simple and professional. Get the essential information to the customer and let them move on.

Mistake #3: Weaving a Tangled Web of Call Forwarding

If you’ve ever been on a long phone call with a company, you know that it can feel like a temporary boost when you’re forwarded to the appropriate expert. That’s all well and good, but when your phone call gets passed on and on again, you start to feel like the entire effort is futile.

The same effect occurs when you create an overly complicated phone structure for answering customer phone calls. Yes, it’s important that you get the customer to the person who can solve their problem or answer their question. But if it takes too many steps to get there, customers won’t care about your good intentions. They’ll just care that they couldn’t get through.

Mistake #4: An Unprofessional Voicemail Greeting

If you have clients or customers call your personal number, it can be a bit disorienting to hear a casual and obviously personal voicemail greeting on the other end.

Even if you work out of a home office, it’s important that your phone system—or even something as simple as your voicemail greeting—displays that you have a professional business presence. Heed a few of the tips that we’ve provided in our post on voicemail greetings and make sure to:

  • Limit background noise. Hearing family members in the background is an obvious no-no. But even hearing general office sounds can have a negative effect on the quality of your voicemail greeting.
  • Smile as you record. You’d be surprised at the effect a smile can have on the tone of your voice. You want to be positive, upbeat, and professional—and sometimes, there’s no way to fake that except to smile.

Mistake #5: Too Little Information

If you’re convinced about the paradox of choice and you want to avoid an overly-elaborate script, it’s tempting to go too far in the other direction and record a Laconic voice greeting like “Hi. Leave a message at the tone.”

There’s nothing wrong with simple. But if you want your customers to stay engaged with your phone system, there’s no harm in infusing a little personality into their interactions with your automated responses. Just as long as these hints of your personality don’t get in the way of a customer perceiving you as a competent professional, they’ll likely stay on the line.

Give Your Customer a Reason to Stick Around

Just as you work hard to earn sales through marketing, analytics, and good, old-fashioned quality business practices, you don’t want the hard work to go to waste once a customer gets a hold of your phone number. Avoid these mistakes and create a simple, intuitive voicemail system that customers will understand and even enjoy. The better it is, the more likely it is you’ll retain those customers who would have otherwise given up. When it comes to your phone system and your customers, every second counts.

from The Grasshopper Blog – Insights for Entrepreneurs https://grasshopper.com/blog/Five Mistakes That Make Customers Hang Up/
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Sustainability in Business

Louis Detitto Business

You’ve probably heard about how serious the climate change problem is. People are very worried about climate change and the negative impact that it is having on the world. For this reason, businesses are trying to figure out how to become more sustainable. Take a look at the information below so that you can learn about how to achieve sustainability in business.

Start Recycling as Much as Possible

Start recycling as much as possible so that you can push your business to become more sustainable. Businesses need to stop wasting materials such as plastic, paper, and aluminum. Start by recycling common things that you use, such as ink cartridges, water bottles, and other plastic items. Once you have done this, it’s going to be best to think of ways to stop wasting things so that you can get your company closer to becoming sustainable.

Provide Remote Work Opportunities

You can help the environment by providing remote work opportunities as well. This is going to be beneficial because it will mean that employees won’t have to commute to a physical location to work for you any longer. You might even wind up saving money because you won’t need as much office space. Of course, this idea is only going to be practical for businesses that can make use of remote workers.

Upgrade Equipment and Supplies

Making changes to the equipment and supplies that you’re using can help your business to become more sustainable too. You could start using more energy-efficient machines, and this could allow you to use less power. It’s also possible to consider installing solar panels so that your business can operate using as much clean energy as possible. Change out old supplies such as fluorescent light bulbs to ensure that you’re using modern, energy-efficient LEDs as well.

Believe in Your Company

Believe in your company and understand that you can make positive changes today. The decisions that you make now could help to push the world forward toward a cleaner and safer future for everyone. Every business needs to do its part, and the first step will involve changing the culture at your company. Talk to your employees about the importance of sustainability and then hold a meeting where you can discuss ideas to make your company more environmentally friendly.

from Louis DeTitto | Business http://louisdetitto.com/sustainability-in-business/
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5 Common Struggles of a Small Business Owner

Launching a business is hard, and sustaining one is even harder. As a business owner, it is very likely that you will find yourself in situations wherein you are left with no choice but to take on more than you can handle. A good example of this is the global pandemic we are all facing at the moment. To ensure that you and your business are able to stand up to challenging situations, you have to familiarize yourself with some of the typical problems small business owners face and adequately prepare for them. That being said, here are five of the most common struggles that small business owners experience:

Feeling anxious about the future

Even before the circumstances changed due to the ongoing pandemic we are all facing, lots of business owners struggled with anxiety when thinking about the future of their companies. In fact, according to the World Economic Forum, 49% of entrepreneurs suffer from at least one form of mental health condition during their lifetime. To cope with the anxiety linked to the uncertainty of what the future holds for your business, it would be a good idea to set aside some time for mindful reflection and to read biographies from successful entrepreneurs to stave off the feeling of “being alone” in the midst of your struggle.

Struggling with huge changes

As explained in our previous post on ‘How to Effortlessly Connect a Team of Remote Workers’, the current situation has driven companies, big and small, to encourage their employees to work from home. This sudden change places small businesses – especially those who never experienced having remote workers before and hence haven’t instituted the right infrastructure that supports these kinds of workers – in a tight spot. To soften the blow, The Balance suggests conducting SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis frequently to help identify which areas require some improvements and a little more attention. It’s also a good idea to adopt a forward-thinking attitude and to keep a positive mindset.

Having trouble with hiring

In a recent report by Wasp Barcode Technologies, 50% of the surveyed small business owners admitted that the biggest challenge they face is hiring the right employees. Recruiting new talent has never been an easy task, even for big enterprises, but small businesses struggle more because they have limited funds and resources. A good way to address this issue is by aiming for new graduates who have a lot of potential but do not (yet) have the experience to command a large salary. It’s also advisable to provide lots of non-financial benefits that are proven to be more persuasive when it comes to hiring employees such as healthcare, flexible working options, mentoring programs and time off.

Having difficulty with cash flow

Due to the lack of available funds, the majority of small businesses tend to struggle to make payments on time. According to a recent survey on Forbes, 66% of business owners claim that delays in payment processing causes major issues with cash flow. To combat cash flow problems, many small businesses turn to loans for aid, even going down the route of personal loans when things get really bad. Marcus explains how personal loans come with a fixed payment schedule so that borrowers are fully aware of how much they need to repay. It can also be used to pay off credit card debt, finance structural improvements, cover costs associated with moving and even handle vacation costs. Aside from applying for a loan, cash flow problems can also be mitigated by expanding your payment options and by having a proper budget plan.

Having too many competitors

One of the toughest things small business owners face is getting ahead of the competition. To withstand the problem of having too many competitors, Business 2 Community discusses how it’s essential for small business owners to use competition to stimulate innovation. Innovate and be inspired to provide products and services that are better than that of your competitors. Examine your competitors – know the strategies they’ve employed before, and try to determine and understand the ones that worked for them. By doing this, it will help you steer away mistakes, thus saving you a significant amount of time, money and energy.

Entrepreneurs are known for their determination, tenacity and grit. However, before they become the very figures we all look up to, they had to go through different struggles at the beginning of their career. To come out successful, you have to power through every challenge and learn from them.

from The Grasshopper Blog – Insights for Entrepreneurs https://grasshopper.com/blog/5 Common Struggles of a Small Business Owner/
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Technology Within the Sports Landscape

Louis Detitto Sports Tech

It’s easy to see just how much technology has changed the world over the last several decades. Even if you look at the changes that have occurred in the last five years, it’ll be pretty astounding. Technology also has a massive impact on the sports world. There are many ways that technology will be altering the sports landscape in the near future.

Better Sports Equipment

Better sports equipment will allow athletes to perform better while being protected. Modern sports equipment is substantially better than the equipment that was being used by athletes mere decades ago. It’s possible that helmets could continue to improve so that football players won’t have to be as concerned about CTE. It’s also plausible to assume that improvements to sneakers and other important pieces of equipment will lead to athletes shattering records as never before.

AI

AI has the potential to change the entire world and not just the sports world. In the world of sports, AI could be used to help manage various things more efficiently. It’s possible that AI could help with training functions, and it could also help to provide strategic information. Some people find this to be disconcerting and think that it hurts the spirit of the game. There will be time to debate whether AI has a true place in the world of sports.

New Ways to View Sports

New ways to view sports might be the most relevant thing for you. You understand that the landscape has already changed substantially when it comes to how people consume sports. In the past, people simply turned on the television and watched the game when it was on. Modern technology has changed the way that people consume media, and many sports still need to catch up with those changes.

Sports will likely start to migrate to streaming platforms instead of being locked to traditional television channels. There might be new ways to view sports that make use of emerging technologies as well. For example, the potential is there for sports to be viewed using virtual reality or augmented reality. People could feel as if they’re at the arena even when they’re watching at home, and this could be a game-changer.

from Louis DeTitto’s Sports Blog http://louisdetitto.net/technology-within-the-sports-landscape/
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The Leading Attributes of Leaders

Louis Detitto Leaders

If you want to become the best leader that you can be, then it’s smart to focus on developing specific attributes. The best leaders in the world all possess certain qualities that help them to perform well. You can develop these attributes over time, and you might already possess some of the positive traits that you need. Keep reading to learn more about the leading attributes of leaders.

Being Self-Aware

Knowing who you are and what your capabilities are matters quite a bit. You need to be able to perform as a leader, and you should have a good grasp of what your limits are. Being a leader isn’t about handling everything alone, and you need to learn to coordinate a team. Learn to take care of yourself so that you can be the leader that your team needs you to be.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is so crucial when you’re trying to become a leader. You need to be able to relate to the people that you’re leading, and having good emotional intelligence makes it easier to get the best out of others. You should also develop your communication skills so that you can learn when to listen while also understanding how to best relay orders. Some people have great emotional intelligence naturally, but you can also develop this attribute over time by being observant and willing to learn.

Diligence

Being a leader is going to require you to become a diligent individual as well. There will likely be tough times that will test your limits. If you have the courage to keep moving forward, then you will be able to continue to make progress toward your goals. The most respected leaders don’t let failures or hardships keep them down long.

Humility

Humility is another essential attribute that you should consider developing if you want to become a good leader. Leaders who are full of themselves or who take their power positions for granted do not have an easy time gaining the trust of those around them. Remain humble and understand that you’re a part of a team that should all be working together toward one goal. Never think that you’re above others and always understand the need to keep learning even after you’ve been a successful leader for years.

from Louis DeTitto | Business http://louisdetitto.com/the-leading-attributes-of-leaders/
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How to Build a Remote Customer Support Team for a Seamless Customer Experience

Did you know that 86% of consumers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience (CX)?

Also, 49% of buyers have made purchases after receiving a personalized experience and over two-thirds of businesses now compete primarily on customer experience.

Your support team is the primary (and often the only) customer touchpoint. Therefore, it’s important to build a customer care department that can deliver a seamless CX.

Meanwhile, it has become more cost-efficient for companies to leverage a remote workforce for customer support. They can take advantage of the reduced overhead cost, access a larger candidate pool, and provide round-the-clock support to customers in different time zones at no additional cost.

However, running a remote customer support team isn’t without its challenges – especially if you want to deliver a top-notch and personalized experience to every customer.

Some common hurdles include:

  • Ensuring timely communication and information sharing so every team member is on the same page.
  • Tracking work and monitoring results to help employees stay focused and productive.
  • Making sure that team members can deliver an on-brand and consistent customer experience.
  • Enabling team members to work autonomously, especially if their supervisors are in a different time zone.
  • Implementing endpoint security to protect your customer data.

Here’s how you can overcome these challenges and build a remote customer support team to deliver a seamless customer experience:

Hire Team Members With a Customer-Centric Mindset

The interaction between support team members and your customers will define the quality of the customer experience. Hiring the right people is key to delivering an outstanding contact center experience and here are some important traits to look for:

  • Basic soft skills such as patience, empathy, attentiveness, communication skills, positivity, and the ability to “read” the customers.
  • Technical knowledge about your product and general understanding of your industry.
  • Self-management and time-management skills, as well as self-motivation to complete tasks on time.
  • The drive to act proactively and make decisions autonomously.
  • Collaboration skills and a track record of working in virtual teams.
  • The ability to thrive under a low-touch and flexible management style.
  • A customer-centric mindset that drives them to think outside of the box and prioritize the delivery of an outstanding customer experience.

Use Cloud-Based Communication and Collaboration Tools

Cloud-based software applications, such as project management, communication, and file-sharing platforms, allow team members to collaborate cost-efficiently from anywhere with an internet connection.

Meanwhile, a unified communications (UC) platform and contact center software enable your team to communicate with customers via multiple channels (e.g., phone, email, chat, social media.) You can have all the interactions synched up in a centralized location to ensure a seamless support experience.

Many of these platforms integrate well with each other so supervisors can manage progress at a glance on a unified dashboard. Also, they allow employees from different time zones to catch up with all the communications when they start their shifts to minimize errors and delays when they interact with customers.

Set Up a Centralized and Searchable Knowledge Base

Customers expect your support team to help them resolve issues quickly. In fact, 99% of consumers say that interacting with knowledgeable reps is an essential part of a great CX while the first contact resolution rate is a key indicator of customer satisfaction.

However, a remote customer support team member can’t simply walk over to the next desk and ask for help when she encounters a question for which she doesn’t have an answer. Therefore, you need to provide the resources your agents need to resolve customer queries independently.

To do so, set up an online searchable knowledge base (e.g., a private wiki) on which your team can access the latest information about your products. Such information should include detailed step-by-step instructions, troubleshooting procedures, and links to how-to videos that agents can share with customers.

Your team should also have the ability to update the information, ask questions, and add answers on an ongoing basis. This will create a supportive culture, increase employee engagement, and ensure that the knowledge base is current and relevant.

Implement a Customer Service Software Application

A customer service platform enables you to manage customer interactions across all touchpoints in a centralized location so any team member can pick up where the conversations have left off to deliver a seamless customer experience.

Some key features to look for in customer service software include omnichannel communication capabilities, ticketing system, live chat support, customer self-service portal, customer sentiment analysis, and survey tool.

These platforms also allow supervisors to see all customer interactions and metrics on a unified dashboard so they don’t have to micro-manage team members.

For example, managers can see the number of calls taken, the number of issues resolved, hours worked, high-priority issues, and tasks assigned to each team member to ensure that every agent is staying productive and delivering a high-quality customer experience.

Implement a Comprehensive Onboarding Process

A thorough and well-orchestrated onboarding process is particularly important for getting remote employees up to speed since they may not have immediate access to their colleagues or supervisors due to time zone differences and have to make decisions independently.

In order to deliver a seamless customer experience, your reps need to understand internal processes, communication protocols, and other operational procedures so they can resolve issues appropriately or route inquiries to the right departments.

Your team also needs to be trained on how to use all the communication and customer service applications effectively so they can optimize the tools they have at their disposal and ensure the effective functioning of the team.

In addition, since team members need to connect to your systems and access customer information using their own network and equipment, it’s important to ensure the security of the connections and the privacy of their networks.

Data breaches aren’t only costly but will also impact customer experience and erode trust. It’s therefore important to provide the necessary support and training to team members from day one to make sure your network is secure and your customer data is safe.

Educate Your Team About Your Customers

Your team requires an in-depth understanding of your ideal customers in order to deliver the most relevant CX, meet customer expectations, make product recommendations, and resolve product-related issues.

Create customer avatars/buyer personas and share them with your support team. Educate your agents about your audience, such as demographic information, their expectations, what they want from your products, as well as their preferences and values so your team can build rapport with your customers and anticipate their needs.

Also, enable your support team to deliver an on-brand customer experience by educating them about your company’s vision and values. When you build a team culture based on your brand identity, you can empower your agents to proactively take initiatives to surprise and delight your customers with an outstanding CX.

Final Thoughts

Delivering seamless customer experience is the key to acquiring and retaining more customers so you can increase sales and boost your bottom line.

Not to mention, hiring the right customer service agents and providing them with the appropriate tools can improve employee satisfaction and retention. These long-term employees often possess the much-needed institutional knowledge, insights about your audience, and enthusiasm about your brand that will turn any customer interaction into an outstanding experience.

from The Grasshopper Blog – Insights for Entrepreneurs https://grasshopper.com/blog/How to Build a Remote Customer Support Team for a Seamless Customer Experience/
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