All Posts By

Shakira Mansoor

Planet Call Center

Planet Call Center

By | Call Center Support, Inbound Call Center Solution, Outbound Call Center Services, Uncategorized | No Comments

Ask you walk through the hubbub of a call center, you will find agents engaged in a variety of activities, working hard in an upbeat atmosphere. There will be agents making and receiving calls, a customer service representative leaning back to consult a colleague on a unique case, and a small group huddled around the coffeemaker discussing hot leads they’ll be chasing this week.

Working in the same environment, with the same KPIs and the same shifts that are diametrically different from typical 9 to 5 office hours, call center agents develop a unique culture—the Planet Call Center.  

Camaraderie

Late night shifts in the dead of winter, seeing the same agents day in and day out, having similar job descriptions, and relying on each other’s knowledge and experience builds camaraderie that usually translates into lasting friendships. Sharing amusing anecdotes about customer interactions during lunch breaks and comparing notes on how to deal with certain cases builds a culture unique to a call center. This is as opposed to any other office environment where every person specializes in his or her area of expertise, with a faint idea of what the others do.

Call Center Culture Builds Camaraderie

Shared Jargon

Call centers have industry-specific terminologies that are widely acceptable and used extensively in everyday interactions. Usage of ubiquitous call center terms like AHOD creates a language of their own, solidifying the feeling of a bubble surrounding the call center. This call center jargon becomes so innate to agents, after using it in a range of circumstances with different customers, that it spills over into their everyday lives. Even when meeting outside, discussions of handling times, newest campaigns, and FCR rates create a coterie of agents quite distinctive from other office colleagues.  

Hard Work and Positive Atmosphere

With an upbeat atmosphere, call center agents work hard for rewards, benefits and bonuses. Depending on the direction of call center traffic, their motivation may be different. A call center operator providing outbound call center services may be primarily driven by competition for greater sales while an agent handling the brand’s inbound call center solution would be focused on solving problems.

Diverse Interactions

Not only is the call center workforce typically very diverse—with people of all genders, ages, educational and financial backgrounds and religions—each customer service representative deals with a range of customers over his or her career. This cultural diversity becomes so familiar and each call center operator has such widened horizons that the outside world seems slightly alien, with a relatively homogenous populace and informal interactions.

Cultural Diversity epitomizes call center communications

Using Second Language

Talking in a professional manner throughout the shift creates the call center bubble. The call center is even more of an isolated planet in areas where customer interactions take place in a second language that is not that predominantly spoken outside the walls of the center. Once agents walk out of the center, readjustment into the outside life takes a minute but then due to their training, they are more equipped to deal with the daily pressures they encounter in life.

Interpersonal Interactions

The comprehensive interpersonal communication training given to a customer service representative changes his or her daily interactions with everyone for the better, engendering empathy and a helpful attitude.

The IdeasUnlimited Experience

At IdeasUnlimited, we have both physical call centers in the Philippines—where agents come in to the center to work—and remote teams handling call center support for other projects. It does not take long for the planet call center effect to come into play in both situations, where agents work hard and support each other, the jargon becomes generic usage, diversity becomes acceptable, and a positive culture is promulgated.

We are proud of promoting a positive, hardworking culture where excellent performance is rewarded, communication skills honed, and the planet call center values upheld, broadening the personal and professional horizons of our agents.

Preparing for Employees Going on Annual Leave

9 Ways to Prepare Your Business for Employees Going on Holiday Leave

By | Business Improvement, Call Center Support, Employee Management, Time Management, Virtual Assistant Support | No Comments

Last year’s holiday season retail sales in the US alone topped $161 billion and 43% shoppers supported small businesses on Small Business Saturday. With the holiday season coming up, now is the time to plan out a company strategy to ensure you have backup staff handling essential business activities at all times.

Figures for Holiday Season Retail Sales

You don’t have to dread the holiday season when your employees go on leave, when the company’s manpower is down and productivity seems to nosedive. Simply follow our tips that we’ve practiced and improved upon through trial and error over 8 years of operations and you will be well prepared. You can easily handle holiday leave while maintaining a healthy culture and employer brand.

  1. Use a Workforce Management Software

Using a scheduling and staffing software or even a shared Google calendar can make your life infinitely easier. This way you won’t have clashes in scheduling vacations and can plan accurately in advance for holidays. Most workforce management softwares have additional features like communication, task management, and time reporting. Here is our rundown of some effective softwares:

Deputy

With unlimited users, shift swapping, forecasting and QuickBooks integration, Deputy is a mobile platform that can cut your time spent scheduling considerably. It is perfect for small to medium businesses employing shift workers.

When I Work

Offering templates and shortcuts with its mobile and desktop adaptive platform, When I Work is also integrated with some POS and Payroll systems and has a very intuitive user interface (UI).

Quinyx

It allows you to schedule work keeping in mind employee contracts and working time directives. You can also set up an optimal schedule matching the best employee to the most appropriate task and set up a staffing schedule taking expected sales into account.

TrackSmart

Their online time and attendance management software allows for scheduling based on employee availability and job skills. You can even set up recurring schedules. All these are accessible from all devices 24/7. These smarter schedules will ensure you are never understaffed, even for the holiday season.

  1. Be Transparent

Make sure you communicate your holiday leave policy and vacation policy to your employees as soon as they are hired. Is it first come first served? Are there any vacation blackout periods when no vacation requests would be entertained due to an expected rise in traffic or a special project? Will you be encouraging them to take their vacation in the slower periods? Communicating all this in advance will be fairer and more acceptable to your employees. Make sure any vacations are granted judiciously—with employees fully cognizant of the decision-making criteria—after due deliberation and without any favoritism.

  1.  Set a Deadline

Set a deadline by which employees can request holiday leave. Depending on your needs, this can be anywhere from a few days to several weeks before the staff wants to use leave time. This deadline should be far enough in advance for you to ensure that it does not affect a project’s productivity or deadline and you are not understaffed. Also cap the number of employees of each specialization who can take off at the same time.

  1. Get Pertinent Information

When an employee puts in a leave request, request a report on current projects. Ask them how they plan to meet deadlines before they head out the door. Nicolas Gremion told SmallBizTrends that this process “gives me piece of mind that their absence won’t be problematic and they can leave knowing that they’ve tied up any loose ends.”

Get a detailed breakdown of projects they are currently working on, tasks to be performed, access details for pertinent files and accounts, deadlines for current projects, important contact information, and any other information needed by the employees covering the vacationers’ jobs. Create a checklist of these that each vacationing employee can tally against before leaving.

Project NameDeadlineTasks to be PerformedContact PersonContact InformationAccess Details
AccountPassword
Project 1
Project 2
Project 3
  1. Delegate Tasks

Then make sure that someone is covering for the missing employee. Sometimes, that requires handing off tasks and projects to a few different people in the office instead of asking one person to do the work of two. Crosstrain employees in preparation for the upcoming holiday season, ensuring that the backup employee is fully conversant with the appropriate project training manual.

  1. Trade-off

Trade-off between your employees. Some employees may have important commitments at other times of the year that they can take time off for and then work during the holiday season. Allow employees with similar job descriptions to trade off their vacations with each other, one picking up the slack when the other is on leave. Stagger your employee vacations so you always have coverage; allow some to work the morning shift, some the afternoon shift, or schedule one set of employees for the first few days of the week and the other for the rest of the weekdays during the holiday season.

  1. Offer Incentives for Working Employees

Give cash bonuses, extra paid leaves redeemable after the holiday season, and other incentives for those willing to work during the most popular vacation periods. This will ensure that you have a productive skeleton staff even during the heart of the holiday season. It will also boost the morale of those who have to work over the holidays when the other employees are on leave and enjoying themselves.

  1. Hire Temporary Support

In some cases, you can even hire a temporary virtual assistant to pick up the slack in an employee’s absence. Especially in the retail industry, business booms in the holiday season and having employees on holiday leave can cause a stress on operations. Hire a qualified virtual assistant to take care of ecommerce sales, provide administrative and operational support, or even act as a virtual receptionist service during the holidays.

You can even hire a temporary call center operator or a customer service center to handle customer service, field incoming calls, generate leads, and make telemarketing calls to take advantage of the boost in sales in the holiday season.

Having part-time staff as backup all year round is always a sound decision, so they can come in if you have any shortages and during the holiday season when most employees are on leave.

  1. Prep for the Manager’s Leave

What if the manager is the one going on leave? We suggest that you let your employees know far enough in advance so they can prepare. Make the manager’s calendar public so that the staff will know when he or she will be back. Ask the manager to train the second-in-command to pick up the slack. The administrative support staff must also be familiarized with how to handle certain tasks while the manager is out of the office, such as where to direct calls and how to respond to requests. Then, consider having a protocol for an emergency, so employees can determine when to call the manager while he or she is on leave.

With these tactics, you can ensure that handling the holiday season won’t be such a hassle. Let us know down below what some best practices are that you have seen or used for handling employee leave during the holiday season.

Do You Need an Inbound Call Center Solution?

Do You Need an Inbound Call Center Solution for Your Business?

By | Call Center Support, Customer Service, Inbound Call Center Solution, Remote Support Services | No Comments

With customer service at the forefront of business competitive differentiation in today’s global marketplace, and 81% of marketers estimated to be competing on the basis of customer experience by 2020, you need to evaluate your customer care center and see whether you need an inbound call center solution.

What is an Inbound Call Center Solution?

An inbound call is initiated by a customer, employee, vendor, or other stakeholder who wants information or assistance with some aspect of your product or service. Your business is not initiating the call. An inbound call center solution constitutes the management of all inbound channels of contact that any stakeholder can use to reach out to your business. All inbound calls, messages, or chats are routed to an available agent with the required skillset and these can constitute queries, technical support requests, order processing requests, etc.

Firms providing call center support offer both inbound and outbound call center services. However, if more than 50% of the calls are inbound, the call center is classified as an inbound call center solution.

Benefits of Having an Inbound Call Center Solution

A reliable customer and vendor support system enhances brand value. It not only significantly improves the conversion rate, it assists in cross-selling and upselling, and the after-sales support ensures customers stay with your brand for longer.

Improved Bottom Line

Customer service is more often that not the deciding factor in ensuring a positive customer experience and retaining current customers—customer experience leaders outperform laggards by 25%. Customers purchase more after a good customer service experience and stop buying or even avoid a business after a bad customer support interaction. More important still, customers share their good and bad experiences, so your customer support has a direct impact on your brand reputation and long-term profitability.

An effective inbound call center solution improves your customer service, enhancing the bottom line by creating more positive customer support experiences.

Importance of Good Customer Service - Inbound Call Center Solution

Customer Retention

70% of businesses believe it is cheaper to retain a current customer than to acquire new ones and, depending on the competitiveness of your industry, acquiring a new customer can be 5 times more expensive than retaining a current one. Couple that with a 60-70% probability of selling to an existing customer, your primary focus should be on your current customer base to improve the bottom line.

A mere 5% increase in your retention rate has the potential to increase your profits by 25–95%, the magnitude of gains depending on your business model. Loyal customers buy more from the company and become brand evangelists, spreading positive buzz. Not only are they willing to pay premium prices for assured quality and reliability, the operating costs of serving them is lower, so you must ensure they stay with your brand and do not switch to a competitor.

The best way to retain and grow your customer base is investing in an effective inbound call center solution.

Handling Important Accounts

Your most important accounts need special care since 20% of customers typically account for more than 80% of sales. Providing these accounts special care will have an exponential positive impact on your profitability. You can have an inbound call center solution with dedicated agents for these accounts to provide them enhanced customer support.

Importance of Customer Retention- Inbound Call Center Solution

Better Customer Insight

An inbound call center solution helps build a better understanding of the common issues faced by customers, their problem points as well as main complaints. This would allow you to tailor your value proposition accordingly. For example, if you get to know through customer feedback that your product gets soggy in humid climates, you can focus on better vacuum-sealing protection. You can also add enhanced features that customers have shown an interest in and proactively determine how customer interactions with the product are changing.

Checklist to Conclusively Determine the Need

Use this simple checklist curated by us to determine whether your business needs an inbound call center solution. Any of these would require specialized call center support to increase sales and productivity.

Receptionist Service—Your business gets a large volume of calls for scheduling and confirming appointments, asking to be redirected to various departments, and miscellaneous other queries for which you need an inbound customer service center.
Inquiries—Potential customers get in touch for queries about your product, process, or service before making the purchase decision. This may be directly related to the composition and function of the product or service or its recyclability, sustainable sourcing, the location of your outlets etc. These must be handled professionally for maximum conversion to sales.
Order Processing—Customers require assistance in processing orders, confirming sizes, choosing between alternative modes of shipment, tracking orders etc. Your business needs to process orders given live across multiple channels by customers and enter them into the database, allowing you to deal with rush periods and ensure timely delivery.
Bookings and Reservations—You handle reservations and bookings for conferences, hotels, trips and holidays etc. and need an efficient system for ensuring nothing slips through the cracks.
After Sales Support—Current customers need troubleshooting assistance, technical support, assistance with upgrades, usage instructions, repair and maintenance, and call center support is needed to handle these communications. SAAS providers like Intuit and those selling goods that need technical support get a lot of incoming traffic for this reason.
Marketing Support—Customers contacting your company must be told of your range of products and services and combinations of products that would enhance their experience, to increase their share of wallet.
Billing Support—You get incoming queries regarding modes of payment, payroll processing, and tax liabilities that a trained customer service representative must address.
Global Customer Base—Customers from all over the globe use your product or service and require 24 hour call center support to cover differing time zones.
After-Hours Support—You must be available for your customers after hours too since you are an emergency service provider or ecommerce business with customers in various time zones.
Multilingual Support—Your customers, vendors, and/or employees speak multiple languages and multilingual call center services would make communication efficient and enhance brand loyalty.
Omnichannel Customer Experience Management—With the proliferation of points of contact, customers and other stakeholders reach out via various mediums: calls, text, live chat, social media messages, fax etc. and you need an omnichannel management system for all of it.
Vendor Support—Multiple vendors contact your business to confirm orders you have given, shipments received, invoices and payments. An inbound call center solution would manage your vendor communication and relationships.
Large Volume of Job Applications—You receive a large volume of incoming calls, emails, and social media messages from potential workers for job applications and then subsequent application status inquiries. These need to be handled by HR through dedicated lines of communication.
Multiple Departments—Calls and other incoming inquiries may be relevant to any of several departments, business units, branches, or outlets and need to be directed to the relevant employees.
Type of Need—The features of the inbound call center solution depend on the time-sensitivity and type of the inbound communication:
  •  Very Time-Sensitive: You will need 24 hour call center support if the inbound communication is very time sensitive—if the query is not resolved as fast as possible, the customer can switch to a competitor’s brand or the business will lose money. For instance, having 24/7/365 support for a payroll software is necessary because if the glitch is not resolved immediately, the checks will not go out in time.
  • Small Queries: Live chat support is required for small queries to help redirect customers on the website, resolve small login issues and other problems that have instantaneous fixes.
  • Requests for Quotes and Meetings: In case of queries that require research and strategizing, email support is a better alternative. For instance, if a firm needs a quote from you for a strategic partnership, it can wait till you put together a proposal and the best form of initial communication is email support.

Features Needed for Inbound Call Center Solution

The next step is figuring out what features you need in your inbound call center solution and which ones can wait for now and you can opt for once your business has expanded sufficiently.

Characteristics of Customer Service Representative

Some of the most crucial characteristics of a customer service representative are:

Basic Skillset

Each customer service representative must be well-trained in customer care, with communication skills par excellence.

Well-Prepared

The agent must be well-versed in the product or service, order processing, and common issues customers face. He or she must be able to handle any type of incoming query.

Handle Pressure

Should be able to easily deal with the pressure and volume of incoming calls.

Omnichannel Experience

The customer service representative must be able to handle all points of contact and all mediums used by stakeholders.

Features for Business VoIP Platform

You must analyze your inbound call center solution needs and decide whether you need each of the following features in your business VoIP platform.

Channels Covered

Determine the current main contact channels like phones, text messaging, social media, live chat etc. as well as those you want to target.

IVR

Do you want to automate the first step and direct calls to the relevant departments and agents as efficiently as possible?

International Inbound

Do you receive calls from international numbers? Do you want to make it simpler for your international callers to get in touch with you?

Number of Extensions & Queues

Do you need several extensions to create multiple points of contact for various departments and branches?

Online PBX Controls

Do you want a Private Branch Exchange that is stored and managed over the internet rather than end-user hardware?

Voicemail Box

Do you need one or several voicemail boxes and do you want to receive transcriptions of voicemails in your email for better management?

Call Flows & Failover

Figure out whether you need to set up a route for incoming calls and emails so that no incoming communication slips through the cracks.

Greetings & On-Hold Options

Do you need hold and forwarding capabilities? Analyze whether custom greetings and on-hold messages add value.

Call Monitoring

Is there a need for recording and monitoring calls, with options for the supervisor to override calls and/or assist the agent?

Wait Time Announcement

Would you like to announce an approximate wait time to your callers, especially at times of long call queues to create greater trust and transparency?

Caller Information

Would your team better handle callers and live chat customers if they get some information on the customer before they pick up the call or respond to the chat?

Advanced Call Analytics

Will insights into call patterns, locations, extensions, and agents help you in strategizing and improving productivity? Do you need basic or advanced analytics?

Partnering with a Call Center Support Provider

Once you have determined that you need an inbound call center solution and the features you need, you must ensure that it is a seamless extension of your brand image. This requires customer service expertise. But do you need an in-house customer care center, with the associated HR admin expenses, overhead costs, benefits, and paid leaves?

A more efficacious option is partnering with a call center support provider since you would be assured of reliable customer support that builds brand value. Each customer service representative will be experienced, highly skilled, and well-trained at not only handling incoming communication but also cross-selling and upselling products and services.  Most call center support providers cover 24/7/365, ensuring your business is never out of reach of your stakeholders, especially your customers.

This is also the more scalable option that will allow you to expand operations easily without doubling your overhead costs. It is ideal for businesses that face seasonal fluctuations in sales volume.

Take the time to determine whether you need an inbound call center solution, which features you need, and how to quickly and cost-effectively get one for your business. Our advice is, contact a specialist call center support provider for a custom inbound call center solution that best suits your business’ needs.

SMM International- IU Client Blog Post

Christopher Wick, Social Media Guru and LIVE on WLOX – Leading in a Digital Era!

By | Business Improvement, Customer Service, Ecommerce Support Services, Entrepreneurship, Social Media | No Comments

Looking for a pre-eminent advertising medium for your company? In a sea of options, how do you come down in favor of the best, unrivaled one? In a day and age where our gossips are about the latest video trending on social media and not some inefficacious TV show, the answer certainly comes in approval of use of social media to grow digitally and make money. Social media comes with copious marketing benefits for companies inclined to walk towards the churning internet news cycle.

Social media helps a great deal to reach its target audience at the lowest cost. Consumers can communicate with the company and get their questions answered and also provide feedback. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram are few of the booming social media platforms. The age has come where it’s beyond the bounds of possibility to disjoin social media from the enterprise—thoroughly affecting research, distribution, and how products need to be fashioned in the future.

Low cost is an absolute advantage social media gives us as compared to traditional marketing, which is a bit too exorbitant. Social media helps your business proliferate and build trust with people. Lost cost advance features can be used for promotion of the content.

Online promotion prompts two-way communication. This helps a company to know if its message is being delivered efficaciously. It also lets the company know if the word is going across to the ‘target audience’ or not.

It’s an opportunity to discover what consumers think of the product and share their thoughts. One has to be consistent in excellence in order to gain recognition and make money online.

Consistency is the key!

What makes you stand out? What makes you differently amazing is what the entire digital game is all about. The posts and advertisements are the essence and key ways to bring traffic to your website. Social media propounds an easy and low-cost way to make your audience get intrigued about your content. Lead generation is another edge social media provides for business. Like Christopher Wick, author of best selling e-book Use of Social Media to Grow Business and Make Money says,

“I encourage my clients and people to go try it. You never see the results unless you do it, so do it.” He also says, “Social media marketing is the best way to grow your business since no risks are involved, also no fear of losing capital.”

The 69-page critically acclaimed book gives an insight of Christopher Wick’s understanding of social media and his brilliance in the marketing world to surpass your goals and grow your business. Christopher advises to always get help from an expert or someone who knows about social media more than you do.

Because as simple as marketing through social media seems like, there’s still a lot that can go wrong!

About Award-Winning Speaker & Best-Selling Author, Christopher Wick

Christopher is a seasoned award-winning speaker and informative author. He wrote Amazon’s #1 U.S. and internationally best-selling book, How to Use Social Media to Grow your Business and Make Money”. As founder of SMM International, an international social media marketing firm, Christopher is responsible for consulting with clients to manage their online reputation and internet presence to serve their business objectives for revenue growth, lead generation, and growing the bottom line.

SMM International focuses on managing clients’ social media accounts by posting original content, managing incoming messages, and growing followers.

Call 888-SMM-INTL today to schedule your free social media strategy session!

Christopher is one of IdeasUnlimited’s valued long-term clients. This post appeared originally on his blog.

Good Call Center

What is a Good and Cheap Call Center?

By | Call Center Support | No Comments

There are many firms offering call center support services, promising native agents, trained overseas call center support agents, incredibly low rates, and/or guaranteeing results. How can you separate the truth from the empty marketing gimmicks?

good call center is one that has a rigorous recruitment procedurevetting the best candidatesand then a robust training program to ensure the agents are fully conversant with the brand they are representing and skilled at handling customer queries and concerns. Having a three-pronged management systemwith administration, project management, and monitoringassures quality inbound and outbound call center services.

cheap call center focuses on paying the agents better to maintain job satisfaction, which translates to a higher work rate and productivity. It keeps overhead costs at a minimum by removing layers of non-value adding administration and expenditure items.

Most call centers and support service providers charge their clients for their luxurious VIP culture, quarterly trips to Hawaii, overstaffed management, and eye-catching exteriors; look for a call center support provider that does not have these unnecessary expenses.

good and cheap call center will not charge you for setting up, business VOIP, IT Fees, Management Fees, and Contract Change/Cancellation. It will also charge you less per hour since it does not have to cover unnecessary overhead expenses.

IdeasUnlimitedLarger Competitors
Set Up FeesNone$$$
Overhead Cost$$$$$
Business VOIP FeesNone$$
IT FeesNone$$
Management FeesNone$$
Contract Change/ Cancellation FeeNone$
Hourly Rate/Overall Cost$$$$$$$$$$$

Contact us at IdeasUnlimited for cost-effective, high-quality call center support to meet all your inbound and outbound communication needs.

30 Invaluable Tools that every freelancer and remote worker needs

30 Invaluable Tools to Make You Better at Freelancing

By | Freelancing, Remote Support Services, Remote Work | 2 Comments

Check out these 30 useful tools to improve your performance at freelance work and help you find more jobs.

Are you a freelancer competing with others from all over the globe for jobs? Honing your skills to remain competitive in the ever-changing job marketplace? It may seem like a rushing tsunami at times but freelancing does not need to be stressful. Enjoy the freedom of working in the comfort of your home, at your pace and in the hours that suit you, and become successful at it by harnessing the power of these tools. They will help you in skill development, time management, and productivity enhancement to transform your freelance career.

We at IdeasUnlimited have compiled a list of our favorite tools that have helped our global remote workforce and call center operators get their jobs done efficiently. Click the links below, and you will see the benefits from them as well!

Skill Enhancement

Skill Enhancement Tools that every freelancer and remote worker needs

In the freelance industry, you need to expand your skillset with the demands of the times, getting better at your work and moving away from generic skills to specialize in areas of high demand. Invest in your career by using these skill development resources.

1. Lynda.com

A LinkedIn resource with an affordable membership and unlimited access to their library, Lynda.com offers courses in fields ranging from business and design to software and web development. Learn from expert teachers on any of your devices. Start with their free trial month and their most popular courses to get a better feel of how you can upskill yourself.

2. Coursera

Partnering with world-renowned institutions, Coursera provides online courses on everything you can think of. You can enroll in their courses, learn at your own pace, discuss difficult topics with other learners to improve your understanding, get certification, and even earn degrees. Evaluate your skillset, figure out the weak areas, and find free courses to improve. You’ll find mentors and translators to help you through the process.

3. edX

Another resource we love to recommend to our remote team and other freelancers is edX. Partnering with 130 institutions globally, edX offers thousands of in-demand courses for business professionals. Work on your professional skills or learn something new like artificial intelligence to enhance the marketability of your freelance skillset.

4. Codecademy

Join 45 million people who have transformed their careers by learning how to code through Codecademy. Their motto is

‘Tell us why you want to learn to code, we’ll show you what to learn’.

Join for free to learn web development, data science, programming, and computer science with easy-to-follow tutorials, immediate feedback, and a tried and tested curriculum. Their coaches, advisors, and graduates are also available to help you through any difficult sections.

Time & Productivity Management

Time Management Tools that every freelancer and remote worker needs

Your personal motivation and willpower are key for a successful freelance career, but these time and productivity management tools provide the extra push needed to ensure wise time use. In addition, they will help you track time spent on each project transparently, so you can easily bill your clients.

5. Toggl

Incredibly simple time tracking for personal and business use, which prompts you when you’re idle for a period of time. You can divide up your time by projects, clients, and tasks, and Toggl will let you know exactly what is making you money and what is dragging you down. You can use it on any device, and with real-time sync, you can start a task on your laptop and end it with your phone, making your life easier all around.

6. RescueTime

This app will run in the background on your computer to track time spent on various functions or projects. It then develops a report for the day, allowing you to see how you spend your time and what activities are eating up most of your day, so you become more focused and productive.

7. Paymo

A free-for-life time tracking and management software for freelancers that also allows you to manage clients. Eliminate all the stress of managing different projects for different clients by tracking the billable hours for each and presenting transparent reports to clients, apprising them of the status of each project. You can even generate three invoices for free and purchase the invoicing add-on to generate more.

Paymo also allows to manage tasks with deadlines and order them according to their priority levels, using Kanban boards to set up a workflow. We love the feature that allows attachment of all the files of each project, so your work is all organized in one place.

8. Thrive

Marketed as the wingman of the solo freelancer, it will help you manage your projects with data analysis to ensure you meet deadlines, remain productive, complete pending tasks, and manage your time effectively. With Thrive, you can then take on new tasks and improve your earning. Not only does it help manage timesheets, it makes invoicing clients as simple as the click of a button with its instant autofill of project details.

Communication Tools

Communication Tools that every freelancer and remote worker needs

These simple tools will facilitate your communication and marketing efforts, leading to a bigger client base.

9. Skype

Contact your clients, team members, and project collaborators through the free Skype app. It allows you to chat to people all over the globe, share all types of files instantaneously, make voice and video calls, and even set up conference calls. You can even add some money to your Skype credit and use Skype for Phone and Home to call those who don’t use the app.

10. MailChimp

The world’s largest marketing automation platform, MailChimp allows you to connect to customers and engage with them, managing email subscriber lists and building your personal brand with email marketing campaigns, updates about new services offered, or availability for projects. You can even automate your marketing emails. Start off with their free plan till you get your bearings.

Administrative Support

Administrative Support Tools that every freelancer and remote worker needs

Each call center operator and remote team member at IdeasUnlimited swears by these administrative support tools for providing 24 hour call center support and remote support services to our clients all over the globe.

11. Google Productivity Apps

The real-time sync feature and editing capabilities provided by Google’s web-based office suite apps are nothing to scoff at. Our remote workforce uses these apps to collaborate with team members all over the globe—forms are used to collect information, sheets manage databases, docs are used to create and edit documents, and slides help with presentation of sales pitches. These apps are free with your Gmail account, which makes them ideal for freelancers.

12. Every Time Zone

As a freelancer, you must work with clients from all over the globe, each with a different timezone. Never again do you have to struggle through the math to figure out what the time is in a particular country. Simply look it up here, like we do!

Managing Projects

Project Management Tools that every freelancer and remote worker needs

Each freelance job is a new project that you need to manage well, completing all the tasks within the deadline. Check out these project management tools to help facilitate your work.

13. Trello

Trello is an essential project management tool for both individual freelancers and those working in a team of digital nomads or remote workers. A Kanban-style project management app, Trello can be used in myriad ways to manage your to-do list, visually organize data, manage productivity, and collaborate with teams. Organized by cards, boards, and lists, it is a perfect tool for brainstorming a new idea. Check out a detailed summary of all that you can do with Trello here.

14. Evernote

Making sure no detail falls through the cracks again by keeping notes, pictures, videos, and voice notes of your ideas. Manage your personal and professional lives with Evernote and become more efficient by keeping track of projects and tasks—online or offline—using any of your devices.

Managing Finances

Tools for Managing Finances that every freelancer and remote worker needs

Freelancing frees you from the restrictions of a 9 to 5 job with a single company but without the associated 401k, managing expenses and savings is likely to get hectic. You also need to keep track of invoices due and received from clients. Don’t worry, we’ve found these 4 tools to make your budgeting and financial management a piece of cake:

15. Mint

Working as a one-person business becomes difficult since work and personal finances tend to overlap, so to keep your boat afloat you must get your business finances in order. Mint offers the perfect budgeting tool, sending you alerts when you’re near your budget limits, push notifications when a bill is coming due, and charts to see how you’re managing your cash flow. It even gives you suggestions based on your budget, allows for instant scheduling of payments, and helps manage your credit score.

16. Shoeboxed

Get your receipts in order and generate expense reports with this verified paperless organizer. You simply scan your receipts, and it will digitize and archive them into accessible human-verified data in one secure location. Shoeboxed will develop expense reports for your clients as well as organize IRS-recognized receipts for facilitated tax filing so you don’t have to manually input any data.

17. Wave

This free online financial management platform allows freelancers and small businesses to record expenses, make invoices, and balance their books. It allows customization of invoices and even tracks them, so you know when to expect payments. You can even fast-track your cash inflows by accepting credit card payments through Wave, simplifying the process for your clients as well.

18. PayPal

PayPal allows you to create and email professional invoices that you can send to clients all over the globe, and they can pay using their credit cards even if they do not have PayPal accounts. You can even accept payments over the phone with Virtual Terminal. Best of all, you’ll be keeping track of all invoices and payments in one place.

Sources of Inspiration

Sources of Inspiration that every freelancer and remote worker need

All of us face mental blocks from time to time. These sources of inspiration can help rejuvenate your creative juices and power you full steam ahead.

19. The Accidental Creative Podcast

Get free advice on improving your productivity, developing creatively, and staying brilliant and healthy at your life and work. Author Todd Henry talks to authors, inspirational leaders, and artists to get their insights on how to cultivate creativity and stay positive. Freelancers love listening to his take on these important topics.

20. 99U

Whatever your field of expertise, 99U aims to creatively inspire you to succeed at your goals. Learn how to create your own signature value proposition by following the experiences of these trendsetters, so you no longer have to compete for freelance jobs as one of a crowd but stand out for the extra value you offer. It teaches you everything from perfecting your sales pitch and getting noticed to generating innovative ideas.

Legal Resources

Legal Resources that every freelancer and remote worker needs

You should legally protect yourself from getting conned by unscrupulous clients by using this tool that has been vetted by the Freelance Union.

21. The Freelance Contract

Protect yourself by entering into binding legal agreements with your clients using this free resource. Vetted by the Freelance Union, it allows you to customize the contract by adding or removing clauses and notes, and generates alerts when the contract is reviewed and signed. The best feature it offers is generating invoices based on the terms of your contract that you can simply approve and send. Not only can both parties e-sign the contract, you can set up a self-destruct time, so only contracts signed within the stipulated deadline are valid.

Backup Storage

Backup Storage Tools that every freelancer and remote worker needs

When asked about their greatest professional fears, the one we hear the most often from our remote workforce and call center support workers is data getting corrupt or erased. Prepare yourself for such an eventuality by backing up your work on a secure cloud storage platform or using an appropriate backup tool. We’ve rounded up three of the best options for you:

22. Google Drive

Get up to 15 GB of free drive storage with your Gmail account on which you can store all kinds of files—photos, videos, drawings, etc. You can sync these files across all devices and access them when and where you like. With Google Drive, you don’t have to email entire files to clients any longer, simply share the files with them to view, download, and edit directly on the Drive. Upgrade if you need more storage space.

23. Amazon Glacier

Do you want a cheap, secure, long-term storage option for your important data? Compliant with strict data regularity standards and using three forms of encryption, Amazon Glacier offers privacy, security, and durability. With three retrieval options to choose from, you can decide how actively you wish to access your data. Store all your project work and data here, paying only for what you need, with no upfront costs.

24. All-in-One WP Migration

Backup your website and your clients’ websites using this amazing WordPress plugin that allows you to quickly restore a site if a bug or glitch brings things crashing down. It also makes site migration incredibly easy, you only have to import the new site and voila, you are ready to go!

Free Resources

Free Resources that every freelancer and remote worker needs

There are tons of free resources, graphics, and tools but not all of them impart significant value. Here are some we have used and would recommend to you too.

25. Free WiFi Finder

There’s nothing worse than going out and realizing you’re out of data. Free WiFi Finder will help you locate the closest place with a WiFi connection that you won’t have to pay for, so you’re never out of touch with your clients. You may need to purchase a drink or small bite to eat, depending on the location, though!

26. Canva

You need graphic design skills to create stunning Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator graphics but Canva requires none of that. For quick and easy designs, use their beautiful freemium templates, vast database of elements and photographs, collaborate with teams, and share designs. You can even upload logos, choose brand colors, and decide on default font styles. Our remote workforce and even internal team swear by Canva for designing brochures, social media posts, flyers, marketing documents, and much more.

27. Freepik.com

Freepik is an amazing source of free vectors, illustrations, photos, PSDs, and icons that you can use in your work. You simply need to credit the author of the graphic or upgrade to the premium account for a few dollars a month to download hundreds of graphics for personal or commercial use. They add to their database daily and have yearly subscription discounts. This should be your go-to resource for all kinds of graphics to jazz up your projects.

28. Creative Commons

Join this incredible global network that shares audio, photos, videos, scientific works, and educational resources by issuing free creative commons licenses, attributing usage conditions to the works. You can use most of these for free by simply attributing the authors, so you have an incredibly vast resource that you can use in your projects and designs. You can share your own work with the community too.

29. Other free resources

Graphic Burger: Find free to use without attribution—personal and commercial—icons, textures, templates, and photos.

The Deck Stack: With over 60 presentation slides and proposal templates, this can give you an edge in pitching your services to your clients.

30. And Co's Directories

And Co has compiled a few directories of free videos, photos, templates, and much more that can make your work much easier.

For a veritable goldmine of free videos, download this list.

Find free design content for a wide range of needs from this list of 150 resources.

Want to drive up blog traffic but stumped by post headlines? Use this spreadsheet and don’t worry, you can apply it to any industry.

Use these 30 tools vetted by our remote workforce to transform and grow your freelance career. Comment below to let us know about any other tools that you have used and can help freelancers.

Why You Need a Medical Remote Team

Why You Need a Medical Remote Team

By | Call Center Support, Customer Service, Medical Virtual Assistant, Multilingual Support, Virtual Assistant Support | No Comments

A medical virtual assistant could be valuable for doctors, dentists, therapists, and a wide variety of other health professionals.

As a medical professional, you need to set time aside to not only look after your patients but also yourself. You need breaks from the hectic schedules and the hundreds of patients you have to treat or help. Without assistance, many medical practitioners end up overworking themselves. However, this does not have to be the case. These days agencies can help professionals (doctors, healthcare professionals etc.) by offering them the aid of a medical virtual assistant or a medical call center operator. Here are a few reasons why you should go for one of these options:

Administrative Support

A clinic or hospital only runs smoothly when its administrative tasks are taken care of by the staff. Such tasks range from medical coding to organizing shifts and coordinating between nurses and doctors. All of these can be handled by a medical virtual assistant. A medical call center operator, on the other hand, can manage referrals, communicate with patients, field calls, and make appointments in busy business hours. Working with a remote team like this will free you up from such duties, leaving you to see to the patients’ welfare.

Invoicing Support

A medical remote team can help you manage medical billing and payments, following up on invoices, and making sure payments are made on time.

24/7/365 Coverage

Working with medical support service providers would enable you to provide 24 hour healthcare call center support, so there are no delays in communicating emergencies to providers, 24/7/365. This will also expand your business scope considerably since you will be available after hours too.

Handling Medical Transcription & Translation

Get professionally formatted reports created from audio recordings by a remote team specialized in medical support to free up your time for value-adding activities. You can also opt for multilingual transcription services to cater to a diverse board of directors, medical professionals, or patients. A multilingual virtual assistant would allow you to communicate with colleagues from different countries and specialists all over the globe. Similarly, a multilingual call center operator would allow you to communicate effectively with patients from diverse backgrounds and all points of the globe.

Cost Efficiency

Medical practitioners, like all other professionals, must pay attention to budgeting as they diagnose and treat patients. One way to decrease your payroll burden is to utilize the services of a medical virtual assistant since that way you do not need to incur any overhead costs or HR admin expenses. You will also save the cost of training a new hire when you opt for a trained medical remote worker instead.

Increased Job Satisfaction

There is no better feeling than going home to the realization that you made a difference in someone’s life or saved someone. Having a medical virtual assistant will free you up to pursue your career and other passions. Therefore, getting a medical virtual assistant should ultimately increase your job satisfaction.

Having a medical virtual assistant or call center operator has financial as well as health benefits for you. Get the ball rolling today and see what a difference it makes in your life!

Pros and Cons of Drinking One Cup of Coffee per Day

Pros and Cons of Drinking One Cup of Coffee per Day

By | Business Improvement, Life Hacks | No Comments

Is your daily fix of coffee good for you? At IdeasUnlimited, we encourage a cup or two a day to enhance performance levels and for its health benefits.

For decades both coffee evangelists and the anti-coffee lobby have argued the pros and cons of drinking coffee due to is psychoactive effects, commonly attributed to one of its ingredients — caffeine. While both sides agree to a cautionary restriction on coffee intake, it is difficult to conclusively determine which side has more supporting evidence.

At IdeasUnlimited, as a global remote workforce recruiter and a call center support provider with 24/7 coverage, we have both employees who find it difficult to wake up in the morning and those who have to stay alert at later hours of the night. It was thus imperative for us to compare the pros and cons of drinking the globally recognized elixir for alertness.

Pros

1. Elevates Physical Performance Levels

Coffee increases your adrenaline levels, enhancing physical performance levels. According to a study relating caffeine ingestion to exercise performance, coffee enhanced exercise performance by 12.3%, especially in endurance exercises, in which the time to exhaustion was much longer.

2. Powerful Mental Kick-Start

A cup of coffee a day keeps you alert and instantly rejuvenates you.

3. Long-term Benefits for the Brain and Liver

Preliminary studies suggest that the antioxidants in coffee may reduce the chances of contracting Alzheimer’s or Dementia. There is also evidence to corroborate claims that coffee activates DNA-repairing proteins, preventing the growth of cancerous brain cells and thus preventing the incidence of glioma. Coffee intake has also been associated with fewer cases of cirrhosis and other liver diseases. A study of 2260 cases of liver disease and more than 200,000 non-cases concluded decisively that consuming two cups of coffee a day reduced the possibility of liver cancer by 43% by preventing liver inflammation and inhibiting the growth of cancerous cells.

4. Reduced Risk of Diabetes

Coffee drinkers face a lower risk of contracting Type-2 Diabetes since its two antioxidants—cholorogenic acid and quinides—increase insulin-sensitivity, regulating blood sugar levels. This reduces the craving for sugary treats, helps one stick to a low-sugar diet, and may even result in weight-loss.

5. Lower Risk of Stroke

Drinking a cup of coffee may modestly lower the risk of a stroke as well as other heart diseases.

Cons

1. Causes Irritability and Jitters

Sensitivity to caffeine may cause irritability and anxiety since caffeine speeds up nerve cell activity and makes you artificially alert. Having a cup of coffee a day will simply condition your nerve cells such that they cannot attain the minimum level of alertness without your daily caffeine fix. So, if you don’t get your daily coffee cup, you’ll be liable to be very lethargic or get a splitting headache.

2. May Cause Insomnia

Caffeine takes an average of six hours to clear your system, so it will keep your alert if you have a cup close to your bedtime. Studies show that this effect worsens with age.

3. Increases LDL (‘Bad’) Cholesterol

Coffee made with a French press or in the Turkish style may increase LDL cholesterol in your blood due to a compound called cafestol. Filtered coffees are free of this compound.

4. Caution for Pregnant or Nursing Women

According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a cup of two of coffee a day does not significantly increase the chances of a miscarriage or pre-term birth but its inhibition of the fetus’ growth has not been conclusively refuted. Also, if nursing mothers notice irritability or restlessness, they should reduce their intake of coffee since caffeine may be transferred to babies through the mother’s milk.

Considering both sides, we at IdeasUnlimited encourage our employees to drink a cup or two of coffee a day and not more, to maintain alertness without having to deal with the adverse effects. IdeasUnlimited is a global support services provider specializing in call center support, multilingual support, ecommerce and backend support, operations support, and virtual assistant support.

5 Ways a Virtual Assistant Can Help You Make Sales

5 Ways a Virtual Assistant Can Help You Make Sales

By | Business Improvement, Customer Service, Marketing Virtual Assistant, Multilingual Support, Social Media, Virtual Assistant Support | No Comments

If you want to make sales, then you need a virtual assistant to bring these five key factors to your business.

Managing a business may prove to be a daunting task. There are many tasks to handle and countless problems to solve at the same time. You, as a business owner, may initially have the time to handle those issues yourself. But you will eventually have to delegate and divide the work to achieve better results. For this purpose, it is always best to hire a virtual assistant.

1. Make Sales from Anywhere

A virtual assistant usually works from home. Therefore, you can hire one at a lower cost than that incurred when hiring a full-time office-based employee. You will not have to spend extra money on unnecessary office space either and can pay the virtual assistant at an hourly rate. It also reduces HR-related issues. Most virtual assistants who offer their services via platforms such as Upwork (previously oDesk) are quite experienced at their job. They are fast learners who are able to adapt to virtual work environments very quickly. Hence, you will not have to spend extensive amounts of time on expensive training sessions. Besides these obvious advantages, there are also several ways in which virtual assistants can help boost your sales figures.

2. Make Sales with Good Customer Service

Firstly, they can assist you in customer and sales support. You can assign them the task of providing outbound call center services. This way, you will save a lot of time which you can choose to spend on other more important things. Similarly, they can also provide administrative and operational support. If you let a virtual assistant manage company emails, for example, they can highlight the more important leads for you to handle personally. Inbound call center support is also assigned to virtual assistants nowadays since it can easily be conducted remotely.

3. Make Sales in Your Market

Since calls, chats, and emails do not require physical presence, they can be easily conducted from whichever location your virtual assistant is based in. It is better to hire VAs from the region where your sales operations are based. This is because they can understand the local buyers better, such as their language or culture. If a customer feels more comfortable and welcome, they will be more likely to return. A multilingual virtual assistant can help you deal with clients in their own languages, creating brand loyalty and increasing customer lifetime value.

4. Make Sales with Good Research

Virtual assistants can also be incredibly helpful in conducting research. Research is a time-consuming process, and a great amount of time is usually spent in vain when digging through hordes of data. Virtual assistants can come in handy here if you are looking to save time. They can further assist you in the process of lead research and generation and data mining. These are an important part of a sales campaign. If the data becomes too extensive at any point, you can hire more than one temporary virtual assistant as well.

5. Make Sales with Social Media

Since virtual assistants are well-versed in all things internet, they can also help you build an impressive online presence for your business. Social media marketing campaigns, for example, would be easy to run with an internet-savvy person onboard.

Hire competent, trained, and efficient virtual assistants through IdeasUnlimited, a company with over 8 years of experience of providing support services. As soon as you have hired your virtual assistant, you will be ready to launch a sales-boosting campaign for your business.

Create and Be on the Top Together with TemplateMonster: A Collaboration of Our Web-Studio with Their Expert Team

By | Business Improvement | No Comments
TemplateMonster- Certified Partner

TemplateMonster’s impressive collection has benefited our business considerably. Will it transform yours?

Each company wants to develop and grow in such a way that it becomes possible to invest all possible creative ideas in marvelous works that allow customers to meet their goals. For our web studio, that became possible together with a responsible and experienced partner in the form of TemplateMonster. Thanks to their amazing team, we have access to their ready-made templates that impress our clients with their design and functionality. So we not only found a trusted partner, we also improved our services with the help of professional, easily customizable website templates.

TemplateMonster offers an inspiring number of digital products on their marketplace. Their special deals, sales, and offers are worthy of special attention because they allow you to save a lot of money and to buy high-quality products for any business project.

What Websites Do We Build?

Our web studio prefers working with HTML5—it has become more popular and allows us to bring the most positive results for our customers. TemplateMonster has a great number of HTML5 templates available so we can provide our customers with a wide choice of solutions for their businesses.

Here are our latest top 3 HTML5 picks:

Intense

Intense—Multipurpose Innovative HTML5 Template—comes from an enormous collection of eye-catching ready-made solutions. It includes 500+ HTML files, 25+ niche templates, 15+ header and footer variations, and other stunning elements that will allow you to play around with the design of your future online project. In addition to this, you will get top-notch social integration, various hover effects, sticky menus, and powerful navigation.

iD Interior

Those people who need to promote their interior design studio on the Internet will be impressed with iD Interior—Interior Design HTML5 Template—a theme that includes all essential features you can ever need. A great number of pre-made HTML pages, multiple header and footer variations, and 6 blog styles will make it possible to present all possible aspects of your business. Furthermore, a full-fledged live search will allow users to find the needed information within seconds.

InvestPlus

It will take nothing for InvestPlus—Investment Company HTML5 Template—to make your business look trustworthy and reliable on the Internet. It includes a wide range of ready-made HTML pages, diverse gallery types (grid, masonry, or cobbles), and integration of Google Maps and Fonts that will certainly enrich your website.

TemplateMonster not only sells website templates, it also makes many educational projects for web developers. Browse through their blog to benefit from their incredibly vast knowledge base. We are happy to be partners with this website templates provider that plays a significant role in our work.