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Why do you need honest customer service?

Why Should You Have Honest Customer Service?

By | Administrative Support, Backend Support Services, Business Improvement, Business Sustainability, Call Center Support, Customer Service, Employee Management, Entrepreneurship, IdeasUnlimited US Remote Workers, Receptionist Service, Remote Work, The IU Way, Virtual Assistant | No Comments

Why do most companies keep customers in the dark until the issue can be resolved?

They don’t want to have to tell the customer that there is anything wrong and to acknowledge their mistake. Often, the problem might not even be any mistake but an accident caused by uncontrollable events, but customer service representatives are hesitant to disclose the real issue behind the scenes for fear of being held liable for it later on.

Backed by our 9+ years of experience in operating a customer care center, we are here to tell you that honest customer service is the only way to go for operating a sustainable business.

Why Customers Dislike Being Left Out of the Loop

Customer dislike being kept in the dark for these two major reasons:

  1. 1. It makes the customers feel frustrated that they do not have the full picture of what is going on and it makes them feel that you as a company do not care about your clients.
  2. 2. Customers cannot manage their expectations because they literally have no idea what to expect.

Why You Should Tell Customers the Truth, Even When It’s Bad

It is a natural impulse to hide bad news for as long as possible but we’re here to tell you that being honest with your customers would be a better business decision. Here is why:

  1. 1. Being honest will generate trust between your company and your customer. Doing otherwise will not create long term value for your business. If you are straightforward and clear in your dealings as a company, it is only natural that honest and trustworthy people will in turn be attracted to your business. Like follows like.
  2. 2. Customers are intelligent. They understand that problems do arise. They can handle bad news and do not even mind if it is handled correctly. They’re more interested in what you’re doing to fix the issue. They just want some reassurance that something is being done to rectify the situation in an expected timeframe.
  3. 3. If clients are happy with the customer service they are receiving, they’ll return more and more. A successful business depends more on return customers than new ones.

Why Valuing Honest Customer Service is a Good Business Idea

Having a strong customer service center which becomes known for its honesty and integrity can be a huge asset that can catapult your popularity. Customers are more willing to try out a new company if they hear that they are willing to go above and beyond for their customers. They are likelier to reward a company who they hear are honest. It makes the customer realize there are actual human beings behind the screen who care about you as another human being and want to solve your issue.

Another advantage of this is the goodwill this develops between the customers and your employees. Your employees will be content in a place they know upholds good moral values and will be proud to be working there.

Honest customer service

How Can You Become a Company with Honest Customer Service?

How can you uphold these values without altruistically running your business into the ground?

What you need to do when defining your expertise/ services is to be as detailed as possible in favor of exactly defining what it is you are offering. This shows that you value time and clarity of thought. It will also make it easier for customers to be able to find you from amongst the hundreds of other companies.

If the customer has been inconvenienced, you should be transparent and ask them how to make it up to them. You can give options like giving refunds, gift cards or coupons and let them decide.

One major deterrent to opting for a dishonest approach to handling customers is that anything you do will always remain online for everyone to see. Be they reviews or internal communications with your employees, you should know anything done on the internet remains on the internet. An ethical company would have nothing to fear from a disgruntled employee or irritated customer.

Things to Avoid:

Using vague language which is extremely generic will give the impression that you are brushing off your customers by using popular jargon without putting much thought into what you are saying.

People will have pre-established notions of your company if they have already been exposed to negative reviews pertaining to your reputation as untrustworthy or fraudulent. They could have heard it from other people or read it online, it doesn’t matter. It shows a history of behavior and customers are less likely to give such a company a chance.

Lying has another negative drawback. It can always circle back, and the actual truth can be revealed. Even if you think you got away with it in the initial situation, if a customer later realizes they have been lied to, there is a chance that they get angry enough to take their business elsewhere.

At the end of the day, there will be no business if there are no customers, so it is simply good business sense to make their satisfaction your priority. So, what are you waiting for? Get expert customer service center support today in order to avoid these pitfalls and build a sustainable brand.

Tips to Manage Your Business Amid the COVID-19 Crisis

Tips to Manage Your Business Amid the COVID-19 Crisis

By | Business Improvement, Business Sustainability, Customer Service, Entrepreneurship, The IU Way | No Comments

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities in our healthcare systems, with governments around the world grappling with it to contain its spread. It has likewise shown how most businesses have poor emergency response measures while others innovate rapidly to keep up with new developments. Having said that, there is no need to panic. Black swan events like the COVID pandemic have the potential to bring a new wave of innovation, and your business can ride the same bandwagon to attain sustainable growth.

We’ve collated tips on how to manage and lead your business successfully through this crisis based on expert advice and what has worked in economies further along in the containment trajectory. Read on to find out more.

Adopt Flexible Remote Work Models

Keeping your employees safe and containing the spread of the virus through social distancing is paramount. To ensure business continuity, allow all your employees who can work remotely to do so and complete their daily tasks as usual. Train your managers so they conform to normal working hours and do not expect their workers to be available 24/7. This will considerably reduce the friction of the switch to remote work.

In case of employees who must work on-site, introduce shifts and reduce workdays in order to do your part in flattening the curve. This will ensure that work does not halt completely and exposure risk is reduced as much as possible.

If your operations have not closed down since you are in an area that is not severely impacted or you provide essential services, take all appropriate measures to ensure the health and safety of your workers. Provide sanitizers, paid compulsory leaves for those exhibiting symptoms, face masks, first aid, and anything else that may be needed. Get frequently touched surfaces regularly disinfected. Supor, China’s largest kitchenware manufacturer, initiated health checks, procured preventative equipment, created guidelines for limiting exposure, and developed an emergency response plan. They were able to reopen some production lines by the second week of February as a result of taking these preventative measures.

In the long run, supplanting local employees with remote workers scattered all over the globe will reduce your risk exposure. A local crisis will then affect only a certain portion of your workforce and not bring everything to a grinding halt. A hybrid model has served many businesses—including IdeasUnlimited—well during this pandemic.

Adapt Employee Roles Instead of Laying Them Off

Think about switching the roles of employees instead of laying them off due to lower staff needs. Engineering supply firms have switched to helping the government acquire the machinery it needs to combat the virus and keep the hospitals from crumbling under the immense pressure of a large volume of patients. Carmakers Ford and General Motors, as well as home appliance manufacturer Dyson, have drawn the focus of their engineering teams to designing and manufacturing cost-effective ventilators for use by coronavirus patients. Their research and production are funded by their respective governments; and their engineering and production teams are working through the pandemic.

Assign those who have demonstrated strategic planning capabilities to response planning. Loan them to other businesses that are continuing operations in your locality. Restaurants in China lent their staff to O2O companies like Ele, Meituan, and 7Fresh as well as online businesses that witnessed a surge in online purchases. Online stores like Amazon, remote communication companies like Slack, grocery chains like Kroger, and delivery companies like UPS have seen such big surges in demand that they are hiring a large number of workers. By lending your staff in this manner, they will have paying jobs and you will be earning revenue as well.

In case your revenues and cashflow do not allow you to keep on all workers, consider reducing hours across the board rather than letting workers go. Focus on reducing the impact on workers with greater financial responsibilities. Your employees will understand that you are trying to support them in a bad situation.

Hire Overseas-Based Remote Workers

In the worst-case scenario, if you have to lay off most of your workforce since the payroll costs are bankrupting your business, hire remote workers based overseas. You will easily find cost-effective resources with the experience your business needs. Best of all, they are already acquainted with remote work collaboration methods and ways to ensure productivity. This will ensure your business survives these tough times instead of going under. Not only would you be able to hire workers at a fraction of the basic pay which you’d have to pay in your home country, you would also have to pay less in taxes for hiring them.

IdeasUnlimited's Tips to Manage Your Business Amid the COVID-19 Crisis

Utilize Better Collaboration Tools

The COVID-19 crisis has illustrated without a shadow of doubt the need to employ better digital collaboration resources. Not only do you need a robust and secure internal communication tool like Slack or Microsoft Teams, but your business needs to use a platform for tracking productivity as well. Depending on your business model, you can use a CRM like Salesforce, a project management tool like Trello, or a productivity tracking platform like TimeDoctor. Zoom Meetings can replace in-person meetings. Huazhu, a large hotel chain in China, successfully leveraged its internal communication app Huatong to ensure that timely information updates were cascaded to all employees and franchises.

Bolster your existing communication and information technology infrastructure to withstand the stress of remote work. Remote work, and in turn business continuity, is only possible if your employees have all the tools they need. Allow your senior employees to take their computer systems home and give the responsibility of remotely managing the network server to a manager in your IT department.

Create an internal communication channel in which all lower tiers of management get important updates right away. Allow them to then adapt new policies to their own localities in terms of local government laws and their nature of operations. Top management policies may not be granular enough to apply to each local scenario, so this step is crucial.

Maintain Transparency with Customers

Your customers need to see your business doing its part to keep its employees and customers safe since your COVID-19 response can make or break your brand image. A vast majority of customers are understanding of shipment delays and stores closing down to contain the epidemic. However, you have a role to play as well. If production or delivery is delayed, tell customers as soon as possible and give them an estimated timeline. Feel free to qualify the timeline with a disclaimer that this can change if the situation worsens.

Reassure your customers and keep them close. In this economic climate when income is so uncertain for most households, retaining current customers is key. Gaining new ones is an uphill battle unless your business provides one of the necessities required to combat this pandemic. Your loyal customers—if kept regularly apprised of new developments—will stick with you and pull your business through these challenging times.

Focus on Retaining Great Community Relations

This will indicate to your stakeholders your business’ knowledge and acceptance of the climate in which everyone is living. Your business must illustrate to all its stakeholders—particularly the local communities in which you operate—that you are doing responsible thing. Luxury product sellers cannot blithely continue selling to the wealthy. Instead, creating and maintaining goodwill is paramount. Luxury goods manufacturer LVMH used the perfume production lines for Givenchy, Dior, and Guerlain to manufacture and donate hand sanitizer to hospitals in France.

If you continue with business as normal, you may be irreversibly harming your company’s goodwill. On the other hand, doing your part in mitigating the social impact of the crisis is not only the ethical thing to do but has lasting positive reputational impacts as well. Show responsible leadership by informing your stakeholders about what you have done.

Microsoft has offered its Healthcare Bot service to organizations on the frontline of the COVID-19 response to help screen patients. This has greatly decreased the strain on our healthcare system so only those requiring immediate medical attention get treated by healthcare professionals.

Charity is an important response. The Alibaba Group established a $144 million medical supply fund for hospitals in Hubei Province. Yelp announced a $25 million relief fund that is focused on supporting independent local restaurants and nightlife businesses.

Do your part in helping non-profit organizations and community outreach programs in whatever capacity possible. It does not have to be a large donation. You can even create corporate volunteer programs for your employees to encourage them to assist as well.

Adjust Your Product and Service Portfolio

Try to add needs products to a wants portfolio or supplement your needs portfolio with other necessities. In China, gas stations started selling groceries. They introduced a no-contact system wherein you ordered the groceries ahead of time, parked near a gas meter, and an attendant filled up the gas and loaded up the groceries. Pakistan’s clothing stores have started creating and distributing cloth masks. In France, luxury manufacturers such as Dior etc. have created and distributed millions of free masks. IKEA is helping to kit-out hospitals in affected areas.

Think about the raw materials you have, the infrastructure in place, and the workforce you have at your disposal and strategize about using them in different ways not only to keep your business going but also assist the community at large.

Adapt Operations to the Changing Times

Your business can contribute to the local community while staying open if you adapt your operations according to the needs of the hour. In a time when stores have switched over from in-store purchases to drive-thru pickups, courier services have introduced curbside delivery, Yelp is teaming with GoFundMe to allow people to support local businesses they love, you cannot stick to your old business model and expect to come through this pandemic unscathed.

Can your app or website be modified to allow customers to purchase goods and pick them up from the store later? Do you need to invest in better online store management so your website can withstand the heavier traffic? Can you switch in-store employees to call handling so they can take orders online or provide the services virtually? How about offering an online-only discount to encourage customers to order online instead of visiting the store? That will reduce the exposure of your employees and keep them safe. A few of the leading businesses who have successfully done so are mentioned below:

The Leon fast food chain changed its restaurants to mini supermarkets and allows its customers to book delivery slots. This way they are ensuring business continuity and also doing their part in supporting their local communities.

Microsoft is working with Hong Kong schools to digitally deliver interactive lessons. Their #FutureReady Limitless Learning Program allows students and teachers to use Office 365 Education and Microsoft Teams on a complimentary basis. They are working with local schools to set up and use these tools.

Master Kong, an instant noodles and beverage producer in China, moved its focus away from offline to ecommerce, O2O (Online to Offline), and small stores that still stayed open during lockdowns. They also tracked reopening days for stores and adapted their supply chain accordingly. This allowed them to supply 60% of the stores that reopened a few weeks after the outbreak, so they were miles ahead of their competitors. Adapt similar approaches in your business so you are not forced into a multi-month hiatus from which recovery is not possible.

Change your sales channels. If you can no longer sell to customers directly in-store, move the same employees to provide impetus to online sales. Increase your telemarketing efforts. Encourage your employees to sell to their social networks and create new commission plans or sales rankings to motivate them. Lin Qingxuan, a cosmetics company, closed 40% of its physical stores but employed beauty advisors from those stores to engage with customers on WeChat and other online tools. Sales saw a 200% rise in the Wuhan region as a result of this new strategy.

Take some time and plan how your operations can be similarly adapted and quickly put the plan in place.

Treat This Time as a Thirty-Day Free Trial of Your Products or Service

A lot of businesses are taking the opportunity to generate goodwill and loyalty by allowing their paid services to be used for free for the next 30 days. This gesture is meant to give anxious people who are self-isolating something to calm their nerves and divert their attention. Authors Neil Gaiman and Sarah McLean, and online libraries Scribd and the New York Public Library, have allowed their books to be checked out for free for 30 days. The Berlin Philharmonic and Budapest Festival Orchestra have allowed their back catalogues of digital concerts to be available for free.

Actions like this build lasting loyalty in a customer, and a gratefulness towards a business that understands their state of mind during these times. Not to mention, allowing a 30-day free trial of services available for millions of people sitting at home, with the time available to explore these services, means that you will likely have many more paying customers once the pandemic is over. Small businesses can follow the same strategy locally; by focusing on loyalty and free trials right now, you will likely get customers who will stay loyal to you in the future.

Make Your Supply Chain More Robust

Focus on creating a more diversified and sustainable supply chain, with multiple vendors across geographic regions. This way you will not be dependent on one area alone and your production will not be impeded if that area is hit by COVID-19 and forced into a lockdown. Supply chain resilience also entails having alternate suppliers and even substitute raw materials planned out. COVID-19 has resulted in bans on freight via any means in certain areas of the world. You must prepare for delays in shipment of indeterminable duration. Your business must have enough buffer inventory of inputs and crucial parts to be able to carry out production in this case as well.

Maintain Sufficient Operational Funds

In these uncertain times, you must make sure that your business has sufficient operational funds. At least have enough cash on hand to last you up to 3 months so you can cover salary and debt payments. Furthermore, look into loan extension options today, to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

Keep yourself apprised of government-sponsored relief programs and how you may benefit. Ask your accountant how the recently announced payroll tax cut in the US will help you pay your employees’ salaries. The newly approved stimulus package will also supplant the salaries that you are able to pay out while keeping your business afloat. See which employees qualify for it and factor in the expected delays in receiving checks to calculate how much cash you must have at hand to pay your employees till then.

Most importantly, run an analysis of how your customers and major stakeholders will be impacted and, in turn, how that would impact your business. Prepare for at least 3 months into the future so you can better adjust to any new developments. Since predictions of the economic impact of COVID-19 vary greatly, prepare for the worst but don’t expect it to unfold.

Stay Informed

Keep yourself apprised of the latest updates and always keep in mind the veracity of the source of information. Update employees regularly as changes are needed instead of assuming that they have access to the same information as you do.

Create Worst-Case Contingency Plans

The COVID-19 crisis has underlined the importance of creating contingency plans and strategies for handling crisis situations. We have seen unexpected events like sudden lockdowns, unanticipated quarantines due to travel history and contact with an infected individual, and much more in these last few weeks. Your business needs continuity plans that constantly look ahead and evolve quickly in response to changing circumstances.

Businesses on ground zero of the pandemic and those in the worst-affected countries have witnessed the merits of a cross-functional team managing scenario and contingency planning. Remove the bureaucratic hurdles and create a small trusted team of top management officials to quickly formulate and implement tactical decisions. This will circumvent all delays caused by internal coordination. Such a team must consider the pandemic’s impact on employees, manage finances, the supply chain, and marketing. Not only do you need this team to plan out your business’ response for the next few weeks but you also need this team to create scenarios for different trigger events in order to be better prepared for the future.

Most importantly, don’t be resistant to changing plans rapidly. During pandemics, changing plans do not indicate indecisiveness but rather a fast response to new developments. Time-stamped live documents are the best way to go. Don’t delay your business’ response so much that the underlying information becomes outdated.

Document any key learning points and scenario responses to ensure that the company is prepared for the future. This way you will not have to start from scratch if you ever face a similar situation in the future.

Conclusion

There is good news on the horizon. If people and goods have started moving again in China 6 weeks after the initial outbreak, we can expect improvement in other regions of the world as well. However, it is absolutely crucial to learn from the companies who have successfully weathered the storm and not make the same mistakes as others did before us.

Feel free to suggest any other tips that may help businesses cope with the COVID-19 pandemic in the comments down below. Stay safe!

Losing sales because of your website

Your Website Is the Reason Why You’re Losing Sales

By | Administrative Support, Business Improvement, Business Sustainability, Customer Service, Ecommerce Support, Ecommerce Support Services, Entrepreneurship, Freelancing, Marketing Virtual Assistant, Social Media, The IU Way, Virtual Assistant, Virtual Assistant Support | No Comments

7 stages of the purchase process where you’re driving customers away

These days, if you don’t have a website for your business, product, or service, you are losing out on 81% of your potential customer base; who research their purchase online before buying it. Having a website, however, can prove to be a double-edged sword if you are unfamiliar with website development. A business unconversant in the common assumptions customers derive from website design may inadvertently cause itself to look untrustworthy or obsolete.

There are a host of reasons why investing in ecommerce website development is a good idea for every business. The development, design and code of your website affects every stage of the customer purchase process.

1. The numbers make sense

A quick Google search will lead you to thousands of ecommerce website development agencies; large and small. There will always be someone willing to work within your budget, who can make the website according to your business’ needs. One thing is certain; professional website development always provides return on investment far beyond what you expect. An attractive website lands more leads onto your website, introduces them to your products or services, and converts them into customers.

Trying to set up your own website is like stabbing in the dark for most businesses (unless you’re a web developer yourself). You’re bound to make mistakes, redo things, or give up on having what you think will work best for your business. Hiring a web developer within your budget from the beginning will avoid potentially expensive mistakes and re-dos later.

2. You don’t stand out if you use a template

While there are tons of website templates available on the internet, using one without making any changes to it is not a good idea. Your website needs to mesh seamlessly into your business identity, and a developer will help you make the changes necessary to optimize the website for your business.

Using a template as-is also makes your website incredibly forgettable. Each template you see on the internet (especially one which seems attractive) has been used by hundreds, if not thousands of other businesses. Making your website seem exactly like theirs does not help you stand out in the customer’s mind. Using industry-specific templates compounds this problem by making you forgettable within your niche. Therefore, creating a website that makes your business stand out due to its design will require investment in ecommerce website development.

3. Visitors don’t make it to your website

You’d have heard the buzzword “search engine optimization” everywhere these days. People think it means utilizing keywords and paying for advertisements, but rarely realize that your website visibility on major search engines is inextricably linked with the design you choose for it. Clunky and obsolete design and coding pushes your website lower on the search rankings.

Google, for example, assesses the quality of your landing pages when determining your website’s search engine ranking. It is important to partner with an ecommerce website development agency familiar with search engine optimization; or potential customers will not be able to find your website through search engines.

Why is ecommerce website development necessary?

4. Your website’s first impression may be unappealing

When 66% of all potential customers prefer a beautiful design over a plain one, it is worth looking at making your website appear modern and appealing. Your website is often the first impression potential customers, who have myriad distractions online, receive about your business.

Your website needs to appear attractive on all devices. 88% of customers in an Adobe poll said they used multiple screens to access websites. A further 73% of people require the content to display well on whichever device they are using to visit websites. Professional ecommerce website development will ensure that your content is optimized for display on all devices; so that customers do not turn to your competitor’s websites instead.

5. Customers don’t engage with an unprofessional website

If your content is unattractive or your website is difficult to navigate, 38% of people will stop engaging, and 35% will click off, according to the same Adobe State of Content Report. However, if you think you can make content attractive by merely utilizing videos or inserting high-quality graphics, you would be cannibalizing your website’s position on search engine rankings. Website design needs to straddle the fine line of attractiveness and ease of loading– if your website is bogged down by content, it will load slowly, and Google will kick it right off the front page of search results. Partnering with an ecommerce website development agency that is right for your business will help you avoid these pitfalls.

6. It hurts your brand image

As customers keep navigating your website and use it to consider products or make purchases, they form an opinion of your business, your customer service, your trustworthiness, and whether or not they want a long-term relationship with your company– all without meeting any person representing your company.

Brand Message

Your website is the best way of reaching out to all your current and potential customers with an organized brand message, especially new offers and products. A website can be designed in such a way as to not only sell the product or services but also to receive feedback about its utility. This would make your website and business appear cohesive and reliable.

Trustworthiness

Small mistakes like using a simple template, or forgetting to put a “Contact Us” section in places a customer would expect it, can make your website look unplanned and untrustworthy without you realizing it. An ecommerce website development agency will help you with its wealth of experience in this regard.

Customer Service

Your website also signals how you will treat your customers. Leads who have come across your page might leave it and go to a competitor instead if you haven’t communicated purchase and return policies clearly, for example. If you pride yourself on your customer service but have not managed to portray that on your website, you may be losing out on a lot of potential customers.

Niche Branding

A good ecommerce website makes clear from the homepage whether the customer will find what they are looking for. This helps you avoid unwanted traffic, so that your traffic-to-conversion rate is higher. Niche design for your industry is possible only through investing in ecommerce website development.

7. Visitors don’t convert into sales

All the considerations mentioned earlier combine to create a website experience that will either convert leads into customers, or drive them away to your competitors. When it comes to ecommerce website development, search engine optimization, and conversions, nothing beats experience. A good ecommerce website lands on the front page for search results, draws the customers onto the homepage, directs them easily and quickly to what they want, keeps them there through attractive design, allows them to get help whenever they need it, and familiarizes them with brand enough so that whenever they are ready to purchase, they choose that website. You have to bear all this in mind when creating an effective website for your company.

A buyer-oriented website is also instrumental in retaining customers. Every ecommerce business knows that retaining customers so that they make multiple purchases is much less costly than creating new buyers from scratch each time. A good website will do all the work of retaining customers for you.

That’s why you need to choose the right partner when creating your website. IdeasUnlimited provides unparalleled ecommerce website development services, with customized packages for your business; depending on the services you need. Our multilingual team can create your website in any major language and industry, no matter how small or large your business is. If, after creating your website, you need a team to manage ecommerce support or ecommerce customer support, our experienced global team can take care of all of your support needs.

The Future of Omnichannel Customer Support is NOW!

By | Backend Support Services, Call Center for Small Business, Call Center Support, Customer Service, Employee Management, Entrepreneurship, Remote Work, The IU Way, Virtual Assistant | No Comments

Not very long ago, customer services were predicted to get revolutionized leaps and bounds by the end of next decade. The future is already here! A future-oriented customer service center focuses on all key aspects of modern consumer preferences delivered jointly, through groundbreaking interactive technology and optimally skilled call center support teams.

Plenty of new trends have infiltrated into customer services and support services over the time.  Many predictions were called and some of them have stood the test of time well. Digital innovation has transformed a customer service center in terms of communication channels, modes, services, time zones, and digital and human interactions.

Today, customer service is rapidly weaving into the core and unified systems of a business setup. Thanks to cloud-based technology, a customer service center is now a successful integration of skilled humans, innovative processes, and cutting-edge technology.

Creative disruption is playing a critical role in this integration. Work centers are decentralized, and innovation is elevating and sharing operations across desks and boundaries. In such an environment, a reliable firm can play a vital role in creating such synergy for you, and that too cost effectively. It can help you set a truly omnichannel customer experience by knitting marketing, PR, helpdesks, and social media together.

Why do you need a specialized customer service center if digitization is taking over? Let’s answer this question after we consider some features of a future-oriented customer service center that are proving to be absolutely necessary and seem to be bringing in the revolution at a faster pace:

  1. Personalized Omnichannel Support

Customer experience has been bombarded with several buzzwords, new concepts, and practices since last two decades. Creating value for customers has taken the forefront in service delivery and communication has become the key. This ‘communication’ is multifaceted and multichannel-ed; therefore, it is polarized into automation and live person-person talking.

Companies are using customer demographics extensively to sieve customers through their communication network. They have social media, telephone, and email to connect to its customers. With social media customer services as a first priority for Gen Z, Millennials preferring live chats and video calls, and Gen X reaching out to a live customer service representative, the newest ways of integrating social media, voice infrastructure, and CRM systems have to be worked on. However, telephonic conversations are a priority for they bring the most personalization, better Customer Effort Scores, and ease of shifting between mediums to resolve complex issues in a timely manner.

  1. Voiceprint Identification

There has been an exponential increase in the use of smart devices since 2000s and this will further increase by 2025. This takes us to the next aspect of personalization and customized customer support.

A future-oriented customer service center is now working towards ‘Token-ising’ the identity of a caller through voice recognition. This information is passed through the data channels and information is sorted and displayed for the customer service representative accordingly. This will help in end to end encryption, identification, and verification of data through core contact centers and CRM applications. Moreover, this helps the agents deliver exceptional level of personalized services without wasting time on gathering primary information each time. Long wait time for retrieving customer history puts off the modern consumer. Nor do they like repeating themselves at each interaction.

  1. Shopping the Customer Experience

Another complementary feature is the growing trend of letting the customers ‘shop customer service experience’ for themselves. This means customers can see a list of agents available, their characteristics, experiences, lingual skills, technical skills, location, and reviews. Depending upon their preferences, they can select an agent and a communication channel.

Customers can further decide if they want to share their profile with these agents for all future interactions and solutions. This signifies the worth and impact of quality human-to-human interaction. This also emphasizes the fact that consumers are not ready to compromise on time or quality of their interactions. They are comfortable in share their profiles if they expect credible value in return.

  1. Video Sessions

The key is to avoid any communication break, which might lead to customer churn. This has led to a movement between different communication mediums at a given time. Resultantly, there is a growing need to manage the shift from interactive channels to interactive sessions in customer dealings.

Nothing works in isolation in this new customer service center model. Therefore, these customer engagement sessions can start from an interactive self-help library search and move to real time

chat, then to voice and video chat in one complete session.  A smart contact customer service center needs to incorporate video support calls, which will be the main differentiator of premium services.

Video calling will be augmented through rich data, content, and tools. Just like telephonic conversation with a customer service representative, looking at an agent on your mobile screens will help develop a better and more emotionally stronger bond of understanding and credibility for the customers. It will help meet the quintessential need to employ technology but keep the human contact intact.

Future of Customer Service Center - IdeasUnlimited
  1. Data Enrichment and Advanced Analytical Tools

Data Enrichment and Big Data are proving to be game changers. Tools for capturing data, analysis, and transforming insights into valuable actions for customer experiences will continue to gain importance. Detailed analysis is required for understanding customer journeys, identifying bottlenecks, improving customer touch points, and reducing customer effort in order to increase brand loyalty.

Customer feedback and survey analysis, social media traffic analysis, and text and speech analytics can help in highlighting issues as well as in bringing continuous improvements in the future. Smart workers in smart contact centers will be able to generate and handle data analytics in a sophisticated manner to yield maximum benefits for the company. A well-rounded team in a customer service center can not only record data but also gather individual and specific feedbacks and use advanced tools for results.

  1. Proactive Sales and Marketing

The customer service center is also becoming a part of proactive sales and marketing operations. It helps businesses monitor and track service or product usage to offer resubscriptions, updates, or repairs. These marketing offers target customer engagement and customer loyalty by making it easier for customers to decide, purchase, and use.

This task is informed through data analytics but captured by humans sitting in a customer service center. Your future-oriented customer service center requires a unified system of information exchange and strategy to provide value to their customers in order to build brand value.

All the above-mentioned features are the uncontested need of the hour and requirement to be part of the future. It is very evident that human factor has not been and cannot be discounted when it comes to the future of customer services.

To step into the future you require a technically adaptive customer service center, where a multitasking agent can competently resolve complex issues by escalating between channels and take a customer interaction from start to finish without breaks. As you cannot drop communication to change channels, you can also not drop communication to change agents.

A 24/7 diverse and dedicated multilingual customer service center is not just an add-on to reap the benefits of globalized business environment, it has become the necessity and a basic need for globalized business operations. You do not have to wait any further to shift to a more sophisticated, and digitally advanced customer support that is inclusive of the winning human factor. Contact a specialized call center support provider and get a customized solution right away!

Combating Food Waste on the Micro level - IdeasUnlimited

Combating Food Wastage on the Micro Level

By | Entrepreneurship, Food for thought, IdeasUnlimited Let's Contemplate Fridays | No Comments

Our IdeasUnlimited team has a tradition of sharing something positive and something thought-worthy every Friday before we all leave for a relaxing weekend. This gives us a chance to discuss our thoughts and bounce ideas off each other about giving back to the society in any way that we can. Coming from all over the world, the IdeasUnlimited’s team brings in knowledge of ground-level realities and a varied experience and input on every topic that is under the limelight each Friday.

This is in spirit with the IdeasUnlimited ambition of mutual growth and becoming conscientious world citizens.

A few Fridays back, our CEO Shahzad Yaqoob (Nick) initiated a discussion on food wastage across the continents. It got us all thinking about how we experience food waste as individuals and how can we counter it.

Food wastage is a complex and multidimensional issue. It impacts human existence through nutritional and environmental degradation.

Research shows the increasingly dismal situation of food availability, usage, distribution and access disparity amongst the developed and developing countries of the world over the years.

The stark differences in economic development are also reflected in the prevalent levels of food poverty and food waste reduction efforts among nations. The nature of food insecurity, hunger, food waste and food loss varies across the globe. Thankfully, there are many international and local initiatives that have prioritized food waste eradication as their main goals.

For a succinct and holistic report on Food Wastage and Loss Around the World prepared by IdeasUnlimited, please

click here

However, food wastage largely remains a societal issue which needs attention from all segments of the society. It is important to bring this narrative under discussion and share techniques for combatting this growing menace at households, organizational, and national levels.

One of our colleagues at IdeasUnlimited, Ashlie, has shared that she feels very strongly about food waste at the household level. Food wastage for her is eatables thrown away because of thoughtlessness, which is in effect food that did not reach the deserving families who are starving. Ashlie aptly calls food hunger as “a branch of poverty, yet arguably a symptom of uncontrolled luxury”. She practices portion control for adults in her household and only cooks a healthy version of the food her young son likes to eat, in order to avoid throwing away cooked and uncooked food. She suggests the creation of food drop-off points in every locality to utilize food that is not being used in homes.

This way instead of throwing it in bins, we can forward it to our fellow citizens who are facing food shortage.

On the same lines, Shakira advocates and practices controlled grocery shopping. This involves buying grocery only when needed and in quantities that can be utilized before the food goes bad in the kitchen. She is also a strong proponent of repurposing leftover cooked ingredients into snacks or supplementing them with another small dish for another meal. This not only reduces the burden of cooking but ensures that food never finds its way to the bin. Better yet, she packages up any leftovers and gives them to the less privileged around her.

Shahzad thinks developed nations should play a major role in eradicating this global issue, as these countries are more proficient in terms of technology and resources. As the developed world has a much more significant proportion of food waste around the world, they should be looking into making permanent and universally applicable laws for reducing portion sizes at restaurants and establishing food pick-up points after lunch and dinner hours to help the needy populace receive food parcels (with due regard to hygiene and health issues) which would otherwise be thrown away as wasted food items.

Shahzad postulates the usage of robotics and artificial intelligence to set up a permanent facility in every neighborhood for transferring food from those who do not need it to those who are looking for it. Not only would this assist in sorting any food parcels from households, restaurants, and supermarkets, it can match it with those who need it. This one-time investment can be fruitful in expanding the radius of collection and delivery of such food.

Moreover, a website or app can be set up that is updated at the backend in real time with available food packages and the contents of each.

Those seeking assistance in getting access to safe and healthy food can sign up for this service and get notifications on availability of the same. The Artificial Intelligence (AI) behind it can match the food packages to those in need closest to that location. The possibilities are endless!

He also believes that more investment should be made towards advocacy campaigns to educate households about efficiently utilizing food products and forwarding them to the less privileged in case of any excess.

I believe the major reason for food waste in today’s world is uncontrolled and growing consumerism. I see how we over-buy at giant food suppliers and hypermarkets because of cheaper prices and promotional offers on bundle purchases. I often find myself becoming a victim of these marketing gimmicks. An international law on food wastage and recycling for Hypermarkets should be implemented to monitor and control food wastage practices.

However, moving from a developing country to developed country, I have noticed how the number of needy people and the nature of food waste changes. Back home in Pakistan, it is very easy to find someone to whom you can give your excess cooked or uncooked food. It is very common at my parents’ house to pack all leftovers and distribute them to the poor people they find on roads on their way. Moreover, there are numerous local food points locally called ‘lunger’ where anyone can drop off cooked as well as uncooked food or even money, to be used by the administration there to feed hungry people. This is done as a form of charity.

Whereas in many developed nations like UAE, government takes full responsibility of its people and their wellbeing. One cannot find hungry or needy people and children asking for food on the roads or pavements. Here, it is very important that you shop and cook wisely to avoid filling your bins instead of nourishing other humans in need. Having said that, to feed people there are government established food or charity centers where you can help in preparing and serving food and provide raw food that can be cooked and distributed amongst the needy.

We always have a choice of being proactive and resolving a growing crisis or contributing to it. Together as a team at IdeasUnlimited, we have become more resolute to reduce food wastage in and around our spaces—resolving the problem at our own micro level. As a result of this discussion, we have come to realize the exponential and multilayered effects of food waste and loss around the world.

Hence, we have decided to become a strict advocate of food sharing and managed grocery shopping to perform our part of helping this world become more equivalent in terms of food distribution. As, indeed, if we do not practically become a part of solutions for Food Wastage and Hunger, we will certainly remain a part of the problem.

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.

Finding New Clients

5 Ways to Find New Clients

By | Become an Affiliate, Business Improvement, Customer Service, Entrepreneurship, Virtual Assistant Support | No Comments

1. Word of Mouth

First, use the technique as old as time to get new clients. Regardless of new technology, word of mouth is still valuable. According to Yotpo, 74% of consumers say word of mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decisions. Ask your customers to recommend you to a friend. In fact, try offering them an affiliate partnership so that they get a percentage of the payment as a finder’s fee. (We have an affiliate program…check it out!)

2. Advertising

Second, look into the many, many forms of advertising that are available. Don’t spread yourself too thin…limit yourself to two or three methods of advertising that are most likely to reach your customers. For example, if your customers are young and tech-savvy, put ads online. If they’re older and more traditional, buy ad space in the newspaper or magazines to get new clients.

3. Networking Events

Third, get face-to-face with potential clients. This will give you the chance to tell a personalized story that reaches an individual on a personal level. While the local chamber of commerce is an obvious choice, there are many other options available for networking. Consider joining an organization like Rotary, Kiwanis, or Optimist. You can also look on Meetup.com to find networking groups in your area. This is one of the best ways to get new clients locally.

4. Social Media

Fourth, consider using a social media platform to get new clients. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many other networks are an excellent way to have ongoing conversations with potential customers. And it’s not just good for B2C companies, but for B2B as well. Entrepreneur reported that social media lead conversion rates are 13% higher than average lead conversion rates. (Need a social media manager? Hire one of our virtual assistants to do it for you!)

5. Partnerships and Alliances

Finally, consider making an arrangement with another business with the same target audience.  Brad Sugars explains, “They might attach a gift voucher or other discount offer for your products at the end of a newsletter or mailing.” He goes on to say you can build an alliance: “For instance, a Web designer and an ad agency might send each other referrals for clients who need added services.”

What are YOUR ideas to find and get new clients? What techniques have worked for you?

Real Estate Virtual Assistant: Do You Need One?

Real Estate Virtual Assistant: Do You Need One?

By | Business Improvement, Entrepreneurship, Real Estate Virtual Assistant, Remote Support Services, Virtual Assistant Support | 4 Comments

Real estate is a demanding industry. This makes it extremely valuable for realtors like you to stay ahead of the curve. It also explains why running a real estate practice or agency is time-consuming. The introduction of new technologies that support virtual assistants has made it easier for realtors to focus their efforts on enhancing the core competencies that come with running a real estate agency. Support services ancillary to core business activities such as paperwork have been delegated to real estate virtual assistants. These assistants provide the tools needed to fuel your success, whether you are a solo agent or own your own real estate or brokerage firm. The following are some reasons to consider the services of a virtual assistant:

Cost-Effective

Real estate agents live a fast-paced, busy life. They spend many hours going through emails and phone messages. They then need to organize the day’s events and transactions. You could avoid all this by getting an assistant. This will help but it is not a cost-efficient solution. Get yourself a real estate virtual assistant who will handle all these tasks at a cheaper price than what you would spend to maintain an in-house employee. You also save on expenses such as getting insurance and pension plans for in-house assistants.

Increase the Level of Productivity

A real estate virtual assistant’s primary function is to handle your day-to-day schedule and organize your emails and messages. When you hire an in-house assistant you will have to give them vacation days or sick leave. Rather than lose all this valuable time and resources, get yourself a virtual assistant who is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Increase Sales Conversion

When it comes to the real estate industry, lead generation is as important as making a sale. When you get yourself an experienced real estate virtual assistant, they can help you make calls and follow-ups with prospective clients through both online and traditional methods.

Omnichannel Support

All client engagement touchpoints you require—inbound and outbound calls, email, live chat, mobile SMS/text, and social media—will be covered by the real estate virtual assistant to improve the client experience and ensure there are no missed opportunities. A virtual assistant can cover your busy hours or take up the slack of your office staff. A remote workforce also allows you to choose from a much larger, more talented pool of applicants than candidates available for in-house work.

Multilingual Support

Firms and agents in the real estate industry face language barriers in dealing with tenants, owners, vendors, and clients. Get an edge over competitors by hiring a multilingual virtual assistant as the need arises and communicate with your client base and vendors in their native languages. The virtual assistant can also provide administrative and backend support for those particular projects.

These reasons clearly highlight why you should get yourself a real estate virtual assistant…click here to hire yours today!

10 Things to Outsource to a Virtual Assistant

10 Things to Outsource to A Virtual Assistant

By | Business Improvement, Entrepreneurship, Remote Support Services, Virtual Assistant Support | 2 Comments

These ten things to outsource to a Virtual Assistant will save you time, money, and energy.

You’ve got a lot of tasks that you need to finish, but you just don’t have the time to do it all yourself. When it comes to running your business, you are probably trying very hard to race ahead of your competitors, increase sales, market your brand, stay on top of your taxes, make your internal processes more efficient—the list of things to do is endless…If you are thinking that the weight is all on your shoulders, think again.

Using a Virtual Assistant can shave hours off your workweek. If you still feel a little hesitant to delegate parts of your business to someone you’ve never met, you are not alone. The idea of hiring a Virtual Assistant can feel strange at first, but what you’ll soon realize is that it’s all about selecting the right tasks for them to handle. This article will enumerate for you the 10 things to outsource to a Virtual Assistant.

1. Online Research and Data Presentation

Get the help of a VA to conduct any time-consuming internet research and receive the best information on any topic, product, or competitor in a time frame that suits you.

You have an important meeting with a new client and you want to make a smashing impression? A Virtual Assistant can make a stunning PowerPoint presentation as per your specifications so that you can make the most of your time preparing your pitch.

2. Schedule Management

Every entrepreneur needs administrative support. A Virtual PA answers calls and keeps an eye on your schedule. If there are places you need to go and people that you need to call, it’s best if someone reminds you to do it. Sure, you can download some software that does it for you, but procrastination can still keep you stuck. You’ll complete your tasks much faster if you let your Virtual Assistant manage your schedule for you. This is one of the first things to outsource to a Virtual Assistant.

3. HR Admin

Training your employees on how to use a new software or service can take up a good chunk of your productive time. Why don’t you leave this job to a Virtual Assistant? She could even train your staff remotely, using Skype, for instance, saving costs. A Virtual Assistant can also take care of payroll processing for you, freeing up your time so you can focus on core business activities.

4. Database Management

As a business owner, you probably have to deal with a plethora of reports that have to be completed on a regular basis, from staff timesheets to expenses or client lists. This is then one of the most obvious things to outsource to a Virtual Assistant. A VA can import, export, and sort any kind of data while she can also handle spreadsheet design and general maintenance.

5. Multilingual Support

Hire a multilingual virtual assistant to communicate with employees, vendors, and customers in the languages required by your business, to give your business a global reach. A skilled Multilingual Virtual Assistant can also provide multilingual transcription services, administrative support, and technical support.

6. Customer Service Support

A Virtual Assistant can reply to customer queries within a stipulated time period. A business query can be anything from an unsatisfied customer to a potential customer. A VA can help you stay on top of your customer service tasks, creating new business opportunities, resolving and expediting cases, and replying to complaints in a professional manner.

7. Social Media Support

A Virtual Assistant can post on your social media channels on your behalf and market your SEO content, increasing the visibility of your brand, products, and services. A social media VA can help you create a social media strategy, integrating it with the rest of your marketing strategy.

8. Clients and Partners Management

It’s always a good idea to send gift cards to your clients on holidays and anniversaries. These are pretty easy but time-consuming tasks that require a creative effort. You could even get your VA to congratulate a partner or client on a new job or deal.

9. Website Maintenance and Ecommerce

Websites require constant maintenance and updates. A Virtual Assistant can provide technical and backend support and can give you a real hand when it comes to managing your ecommerce site. She can provide ecommerce support services like writing compelling product descriptions, editing lists of products or images, updating prices and online inventory, or processing orders.

10. Blog Ghostwriting

Content marketing is the name of the game today. Your blog will fetch you an incredible amount of traffic, if done correctly. A VA can help you write some quality fresh content for your blog. This is essential to add fuel to your content’s reach and drive direct traffic to your website.

Whichever things to outsource to a Virtual Assistant, what is most important is to build trust and help her really understand your business—this will take up some time at the beginning of the relationship but it will pay off going forward. Ready to get your Virtual Assistant? Click here to contact us!