Category

Business Improvement

Optimize Your Delivery Service - IU Inbound Customer Service Center

8 Tips to Optimize Your Delivery Services

By | Backend Support Services, Business Improvement, Call Center for Small Business, Call Center Support, Customer Service, Ecommerce Support Services, Inbound Call Center Solution, Remote Support Services, Remote Work, The IU Way, Virtual Assistant Support | One Comment

The quality and efficiency of your delivery operations are a significant contributor to your business’ overall value proposition. You should be able to supply customers as quickly as possible, using an efficient inbound customer service center, without driving up your delivery cost or compromising on the product or packaging.

Learn How to Optimize Your Delivery Services to Deal with COVID-19

Better Communication Tools & Efficient Project Management

Better Communication Tools

Get better worker collaboration and communication tools so you can get in touch with your workers from anywhere, at any time during business hours. An efficient communication system that allows all your workers to get in touch with each other, from the warehouse workers to delivery workers, factory workers, managers, etc. would make decision-making faster and more accurate. This is crucial all across the business but more so on the delivery side, since fast and reliable communication is especially important there.

Efficient Project Management Tools

Even if all your employees work from one central location and meet each other every day, using a project management tool to manage operations is the best strategy. This will give you a better understanding of deadlines, a visualization of current progress, tasks remaining, and achievement of milestones with a bird’s eye view so things do not get overwhelming or overlooked. You can assign tasks with deadlines to different team members and each person can do their part to complete the task. We have vetted some of the most popular project management tools for you here. Most of them have free trials, so use them with your team and see which interface and features suit your business best.

Simplify Internal Processes & Effective Inventory Management

Simplify Internal Processes

Simply your internal processes for a fast and smooth transition of a task from one employee to another. Different team members and departments should not use several software applications to complete one task since you would be losing too much time in the transfer of tasks alone. For instance, your warehouse and delivery teams should be on the same wavelength and use the same software.

Effective Inventory Management

Your business must have an effective logistics team that ensures your inventory records are up to date and your customer support and sales team get quick responses from the warehouses. Your whole operations hinge on good inventory management since you can only make sales when you know how much product you have available to sell.

Flexibility and Easy Scalability & New Business Models

Flexibility and Easy Scalability

Your business will survive and even bloom through economic booms and recessions if your business model lends itself to easy scalability and quick adjustments. In times of excess demand, if you can easily expand operations, you would be in a better position to capitalize quickly. If your business can swiftly adjust to match supply to demand, you will surpass your competitors.

Introduce New Business Models

Focus more on your website and mobile app since the typical customer is moving away from in-store purchases. Create a secure online payment system and ensure good website traffic management, so your online store is capable of handling traffic surges. Your online payment system should not be limited to only bank transfers and credit cards, rather any money transfer and online payment methods should be compatible.

Introduce different delivery options, ranging from same-day or next-day delivery to slower but cheaper options. You will have to rework your delivery operations a bit, but this will attract all those customers willing to pay a bit more for convenience. It can be a valuable USP as well.

Stronger Customer Relations and Geographic Dispersion of Supply Chain

Stronger Customer Relations

Providing a unique product or service is not sufficient in itself for building a loyal, expanding customer base. You need an excellent  inbound customer service center to foster better relations, highlight customers’ pain points before they become issues, and resolve them in a timely manner. The most crucial part of delivery services is providing a robust tracking mechanism to customers, so they know where their package is at all times. Customers are understanding of delays in delivery, provided they are apprised of the reasons for these delays as soon as possible.

You also need fast responsiveness to customer inquiries as well as top-quality troubleshooting of any order and delivery problems they are facing. The human touch is invaluable, and you don’t even need to set up an inbound customer service center in-house to achieve this goal. Get call center support that seamlessly meshes with your business practices and acts as an extension of your business. Chat bots can only do so much, and they can definitely not calm down irate customers, so you need the human touch.

Your inbound customer service center can easily be virtually managed. Similarly, partnering with a good 24 hour call center or after-hours call center to provide technical support for your website, app, or product itself would garner manifold rewards over time. This center can also handle public relations and manage your online brand image.

Geographic Dispersion of Supply Chain

Collaboration and project management tools would be especially necessary if you disperse your vendors across the world to make your supply chain more robust and sustainable. Diversification of your supply chain would mean that any disruptions due to atypical or natural causes in one geographic region would not cripple your entire operations. You can easily switch over that segment of your operations to a substitute raw material, another factory, warehouse, or distribution center. This would not only optimize your delivery services but make them sustainable.

Conclusion

Creating a good product is not enough, you must be able to deliver it in a timely manner to the right customers to give them an excellent overall experience. Don’t wait any longer! See which of these 8 tips you can implement this quarter to swiftly improve the quality and efficiency of your delivery services.

Best Project Management Software and Tools for a Remote Team in 2020

By | Backend Support Services, Business Improvement, Customer Service, IdeasUnlimited US Remote Workers, Remote Support Services, Remote Work, The IU Way, Virtual Assistant Support | One Comment

A New Era and the Use of Project Management Software and Tools

Ever wondered how technology has encompassed every field of life today? For businesses, small or big, technology has enhanced the way teams are created and the way they work. Projects can now be delivered by a remote team spread across the globe, an in-house team, or a combination of both.

How is that convenient, you ask? Are you also wondering if such work arrangements will be productive?

The global remote workforce has been growing over the last few years because collaborative and interactive technologies have dissolved all geographical barriers to create efficient virtual workspaces. Reports on remote work show that 35% companies have currently employed a remote workforce, while 89% respondents are involved in fulltime or part time remote or virtual work. Moreover, a remote team shows 10-43% higher productivity as compared to an in-house team.

Benefits of Project Management Software and Tools for a Remote Workforce

Are project management tools effective for virtual teams?

Project management is difficult with an in-house team, and with virtual teams it becomes even more overwhelming. But technology provides the ideal solution. An ideal project management software helps a remote team in project planning, time management, resource allocation, and change management. As virtual workspaces are here to stay, effective project management is a must to build a remote workforce that is competitive, responsive, and successful. A good project management software serves to overcome the time-consuming communication issues and aids in efficiently streamlining processes and tasks.

Project management software and tools serve as a classic solution for keeping things organized and meeting deadlines—leading to greater profitability. Just like for an on-site team, the benefits of using project management software and tools for a remote workforce are innumerable:

 Better planning, execution, and monitoring

 Maintaining work schedules

 Better and clearer delegation of tasks

 Better collaboration

 Efficient problem solving

 Meeting deadlines

 Faster delivery of projects

 Better evaluation of performance

To give you a head start, we have compiled a list of the best project management software and tools for managing a team, especially a remote workforce. These have been handpicked based on ease of use, agility and advanced features, free trials, and quality of customer support.

Proofhub allows you to easily plan, collaborate, organize, and deliver projects—big or small—on time. This project planning software is based on Kanban boards where you can create custom workflows using tasks, assign user roles, choose a project manager, use Gantt charts, and do much more.

Create unlimited projects and add unlimited users, by paying a simple flat fee. Their free trial allows you to try it with your team and since there is a negligible learning curve, you can start using it for your business right away.

Proofhub - Project Planning Tool

Loved by over 85,000 teams and businesses around the world, including Google, Netflix, and NASA, this work management system ensures that nothing falls through the cracks. You can even bring on your clients, show them the progress made, and get real-time feedback and approvals from them. There is no need for lengthy email exchanges any longer. All you need to do is set up your client on Proofhub, give them the access they need, and make your life easy.

They promise to make work a “rewarding experience”, so go ahead and give it a try today.

Wrike is a cloud-based leading project management solution for team collaboration that serves well for both in-house and remote workers. It has won the Best Project Management Software award in 2018 and has 99% positive user reviews. It has a user-friendly, convenient interface, easy set up, and it works just as well on mobile devices. Wrike provides tutorials, documents, and live webinars for training.

It works well for prioritization, visualizing workflows, and analyzing results. Wrike’s features such as Gantt Charts, templates, built-in time tracking tool, scalability, and workload view are equally popular among project members and project managers.

It also offers cost-to-completion tracking for better budget management. Therefore, it has a dual functionality as a resource management cum project management tool. Wrike is a comprehensive software which comes with flexibility and customization to suit each team’s needs. Furthermore, it gives you the flexibility to easily integrate with various tools.

It is particularly beneficial for a virtual workspace because of its many data management and collaborative features. It helps in creating a remote team that is self-sufficient and productive.

Teams up to 5 members can reap its benefits for free. Bigger teams or enterprises can try it and then opt for a professional plan. However, reviews show it works best for marketing and design teams with 20+ members. It comes with a 24/7 support through a live customer service representative, which most definitely is a big plus!

Previously known as Dapulse, Monday.com has revived its image and has emerged as a fun, visually appealing, intuitively easy to use, and organized project management resource.

It offers collaboration and communication tools and provides integration with Google Drive, Dropbox, and Slack.

It is popular for remote workforce management because it is easily customizable, provides in-built tracking and monitoring, and can seamlessly become part of any established software system.

With a common dashboard, centralized communication and data management, the entire team stays in the loop. Different bright colors for each project stage, easy to add to-do lists, and member-designated tasks help the teams efficiently plan their timeline and use resources.

Its strongest feature is a URL mirrored Mobile Application. This is invaluable for those who are always on the move—as is the case for most remote workers. Monday.com offers the same interface on mobile as on PC/laptop, edging Monday.com over its competitors because of the easy integration and connectivity with the team.

It is most popular with creative agencies but is equally convenient for all other industries. It does offer a free trial and has different plans depending upon the features required and number of team members. Users find Monday.com intuitive but in case you have any difficulties, its robust customer service is always available to respond to queries.  This excellent and reachable customer service sets them apart from many other viable options.

This is one of the cloud-based software from Zoho with a focus of providing all basic features of project management. It has a simple pricing plan for both the web and mobile applications.

With clear user design, its best feature is its strong integration with other services from Zoho as well as Google and Microsoft. Moreover, the in-built chat option saves the user the hassle of opening external tools and keeps things simpler and timely.

It helps a remote team become organized through its time tracking, problem resolution, and document management tools. Progress tracking is also easy and quick due to easy-to-access Gantt charts, reports and analyses, and individual workflows.

It has a multiple view option and the members can choose their own style, depending on their preference for tasks lists. Impressively, Zoho Projects has shown continuous improvements, giving its users a better interface with many stable, customizable, and advanced features.

Along with tutorial videos and webinars, it also provides in-person trainings for the optimum use of the software. It has a free version for unlimited users, but the features remain restricted. For paid plans, you can enjoy a 10-day free trial to see if the plan suits your specifications or needs any revision. All their plans are flat rate and are very cost effective for larger teams.

Do you often find yourself scrambling at the last minute while trying to manage routine tasks and organizing work schedules for your remote team?

Asana might be a solution to your needs. It is another popular cloud-based project management suite that effectively helps you track the progress of your remote team and meet targets. It offers a simple layout, where all project and task details can be added for easy view.

The easy, flexible layout and mapped-out details for each task benefit the team in staying organized, identifying and rectifying any loopholes or errors, and adjusting schedules instantaneously. Thus, a remote team not only collaborates through Asana but efficiently completes a project by setting priorities, adjusting work structure, and assigning tasks—eliminating overlaps and delays. For routine tasks, a process timeline can be used and

shared as a template for all similar future tasks.

Asana can tie it all together for you with more than a hundred tools for integration, be it email, file sharing, data security, anything you can think of! It has gained popularity among small as well as large businesses and has 96% user satisfaction reports. It also acts as a resource management and collaboration software. Moreover, the mobile application helps with real-time updates and tracking.

It has a basic free version, while the premium and enterprise plans—with advanced and collaborative features—are billed yearly. For a larger team, the premium plan can come cheaply, and it offers exclusive projects, unlimited guests, unlimited dashboards, data export, central administration and other advanced features. Enterprise plans provide agile tools and customer support. Other than higher security and backup options, this plan also guarantees a dedicated customer success manager and instant customer support throughout the year.

Basecamp is most popular in creative agencies and it is very similar to a personal assistant who takes care of everything from assigning tasks and tracking the progress, marking them as done and then moving onto the next stage of the project. It is equally popular among entrepreneurs, contractors, small and medium businesses, and departments of larger organizations.

It has an easy, efficient system that helps in long-term planning and resource management as well. It gels conveniently for multi-customer and multiple projects firms.

It has all the features for collaborating on a project such as to-do lists, message boards, schedules, documents and file storage, and group chat. Since a decade Basecamp has been helping teams to organize, delegate, and monitor tasks.

It has a good file management system and integrative tools that helps virtual teams easily access what they require and finish tasks uninterruptedly. Team members can store, link, tag, share, and comment on project documents and files. The built-in real-time chat room is great for sharing ideas, proposals and discussions, and keeping the entire team on the same page. Therefore, Basecamp is your go-to tool when groups need to efficiently monitor their projects and achieve targets in a timely manner.

Basecamp gives you the freedom to set a date range, prioritize and rearrange tasks according to your needs. By the end of each operation, an automated report can be generated to analyze the progress and save time.

Use your google account to log in and you can enjoy a 60-day free trial of this software. The paid subscription is a fixed annual payment and depends upon the type of use.

For paid plans, the best part is that basecamp comes with all updates and IT issues are taken care of by 24/7 technical assistance. Users can also join a live Q&A base for instant solutions to their queries.

Here is another camp for you to join and enjoy some campfire with your team members!

Freedcamp is a cost effective, user-friendly software that has excellent features for seamless and convenient collaboration of remote teams. It is easily used through iOS and android applications too.

It is a project management solution that is not heavy on the pocket. It is used by a diverse clientele from many industries, ranging from retail, marketing, architecture, interior design to IT services, manufacturing, construction and many more.

Freedcamp features and tools facilitate project management through project scheduling, document and issue management, task management, reporting and time tracking. It has an in-built calendar for scheduling, reminders, tasks and monitoring events. It also has invoicing and billing and project templating tools.  Similarly, Wall is the interactive feature which allows instant communication between all parties. The settings can be used to adjust who sees what. This plethora of add-ons make up for the lack of a vibrant interface for Freedcamp.

It has a comprehensive and responsive customer service. Freedcamp has a general free plan for unlimited users and projects. Moreover, the company offers advance plans to non-profits, teachers and students without any costs.

Trello- Project Management Tool

You will love Trello whether you have just switched over to remote work or have had a remote global team for a while. All the features you need are completely free.

It is a Kanban-style project management app that helps you visually organize tasks, deadlines, and files. You can collaborate with and give updates to a team as well. Organized by cards, boards, and lists, it is a perfect tool for brainstorming a new idea or managing an ongoing project.

Best of all, use their amazing Power-Ups to sync your Google Calendar with the Trello boards, introduce agile elements to your workflow, connect to Dropbox, and do much more. You get one Power-Up free with each free account or you can upgrade to use unlimited Power-Ups. Trello even offers you the possibility of creating one for your own team, with custom functionality.

Conclusion

Using the right set of tools is necessary to reap maximum benefits of a remote team and its potential talent. At IdeasUnlimited, we have honed our remote workforce optimization strategy over the last 8 years to ensure the best quality of work from a geographically dispersed team. Our workers have a wide range of experience of using the above project management tool in several industries—be it real estate, sales, IT etc.

We would love to hear from you! If you have tried any other tool for virtual collaboration that has worked wonders for you, then please share your experience in the comments below.

 

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!

IdeasUnlimited's Multilingual Transcription Services

IU’s Multilingual Transcription Services

By | Call Center for Small Business, Call Center Support, Customer Service, Multilingual Customer Service, Multilingual Support, Transcription, Translation, Virtual Assistant Support | One Comment

IdeasUnlimited prides itself on the quality of its professional and completely confidential translation and multilingual transcription services. Projects pass through a rigorous 3-stage process, with full accountability at each stage.

Multilingual Transcription Services Offered

IdeasUnlimited provides the following multilingual transcription services:

The Types of Multilingual Transcription Services Offered at IU

Confidentiality is treated very seriously at IdeasUnlimited. Your documents, recordings etc. will only be seen by the necessary personnel and otherwise kept strictly under wraps. Our contract will be fully transparent in your favor, including a confidentiality clause. Additionally, we are compliant to the latest PCI codes.

We have consistently produced high quality transcripts with on-time delivery, which are the two most significant contributors towards our satisfied return customers. Hence, most of our current projects are long-term contracts with companies.

We can transcribe minutes of meetings or videos and serve as the go-between translator/ transcriber for mediating client-customer interactions in cases where both parties speak different languages. We can translate and transcribe market research, podcasts, sermons, conferences and interviews etc. related to academic, business, medical, insurance, legal, retail, and many other fields. We are also able to subtitle or caption documentaries and TV programs of any nature.

The Transcription Process

At IdeasUnlimited, we have a clearly delineated transcription process that constitutes these 3 broad steps:

1. Transcription/Translation

The material goes to the transcriber/ translator, who carefully listens to it multiple times before transcribing/ translating it. At this stage, any change in speakers will be noted and time stamps will be recorded as well.

2. Verification

The same transcriber goes over his/her result and performs context-specific checks for accuracy, observations of speaker’s tone and any background events which might have a significant bearing on the subject. Any noise or static will be deciphered as much as possible. The final file will conform to client requirements.

3. Feedback & Submission

The final file(s) is sent to the client. We get their feedback, incorporate it by editing the output file, and submit the new version to them.

IdeasUnlimited's Bilingual and Multilingual Transcription Process

We provide the following secondary services free of cost:

I. Note in change of speaker

II. Note in background events and information

III. Time stamps

Supported file formats include .mp3, .mp4, .wav, .mkv, .avi, .wpv etc. You can upload your file online and send it to us via drive links or file-sharing websites.  The final transcript or translated file will be in the format of your choosing e.g. .docx, .srt, .pdf etc.

We do not use any automated machines for translation/transcription. Instead, we employ professionals who are able to distinguish tones and nuances. They interpret the words to best portray the desired meaning in ambiguous cases, bringing a human aspect to the job that machines and software applications cannot accomplish. Using our translation and multilingual transcription services would ensure an output that is closest in meaning to the source file.

Our multilingual transcription services fall into these 3 categories:

Types of Multilingual Transcription at IdeasUnlimited

Each type will have different charges, due to the different number of languages involved. You can request a free quote by contacting us today. Our Business Development Manager will go over all your requirements, understand the scope and complexity of the task, and then give you a quote and estimated timeline for delivery as well. You will find our prices affordable and comparable to market rates.

IdeasUnlimited's managed ecommerce customer service for PatPat

Pat-Patting to Success

By | Call Center for Small Business, Call Center Support, Customer Service, Ecommerce Support, Ecommerce Support Services, Holiday Season, Inbound Call Center Solution, Outbound Call Center Services, Technical Support | No Comments
The IdeasUnlimited-PatPat customer support team

PatPat has been one of IdeasUnlimited’s most valued clients for over 4 years now, and it will always have a special place in our hearts.

PatPat is an ecommerce brand committed to providing the highest quality, ultra-chic garments and accessories for children and their families. Our mission is to provide the best ecommerce customer service possible to PatPat’s customers and to elevate their shopping experience.

Keep reading to find out what gives PatPat its competitive edge, how our professional relationship began, and where we are now.

Introduction

PatPat is a flourishing ecommerce business based in California and started in 2014 by Albert Wang and Ken Gao, fast friends since their Carnegie Mellon days. When Ken was expecting his first child, he noticed the scarcity of good quality, stylish yet affordable children’s clothing. The rest is history.

PatPat’s unbeatable edge stems from their trendy designs and their extremely popular matching clothes for all ages. Their product lines majorly revolve around clothing for children of all ages and matching outfits for the family. Branching out into related paraphernalia like maternity wear, shoes, accessories, home goods, and more, PatPat soon became an international brand with satisfied customers and repeat buyers.

Their business model has been wildly successful due to a number of factors——the most significant being the fact that they collaborate directly with the product manufacturers. Affordable design has never been so hip!

Just a year in, PatPat was being recommended on the App Store homepage due to its high  ratings and reviews. In 2016, it became the Top Recommended Shopping App. And the accolades did not stop there. In 2019, it was named the ‘App of the Day’ by the UK App Store.

An innovative business model is not enough for carving out your place in the apparel industry.

So how did PatPat keep its customers satisfied and ensure that they returned? They unsuccessfully tried to find customer support agents themselves and then came to IdeasUnlimited to help manage their support tickets. PatPat partnered with IdeasUnlimited in 2015 so that we could manage their omnichannel customer experience—through customer support and ecommerce support services—while they focused on their core competency of supplying good-quality apparel. This added value created a win-win situation!

IU is responsible for the PatPat CSR team's success

PatPat initially needed one customer support agent, but the number grew exponentially as their business flourished, thanks to our unbeatable 24 hour call center support at our Philippines center. PatPat now has 40 handpicked and extensively trained IU agents ensuring an empathetic, timely, and effective customer care service.

IdeasUnlimited’s involvement with PatPat has increased over the years to keep up with its growth. Starting with a small group of moms in 2015, we now assist with customers in over 90 countries. IU’s ecommerce customer support has improved CSAT levels to 90%. This success shows how important a well-equipped customer care center is for continued growth of any ecommerce brand.

The IdeasUnlimited Philippines call center team

IdeasUnlimited's Ecommerce Customer Support

IdeasUnlimited agents are responsible for PatPat’s 24/7 customer experience management through:

  • Ecommerce Customer Service
  • Email, Chat, and Call Support
  • Order Processing Support
  • Backend Support
  • Marketing Support
  • Social Media Support
  • Online Reputation Management
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Ecommerce Website Development
  • Quality Assurance
  • Other Ecommerce Support Services

Our scalable solution easily adjusts to seasonal fluctuations, especially in the holiday season. We pride ourselves on finding satisfactory solutions to all customer problems and converting the most disgruntled customers into return buyers.

IU agents monitor and address PatPat’s bad reviews on sites like Trustpilot and resolve disputes on payment platforms like PayPal. We promptly address dissatisfied customers, resolving their concerns and providing information where necessary, all the while keeping refunds to the lowest levels possible.

PatPat Reviewing IdeasUnlimited's Ecommerce Support Services

Our diligent and excellent management of the omnichannel customer experience has helped expand the customer base and grow the brand.

IU's Additional Contributions to PatPat's Success

The IU team is continuously highlighting areas of improvement in PatPat’s operations and working with PatPat to rectify them.

We created templates for responses to typical cases and clearly delineated SOPs, so every customer query would be handled in a professional manner in the shortest amount of time possible. We also suggested adding Spanish and Portuguese languages to both the website and app. This dramatically enlarged the customer base.

Improving the Help Center on the website as well as overhauling its layout were also IdeasUnlimited’s suggestions, which we also helped implement. This streamlined customer queries, improving customer satisfaction, especially in the busy holiday season.

IU's contribution to PatPat's success
IU's suggestions for PatPat

PatPat had been plagued with quality issues, inaccurate item sizes, delayed shipping, etc. when it started operations. IdeasUnlimited highlighted these deficiencies and collected information with actionable insights for the PatPat team. This resulted in significant improvements in PatPat operations and fewer customer complaints.

Similarly, IdeasUnlimited’s pinpointing of products with recurring customer complaints allowed sweeping improvements in PatPat’s Product Team.

Behind the Scenes—IU Ecommerce Support Services

PatPat’s ecommerce customer support is wholly managed by IdeasUnlimited through a three-tier management structure.

IU's Managed Ecommerce Support Services Entail Three-Tier Management

PatPat is free of the hassle of recruitment, HR administration, and staffing and scheduling  since IU provides end-to-end managed ecommerce support services. We vet the most suitable candidates, test them extensively, and conduct background checks before considering them.

IdeasUnlimited solely hires based on merit, providing equal opportunities to all. This translates into a productive ecommerce customer service team that delivers results consistently. Our PatPat team was hired to incorporate the widest possible diversity. We place a special emphasis on facilitating and supporting working mothers.

Our second tier of management are our project managers, team leads, and subject matter experts, who ensure all agents are fully trained and capable of handling myriad customers, so all the performance metrics are consistently met and customer satisfaction levels are high.

IU has created a training program and a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) to ensure all agents on PatPat deliver a consistent level of ecommerce support par excellence. PatPat wants the best ecommerce customer service, great productivity and efficiency, and a cost-effective team—and we deliver all of that.

The quality assurance team creates a third tier of monitoring. All customer interaction is monitored and scored on the CSAT tool and weekly KPIs serve as performance benchmarks. We also conduct a weekly analysis of all agents’ productivity to highlight gaps. Hence, PatPat gets a detailed and transparent insight into our team’s performance on a weekly basis. One-on-one coaching is then carried out by IU Team Leads to ensure all the agents meet and exceed the KPIs set by the client.

IdeasUnlimited contributions to PatPat's Customer Satisfaction

IU’s managed ecommerce support services entail troubleshooting any customer and agent issues to deliver high quality service every time. Our team’s ecommerce support experience and strong command over the SOPs contribute to our laudable CSAT scores. This is the reason why we have long- term working relationships with all our clients.

At the backend, recognizing, nurturing, and rewarding merit has fostered a strong ecommerce customer service team at IdeasUnlimited that consistently delivers results. Our company- sponsored team-building and annual events, appreciation certificates, regular annual increments, and performance-based bonuses to celebrate all milestones help us maintain a happy and satisfied call center support team.

PatPat in turn recognizes our agents’ added value through performance bonuses at the team and individual levels. Our work relationship is thus mutually beneficial. We create value for them, so they reward us in return.

The Road Forward

PatPat has assured us that IdeasUnlimited will be their partner of choice when they start a new brand or venture. Our results speak volumes for themselves, so contact us today.

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 | One Comment

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.

IU Named Top Healthcare Call Center Company by Clutch

Clutch Names IdeasUnlimited a Top HR Firm in the Healthcare Industry

By | Administrative Support, Customer Service, Healthcare Call Center Support, Receptionist Service, The IU Way | No Comments

For the past eight years, we have combined skilled human resource, management, and monitoring with cutting-edge technology to provide custom solutions to our clients. Our team has completed over 4000 projects involving a spectrum of services including call center, multilingual, virtual assistant, ecommerce, and backend support. By providing our clients with 24/7/365 support, overheads due to investments in HR, marketing, customer service, and finance departments are no longer necessary. Our dedicated and skilled remote workforce offers great value to our clients. As a result of our success, IdeasUnlimited has been awarded with this recognition by Clutch.

Clutch.co’s latest directory features IdeasUnlimited as a leading service provider for the healthcare industry! We are happy to receive this award as it reaffirms our tailored approach to supporting our clients’ efforts to grow their businesses and increase productivity.

Washington, DC-based ratings and reviews platform Clutch awards leading B2B service providers annually. The team determines winners according to rankings, which are assigned after assessing a business’s market presence, project history, and quality of services. Their analysts collect verified client reviews to evaluate a company’s success.

IdeasUnlimited Awarded Top Healthcare Company, 2019

Here’s what some of our clients said about our services to Clutch:

“We’re long-time clients and are delighted with their innovative approach.”— CEO, advertising & marketing agency

“They are fast, responsible, hard-working, and honest.” — Employee, beauty business

Based on industry leadership, IdeasUnlimited has been listed on The Manifest’s page of top ten HR outsourcing services agencies!  A sister site, the platform expands on Clutch’s content to offer business news and how-to guides.

Our team is thrilled to receive this award. We are thankful to our clients for providing their feedback to Clutch, contributing to this recognition.

For the most effective solution to suit your business’ unique support requirements, talk to our team.

Essential Skills of a Customer Service Representative

Essential Skills of a Customer Service Representative

By | Call Center for Small Business, Call Center Support, Customer Service, Inbound Call Center Solution, Outbound Call Center Services, Virtual Assistant Support | No Comments

A skilled customer service representative is the single most important asset of a growing business. Since 71% of customers are lost due to poor customer service, you can build a loyal customer base only if your customer service center is optimized. More importantly, existing customers spend 33% more than new ones, so your priority should be retaining your current customers and increasing their lifetime value. Hence, the most cost-effective way of increasing profits is focusing on these customers through good customer service, rather than intensifying sales efforts. A whopping 80% of your future profits will come from a mere 20% of your existing customers.

Decrease your Customer Churn Rate to increase profitability

The customer service representative is the face of the company—the first point of contact that establishes your brand image. To avoid customer service fiascos in this day and age of social media, when public opinion holds a great deal of weight in determining a company’s reputation, make sure that each customer service representative at your company has some essential skills. We have collated the 10 most important ones here for you that you should look for when hiring your customer service center team.

Essential Qualities

Each customer service representative must possess these skills to be able to effectively build customer loyalty, reduce attrition, and enhance the brand image.

1. Empathy

Empathy in customer interactions can make a marked difference in customer retention rates, since 68% of customers leave when they perceive a business as indifferent to them. A good customer service representative empathizes with customers, trying to understand their problem and resolve it as quickly as possible. Being apologetic for any inconvenience caused and treating the customer in a friendly manner are cornerstones of excellent customer service.

Walk in the customer’s shoes to understand their problem(s).

2. Patience

Stay patient to truly understand what the customer wants.

Customers usually get in touch with a customer service representative when they are confused about or frustrated with the product or service. Patiently hearing out the customer helps de-escalate the situation and improve understanding of the actual issue—improving the chances that it will be resolved expediently.

3. Clear Communication

Your customer service representative should have a strong command over the language and use simple, jargon-free sentences that a layperson can understand. Moreover, the call center operator should make sure to relay all the important information, leaving nothing to doubt. This entails a balancing act between reassuring the customer and promising only what you can deliver.

Make sure that you communicate in a clear and concise manner, using layperson terms.

Strong internal communication between departments, established SOPs, good organization of information into CRMs, and timely management of ticketing systems are all crucial. An experienced 24 hour call center would take all this hassle off your hands.

4. Sufficient Knowledge Base

Know the product or service better than the customer using it

A good customer service representative has a strong grasp over the ins and outs of the products and services being offered, billing procedures, refund policies, and basic troubleshooting steps. This is the only way the customer service representative will be able to answer customer questions accurately. Having an agent passionate about your service is the best possible sales technique since they would in turn convince customers to purchase your good or service.

5. Problem-Solving Initiative

Finding a viable solution for each customer query, to ensure higher chances of resolution on first contact— a higher FCR (First Contact Resolution rate)—is an essential quality in any customer service representative. He or she should know all about your value offering and be intelligent and dedicated enough to find a solution. Additionally, the customer service representative should have enough initiative to resolve as many queries as possible himself/herself, without escalating it to upper management levels.

Take the initiative to solve problems before escalating them.

6. Strong Organizational Skills

Need for good organizational skills in customer service.

Your customer service representative should update databases on time, find relevant information for each customer quickly, and ensure that the rest of the team is aware of the progress of that customer case (by creating notes on the CRM). Work with someone who has handled a range of backend databases, CRMs, and ticketing systems, so you don’t need to start from scratch to establish your customer service center.

7. Strong Listening Ability

The customer service representative should be a very good listener—attentive to the customer’s complaint and able to read between the lines. There should be no audio distortion on the call, so the VoIP should be up to par.

This entails not only listening to the customer’s complaint or question but rather understanding the root causes. Staying attentive to and reporting underlying common issues will help improve the overall omnichannel customer experience. For instance, if customers keep calling for assistance with tracking their orders, the tracking system has not been correctly and sufficiently highlighted on your website.

Only a good listener can unearth the root causes of issues and resolve them.

8. Using Positive Language

Use positive language to communicate with customers.

The language your customer service representative uses in communication has a very strong impact on your customers, especially via non-voice support channels, since connotations may skew negative. For instance, if you are unable to deliver a package on the expected date due to logistical issues, there is a negative way of updating the customer as well as a positive way.

Negative: We are unable to deliver the package tomorrow since you placed the order too late today.

Positive: The packages for delivery tomorrow have already been dispatched today. I will mark your parcel for express delivery and make sure you can get it early morning the day after tomorrow.

Both responses are correct but the second one uses positive language, which will certainly keep the customer happy.

9. Flexibility and Omnichannel Support

Today customers look for instant gratification for all their issues. Your customer service representative should be able to handle omnichannel support inquiries, sometimes at the same time, to deliver holistic customer service to each customer. More than that, he or she should be able to make connections, come up with creative solutions, and switch between support channels to understand each customer’s history with the company. Only then can the customer support be accurate and helpful for the customer.

Need for flexibility and omnichannel support in customer service.

10. Expert Time Management:

Manage time well to provide timely and accurate customer support.

An omnichannel customer service representative needs to handle several support channels at the same time. Handling all incoming queries in a timely fashion is only possible with discipline and expert time management skills. The customer service representative should also be able to prioritize tasks and support channels, handling each inquiry efficiently and give sufficient attention to each. For instance, a call is more urgent than an email and a troubleshooting chat must be answered before one inquiring about the services you offer.

These are a few of the most important qualities that you need in each customer service representative. Concerned about how you can find such a paragon? Hire an experienced agency to handle your customer service center so you get free of the hassle of recruiting and training each customer service representative. They will already be experienced in handling similar projects, so there will be a much shorter learning curve.

Have we missed any important qualities? Feel free to let us know by commenting down below.

5 Must-Have Tools to Globalize Your Business in 2020

By | Administrative Support, Business Improvement, Business Sustainability, Call Center for Small Business, Customer Service, Ecommerce Support, Globalization, Technical Support, The IU Way, Virtual Assistant Support | No Comments

What is the tool most commonly used in today’s world by individuals and commercial organizations? Very simple, the Internet!

The Internet has made so many tasks convenient and so many processes irrelevant in the business world. Ecommerce support is only one click away—be it multilingual support for your stakeholders or technical support for your customer care center. If you have high-speed internet connectivity and a functional operative system, 80% of your business is already global. Therefore, it is important to investigate a futuristic version of your business considering the global context and available digital tools in order to truly globalize your business.

Globalization 2.0 brings the world to your doorstep and the Internet brings a huge potential market to your work desk. It is now easier than ever to create and promote an international brand image. There are many innovations in the tech world to help digital businesses grow. Here are 5 main tools that will be help you globalize your business:

  1. Research Tools

Research, Research, Research, ACTION! Make this your business mantra and make Google your best friend.

Use research tools to analyze the perceptions and behaviors of your new and existing markets. You can use Google Trends to gauge the demand of your offerings in a specific location, or consumer barometer to read into consumers’ ecommerce behavior.

Another free online tool is Quartz Atlas. It provides a vast database on world demographics and helps you search for information using your relevant keywords. Moreover, the data is presented in the form of tables and charts, which you can customize using your own variables.

Other ecommerce research tools are priced but come with convenient payment plans and free trials. For instance, you can use Jungle Scout—which is most popular for product research, or SemRush—which gives you an insight about your industry’s top keywords and performance of your competitors based on their website.

Similarly, if you are interested in hiring a virtual team, research can help you harness the best of the best by guiding you where to locate your next star worker.

You can find a plethora of other software applications to help you gain more information about your competitors, your niche, your campaign, and product performance.

  1. Resource Management Tools

There are plenty of software and tools available in the market that help in organizing and monitoring resources. They prove helpful in carrying out budget controls, time management, human resource management, as well as data and document management.

Do you also need a solution for conducting audio and video meetings with your remote team members located in different time zones?

Project management software and tools are a good way of managing a remote team, tracking time, efficient communication, and resource management. Popular project management software such as Wrike, Monday.com, or Basecamp include helpful features like real-time chat and messaging, task assignment and progress tracking, document sharing and analyses. Moreover, a comprehensive set of integrations across different in-demand, cloud-based tools makes these software applications a more compelling option. Read more about the best project management tools here.

  1. Marketing Tools

Time has brought enormous innovation in marketing as well. The arrival of Big Data and interactive technology have refined the way marketing is carried out and innovation has introduced new techniques for acquiring and retaining customers.

Marketing tools can handle everything from social media automation to customer-company relationships and affiliate marketing.

In a nutshell, marketing tools for ecommerce sales should ideally relieve you from social media, content creation, SEO, and email campaigning stress. You should also be able to find and segment consumer data for better customer service and targeted marketing campaigns. Some of the most popular marketing tools today are:

  1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Tools

This set of tools are usually a composite of marketing tools, analytical tools, and research tools. They allow your business to have a systematic approach to managing all the information and interactions of your business with your customers, suppliers, and other businesses. Some examples are Intercom and Pipedrive.

Your customers are your bread and butter. For your business’ survival, it is important to reach out to your customers and meet their requirements. As a global business, you must use multiple communication channels to communicate with your customers. A customer management application (CRM) can help you aggregate all communications in one place and effectively deal with all the purchase, engagement, and feedback information. Look into a CRM before you take any other steps to globalize your business.

This allows your customer care center to prioritize and attend to customers who need immediate response. It also becomes easier to track the website traffic, consumer movement, and preferences in order to optimize their purchase experience and enhance customer loyalty.

CRM tools help the customer care center agents to:

methodically identify and work on prospective clients

build and retain loyal customers

understand customers’ requirements and their response to marketing campaigns

segment customers based on demographics and preferences and create personalized follow-ups.

  1. Coordination and Translation Tools

Important: Communication is the key!

All interaction with your customers, suppliers, and teams has to be timely, efficient, and clear. In order to globalize your business, your brand needs to possess a multilingual and multi-ethnic outlook. Your website should cater to native languages and norms of your target market. Also, your customer care center should be equipped to provide multilingual support to equally cater to all your customers across the globe.

Communication tools can help avoid unnecessary delays and misunderstandings. This results in identifying issues and resolving them in a timely fashion. Bilingual customer service or multilingual support can be invaluable too.

Other than project management and CRM tools, translation services, and coordination tools such as Calendar, Hangouts, and Skype can help your company boost its ecommerce sales.

For expanding internationally, it is important for you to distinguish between ‘time zones’ and ‘time relationship’. While everything is 5 minutes earlier in Germany, there is a more relaxed relationship with time in the global south. This is where coordination comes in. An efficient multilingual support service can easily handle both for you.

Global expansion is exciting and risky, but it is the best way to increase ecommerce sales.

Some of the abovementioned tools’ features overlap. Hence, it is important to critically analyze your business and its requirements. There are many more tools that you can use to streamline your activities and globalize your business. Choose the right tools from the start or contract a business service provider to take away these worries while you focus on your core activities and strategizing for going global.

Which tools do you use in your business? Let us know by commenting below.

How to Grow Your Ecommerce Business

How to Grow Your Ecommerce Business

By | Administrative Support, Call Center for Small Business, Customer Service, Ecommerce Support, Ecommerce Support Services, Multilingual Support, Virtual Assistant Support | No Comments

Buying and selling online is one of the most lucrative business ideas that you could come up with today. The 21st century consumer is primed and hungry for more and more opportunities to be able to finish their shopping experience with ease from the comfort of their own home. But you have to be smart about the strategies you use to grow your ecommerce business. If you know how the consumer’s mind works, the task becomes absolutely smooth sailing.

  1. Strategically Market Your Business

Buy ad space on popular websites and search engines to market and grow your ecommerce business. Focus on video ads and only market your most popular products.

The first major decision-making junction comes at the stage of marketing. Let’s say you already have a website or an app. How are you going to let people know about it? Which products will you market? Where will you market them and how? These all might seem a bit overwhelming, but they follow each other naturally and once you get the ball rolling, it will gather momentum on its own.

The ideal solution would be to buy advertisement space on popular websites like YouTube and Facebook and search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! etc. Your ads should preferably be in video form, since the typical consumer spends 88% excess time browsing a website with video (especially without sound). Videos create more engagement with the user and that results in positive action.

  1. Focus on Customer Retention

Retain your current customer base and offer frequent incentives to make them feel appreciated.

The importance of a loyal and regular customer base cannot be emphasized enough for you to be able to grow your ecommerce business. They are the ones who will visit your website or app again and again and buy multiple items. 65% of a company’s business comes from previous customers. Maintaining these customers with good customer service and showing them you value them beyond one-time customers creates goodwill, word of mouth marketing, and a steady increase in sales. One popular, tried and true way of doing this is by having loyalty cards. Great emphasis should be placed on customer satisfaction at every stage of interaction with your business; you should work with a call center support services provider like IdeasUnlimited that specializes in customer retention.

  1. Affiliate Marketing and Discounts

Get more customers through affiliate marketing and entice them to purchase.

Partner with another business and offer promotions and discounts specific to those customers to bring in new users. Not only will you develop a strong business partnership, these new website visitors would have a high conversion rate due to the strong referral. You get to grow your ecommerce business without directly expending any sales effort.

Flash sales are also effective ways to create urgency to boost sales and profits, because customers do not want to walk away from a good deal. Never miss out on having sales during festive occasions or celebrations and holidays. Your ecommerce business will generate the most revenue in that time.

  1. Widen Product Base

Widen your range of products to cater to a wider clientele. These can include supplementary products and services related to each other as well as completely fresh product lines.

Although most ecommerce businesses start out small, it is prudent to slowly try to attract other market segments as well. If you have a stationery business and the primary consumer is a school-going child, it is highly likely that their parent or caregiver is doing the online shopping. Think about the extra traffic and revenue you would generate and how much you can grow your ecommerce business if you increased your range of products to entice mothers with kitchen utensils or home décor, for instance.

  1. Optimize the Customer Experience

Ensure you have good customer support, a user-friendly website/app interface, and a hassle-free shopping experience.

The first-time user especially will not take long to form an opinion and turn away from the website if their initial experience was negative or anything less than ideal. You need to make certain all issues are dealt with before they even become actual problems by ensuring your ecommerce support is par excellence.

A user-friendly interface means optimizing your website for mobile devices or even creating an app for it. 79% of smartphone users have made an ecommerce transaction in the last six months, so this is just astute business sense.

Your call center support should be professional, courteous and, above all, make the customer feel heard, understood and helped. You don’t need to invest in anything in-house; simply find a reputable call center for small business like IdeasUnlimited or partner with a firm that can handle your established business.

Do you feel like your business has stagnated and is not producing the desired profits? This is the ideal time to think outside the box in order to grow your ecommerce business. Come up with creative and fun marketing techniques. Use social media and affiliate marketing to boost your audience reach. Never underestimate the importance of your happy return customer. Most importantly, find an ecommerce support services provider who is experienced in tackling all the above.