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How to Become a Virtual Assistant with No Experience

By | Remote Support Services, Remote Work, Uncategorized, Virtual Assistant Support | No Comments

The most flexible types of jobs are those which you can do from home. And it’s becoming easier than ever to start your career as a remote worker.

While you can find all kinds of jobs online, one position that always seems to remain in high demand is Virtual Assistant.

Despite having great job security and pay, becoming a virtual assistant requires no experience. And with more companies switching to remote, the need for virtual assistants is only growing exponentially.

If you’re thinking about trying out virtual assistance, you couldn’t have picked a better time. This blog is meant to be your gateway to the world of virtual assistants and we’ll get you up to speed on how to get started today.

What is a Virtual Assistant?

A virtual assistant is an online worker who helps companies in their day-to-day operations. This includes a wide range of tasks such as checking emails, managing social media, scheduling appointments, data entry, preparing documents, writing blogs and so much more.

Job descriptions can vary greatly from company to company so it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what a virtual assistant does. Basically, someone who can help reduce workload stress. 

It’s almost exactly the same as an assistant sitting in the office. But since most of today’s work is done on a computer anyways, a virtual assistant fills the role extremely well. Several major companies are beginning to realize this and have begun shifting to the work-from-home model at a rapid pace. This is why we predict that demand for virtual assistants is only going to go up. It’s not a question of ‘if demand will increase’, but a question of ‘how much will it increase’.

Skills Required to Become a Virtual Assistant

Most virtual assistant jobs require you to have the following:

If you have these, then you already qualify for most virtual assistant positions.

But like most people, you should always strive to do better than expected. So let’s talk about some other easy-to-learn skills that can improve your chances of getting hired as a high-level virtual assistant.

Administration

Helping out with general administration is probably the closest thing to what many view as an ‘assistant’. Checking emails, handling meetings and reminders, preparing documents, answering phone calls, you name it. High level managers are usually swamped on most days and wholeheartedly welcome an assistant who can do something even as little as read emails for them.

Glassdoor has a great guide for job seekers on which skills to learn for administrative work.  But rather than raw skills, most employers are looking for someone with the right personality. They want to hire someone who is forthcoming, honest, communicative, and most importantly hospitable since you might need to talk to important clients.

Even if being an administrative assistant isn’t your dream job, it’s a great stepping stone that could lead to some exciting opportunities in the future.

Content Creation

Publishing blogs, press releases and social media posts is something almost every business or entrepreneur is doing. Posting fresh content consistently on so many platforms can become overwhelming, and that’s where virtual assistants come in.

If you can help someone create high quality content on a daily basis, then your skills are in high demand. It’s not just about writing, sometimes you will need to proofread and edit content appropriately. If you’re willing to take it to the next level, learn some basic graphics design skills and you can serve as a social media manager. Online tools such as Canva make it extremely easy to put together a compelling graphics that matches the quality of a professional graphics designer.

Bookkeeping

Managing finances is extremely important to ensure smooth daily operations and companies need all the help they can get. More virtual assistants are now being hired to lend a hand with payroll, recording transactions, managing invoices, processing payments and so much more.

Most of these tasks require basic understanding of working with spreadsheets such as Excel or Google Sheets. But even without those skills, you can go a long way by just helping out with number crunching. In fact, most companies have already created their financial documents and just need someone to do the busy-work of filling them in.

Website Management

All companies with a digital presence will need someone to constantly check on their websites. You don’t need to be a professional web developer to take on this duty, you just need to be familiar with the platform.

The world’s most popular website builder is WordPress. Chances are that the company who hires you as a virtual assistant will already be using it for their business website so go ahead and familiarize yourself with it. The best way to do this is to actually build your own WordPress blog which is completely free. Even better, WordPress themselves conduct regular webinars which teach beginners how to use their platform, all free of charge.

Who is Looking for a Virtual Assistant?

Almost anyone with a digital presence is looking for virtual assistants. Small business owners, entrepreneurs, bloggers, youtubers, anyone with a website and so on. 

Larger companies have also built their digital channels using a crew of virtual assistants who are working from different parts of the world on different time zones.

Most who are willing to employ VA’s are very flexible with who they hire. Some of them are even aware of the fact that new virtual assistants may not have the necessary skills to take on the job. That’s why they offer in-house training or a grace period to allow virtual assistants to learn everything they need to handle their tasks confidently.

3 Steps to Becoming a Virtual Assistant

IdeasUnlimited has helped shape hundreds of remote workers into confident virtual assistants capable of serving all business niches. Based on our experience, we have developed a very simple checklist for aspiring virtual assistants to set them up for success.

Decide a Specialty

Feel free to scroll back up and re-familiarize yourself with what a virtual assistant does. As you’re reading through, find things you are most comfortable with. Perhaps a skill that you already know or a task that you have prior experience with. It can even be something you find interesting and wouldn’t mind learning.

The goal is to develop a focus. You could very well offer a wide range of services as a virtual assistant, but we highly recommend sticking to just a few. 

In our experience, virtual assistants should strive for LONG-TERM relationships with their clients. In order to achieve this, you need to focus on a few tasks that you deliver extremely well. If you try to accomplish many things at once, you risk underperforming and even losing your client.

Create an Impressive Portfolio

A portfolio is doubly important for virtual assistants who want to focus on content creation. Most clients demand to see a portfolio from virtual assistant candidates and you should therefore be prepared to present one at a moment’s notice.

If you’re looking for ideas for an eye-catching portfolio, be sure to skim through Pinterest for some inspiration from millions of content creators.

Items that could be added to your portfolio include social posts, graphics, website snapshots, blogs, articles and so on.

Even if you haven’t worked as a virtual assistant, we highly recommend using your free-time to craft a portfolio. For example, you could start a WordPress blog (which is free of charge) and begin submitting content on it for your portfolio.

Begin Outreach

We’ll discuss later how to find your first client as a virtual assistant. For now, it’s important to understand that you need to put time and effort into outreaching. Not just applying for jobs, but sharing with others that you are actively seeking work as a virtual assistant.

Talk to your friends and family. Join online forums, groups and chats with other virtual assistants. You need to actively participate in the virtual assistant community and make yourself known. Even something as simple as leaving a comment below is a great way to start!

Let everyone know about your skills, expertise, interests and anything else that someone might find interesting. This step isn’t just crucial to finding a work from home job. It’s an exercise to help you get comfortable with selling yourself to others as a capable worker. Be confident and opportunities will soon follow!

How to Find Clients as a Virtual Assistant

Have you finished our 3 step plan? If so, it’s time to find your first client!

Let us begin with some websites where you can apply for a variety of virtual assistant jobs.

Upwork

Upwork, as of right now, is the world’s largest freelancing website. In the US alone, almost 53 million people have signed up to the website looking for work. It’s a great place to start.

The site has a simple interface to help you set up your profile and also a simple to use search function to find job opportunities in your field. Upwork also comes with a chat function and most clients will use it to reach out to you while they are hiring. Be sure to always check your notifications and messages and respond quickly.

Here’s a hint; upload a great profile picture! Even Upwork themselves say that a nice profile picture increases the rate of freelancers getting hired. It’s a small suggestion but we highly implore you not to ignore it.

A word of caution, Upwork has made substantial efforts in screening applicants with stricter rules. If you don’t set up your account properly, you risk having your profile purged. When creating your profile, be sure that it’s 100% finished. Leaving it incomplete could prompt one of the moderators to flag your profile, preventing you from applying for jobs.

Fiverr

Fiverr is yet another great platform for those who are looking to work from home.

One way Fiverr differentiates itself from others is with it’s ‘gig’ approach. It allows you to tell potential clients exactly what you can do for them by offering a gig or a job. When creating a gig, remember to state very clearly how many hours you are willing to work and list down all the tasks you are capable of doing.

When posting gigs, be clear and specific about yourself. We highly encourage you to look up other gig posts. Some freelancers have even made videos about themselves and what they offer and we encourage you to go the extra mile and do the same.

FlexJobs

This is another well established site that has a great focus on helping anyone find remote work. Much like Fiverr and UpWork, FlexJobs is a job board built both for clients and freelancers.

We highly recommend that you go through the FAQs for FlexJobs as it will help you understand what makes this platform unique. To put it simply, FlexJobs focuses on helping freelancers find high-quality jobs through a subscription service. While other job finders are mostly free, you get a lot with FlexJobs subscription-based model. Mostly it’s the ability to quickly find you the right kind of work from trust-worthy employers that can offer more stability in your job. Plus while you wait for a job, FlexJobs will keep you busy with career coaching and training that can help you further your professional life.

One More Thing…

Becoming a virtual assistant, especially when starting from scratch, can seem daunting at first. IdeasUnlimited has worked with hundreds of remote workers who have shared their stories about the early days of their journey.

One of the biggest challenges of starting a work-from-home career is staying mentally strong. It can be demotivating not hearing back after interviews and or watching other freelancers who might seem much more skilled than you are.

But in the same vein, IdeasUnlimited is also home to amazing success stories where remote workers have built wonderful lives for themselves by working from home. Just remember that it takes time, effort and patience. Be positive and trust your abilities. Also, be open with other freelancers and share your stories as we’re all in this together. You can start right now by leaving a comment below!

Conclusion

Anyone can start their journey today to become a successful virtual assistant! Simply follow our plan, find your niche and stay positive. As the world is shifting to a remote workforce, building your career from home is only going to get simpler. Why not embark on your journey with us? Head over to careers.ideasunlimitedonline.com where you can find remote jobs and guidance from our recruitment team on being successful as a remote worker.

How to Design an Ecommerce Website While Keeping Cost Low

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Starting a retail business or taking your existing shop online begins by building an ecommerce website. There is no shortage of tools available to do this. In fact, there are too many options at your disposal.

In this blog, we’ll condense thousands of possible ways to build your online store into just three. Our goal is to block out unnecessary information and only focus on what matters. No prior experience with web development required. Let’s begin.

Shopify: Ecommerce Staple

Let’s start with the simplest option. Shopify is an ecommerce website builder that lets you get an online store up and running with turn-key solutions. This includes domain, hosting, inventory management and all the necessary security add-ons.

shopify packages

Shopify also includes built-in themes and templates that help you design a website that looks professional without requiring any coding.

Scalability is also a strongpoint. Shopify features best-in-class inventory management to handle a sizable stock of items. In our experience, Shopify has been great at building ecommerce websites that can host over 500,000 separate SKU’s. 

Many popular retailers such as Hasbro and Gymshark have built their online store-fronts using Shopify and many more are following suit.

At this point you’re probably wondering, “this is too simple and straightforward”. So what’s the catch?

Well, there are a few. Chief among them is how much Shopify relies on apps. Apps are essentially add-ons that give your website more functionality. For example, if you want to follow the drop shipping model, you will need to purchase one of the drop shipping apps like CJDropshipping. When you start thinking about other features you’d like to have such as customer service and email marketing, you realize that your cost is going to creep up a lot.

Another disadvantage is lack of control. When designing an ecommerce website on Shopify, you are limited to prebuilt themes. Also, if you wish to add a variety of content on your website such as blogs and articles, Shopify won’t support it by default. It’s laser focused on ecommerce.

One last thing we should mention is that Shopify requires you to channel all your data through them. While it’s difficult to ascertain how it affects your business, we believe it is still important to mention it as our readers value security of intellectual property. Not a big surprise in this day and age of concern over privacy.

Nonetheless, Shopify is still an all around great option. It is the closest thing to a ‘DIY’ for online stores. If you want to avoid investing in web developers or going through the hassle of learning web development, Shopify checks all the boxes.

But sometimes, what business owners are really looking for is flexibility. To lay a foundation to build on top of. For that, our next option might serve you better.

WordPress, Wix or Squarespace?

While researching this topic, you may have stumbled upon the “Big 3”:

  • WordPress
  • Wix
  • Squarespace. 

All three are basically the same thing; an all-in-one platform to build beautiful websites (as advertised on their front-page). 

These are called CMS or ‘Content Management Systems’ and can look oddly similar to Shopify. They all offer easy to use website building tools and they all come with pre-built themes. But there is a key difference. Shopify is first, and foremost, an e-commerce platform. The other three are more open-ended.

WordPress, Wix and Squarespace provide a starting point to build a website. You can make anything from blogging pages to shopping carts. This flexibility also comes with some additional complexity, which might not be in your interest.

While you can build your website with a CMS without coding, you will still need to separately handle domain, hosting and inventory management. Services like GoDaddy, Channel Spyder and Bluehost certainly help, but it’s still not as convenient as Shopify’s ‘all-in-one’ approach.

Plus, deep customization could require you to do some homework and learn the basics of web development.

To help you manage some of this complexity, here’s a checklist of items you should take care of:

  1. Domain; make sure to purchase one and have it ready to be linked to your website.
  2. Hosting; your website will need a server. Select one that is closest to your target audience’s region.
  3. Inventory management system; you will need to connect your website to a service that can manage your stocks and supplies. As mentioned above, Channel Spyder is a great choice.
  4. Website theme; all 3 services include free themes but you can also purchase your desired website template. Themeforest is a popular place to preview and buy professionally designed themes. Most of them will cost you $60 but can vary depending on the template.
  5. Payment system; be sure to include a seamless way to let users make electronic payments. If you’re using WordPress, a great option is the WooCommerce plugin.
  6. Security add-ons; make sure your domain has an SSL certification and your CMS has the necessary malware protection plugin installed.
checklist for ecommerce website

With all these taken care of, you should have most of the essentials covered to get your website up and running.

Now back to the question in the title, which one of these 3 should you pick? You might have guessed already, but our suggestion is WordPress. 

As for the reason, that’s a little more complicated. The truth is there really isn’t a single reason. It’s just that WordPress checks all the boxes; SEO, security, theme customization, accessibility you name it. Plus, it has a proven track-record over a longer period of time against its competitors.

This recommendation is backed up by numbers. WordPress is MILES ahead of the competition with more live websites than any other site builders.

number of websites for different site builders

Even better, you can buy a WordPress package through GoDaddy which should cover all the items in the checklist above. While it’s cheaper than Shopify, you’re going to have to do a lot more work.

Hiring an Ecommerce Developer

The final option to build your ecommerce website is to have a developer do it for you. Question is, how can you find a developer and know he or she is up to the task?

There are many places where you can find freelance developers. Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer etc. On these platforms, you can create a project and wait for capable developers to bid on it. You’d be surprised how little you have to spend. It only takes a couple of hours for them to build the store. From there onwards, it’s up to you to continue working with them. If the developer has done a good job, we recommend spending a little extra to let him maintain your website.

It can be a little intimidating selecting the right fit for the job, so here are some pointers. When selecting a developer, the 2 things that you want to pay the most attention to is:

  • Portfolio
  • Communication skills

Notice how we didn’t even mention things like years of experience and technical expertise. Many developers like to boast their knowledge without any proven work. Therefore, you should only demand to see their portfolio. If they are capable, they should be able to show LIVE websites that they built which are up and running.

Communication is also important, if not more. Developers who tend to over-explain and say a bunch of techie jargon tend to be the ones you need to avoid. If they are unable to explain something simply, then it will become difficult to work with them long-term. When interviewing them, look for how well they break down a complex topic.

If you’re looking for questions to ask a developer, here are few to get you started:

  1. How many ecommerce websites have you built?
  2. What are some known issues that can occur in an online store?
  3. What SEO tools will you integrate into the site?
  4. How soon can you provide a mockup and a working demo?

Rest is very standard. Interview developers thoroughly, scrutinize their resumes well and make a confident judgement call.

If all of this seems like too much work, there are many services that can help you build a low cost ecommerce website using their tried and tested roster of developers. Going through a third-party to build your website might cost you a little extra, but the convenience of not having to worry about it is usually worth it.

CONCLUSION

In the end, it’s really a question of time. How much time are you willing to put into building an ecommerce website? We believe that business owners should focus more on their core products and services. Everything else needs to be secondary.

With that in mind, our three suggestions above are your best bet to quickly build an online store without burning through your cash. That’s how it should be. Start small, then expand based on how it performs.

If you’re interested in knowing even more, we’re always glad to have a call with you (for absolutely no charge!). We’ll share what we’ve learned after working on hundreds of ecommerce projects to guide you in the right direction. Good luck!

*Let us know in the comments:

Have you ever built an ecommerce website?

Did you use any of the above tools?

A Part of History

By | Remote Support Services, Remote Work, Uncategorized, Virtual Assistant Support | No Comments

Growth

The very popular online streaming platform known as Twitch, began in 2007 as Justin.TV to allow anyone to broadcast a video online. The original Justin.tv was a single channel featuring founder Justin Kan, who broadcast his life 24/7. By April 10, 2008, Justin.tv had signed 30,000 broadcasting accounts.

On February 10, 2014, Twitch‘s and Justin.tv’s parent company was rebranded as Twitch Interactive.

By 2015, Twitch had more than 100 million viewers per month. Twitch acquired Curse in 2016, an operator of online video gaming communities and introduced means to purchase games through links on streams along with a program allowing streamers to receive commissions on the sales of games that they play which greatly accelerated the platform’s growth.

As of 2017, Twitch remained the leading live streaming video service for video games in the US, and had an advantage over YouTube Gaming. As of February 2020, it had 3 million broadcasters monthly and 15 million daily active users, with 1.4 million average concurrent users.

Monitoring Content

IdeasUnlimited is proud of our history supporting Twitch in its early beginnings as Justin TV.  From approximately 2011 to 2014, our support staff offered content monitoring.  Broadcasts that were considered to contain potentially offensive content were available only to registered users over the age of 18. Broadcasts containing defamation, pornography or copyright violations, or encouraging criminal conduct, were prohibited by Justin.tv’s terms of service and IdeasUnlimited helped to flag violations. 

Our staff also had to be very flexible at adapting to feedback and suggestions that were invaluable to improving their system. Executives at Justin.TV concluded, “Setting up the contract with IdeasUnlimited was very easy and the rate was very affordable for the quality of work they provided” Aside from content flags, monitoring prevents adverse situations by checking the uptime of infrastructure components such as servers and apps, and notifying the webmaster of problems before they impact a business.

If you have live chat rooms or even just a high volume of user content of any kind, the importance of monitoring your content in the broader sense is ultimately protecting your brand and your reputation.  Even if the content is successfully removed, there is always a chance new material or similar issues can resurface on another site.

Changing Landscape

The Voice services industry continues to rapidly evolve with both remote workers and virtual services. More and more businesses of all types and sizes rely on services such as data entry, medical billing, content creation, payment processing, virtual assistants and voice services.  According to recent Clutch survey data, consumers especially value human interaction when calling a business. It is also important to mirror the consumer’s own language with broad multi-lingual service.

We are honored that Clutch.co recently  named IdeasUnlimited as a top BPO service company as well as a top Voice Services company.

Reach out to us for a customized quote if you are looking to find new ways to cover your customer needs globally 365 days a year.

Why Remote is the Future

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The pandemic has triggered a tectonic shift in the job market. In the US alone, an incredible 42% of workers have switched to remote jobs. Major companies such as Google, Facebook, Shopify and Uber have already announced that they are giving their employees the option to permanently work from home. According to Gartner, 80% of company leaders also plan to allow their employees to work from home, even after the economy reopens after the pandemic.

With over 10 years of experience of managing a remote workforce, IdeasUnlimited has been at the forefront of this change. We have always believed that this new model was inevitable but now, we are certain that it’s here to stay. The democratization of information technology has made it all too easy to build a substantial career without even visiting an office. In this blog, we’ll discuss the five reasons why remote work economy is the future.

Better Pay

There has always been a stigma in the society regarding jobs that don’t take place in a traditional office setting. Many don’t consider them as ‘real’ jobs that can afford a quality standard of living. This is simply not true. 

Extensive research on this topic has confirmed that the pay-scale of remote jobs is on par with regular occupations. One research group even found that on average, remote workers earn $100,000 per year more. Their data also suggests that long term remote workers have enjoyed a steady growth in their salary. Overall, remote employees end up earning 8% more than on-site workers with similar job titles and experience.

Another aspect that cannot be ignored is the fact that remote workers do not need to invest a large portion of their income on transportation and day-care. All combined, working remotely helps people earn more and spend less.

Happier Workers

While income is definitely important, work-life balance is also becoming increasingly paramount. The standard ‘Monday-Friday, 9 to 5’ work model has led to increased stress and low productivity. While a proposed ‘4-day work week’ could remedy this, another possible solution is to let people work from home.

Being in a comfortable environment and close to family has profound benefits for worker’s mental health. Mental Health America has done extensive research on this particular subject. A survey by them revealed that non-remote workers report ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ mental health twice as much as remote workers. Furthermore, almost half of the people in the survey reported that they were ‘happy’ to ‘very happy’ with their work-life balance.

It’s hard to imagine that people will go back to an office environment after experiencing how much happier they are at home. From the employers perspective, it’s also more profitable to have workers that remain motivated and positive.

More Opportunities

One key area where the remote job market has a substantial upper hand is the variety of opportunities that are available.

When someone is required to simply login on a computer from their home in order to be ‘employed’, the job opportunity becomes incredibly flexible. People can be hired even if they live in a different country. Applicants who have physical disabilities or lack a means of transportation can also apply. Furthermore, remote jobs have also helped those who experience social anxiety to build successful careers. Our company has a long history of creating many success stories for people who have struggled in their professional lives.

While labor intensive work such as a construction worker or a restaurant waiter will still remain as they are, nearly all other types of jobs can be done online (and probably will be from now on).

Cost-effective

We’ve touched on how remote jobs are helping people save money, but it goes further than that. The cost saving benefits are perhaps even bigger for employers. While going to an office isn’t unfavorable for workers, employers themselves are starting to doubt the necessity of offices. In major cities around the world, such as London and Palto Alto, CEO’s have publicly stated their frustrations with exorbitant rents and taxes.

The recent switch to remote has given everyone a taste of just how much money everyone can end up saving. Workers won’t have to spend so much on transportation while companies can cut their operational expenses of running an office. It’s a win-win situation.

This is perhaps even more beneficial for small businesses and startups. The cost of establishing a brick and mortar has always been a huge barrier. But with more and more companies switching to ecommerce and online platforms to conduct business, the future is shaping up to an online only economy.

Automation

The pandemic isn’t the only thing that triggered the shift to remote. The surge in automation already caused many to re-think about the job market. For better or worse, widespread automation is on the rise.

Even without a world-wide health crisis, many had already envisioned a future where machines do all the labor intensive work. Therefore, now more than ever, the conversion to a work-at-home economy is happening faster than ever.

Some of the larger companies have already automated 20% of their work. Even many of the tasks that require a ‘human-touch’, such as human resourcing and operations support, can now be done out of office. Recently, these same corporations have been scrambling to figure out how to change all work to remote-based.

In a way, you can imagine that the pandemic did not cause a shift to remote. Instead, it only accelerated what automation set in motion years ago.

As we said before, on-site workers will always be in demand. But there will now be a substantial split than leans more towards remote. The increase in automation will only continue to favor remote jobs while the above mentioned points are strong arguments for their longevity.

What we must do now is figure out how to adapt to this new world. Employers need to morph their business structure to accommodate remote workers, while workers must learn how to find their footing in the remote job market. IdeasUnlimited will continue to help both.

If you’re looking to build your remote team, be sure to get in touch with our experts. And for anyone looking to find work from home opportunities, we’ll keep you posted over on our careers website.

Delivery Services During COVID-19

10 Ways to Optimize Your Delivery Services for COVID-19

By | Business Improvement, Business Sustainability, Customer Service, Employee Management, Remote Support Services, Remote Work, The IU Way, Virtual Assistant, Virtual Assistant Support | No Comments

COVID-19 has shaken up the whole world and placed a strain on quite a few industries, especially delivery companies. You must be wondering how you can quickly adapt and capitalize on this opportunity.

Logistics and operations can be very well managed remotely. You just need good collaboration tools, an up-to-date database, and a skeletal staff on site who can take care of the actual packaging and dispatch. Let’s discuss this in more detail. What would you need?

We have listed 10 different ways you can keep supplying all your customers and maintain as much normalcy as possible.

1. Display Social Responsibility

Ensure that your in-house operations have preventative systems in place and all your employees have protective equipment. Your business runs because of your employees, so taking care of them will only help your own bottom line. An added bonus—your customers will have greater confidence that they will be receiving non-contaminated products. That will give you an immediate edge over your competition during the COVID-19 pandemic.

2. Minimum Contact Delivery

This must be one of the first things that you should take care of in light of this global pandemic. Your customers should not feel like they are putting themselves at risk while receiving packages. Introduce curbside delivery with a notification so the customer can pick it up before someone else does. Minimum contact delivery is the way to go, both for your customers and to keep your employees safe.

3. Adjust the Packaging

Something as simple as multi-layered packaging can boost customer trust in your business’ hygiene standards. Add an outer layer of packaging that can be easily discarded by your customers before taking the items inside their houses. Make your customers’ lives easier and reap the benefits in the form of greater sales despite COVID-19.

Optimizing Delivery Services During COVID-19

4. Easier Online Payment Methods

Expand your online, no-contact payment mechanism to include more methods, especially allowing for local preferences. If you only stick to bank transfers and credit card payments, you may lose out on a considerable chunk of your target market.

5. Good Collaboration 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. Audio and video conferencing tools like Zoom and UberConference, chat software like Slack and Skype, mobile collaboration tools like Telegram, and project management tools like Trello are all free for you to try out with your team and judge their utility yourself. You don’t even need to issue company headsets for business lines. Invest in a good-quality VoIP like RingCentral and get softphones that your employees can use from anywhere, just as long as they have a stable and good Internet connection.

6. Redirect Your Workforce

Move your in-store team towards managing online sales, taking orders through social media, and promoting your business to their personal networks. The faster and more efficiently you can handle online sales, the better it is for your bottom line.

7. Change Hiring Practices

Hire workers who are experienced at remotely handling tasks. That way they can handle your delivery operations from anywhere in the world. The most important point in favor of this approach is that these remote workers have experience in productively doing their jobs in a remote setting. Trying to permanently move an in-house employee towards remote work may not be as effective or accomplished as quickly.

8. Effective Logistics Team

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. You don’t need to keep this team on-site. Rather, pare down your on-site team to the bare minimum needed to package and deliver the products and move everyone else to remote work.

9. Faster Customer Support Response

The speed of your customer service team’s response is crucially important for retaining customers. Social distancing is allowing your customers more time to pick and choose which businesses they want to patronize. You are also competing with all other online businesses for your customers. Hence, you want to respond as fast as possible with order confirmation, tracking information, answers to customer questions, and troubleshooting advice.

Look into partnering with a 24 hour call center or after-hours call center to achieve this goal without going through the hassle of recruiting, managing, and monitoring the agents yourself.

10. Better Tracking Mechanism

With the majority of your customers stuck at home and most delivery services bogged down by extra orders and insufficient staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, customers are even more interested in real-time tracking of their orders. If you don’t have an efficient system in place already, remedy that oversight immediately. Track your delivery trucks and plan routes more efficiently, to be able to handle and deliver as many orders as quickly as possible.

Even if the delivery cannot be faster or is unavoidably delayed due to quarantine or lockdown rules, keeping customers informed keeps them satisfied.

Conclusion

These strategies will lower your overhead costs and make your business more competitive despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Switching some of your office jobs to remote roles will directly decrease business expenses, improving your bottom line. Your business will be able to survive and even flourish in tough economic times. Do not waste your time. Look into how these tips apply to your business and make the changes necessary before you are mired down by new problems created by deficiencies in your systems.

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.

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.

 

How Remote Work Saved Me! Conquering All Odds

How Remote Work Saved Me! Conquering All Odds

By | Administrative Support, Backend Support Services, Business Improvement, Business Sustainability, Call Center Support, Customer Service, Ecommerce Support, Employee Management, IdeasUnlimited US Remote Workers, Remote Support Services, Remote Work, The IU Way | No Comments
Shahzad Yaqoob (Nick)

                                                  LinkedIn: shahzadyaqoob/    Facebook: shahzad.yaqoob.39948
 Upwork: shahzadyaqoob
Email: shahzad@osbprovider.com

Shahzad Yaqoob (aka Nick) is an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, a family man, and a human being with a strong resolve. He is an avid reader, a keen sports fan, and loves to spend time with his kids.

He has travelled across the oceans and built a remote career for himself, which no one except his brother believed could work out. He has been successful in establishing an award-winning company that not only offers a professional and flexible work environment but is productive and rewarding for all those involved—the IdeasUnlimited Family.

He is the founder and CEO of IdeasUnlimited, a business support services providing firm that is headquartered in Houston.

Self-discipline and a strong drive can help you overcome any situation and Shahzad proved that in quite short time. He has become an inspiration for all those who know him in a professional capacity.

A chat with him revealed much more about his struggles and relentless efforts to gain a reputable position for himself and help others see the light at the tunnel’s end.

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Social Anxiety and Remote Work

Nick's Story of How Remote Work Saved Him

Like me, most of you must have heard of and may have met people dealing with some kind of psychological struggle. But it is hard to fathom the agony they must be going through in order to meet day to day expectations as a family member and a worker. Typically, our society does not consider them fit to be a part of normal life.

Social anxiety impacts a worker’s life as soon as the day starts. A worker starts worrying about commuting to work, meeting people, deadlines, and the office environment. These worries also have spillover effects in their personal life.

It is usually advised to work on your anxiety disorders and then re-enter the workplace. However, it is neither financially nor professionally feasible. There are many different types of anxiety conditions but the proven key to success despite anxiety issues is to find an outlet and not let anxiety control your life.

Remote work has been a blessing in disguise for many of us facing geographical, health, and social constraints.

Shahzad had been struggling with acute social anxiety since his teenage years but in 2010 it worsened as a never-ending turbulence for his social existence. He was so perturbed that he could not contemplate any other solution other than ending everything, including his life.

As he left his regular job, he got called in for a part time remote job as an outbound caller. Halfheartedly, he accepted it and soon realized the opportunities that remote work could offer.

It gave me hope and that was a big thing… remote work can give you time to settle. You can explore the possibility of making likeminded friends or exploring other avenues of tackling social anxiety, or any other psychological or physical limitation you might have.

IdeasUnlimited’s existence shows me the importance of a support system in your life. It might be just one person. But someone to support and understand you, someone to show trust in your strengths and help you overcome your weaknesses, can take you a long way in life. For our CEO, this constant support has been from his brother. Today Shahzad considers all his colleagues as his support system, but it is primarily his brother, Shahid Yaqoob, who recognized Shahzad’s potential and guided him well at every step.

My brother has been the most positive influence in my life and career, my strongest support…I must thank my brother who helped transition everything without a hassle. I still look up to him for business advice…

IdeasUnlimited Making Lives Better

I had a chance to talk with Shahzad recently and it made me realize that everyone has their own battles and you never get a level field to achieve your ambitions. It is important to fall and then learn to stand tall. I realized that every company was once just an individual struggle, and every CEO-ship was once just a start…

In 2010, Shahzad took his brother’s advice and registered his company in USA. He worked day and night and built his credibility in the remote work industry and continued to build his team. Despite all hurdles, he stayed consistent and expanded his business to hundreds of workers from Pakistan, Philippines, India, USA, South America, and Europe.

I have been running this business remotely for nine years now! I manage call center locations myself in Karachi (Pakistan) and in Houston (USA), and then have partners run several call center locations in the Philippines.

Shahzad initially faced the common issues of remote team members. However, after sporadic work and trials and errors, IdeasUnlimited developed a very effective recruitment and monitoring process that facilitates competent workers in achieving the results expected by the clients. There is no discrimination and IdeasUnlimited promotes an inclusive workplace for anyone who is willing to unleash their potential and achieve results.

Now we have highly professional and trained HR and Administration teams, along with precisely tested processes to assure top productivity and efficiency, and a workforce that possess the required skills, attitude, and intent to do well.

Over time Shahzad has trained himself to stay calm and not let anxious thoughts take over his decision-making ability. He did not let initial failures deter his perseverance to achieve his dream. Interestingly, his dream has never been to succeed alone, it has always been about allowing people suffering in any way find HOPE for their future. And quitting was never an option.

This [quitting] never crossed my mind even when we went down to only one major project in 2013 for three to four months. We had a major downfall for no discernable reason, but quitting was just not an option.

The beauty of a struggle is that it helps you relate to those who are in the same boat. But the beauty of success comes when you work to let others be a part of the new possibilities too. It is when you build collaboratively to help others benefit from it as well. Shahzad proves how honest struggle creates empathy and the desire to improve the lot of others like you.

Knowing and having gone through such feelings [anxiety] and then finding remote work, which helped me gain my confidence back in life, has convinced me to show this path to others as well.

IdeasUnlimited in the Future

Shahzad often talks about mutual growth and giving back to society. He frequently initiates discussions about global social and economic concerns on the company’s platforms and I find him very ambitious towards finding solutions to major world problems. He envisions an inclusive company that provides opportunities for those with talent and one that sponsors education for orphans and the less fortunate all over the world.

He sees the remote work industry expanding in terms of innovation, coverage, and workforce. But he is looking forward to this industry getting globally regulated and judicated to meet new challenges of fraud and digital deception.

IdeasUnlimited is one of the highest-ranking companies for remote contracts and has recently won recognition on Clutch Awards and The Manifest. Shahzad thinks it is because of his team that his vision is gradually becoming a reality.

Shahzad values his workers and strictly believes in mutual growth. He always mentions each one of the senior members of his team in connection to IdeasUnlimited’s consistent upward track record.

With the same regard and passion, he wants to take the company forward in a way that it is rewarding for all those involved.

IdeasUnlimited is aspiring to become a company that meets the expectations of its clients at competitive pricing while the workers grow professionally, without being restricted by any personal circumstances.

Nick's vision for IdeasUnlimited

IdeasUnlimited gives me hope for all the conditioned workers in the labor force today—they too can work with a vibrant, growing company and build their remote careers. I will always be proud to have worked in an organization that values and builds its success with people, without discriminating or benching someone for something beyond their control.

It is a company that is future forward. It has the potency to help millennials choose their lifestyle as well as workstyle.

Shahzad Yaqoob has been successful in creating an organization that has commendable work ethics and quality of service while focusing on agility and technical standards required by their fast-paced, modern clients.

Shahzad has learnt the art of balancing life and work and not taking anything for granted. He is helping others strive for this balance too by believing in their strengths and conquering the odds set against them.

If you are interested in Shahzad’s complete narrative, you will find here a detailed question and answer session I had with the CEO of IdeasUnlimited. It is a story of his perseverance and personal struggles that have led to the success of many.

Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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About IdeasUnlimited

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!