Category

Uncategorized

online chat suppor

What Pain Points do Customers Experience with Live Chat?

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

Introduction

Customer service continues to be a key factor in the success for most businesses. Handling customer queries on a daily basis is crucial for B2C and even B2B companies that rely on high value clients for their revenue and continued operations.

Customers are the most crucial aspect of any successful business. They’re the ones who can make or break a company’s reputation. Their satisfaction is arguably the most vital factor when it comes to maintaining a good sales performance since one bad experience can have profound effects on a business. As one of the research says: The average American tells 15 people when they’ve had a poor customer service experience.

Live Chat

Live chat is defined as the online chat channel which allows a website visitor to directly communicate with a company’s representative. Live chat support is always great to have on a business website since it helps customers resolve their queries instantly without having to go through long and tedious communication methods such as filling out a form. But live chat can be a double-edged sword since it needs to be implemented well. Any shortcomings will only frustrate your customer which will ultimately cost a business potential revenue in sales. One study shows that 66% of the customers stopped buying after a bad customer service interaction and never bothered to check back.

In order to create a smooth customer experience, it’s important to have an intimate knowledge about the pain-points customers experience while going through live chat support. Half the battle is knowing where to start when building a successful live chat service. Therefore, here at IdeasUnlimited, we’ve highlighted some important points on this topic based on our 11+ years of experience in the support service industry combined with our own research.

Every business is unique. Therefore, the challenges faced by a particular company might differ a little based on their products and service. Same goes for online chat support. There are always different set of challenges when building a successful online chat experience, but certain things are always a common issue across the industry.

Slow Response Time

This is perhaps the most important expectation from a customer. When they write a message in a chat window, they usually expect an immediate response. Furthermore, customers expect simple, quick responses as opposed to long and lengthy greeting messages which do more harm than good. They also hate being bombarded with supplementary questions like product information, asking for name, email, phone number etc. It’s tempting to use live chat to extract customer data, but wasting their time can make you lose a customer for good.

Lastly, the tone needs to be just right. You don’t need to speak to a customer with too much formality. Just keep it simple and semi-casual as if you’re having a light conversation. Guide them well and point them in the right direction to solve their query and fast as possible without any extra fluff.

Not Enough Knowledge

A solid lead can be lost if you’re unable to answer your potential buyer’s questions or persuade them gently. Listen carefully and try not to repeat your questions since asking the same thing over and over can frustrate a customer.

Because of this, it’s important to have the right person in-charge of your live chat. Preferably, it should be a sales representative from the right department with sufficient company information. If the chat is not resolved in time or if it needs to be transferred to another representative, customers tend to get annoyed and leave the conversation before you even know it.

Slow Transfers

Building on our last point, there are times when there is no choice but to transfer a conversation to another representative. In that case, it needs to take no longer than 10 minutes. According to research, 75% of customers say that they were “highly annoyed” when they couldn’t get someone in a reasonable amount of time.

Customers always loathe long wait times. Transfers can be done quicker in live chat as opposed to call centers, but the issue can still exist. In fact, according to one research, 12% of Americans rate their number one frustration with online customer service as “lack of speed” above everything else. Make sure your live chat support agent handles transfers quickly and efficiently without making a customer wait too long for their conversation to continue.

Language Barrier

Approximately 1.1 billion people around the world are English speakers out of a total population of 7.9 billion. This might seem like a surprising fact, but the majority of the world are not native english speakers. Consequently, some customers will expect online chat support to be available in their own language.

Therefore, you need to have bilingual agents ready to handle online chat when needed. While you can overcome some of the language barrier by using online translation tools, it’s still better to have a multilingual customer support staff who can keep the conversation flowing smoothly and communicate effectively.

Poor User Interface

Live chat is intended to ease customer experience and that needs to be matched by a simple, easy-to-use UI. Giving users a complex interface that requires too many clicks defeats the whole purpose of an online chat support. When choosing your online chat tool or plugin, be sure to go for the minimalist option. Avoid asking users to fill a form or provide information before they can start a chat. Reduce the barrier between your website visitors and the agent. You may also send auto responses just, such as a simple greeting message, in order to keep the user engaged before an actual agent takes over.

Inappropriate Conversational Tone

When we discussed ‘slow response time’ earlier, we also mentioned the importance of using the right tone with your customer. We want to elaborate this further.

One mistake a lot of companies make is relying too much on pre-written scripts or template messages. Customers can easily sense when a conversation is not genuine. Another common mistake is by communicating too formally. Customers don’t like to be treated as corporate entities and would rather have a simple, down-to-earth conversation. In fact, according to one research, “70 % of the customers believe that Friendly employees or customer service representatives are what makes a memorable experience that causes consumers to stick with a brand.”

So instruct your agents to chat in a friendly manner without using too many corporate jargon.

Lack of Effectiveness

When making a query, it is imperative that it is taken care of effectively. That means that their concerns are addressed properly such as a complaint about a product or an inquiry about pricing. The agent chatting with them must make sure that their tickets are resolved and that the customer leaves the conversation satisfied. According to Statista, 27% of Americans report “lack of effectiveness” as their number one frustration with customer service.

Another aspect of being effective is the ability to listen to your customers and take feedback and criticism in a professional manner. Irate customers are always common but agents should be well trained to handle them calmly without any miscommunication.

CONCLUSION

There are many ways to create a robust, effective and successful online chat support for your business. While there are many challenges along the way, the benefits outweigh the risk and IdeasUnlimited encourages every company to explore this option. If you need help to set up your own online chat service or just need to get pointed in the right direction, our experts are always available to help. Simply visit our contact page and get in touch with us today!

How to Choose the Right Call Center for your Business

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

Customer service continues to be a key factor in the success for most businesses. Handling customer queries on a daily basis is crucial for B2C and even B2B companies that rely on high value clients for their revenue and continued operations.

With the assistance of trusted BPO firms, more and more companies are beginning to outsource their customer support to third-party call centers. This proves to be a more cost-effective solution compared to setting up an in-house contact center. However, there are many factors to consider before making such an investment. To help guide business owners, we have compiled a list of pointers that can help you make the right decision when choosing a call center.

Maximum Call Volume

Most call centers won’t work with a company unless they hire a minimum number of agents. However, there are call center service providers that offer scalable packages and are prepared to start from as low as 5-10 seats per client. The real concern for most companies should in fact be the call center’s maximum capacity.

When searching for a call center, you need to start by first understanding the number of calls you expect to receive on a daily basis. It’s important to note that customers might not always contact you via telephone. Some prefer messaging or email, so the actual ‘call’ volume could be higher than anticipated. Unless you have a dedicated staff to entertain text messages from customers, you should always ask potential call centers if their agents can handle those queries in a professional manner. Some call centers offer dedicated chat and email support and it’s important to include them in your package.Either way, no customer queries should be unattended and the call center you work with must handle each and every one of them.

Multilingual Capability

Multilingual agents are, more often than not, essential for most types of businesses. Online stores are especially prone to receiving calls from foreign customers. In 2020, both Asia and South America ranked as the top regions for online shoppers with almost 86% of the global share. Whether you’re looking to tap overseas markets or not, you need to ensure that the call center you hire offers support in the most popular global languages.

In our experience, customers tend to be more satisfied with a service if it’s provided in their native tongue. Plus, we see a larger percentage of those same customers coming back so enhanced retention rates is yet another benefit of being multilingual. Always select a contact center that offers fluent bilingual services along with any of the ancillary transcriptions.

24/7 Availability

Being always-on usually depends on the type of company in question. For example, B2B companies that specialize in niche verticals only need to be available during business hours. But an online store should always have a customer support service on standby, regardless of time zone.

Needless to say, 24/7 availability is a great feature to have for your business even if you feel it’s not necessary. Some call centers have agents operating in rotating shifts which allows them to be ready all the time, even during after hours and holidays. When selecting the call center you want to work with, always look for one which features 24/7 service along with a capable managerial staff who will ensure that there will always be someone ready to tend to a client.

Inbound & Outbound Services

Call centers are not just receiving calls, they also specialize in pursuing business leads. In fact, some call centers conduct more outbound calls than inbound. Services such as telemarketing and cold calling are vital for gaining new customers. However, it needs to be performed routinely and quite frequently in order to yield success. That is why using contact center outsourcing to offload this function to a third party is perhaps the best option for most companies.

Before choosing a call center, make sure that it offers high quality outbound call services in case you need to pivot your business strategy towards finding leads. Some centers can offer potential leads of their own, but they usually come at a high price. It is much more cost effective to be prepared with your own client list.

Monthly Reporting

Call center agents are the frontline of a business. They are the ones talking to customers, representing a brand and satisfying their queries. More importantly, agents understand the needs of your clients better than anyone else. Because of this, it is imperative that you work with a call center that regularly compiles and shares feedback information based on their interactions. This includes everything from written reports, performance figures as well as some samples of recent calls that they had.

Having an organized database of call center feedback can be extremely helpful for those who want to learn how to improve their products and services. Online stores can use such information to tweak their product lines in order to get ahead of the competition. Call centers provide the means to create an effective feedback loop and their ability to gather reviews from hundreds of customers can be an invaluable asset for a company.

Disaster Recovery

While 24/7 availability is important, even the most robust and well-equipped call center isn’t immune to unforeseen events that can knock out it’s operations. Natural disasters, cybersecurity attacks and network disruptions are just some of the things that can render call centers offline. While such disruptions are usually temporary, it can cause a substantial amount of damage such as revenue loss and information leak.

It is always prudent to check if a call center has a disaster recovery protocol before hiring them. Disaster recovery means that the call center has the ability to swiftly revert to its functional state. Cloud storage, uninterrupted power supply and standby computer systems are all standard disaster recovery equipment that a call center should have. Especially since safeguarding client details is extremely important for the integrity of your business.

CONCLUSION

Whether you are looking to expand your business or need to set up customer service for your brand, we hope this article helped you find the right direction before making a commitment. IdeasUnlimited is always open to sharing more business support expertise. Be sure to get in touch with us by sharing your thoughts in the comments below or by leaving us a message on our contact form.

The Role of Customer Service in an Online Store

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

Starting an online store is one of the most accessible forms of business venture. Easy to set up, cost-effective and low on risk. It attracts entrepreneurs and enterprises alike by virtually guaranteeing a certain amount of return on investment.

But while creating an online store is simple, retaining it for long-term success is where things get tricky. Building brand loyalty and a robust customer base has always been a struggle, even for larger companies. Regardless of product quality, customer satisfaction can make or break your ecommerce business.

Here at IdeasUnlimited, we’ve learned the tremendous value of high-quality customer service in the ecommerce industry. Both for those on a tight budget or perhaps not convinced with the value of customer service, we’ll be discussing the role it plays for online stores and how it adds value to a business.

Improving Customer Trust

When it comes to engaging with your customers, there is no better alternative to having a voice to represent your company. 2020 saw the biggest surge in online shopping and roughly 60% of online shoppers ended up returning for more with companies that had good customer service.

By giving your customers a number to call in case they would like to speak to you is a simple but effective way to let them know that you highly prioritize their shopping experience on your website. Customer service has many functions but chief among them is its ability to push customers into the purchase funnel which results in a sale. When speaking with a responsive customer service agent, consumers will have the confidence and assurance to safely make a transaction knowing that there will always be someone to speak to should anything go wrong with their shopping experience.

Enabling 24/7

Brick and mortar stores can’t keep their doors open all day long but websites are live on the internet all the time. In the ecommerce world, 24/7 availability has become something of an obligation and companies that cannot achieve it are at a huge disadvantage. Online customers expect fast and responsive service for their queries. You never know when and from which country and customer might stumble on your website, so you need to be ready. More importantly, your customer service needs to be ready.

Contact centers are the key to serve customers during holidays and after-hours. They act as an ever present front for your business to ensure that your business remains operational non-stop. Customers are most prone to cancelling orders if their complaints or queries are not dealt with promptly so it’s important to be “always-on” and available even outside of your business hours.

Handling Irate Customers

No matter how good your products or services are, sooner or later, all B2C companies have to face unsatisfied customers. Angry customers aren’t necessarily a sign of poor product quality, they just happen to be an inevitability in the world of consumer business. The key is to respond to such customers professionally and to have a solid protocol to handle them in a way that doesn’t hurt your customer retention. Always to try and win back irate customers rather than avoid them.

This is where professional call centers can help tremendously. Most call centers have agents who are coached by experienced managers to smoothly handle calls from unhappy customers. They are trained to remain calm and professional in order to avoid compromising the company brand and it’s reputation. Having trained agents at the ready who don’t give in to emotions when dealing with clients are crucial to maintain a positive outlook for existing and potentially new clients.

Tracking Customer Feedback

Ecommerce is all about iteration and innovation. Offering your customers new and exciting products is imperative in order to keep them coming back for more. Most of the time, it’s about tweaking your existing offerings to match what your consumers desire rather than developing an entirely new product lineup. Getting this right can be challenging.

One thing call centers are extremely good at is building a database. Most contact centers maintain a record of things like what customers disliked the most about a product, how they wished it was different etc. When talking to customers, agents can conduct a scripted line of questions in order to judge what customers liked/disliked in any given product. Information such as this can be extremely valuable for online stores that are trying to brainstorm new product ideas.

CONCLUSION

An effective customer service is an essential part of a successful business and a professional team of call centers agents still prove to this day to be an invaluable asset. Building a responsive customer care function is vital to setup your ecommerce business for success and getting started is becoming easier than ever. IdeasUnlimited has helped over five hundred clients establish robust customer care. Whether you are a beginner or a well established franchise in the ecommerce arena, our support team is ready to help you enhance your services today. Be sure to get in touch with our sales team by heading over to our Contact Page and letting us know a little bit about your business.

5 Reasons Why Small Businesses Should Hire a Call Center

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

The most valuable asset any company can have is customer trust. Having a robust customer base composed of long-term clients that openly endorses your business is the key ingredient for a successful company. The best way to gain loyal consumers is by crafting a great customer service experience. In the United States, when a person wants to contact a company for any reason, roughly 58% of them try to reach their customer service number

Building a strong customer base has always been a challenge. It takes years of establishing rapport, finding leads and brand-building. For larger companies, it’s a process worth spending billions of dollars on. However, small business owners simply can’t afford to balance both operating a business and providing a great customer experience.

The BPO industry has made great strides in seamlessly integrating with other companies as their primary customer support. Hiring call centers has now become an excellent option for those who are struggling with handling their customers. Here are 5 reasons why we think that partnering with a call center is an excellent business move for smaller companies.

Cost Reduction

Arguably the biggest benefit for hiring a call center is how much more affordable it is than developing your own. Running an in-house call center is a huge undertaking during which a company must, among other things:

  • Rent office space for support agents
  • Buy the necessary equipment and software tools
  • Manage turn-over and reduce their effect on projects
  • Purchase disaster recovery tools
  • Hire and train personnel constantly

For smaller companies, investing so much resources into a single business function is not applicable. That is why most call centers offer turn-key customer support solutions which allows anyone to have a customer support service up and running nearly overnight with minimum overhead.

IdeasUnlimited was established with the belief that call centers need to be extremely adaptable. It is natural for small businesses to scale up or down, or to have off seasons with little customer activity. To minimize financial strains, our call centers offer flexible packages where aspects like number of agents and monthly charges can be fine tuned on a per-need basis.

Overseas Expansion

Most smaller companies aspire to become larger and the only way to do that is to reach a wider audience. In our experience, we’ve had many business owners in the United States sharing their desire to expand in Asia but failing to do so simply because of the language barrier. Something as simple as a difference in culture can prevent smaller companies from tapping into overseas markets.

This is another reason for SMEs to seriously consider outsourcing to a call center. Knowing that Southeast Asia has now become a call center hub, this is perhaps the best time for companies in the West to work with a call center in order to target the East.

Many entrepreneurs in the startup culture have looked for ‘easy-wins’ to expand their business. Hiring a call center to gain access to markets overseas is perhaps just the right solution. Based on this notion, IdeasUnlimited offers multilingual support so business owners can gain customers from foreign countries without having to directly deal with them. Plus, it’s extremely cost effective to outsource. Infact, hiring translators from your local region can end up being even more expensive whereas an overseas agent will not only cost less, but will be better attuned to the local culture of the foreign country you wish to target. IdeasUnlimited is well accustomed with clients who wish to expand eastwards and our presence in Southeast Asia has helped many of them to reach that goal.

24/7 Availability

Roughly 64% of people who call customer service expect instantaneous responses throughout the day. Being responsive to your customers regardless of after-hours and holidays is vital for any business. Even when your staff is not in the office, someone always needs to be ready to answer calls, resolve queries and handle complaints. This is a tough ask for smaller companies who are already preoccupied with the rest of their daily operations.

For most call centers, 24/7 service has become an industry staple. However, many of these call centers will only work on large-scale projects in order to provide round-the-clock service. But there are call centers that offer always-on customer support for even small scale businesses thanks to customizable packages that can be scaled down. If a small business can find a cost-effective option, then a call center to represent their business 24/7 is definitely something that can help improve customer retention. IdeasUnlimited has spent over 10 years building and bolstering its call center infrastructure in order to have zero downtime so it can truly serve 24/7.

Brand Building

Regardless of size, customers always expect companies to have professional customer service. In order to build a strong brand, smaller companies need to have the same capabilities as large enterprises when it comes to dealing with customers. Not just in call volume, but in quality as well. 

Call center agents are essentially the front line of your business. By being the first point of contact for your customers, they can present a professional company persona thanks to their training, coaching and pre-planned scripts. This is exactly what can help small businesses compete with bigger brands that dominate their market.

Coaching a staff in-house for smaller businesses is usually not feasible. In call centers, a carefully crafted hierarchy of managers ensures that even newly inducted agents can communicate professionally and effectively. Smaller businesses that hope to elevate their brand should definitely consider partnering with such call centers. IdeasUnlimited has had a number of successful projects during which we enhanced the brand image of numerous clients including their app rating, online recognition, customer score and much more.

Focusing on your Niche

Most small companies need to be purely focused on delivering great products and services. Anything other than their core business is considered secondary, including customer service.

At IdeasUnlimited, we always encourage newer and smaller businesses to stick to their strengths while outsourcing everything else. A great benefit of hiring a call center is that it allows you to do just that.

One can think of working with a call center as an effort to streamline your business. By offloading customer service duties, it allows more time, money and effort to instead be invested in building better products and services. Plus, many call centers provide regular feedback and reports which can help you further improve your business strategies.

CONCLUSION

IdeasUnlimited specializes in supporting small businesses. We’ve had great success in turning companies into global powerhouses. We’re always looking for the business to guide towards success. If you’re looking to work with a call center, we’re always willing to help. Be sure to contact our team or leave us a comment below.

virtual assistant blog cover

How to Become a Virtual Assistant

By | Remote Support Services, Remote Work, Uncategorized, Virtual Assistant Support | 10 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 consistently communicate with high profile individuals.

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 projects rather than short-term gigs. 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 not making a great impression on your profile.

Create an Impressive Portfolio

A portfolio is doubly important for virtual assistants who want to focus on content creation. Most of the time, you will be required to show a portfolio which will be compared with the work of other 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.

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 ideasunlimitedonline.com/apply-now 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

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

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

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

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.

Disruption and Reinvention in the Telecommunications Industry

By | Call Center for Small Business, Call Center Support, Technical Support, Uncategorized | No Comments

Here is an important question for you: Why do firms run businesses?
The most common answer is: To generate profits and achieve a sustainable position in the market.

The telecommunication industry has been trying to replicate this capital-intensive industry synergy, but without moving beyond the orthodox consumer models. Therefore, with partial redundancy of voice and texting plans, telecom companies have been trying hard to balance their ROI and declining cashflows. Currently, Western European and North American Telecom is also selling broadband, TV, media services, and data services to manage profitability and capital returns. It is, however, more important to note that the landscape has been greatly transformed because Facebook, Google, Netflix, and other data-driven companies have taken it very far from the typical telecom market by creating new forms of communication, technical support, and viewer choices.

Now let me ask you my question again: Why do firms run businesses?

               This time a Million Dollar Answer should be: To maintain their competitive edge, evolve with time, and create positive customer experiences for profitability and sustainability.

Digital innovation can help telecommunication companies streamline operational processes, satisfy customers, reduce costs, and increase sales.

As the telecommunication companies have waited too long to understand and respond to this digital disruption, digital companies like Facebook and Netflix have jumped in and established themselves as the fiercest competitors to the telecommunication industry. These data-driven giants have grabbed a major share of the customer satisfaction pie—the main ingredient of success in today’s world. And to catch up, the telecommunication industry has to free up resources and employ trained, tech-savvy teams to support their customer care center and technical customer support units.

Customer focus is the main target. Telecommunications companies differentiate themselves and achieve success through customer-centric models. This requires drastic changes in operational, technological, and organizational processes.

E-Care

It is time for the telecommunication industry to step up their technical customer support to win big on customer experience and satisfaction. Providing technical customer support through digital channels is reported to increase customer satisfaction significantly.

Deloitte reviews how technical customer support teams can create differentiation and give businesses a competitive edge to retain and acquire customers. Giffgaff, a UK virtual network operator, has set a precedent in E-care or digital technical customer support. With just 33 employees, Giffgaff has a record of clearing customer queries/issues within three minutes. It has succeeded in building a community of users who help each other digitally and even developed Nokia and iOS applications through discussions and mutual help.

This demonstrates an excellent example of E-care, which also results in high levels of customer engagement and satisfaction. Digitization makes support services leaner, quicker, and effective. This reduces costs and capital commitment for the company.

The telecommunication industry hardly fares well when customer service metrics are compared. It has failed to fully appreciate the potential of developing digital technical customer support for tier one and two. As the market moves faster towards more sophisticated technologies and cloud-based systems and products and services, it is necessary to avoid communication delays and ineffective solutions.

Generation Y and Generation Z are tech savvy, have lesser time, and prefer online communication. Therefore, systems like E-care can accommodate and elevate their overall customer experience with a telecom operator.

Reports by McKinsey have shown that E-care also reduces customer care center costs by 25-30% while online technical customer support improves customer experience by 76%.  Another mobile operator reduced the number of support service calls by 90% by introducing sophisticated systems for E-care. This shows the significance of building and facilitating digital-only journeys for modern telecom users. A three-tiered system of technical support with advanced systems can easily navigate and anticipate problems and issue resources to the customers as required.

Omnichannel Experience

When digital services become extensive, they necessitate the introduction of a cohesive online/offline operations model for your business to deliver a consistent experience across all channels of communication and customer contact points. Your customer care center should be able to keep up with the evolving demands and preferences of your customers. Each touchpoint, whether operated digitally or through a customer representative, needs to deliver an expected level of service.

More than 60% of customers digitally interact with brands and request their services  through different mediums. They expect consistent and quality customer service across all time zones, mediums, and devices. Unified cross-channel services will bring loyalty and repeated sales for the company.

A well-managed omnichannel customer experience means a well-integrated and seamless experience for the consumers through which they can resolve service issues and communicate with the company. Different customers can have different communication preferences and the omnichannel support model enables them to choose different channels alternatively, simultaneously, and in combination, to build their own digital journeys.

Developing the omnichannel experience for your customers will also result in a wealth of customer data, which can further help to elevate customer service at multiple touch points by better personalization and service access. Big data and predictive analyses give a unified view of customers that is required for the omnichannel experience.

IdeasUnlimited has been assisting a number of companies in the telecommunication industry meet these contemporary challenges. If you are interested in knowing more about our services for telephone companies, internet service providers, wireless telecommunication carriers, network service providers, and media service providers, click here -> Read More

Planet Call Center

Planet Call Center

By | Call Center Support, Inbound Call Center Solution, Outbound Call Center Services, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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

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

Camaraderie

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

Call Center Culture Builds Camaraderie

Shared Jargon

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

Hard Work and Positive Atmosphere

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

Diverse Interactions

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

Cultural Diversity epitomizes call center communications

Using Second Language

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

Interpersonal Interactions

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

The IdeasUnlimited Experience

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

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