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Combating Food Waste on the Micro level - IdeasUnlimited

Combating Food Wastage on the Micro Level

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

click here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Careers on the Spectrum: All Abilities Welcome at IdeasUnlimited

By | Employee Management, Inclusive Workforce, The IU Way | No Comments

For as long as I can remember, I was ‘different’: from my family, my friend group, from even my small Christian college campus. ‘Different’ was not always bad though. My mom called me unique, but I grew up with the belief that unique just meant to be funny or a great writer. I had a small group of close friends and I put my brains to good use on the Speech Team as a debater. But with all of those strengths, I found myself frustrated at my inability to succeed at math, the difficulty I faced in learning how to drive, or how initiating friendships was a struggle. I came into adulthood accepting these flaws, yet I still wanted answers. After a visit with a health

professional, what were stereotypical behaviors that girls are raised to believe they are not going to excel in turned out to be something else: Non-Verbal Learning Disorder, a spectrum disorder.

I am an individual with high functioning autism.

It took time to accept the label, but it didn’t change who I was. It just led to an awareness of my deficits and how to work on them, which has become a gift. Many non-diagnosed individuals struggle with their own setbacks but lack the impetus to fix them. That peek into who I am deep down has saved me from personal pain but has also been an asset in the workplace since it objectively sets boundaries and highlights the areas where I really shine. Marcie Ciampri, an autism expert, has argued that companies “should look into bringing on an autistic as a community manager (or similar job title), to serve as an autism expert during company-wide meetings, managerial sessions, and/or monthly newsletters” (ERE Media, 2018).

IdeasUnlimited has empowered me to take my experiences and develop full-fledged company-wide projects aimed at recruiting individuals with other mental and developmental health concerns. I have been able to lend immediate diversity within my work environment and dramatically alter the conversation since “hiring a neurodiverse workforce involves not just understanding commonly known aspects about autism but knowing the possible reasons behind the facts” (ERE Media). My methods may be misunderstood, but they are also innovative. Within IdeasUnlimited, I have developed a sense of purpose without having to sacrifice who I am.

IdeasUnlimited is a progressive company that is not only having a conversation on mental health, but we are living it through actions. By educating our staff on disabilities and placing a priority on recruiting individuals with disabilities, we are following HR Management best practices and investing in the global community. I have personally seen an investment in my own life as I have been tasked with the responsibility to lead over numerous projects. Many autistic individuals get pigeonholed as the ‘techie’ in the workplace, but “they are as unique in their skills and aptitudes as any other human being” (ERE Media). I love administrative-type duties, and to utilize my creative writing skills and I get to do that every day. I get paid to play, and not everyone is blessed to say that. We work hard every day at IdeasUnlimited to create an inclusive, adaptive environment where our expectations/values are clear so that any candidate could jump right in.

IdeasUnlimited - Global Support Services Redefined!

IdeasUnlimited Now Featured on Clutch

By | Call Center Support | No Comments

Call centers and voice services allow firms to be even more accessible to their clients, but poor call center support services can be the breaking point for client and company relationships. The quality of a call center relies on a number of factors, from the technology utilized to the level of care they show to their clients, we understand what it takes to provide top-notch service.

We are always looking for new ways to receive honest, unfiltered feedback, and we are excited to share that we have found a new one. We can now be found on Clutch, a ratings and reviews platform for B2B service providers. Clutch

conducts in depth research on firms around the world, collecting information on their marketing presence, social media efforts, and what their clients have to say about them. We can be found on the Clutch directory of top call center companies around the world.

Although Clutch analysts provide their own evaluations of firms, the most important feature of the platform is the space for verified client reviews. We provide a space for our clients to share testimonials, but we value the structure and in depth questions that Clutch includes in their client interviews. And we are pleased to announce that we have already received our first review. When asked about our services, the COO of a dietary supplements company remarked,

“They easily integrated themselves with our company. If I ever had a question, I could reach out and expect a response within a day. Overall, they’ve performed pretty well, managing the project and the customer service agents efficiently.”

We strive to be valuable partners to our clients, and we appreciate the chance to receive in depth feedback that lets us know how we are doing.

Not only are featured and reviewed on Clutch, we were also highlighted on their sister-site, The Manifest. The Manifest is a business resource, offering industry insights, how-to guides, and directories of top service providers. We are included on their directory of the top call center support services, citing our affordability and a notable project we completed. We have also included a portfolio of some of our best work on Visual Objects, a forum for digital service providers to showcase their work to prospective clients.

Thank you to everyone who has worked with us, supported us, and helped us become the company we are today. We are proud of everything we have accomplished, but we know we could not have done it without you.

Are you speaking your customers' language?

Are You Speaking Your Customer’s Language?

By | Customer Service, Multilingual Customer Service, Multilingual Support, Remote Support Services, Remote Work | No Comments

In this new business era where many terms have become buzzwords and many theories redundant, Customer Services and Inclusivity have become the kings of modern commercial activities. However, language differences pose the biggest barrier to their delivery.

The Need for Multilingual Customer Service

Customer services have evolved drastically over time and it is now essential to reach out to your customers before and after sales in their native languages. It is also very important to make all business communications as stress-free as possible on all channels of interaction with customers. In a nutshell, today your business must be able to communicate effectively in the language preferred by and in ways that are convenient for your customers.

According to Wells Fargo’s International Business Survey of 2017, 81% of US companies expected to expand their international business operations and 70% plan to increase their multilingual engagement. All this global expansion has exponentially increased the importance of multilingual support, making it more of a necessity than a competitive differentiator. It is now the only means of effective global expansion and delivering exceptional customer service.

Importance of multilingual customer service

Today in US alone, 51% people prefer online shopping. To expand globally, simply offering your goods and services to international customers is not enough. You can only garner sales when the buyer understands the specifications of the products and services being offered and that is only possible when these are translated into their native languages. According to a survey by Gallup, 40% buyers do not make a transaction on a website which is not in their own language and 19% people never deal with foreign-language-speaking agents.

In this situation, when 86% contact centers have non-English speaking customers, you must ensure your website and offerings are translated into the customers’ preferred language(s) and customers interact with agents speaking their own language(s). This is the only way to broaden your customer base internationally

How to Get Premium Customer Service

In this global business arena where a buyer from Puerto Rico can order goods from a retailer in New Jersey, customer services should also be universally inclusive, to make your customers feel valued. If your designated customer support representative cannot handle calls, emails, and chats in the major languages required by your business, it is certainly time to rethink your customer service strategy. You must speak your brand to more prospective customers in their preferred language(s).

However, opening your business to the world should not break your bank and we have the perfect solution for you: working with a firm providing Multilingual Call Centre Services.

Work with a multilingual support services provider who can help expand your business in more lucrative markets, create a dynamic online presence, hire a local remote team, and deal with local customers with English and non-English preferences. Going down this route would eliminate your overhead costs of infrastructure, recruitment and human resource management, IT and other requirements of in-house employees.

Not only will this allow you to communicate effectively with your customers in other languages, you will be getting omnichannel support, creating that stress-free communication loop that guarantees a competitive edge. Moreover, a competent services provider can fully comprehend the nature of your business activities and offer customized solutions suitable for your business’ needs. Best of all, such multilingual support offers scalability for seasonal surges and business expansion.

Look for a service provider who can provide you a specialist bilingual or multilingual call center representative for each target region or to cover specific queues or timings. This will enhance your brand image, improve customer loyalty and increase customer retention, broadening your customer base.

Regions and Languages to Focus On

The best new market for American businesses

European and Schengen countries not only have the purchasing power but are interested in purchasing US goods and services. To take advantage of this, get multilingual call center services that cover:

  • Norwegian Customer Service
  • Finnish  Customer Service
  • German Customer Service
  • Swedish Customer Service
  • And any other languages that are important for your business.

Conclusion

Do not wait any further to expand your global footprint and do not deny support to customers who do not speak your native language. Let IdeasUnlimited assist you in expanding your business globally. IU can provide Multilingual Support constituting call center support, administrative support and receptionist services, data and customer management support, operational and backend support, and even ecommerce support, among a plethora of other services. With a fully trained and experienced remote workforce, IU can offer these services across several channels and languages, including but not limited to Norwegian customer service, Finnish customer service, German customer service, and Swedish customer service. IU also offers customization of multilingual support services to fully accommodate your business’ requirements and your customers’ preferences.

Remember, improved support means improved business ventures!

The Rise of Online Retail and How Managed Support Services Can Help You Get Ahead of the Curve

The Rise of Online Retail and How Managed Support Services Can Help You Get Ahead of the Curve

By | Backend Support Services, Business Improvement, Call Center Support, Customer Service, Ecommerce Support Services | No Comments

“Online retail is booming and is the next big thing!” Rest assured, this is not an overly-enthusiastic rhetorical claim by some zealous internet purist. Economists and retail analysts agree that online retail has shown steady progress over the last few years and is here to stay.

According to Business Insider, worldwide ecommerce sales increased by 15.5% this year from 2017. In stark contrast, traditional brick-and-mortar sales only increased by a paltry 3.1%. In the US alone, ecommerce sales accounted for 10% of all retail sales—up from 8.2% a year ago. Not only that, online shopping is estimated to be a $526 billion industry in the US, with more than 80% of internet users expected to make an online purchase in 2019.

Statistics for Growth of Ecommerce Sales

Why the Shift to Online Retail?

So why this aggressive shift towards online retail? The most obvious answer is the convenience it provides to its users. Online shopping is hassle-free, usually offers free delivery, and saves so much time! For retailers, it eliminates the pressure to continuously expand physically and open costly brick-and-mortar outlets; an online ecommerce portal ensures an additional revenue stream, not to mention the automatic promotion of the brand.

The Secret to Online Retail Success

Online retail, despite all its pros, is not for the complacent or lazy business owner/manager. It requires constant innovation, which includes providing impeccable and super-responsive human and technical support.

The human part of ensuring a seamless online retail experience includes offering attentive customer care center support and omnichannel customer experience management. The biggest pitfall is not responding to customer queries and/or comments quickly and efficiently—rub a customer the wrong way and brace yourself for some irreparable (and fast-spiraling) brand bashing on Facebook or Twitter! On the other hand, handle a customer with the due care and diligence, and bask in the generous lauding and viral exponential appraisals of your brand! The customer is truly the king (and queen) in the online retail world!

Now come to the second part of innovation—the technical aspect. Technology changes fast. For an online business to run smoothly, it needs to be supported by a solid and scalable online inventory management system and strong backend support that tolerates no downtime.

Nothing puts off an eager shopper who has liberally filled up his/her shopping cart and excitedly clicked check-out more than encountering an annoyingly slow response time, and worse, inefficient or insecure online payment services. According to Statista, 42% of online shoppers worldwide prefer to make their payments via credit cards, while 39% prefer Paypal; imagine the volume of business you would lose if an insecure payment system is in place! Your potential customer will be replaced by a sulky user ready to vent out their frustration on social media. Your listing and inventory management must also be par excellence to ensure all the information is up-to-date and you have no surplus or shortages.

Importance of Secure Online Payment System

Another important aspect is the content on your website, whether it fully describes all aspects of your service or product and resolves all queries of the average customer. Poor quality content and brochure websites do not garner high conversion rates.

Did you know that you only have 0 to 8 seconds to get the visitor’s attention through the headline and the landing page, and even a one second delay can result in a 7% reduced conversion rate? Moreover, detailed product content is considered extremely important by 88% of online shoppers. Not only should the website be aesthetically pleasing and fast, it should be intuitive and interactive, with grammatically correct content that highlights your unique value proposition.

Important Figures for Online Retail

So how to juggle the tricky trinity of online retail, which is maintain the quality of your product/service, ensure a flawless customer care service, and provide solid operational support and backend support systems?

The solution is delegate! A prudent business always focuses on its core product and delegates the ancillary and supporting (but equally important) workflows and tasks to the experts! For online retail, the optimal approach is to get onboard a reputed and well-established support services provider that provides all these services at lower cost than an in-house setup. Doing so ensures a unified and seamless customer experience, translating into higher brand loyalty and return on investment.

Checklist for Getting Ahead of the Curve

  • Get call center support to
    • answer queries of potential customers,
    • resolve any issues that arise with current ones
    • provide omnichannel support: email, social media, text, phone, fax etc.
    • manage your customer database to keep track of purchasing history and loyal customers
    • manage your feedback and reviews to convey a positive brand image and transform disgruntled customers to satisfied repeat customers, and
    • give technical support in case glitches appear on the online platform.
  • Invest in backend support for your online retail platform to ensure
    • fast loading speeds, working links, pages, and graphics,
    • a responsive shopping cart, and
    • a secure online payment system.
  • Partner with an ecommerce support services provider to
    • manage your ecommerce brand,
    • ensure up-to-date listing and inventory management,
    • optimize product information through data entry, data cleansing, product catalog management, and indexing services and
    • provide order processing and tracking services.
  • Get an expert content writer to ensure your website’s content is
    • search engine optimized and
    • grammatically correct.

Case in Point

PatPat a 24 hour call center support client of IdeasUnlimited

PatPat, an online apparel company that aims to make affordable quality apparel for moms and kids, seems to have nailed the online shopping experience just right. They focus on providing reasonable, trendy, and quality wear. But what truly makes them stand out in the jungle of online apparel sites is their attentive customer care. Did they deviate from their core competency of providing apparel to focus on managing the omnichannel customer experience?

Of course not, they simply recruited a customer care center expert. Initially, they only needed two customer care agents but the number grew exponentially as their business flourished, and they now have 30-plus agents ensuring an empathetic customer care service. The increase in this number shows how important a well-equipped customer care center is! Their 24 hour call center manages their brand image by providing customer service, omnichannel support, and ecommerce support services.

PatPat is flourishing because the work is done in unison—PatPat focuses on and provides the core product while IdeasUnlimited helps add value to PatPat’s value proposition. Indeed, a win-win situation!

Conclusion

In a nutshell, retailers that have not figured out how to build a powerful presence online, have not invested in doing so, and are not planning to do so in the future will be left behind. Online retail is certainly not a fad—it is here to stay. The way to get ahead of the curve is to focus on your core competencies and partner with a specialist support services provider for support systems—let your product shine on a scalable and efficient ecommerce platform!