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Using Technology to be an Efficient Entrepreneur

Are you looking to find new ways to use technology to make your business and personal life better? Becoming an efficient entrepreneur takes hard work but its possible. We break down how to get yourself organized for a smoother work-life balance.

Empower Customers

One of the key methods of making your business more productive isn’t necessarily tied with doing more. Instead, it is what you don’t do that makes the difference. And one way that businesses continually make this mistake is by assuming that customers need to be guided every step of the way and don’t want to handle their business directly. For instance, the popularity of the self-checkout line at major retailers enables customers to take care of their shopping without any assistance from staff.

Your business can do this, too, with the help of Global Call Forwarding’s IVR and PBX services. In short, these services enable inbound callers to use your directory to find the information and complete their transactions by themselves. By providing basic information through your directory (ex. store hours), you can simultaneously empower customers and lighten the load of your employees. Furthermore, incorporating specific extensions for staff members can also organize the type of calls that staff members regularly receive. It’s through these methods that you can make your business more efficient.

Making Your Business Accessible around the Clock

One hallmark of efficient businesses is that they don’t waste time. And a clear example of wasted time comes when regular business hours come to a close, locking out customers that may have to wait until your business opens on the next business day; this may cause potential customers to look elsewhere for their needs to be met. In either case, this inefficiency can be fatal for your business, especially in competitive industries.

The solution is to make your business accessible around the clock with Global Call Forwarding’s services, particularly its suite of add-ons and features that can increase the power of your virtual phone numbers exponentially.

For starters, consider the popular add-on “time of day routing.” As the name implies, inbound calls made to your virtual phone number can be routed to other destination phone numbers anywhere in the world based on the time of day that callers dial your number. This means that you can use time of day routing during times when your staff isn’t at work, such as during lunch, meetings, vacations, and outside of regular business hours. By having these hours covered by time of day routing, you make your business accessible no matter which time zone or hour that calls may be coming in from.

Last, as an entrepreneur, you may be looking to have some off-time from your business. You can use time of day routing to redirect calls made to your phone or extension to another staff member or voicemail.

Using Technology to be an Efficient Entrepreneur
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Simultaneous Ringing

Another add-on that functions in a similar manner is “simultaneous ringing.” Also, like the name implies, all devices connected to your virtual phone number will simultaneously ring when a call is made to your business. This enables any staff member on hand the ability to answer the call, which ensures that customers are retained and not left waiting to be serviced.

Call Recording

Being an entrepreneur can be hectic at times. And while we all wish to remember every single detail discussed over the phone, sometimes things get lost in the mix. The easiest solution is simply to record the interaction and use it for reference in the future. Global Call Forwarding enables entrepreneurs this efficiency with its popular add-on, “call recording.” Call recording enables you to record and store conversations. This is useful for customer service training purposes, as well as for certain industries, such as finance.

Call recording can be used to verify if your employees are handling calls efficiently. For instance, you may notice that some customer service agents get bogged down in minuscule details that can be solved by redirecting customers to online resources (such as blogs, FAQs, videos, and more). With call recording, you can analyze your business from afar or when you’re not in the office. It is often these small, yet detailed changes that ensure your business is running smoothly and reducing waste.

Delegation with Voicemail to Email

Global Call Forwarding offers a very handy feature with its voicemail to email service. When setting up, you can have your voicemail messages forwarded as an mp3 directly to an inbox. For large businesses that need to delegate tasks based on their specialty, having a document that spells out what customers need from your business can make it easier to assign to the right employees.

Interested in learning more about Global Call Forwarding’s telecom services? If so, visit www.globalcallforwarding.com to learn more about how you can make your business more efficient.

Credibility & Your Small Business: How to Ensure Your Company Maintains Trust from Customers

How to Ensure Your Company Maintains Trust from Customers

Nobody is going to consistently invest in a company that they do not trust. It is easy to build trust in a business relationship as long as you follow a few steps and commit to these steps for the long haul.

Below are some tips/steps with regard to credibility & your small business.

Always Be Genuine

Practically every person on the planet has had some type of unpleasant experience with a salesperson. In fact, many may have even abruptly walked away from a sales situation where they felt manipulated. Rather than acting or sounding like a salesperson, be genuine. Act the same as you would if you were meeting with a colleague.

Place Value on the Relationships

If you want people to value a relationship with you, then you must truly believe that the relationship is important to you and treat it as such. You must also have confidence in the fact that you have something of value to bring to the relationship.

Show Interest in Your Customers

Another tip regarding credibility and your small business is to be curious. People are drawn to those who show they have an interest in them. Having curiosity is a crucial element when it comes to building relationships. Having a steady interest in others opens the pathway to learning new things and making new connections with people.

Credibility & Your Small Business
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Develop and Demonstrate Consistency

A customer or client’s ability to trust your business depends on whether you and your staff show this customer or client that your behaviors as an organization and as a person are consistent over time. People trust consistency. When a customer is able to predict your behavior, that customer is then also more likely to place their trust in you and your organization.

Be Truthful

Trust emerges when selling is approached as a way of helping someone. For a company, making it your quest to discover the areas where you and your customers can work together is important. Also, being able to point out when your company’s services or products are not the right fit for a customer or a situation is the epitome of honesty and forthrightness.

Stay Open Minded

Keep the customer’s best interests at heart and openly discuss options with them. Being narrow-minded and adopting the idea that your product is the only right choice for the customer may give a customer the sense that you do not have their best interests in mind.

Have Real Conversations

Every time you meet with a customer, have a conversation rather than slapping them with a sales pitch. Spend some time listening to your customers. Make sure the conversation has substance and is about real business issues, not just small talk.

Keep Things Professional

Customers tend to trust organizations and individuals within organizations who are serious about what they do and are willing to take the time to achieve a deep understanding of their particular tasks and overall work. Taking the time on a daily basis to learn more about your customers, their industry, and whatever challenges they have is important.

A final tip regarding credibility and your small business is to show real integrity. This means that you are willing to take a stand even when it is unpopular to do so with your customer or with your company. This does not mean you need to be adversarial, but you should have the ability to make decisions based upon what you know is right. Another way to show real integrity is to never promise what you cannot deliver.

Gaining trust and credibility is only part of the equation to success. You should also have a product or service that customers really want and need, as well as the ability to show how you are adding value, solving problems for them, etc. It’s important to remember that if you don’t earn the customer’s trust they will probably go elsewhere, even if their offering isn’t as good.

People want to feel secure in the company they are doing business with. In this regard, building trust is key to getting to any of the next steps in building a solid relationship with your target customers. This will foster the relationship as they invest in you and your brand for the long-term.

After you have already established a trusting relationship with your customers, retain it by encouraging customers to leave reviews. It will be important to avoid shortcuts, emphasize customer service, and offer loyalty programs to keep the flame burning strong.

Earning the Trust of Your Customers: Why It’s a Long-Term Investment

One of the most, if not the most, important aspects of the customer experience is based on trust. Customers simply will not do business with a company they do not trust. Today, consumer trust is sadly at an all-time low. This is not due to a single event or even a handful of events, but instead, due to a slow and painful chipping away at the relationships between businesses and consumers. Relationships can be long-lasting depending on how you nurture them which is why earning the trust of your customers is so important.

Every time a company makes a customer repeat themselves multiple times, wait on hold for an unreasonable amount of time, fill out a pile of paperwork or complete any other extraordinarily frustrating task, the customer loses a bit of trust in the company. And without trust, there is no relationship between a customer and the company.

Why Earning Trust is Important in Customer Relationships

Many companies are hyper-focused on getting tasks accomplished quickly. There are a lot of discussions related to streamlining processes and finding ways to become more efficient. It all sounds great in theory until you realize that the operational efficiency many times works in complete counter to a quality customer experience. By trying to get through as many customers as possible in a short amount of time, you may increase your volume, but the company is also sacrificing personalized customer support, and this erodes customer trust in the company. Instead of a customer feeling like a human who is able to trust a company to help them solve any issue, a customer is left feeling like a number who is rapidly being pushed down an assembly line dubbed, “customer care.”

This is not the ultimate goal for a business to be successful. Instead, earning the trust of your customers should be at the core of every conversation and decision. Building trust doesn’t happen quickly or easily. A business must remain consistent in the messaging, understand the personas of those in their market, and deliver on promises made over time. When your customers and prospects trust you, they are more likely to invest in your brand. When you have their trust, you are also typically able to command a higher price for your goods and/or services and boost the lifetime value of each of your customers.

Earning the Trust of Your Customers
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Strategies that Benefit Your Business in the Long Run

Here are some strategies in planning for earning the trust of your customers as a long-term investment:

Make yourself available to your customers for questions and concerns. Customers often have questions and if there is no way for them to get answers or they can’t get the answers in a timely manner, they will often go elsewhere.

Offer a product that is reliable. Selling something and boasting about all of the features is one thing, but delivering a product that is exactly what was promised is another thing. If you sell a low-quality product, it is sure to draw negative reviews and this can lead to a break in trust and a decrease in credibility within the market. Putting a product through rigorous testing is a good way to resolve this and ensure you are delivering a product that is high quality, as you have promised.

Other ways to earn the trust of your customers:

  • Be transparent
  • Bring value to your clients
  • Maintain consistency
  • Ensure your messaging is in line with your actions
  • Create consistent imagery across all of your marketing materials
  • Know your prospects
  • Deliver the expected brand experience

Earning the trust of your customers should be at the center of every strategic planning session and every action was taken by an organization because, without trust, a business cannot succeed.

We all know that trust is the precursor to any meaningful and long-lasting relationship. Buyers, ultimately, must put their faith in the companies and people they choose to do business with. Trust is a byproduct of commitment. It is the universal factor that will essentially make or break an opportunity. In mapping out a plan for earning the trust of your customers, you should aim to deliver the right results to the right people. In the long-term, they will trust you and your business and invest in your product and service offerings. Once you have carved out your identity within your market, stay on top of communications and back up everything you say with tangible actions. This is the path to business growth and success in any industry.

Accountability: Why Your Business Needs It

To effectively carry out a complex project or implement a strategic business plan, a culture of accountability must be developed throughout an organization. In order to achieve success, everyone within the organization needs to understand the organization’s strategy, their individual roles within the organization, and all specific tasks they are responsible for. Accountability is not limited to staff members within an organization. Managers and business leaders must also follow through on their promises and maintain a commitment to their organizational goals and to their individual performance.

How To Build Accountability in Business

When accountability is absent, the effects can snowball through an entire organization. Particularly when there is a large team with multiple people working in various roles on a project, this can pose issues. The result will be delays in project completion (if the project is completed at all) and negativity eroding attitudes of team members. A lack of trust could develop and both the performance and overall culture of an organization can suffer greatly.

If you want a high-performing team that is committed to taking ownership of their tasks and projects, read on. Here are some tips regarding accountability and why your business needs it.

1. Accountability means creating and nurturing an environment of trust and openness

When team members are behind or make mistakes, it is important that they feel comfortable enough to approach others on the team or a leader of the team for advice or help, with enough time to address and correct the issue. Asking for help can be very difficult, but it can also help to build trust, understanding, and autonomy, which leads to the development of strong teams that are very productive. This is just one tip, which highlights the importance of accountability and why your business needs it.

2. Understanding staff and what individually motivates them

Everyone has different motivations. Despite this, there are specific business culture traits that will lead to increased workplace satisfaction. When team members are given the opportunity to learn, grow, and develop in their roles, along with being made to feel that their contribution is essential, this is a plus for everyone. To help sustain a business culture that supports these values in conjunction with accountability and performance, business owners can avoid micromanagement, stay open to communicating, encourage collaboration, support employee education, and growth, and continue their own educations through conferences and workshops.

Accountability Why Your Business Needs It
Source: Stockphoto.com O#23559 ID#100050738501

3. Set clear goals that are actionable and provide metrics for success

When a team leaves a meeting or a conversation, it is important that they leave with a clear understanding of what their specific tasks and responsibilities are. This involves going over timelines and deadlines. By defining these aspects clearly, a team can leave a meeting with an understanding of what the next steps to take are, how much time they should spend on these tasks, and what the resulting product should be. Again, this is another critical step in establishing accountability.

4. Track and periodically review your progress, notice successes, and failures

In order for a team member to know when a project is completed and the level of quality that is expected of them, there has to be some form of tracking in place. This tracking method must have clearly defined definitions of success worked into it. Whether the progress is monitored on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis, it is important to do this to figure out if the project is on track and within scope.

Even leaders need to remember that they need help in staying accountable. A leader may become too focused on day-to-day tasks and lose sight of the big picture or, in contrast, they may develop such a wide scope that they have a hard time understanding the more intricate aspects of the organization. On the short-term, this may not necessarily cause a problem, but if this continues, this could lead to great difficulty in maintaining accountability to the organizational strategy.

Working with a partner that helps with strategy from outside of the organization could assist in this area. A partner could help leaders to maintain an understanding of where the business is going, as well as to maintain momentum. This outside partner could also help in keeping the team motivated and aligned with the company vision and strategies.

When leaders are committed to their accountability, it can make a huge impact on their organization, which leads to alignment and the overall success of the organization.

The Importance of Effective Project Management

Companies of all sizes should know the importance of proper project management. As C-level executives become busier than ever and deal with the many responsibilities of leadership, funding, and keeping investors happy, they simply do not have the energy or space to handle projects on a working level. However, they do hire managers for a range of tasks and get the job done.

 

The ultimate goal of a dedicated manager is to oversee a project from the very beginning to the end. Managers measure and identify the right requirements, establish clear goals, and ultimately help the business succeed.

Resource Managing

“Resources” is a broad term. This can include anything from the number of people working on a project to the set of tools you use to complete it. Ideally, project managers will already know which of the company resources are at their disposal and how to use them. When resource management is done the right way, nothing is ever wasted.

Managers should also know not to “overspend” on small projects. For instance, if a team spends company overtime attempting to complete an unimportant task; this ends up being wasteful in a variety of ways. They guide not only their own resources but an employee’s resources as well. Here are just a few other examples of areas that suffer:

  • Financial resources, such as cash
  • Software, hardware, or any technical tools needed
  • Equipment or machinery
  • Property, such as a land, or a building site

If a team member needs additional help, resources, or does not know how to complete a task on their list, it is the manager’s responsibility to provide what they need. For instance, a workspace, computer, and general office supplies.

Alternately, managers should have enough experience to know what puts a project at risk. So if something goes awry, managers know how to manage expectations and change timelines and resources accordingly. This allows them to anticipate potential issues before they ever occur. This is seen as a proactive process rather than a reactive one. The difference is that you’re preventing fires, not constantly putting them out.

Employee Managing

It’s not just the actual project that needs overseeing. Higher level managers keep people and teams united and focused on the same goals. This is because conflict between individuals can truly kill productivity. Those with previous managerial experience, no matter the industry, will tell you that the most effective ‘best practices’ will include communication between team members as well as clear milestones and defined roles.

Great managers know how to encourage others to collaborate, share, and engage in teamwork. This is a cornerstone of making sure everyone is on the same page. However, one of the most difficult aspects of being a project manager has to do with keeping people accountable. When a task is not completed on time, or an employee is constantly showing up late, this may negatively affect other individuals’ tasks, perhaps derailing the project altogether. And when a project fails, the manager must accept full responsibility.

A true leader also provides a vision for every team member. If employees work on tasks without knowing anything about the “big picture”, there’s little to no motivation for them to do their best.

Give them the right information on why they are doing the work to give them better focus, as well as excitement for its successful completion. Along those lines, managers can offer incentives for completing work before the deadline. Gift cards from a local restaurant, for instance, is an excellent way to show appreciation.

Client Managing

Even if managers are not doing much of the actual legwork themselves, they should still be familiar with the many talking points of a project. Communication is key here. Managers must be able to update other key players about resources, budgets, the timeline, and more. Those involved could include:

  • Employees
  • Vendors
  • Stakeholders
  • Clients
  • C-level Executives
  • Human Resources (HR)
  • And Others

Since there are many individuals involved, it’s best to have managers be the assigned “point” person so there is no confusion. In fact, it’s a common practice for those on this list to “check in” to ensure the company’s goals are being met. And while they don’t always need every detail, it’s still necessary to provide a thorough rundown when needed.

Client managing is one of the most vital parts of the lifecycle of a project. Managers can set the right expectations with regular phone calls, meetings, or email so they stay up to date.

Mostly clients need to know what exactly is being delivered, when it will be delivered, and all of the different costs involved. Since all businesses are different, keep a running list of items clients want to discuss and make it a point to talk about each one during a dedicated time together.

Many people see managers as middlemen, and employees can save a lot of time by having the right managers in place to execute daily functioning. For instance, if a stakeholder had a question about a software program, they should not have to contact the developer coding it. The manager should be able to address it. This way, the developer can continue work uninterrupted.

Managing Changes

Sometimes clients will refocus a project and unexpected changes will occur. Unfortunately, this can happen at any point in a working timeline. When this does happen, however, a manager should be able to take a step back and refocus the list of priorities. After discussing the changes with the client and team, they can map out a new timeline with expected delivery dates. If a team is stressed out, the manager needs to be able to reassess resources as well so that no one is overworked.

The Necessity of Accurate Reports

When it comes to numbers, clients do not appreciate vagueness. Reporting is another aspect of a project manager’s job. Reports help track progress and they give special insights as to what tasks require the most amount of time and resources. This information is also useful for when a team completes a similar project later on.
Finally, after everything is considered complete, a project manager does not necessarily deliver it automatically to the client. Sometimes they must act as a quality assurance agent to ensure it is actually deliverable in its entirety, and nothing was rushed or remains incomplete.

The 7 Different Types of Managers – Which are you?

When you’re first thrown into a management position, how do you handle workflow, delegation, and conflict resolution? Managers have different styles for taking on some of the more difficult aspects of leadership while others “let things be.” But how do you know which style is right for your team?

Quality leadership involves finding a balance between knowing when to be “tough” on team members with deadlines and when to offer flexibility.

Effective managers know how to improve efficiency and morale at the same time, and when it’s done right, top executives and bosses notice. To help you find ultimate career success, here are the 7 different types of managers and how you can decide which is best for you.

1. Autocratic

This one is considered the most “old-fashioned,” so we’ll get this out of the way right at the beginning. This is a leader who is in complete control over everyone else, leaving little room for flexibility or input from others.

There are benefits to this style. Decisions are made rather quickly, and deadlines are more likely to be met. Resources and instructions are very clear and there is little to no confusion in following orders. This doesn’t mean that ongoing training and education isn’t provided for workers, however, and it also doesn’t mean they don’t have opportunities to grow.

Unless there is a special circumstance, any instructions given by autocratic leaders should be followed to the letter. In many cases, this truly could mean the difference between life or death. For instance, when a Head Surgeon is giving directions to a surgical student there is absolutely no room for error or veering outside of the strict structure of the requirements. Employees who seek creative positions are far less likely to respond to autocratic leadership.

Who uses the autocratic management style?

  • High ranking military officers
  • Police officers or first responders
  • Medical professionals overseeing students or nurses
  • Leaders in manufacturing and heavy industry

2. Affiliative

For a business to be truly productive, there must be a certain amount of trust in a fellow co-worker. In opposition to autocratic managers, affiliative managers are more relationship-focused. They are best at resolving issues or conflicts between team members and keeping up employee morale.

Affiliative managers are also good at recognizing the skillsets of each individual. So if a project goes off the rails, this type of manager can identify what tasks a person is best at and assign new roles or responsibilities as needed.

Extroverts particularly thrive in building relationships in the office. They know how to guide others through stressful situations to preserve a harmonious and happy work environment.

Who uses the affiliative management style?

  • Human resources managers
  • Therapists, counselors, and psychiatrists
  • Mediators

3. Coaching

Coaches aren’t just for athletics. Professionals know how to use coaching techniques in the workplace to bring out an employee’s natural strengths.

This style relies much on encouragement, but also plenty of feedback as well. Sometimes an individual needs to know where they can improve performance, and a coach can skillfully explain where a person went wrong and how they can make it right in the future.

For this management style to truly work, employees must be willing to learn, change, and try new things. Otherwise, coaches will face pushback or even defiance.

Who uses the coaching management style?

  • Any management position that requires training employees
  • A “life coach” or personal development coach
  • An athletic coach or personal trainer

4. Democratic or Participative

This style of management involves everyone. Democratic leaders allow each team members’ voice to be heard at work.

This style allows for the highest level of feedback from workers. There are many ways to do this, including brainstorming sessions on how best to complete a task. When used occasionally, it is very effective. However, when used too frequently, a lot of time is wasted in the discussion process instead of actually accomplishing anything.

The concept of teamwork is key here. Ultimately, however, it is the manager who has a final say in all decisions, usually lending itself to the majority. Democratic leaders often find that this allows for more loyalty from the group.

Who uses the democratic or participative management style?

  • Office supervisors or coordinators
  • Branch leader or team leader
  • Operations manager

5. Pacesetting

Pacesetting follows the concept of “leading by example.” In this setting, managers set a high standard for employees by working hard and meeting the needed deadlines themselves.

If not done correctly, pacesetting can lead to a poor work ethic or a decline in company culture. This is because employees must work at a certain “pace.” Instead, these managers should set clear, but achievable short term and long-term goals.

More than that, it is vital to prevent the “burnout” and high turnover rates that sometimes occur when this is put into practice. Healthy work schedules and balance gives the best results for pacesetting.

Who uses the pacesetting management style?

  • Managers who oversee sales positions
  • Team leaders in retail and food service
  • Directors in hospitality

6. Visionary

Do you like to inspire others? You might be a visionary. Visionary leaders motivate their teams to perform well. They accomplish this through the concept of making work meaningful for their employees. Because everyone is working towards a shared vision for the company as a whole, this empowers everyone involved.

Those who use this style should use caution and pair a visionary style with real, tangible goals and timelines. This keeps employees grounded and rooted in the company’s expectations as well as goals for success for the future.

Who uses the visionary management style?

  • CEOs and other C-level executives
  • Learning and development managers
  • Public speakers or presenters

7. Laissez-faire

If there was a style that was a perfect opposite of autocracy, it’s Laissez-faire or “hands-off” management. In this case, the leader is more like a mentor than a true manager.

Laissez-faire is all about delegation and allowing your team members to step up and make decisions for themselves. While there is little guidance, Laissez-faire managers must also provide the needed tools for success.

While this is the most “relaxed” form of management and is popular among workers, researchers say that this is also one of the least productive methods of leadership.

Who uses the Laissez-faire management style?

  • Startup companies
  • Creative firms, such as advertising agencies
  • Leaders in art, photography, and graphic design