All posts by Gunjan Saini

4 Ways to Ensure Your Software Offers Exceptional Customer Experience

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4 Ways to Ensure Your Software Offers Exceptional Customer Experience

In today’s digital age, customers have thousands of companies at their fingertips. Consequently, if you want people to choose your business over that of your competitors, providing an exceptional customer experience (CX) is essential.

For many businesses, this starts with their customer-facing software. Customer-facing software refers to digital solutions designed to create a positive user experience. As a result, these solutions have the power to ease common pain points and turn casual customers into loyal patrons.

Not sure whether your customer-facing software is up to snuff? Don’t fret. There are simple steps you can take to improve your digital customer service. Outlined below are four strategies to ensure your customer-facing software exceeds user expectations.

1. Use an appointment scheduler.

If you’re in the service industry, your company likely relies on customer appointments. Unfortunately, many businesses don’t understand the importance of accessible appointment scheduling. Complicated scheduling processes and old-school telephone calls frustrate customers. Therefore, outdated tech is driving them to competitors that are more convenient to book with.

Stop losing clients by making it easy for them to book appointments online. Digital appointment schedulers allow customers to schedule appointments without ever needing to call your company.

These software solutions are available 24/7, so customers can schedule appointments at any time of day. For example, do customers need to cancel? No worries; digital appointment schedulers provide options for people to reschedule and edit appointments.

When choosing your appointment booking software, look for one with calendar integration.

While most schedulers have a built-in calendar, some don’t integrate with other calendaring solutions. Consequently, this can cause you to miss appointments if you don’t check your appointment scheduler regularly. Instead, find a solution that instantly updates all of your calendars when an appointment is booked.

2. Have a mobile-friendly website.

Nowadays, people are glued to their smartphones.

A 2021 survey assessed that almost 50% of the people surveyed spend at least five–if not, six hours on their phones every day. As a result, this means there’s a 50/50 chance that customers will pull up your website on their mobile devices.

If your site isn’t optimized for mobile, it may be challenging for people to navigate from their phones.

Mobile-friendly websites now use a responsive design. Therefore, this means your site automatically displays properly, no matter what device users are on. Without responsive design, mobile users will just see a smaller version of your desktop website. These are often hard to navigate from mobile devices and can leave customers frustrated.

In order to implement a responsive design, your site must use a fluid grid. This grid style appropriately sizes elements based on what device customers are using. Website developers can implement a fluid grid by editing your site’s CSS. But if that feels too technical, many simple website builders offer basic templates for mobile-friendly sites.

3. Provide self-help options.

When customers encounter a problem or have a question, they don’t want to get on the phone and wait to speak to a representative. Instead, they’d rather quickly discover the answers they’re looking for themselves.

Providing self-service options gives customers the tools they need to solve their own problems. As a result, this leads to faster resolutions and allows your customer service team to focus their energy on other tasks.

There are many ways to add customer self-service to your website. Two popular options are company knowledge bases and chatbots. A knowledge base is a portion of your site that houses information to help customers learn about your service. This section of the site may include blogs, guides, and a FAQ page.

Chatbots are AI-driven computer programs that process and simulate human conversation. They’re often used to answer basic customer questions like “What is your pricing?” or “Can I reschedule my appointment?” Chatbots can find information for customers more quickly than humans and tailor content based on the conversation. Therefore, this helps customers find answers faster than if they were speaking with an employee.

4. Collect customer feedback.

You’ve simplified scheduling, created a mobile-friendly website, provided self-help options, and sought at all turns to provide an exceptional customer experience. But how do you know if the changes you’ve made have impacted your customers’ experience?

You ask them.

Companies that provide a quality CX understand the importance of feedback. This information can be used to gauge customer satisfaction and make improvements to your service. Additionally, asking for and implementing feedback signals to customers that you value their insights.

Customer satisfaction surveys are a simple way to gather answers to specific customer service questions. Deploy feedback surveys after a service has been provided to better understand the customer experience. If you notice a negative feedback trend, make a plan to address the highlighted issues. Then share this plan with your customers so they know you take their opinions seriously.

Start Improving Your CX Today

Your customers have more options today than ever before. If you want to stand out from the competition, it’s critical that you provide an exceptional customer experience. This starts with your customer-facing software.

Featured Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels.com. Thank you!

6 Things Businesses Can Do to Welcome New Employees

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6 Things Businesses Can Do to Welcome New Employees

Finally! After weeks of searching for the right candidate to fill that open position, you’ve found the right person. In fact, they’re starting this week. No doubt you’re excited to welcome your new employee and have your team working at full capacity again.

Your new employee is probably just as thrilled as you are. It’s also highly likely that they’re nervous about their first few days. As the manager, you’re in charge of making your most recent hire feel at home and comfortable with their new colleagues. Keep reading for six tips to wheel out the welcome wagon.

1. Greet them personally on day one.

Think back to your first day at work. It may have felt slightly intimidating to walk through the front door to take on the unknown. That’s a normal response to unfamiliar situations and responsibilities. However, it’s easier if you don’t have to do it alone, though.

Offer your new employee a helping hand. Additionally, coordinate your schedules so you can meet them when they arrive for work. Greet them with a smile and let them know you’re excited they’re joining your team. Take the time to walk them through the schedule for their first day. With a good idea of what the day will bring, your new employee will feel more at ease.

2. Lead an office tour.

The initial greeting and welcome are great. Consequently, invest a few more minutes and go a step further, though. Don’t simply point the newbie to their office with a wave and “good luck.” Help them get oriented with a tour of the office and building, if needed.

Show them their office and then point out the break room. For example, what’s the quickest way to get to the bathrooms? They’re new and may have questions, so walk them over to human resources. It’s also a good idea to introduce them to the people who work closest to them. Helping with those early introductions can pave the way for easier conversations later in the day.

Don’t forget to explain your digital tools as well. If you have remote employees, your new hire needs to know how to reach them. Give them a brief tutorial on your workplace communication tools. It could make their workday much easier.

3. Personalize their workspace.

Few things feel less inviting than an empty cubicle or office with bare walls and a buzzing overhead light. That image doesn’t say, “We’re glad you’re here!” However, you can easily switch that up, though. With a little effort, you can make your new hire’s office feel like a work home.

Channel your inner elementary-school self and create a cheery banner to hang up. Put an oversized coffee mug filled with bite-size candies on their desk. Tie a shiny balloon to their office chair. Have everyone sign a welcome card. In short, these small touches can make your new employee feel great about their first day.

Encourage your employee to add their own personal flair as well. They might bring in artwork or a plant or two. Both additions will lend color to their office space. They may also prompt conversations with their new co-workers.

4. Host a team meeting.

Sometimes, it takes more than a few quick introductions to make your new hire comfortable with their colleagues. If that’s the case, go ahead and host a team meeting. Let everyone know it will be a social event. It’s their time to catch up with each other and get to know the recent additions to the team.

If you can, try to get out of the workplace. Take your team to lunch at the cafe down the street. Maybe reserve a few lanes at the bowling alley for some after-work strikes and gutter balls. There are other options if you must stay in the office. Organize your meeting as a get-to-know-you event with icebreakers. Fill out personality or work style tests to see which colleagues have things in common.

5. Give them a welcome kit.

Have you ever gone to a conference and been greeted with a themed goodie bag? It’s a nice little perk that comes with the event. Similarly, starting a job should be just as exciting and fun. A welcome pack can do the trick for your new hire. It’s an easy way to make them feel like a part of the office family.

These kits can include several different kinds of treats. For example, does your company have branded clothing? Include a shirt or hoodie. Depending on where you’re located, drop in a list of the best local restaurants and coffee shops. Similarly, add coupons if they’re available, and provide a map, too. In short, a well-stocked welcome kit offers bunches of practical information your new hire will appreciate.

6. Pair them with a mentor.

It doesn’t matter whether your new employee is fresh out of college or a seasoned veteran. Being new to the office is still being new to the office. To help the individual learn the official — and unofficial — ropes, hook them up with a mentor. Someone who’s been with the company a while is a good choice.

Before the employee comes on board, look for an existing co-worker with whom they might have some things in common. Maybe they have shared work histories or have expressed similar interests. It will all help build a connection. Similarly, having a specific person to go to with questions can be a relief for a new hire. It’s a simple way to help them succeed.

Starting a job is an exciting time. It’s filled with possibilities, as well as anxiety and some fear. Fortunately, there are plenty of steps you can take to welcome your latest employee. Consequently, if you follow these tactics, the new co-worker will feel like part of your team in no time.

Featured Image Credit: Rodnae Productions; Pexels.com. Thank you!

4 Ways Businesses Can Expand Their Payment Options

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Expand Payment Options

Part of catering to customers’ needs is offering flexible and convenient ways to pay. Sometimes the difference between making a sale and not is a payment selection clients can work with. Whether you strictly stick to services or also sell products, increasing your payment options can also expand your customer base.

At the same time, balancing business and client needs is essential. It may not be practical or cost-effective to offer some solutions if setup and maintenance expenses are too high. Frequency of client use, transaction fees, and chargeback risks are considerations every owner should evaluate. Most importantly, payment options must make sense for individual appointment-based business models. Below are four ways to expand customers’ payment choices.

1. Set Up Mobile Payments

Mobile payments can cover everything from digital wallets and peer-to-peer payment services to QR codes. These options make it easier for customers without traditional bank accounts and debit cards to submit payments. With the rise in the gig economy and money management alternatives, mobile payments also offer clients additional flexibility.

Some customers may have conventional checking accounts where they manage part of their income. However, they might also do side work and have supplemental income that goes into peer-to-peer or digital wallet accounts. These clients may prefer to pay for services like haircuts and home repairs with their side income. Online and in-store mobile payments make the process simpler since customers don’t have to move money between accounts.

Survey research shows that 71% of U.S. consumers have used a mobile wallet to make payments in the last year. The convenience of not carrying a physical wallet or purse may be part of the appeal. Other factors that make mobile payments attractive are their contactless nature and enhanced security. Customers don’t have to exchange card details or account information. Businesses, however, have to consider transaction fees and the possibilities of chargebacks.

2. Offer Electronic Invoicing

Electronic invoicing is a way to bill clients after they’ve received a company’s services.

Say your business provides in-home maintenance services related to plumbing or electrical wiring. Customers schedule appointments for these services on your website and receive confirmations with a technician’s details. Often, the extent of the problem and the appropriate fix aren’t known until the day the tech shows up.

Before property owners pay, they want to ensure work is done properly and everything’s working. It may take a few days after the job is done for clients to verify nothing else is wrong. Sending invoices via email after technicians complete the work gives customers that time and lets them submit payments securely.

Customers don’t have to exchange credit card or checking account information directly with someone they may not know. Electronic invoices also save employees time at a customer’s location. Repair technicians don’t have to collect and verify payment details or ensure they have a good cellular data connection. They can inform the customer they’ll receive an invoice in their email and move on to the next job. Business risks include delayed payments and write-offs.

3. Give Recurring or Automatic Payment Options

Repeat customers who come in frequently or purchase ongoing services might prefer recurring or automatic payments. With these options, clients can set up which account they want a business to charge each time they buy something. For example, a pet daycare and boarding facility can offer recurring payments for clients who use the services weekly.

Instead of collecting payment for each visit, the facility can charge the person’s account. The frequency could also be set according to client preferences or business needs. For instance, the facility might apply charges on a rolling 30-day basis. The business might charge for monthly boarding and daycare visits at once, giving customers an easier way to budget.

Recurring or automatic payments can also work well for gyms, dance studios, house cleaning services, and ongoing care facilities. One of the biggest advantages of routine payment options is they’re convenient for the customer and the business. Neither side has to remember to send or collect payment. Yet some of the same risks and costs that occur with manual payments still apply. These include insufficient funds, fees, chargebacks, and fraudulent transactions.

4. Provide Payment Plans

While some services don’t cost much, others do. Significant expenses can make customers delay their purchases and major projects. Others won’t be able to fit these costs into their budgets without ways to make smaller payments over time. Offering payment plans or same-as-cash credit options can help businesses overcome the affordability obstacle.

For instance, a painting service may perform a variety of jobs that vary in cost. Some requests will run a few hundred dollars, while others will go into the thousands. Clients may appreciate options to pay off the work over six months or even a year. Payment plans give customers flexibility and ease the pain of paying for much-needed services.

Some businesses may choose to manage payment plans in-house or work with a service that extends on-demand credit to clients. Either way, working within customers’ budgets can bring in more business and expand market reach. However, payment plans may require more follow-up and some degree of automation. The risks of write-offs and slow payments exist. Credit services might also mean more transaction fees and reduced revenues for businesses.

Expanding Payment Solutions

When businesses offer more payment options, their services are more likely to appeal to a wider customer base. Flexibility, affordability, and security often represent clients’ top needs. Giving customers choices beyond cash and conventional credit and debit cards shows a business is willing to accommodate those desires. Alternatives, such as mobile wallets and payment plans, can give service providers another way to stand out from the competition.

Featured Image Credit: Yan Krukov, Pexels. Thank you!

How to Create a Kid-Friendly Waiting Room

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kid-friendly waiting room

Sitting in a waiting room is no one’s definition of a good time. This is a common sentiment among adults, but with kids, it becomes an even greater problem. Children struggle with sitting still and waiting for an upcoming appointment, whether theirs or someone else’s. This makes providing a kid-friendly waiting room a priority for your clients.

You may have a lot of clients who bring their kids to appointments. Or perhaps, like a pediatrician or pediatric dentist, you run a business that caters to children. Either way, your waiting room will need some adjustments. A kid-friendly waiting room will make time spent in the front room more bearable for everyone. Here are a few ideas you can consider for your own business space.

1. Prepare Some Snacks

If there’s one thing kids love, it’s a tasty treat. There’s a reason why many doctor’s offices provide lollipops for their youngest patients. An appealing snack can keep kids occupied while they wait for an upcoming appointment.

As delicious as a cherry sucker might be, parents will appreciate having access to some healthier snacks. Granola bars, trail mix, and dried fruit are all possibilities to consider. These can keep kids busy for a few minutes while also providing them with some essential daily nutrients.

Another thing to keep in mind is the potential mess. While crackers might seem to be a good snack option, they can leave a trail of crumbs in their wake. Parents may feel guilty when their child leaves a mess in your waiting room. Even if you insist that you’ll be happy to clean it up, it’s better to choose less crumbly alternatives.

2. Invite Play

If there’s one thing kids hate, it’s sitting still. Young children have a lot of energy that they just can’t keep bottled up for very long. You should account for that rather than creating a waiting room that requires them to sit still for long periods of time.

This doesn’t mean that you have to install a jungle gym on your property and let kids go wild. Instead, provide some games and activities that will keep them occupied while remaining under control.

Bead mazes and wall-mounted busy boards allow movement while still encouraging kids to stay put. Coloring sheets, picture books, and building blocks are other great toys that kids of various ages can enjoy.

3. Accommodate Parental Needs

A kid-friendly waiting room should also appeal to parents.

This will help them take care of their kids in the best way possible while waiting for an appointment. If parents feel uncomfortable, kids are more likely to get out of hand or become upset.

Consider the simple things, such as having a space for strollers or baby carriers. These items can be cumbersome and really get in the way of a parent’s ability to monitor their children. Just not having to lug them through an entire appointment will be a great relief.

4. Keep It Clean

Another thing that parents will love to see is a clean waiting room.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made sanitized public areas an even greater concern than they had been previously. Parents want their kids to be safe and healthy while still being able to live out normal lives.

Develop a cleaning policy and post it for parents to see. Let them know that the kids area of the waiting room is disinfected multiple times a day. This way, they’ll be able to let their kids play with greater peace of mind.

5. Separate the Waiting Room Into Distinct Areas

In some cases, your patients or customers will cover a wide demographic range. While you may have a lot of families with young children in your waiting room, you may also have older adults. Keep that in mind when you’re designing the final layout of your waiting area.

If possible, try to separate your waiting room. The kids area can be on one side or even occupy its own dedicated room. Children will be able to laugh and play undeterred. On the other side, adults waiting alone won’t be bothered by the noise the kids are likely to make. Both contingents can relax as they wait in their own way.

6. Update the Theme

In the kids area of your waiting room, make plans to brighten up the place.

Kids will respond better to brighter colors or murals of animals and scenery to look at. It will make your waiting room seem more fun and inviting. Provided you’re happy with your decor overall, the adult corner of the waiting room can remain the same.

A space that looks like it’s designed for children will seem more welcoming to kids and their families. Playing with toys in a gray room filled with understated leather furniture almost feels wrong. A friendly giraffe on the wall, on the other hand, will convince them otherwise.

The happier a child is in the waiting room, the more easily they’ll cooperate during an appointment. Families will return to your business if you successfully provide a waiting room experience that caters to their needs. They may even refer your location to other families looking for a business that welcomes families with children with open arms.

Image Credit: Gustavo Fring; Pexels; Thanks! 

How to Run Appointments Effectively and Efficiently

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run appointments effectively

Appointments are inevitable. Whether it’s to get the oil changed in your car or get a cavity looked at, everyone is going to end up with an appointment or two on their calendar. While many services require an appointment, that doesn’t mean people enjoy spending all day in one.

If you’re operating an appointment-based business, it’s vital that you learn to respect your customers’ time. You should have two underlying goals in mind. Your appointments should be efficient, getting customers in and out as quickly as possible. On top of that, your appointments should be effective. The decreased duration shouldn’t come at the price of quality.

So how does one accomplish this feat? A lot will depend on the operations that are specific to your business. However, there are a few universal tips and tricks you can implement to make some improvements. Consider the following:

Enable Self-Scheduling

Appointments don’t necessarily start at your place of business. An appointment begins as soon as a customer starts the booking process. Traditionally, this involves calling a representative and listening to the available options over the phone. There’s a much easier and more efficient way of doing this in 2022.

All you have to do is enable self-scheduling. Put a calendar up on your website that shows which appointment slots are available for the coming weeks. All a prospective client has to do is click on the availability they want and reserve it for themselves.

This helps appointments run more smoothly in two ways. First, the initial booking process takes a lot less time by cutting out the middleman. Second, the middleman doesn’t have to be on the phone so often. They are now free to help move things along at your place of business instead of being tied to a phone line.

Start Check-In Early

The sooner you can get an appointment going, the quicker you can get it completed. Customers don’t want to spend all day at an appointment, and you want to service as many clients as possible. You can speed up the entire process by starting the check-in process early.

Try to accomplish as much as possible before a customer even arrives at your front desk. You can have customers fill out an online questionnaire for information pertinent to an upcoming appointment. Store that information in a customer portal, and check-ins will continue to speed up.

Part of appointment booking can overlap with check-in necessities. You can include some questions in your booking process that can check off some of the boxes required for check-in. Even a single piece of information can help get the ball rolling.

Invest in Employees

You can get a lot of mileage out of your business simply by investing in your employees. In particular, you should consider buying into training programs that can help your workers become more efficient. If your team is running efficiently, so will your appointments.

Training time should always be on your dollar. Provide all of the necessary resources to your employees and compensate them for the time they spend in training. This way they will be able to focus on training properly and apply it to their role immediately.

You should also invest in the mental and emotional wellbeing of your employees. Happy workers tend to work harder. Help them achieve a proper work-life balance and provide adequate working conditions for them. You should see key appointment metrics rise just by doing that alone.

Use Appointment Software

A lot of inefficiencies come from operator errors. A secretary can write down the wrong time for an appointment by accident, or a customer can accidentally book two appointments when they only needed one. While small, these errors can derail an entire day of appointments if left unchecked. You can avoid common mishaps by using appointment software.

Online appointment software takes care of so many factors. This is the type of program that will make self check-ins and self-scheduling not only possible, but simple and easy. Many appointment software programs are also customizable. You can pick the features and layouts that best fit your needs.

When you try online appointment software for the first time, you’ll have a harder time finding a need that isn’t filled. You can set up online payments, send custom reminders, and explore integrations. These tools will have your appointments running more effectively and efficiently than ever.

Ask yourself how you would like an appointment to be run if you were the customer. It could be as simple as wanting online booking. Perhaps businesses that do have online booking have check-in processes that are way too long. Whatever it is that you think works best, those are the aspects you should apply to your own business. Your customers will thank you for it.

Image Credit: Pavel Danilyuk; Pexels; Thanks!

How to Offer Fun Summer Activities to Clients

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fun summer activities

Summer is the perfect time to put together some activities for your clients. Doing this allows you to connect with them more, establishing deeper relationships for long-term partnerships. While also strengthening loyalty, summer events can also bring in new customers to continue growing your business.

The question now is how to decide on a summer activity and execute it effectively. A lot will depend on your business and its specific client base. However, there are a few universal tips that should come in handy this season:

Make it Family Friendly

When it comes to planning summer activities, most clients will have their families in mind. With school out for summer break, they’ll want to spend as much time with their kids as they can. This is why any summer event you put on for your clients should be family friendly.

Renting out a pool or waterpark for your clients and their families will be a lot more fun than a cocktail brunch with little flexibility. Besides, this way the kids can have their fun while the adult clients can enjoy a piña colada in the shade. You’ll have plenty of time to interact with your customers while simultaneously putting on a fun family event.

While it might take a little more effort to accommodate entire families, the effort is worth it. Consumers love a brand that is friendly and outgoing to people of all ages and family compositions.

Sponsor Community Events

There are typically more local events going on during the summer. This will make it more difficult for your business to run an independent event. You’ll be competing with sporting events, parties, parades, and all of the other gatherings planned during the warm weather.

Instead of trying to force your summer activities into every calendar, consider piggy-backing on some of the more prominent events in the area. For example, you might find a lot of success by sponsoring a tent at the county fair. You can notify current customers that you have some prizes specifically for them if they attend the fair, incentivizing them to go. You can also gain more exposure for your brand and hopefully meet some future clients.

Other examples of summer activities you can sponsor can include:

  • a theme night at a baseball game
  • a fireworks show for your town
  • an outdoor movie night in the city park
  • a company parade float

As long as you can find a way to make sure your active clients are included, summer sponsorship opportunities can be a great opportunity for your business.

Embrace the Spirit of Giving

The spirit of giving might be heavily associated with the holiday season, but it’s always welcome in the summer. Any activity or event that you put on for your clients should be done with the intention of providing them with something. Whether that’s a unique experience or a load of prizes, they should be leaving with more than what they arrived with.

Let’s say you decide to put together a summer picnic at the park for all of your employees and clients. You prepare some delicious food for the occasion along with some games and activities for all the families in attendance. Don’t stop there! Raffle off some prizes, such as concert tickets, cool gadgets, or even free services. This combo will be the perfect way to say thanks to the clients who have supported your business.

Consider Current Needs

This has been a record-breaking summer in some areas in terms of heat. With temperatures climbing, a lot of people are opting to stay indoors rather than participate in outdoor activities. Your clients may very well feel this way, and you should keep that sentiment in mind.

For a summer like this, you might opt for an indoor or digital event. Next summer the weather might be more reasonable for an outdoor event, or you could try a fall event. This is an example of how current needs and circumstances will impact how you offer fun summer activities to your clients.

Create a Tradition

Every season comes with its traditions, and summer is no exception. For some families, it’s the annual Fourth of July parade. For others, it’s taking trips to the lake. Traditions are powerful, and your business can play a part in creating a new one for the summer.

Think of the summer event you want to put on. Perhaps this is a poolside barbeque event where you rent out a large facility for your customers and their families. If you can plan this event at the same time each year, you can turn it into a tradition everyone can look forward to. Execute your event perfectly and you’ll have people adding it to their calendar for 2023 as soon as they return home.

Summer is full of amazing opportunities. Be sure to take advantage of the ways you can reach out to and connect with your clients this year and for years to come.

Image Credit: Christina Morillo; Pexels; Thanks!

5 Ways to Improve Your Employees’ Happiness and Productivity

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employee happiness

Several studies on happiness and productivity have shown that the happier an employee is the more productive they will be. Think about it. On a good day, you’re probably able to accomplish a lot. On a bad day, however, you might struggle to even get out of bed. Well, the same rules apply to the workplace.

If an employee doesn’t feel important or valued, there’s a good chance their work will suffer, negatively impacting your company’s success. To increase productivity, make sure your employees’ happiness comes first. This article shares a few ways you can help your employees feel good:

1. Review Your Technology

Chances are, you have several systems in place meant to streamline productivity. Maybe you’ve integrated Slack to promote effective communication internally, or maybe your company uses project management software to keep everyone on track. While the right technology can benefit your company, the wrong technology can significantly decrease productivity.

It’s a good idea to spend some time reviewing your current systems and processes. Make a list of what’s working really well and what isn’t. This is a great time to ask your employees for feedback, as they can probably shed additional light on how they use technology.

Once you have a good idea of where you can improve, look to technology for guidance. It’s important to note that there are many different systems available — some of which do relatively the same thing. Take your time researching the right system for your company. And don’t be afraid to change your mind. Often, the only way to know if something works is to integrate it first. If you’d like to do that and save money, look into free trials.

2. Create A Culture Of Transparency

As a leader, your employees looked up to you. Because of this, you might think it’s essential to demonstrate control constantly. You don’t want your employees to see you sweat, right? Unfortunately, that could be counterproductive. The truth is, no one is perfect. It’s important that your employees know it’s okay to make mistakes and not have the answer to every question.

To create a culture of transparency, admit when you’re wrong and be open with your emotions. This doesn’t mean you should spend an hour telling employees how stressed you are. But showing that you’re a human being, just like them, can go a long way.

Being transparent also creates an honest and open culture. There’s a good chance your employees will be more comfortable sharing their ideas and taking risks that could enhance their productivity and the success of your company.

3. Connect With Your Team

Employees want to feel like they matter. And while you probably appreciate your workers, do you take the time to show it? If you answered “not often” it’s time to change that.

This doesn’t mean you have to remember every employee’s birthday, but taking the time to check in is crucial. Make sure you say hello when you pass your employees in the office.

Even if your company is remote, there are things you can do to connect. For instance, you could email, set up team happy hours, or schedule one-on-ones. Regardless of what you choose, getting to know your team can help them feel valued.

Not to mention, it can help you make strategic business decisions. For example, by communicating with an employee, you might learn they have a skill or new idea that could help grow your business.

4. Give Your Employees Freedom

Prior to the pandemic, working remotely wasn’t as common. However, things have changed in the last couple of years. Not only are more people working from home, but many companies have found their employees are just as productive — if not more so — than in an office setting.

Regardless of your opinion, it’s important to ensure your employees have the freedom to work in a way that’s best for them and the company. With that said, remote work isn’t for everyone. Some employees want the opportunity to visit the office. You also might have workers who need to be in person from time to time.

Before making any decision, talk to your leadership team. This is another great time to ask employees for feedback on what type of setting they prefer.

You should also pay attention to what other companies are doing. While you want your decisions to be unique, you want your business to remain competitive. If offering remote work can help you hire and retain top talent, it might be worth trying.

5. Provide Feedback

According to a recent study, employees work harder if they feel “heard and valued.” One way to ensure that happens is by providing feedback. Contrary to popular belief, feedback shouldn’t be negative — it should be constructive. This means you should praise employees who perform well and provide feedback to help those who are struggling.

As a leader, you might find it difficult to provide your employees with feedback. While it can be uncomfortable, there are ways to make the process easier for you and them. One way to do that is to avoid giving unsolicited advice.

Don’t stop by a worker’s desk and randomly give them feedback, even if it’s positive. Instead, set up a process for providing feedback so no one is thrown off guard. That might mean having regular one-on-one calls between an employee and their supervisor or quarterly performance reviews. Both options ensure your employees know what’s coming, and they can prepare accordingly.

Employee happiness can make or break the success of your company. That’s why it’s important to ensure you’re creating a comfortable workplace where people feel valued. The tips above are just a few ways to help employees feel happy and, in turn, increase productivity.

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4 Time Management Tips From Top Business Leaders

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time management tips

No matter who you are, time management will always be a significant factor in your success. Life is busy, and when tasks pile up, it can be difficult to make sure they’re done well and done on time.

So whether you’re a solo entrepreneur or a team leader, mastering time management skills will pay you back in spades. If you’re looking for ways to do that, you’re in luck. Many top business leaders have shared their time management wisdom with the world. Here are some of their best tips.

1. Tony Robbins on The Purpose Behind It All

Tony Robbins is an American philanthropist and motivational speaker who has helped millions of people get their lives on track. And time management is a huge aspect of that. After all, if you can’t lead yourself, how can you effectively lead others?

Robbins says, “One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power.” According to Robbins, the outcome of one’s effort is in relationship with the direction of one’s focus. A lack of focus, or concentration of power, leads to scattered and often disappointing results.

To find your focus again, brainstorm a list of your five most important values and desired outcomes. Once your goals are clear, focus all your efforts on achieving them. Evaluate every action by asking, “Is this bringing me closer to my goals or taking me further away from them?”

With your mind focused on your objectives, you’ll be able to view each part of your work as taking steps. These steps can move you forward or backward — the choice is yours.

2. John Rampton on Smart Schedules

Scheduling may seem like an obvious element of productive time management, and that’s because it is! But because it’s so obvious, it’s easy to forget how powerful it can be. Basic scheduling is a fundamentally effective way to break up your day into contained and easily identifiable chucks. Checking off the to-do list of your schedule psychologically rewards and subsequently motivates your brain.

Serial entrepreneur John Rampton takes scheduling to the next level. One of his greatest recommendations is to schedule time for distractions. It may seem counterintuitive at first, but it actually increases the robustness of your schedule and, thus, your output. Why?

Imagine a co-worker comes to you asking for help with something. Suddenly, you’ve got to take the time and energy to weigh your priorities. If you decide to help them, then you’ve lost focus and productivity on your own project.

Now imagine you’ve blocked time out of your day for distractions. You can immediately tell your co-worker that you’d love to help and can do so during that chunk of time.

Schedule your day wisely, and you’ll be able to keep up personal productivity while still flexing for unexpected surprises.

3. James Clear on the Power of Environment

We often believe ourselves to be in control of our habits. But habit-formation expert James Clear asserts that much of our decision-making is a product of our environment. In Clear’s view, “Environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behavior.” This may be a tough pill to swallow at first, as it makes the human condition appear slightly frail. However, it also means that you can use the power of your environment to your advantage.

All offices are products of environmental design. And now that many people use their homes as their offices, it’s important to channel similar design values. Just like scheduling time for distractions, it’s important to design space for them, too. Or more accurately, it’s important to design your workspace such that it’s relatively free of them. So locate the TV elsewhere, choose a space with a door, and use noise-canceling headphones if necessary.

By eliminating distractions from your workspace, you program your mind to associate your workspace with, well, work. If your environment naturally encourages you to focus on your tasks, the hours you spend working will be more productive.

4. Tim Ferriss on Getting More Out Of Your Work

Life-hacker and work guru Tim Ferriss achieved his initial fame from his 2007 breakout book “The 4-Hour Work Week.” Since then, he’s gone on to help millions of people optimize their decision-making and productivity, among many other life hacks.

In “The 4-Hour Work Week,” Ferriss seeks to implant in the reader the idea that less is more. One of the ways he does this is by introducing the 80/20 principle. The 80/20 principle asserts that 80% of something’s value comes from just 20% of the actual work done. The nuances, the finer details, are what make up the remaining 20% of the value and 80% of the work.

This idea hearkens back to Tony Robbins’ advice to keep your purpose and motivation at the forefront of your attention. The 80/20 principle asks you to discern what task will give you the most value for the least amount of work. Focus on accomplishing this most valuable 20%, and you will increase your productivity dramatically. Less truly is more .

Putting It All Together

So to recap: Concentrate on what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Make sure to create a smart and robust schedule that can flex for unexpected surprises. Keep your environment free of unnecessary distractions that would deter you from your goals. Discover and do the work that will give you the greatest amount of value for the least amount of effort.

By using the time management wisdom of top business leaders, you may find yourself more productive than ever before.

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How to Improve Time Management With Remote Workers

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Time management habits

When it comes to improving time management, anything is possible. If there’s one thing companies have learned over the past two years, it’s that remote work is not only possible — but it’s also productive. Just how productive, though, depends on how well your remote employees manage their time. Some will need more help than others. That’s where you as a manager come in.

Even the best, most focused workers need guidance and resources to reach top performance. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to set them on the right track. With a few tools and tactics, you can help your offsite employees improve time management and streamline their days. Consider these strategies to help your at-home workers maximize time management and productivity.

1. Schedule Check-Ins

Regular touchpoints with remote workers — via phone or video — are a critical part of ensuring they’re staying on course. The meetings don’t need to be long, but they do need to cover the high points. Weekly one-on-one calls are a great option to keep you in the loop with your employee’s progress. You can discuss their to-do list, address any problems, and brainstorm solutions.

If you find weekly check-ins are too much, consider biweekly team and one-on-one meetings. It’s a chance to see how much work has been done in 10 business days. That could point to spots where you need to make changes. Whichever meeting format you choose, give your employees time to share their concerns and any obstacles they’re facing.

2. Use Project Management Software

You likely learned a lot about project management software when companies pivoted quickly to remote work during the pandemic. Instead of relying on countless emails and phone calls, these tools kept the wheels of work moving digitally. Software like Trello, Basecamp, ClickUp, and Hive makes it easier to visibly assign tasks. Everyone knows their responsibilities and whom to reach out to for collaboration.

Messaging capabilities eliminate the need for phone calls or waiting for email replies, improving time management. Employees share access to group documents, so there’s less need for group meetings to share information. Plus, most project management tools are also available on mobile devices. That means your employees can stay on top of work even when they’re away from their computers.

3. Implement Time Trackers

At first thought, yes, this tactic might sound a bit like micromanagement. However, these trackers have a great record of effectively boosting productivity. Using a time tracker daily helps your employees figure out exactly how much time certain tasks take. It also identifies the ones that suck the most minutes out of their day.

Some trackers also offer time analytics — a feature that lets employees tally how they’re spending their time daily. How much goes to email or projects or networking? With a good idea of how they’re spending their day, your remote workers can better prioritize their time. They can improve their time management by staying on task and, potentially, getting ahead of schedule.

4. Share Calendars

If most or all your employees work remotely, it can be tough to coordinate a schedule. It’s even harder if they live in separate time zones. It’s not possible to simply pop your head into their office to ask when they’re free for a meeting. Consequently, you and your employees need something to help you coordinate.

A shared online calendar is a great option. With a quick schedule search, you can see everyone’s availability in a matter of minutes. You can add multiple people to meeting invitations and book time on their calendars with a few clicks. It’s a huge time saver because it eliminates the need for multiple phone calls or emails to find the best time.

5. Offer Several Communications Tools

The days when email was the latest and greatest office communication tool are long gone. Today, remote employees need more advanced communications options to save time and improve their work. The best tools work on desktop and mobile. The important thing is to find ones that accommodate your on-the-go workers like salespeople.

Videoconferencing, such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom, let you connect with everyone face-to-face. Such meetings save time because people can ask questions in the moment rather than making follow-up calls. Instant messaging functions (also found in Teams, Zoom, and Slack) let your employees ask each other simple questions without devoting more time to longer conversations.

6. Launch the Buddy System

Remote work is famous for giving employees more time to concentrate with fewer interruptions. It’s also notorious for offering lots of time for procrastination. Putting a buddy system in place can keep everyone on track. It works particularly well if your employees collaborate on projects.

Designated team buddies can frequently touch base with each other to check on progress. They can answer each other’s questions, brainstorm ideas, and troubleshoot problems. This type of teamwork is also a failsafe to ensure nothing important is overlooked. Together, team members can check all the boxes to save time and keep projects on schedule.

One thing is clear: For many organizations, remote work is here to stay. Over time, that means your number of offsite employees is likely to grow. Giving them the tools they need to improve their time management effectively will help ensure their — and your company’s — future success.

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5 Ways to Prepare This Summer for Employees Going Back to School

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back to school

It’s normal for business to shift as the school year approaches, and this transition can affect employee availability and general operations. The academic calendar and breaks from school affect your business and your employees’ lives. So, how do you make their lives easier and maintain your daily operations?

Summer is an important time to prepare your business for the coming changes as some employees take classes in the fall. Don’t wait to plan your accommodations. Here are a few tips for managing back-to-school preparations during the summer:

1. Schedule Around School Hours

It’s a good idea to schedule your business with school hours in mind. As classes are in session, depending on your business, you may have more clients or less. If college students are a large portion of your customer base and they leave town for summer break, you might choose to be open less hours during that time. Then, the opposite is true for the fall when they come back.

It’s important to monitor these trends and adapt your operations. Ensuring business hours meet demand means that you’ll be able to schedule the appropriate number of employees and plan more strategically, even if your employees are in school themselves. You can also make sure these hours work for clients by asking them on social media, which improves brand engagement. Do your best to accommodate everyone’s schedules, and you can make up potential income dips elsewhere.

2. Consider Additional Hires or Shifts

It could be worth hiring additional employees to fill gaps as the availability of summer employees may shift as classes begin. Say that one employee will soon need a certain time frame free from work due to upcoming classes. You could hire a part-time employee to ensure their role is still fulfilled.

In addition to this change, you could also adjust your shift system to offer even more flexibility. Many businesses have a four shift system, with individuals working morning shift, mid-shift, evening, and overnight. To accommodate more workers’ schedules, you could offer additional hours. Maybe it’ll be easier for your new employees to come in with shorter shifts or different start and end times.

3. Stay Up to Date With Your Employees’ Schedules

Your business may be a seasonal one or have different workers during different shifts. In any case, you want to make the transition for incoming employees as smooth as possible. Check in with them as summer progresses, so they can update you with new needs and schedule changes. This also gives you the benefit of alerting customers should business hours need to change as a result.

If you have set up a shared employee shift calendar already, this is the perfect reason to use it. While you have all of the shifts organized on it, your employees can include their timelines right in the application. There won’t need to be any delay in finalizing shifts and operating hours for all to see online.

4. Permit Remote Work, If Possible

For a not-necessarily-in-person business, the remote option can make it much easier for employees to be available, faster. Being a student requires a lot of time dedicated to studying, and it’s typically easiest to do so at home. The less time they need to spend commuting, for instance, the longer they can focus on work before switching gears. They can even use the same devices to switch between these responsibilities, increasing efficiency on both sides.

Allowing remote work can also show your employees and clients how much you care about your personnel. In such cases, the former will feel a lot safer coming to you and therefore have higher morale and bandwidth. And the better the work your employees do, the more satisfied your clients will be.

5. Help Streamline Your Employees’ Workflows

Alongside scheduling around school hours, it can make the work feel more fulfilling if you streamline things for everyone. One way to do this is by planning difficult or high-effort tasks to be done earlier in the shift. When an employee needs to leave, they won’t feel guilty or anxious that important things are being momentarily put aside. Also, if you set up programs to automate little tasks, it can free up time for the important ones.

Instituting a new management system to keep projects on the public radar and up-to-date for those involved also improves workflow. This can eliminate the need for someone to sit down and plan something when they may not have the time. It can also keep everything and everyone organized without much human effort.

The end of summer doesn’t have to be a bad omen for business, if you prepare accordingly. The most important takeaway is to make sure that you’ll have the hands you need when you need them. Take your time and consider your employees’ needs, and you can help make them happen. When the fall comes around, you’ll be ready for anything.

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