All posts by Jason Barnes

3 Reasons Scheduling Software Can Help Businesses Build Camaraderie With Customers

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3 Reasons Scheduling Software Can Help Businesses Build Camaraderie With Customers

There isn’t a single business on earth that can survive without customers. Even business-to-business companies need a reliable client base in order to stay afloat. While your products and services are extremely important, your highest priority should always be to take care of your customers.

One of the best ways to develop a strong relationship with your customer base is to value and respect their time. Each interaction with a customer is a chance for your brand to express that respect for customer time and attention. This will in turn foster camaraderie and loyalty over an extended period. 

To provide more value to your customers and honor their time, scheduling software is your go-to solution. Here are three reasons why implementing a scheduling software solution is the right choice for your business:

1. Customers Appreciate a Straightforward Experience

Clients will appreciate that you’ve prioritized making scheduling easy for them. It’s a simple gesture that shows that you care about their experience and want to make it better. Improving appointment scheduling doesn’t have to be difficult, either. All you need to do is enable online appointment software, and you’ll have already made a dramatic improvement. 

Being able to book appointments online opens up so many doors for customers. They no longer have to stay on hold to inquire about availability or wait until 9 a.m. to book the next available slot. Online appointment software is functional 24/7, meaning customers can always check or adjust appointment times based on their personal schedules. 

Scheduling software also speeds up the check-in process at the beginning of an appointment. When all of their appointment information is already booted up online, customers can show up mere minutes before their appointment starts and be welcomed in promptly. 

Leaving an appointment is also more straightforward. Customers can pay in advance through the scheduling software itself and book a return visit on their own time. Clients will never have a quicker or more painless appointment experience. 

2. Customers Will Know They Can Rely on You

Online appointment software makes your business seem reliable. When customers feel like they can depend on your system of operations, they’ll be more inclined to stick around for the long haul. Customer retention is one of the most valuable metrics your business will ever track, and the improvements you’ll make in that area alone make scheduling software worth every penny.  

If your company is constantly messing up appointment times and leaving callers on hold for lengthy stretches, you aren’t developing a reputation as a very reliable brand. Customers will view your business as a last resort rather than a superior option.

When you build in buffer time, scheduling software can also help your business prevent appointments from running long. Its automated notifications will likewise discourage late arrivals. These two actions will lead to a more fluid appointment experience for everyone. Customers will be more willing to book multiple appointments if they’re confident that your business will work with their schedule and make sure they get in and out on time. 

3. Analytics Enables Loyalty Programs

Membership programs that offer special benefits and rewards are a surefire way to build camaraderie between your business and its customers. Rewards foster a desire to book multiple appointments over an extended period, boosting your retention rates and yielding more revenue. A good rewards program can also set you apart from your competitors, even if they offer similar services (as is inevitable in every industry).

With online appointment software enabled, businesses can look at past scheduling analytics to put together a proper rewards program and follow through with it. For example, one of your promotions might be that members get a free day of service on their tenth visit. Thanks to scheduling software, you’ll know exactly when that tenth visit is for each customer even if they happen to forget. Discounts can be automatically applied online as a welcome surprise for your loyal patrons. 

Since scheduling software is accessed online, you can attach any deals or promotions you have going on to the booking area of the software. New customers can enjoy an ongoing sale even if they weren’t aware of it previously, and they will be thankful that your business included them in the deal instead of making them pay full price. 

Remember to be transparent when collecting data. Many consumers have grown wary of companies using their information for financial gain. Be open about what data you collect and exactly how it’s being used. Make it easy for customers to change data settings if they don’t want to share certain information. This transparency alone will build a strong bond between your customers and your business. 

Online appointment software is useful for so many other things. The only mistake you can make is taking any longer to implement scheduling software into your business. Your customers will be even more grateful than you will be for the changes you make with this technology. 

Why Syncing Your Work and Personal Calendars Simplifies Appointment Scheduling

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Why Syncing Your Work and Personal Calendars Simplifies Appointment Scheduling

If you’re a busy individual, you probably have a separate calendar for work and for your personal life. This helps you divide up your different commitments so that a single calendar doesn’t get overcrowded. However, managing two separate calendars comes with different challenges you need to take into account. 

No matter what kind of error you want to avoid when juggling dual calendars, syncing will be your best solution. This will make your appointment-scheduling process so much easier whether you’re planning activities with your family and friends or organizing a new entrepreneurial venture. Here’s how calendar syncing is going to help you:

Improves Planning

When your work and personal calendars are intertwined, both calendars can be reviewed simultaneously. This allows your online appointment scheduling software to show you all available time slots that work for you. Otherwise, you might book a meeting that fits into your work calendar while overlooking a family commitment you had made for the same time. You don’t want to miss your daughter’s soccer game because you arranged a simultaneous client coffee date. 

With both calendars linked together, you’ll have a better idea of what you have to plan for in the upcoming days. Improved planning leads to increased efficiency, fewer mixups, and ultimately better results as your schedule falls into place.

Helps Manage Your Life Balance

With both calendars synced up, you can also improve that much-needed work-life balance. If you’re noticing that your work calendar far outweighs your personal calendar, maybe it’s time to schedule some more activities with your family. This can also be done in reverse. You might realize you’ve been taking a lot of time off recently and recognize the need to get back to the old grindstone, refilling that work calendar once again. 

Syncing your work and personal calendars will also help you learn the difficult art of saying no. Some appointments you’re just going to have to decline in the name of life balance. Turning down a single work appointment won’t be the end of the world for your career, especially if it contributes to a better family life. 

Stops You From Overbooking

Appointment software will not allow you to schedule over other events, even if you try. You’ll get a nice, big alert warning you that the time slot you’ve selected has already been filled. This will help with tricky situations like the one mentioned previously, where you create a work event without realizing there’s been a personal event scheduled there already. 

This will also prevent others from trying to overbook your time. Many managers use appointment software to make their time available to employees needing to ask questions or report on a project in progress. You don’t have to list out any specifics, but having both of your calendars covered in your available time slots will stop an employee from trying to bother you while you’re at a family gathering. Emergencies are always an exception, of course. 

Automates Schedule Additions and Changes in Both Places

After any appointment is scheduled, it’s automatically added to both of your calendars. This is one less thing you have to do, saving you a little bit of time and hassle when scheduling. Manual syncing is tedious, and also leaves more room for human error than any of us would like. You could accidentally input the wrong time in one calendar or simply forget to include the commitment when taking your other calendar into consideration. 

Automatic syncing will also come in handy when you share your calendars with other people. For example, you might share a personal calendar with your significant other. If they plan an event in your shared calendar, you’ll want that to pop up automatically. This will enable greater communication between you two and prevent conflicts from arising because of a lack thereof. 

The syncing of calendars with appointment software is great if you use these tools to better coordinate with your team as well. Sending an appointment invitation for an upcoming meeting will give employees the time to arrange their personal schedules accordingly. 

Enables Easier Transitioning

It can be difficult to shift your thought process from your work life to your personal life. By syncing their two respective calendars together, you’ll be able to make easier transitions throughout the day. 

For example, a major perk of using appointment software is to send and receive reminders and notifications. This can help cut down on tardiness and no-shows. However, you can find yourself feeling flustered if your notifications seem to be competing instead of coming in a linear fashion. Synchronized calendars will reduce this effect. 

There’s no time like the present to begin syncing up your work and personal calendars. It will make your appointment scheduling so much easier and improve your time management as you head into 2022.

How to Get Your Schedule Organized With Appointment Software

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How to Get Your Schedule Organized With Appointment Software

If getting organized was an easy task, we would all have immaculate homes, keep perfect desktop folders, and manage our time with ease. Unfortunately, getting and staying organized takes a lot more conscious effort, and it’s easy to slip up and get a little messy.

Nobody’s perfect, and nobody has to be. However, organizing your schedule even a little bit better can improve your life dramatically. How can you do this? The secret ingredient is online appointment software. Here are a few things scheduling software can help you do: 

Write It Down

Good organization must be tangible. You can’t always rely on your memory to navigate your schedule. There’s too much room for error when you don’t write down key appointment times and dates. By subconsciously moving a meeting time by an hour, you could miss the entire thing.

Using online appointment software, you can lay out at minimum the basics of your daily schedule. You should include important meetings and deadlines. You can also add any other key parts of your schedule to help you visualize your day. 

Not only will online software help you check your upcoming schedule, but it will also send you automated reminders to ensure you’re prepared. You can even add reminders for simple tasks such as picking up the dry-cleaning on your way home. 

Coordinate With Others

As an adult, your schedule will often coincide with what your co-workers, family, or friends have going on, too. Whether it’s managing a project at work or coordinating a carpool schedule, you’ll need to balance your schedule with other people. Luckily, appointment software excels in collaboration as well. 

Sharing events with others is a great way to start. Teams can get their calendars in sync so that each of their responsibilities will be completed by the same target date. Creating a schedule with other parents will help you communicate who is picking the kids up from soccer practice. You can also coordinate with a partner or spouse to make sure those date nights are locked in. 

Display Your Availability

Managers and team leaders have different needs when coordinating and managing their availability. If you’re in a leadership position, people will be vying for your attention even while you’re tackling your own busy schedule. 

When you activate appointment software, you can create a personal ID with your schedule. You can then share a scheduling link with others so they have complete access to your availability. You don’t have to share specifics of your schedule; you can simply block out time as “busy.” Then others will know when not to bother you with phone calls and surprise visits. 

Give Yourself Some Wiggle Room

There’s always a chance of overscheduling when you’re trying your best to be productive every day. Having too much on your plate can be incredibly stressful and derail your productivity. In creating your ideal schedule, be sure to give yourself a little wiggle room.

Use your online appointment software to add some buffer time in between larger commitments. This could be as simple as creating a five- to 10-minute window to check your email. Maybe you can block out time in shorter intervals to give you extra time in case a meeting runs long. Even just a little bit of wiggle room can prevent a whole lot of stressful scenarios throughout the day. 

Balance Every Responsibility

If you’re struggling with your work-life balance, you need some scheduling software in your life. Appointment software is for so much more than being punctual for all of your business meetings. It will also help you make time for the things that matter most, such as family, friends, and your mental health. 

Make an appointment for each of your son’s football games, and you’ll never miss another touchdown. Another appointment can remind you to take a day off to de-stress from a busy work week. More than anything, appointment software helps you be proactive and intentional when balancing your life. 

Learn to Batch Tasks

One way to keep your schedule on track while getting everything you need done is to batch your tasks. This method consists of taking tasks with similar properties and combining them together in your schedule or to-do list. This makes your schedule appear less cluttered while still covering all of your required tasks. Use your appointment software to set up similar tasks together in blocks of time. 

For example, you can organize your day’s task list based on when you are most productive. Then batch similar tasks together around those times. Say you have a big project due next week, and you feel sharpest in the morning. Work on high-level tasks like creating your slide deck and writing your presentation notes in the morning. Then batch your smaller to-do items like scheduling meetings, running reports, or answering emails together to tackle in the afternoon. 

Learning how to organize your life takes practice. Individual preferences and lifestyles will require different approaches. Online appointment software can help you make organization a habit and add more structure to your daily life than ever before. 

How to Make Your Business More Customer-Accessible

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How to Make Your Business More Customer-Accessible

Customer-accessible business services are rapidly changing, but it remains a critical aspect of customer service. While the customer-accessible business sphere is increasingly moving toward automation, sometimes those voice message prompts can be more frustrating than they are helpful. 

People tend to choose businesses that are more customer-accessible and efficient. Implementing customer service hacks can help businesses achieve both.

Here are a few customer-accessibility tips you can start addressing today:

1. Implement Online Appointment Software

If the service you provide is appointment-based, then you need to implement online appointment software as soon as possible. This single piece of software will completely transform your business in the best ways possible. Not only will it make your business more customer-accessible, but it will also automate and streamline a lot of the time-consuming tasks that can bog appointment-based businesses down. 

For starters, your phone lines won’t be ringing off the hook anymore with customers looking to book appointments or inquire about availability. They can do that themselves with the help of appointment software. This model of self-service is often preferred by customers who want to limit unnecessary interactions, and it allows businesses to focus their energy on other tasks.

Another great aspect of online appointment software is that it can work around the clock. If a customer is interested in booking an appointment, they can do so at any time of day or night. No longer will they have to wait until business hours open to call and hope for an opening. 

2. Add a Customer-Accessible Chatbot 

For businesses that don’t operate through appointments, a website chatbot can provide similar results. Chatbots can answer frequently asked questions and direct internet visitors to key resources without the need of a human agent. Because it runs itself, a chatbot can assist everyone from the night owls to the early birds searching the internet outside of operating hours.

Unfortunately, chatbots are limited. Artificial intelligence is growing and improving rapidly, but there will still be unique questions and problems that can only be resolved by an employee. Nevertheless, a chatbot can help with a lot of basic needs and even provide a quick and direct way for customers to send inquiries that require the assistance of a live agent. 

3. Optimize Customer-Accessibility for Every Device

Not everyone does their online shopping and internet research on a desktop computer anymore. Browsing with a mobile device is increasingly common. Businesses that optimize their websites for smartphones and tablets make their products and services more customer-accessible to users of all devices.

Due to different screen proportions, mobile web pages require different dimensions and formatting in order to remain user-friendly. The theme can remain the same, but changing the mobile layout to be more scrollable will enable mobile users to ingest information more easily.

Many businesses have found success by developing mobile apps instead of focusing on optimizing their browser capabilities. Developing an app requires a little more work, but it can boost retention rates by making it easier to receive notifications and access your business’s services. 

4. Try New Types of Customer-Accessible Communication

Phone lines and online chat boxes aren’t the only ways to communicate with customers. In fact, your customers might prefer something more direct than an email but less formal than filling out a request form on a website. Opening up new lines of communication caters to the communication needs and desires of every customer you have.

A growing trend in customer communication is social media. Businesses can use a Twitter thread, for example, to diagnose a customer’s problem and provide them with a solution. Opening up direct messaging from Facebook and Instagram will also enable customers who see your content online to send a quick message before the moment passes.

Another great reason to communicate through social media is to better take advantage of these platforms’ other resources. For example, numerous social media sites have built-in shop links where you can post your products for quicker and more customer-accessible sales. Social media browsers interested in buying can send a message on the platform to solidify their intent to buy in a matter of moments. 

5. Outsource Customer Service

Is your business scaling faster than you thought? As a short-term solution, consider outsourcing your customer service until you can gain control of your rapidly growing organization. Enlisting a call center to help take care of customers is better than letting your voicemail fill up and leaving potential buyers hanging. 

Customer service solutions such as call centers are still quite common, but they don’t tend to resonate well with customers. Customers appreciate self-service and want quick solutions, so prioritize your other customer service methods even if you implement this one. And if you do choose to go the call center route, vet your provider carefully. 

6. Develop Quality Content

As noted above, customers sometimes have complex questions that can’t be answered by a virtual assistant. Still, those same customers expect quick results even if their problem is one you haven’t had to deal with before. One way to address even the most obscure of customer concerns is through content development.

Maintaining a blog might not be what’s on your mind as an entrepreneur, but a blog can really expand what your brand is capable of. Blog posts can contain information on the most niche of topics, making them more customer-accessible. Customers can search for answers to their unanswered questions within your blog, finding solutions on their own.

A blog will also increase your brand’s visibility over the internet. Consumers who aren’t part of your customer base can ask the same sorts of questions. They can do so on search engines, such as Google, which will then lead them to your blog. This gets them one step closer to making a purchase. 

By making your business more customer-accessible, you encourage loyalty and retention by always being there for your customers. With new customers, you often only get one shot, so start upping your accessibility game today. 

7 Tips for Making the Best Use of Your Resources

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7 Tips for Making the Best Use of Your Resources

Just as there aren’t a lot of shortcuts to success, there’s no foolproof formula for driving your particular business ahead. Establishing your brand and business presence will take time.

This is especially the case when you’re up against established competitors. Business growth and development will be an ongoing process. To succeed, you must consistently put in your best effort and remain focused on your business goals.

While there’s no secret path for surpassing other businesses, there are several proven methods for reaching growth milestones and moving on to your next level of success. One of the best ways of achieving this is to make optimal use of all your existing resources. Listed below are seven strategies that can help.

1. Put the right people in the right places.

Connecting the right person to the right position can have many positive outcomes. It can boost performance, enhance employee value, and ensure consistent, high-quality output.

Far too many companies don’t do a great job with this simple process. To determine the right person for the right job, managers must accurately assess employee skills and compare them to overall company goals. They must then make the best possible use of those skills by placing that employee in a position where opportunities to excel exist.

It’s important to maintain focus on your company’s goals as you seek to achieve better productivity throughout the organization. Before that can happen, you must put together a solid team with the necessary skills to help you achieve those long-term goals.

2. Focus available resources on customer experience.

Every now and then, we all need a reminder that our customers are the reason why we’re in business. The way they perceive your business can make or break your hoped-for future. Customer experience is one area where you must maximize your focus.

Marshall the resources you do have to remain committed to delivering great experiences in terms of quality and service. Over time, your customers will place your brand on a social media pedestal. Falter in this critical area, and they can pull down your brand in no time.

A quick look at the strategies of the most successful businesses will reveal that they all have customer service as the topmost priority. They keep customers happy by offering new and innovative products and services. They make sure customer complaints are addressed quickly and satisfactorily. This helps achieve brand loyalty and long-term customer relationships.

Going one step further, engaging with your social media audience is also helpful. Personalizing their brand experience can ensure a strong bond and repeat business.

3. Avoid waste by developing your ability to adapt quickly.

Successful companies typically embrace the trait of adapting quickly to market demands and responding to change successfully. The ability to switch directions without missing a beat — or losing a customer — represents a huge win. Assuming anyone ever was skeptical of the value of a quick pivot, 2020 served to erase those doubts entirely.

Test different approaches to your audience and then compare various efforts to the resulting analytics. Put numbers to all of your campaigns. Give your team freedom to explore new ideas as a way to discover what works best for your market. At times, you may fail. However, an agile approach will help you pick yourself back up again and keep going.

4. Conduct adequate research on your competition.

Competitor research is one resource you must leverage with a high degree of accuracy. You absolutely must know what your primary competitors are up to. Failing that, it will be incredibly difficult to create a clear marketing strategy for your business.

Identify your competitors. Seek to find what has worked for them. After that, work out how your business can chart a different course. Doing so will help you identify, develop, and implement a different strategy. Competitor research typically leads to a more productive business strategy which, in turn, can lead to better sales and profitability.

5. Practice corporate social responsibility.

Consumers today not only look at businesses as commercial enterprises but often as social platforms as well. They are demonstrating an increased preference for businesses that are passionate about social causes. This frequently goes way beyond “reduce, reuse, recycle.”

Make a habit of practicing corporate social responsibility. Making meaningful contributions to your local community and lending support to causes that make the world a better place are good for your bottom line. They improve your image and earn customer respect.

Express your support publicly. Seek out underserved communities, retirement homes, the physically challenged, environmental causes, and others. You can find many ways of being a socially responsible business. Find and focus on a few that all your employees can affirm.

6. Host community events.

Attending and actively participating in local events can be a great way of growing your network. However, hosting your own events within the community can have a more profound impact on your reputation and brand visibility.

Whether managing a fundraiser or sponsoring a local event, put your best foot forward in an agenda-free fashion. Doing so will help create a better awareness of your business. More importantly, it can create a unique and personalized experience for your customers. The likely outcome will be fostering more personal relationships with your target audience.

7. Participate in (and host) networking events.

Nowadays, networking is one of the most important and influential methods for driving your business prospects. You’ll need to do it regularly to build long-term relationships with customers, vendors, and experts. Your presence at industry-specific events can not only help you learn new things but can also prove to be fertile ground for generating new ideas.

Networking provides the perfect platform for learning from others and sharing your views with industry leaders. Every business needs a solid support system to help sustain and surpass benchmarks. Networking can help you build and maintain that support system.

Summing Up

Businesses must constantly innovate and improve their processes to remain relevant and competitive in their niche. While you might wish you had an unlimited budget for pursuing all these tips with abandon, you live in the real world. You can start small with these ideas and then expand on them as your efforts gain traction.

Making the best use of your available resources is vital for maximizing your ROI. There are many other ways of improving your business prospects, but you have to work with what you have. Keep looking for opportunities, then act on them quickly … before your competitors do.

6 Reasons Why People Love Appointment Software

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How to Use Appointment Software to Get More Customers This Fall

Whether you’re a small business owner or you manage a large group of people, you could probably benefit from appointment software. Not only does this software provide your customers with 24/7 service, but it can also make your life much easier. Instead of having to manage your own calendar, it can be managed for you. The best part is because appointment software offers mobile-friendly features, you can keep track of your schedule wherever you are. 

In this article, we highlight six reasons why people love appointment software: 

1. Schedules Appointments for You

You might not realize it, but scheduling appointments can be very time-consuming. Checking your personal calendar against your client’s availability, sending out appointment invitations, and setting up reminders takes time. Even just 10 minutes a day can add up, especially when you’re scheduling meetings with multiple clients throughout the week.

With appointment software, you don’t have to spend that time. The software will update your schedule for you and even tweak appointments so they fit better within your schedule. Some appointment-scheduling solutions can color-coordinate your calendar, identify first-time clients, schedule recurring calls, and more. 

2. Offers a Mobile-Friendly Interface

Let’s face it, having the capability to schedule appointments on the go is a game-changer. Luckily, several types of appointment software come with their own apps, some of which users can download and use on their mobile devices. This makes it easy for business owners to navigate their schedules regardless of where they’re located. 

Alternatively, some appointment software features a mobile-friendly interface. Users don’t have to download the app to schedule a meeting or make a payment. Instead, they can take advantage of the website’s mobile design and do everything from there.  

3. Offers Enhanced Security Features

Security is another benefit of online appointment software. These days, systems of all kinds have become more advanced in their efforts to deter potential security breaches. The same is true with appointment software. Most appointment systems you can use today include features to help keep both you and your guests safe. 

A majority of these solutions use cloud storage, which prioritizes cybersecurity. Instead of putting pen to paper (and risking your clients’ information being seen by untrustworthy eyes), appointment software keeps everything in a central, safe place. 

You can also set up most appointment software systems to default to your chosen virtual meeting platform and corresponding phone number to facilitate virtual appointments. Whether you prefer Zoom, Google Meet, Webex, or another meeting space, you can connect without giving away your personal phone number. 

4. Schedules Your Breaks for You 

Chances are, you’ve heard how important it is to take breaks while you’re working. But do you? Probably not. If you have a demanding job, stepping away from your computer might seem more like a luxury than a necessity. Well, according to a University of Illinois study, taking breaks in the workplace is critical.

The study discovered that the human brain’s attention decreases when working on a single task for a long period of time. While you might want to keep going until a project is finished, doing so could negatively impact your work. To ensure you’re performing at your best, schedule breaks during the workday. Luckily, appointment software can help you with that. 

All you have to do is schedule breaks the same way you’d schedule recurring calls with clients. Just make sure you follow through with your breaks, instead of ignoring them. 

5. Helps You Stay on Top of Your Finances

Appointment software doesn’t just keep your calendar organized. It can also help manage your company’s finances. By integrating appointment software into your business, you avoid the chance of missing important financial deadlines that could negatively impact your company.

For instance, you can schedule reminders for bill payments to vendors. Expecting an important payment? You can set up notifications for when invoices are at their 30-, 60-, or 90-day due dates. And of course you can use appointment software to schedule important tax filing deadlines. 

6. Creates a Better Customer Experience

As a business owner, you know the importance of providing your customers with a great experience. With so much competition out there, you need the ultimate booking software to make your life and your customers’ lives easier. An online appointment solution means you’re always available whenever your clients need you. 

This is important, especially when you consider the statistics. According to research, 25% of clients under the age of 35 will only book appointments online. Believe it or not, 35% of clients would rather schedule appointments after hours than during the workday. So consider integrating 24/7 appointment software so your clients can reach your business at the time that works best for them. 

Your business might be doing well. But chances are, it could be doing even better by integrating the right kind of software. Given all the reasons to love it, online appointment software could be your best choice.

4 Tips for Revamping Team Synergy Now

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Revamp Your Team Synergy

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Two heads are better than one. Many hands make light work.

There are so many ways we talk about working together, but one word seems to pop up a lot: synergy. However you choose to characterize work, synergy is the way companies get things done. Synergy leads to higher productivity, fewer duplicative efforts, and optimal use of talent. But these days, it’s not always an easy dynamic to achieve.

Remote and hybrid working arrangements can make achieving synergy among teams and across departments challenging. You might once have thought these measures were temporary and things would return to a pre-pandemic normal. But the workplace has changed forever, and your team’s expectations have changed right along with it. Here are four tips for revamping your team’s synergy now.

1. Give the Gift of Time

The pandemic has changed the way we think about time when it comes to work. Normal routines have been altered by closures, safety concerns, and the voluntary cessation of unnecessary activities. The distortion is particularly acute to those working remotely.

Nonetheless, work life goes on. There is still a need to schedule appointments, meetings, and interviews, even if they’re going to be virtual. These interactions still need to occur with customers, with clients, within teams, and across departments.

You can increase synergy by using scheduling software that uncomplicates the entire process. Give everyone 24/7 access to everyone else’s calendar, and anyone can put a meeting in an open slot. It’s also a hassle-free way to accommodate the work schedule for remote workers who may not be clocking in for a traditional 9-to-5 work day.

You can’t cultivate synergy without encouraging people to spend quality time together. If you give your team an easy way to make that happen, they’ll have more opportunities to collaborate. And that is the timeless way to make them measurably productive no matter where they are.

2. Blow Lines of Communication Wide Open

Clear, open, and honest communication is a cornerstone of team synergy. Without that type of communication occurring at all levels, teams become breeding grounds for misinformation. That, in turn, feeds distrust and anxiety, which are completely antithetical to creating positive synergy.

Synergy also relies on the exchange of information and ideas, so communication must be a two-way channel. You may be the person charged with setting goals for your team, but you shouldn’t do so in a vacuum. Remember, you’ve hired some talented people, so give them a shot at weighing in on the discussion.

Many team members may work remotely all or part of the time, so make sure your team has the tech tools they need to keep ideas flowing freely. Messaging, meeting, and collaboration software are essential to synergy.

One-on-one, team, and departmental communication isn’t as easy as walking down the hall anymore. Providing a safe space for frank discussion and expression of ideas, and the tools required to facilitate them, keeps everyone part of the conversation. Remember that many voices make for good synergy.

3. Switch Up the Players on the Field

You can have all the very best talent on your team, but it won’t be a winner without the right chemistry. Given the changes to the work environment, the formula might have changed. If so, you might need to switch it up to get your synergy back on.

Of course, the differences between individual team members are critical. A football team needs slow, fast, beefy, svelte, feet-on-the-ground, and fly-through-the-air players to win. A field full of quarterbacks only will fail miserably.

To foster your team’s success, you need to have the right combination of players in the right positions, using their individual strengths to play as a unit. A pre-pandemic team leader might need to take a supporting role due to work-from-home realities. Another might be stepping up in unexpected ways. Aim to synthesize everyone’s strengths while honoring the new realities of how they work. 

You are the coach in this analogy, which means it’s your job to shake up the lineup if the team’s synergy is waning. It’s OK if you don’t get the combination right the first time. But once you do, make no substitutions as long as your team is on a winning streak.

4. Empower Your People

There’s always the temptation for leaders to micromanage team members, but never more so than when they can’t keep an eye on them. Don’t merely resist the temptation. Do the opposite.

Lead with generosity by giving your team more control and being less of an overlord. You might be disappointed with some results but ridiculously delighted with others. You will be providing your team with some valuable lessons that will encourage them to be better employees.

Among the benefits of empowering team members are increases in creativity, collaboration, and corporate loyalty. This doesn’t mean you hand over total control, since, after all, the proverbial buck will continue to stop with you. Your empowered team will still count on you for input and guidance.

Team members are not unlike students who want to impress the teacher. But what they’ll realize is they can’t complete an assignment without the talent and insight of the other members of the team. For that, they need synergy.

There Is No “I” in Synergy

Synergistic results are unpredictable because you never know for sure what solutions will emerge from the intersection of diverse talents and skills. Not to worry — innovation is unpredictable.

What is predictable is that teams without synergy are lackluster and unproductive. Time, communication, and empowerment were easier deliverables back in the day. Although more challenging, they aren’t impossible to deliver now.

All it takes are the right tools, agile leadership, and a commitment to getting all those moving parts working together. The team may look a little different now, but there’s still no “I” in team — or in synergy.

How Implementing New Tech Tools Can Improve Team Efficiency

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How Implementing New Tech Tools Can Improve Team Efficiency

Everywhere you turn, there’s a new tech tool promising to offer you more time, energy, or sales. They sound amazing on the surface, but if you choose the wrong one, they can produce more frustration than solutions.

The good news is, there are productivity and efficiency tools that are worth your time. In this article, we’ll cover some new tech tools and how you can introduce them to your team. After you’re done reading, you’ll be inspired to integrate them into both your work and personal life.

Collaboration Tools

Organizing your team’s workload is essential to accomplishing your goals and should be the first place you pursue improved productivity. Adding collaboration software to your arsenal is a great way to harness the power of your team. 

Team members today are often working remotely, off-site with clients, or scattered throughout the office. This makes managing workflow a challenge if you don’t use tech to bridge the gaps. 

Project management tools like ClickUp and Asana break projects down into discrete tasks and allow you to assign responsible parties for each one. The entire team can see when deliverables are due, which tasks depend on others, and who gets the baton next. Prioritizing how team members collaborate, plan, and execute can be the difference in whether or not they reach their goals.

Calendar Management Tools

It’s no secret that time, the best-known nonrenewable resource, is gold when it comes to business and life. Calendar management can be a game-changer when it comes to wrangling the hours your team has available to work. Identifying the time spent in meetings, pursuing new business, or completing administrative tasks can pinpoint where to improve efficiency. 

Giving team members and sales prospects the opportunity to self-schedule commitments can eliminate time waste as well. Just think, how many emails have you exchanged trying to find a mutually beneficial time to meet with a colleague or client? Using a tool to help tackle calendar chaos makes managing your team’s time, and efficiency, effortless.

List Management Tools

Oh, lists. Don’t we love them? They can be so satisfying to write down, check off, and — ideally — move on from. 

But at what point do we step away from all of the list-making and get to the task-doing? Luckily, there are list management tools that tech pros praise and use to get their most important work done. The best part? Many of them integrate with other much-loved and -used tools that help you manage your schedule, team, and conversations. 

Use list managers to keep track of work responsibilities, and you and your team will be checking off completed tasks in short order. Apps like Todoist and Any.Do even allow you to share tasks with another person and assign priority levels. 

Messaging Tools

Say you’re working from home and so are your colleagues. What’s the most efficient way to reach out for a project status? If you send an email, chances are you’ll wait hours for a reply. When your team is spread out (and even when it’s not), real-time messaging platforms like Slack and Google Chat can be a godsend. 

They’re also more efficient. How many times has a traditional check-in been derailed by a debate about the latest blockbuster? Messaging platforms provide channels where you can keep the sales team’s eyes on #sales and the teamwide discussion of “Black Widow” in #entertainment. 

Messaging tools keep it simple, keep it focused, and — even better — keep a record. You can easily check back to what was said or committed to as a way of tracking progress and assignments. Employees can get instant answers to questions, removing obstacles to making progress. That’s a win-win, whether you’re in the office or working remotely.

How to Get Started

So you’ve decided to implement some of the new tech tools you’ve learned about with your team. But where do you begin? First, you’ll want to determine which ones you’d like to prioritize. As with any behavioral change, a clear message from team leadership is critical. For simplicity’s sake, it’s best to integrate one new tool at a time to have the best chances of it sticking. 

Second, be intentional. Once you’ve chosen a tool, have a conversation with your team about why you want to implement it and how you think it will help. In high-performing teams, transparency, buy-in, and active listening are key. 

Hold a meeting with a set agenda, leaving space for conversation and questions. At the meeting, share how you selected this new tool, provide research, and pitch its features and benefits. Be sure to establish expectations on how the team will use it and how you’ll monitor its effectiveness. 

Finally, reinforce the new tool and be its champion. As the leader of your team, you’ll be looked to for guidance, pointers, and reassurance. Educate yourself, devise a plan, and execute it as you implement this tool and others with your team. With your new tech assistants, you’ll become productivity masters in no time. 

How to Prep Your Home Office This Summer for a Productive 2022

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How to Prep Your Home Office This Summer for a Productive 2022

Home offices saw a lot of use over the past year and a half. This is thanks in large part to the wave of remote workers who settled in at home during the Covid-19 pandemic. Working from home kept individuals and families safe from the spread of the virus while still enabling them to get their jobs done.

Since restrictions have been lifted, numerous workers have opted to keep working remotely at least part of the time. Being closer to family, enjoying greater flexibility, and avoiding tedious commutes are some of the many reasons why more people are choosing to stay home. The rise of hybrid work — toiling at home some days and in the office on others — is an interesting trend to follow.

If hybrid work is calling to you, you’ll have some preparations to make. Your home office will be glad that you’re still putting it to use, but there are a few alterations you can make this summer to prepare for a brand-new year of work in 2022:

Deep Clean

When your home office becomes a part-time arrangement, the last thing you want to do is have to tidy it up on the days you work remotely. Since summer is usually more flexible, use the time you have to deep clean your home office so that it’s spotless and orderly for the winter months. As you settle into a hybrid schedule, you won’t have to worry about your office not being ready for use.

In addition to giving the physical space a deep clean, the computer system you use to stay connected with work could also use a reboot. Clear your computer of unused data or documents that might be slowing it down or taking up space. Cancel any software subscriptions that you’re no longer using or will no longer need as you transition away from full-time remote work. 

Optimize Your Efficiency

After you’ve handled the tangible aspects of your home office, it’s time to work out the kinks in your system of operations. Quarantine habits aren’t always the greatest, and there are probably a few things about your home office that should be changed to ensure maximum productivity.

While sheltering in place, you might have gotten too accustomed to the flexibility of schedule you were able to enjoy. Clients, customers, and co-workers could call or message whenever because they could largely count on you being at home. Now that life and work are reverting back to normal, this won’t always be the case.

In this situation, you would benefit greatly from implementing appointment software into your system of operations. Use scheduling links and an online calendar to book meetings and phone calls so that your new hybrid schedule doesn’t get tangled up. Look for other tools to help improve your efficiency as well as productivity hacks that will make your hybrid work setup run smoothly. 

Enable Easy Transitioning

During the long months of lockdown during the pandemic, workers settled into their home offices and got comfortable. Now many companies are expecting their employees to show up at least a few times a week to the main office. If you fall into this hybrid category, you’ll fare much better by arranging your home office for easy transitioning. 

Start by determining how many things you need to take from home to your work location. If all you need to transfer is your laptop, this will be easy. However, if you have other materials and paperwork that need to be moved back and forth, you’ll need to be better organized.

For example, you can implement a filing system that allows you to quickly withdraw any needed paperwork from a folder or cabinet to take to the office. You won’t have to go hunting it down, and a neat folder can be easily slid into a backpack or briefcase. Keeping your favorite writing materials or other office supplies in a carrying case also enables easy transitioning from site to site. 

Take Advantage of Back-to-School Sales

Classes are starting up again in August and September. Each year this means stores are putting on sales for all back-to-school essentials, from backpacks and three-hole punches to jackets and jeans. While these sales are geared toward students and their parents, you’ll be able to stock up on materials for your home office, too. 

If your line of work relies on a number of paper products, hit up a back-to-school sale to stock up on everything you need at a more affordable price. This ensures that your home office will always be equipped even if you don’t know for certain the next time you’ll be working remotely. 

Upgrade Your Video Technology

At the beginning of the pandemic, having poor video quality or a bad microphone was fine since the shift to remote work was new to many. Employees were doing the best they could to manage with the resources available during lockdown. Now that businesses are fully reopened, if you plan on working from home at all, you will be expected to do it right.

In anticipation of any team meetings or customer calls over videoconferencing software, amp up your home office with a better camera and mic system — if you haven’t already. You can purchase an inexpensive microphone with a USB plug-in that will work much better than your generic Apple earbuds or the microphone built into your computer. A simple webcam will give you an enhanced video feed, which will leave a better impression on any clients or shareholders you may ever meet with online. 

As you continue to utilize your home office, don’t shy away making improvements to it this summer and beyond. It is yours to mold, and it doesn’t have the same restrictions a cubicle might. Above all else, prioritize productivity, and your home office will be the residence of one of America’s best workers.

How Analytics Can Help Your Small Business

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How Analytics Can Help Your Small Business

In our increasingly digital age, it can be all too easy for a small business owner to become overwhelmed by a sudden glut of available data. It seems like every new gadget or operations upgrade connects to the internet and includes an opportunity to accurately measure something or other to which they previously gave very little thought.

Some business owners make the rookie mistake of collecting as much data as possible, meticulously entering it into spreadsheets, and more or less leaving it at that. Successful entrepreneurs, on the other hand, understand that increased opportunities for data collection can be helpful, but only when those analytics are leveraged. Simply stated, they know the difference between raw data and actionable data.

The time to be impressed by internet-enabled devices that spit out new forms of previously uncollectible data is over. Small business owners, in particular, need to bring an increased level of discernment to data that’s merely “cool” vs. data that can help them increase efficiency and profits.

The best place to start is not by compiling all the data available to you but instead pausing long enough to write down a few simple questions. Only after you’ve decided which questions you’d like to answer can you begin to assess which analytics might actually prove helpful. Listed below are four questions just about any small business owner can adopt or adapt, along with pointers for how newer forms of data can help provide actionable answers.

1. Where are we wasting time?

The difference between time and money is that money can be replaced. Business owners and managers should be setting the tone in terms of effective time management during office hours. When management consistently demonstrates respect for the value of time, that attitude tends to filter down to the frontline staff. Conversely, managers who call meetings for no apparent reason can’t reasonably expect employees to place much value on anyone’s time.

Nowadays, there are many scheduling apps that include reporting features that will allow you to more effectively track how you’re spending time and whether or not that investment is paying off. For example, time-tracking analytics can be cross-referenced against customer billing numbers to assess ROI. This relatively simple exercise can be eye-opening in terms of surfacing high-maintenance individuals who, as it turns out, are not contributing all that much to revenue. 

Is the relationship worth the ongoing effort? Time-reporting analytics can help you decide whether to limit specific client contact to certain levels of time commitment or not.

2. Which demographics are falling away?

An investment in customer relationship management (CRM) software can provide individualized feedback on customer preferences, allowing your business to tailor its offerings accordingly. Marketing campaigns can be tweaked to highlight products and services that seem to strike a chord with your regulars. Emails can include a higher degree of personalization. Special events can be designed to respond to feedback.

Additionally, CRM data can chart changes in your customer base and help you do a little exploration. For example, visits to your salon by your 50+ customers may have driven the lion’s share of high-end sales, but those visits have declined precipitously. Is the falloff in any way related to how your business is operating in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic? Or did your product or service line shift such that your more mature customers are no longer interested? 

If the latter, are you OK with that shift? Analytics provided by just about any CRM package should provide the data you need to analyze who your customers are, what they care about, and how you can tailor your business to their needs.

3. At what point do our website visitors lose interest?

Website analytics, in particular, are one area where it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of available data. This is where your ability to formulate relevant, niche-specific questions before you start excavating data is most likely to save you from being over-informed and under-actioned. In particular, owners of appointment-based need to pay close attention to website bounce rates and abandoned scheduling forms.

Did you lose the booking when they read your terms and conditions or when you requested prepayment? Was the user confused by being presented with too many options too soon? Website analytics can provide the when, but you might need to investigate further to find the why.

If, for example, you notice a high bounce rate on a website resource that features one of your most popular offerings, that definitely merits a closer look. The problem might be tied to something as complex as mobile browser compatibility or something as easy to fix as a lousy photo. As you study online analytics, scan for any anomalies as your first step.

4. What do our Wi-Fi analytics reveal about peak business hours?

By encouraging customers to freely use your on-premises Wi-Fi, you can learn a lot. What days and times of the week see the most walk-in traffic? You can use this information to make sure you have enough staff on hand to serve these impromptu clients.

If users sign on via their social media accounts, you can glean further insights from demographic data. Are certain age groups more apt to patronize your business at certain times of day? You can tailor everything from promotions to in-office music choices accordingly.

Proceed with caution, though. There’s a fine balance to be struck between using Wi-Fi analytics to enhance your bottom line and being too nosy. Customers are growing increasingly wary of the data that any service provider collects, so you’ll want to be proactive about this. 

A simple disclaimer informing customers that you collect data to enhance their experience with your business is typically sufficient. Not every customer will agree to your terms and conditions, but many will, thereby helping you increase the overall effectiveness of your staffing and outreach.

Analytics can be powerful tools … or they can be powerful distractions.

There is no denying that objective, empirical data is a good thing. The question every business owner needs to address is whether or not specific forms of data can be utilized to foster growth. Depending on the niche you occupy, newer forms of analytics might be interesting but not helpful. Focus on data that facilitates needed changes.

Don’t fall into the trap of collecting and charting data merely for the sake of collecting and charting data. As you encounter newer forms of analytics that can be conducted, stop and ask yourself whether you should. By keeping an ongoing log of relevant business issues you hope to address with data, your data-sifting process will become much simpler.

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