Category Archives: Business Tips

4 Customer Complaints About Scheduling Software; And How to Navigate Them

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Customer Complaints About Scheduling Software; And How To Navigate Them

Trying to please every single customer who walks through your doors is next to impossible. There will always be some difficult person to deal with who has lofty expectations that even the largest of corporations can’t fulfill. That said, trying to cater to as many customers as possible allows you to cast a wider net to bring in more business. 

One way to go about this is not by looking at what customers like, but by analyzing their most sincere complaints. Doing so will shine a spotlight directly on the flaws of your business so that you can make meaningful changes to your operations. Add targeted changes to a solid business foundation, and your customer complaints will be few and far between. 

The following is a list of four customer complaints that you might hear specifically regarding scheduling software. To thrive, appointment-based businesses will need to navigate them appropriately.

1. Limited Payment Options 

The world of fintech has been evolving rapidly, and along with it has come a myriad of new payment options that customers have fallen in love with. Consequently, you might hear the occasional customer complain about limited payment options at your place of business. 

For example, enabling digital payments through apps such as PayPal and Venmo will help numerous customers who don’t rely on debit cards — to say nothing of cash — as often. This will especially come in handy for mobile payments where customers might find entering their credit card information a cumbersome process. Even accepting different varieties of credit cards will expand your desktop payment options and avoid excluding certain consumers.

Cryptocurrency is starting to explode, and many people are looking at DeFi networks to make their daily transactions. Including a couple of the major cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, isn’t a bad idea. It might even put you ahead of your competition and demonstrate that your business is on the cutting edge. However, don’t worry about accepting payments for the week’s hot new coin, as the hype will be impossible to keep up with. 

2. Questionable Security 

One complaint you never want to hear regards your scheduling software’s security. Data privacy/security is a hot topic nowadays, with customers feeling a stronger desire to protect their data on the internet. Taking care of your customer’s information is absolutely vital for any modern-day business. 

Start by ensuring that all your transactions are secured through SSL encryption. Once you’ve got that protection in place, you can add a note to your scheduling software pages that notify customers of the security steps you’re taking. This will help them feel more comfortable booking appointments and paying for them online. 

The next step is making certain that all other customer data is locked up tight. Names, addresses, and any other personal information you might record should only be accessed by those with a need for that information. And your stored data should be safeguarded by firewalls, password protection, and any other cyber protections you might need to keep it out of dubious hands. 

3. No Rewards or Benefits 

If your business were an ice cream sundae, a rewards program would be the cherry on top. Some customers really like cherries, though, and they may get disgruntled if there’s not one in sight. While a rewards program isn’t essential to managing a good appointment-based business, it certainly makes the experience all the more delicious.

Dig in a little deeper, and you’ll see just how much value you can get out of an incentives program. Customers who book multiple appointments will be rewarded, which will increase your retention rates and help you to fill more appointment slots. Customers who receive benefits from rewards programs will also feel more valued and appreciated, another step in the right direction toward customer retention. 

The easiest way to implement a loyalty program is to reward customers who book multiple appointments. For example, a customer might get their tenth appointment for free after their first nine visits, or they might receive a free add-on service when they reach that threshold. Other small benefits will become hits as well, such as offering a discount to first-time visitors or customers who refer you to their friends. 

4. Restricted Platform Availability

Making scheduling software available on your customers’ desktops is a good start, but it won’t be a long-term solution. In fact, most consumers these days are making purchases and booking appointments on their phones. If your scheduling software cannot be accessed via mobile phone, you’re bound to hear several complaints.

Happily, you don’t need to develop an app to make this possible. All you need to do is ensure your web pages, specifically those pertaining to appointment setting, are as optimized for mobile as they are for the desktop. Only a few alterations need to occur, but the extra effort will mean your customers can book appointments just as easily on their smartphone as they would on any other device. 

Any appointment scheduling software worth its salt should be able to address these concerns and many more. When you treat consumer complaints as an opportunity to improve, your business can provide a better appointment experience to every customer. 

How to Run an Efficient Team With Fewer People

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How to Run an Efficient Team With Fewer People

A quick glance at the Fortune 500 will show you some well-oiled corporate machines that dominate their respective industries. Small companies and startups will try to emulate those same business models with varying degrees of success. Is it possible for a small organization to run as efficiently as a business behemoth?

The answer is yes, but you might have to customize your approach to fit your specific team. Running a small-scale team is a much more intimate and detail-oriented matter, but when done correctly, it can be just as efficient as any company you compare yourself to.

This article will help you and your team increase your efficiency and help your small business find great success even with fewer people on deck.

Lean on Automation

When operating with a small team, look for ways to automate basic tasks that take up a lot of time when performed manually. This frees up your team members and allows them to focus their attention elsewhere, getting much more done in a regular day. 

Take online appointment software, for example. With this solution in place, customers can book their own appointments, check future availability, and even make payments without the help of a customer representative. You’ll no longer need to have a team member on the phones all day helping customers do those things.

You can automate a whole bunch of tasks — outreach emails, invoice reminders, social media posts — if you have the right tools for it. Look for solutions that will take control of basic tasks so that your team can focus on more complex assignments. 

Focus on Communication

You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it once again. Communication is absolutely vital for teams of all shapes and sizes. Even one miscommunication can be quite disruptive.

Improving team communication doesn’t have to be complicated. Try using project management software or an instant messaging platform to keep everyone on the same page. Hold consistent meetings and touch base with your employees on a regular basis. Ultimately, successful communication comes down to the effort you put into it, so don’t let a day go by where you’re not communicating with your team in some way. 

Another important aspect of communication is gathering feedback. Ask your team about what’s working and what’s not working, then use that information to change your workflows. Few things will improve your team’s efficiency more than listening to their process improvement ideas and putting them into practice. 

Manage Workloads

Some miscommunications are worse than others. One side effect of bad communication is poor workload management. With a small team, especially in a startup, there’s a chance that some members are taking on far more tasks than their peers, which creates a distinct disparity between co-workers. If the imbalance persists, it can begin to breed resentment.

You might appreciate that your hardest-working employee is taking on as many assignments as possible, but the truth is that they’re likely experiencing some diminishing returns on their productivity. If they’re biting off more than they can chew, it won’t be long before errors occur or something has to be pushed aside.

By managing the workload over your entire team, projects can be distributed more evenly. This will likely result in tasks being completed much faster than if a single person was trying to do everything on their own. 

Build a Positive Culture

Company culture might seem superficial, but employees are valuing culture more now than ever. A positive company culture will draw in better employee prospects, which will naturally increase your efficiency by introducing more good workers into the mix.

In addition, your culture will directly affect team morale on a daily basis. If your team enjoys coming to work every day and mingling with their co-workers, they’ll work harder and more efficiently together. A poor culture will cause team members to drag their feet and potentially even look for a different employer.

How do you build a positive culture? There are a number of different approaches, and the ones you choose will depend on your team’s values. Casual wear, a revamped break room, team lunches, and after-work activities are all possibilities to consider. 

Promote Autonomy

As a leader, it’s important to be hands-on with your team. However, you need to avoid becoming a micromanager. Going too far in the “helping” direction can actually hurt productivity and efficiency. 

While remaining involved, promote autonomy throughout your team. Make yourself available for questions and guidance, but don’t stick your nose in when you’re not needed. This might be difficult to achieve if you’re an entrepreneur working on your startup, but it’ll pay off in the long run.

If you want to measure how these tips are working for your team, start tracking some key metrics (hours worked per process, cost of goods/services sold, etc.) that you can compare over time. As you see those numbers improve, you’ll know you’re turning your small team into an efficiency powerhouse. 

8 Powerful Tools for Small Teams

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8 Powerful Tools for Small Teams

Small teams can be surprisingly powerful when given the right tools. A well-equipped team armed with helpful apps and programs can keep up the pace with larger organizations that are working inefficiently. Additionally, software programs and digital tools allow small teams to get their work done without exceeding a 40-hour workweek. 

Here Are 8 Tools for Small Teams:

If you’re looking to set your team up with some new gear, you’ve come to the right place. Check out eight of the best tools for small teams and the benefits you’ll get from using them daily:

1. Appointment

When operating a business with limited staff, you want to use your resources wisely. Your goal should be to take care of your customers in the best way possible while not overextending yourself. Online appointment software is a great example of how you can accomplish this.

Take Appointment, for instance. This tool enables customers to check availability and book appointments without any assistance. This eliminates the need to have one of your team members manning the phone lines at all hours of the day, allowing them to accomplish more tasks. 

2. Calendar

As a small team, one of your most valuable commodities is your time. The better your team utilizes their time, the more your business can profit. Few tools scratch the surface of what Calendar can do to optimize your team’s time management

For starters, with Calendar you can easily share events that include the entire team and even account for differing time zones. Calendar Analytics gives you an in-depth look at how your team is using their time so you can make efficient adjustments to their schedules and practices. 

3. Slack

Communication is everything for small businesses. Luckily, with a condensed organizational structure, it should be easier to communicate effectively than it is for companies with hundreds or even thousands of employees. Using a messaging platform such as Slack will make collaborative communication second nature. 

Slack works by using different text channels for team members to send messages to each other. Each channel has a different function. The sales team can have their own channel where they can discuss matters that don’t pertain to the IT department. The marketing team can talk about promotional plans without flooding inboxes in the editorial department. 

4. ClickUp

You can do so much better than writing to-do lists on the whiteboard of your conference room. Implement a program such as ClickUp to manage your projects with greater precision and efficiency. 

ClickUp gives you different views of projects to help you better break them down. Team members are assigned different roles and assigned pieces of the project as it works its way from start to finish. Knowing and managing your team’s individual roles and tasks is a big part of creating an effective team dynamic. 

5. Zoom

Startups now have the luxury of hiring new employees from all over the world. The challenge is connecting with your team when they’re spread out across the map in different time zones. While apps such as Slack will help, using a videoconferencing tool like Zoom will make interactions much more personable. 

As your team connects through frequent Zoom calls, they’ll be able to communicate better than through text-based messaging alone. Sharing goals as a team is also easier when team members are able to hold face-to-face discussions with each other. 

6. Square

Businesses need to get paid, and the sooner the better. Outstanding invoices are really stressful and awkward for entrepreneurs trying to make sure they’re breaking even each month. A payment tool such as Square will speed the payment process along.

The great thing about Square is that it has tools that can be used for in-person transactions as well as online purchases. You’ll be able to direct payments no matter where they come from and do so without delay. 

7. Buffer

Social media is one of the greatest assets your small business has access to in today’s world. However, it’s also a difficult medium to stay on top of when you have so many other tasks to handle. Even with a small team, Buffer makes managing social media campaigns as simple as possible.

To start, you can use Buffer to schedule all of your prepared content to be posted exactly when you want to make it public. After you set your schedule, Buffer will compile analytics on your posts so you can make a better plan for your next round of content. 

8. PandaDoc

Businesses have lots of documents that need to get signed. New employees have paperwork to fill out, including tax information, non-disclosure agreements, and acknowledgment of business principles and practices. Companies require signatures from clients to finalize contracts or payments. Whatever it is that needs signing, a tool such as PandaDoc will speed up the process.

Using PandaDoc, all of your signatures can be done digitally. This means you can make legal agreements with employees and customers no matter where they live. Simply send the document, and with a few clicks, the process is done. 

The addition of one of these tools can make a big impact on your team’s performance, no matter how few employees you have. Even if it’s just you and a friend starting a business together, using the right tools can make the work more efficient and effective.

How a ‘Back to School’ Mindset Can Boost Your Team’s Motivation

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How a ‘Back to School’ Mindset Can Boost Your Team’s Motivation

Fall means going back to school, as you’re sure to have noticed with all the August and September sales that took place at retail stores across the country. Those first couple of months back can be exciting for kids as they move up a grade or even change schools entirely. 

Now that we’re further into the academic year, some of that excitement may have faded, but that doesn’t make school any less important. Maintaining that excitement throughout the school year often leads to better grades, a fuller social life, and less stress. 

There are a lot of parallels between the classroom and the workplace. We can get excited when starting a new job or getting a promotion, but that enthusiasm can quickly fade into a case of the Mondays. These feelings can really bog a team down, so here’s why and how a “back to school” mindset can kickstart your team’s motivation.

Starting Fresh

Entering a new school year is all about starting fresh. Unless you’re beginning a new job, getting that feeling at work is a little more challenging. However, there are still ways you can bring that fresh-start vibe to your workplace and reenergize even your longest-tenured employees. 

Getting a renewed start might be as simple as rearranging seating in the office, adding some different amenities, or giving everyone a potted plant for their desk. Small changes like these can make a considerable impact on productivity just by injecting novel elements into the regular routine.

Try not to get too carried away and change everything up, though. A complete revamp of your office space or work approach introduces a lot of variables that can be unpredictable. It’s often better to begin with one thing at a time to see how your team responds to each change. 

Looking to Learn

Some people outgrow the learning mindset they developed during their school years. Even though there are no homework assignments or lectures to stay on top of, learning should remain an integral part of your life. It will help you become better at your job or even open up new career opportunities. 

Encourage your employees to keep learning and enable them to do so. Some companies offer tuition reimbursements to their workers who want to take college or grad school courses. While you don’t have to go as far as paying off student loans, you should at least look for ways to help your team continue to learn and grow.

For example, you can pay your team members’ way to a conference in your industry. They’ll get some great new ideas from industry experts, network with other professionals, and bond together as a squad. Assisting team members in obtaining new certifications is another way to help them and your business grow simultaneously. 

Making New Friends

A new school year means new friends to meet in classes, at lunch, and on sports teams. Camaraderie with teammates sure makes school more enjoyable, and the same can be said for the office. After all, you spend a significant percentage of your time among co-workers, so it makes sense that being friends with them would make the workplace a more pleasant place to be. 

Team-building activities will help even longtime co-workers share a laugh and learn something new about each other. Take your team out for dinner, host a poker tournament in the break room, or make time for some speed meeting (i.e., workplace speed dating) during lunchtime. Teams that play hard together work even harder together.

These activities are just as important for remote teams. Employees who work from home often feel detached from their team, which can cause motivation and company identity to deteriorate. Start planning biweekly Zoom happy hours to bring your virtual team together and give remote workers something to look forward to. 

Pay Attention to Deadlines

School is all about juggling different class schedules and making sure you don’t miss a single due date. At work, deadlines are still an important factor in maintaining productivity and motivation. When deadlines loom, people naturally tend to work harder to get things done.

Talk with your team about how to implement more effective deadlines and use them to boost motivation. They might be feeling overwhelmed by the number of deadlines you set and need you to cut back a little. Other individuals might ask for more granular deadlines to help them focus their attention on intermediate checkpoints.

A rewards system is also worth considering. Schools have used incentives for many years, be they end-of-year pizza parties or upcoming field trips for students who turn in all their assignments on time. You can use a similar approach to give your team members the motivation they need even on the most difficult of days. 

Just as a teacher is responsible for making learning effective and enjoyable, as a leader, you are expected to keep team motivation high all year round. So follow these tips to rekindle the back-to-school flame in your team. The results will speak for themselves as your newly motivated team moves your business further forward. 

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 Hacks to Make Your Office More Productive

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Hacks to Make Your Office More Productive

With work performance metrics being tracked with ever more scrutiny, productivity has become the buzzword for just about every business. Our increased use of remote employees has, in turn, led to more meticulous research into various ways to boost office productivity.

We already have plenty of productivity tools. These are being relentlessly pitched to us from different platforms. However, relatively simple techniques and changes in habits can bring about a positive boost more so than tools and technologies. These changes take into account the preferences of modern digital workers. They also tackle the unique challenges associated with working in our hyperconnected age.

Changing the habits of one employee is not going to help much. You must find ways of reprogramming the default work style of your entire organization. Doing so can help overcome or mitigate resistance as you quietly implement widespread changes.

The six productivity hacks listed below encourage the development of habits that productive teams and employees must cultivate. Some involve retraining the mind to operate differently in the workplace or digital space.

1. Use collaborative scheduling software.

Any team can engage better with work when scheduling is made painless. Effective collaborative scheduling software can help employees accomplish more in less time and deliver better-quality results.

Nowadays, user-friendly scheduling software is easy for anyone to use and can be implemented without requiring extensive IT expertise. Scheduling programs can keep your team aligned on specific tasks and ensure equal distribution of workloads. Team leaders are empowered to monitor and manage individual performance and productivity throughout.

2. Plan work in short stints.

It’s a proven fact that the human brain can only focus on specific tasks for a short time. After that, both focus and interest begin to falter. Recent studies seem to indicate that attention spans are much shorter in our digital age.

To combat this phenomenon, many organizations have begun using the Pomodoro Technique. This involves working for a 25-minute session followed by a five-minute break. Workers can customize these sessions to fit their individual needs.

For example, try breaking up your work hours into slots of two hours. After that, apply the technique to create four 25- or two 50-minute sessions. Doing so can help you remain sharply focused on tasks for the entire 25-minute slot. Enhanced focus coupled with quick refreshers can be a real productivity booster.

3. Block distracting apps and sites.

Research on digital worker productivity reveals some interesting habits of the average employee. For example, they can’t seem to go more than six minutes without checking their email or messages on their smartphones.

The nature of our work and social life in the digital era serves to relentlessly pull us toward notifications. It’s almost like an involuntary, unconscious reflex response. This reality can become a constant source of distraction and hamper our ability to focus on tasks.

The most effective way to change this is to block app notifications and websites that distract you. Create a list of apps and websites you need to block during work hours. Even notifications can often be set to remain silent during work hours. Once work has been taken care of, you can fire up your smartphone and see what’s happened while you took care of business.

4. Create a cool and comfortable workspace.

Most employees spend the bulk of their work hours at a desk. Providing a comfortable environment can help them deliver better-quality work. It can boost productivity, too.

Several environmental factors can negatively affect productivity in the workplace. Lighting, noise, and temperature can all serve to distract and affect the mood of employees. A relaxed and comfortable setting is far more likely to yield better work performance.

Make sure your office is structured for optimal productivity. Ensure a sufficient inflow of abundant fresh air and natural light. Keep windows open, if possible. Use high-quality light bulbs to provide good lighting. Ergonomic equipment and sound baffles can also prove to be valuable investments for boosting productivity. They aren’t cheap, but they’ll likely more than make up their cost in the long run.

5. Provide the right snacks.

We all know that eating the right foods has a pronounced impact on productivity. We also know that glucose can energize the brain and help keep an individual alert and focused. A low level of glucose makes us lose focus. Similarly, foods high in carbohydrates or sugar release glucose quickly. This often results in a burst of energy followed by a quick crash.

This is one reason why eating right has a lot to do with productivity. Foods such as almonds, bananas, eggs, dark chocolate, yogurt, and others can put your employees in an energetic frame of mind. Stay away from bags of greasy chips, sweets, and fried items.

6. Encourage standing with adjustable-height desks.

Productivity is directly proportional to the health of your employees. Sitting for long hours at a workstation can create health issues, which in turn cause them to lose focus.

Spend the money to invest in adjustable-height desks. This is not some trendy digital-age hack. Standing desks demonstrably help your employees stay in better shape and minimize discomfort. Sitting at work for long hours is known to put heart health at risk. It can also cause back pain and contribute to obesity. 

A Texas A&M University study revealed that worker productivity could be increased significantly when employees switch to standing desks. The ability to work while standing helps improve energy levels and focus. Top tech firms such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter are all convinced. They all use standing desks in their offices.

Hopefully, these six hacks give you some ideas for promoting productive habits in the workplace. Of course, the best way to encourage others to change their habits in the workplace is to lead by example, adapting these practices to your own work style. True, it will take time to nurture a more productive working environment. However, you can make the change sooner rather than later through thoughtful planning and implementation strategies.

Best Types of Apps for Business Travelers

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Best Types of Apps for Business Travelers

Numerous work capacities require a lot of annual travel. Some occupations travel for a living, such as hotel inspectors that need to hit multiple cities throughout the year. Entrepreneurs and business owners might travel to each of their companies or meetings with other business leaders in their industry.

The average business traveler takes almost seven trips a year. That’s the equivalent of jumping on a flight at least every other month. Therefore, taking advantage of travel time is crucial to making the most of all of these trips.

Being equipped with the right software makes traveling so much easier and more effective. The following list will detail the six most valuable types of apps business travelers should have downloaded for every trip:

Time Management

Time is a businessperson’s most valuable asset. Managing your time on a trip is just as important, especially if you’re juggling a heavy meeting schedule with a business back at home. That’s why a time management app should be your highest priority to download.

Of course, Calendar is an excellent option for all the business travelers out there. Time zone recognition seamlessly moves all of your appointments and reminders to your geographic location. Your team can also see your schedule, so they know when they are able to contact you in between travel commitments.

Using Calendar will also help you stick with good routines even while on the road. Keeping up with morning and evening routines can be difficult without a Calendar schedule to give you some needed structure.

Sleep and Meditation

When you’re on the road, sleep can sometimes be elusive. However, that doesn’t make it any less important, so you need to do what you can to get enough rest each night. An app that helps you fall asleep can do just the trick.

Sleep apps use white noise or guided instructions to help you wind down for the night, even in a strange hotel or in a different time zone. These apps also have guided meditation to relax and focus before a big meeting or for nervous fliers.

Your smartphone might even have a built-in app for monitoring your sleep. While this might not be as useful for ensuring that you get good rest, it can help you evaluate your sleep and if you need to make any changes to your routine.

Communication

Let’s say you’re taking an international business trip where your cell phone service coverage is sketchy and doesn’t reach you. So how do you stay in touch with family, friends, and coworkers? A simple communication app will fix all of your problems.

WhatsApp is an excellent example of a communication app you can download for an international trip. It can work off of a Wi-Fi connection alone, meaning you can send texts and make calls without the need for a cell phone connection.

Most social media apps also have communication features, such as Facebook Messenger. For example, you can send messages back home to friends and family quickly this way.

Fitness and Exercise

Getting your daily exercise is essential even on the road. An exercise app can help you put together workouts and commit to exercise even without access to your local gym or home equipment. You might even be able to find a workout routine that you can do in your hotel room without any equipment.

An app such as MyFitnessPal will also help you keep track of what you eat. A balanced diet is another essential aspect of health and fitness, and one where you might lose control throughout a trip. Keeping an app on hand will help you stay conscious of your health goals and actively pursue them.

Project Management

When the cat is away, the mice will play. This saying is a common phrase used to describe a work setting when the boss is out of the office. Without direct supervision, workers are more likely to slack off and kick their feet up. Of course, this is just human nature, but it’s not what a manager wants to see when they’re away on a trip.

Entrepreneurs and corporate leaders often turn to project management software to ensure that work is still getting done. These programs allow managers to assign tasks in great detail over a long period of time. The boss can even send notifications while they’re in a different city.

Most project management software has a mobile app that allows leaders to guide even from afar. In addition, you can download programs such as ClickUp or Slack to your smartphone or tablet to check in from time to time and keep things running smoothly.

Ridesharing

Most business travelers will choose ridesharing over renting a car. Ridesharing is less expensive, especially if you don’t need to drive around much. Having your rideshare app ready to go ensures you get where you need to go at the exact time you need.

Uber and Lyft are the two big ridesharing companies right now. You can easily download both apps to compare prices and availability in the area you have traveled to. This way, you know you’re getting the best rate and the quickest service no matter where you are.

Open up your smartphone and take inventory of the apps you have. Then, start downloading everything you might need for your next trip and give them a try. After some trial and error, you’ll have the ideal digital suite for all of your traveling needs.

5 Strategies for Keeping Your Team on the Same Page

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5 Strategies for Keeping Your Team on the Same Page

Every manager wants their team to run like a well-oiled machine. Unfortunately, good intentions often fall short. In an effort to keep teams informed and connected, calendars can get overloaded with meetings, and employees can get more confused than when they started.

To get and keep your team on the same page, you need a better approach. This guide will outline five different strategies that you can use in any combination to take your leadership to the next level. A coordinated team, after all, is much easier and enjoyable to manage.

1. Up Your Meeting Game

A survey of employees in the UK showed that respondents considered 37% of meetings to be pointless and unnecessary. That’s over a third of meeting time that’s going to waste! Changing your approach to meetings will make better use of your time in the conference room while making sure your team is always in sync.

Start by outlining your meetings thoroughly before even adding them to your team calendar. Each meeting should have a specific purpose or goal in mind. Holding a meeting just to have a meeting is a pointless endeavor.

Next, make sure you show up to the meeting prepared with everything you could possibly need. With an adequate game plan, you can ensure that meetings don’t run too long or go off topic. You can get straight to the point and focus on getting your team on the same page before dispersing once again. 

2. Keep the Conversation Going

Even while you’re tuning up your meetings, you shouldn’t rely on them exclusively. The best way to keep your team connected and informed is to keep the conversation going long after a formal meeting has concluded. Discussion should be happening every day, whether it’s a clarifying question or checking in on the progress of a weekly assignment.

Numerous companies faced communication crises during the Covid-19 pandemic. Trying to keep remote teams pulling in the same direction was more difficult than it was in an office setting. This led to a large increase in the use of communications software such as Zoom and Slack.

One tool that you should look into for your team, regardless of its composition, is project management software. With a tool like this, project-related communications are visible to everyone on the team, and automatic task notifications keep interested parties in the know. This works great for remote teams, office-centric companies, and every organization in between. 

3. List Out Project Details

Another great use of project management software is the ability to break out key project details. Outlining your projects in such a way helps inform teams of all the important steps of a project, even if they’re only responsible for a few of them. 

There are different ways to list out project details, usually depending on the type of software you use. Let’s use ClickUp as an example. Within this program, you can create an assignment complete with a description, due date, and assignees. In addition, you can add a checklist of items that must be completed in order for the assignment to be finished. Last but not least, you can view a complete history of all the changes that have been made to the project and who initiated them. 

4. Share Schedules

An essential aspect of staying on the same page is coordinating time and individual schedules. What happens when a project is in crisis and team members cannot contact the team leader? Such situations can be avoided or at least mitigated by sharing schedules with one another. 

Now, let it be said that there’s such a thing as sharing too much information. Unless you have a great relationship with your team, they don’t need to know about your date night or your plans to go disc golfing over lunch. What’s more important is establishing the times where you’re available and unavailable and letting teammates know when and how you can be reached.

Online calendars are nifty tools for ironing out those details. You can create a custom scheduling link that can be embedded into a website or posted in your company database. With a simple click, team members and even clients can see whether you have any openings for a meeting or phone call without disturbing you. 

5. Embrace Transparency

Transparency does a lot of good for your company. Not only will it keep employees happy and boost their morale, but it will also develop a culture and atmosphere where collaboration can thrive. It’s so much easier to keep your team in the loop when transparency is a high priority.

Think of transparency as the willingness to freely share information from the top to the bottom of your organization. As the leader, it’s up to you to set the example that others will follow.

You can do this by clearly setting expectations, checking in with individual team members, and being honest about how you’re spending your time. Secrets that don’t pertain to birthday parties or Christmas bonuses tend to tear a company down rather than build it up. 

No business can thrive when its right hand doesn’t know what its left hand is doing. But with the right combination of communication, tech-enabled organization, and transparency, your team members will be able to pull together and achieve your organization’s goals.

Using Wi-Fi Analytics to Improve Your Customer Experience

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Using Wi-Fi Analytics to Improve Your Customer Experience

Offering your customers free Wi-Fi is one way to make your customers’ experiences more comfortable and convenient. It’s also a gateway to a data goldmine you can use to drive repeat visits and improve your location’s offerings. With Wi-Fi analytics, your business can create highly targeted email campaigns, optimize staff scheduling, and gather in-store behavioral insights.

Capturing customer behaviors through your guest Wi-Fi allows you to see real-time data, something that many businesses are already doing. A Harvard Business Review study found that 58% of businesses used customer analytics to increase retention and loyalty. Real-time analytics were viewed as extremely important to improving the customer experience by 60% of companies.

Real-time data can reveal how much time customers are spending in your location(s) and how long they’re lingering in various areas. You can track who’s visiting your storefront for the first time and what percentage of first-time visitors come back. Wi-Fi analytics has the power to show heavy and slow traffic times and which customers are churn risks. As highlighted below, this type of data can pivot your customer experience from average to exemplary.  

Adjust Your Staffing Levels

It’s happened to just about everyone. You go to a restaurant with the expectation you’ll be in and out within an hour or so. But when you arrive, it’s obvious the staff is overwhelmed and can’t keep up. You can either deal with the long wait times and poor experience or leave and find another place to eat.

Wi-Fi analytics can help your business avoid these types of scenarios by syncing foot traffic data with your scheduling software. By seeing how many customers log into your guest network during different times, you can adjust your employees’ schedules accordingly. If the data shows peak traffic times are between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., more staff can be scheduled then to meet demand. Your clients will be less likely to experience substandard service and delays.

If you operate more than one location, real-time data can reveal similarities and differences between them. Say your hair salon on the west side of town is constantly busy in the evenings. Your east side location tapers off during this time, but both locations experience high volume in the mornings. To help improve customers’ experiences, you could shift some employees from the east to the west location in the evenings.

Segment Customer Personas

Public Wi-Fi portal agreements are an opportunity to learn more about your customers’ demographics. These agreements are also an effective way to gather email addresses and build databases for digital marketing campaigns. Although some businesses simply let visitors accept terms and conditions to sign in, they’re missing out on valuable information.

By asking for some personal information during the sign-in process, you can learn about your clients’ characteristics. Data points like gender, age range, and zip code will allow you to start segmenting your customer base into various personas. You’ll also see whether the majority of your visitors fall into certain demographic categories, such as male or female. This kind of information could change the way you offer services or the types of products you carry.

Asking customers for their email addresses and permission to communicate with them enhances your personalization efforts. You can combine their purchase and on-premise behaviors with their demographics to deliver tailored messages. These touchpoints can encourage them to come back by suggesting complementary services and products. You can also use these messages to nurture the relationship with personalized offers and rewards for feedback about their visits.

Track Conversion Rates

Businesses that track conversions effectively send targeted promotions to customer segments via text message and email. People can look at the details through an online link and redeem offers at the physical location using a barcode. Once staff scan the barcode on a customer’s mobile device, the business can log which individuals converted.

Conversion rates for individualized or segmented offers tell a business a few things. They let the company know whether those customers found value in the promotion and whether it led to purchases. Conversion rates also reveal whether the messaging about the promotion did its job. This information gives the business the opportunity to target those who didn’t convert with different messaging or offers.

Wi-Fi analytics help you personalize offers after customers’ visits based on some key behaviors. This includes how long they browse in certain areas, how often they visit, and what times they come in. Your business has a greater chance of increasing conversion rates with offers that match those behaviors. A nail bar, for instance, can send a discount mini-pedicure offer to individuals who tend to stop by on their lunch break.

Identify Churn Risk

When customers stop purchasing from you, it can be because they no longer need what you offer. It can also be due to a bad experience or frustration with your processes. While customer surveys can identify some of these problems, their reach is often limited. McKinsey & Company reports that the typical customer experience survey captures only 7% of an organization’s customers.

As the report outlines, combining real-time data with other information can pinpoint customers who are at high risk of churn. For example, customers might browse your website for items to pick up later at your location. The website indicates the products they want are available, but when customers arrive at your location, they learn they’re out of stock.

Some clients might overlook this error on the first or second visit. Others won’t and will start looking for alternatives. By identifying individuals in the latter category, you can seize opportunities to implement recovery methods, such as reaching out to offer a discount on their next purchase. You could also offer to order the out-of-stock item(s) with express shipping to their home.

The power of using Wi-Fi analytics to improve your service processes lies in its real-time data. This information provides insights into how clients are responding to your business as they interact with it. When combined with other data, customers’ immediate and often unspoken feedback can lead to the creation of a superior customer experience.

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