By Kara Masterson
Building and maintaining quality customer relationships is a concern that no business can afford to take lightly. Finding effective ways to interact with customers, improve communication or address any concerns that consumers may have offer numerous benefits ranging from repeat business opportunities to enhancing the brand or image companies and organizations are seeking to create. The following six ways to reach out to customers can be of immense benefit for businesses interested in establishing or expanding their clientele.
Create a Newsletter or Blog
Online newsletters and company blogs are versatile resources that offer numerous opportunities to communicate with both established and prospective customers. These online publications can allow businesses to quickly and easily post product and service information, weigh in on any issues or trends impacting their respective industry or address any questions or concerns that customers may have.
Make it Easier to Connect Over the Phone
Even with email, video calling and instant messaging services, many customers still prefer to deal with business-related issues over the phone. Resources, such as inbound call center services, can allow even smaller businesses and organizations with limited staff to ensure all callers are provider with superior quality customer service, regardless of call volume.
Ensuring All Customer Inquiries and Issues Are Responded to Promptly
Even a minor delay in response time may find prospective clients and potential customers taking their business elsewhere. Ensuring all emails, calls and other communications are dealt with promptly and professionally can allow businesses to enhance their reputation and ensure that the issues caused by poor customer satisfaction issues are less likely to cause problems.
Utilize Social Media Services
Social media outlets and services have quickly become an indispensable resource, one that is able to provide businesses and organizations with an expanded range of options for improving customer education, communication and satisfaction. Social media combines the best aspects of blogging and email-based communication while allowing organizations to create a greater number of potential business opportunities than they might have imagined. Failing to maintain an active social media presence is no longer an oversight that businesses can afford to ignore.
Optimize Digital Media for Mobile Users
Consumers are utilizing smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices to do business in greater numbers than ever before. From mobile-site optimization services to digital advertising and marketing efforts that specifically target mobile users, today’s businesses would be wise to consider their options and overall promotional strategy. Mobile media offers plenty of ways to attract and acquire new clientele or to help ensure the needs of past and current customers are able to be met.
Create and Maintain the Right Professional Culture
A workplace philosophy or culture that prioritizes customer satisfaction can have significant and long-lasting benefits. Encouraging all staff and associates to go the extra mile when dealing with customers can make a world of difference and businesses that see customer relationships as a valuable and fragile resource can enjoy greater competitive advantage. While marketing and promotional efforts can be used to foster or encourage a reputation for pleasing customers, organizations that spend their efforts in ways that will actual improve customer satisfaction may have an easier time creating or maintaining the right image and brand.
Neglecting the value of customer relations can find even the most promising businesses struggling just to remain competitive and profitable. Organizations can benefit a great deal by assessing their effectiveness and efficiency of their current efforts and addressing any areas that may require improvement. Thanks to new technology and innovation, today’s increasingly digital marketplace provides businesses with more ways to reach out to their customers than ever before.
Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max.
September 29, 2016 at 12:00PM
By Keith Tully
As criminals become ever more sophisticated, security of your business premises is now about so much more than just making sure you lock the door when you leave. This article looks at sensible precautions companies of all sizes can take.
As well as locks on the front door, locks can also be fitted to: individual rooms, windows, cupboards, desk drawers and filing cabinets. Obviously areas where valuable items or confidential information is stored should be a priority when considering where to fit locks.
At the main entrance, a keypad entry system is more secure than a conventional lock. However, make sure you don’t use a really common entry code, such as the same number repeated four times, or 1234, 4321 or 1066.
Roller shutter doors are more secure for the front entrance than a normal door lock.
A modern, sophisticated burglar alarm system is an essential part of any company premises.
If the company has the resources to employ security guards out of hours, or to purchase CCTV, then this obviously provides a great deal of comfort.
If your company rents its premises, you may not be in a position to decide what security measures are put in place. But the standard of the security arrangements should be a key consideration when you are considering moving to new premises.
Information technology security breaches can be very costly, and not just in monetary terms. The implications of significant data loss and damage to the company’s reputation can also be significant.
Measures your company can take in this area include:
- Install a firewall and virus checking software on your computers. Your IT consultant can advise what precautions need to be taken
- Consider upgrading your operating system
- Protect your computer by downloading the latest patches or security updates
- Only allow staff access to the information they need to do their job
- Take regular back-ups of the information on your computer system and keep them in a separate place so that if you lose your computers, you don’t lose the information
- Don’t dispose of old computers until all the personal information on them has been securely removed (by using technology or destroying the hard disk)
- Consider installing anti-spyware. This protects against software that can be secretly installed on your computers. Spyware can monitor use, look for private information or even give someone else control of your computer
- Use ‘strong’ passwords – these are long (at least seven characters) and have a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters like the asterisk or currency symbols
- Install spam filtering software
Ensure your staff are trained not to believe emails or other communications asking for information such as PINs and passwords. These often come from banks, but a bank or other legitimate organisation would never ask a customer to provide this information. Even if a telephone caller invites you to call back, or calls on a recognizable number, this is not necessarily a guarantee of authenticity, as scammers can stay on the line when you hang up, and can use software to manipulate caller displays on telephones. Instead you should ask to call back anyone you are suspicious of, wait five minutes before returning the call, and ensure you get a dial tone.
If the communication is made via email, it may contain a link directing you to a carefully designed copy of the bank’s website, where you may be asked to enter your account details, PIN, password or other information. No legitimate organisation will ask for this information in this way.
Staff must also be aware that under no circumstances should they open spam emails.
Vetting of Staff
Some of the biggest security threats can come from inside the company – can you be sure your staff are trustworthy? Some simple measures you can take include:
- Ask for proof of identity from new employees (e.g. via a passport or driving licence)
- Ask them to confirm their eligibility to work in the UK (e.g. via a UK/EU passport or an appropriate work permit)
- Check their references, perhaps by making a call to the person who supplied it
- If they will hold a sales position, a senior management role or a role dealing with finances, check their financial situation via a credit check
Keep an eye open for any suspicious transactions – many an employee has diverted company funds into their own account in the past, and many more will do so in the future.
When staff leave the company, ensure that their access to all IT systems is disabled immediately, and that they return everything they have been given. Ensuring they return the keys is especially important. It may also be a good time to change the code on any keypad entry system.
Confidential paper waste should be shredded – not placed in the regular waste.
All companies should have a documented Business Continuity Procedure. These are traditionally thought to relate to how companies will respond to events such as fire, flood or loss of utilities, but the procedure should also cover how the company will respond to security breaches.
The procedure should specify the name of a Business Continuity Officer who will take charge of implementing the recovery effort in case of an incident, together with a deputy should the nominated person be absent at the time.
The four key elements to a company’s response to an incident are:
- Containment and recovery –measures for damage limitation
- Assessing the risks – assessment of any risks associated with the incident
- Notification – the company first needs to consider who it should contact who might be able to assist with the recovery effort. For a security breach this might include IT service providers, the landlord or the bank. The company should then consider whether it is necessary to inform the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and/or appropriate regulatory bodies and/or the police. (The ICO is the UK’s data protection watchdog, and it recommends that it should be notified when data loss has occurred which has a significant potential for harm to be caused to individuals, when the amount of data lost is significant or when the data lost is of a particularly sensitive nature.)
- Evaluation and response – it is important that your company investigates the causes of the incident and also evaluates the effectiveness of your response. If necessary, you should then update your policies and procedures accordingly.
A copy of the procedure must be held off-site, say at the home address of your senior managers. It is no good if the only copy is held on your internal computer drive, which you then can’t access because of the incident!
Keith Tully is a leading business insolvency expert and a partner at Real Business Rescue the UK’s largest professional services consultancy. Keith provides support and advice to small and large companies alike with the benefit of over 20 years’ experience in the field.
September 29, 2016 at 11:00AM
Most economic externalities can be efficiently solved through a system of private property rights, where costs and benefits can be negotiated between actors.
September 29, 2016 at 10:00AM
Developing a BYOD Policy? Include These Apps
When smartphones first came out, many employers debated whether to allow them in the workplace. There is still an ongoing debate whether employees should have Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, because there are both advantages and disadvantages.
Importance of Developing a BYOD Policy
BYOD policies can be very beneficial if they are well thought out. However, Andrew Borg, an analyst for the Aberdeen Group, said that it can also create an imbalance in the workplace. “The pressure on IT is intense,” Borg told CIO. “The implied threat is, ‘Give me what I know I can have, or I’ll self-provision.’”
The truth is that most companies are better off allowing BYOD, but it’s not appropriate for every organization. Allowing employees to bring their own devices to work can hinder productivity if the right safeguards aren’t place. It’s important to have a well-thought-out BYOD policy in place.
Productivity Apps for Your Company’s BYOD Policy
This policy should include a list of approved productivity apps. If you develop your own productivity app, we ask you to promote it and share it with lists like ours. Here are some of the most important to include.
Employees rarely have access to their computers while taking notes. Taking notes on your mobile device before transferring them to your computer can be tedious and exhausting.
Evernote is the perfect solution. It syncs your mobile device and desktop, which minimizes the steps in the notetaking process.
There is another great benefit of Evernote. You can use your phones voice to text tool to create text documents. This is a much more efficient way to create documents and minimizes the risk of keyboard related injuries.
2. Google Drive
Google Docs was always a very useful cloud storage platform. However, it used to be limited to desktop devices. Google has since release the Google Drive app, which allows you to store and access documents from your desktop, tablet and smartphone.
Wunderlist is an excellent time management app. You can create detailed list of tasks that you need to complete and easily check them off as they are completed. This app is a must-have for virtual assistants and other professionals that have numerous responsibilities.
LocalVox is a very valuable tool for managing online content. It’s intended specifically for local businesses that publish a lot of content on social media and news sites. If you plan on promoting your business on these virtual platforms, you should consider downloading this app.
According to a recent poll from Salary.com, 89% of employees admit to wasting time every day. There are a number of ways that they waste time, but social media is at the top of the list.
RescueTime is a great app to help employees reclaim wasted time. You can ask employees to use this app to put restrictions on the amount of time they can use social media with their mobile device. This can be mandatory for any employees that want to access their mobile device at work.
Ryan Kh is an experienced blogger, digital content & social marketer. Founder of Catalyst For Business and contributor to search giants like Yahoo Finance & MSN. Follow his latest tweets on twitter: @ryankhgb
The post 5 Productivity Apps Small Businesses Can’t Do Without appeared first on Small Biz Daily.
September 29, 2016 at 10:00AM
Hate Group Family Research Council Joins a Chorus of Anti-LGBT Voices Challenging the ‘Johnson Amendment’
splcenter.org – The so-called “Johnson Amendment,” which evangelicals and the conservative right have targeted for years, prohibits churches and other nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) designations under fede…
Tweeted by @1snafu2 https://twitter.com/1snafu2/status/781323199199973376
September 28, 2016 at 10:42PM
americanprogress.org – By Laura E. Durso, Katherine Gallagher Robbins, Ashe McGovern, Shabab Ahmed Mirza, Jackie Odum | Thursday, September 1, 2016 The Administration for Community Living, or ACL, is currently seeking co…
Tweeted by @BABYDOLL666 https://twitter.com/BABYDOLL666/status/781425107898134528
September 29, 2016 at 05:27AM
eventbrite.co.uk – 1 in 4 people will suffer from a mental health problem at some point in their life. We should not be afraid to “talk about it”. It is World Mental Health Day on 10 October 2016 and to demonstrate …
Tweeted by @SWLSTG https://twitter.com/SWLSTG/status/781453577323700224
September 29, 2016 at 07:20AM
‘Gay’ Log Cabin Republicans Despise GOP’s Pro-Family Platform – So Why Is Newt Gingrich Helping Them Raise Money? » Americans for Truth
americansfortruth.com – The following is reprinted from American Family Association’s “One News Now” online news source: By Charlie Butts (OneNewsNow.com), September 28, 2016 | With just weeks to go before Election Day, a…
Tweeted by @Author4Christ https://twitter.com/Author4Christ/status/781488392445960192
September 29, 2016 at 09:38AM
newsbug.info – RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Some 60 investors representing $2.1 trillion in managed assets joined the NCAA, entertainers and more than 200 businesses in calling for North Carolina to repeal its law limiti…
Tweeted by @DiversityFundTX https://twitter.com/DiversityFundTX/status/781485523625840640
September 29, 2016 at 09:27AM
pinknews.co.uk – The state of California has restricted official travel to North Carolina over the state’s anti-LGBT law. According to the Sacramento Bee, yesterday California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill t…
Tweeted by @SirKory https://twitter.com/SirKory/status/781388195447574528
September 29, 2016 at 03:00AM
2016 – In My Mind: A LGBT Peoples of Color Mental Health Conference – Recognizing, Articulating & Meeting Our Needs
eventbrite.com – This year, following on the requests from participants at last year’s conference, we are hosting a two-day conference that will take place on Wednesday, October 5 and Thursday, October 6, 2016 at t…
Tweeted by @AmidaCareNY https://twitter.com/AmidaCareNY/status/781476286984228868
September 29, 2016 at 08:50AM
usajournalist.com – A major LGBT business group is backing Hillary Clinton for president. “The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce has never endorsed a candidate in its nearly 15 year history, but the stakes ha…
Tweeted by @EBussiness4Now https://twitter.com/EBussiness4Now/status/781386195397857280
September 29, 2016 at 02:52AM
According to Glassdoor, 91% would recommend the company to a friend, and their CEO has the highest approval rating of 2016 (a whopping 98%!). As one current employee wrote, “If and when you leave, you’ll never regret having that company on your resume. It opens doors.” There’s even a book called Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google? Needless to say, there’s a lot of hype around scoring a job at Google.
We turned to Glassdoor reviews to get the real inside scoop on what it’s like to work at one of the most sought-after companies on the planet.
“You can’t find a more well-regarded company that actually deserves the hype it gets.You’ll work on cutting edge projects / solve important issues that impact your community and the world. You’ll meet interesting people who are your colleagues, managers, and senior management. You’ll open the paper and see your company in the news almost every day, and read about projects you’re working on, which is a cool thing.” —Current employee in Mountain View, CA
[Related: 9 Companies as Cool as Google & Hiring Now!]
“High caliber colleagues, friendly atmosphere, great work-life balance, relatively objective hiring and promotion processes, a wide range of career progression opportunities, and of course the awesome food, pay, perks and brand recognition — arguably the most optimal “package” that any employer on this planet offers.” —Current program manager
And what about those notorious Google interviews? One of the best places to get a glimpse of what it’s like to be in the Google interview process is to check out the interview reports on Glassdoor, where you’ll be able to score valuable insider info like this one from a software engineer who landed the gig after interviewing at Google:
Graph related question and super recursion
Design discussion involving a distributed system with writes/reads going on at different sites in parallel.
Array and Tree related questions
Designing a simple class to do something. Not hard, but not easy either. You need to know basic data structures very well to consider different designs and trade-offs.
Computer architecture and low level perf. enhancement question which requires knowledge of Trees, binary search, etc.
At the end, I wasn’t tired and rather enjoyed the discussions. I think the key was long term preparation and time spent doing topcoder for several years (on and off as I enjoy solving the problems).
Conclusion: “It’s not the best who win the race; it’s the best prepared who win it.”
And as you gear up for your interview, don’t forget to think through compensation. Glassdoor provides unparalleled salary transparency.
According to data collected from the over 5,000 salary reports from Google software engineers, “the typical Google Software Engineer salary is $126,954. Software Engineer salaries at Google can range from $82,798 – $226,372. This estimate is based upon 5,151 Google Software Engineer salary report(s) provided by employees or estimated based upon statistical methods. When factoring in bonuses and additional compensation, a Software Engineer at Google can expect to make an average total pay of $165,220.”
September 29, 2016 at 09:34AM
When you’re in need of advice or in a professional pickle, “who you gonna call?” Your mentor, of course! But if you’re like me, you’ve gone to dozens of coffee dates with your mentor, and, honestly, you cannot drink another pumpkin spice latte (sorry, Starbucks).
However, before you get the jitters from too much coffee and caffeine, think about how best to spice things up. Whether it’s going to your mentor’s office or meeting for an after-work jog, a change of scenery could spur more ideas and further connect you to the professional who inspires you the most.
We’ve come up with 5 activities to do with your mentor that don’t include coffee. Read our list then send a calendar invite, ASAP.
1. Attend a networking mixer.
Need a plus one to an upcoming event after work? Call your mentor to ask him to join you. What’s the saying about “two birds with one stone”? Remember to make sure that the mixer will be fun and advantageous for both of you. Therefore, a young alumni cocktail hour should only be considered if your mentor is also a young alumni.
[Related: 21 Hot Jobs You Can Get Today]
Identify a community service activity that your mentor is passionate about and offer to lend an extra hand this weekend. Or bring your mentor along as you volunteer at the ASPCA or Habitat for Humanity. You can bond, talk about career goals, and give back at the same time.
3. Have a Google Hangout or Skype chat.
Sure meeting face-to-face is ideal, but be mindful of your mentor’s schedule and the demands on their time. Suggest a video chat to catch up. The key here, as with all mentor-mentee interactions, is to give as much as you take. By that, we mean contributing what you can to your mentor’s life as you ask for advice, connections, and feedback. A Google Hangout is the perfect way to offer your help with a social media task or providing references for a temp assistant if that’s needed. The give and take necessary in a mentor/mentee relationship.
[Related: 9 Companies as Cool as Google & Hiring Now!]
4. Take a one-off class together.
A cooking class, Soulcycle session, or a General Assembly workshop, these are all fun options for you and your mentor. The goal here is to ensure that your mentor/mentee relationship is something you both look forward to. A mentor is more than just his or her job, and there is more to you than your job. Therefore, get to know each other beyond the topics of career goals, promotions, and navigating office politics.
5. Schedule an in-office lunch.
If you do not work in the same office as your mentor, schedule a lunch date where you bring salads or tasty take-out to her desk for a 45-minute lunch date. She’ll be grateful that you came and went the extra mile to bring lunch making it easier for her jam-packed schedule. A bonus perk to this activity is that she could introduce you to her colleagues or even invite you to sit in on a meeting to shadow her. It’s a win-win.
When all else fails and time is just too tight, grab coffee with your mentor—just don’t forget to pay. To make the coffee meeting special, find a local coffee brewery to go to or consider an unconventional juice shop off the beaten path.
September 29, 2016 at 09:26AM