Getting Through Customs: How To Make Your Relationship With The Customer Soar

Communication with your customers is such a vast subject that it is so difficult to break down into a simple formula. Whether you are in a contact center, a customer facing role, or using email to speak to them, you have many obstacles to overcome. Focusing on the contact center environment, it becomes very apparent that you don’t have as many things going in your favor that you would normally have, like facial expressions, manner, how you posture yourself etc. All you have is your voice, which is a limiting factor in communicating yourself effectively. Secondly, if a customer calls to complain and there are external factors, like a bad line, this will further annoy the customer. There are essential skills to have when working in a contact center, and here they are.

Communication Skills

Communication varies depending on the environnent, and it is down to you to communicate yourself properly. Whether you use body language more in a face to face role this would normally work to alleviate customer anxieties, but this cannot be done over the phone. A thing you do have control over, is the language that you use. There are many words that you use that can be construed as negative. A common example is when someone thanks you and you casually respond “no problem.” Yes, it is an acknowledgement, but the word “problem” will impact on a customer negatively. It could simply imply that there is a problem. Either way, using language that is direct and positive over confusing terms will work so much better to build the bond between business and customer.

Skills In Time Management

From the opening of the business, to the close of business, that is your window of opportunity. So use that time as best as you can. Your role is to sell products and to sell the business or brand. This also applies to when you are in conversation with a customer. You could spend a long time going round in circles with a customer, and sometimes it is better to seek assistance before you say something you regret. And this links to having patience. Managing your own fuse is a very important skill to have, so your best character traits come across, and this translates into productivity and more sales. There are things you can use to help your team get ahead, like extra training or sales team enablement software. Managing your emotions will help you majorly.

Having Superior Knowledge Of The Product

You cannot bluff your way through this. The product is what you are selling, and you need to sell it in as much detail as you can while giving care and attention to the customer. This is balancing act, as you don’t want to come across as someone reciting lines, or too “sales-y.” But knowing your product will help in the sale, and it will help for technical queries afterwards too. If you “know nothing” it reflects badly on the product, on the business, and on yourself.

Why A Trademark Is Crucial For Your Business

If you’re thinking of starting a business, then you have a long way to go before that business is up, running, and exactly where you want it to be. You have many things to consider before you can start your business and begin calling it a success. One thing you’ll likely hear a lot about, is a trademark. If you’re wondering why a trademark matters to you, this post can help you.

Trademarks Make It Easier For Customers To Find You

A trademark can make it much easier for customers to find you. With so many businesses in the same niche these days, it can be difficult for customers to differentiate between different businesses. When you make sure you are trademarked, you make it easier for customers to find you. Not only will it make it easier for them to find you, they’ll become more sure of your reputation and be far more likely to work with you. They will be less likely to move towards another competitor, and far more likely to move towards a sale with you.

Trademarks Can Become Valuable Assets

Trademarks can become extremely valuable assets indeed. They can get more valuable over time, especially if your business is becoming more valuable. As your business grows, your trademark will grow with it. Trademarks can also help you to expand into other industries. They can be bought, sold, and licensed as you see fit, too. It’s one of the most important things to think about as you start your business.


Photo Credit

Trademarks Don’t Expire

Your trademark will not expire, so you don’t need to worry that you must pay for it all over again or go through a bothersome process to keep it. Many brands have been trademarked and around for hundreds of years. Many car brands are an example of this, such as Mercedes, as well as brands you likely use in your day to day life.

A Trademark Will Protect Your Brand

Protecting your business in any way you can is absolutely crucial for the future. Whether you’re big or not now is not the point. The sooner you protect your business, the better. If you have a unique name and business model, a trademark can help to protect you from people trying to jump on the bandwagon and copy you. Unfortunately, there are people like this in the world. Dishonest people out there will try to create a business just like yours and become a rival, or a carbon copy if you don’t take the steps to trademark it, explains Xavier Morales. Making sure your business is safe is an absolute must.

Of course, this isn’t the only way a trademark can help your business. It can also make your brand more recognisable and memorable, and is usually pretty cheap to obtain. Hopefully, it’ll also discourage others from using similar branding techniques to you. Make sure you do what’s best for your business and get trademarked as soon as possible for peace of mind!

How technology helps with staffing

As business owners, we all struggle with staffing issues. The infographic below and companion article helps us to understand how recruiters use technology effectively, I am sure there are a few things we could be doing (better)!

Click To Enlarge

5 Reasons Why Technology Drives Success in Staffing

Via AkkenCloud


50 Interview Questions to Ask Job Applicants

A few months ago I shared with you a Small Business Recruiting Guide provided by one of our trusted contributors.

Because you liked the resource, we thought you might be interested in their latest published work: 50 Interview Questions to Ask Applicants.

The guide contains 50 quick, easy-to-use, and immediately applied interview questions. These questions will help you to decide quickly whether the candidate you are interviewing is the right fit or not. Each question has been filtered through a vast array of human resources scenarios to determine if any are “questionable” or “offensive” based on current HR laws, regulations, and interviewing rules, (e.g., discriminatory questions based on violations of ADA, Title VI, etc.), and each one has passed the test in the US at the time of this writing.

We think this guide will go perfectly well with the Small Business Recruiting Guide we shared with you in the past.

Stamp Out Employee Stress In Your Pet Sitting Business


Everyone in a work environment experiences work stress at some point in their lives. Small amounts of stress are good. They can push you to meet a new challenge or face a deadline. However, continuous or chronic stress can become overwhelming and is harmful to your physical and mental health.

As employers, we have an obligation to look after the wellbeing of our employees. On a basic, human level, we want to look after the people we work with and ensure they are okay. From a business stance, workplace stress causes a dip in productivity, low morale and increased absences.

Working in the pet sitting industry brings its own unique challenges. Though working with animals is a wonderful experience, it isn’t without its problems. We’ve all been stuck in traffic, trying desperately to get to the next appointment. And meanwhile, we’re hoping that the client’s beloved pooch can wait until we arrive before going to the toilet. And we’ve all looked at the next day’s schedule and wonder how on earth we’re going to fit it all in. And, of course, there are the pets themselves. We worry about their stress and fretting when their owners are away. It’s a big responsibility looking after someone’s pet and being responsible for their home’s security etc. Sometimes that burden weighs heavily. When your job is busy and pressured, healthy stress can turn into burnout.


Common Reasons For Work Stress

The following reasons are often cited as a factor in work stress. It is not an exhaustive list by any means, but these are some of the common stressors:

  • Mounting or excessive workloads

  • Lack of managerial support

  • Lack of social support within the organization

  • Work that isn’t fulfilling

  • Lack of opportunities for career development or advancement

  • Lack of control over own schedule and workload

  • Changes to policy or processes

  • Poor salaries


Effects Of Stress

If stress is left untreated, it can cause serious harm to physical and mental health. It can lead to many illnesses including depression, anxiety, and heart disease. It is also associated with headaches, stomach pain, insomnia, and difficulty concentrating.


What Employers Can Do

Employers face their own struggles and challenges at work and are not immune from stress. It is just as likely to affect you as your staff, if not more so. There are several steps you can take to deal with and combat stress for yourself and your employees.

1. Manage Workload

One of the main workplace stressors is an overwhelming workload. There are several steps you can take to manage this. The first thing to look at is whether staff can fulfill their duties. Do they have adequate training? Is there anything they are unsure of or need clarification on? Are they worried about dealing with a specific client or pet? Try to address any uncertainty and take steps to fix it.

Communication is vital, both in identifying and managing the problems. Sit down with your employees and work out what you can do to help them. This may mean swapping schedules or working out more flexible hours. It may also involve hiring additional staff.


2. Set Up An Employee Assistance Programme

There are many Employee Assistance Programme services for employers. Packages vary but tend to include counselling and referral services for employees. They are created to help employees with issues that may impact on their work. If this is an option for your business, it will offer your staff the support they need during difficult times.

3. Set Clear Policies And Contracts

It is important that everyone is aware of their responsibilities from the outset. This includes responsibilities regarding their own roles and to the company. Any policies and documentation should be clear and transparent. Go through these with employees at the beginning of their employment and ensure they are aware of what is expected of them. Review your job descriptions to make sure they include all requirements and expectations.

Employers should also set up regular supervision meetings. This provides objectives and targets for employees. The manager and employee can both assess how well these have been fulfilled. They can then decide together where changes need to be made. This is a great opportunity to look at strengths and provide useful constructive criticism. A positive approach should always be taken, even when discussing weaknesses. Always start with the positives. Suggest different approaches and improvements rather than dwelling on failures.


4. Flexibility And Control

People can often feel pressured if they have no control over their workload and how it is managed. Everyone works in a slightly different way. Though there must be some structure in a work environment, it is important to allow employees some control over their work. For example, when planning their routes each day, etc. Or in how to deal with a particular pet.

Discuss work with staff and involve them in making decisions. Involve them in discussions on how work is carried out. They are likely to have some useful insights and may be able to streamline/improve processes.

5. Foster An Open And Supportive Environment

If workers feel they can’t talk to managers about issues, this creates an unhealthy environment. Therefore, it is essential that you create an open and supportive workspace. Ensure supervisors and managers hold regular meetings with their charges to discuss issues they may be facing. Encourage an ‘open door’ policy. Group meetings are also effective as they allow co-workers to discuss issues among themselves. Social events allow co-workers to build solid relationships.

Keep everyone informed about what is happening in the business as a whole. Let them know about new business and new initiatives. Encourage everyone to make a contribution and put forward suggestions.

6. Manage Change

Changes in company policy or processes can lead to concern and worry. Many people fear change and fear their stability is being rocked. Change is inevitable in all businesses, and it is often necessary for growth. The way you manage this will have a significant impact.

Include everyone in discussions. Consult and ensure everyone can offer input and is heard. Always plan ahead when making changes. Give clear indications about when it will happen and ensure everyone is supported throughout the process.

Providing a caring and supportive environment for staff will help reduce stress. Building strong relationships and fostering an open environment will help workers feel they matter. A happy workforce leads to greater levels of productivity and higher morale. This will impact positively on your bottom line. So, it is in everyone’s best interest to identify and manage stress in the workplace.

The Ultimate Guide To Hiring The Best Employees





Hiring employees is an essential part of every business. You need to make good hires, or your company will be filled with bad employees. To ensure you make the best hires possible, follow this guide:

Make A Checklist

The first thing you should do is make a checklist of useful and essential things you’re looking for. There might be certain qualifications that are essential for the job in question. Or, you want a minimum amount of experience in a similar role. Then, you can have a few things that are desirable, but not essential for candidates to have. By making this checklist, you can narrow down your search immediately. If people apply for the job without the essential requirements, then you rule them out, simple!

Outsource An HR Company

A great way to speed up the hiring process is to outsource an HR company. They can deal with posting the job advert and finding candidates for you. This saves you lots of time and effort, as you don’t have to sift through hundreds of applications. They’ll do it for you, and come to you with a short list of potential employees.



Ask Thought-Provoking Questions

Eventually, you’ll whittle down your candidates to a handful of people. Then, it’s time for the interview stage. This is usually the part that candidates dread, so don’t be surprised if they seem a little nervous. During an interview, you should ask numerous questions and judge the responses from the candidate. Now, there are loads of typical questions you can ask someone in an interview. But, the best ones you should as are ones that get them thinking. Ask thought-provoking questions to help you find the best employee for your business. I found some great info sourced from Forbes on how top business owners interview candidates. They ask them a question at the end of the interview that determines whether or not they get the job. It’s a multiple choice question, and there is only one right answer. Pick the wrong one, and they don’t get hired. Pick the right one and they’re under consideration. It’s a great little tactic that ensures you get the right hire every time. How? Because the question is designed to ensure, they know the core values of your brand. If they pick one of the two answers that don’t align with your values, then they’re clearly not right for the company.



Never Interview On Your Own

You may think that conducting an interview on your own is a good idea. You get one-on-one time with people so that you can scope them out. However, interviewing with someone next to you is a far better option. This way, you have a second opinion, and will find it easier to make the right choice. You may think someone is good, but your assistant can pick up on something negative and point it out to you.

If you follow this guide, then you’ll make the best hires 100% of the time. Your business will excel because you’ve hired the best people for every job.

Are you ready for PRIME TIME?

One of the key concepts of Personal Productivity Principles is the concept of PRIME TIME.

Every time you have a task to do, you have to weigh the time/cost – value equation against your own “productivity expectation” and determine WHEN to do it.

PRIME TIME is best explained with a telemarketing/sales example:

  • PRIME TIME = whenever contact (calls) can be made.
  • NON- PRIME TIME = the rest of the time.

A top gun salesperson (or highly effective business person) only does PRIME TIME TASKS IN PRIME TIME and vice versa.

For example:

  • Reports, time management, scheduling is done early in the morning (NON-PRIME TIME)
  • Calls are made during the day  – maybe even during LUNCH TIME when people have time to talk (PRIME TIME)
  • Paperwork, planning, educational and development tasks are done in the evenings and/or weekends (NON-PRIME TIME)

It’s all pretty SIMPLE to understand – harder to actually do – because most people don’t know what their PRIME TIME tasks/outcomes are.

Once you know your PURPOSE / OUTCOME, everything should fall into place…

But it’s all easier said than done – unless you have a SYSTEMISED approach to time/life management.

Of course, when time permits, NON-PRIME TIME tasks CAN be done in PRIME TIME as long as they don’t interfere with PRIME TIME TASKS.

If you want to learn more about these principles, contact us. These are skills we teach within our Platinum Program.

Keep Your Clients Satisfied With These Top Tips!

One of the top ways you can make your business successful is to keep your clients happy. After all, it’s down to them whether or not you make money. You need to ensure you have a good and honest relationship with them, so they become loyal clients to your business. Here are some top tips for keeping your clients satisfied.

                    Creative Commons Photo

Make sure you are ready to deal with clients

You need to make sure your business is all set up and ready to deal with customers. If you aren’t ready, you could end up providing them with a product which isn’t up to the standard you promised. As we talked about before, your business could spiral into chaos if you are not ready. Therefore, make sure you have everything set in place before agreeing your first deal. Don’t make promises you can’t keep if you want to make them happy.


Listen to what your clients need

Another tip to keep your clients satisfied is to make sure you are listening to your client. When you meet them, remember to ask them questions about what they are looking for, rather than just talk about what you do. Take notes so that you can relay back to your team exactly what the client needs. Remember if you do a good job, they will keep returning to your company for further work.


    Creative Commons Photo

 Communicate with them effectively

You can also keep your clients satisfied by ensuring you communicate with them effectively. Give them updates of how the project is progressing, and don’t hesitate to call them if you need to clarify anything. You should also ensure you call them back and email them quickly when they have sent you a message. If you don’t speak with them, they will lose some of their trust in you. If you are going to be out of the office, don’t forget to put an office email reminder on so they know you aren’t available.


                    Creative Commons Photo

Make sure products are delivered to them in a timely fashion

Another tip for keeping your clients satisfied is to ensure products are delivered to them timely. If you keep sending over the products late, they won’t be happy and will not use you again. Therefore, you should plan in advance exactly how you will get them there from the warehouse. And if you have clients across the globe, you need customized transport solutions via air, land and sea. It will ensure the product is delivered to them efficiently. Make sure you have a good supply chain management in place before agreeing on a deal with clients.


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You need to be honest with them

You need to be honest with clients if something does not go to planned. You are more likely to keep some of their trust if you are accountable, and explain why and what has gone wrong. Resolve the issues efficiently, keeping them updated as you do, and you will soon have them returning to use your services again.

Remember if you want to keep clients satisfied, you need to show them a degree of loyalty.  As this article reveals, if you are approached for work by a competitor of your client, you should think about it carefully. After all, you don’t want to end up losing your loyal customer.

The costs of a bad hire

As you know, small businesses often do not have the budget for an HR manager. Getting one is also often not appropriate considering the small scale of operations. As a result, the task is often left to people who lack human resource knowledge or, the founder (owner/operator) shoulders the task thus spreading thin his or her precious time.

In either case, the result is often a bad hire. And while getting a hiring manager is costly, the repercussions of a bad hire can cost a lot more.

According to a survey of 444 companies by Right Management, companies experienced the following after a bad hire:

  • 66% experienced a decrease in work productivity
  • 51% suffered higher training costs
  • 44% dealt with increased recruitment costs
  • 40% faced higher severance costs
  • 54% lost their customers and/or market share

To assist small businesses, Nectjobs developed a hiring guide for small business designed to equip you with the right tools, techniques, and strategies on how to recruit the right person. You can access it for free by clicking on the hyperlink with no opt-in or email capture.

The guide focused on the most crucial areas of the recruitment process in chronological order:

Knowing what you really need

  • Nailing the job design
    • Nailing the job description
    • Attracting the right talent
  • Knowing what to offer
    • Writing and posting a killer job post
  • Learning the techniques of the hiring process
    • Shortlisting candidates
    • The interviewing process
  • Effective employee orientation techniques
  • Onboarding smoothly and keeping them hooked

4 Things You Need At A Networking Event

Photo Under Creative Commons License

Photo Under Creative Commons License

Networking events are extremely valuable opportunities for all who attend. They are a great way to meet new people in your field and to make new connections that may help you in the future. However, it is not just enough to show up to these events; you should also be marketing your business or brand to the other attendees as effectively as possible. If you are attending such an event soon and you are feeling a little bit intimidated, here are four things you should have in your back pocket to help you get through it and make some good impressions.

1. Pens

There are plenty of promotional items on which you can put your business’s name, but the most popular of these would probably be the trusty pen. People love free pens, and even if they just toss the pen into their stationery drawer, there is a good chance it will be used at some point in time. Pens are also useful at networking events because people often forget to bring their own writing implements. If you think you might want some customised pens for your upcoming event, specialists in promotional products, such as Adcall, can help you out.

2. Business Cards

The good old trusty business card needs to be a staple in your business arsenal, and they are great to hand out at networking events as well. It will usually have all your details on it, including your name, mobile phone number, email address, and possibly a very brief overview of what your business is all about. Don’t be afraid to offer cards to people, though you will find that interested parties will usually ask for one anyway.

3. Name Badges

It can be awkward to continually ask for people’s names, and these events are usually quite busy and crowded, so chances are you probably won’t have the brain power to remember anyone’s name with any clarity. This is where name badges come in handy – you can either print these and have them ready or get attendees to create their own (if you’re the organiser). Either way, these are often a must-have at networking events.

4. Confidence

This might sound a bit cheesy and a little obvious, but confidence goes a long way at these sorts of events. Don’t be afraid of rejection, and don’t be afraid to approach people you want to talk to. You can gain an enormous amount of experience and knowledge from networking events, and you don’t want to squander that just because you lack that little bit of confidence.

These are only four of the many things you need at a networking event. If you are apprehensive about hosting or attending such an event, ask your friends or colleagues if they have ever been to one. Ask them for advice and then take it on board – good luck!

Do you often attend networking events? Do you coordinate these types of gatherings? Is there anything that you think would be essential for such an event? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.