Why the Internet of Things is for Your Business not just Your Home

Businesses should be looking to exploit the interconnected world in which we live. Thanks to the Internet of Things, or IoT for sure, many homeowners have thought about an interconnected home where devices talk to one another and can be controlled remotely by those with access to the system. These include turning lights on and off, opening the garage door or preheating the oven en route home. Smart businesses have not only got on the act in terms of creating and selling IoT products, but exploiting this technology for the benefit of their own businesses. In a world of integrated devices, it’s never been easier to grow a dynamic, responsive business.

Integrated Work Spaces

As we’ll explore below, some businesses can work purely online with no physical presence. However, many businesses from retail to manufacturing need a physical bricks and mortar presence. The IoT is perfect for creating smarter workspaces by allowing businesses to better control lighting and heating for example. This includes creating fake nighttime lighting programmes to give the appearance of the offices being used or more focused security lighting.

Integrating Diverse Employees

Many service and some product-based companies can actually work purely online now. The IoT allows for companies to design or access online work platforms such as Slack or Trello as well as communication tools like Skype. The former allows businesses to build a range of chat channels and personal conversations, Trello is a pinboard for tasks and checklists, and Skype is the most famous chat and video conferencing app. Information can also be shared using cloud storage services which allow for a need to know access to particular photos, files or data across a wide range of devices and locations. In doing so, if well organized, the data flows better across verticals and separate work groups and divisions. If you know the term, Big Data, then this is how it was accrued – services and products can send real-time data back while it is easier for separate departments to access and process the said data then share their results across the company.

The Flexibility to Expand or Contract

Not all of the staff accessing the above IoT applications need to be full-timers. Access can easily be gained or removed on a needs basis. Furthermore, there are a huge number of gig and freelance websites and services such as UpWork, which allow businesses to quickly sale up with new PAs, new writers, designers, delivery drivers, and sales reps as needed. Each freelancer takes care of their own financial arrangements, and as work is paid on an item by item or hour by hour basis, if there is no work needing to be done, there is no expenditure for the business.

Jenny Holt is a former HR executive turned freelance writer, who now spends more time with her young family and ageing, but ever eager Labrador, Rover.

3 Tips for More Workplace Efficiency

How efficient are your employees when you stop to think about it? As a business owner, you want to get the most out of your employees when it comes to efficiency in the workplace.

Sure, most of your employees likely give you a good day’s work by the time they leave the office each day, but could they be even more efficient? If so, what tools and resources would you need to prove them with to accomplish this?

If your business could be more efficient when all is said and done, will you move now to make that happen? If the answer is yes, what will it take in terms of time, effort, even money to accomplish this?

Always Be Thinking Ahead

So that you are able to have the most efficient workplace possible, take note of the following tips:

  1. Your employees

First and foremost, you have to make sure you are hiring the cream of the crop as it relates to your workers.

No matter what role or roles each individual you hire will be responsible for, you can’t afford to be hiring employees who are not team players. They also have to be willing to provide input as to how best to get the job the done.

Although you hire managers (maybe even yourself) to guide your workers, those employees should be encouraged to speak up on what is and is not working.

Finally, be sure that have regular company meetings to discuss efficiency in the workplace. You should even have a suggestion box, one where employees can anonymously leave suggestions on how to improve the flow of work.

  1. Your tools

As great as an employee might turn out to be after you hire them, he or she will require some tools and resources to actually accomplish all of the goals (and more) that you want from them.

That being the case, look at the tools you are providing your workers, reviewing to see where some deficiencies might be. Once they’re found, do you quickly correct them or let them linger?

In order to be a successful business, doing the former is a much better way to see your sales revenue increase over time.

Such tools as audio dictation for better workplace efficiency, video conferencing, credit card readers for sales out in the field etc. can all benefit your employees and your brand. Each of these (and many other tools) assists your employees in being more efficient and ultimately more productive.

Most importantly, be sure that each tool you bring in to your company is thoroughly vetted; meaning of course the respective vendor is too.

You do not want all kinds of hassles with each and any tool you use, hassles that can slow down your company’s ability to efficiently serve customers.

Do You Offer a Winning Workplace Atmosphere?

  1. Your rules

Last but certainly not least, what kind of workplace atmosphere do you offer your workers?

When employees come to work energized and ready to roll up their sleeves, you are much more inclined to get a productive day out of each and every one of them.

Yes, some you hire simply will not pan out over time, so don’t be shocked and/or disappointed when this happens. If you hire dozens and dozens of employees even over just a couple of years, you are going to hit a few bumps in the road along the way.

The most important factor here is making sure that you offer a workplace that is conducive to both business production and career satisfaction.

As employees see a chance for themselves to grow within your business, many of them will take full advantage of such opportunities.

Instead of a workplace that feels like a grind each day, most will view it as an opportunity to succeed professionally and personally.

In turn, you field a much more efficient workplace.

As a business owner and/or manager, how are you striving for workplace efficiency within your company?

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers business topics on the web.

 

Make Your Business Loud and Clear to Consumers

Feel like your brand isn’t getting enough love from consumers? If that is your mindset, what do you intend to do about it moving forward?

Unfortunately, too many business owners do not do enough to get their brand’s name out and about. As a result, they pay the consequences in terms of sales numbers slipping. When that happens, the writing could be on the wall that one’s business is headed for a slippery slope.

So that you can make your business loud and clear to consumers, you have to make sure you are promoting it anywhere and everywhere.

This also means that your employees (unless you are a one-person show) are doing all they can to get the word out there.

With this in mind, is it time for you to make your business more loud and clear to consumers?

Working In-House and Outside the Office to Promote Your Brand

For you to get the most attention in and out of the office for your brand, remember a couple of important tips:

  1. Message and Your Employees

Without a clear and concise marketing message, how do you expect most consumers to find you?

Make sure each and every marketing message you send out has had some thought put into it. Secondly, it is also important to know your audience each time you reach out to them. Lastly, the vehicle or vehicles you use to transport your message (email, social media, texts, press releases etc.) also need to be thought out before you hit send.

As for the messengers, your employees and current customers (see more below) are two of your best resources.

When it comes to the former, be sure your workers are up to speed on a whole host of ways to make your brand as relevant as possible. Two such means are video conferencing and webinars for your business.

With video conferencing, you can greatly reduce one of the issues that many growing businesses run into.

That would be when offices are spread out both nationally and globally. When this happens, getting all the employees together as one can prove challenging.

By turning to video conferencing, you can bring your group together, allowing for both information and thoughts to flow freely. Best of all; the company feels like one big family.

As for webinars, this is another valuable tool that too many businesses fail to capitalize on. Webinars allow your company to spread your brand’s name online, with the added advantage that they are available in essence 24/7/365.

If you are not using webinars now, think about doing them sooner rather than later. In doing so, be sure to promote them anywhere and everywhere.

This is especially true on your social media channels, channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, You Tube etc.) that should be getting plenty of action.

  1. Message and Your Customers

As great as your employees can be at delivering your company’s message, never forget your customers.

By giving them some incentives to promote your brand, you can get more marketing bang for your dollar.

For instance, don’t take your long-term customers and/or those who spend a fair amount of money with you for granted.

You can offer them items such as rewards programs, first shot at sale items before they go on sale to the general public etc. In doing so, many of your customers will be more than happy to help spread your company’s message to friends, family, even strangers in some cases.

As you can see, your message and the messengers both play key roles in your company’s ability to be successful.

Take a step back and see where your brand might be coming up short at the moment. In moving forward, make sure your business is heard loud and clear by consumers. 

 About the Author: Dave Thomas covers business and marketing topics on the web.

 

 

 

 

Watch Out For The Bend! Keeping A Business Ahead Of The Curve

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file source

The industry is saturated and full of competitors trying to consume your market share. To survive, you have to stay one step ahead at all times. Who said business was easy? Whether it is easy or hard, it is important to keep creating and manufacturing excellent products and services. Only then will you have the breathing space you desire. The obvious question is, how do you stay ahead of the curve? Again, it isn’t easy, but it is possible with the helpful tips.

Forget About The Long-Term

A tip like this might not make any sense because the long-term is the future, and the future is what you are trying to secure. In a weird twist of fate, however, it is short-term that will help you succeed in the long-term. As a small business, you don’t have the resources to throw at long-term projects. Companies like Apple can preach about five-year plans all they want, but that’s because they have the iPhone and iTunes. Your money would be better off going into projects that have a quick turn around.

Be Adaptable

One reason the market leaders of cutting edge technology are where they are today is they are adaptable. Quite simply, they saw an opportunity and seized it with both hands. To do that, they undoubtedly had to make a lot of changes and flip their company upside down. In the end, it was well worth it because they got into a profitable venture on the ground floor. It would never have happened, nor will it happen, without flexibility. Rigid companies die out, and that’s a fact.

Never Commit

Some commitments are inevitable, like a lease for your offices. But, apart from the necessary, there should be no other commitments according to www.inc.com. Commitments make it hard for you to adapt to the industry because you are locked in. Those that aren’t can change direction whenever they like because they have zero ties.

Take Risks

In today’s culture of analysing statistics, taking a risk will seem old school. In fact, it will seem reckless. The truth is, every business that succeeds has to take a chance. Sometimes, there isn’t enough information to fill in all the gaps, yet they continue all the same. That’s because they trust the information they have, as well as their vision for the future. No one is saying you should risk it all, but a risk is inevitable. After all, you can’t cover all of the gaps. If you try, you will lose the opportunity.

Keep An Eye Out

It isn’t will the industry change – it is when it will change. Change is coming because it is inevitable. Who would have thought http://webfullcircle.com would focus on digital marketing methods in 2017? Ten years ago, digital marketing wasn’t even on the agenda, but now it is the agenda. The companies that see the change coming are the ones that can react the quickest and take advantage. Never get complacent because nothing stays the same. That is the nature of business.

The bend is always there, so how are you going to react?

 

How Safe is Your Work Environment?

When you run a business, you have myriad of responsibilities awaiting you each and every day.

With that in mind, one of your greatest tasks at hand is making sure your employees have a safe workplace environment with which to do their jobs in. Unfortunately, some offices and other work related buildings across Canada are not nearly as safe as they can and should be.

So, can you step back for a moment and assess how safe your workplace is?

Do workers ever come to you with complaints regarding the conditions they deal with on a regular basis? If so, have you addressed and/or acted upon them?

Unless you run a one-person show, you rely on your employees for so much.

That said just how safe is your work environment?

Providing Your Employees with a Healthy Workplace

So that you are able to maintain a healthy workplace day in and day out, keep these tips in mind:

  • Safety around your office – For starters, look around your office to see if you have issues such as electrical cords sticking out, boxes that could easily tip over, poor lighting conditions, and piles of paperwork that could end up being fire hazards. Any and all of these matters could lead to injuries, some of which can turn out to be quite serious. It is also a good idea to have occasional fire drills, making sure employees know what to do in the event the real thing occurs;
  • Group disability benefits – Whether you want to admit it or not, some of your employees will be injured or fall victim to serious illnesses each and every year. As a result, having group disability benefits for your employees is a great idea. With such benefits, you do two things. First, such a benefits plan is a great recruitment tool when you’re looking to hire new workers. Secondly, such benefits help those workers currently out of work who’ve been injured or suffered serious illnesses while under your employment. By giving them a monthly financial lifeline, you allow them to get by as they await to return to work;
  • Keep sickness away – How many times have employees showed up for work, only to be sick as a dog? Yes, while you do not want workers falling behind on their workloads or taking advantage of sick days when they actually are not ill, coming into the office with germs galore is not good either. Especially in smaller offices, it can be quite easy to spread colds and the flu etc. from one worker to another. Before you know it, much of your team is under the weather. Encourage those with colds and the like to take a couple of days off to get better;
  • Safety outside the workplace – Coming to and leaving the office should be a routine process for all employees. That said be sure your workplace surroundings are as safe as can be. Whether you own the office building or just rent it out, you want a parking lot that has proper lighting and other safety features in place. If you can afford it (or your landlord if you rent office space), having security on the grounds is a good idea.

 Meet Regularly to Discuss Safety Efforts

Some business owners have regularly scheduled safety meetings with their teams, meetings that can prove quite productive.

While such meetings are not necessary on a weekly basis, think about having one a month (if you are not already doing so).

The meetings are great opportunities for department heads (and others choosing to speak up) to share their ideas on how to make the workplace even safer. It can also be an opportunity to discuss your current group disability benefits insurance offerings, allowing employees a chance to give their two cents on the plan they presently have.

At the end of the day, knowing just how safe your work environment is will prove one of your most important tasks. 

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers business topics on the web.

 

 

 

How to Improve Your Business’ Customer Service

Businesses of all sizes are constantly searching for ways to expand and retain their customer base by boosting their performance in customer service. The success of these departments is no longer only about etiquette and stellar communication skills; it is also important to develop a company wide forward-thinking culture to support your beneficial practices. As customer expectations are growing with the advancement of technology, it is time to take your customer feedback into account when thinking of an efficient customer service plan. Here are some suggestions on how to improve your company’s customer service.

Be Accessible and Responsive as Much as You can

Customer support availability is a primary customer demand, as they want quick and efficient answers to their questions at all times, and this is especially important for international and online businesses worldwide. For a desirable customer experience, you need to respond in a timely manner. Instant response to your customers’ concerns will build rapport from the beginning of your relationship and positive experience can be rewarded by recommendations to their family, friends, and colleagues.

Provide Customer Service Through Many Different Channels

The rise of technology has opened many communication channels between companies and customers. Whether it is questions or complaints, you have use as many options available to you in order to create quality customer experience. A customer should have a variety of choices when trying to reach a company. Direct phone contact, email, and social media are the basic options every business should provide. Contact forms, live chats, and other strategies such as traditional and emerging messaging services (SMS, Viber, WhatsApp, etc.) can be an added bonus to your offer. Dissatisfied customers are often just looking for an explanation, product exchange or a refund. Providing a prompt and an adequate response over a customer’s preferred channel can help settle disputes in an efficient and a personalized way, convincing the customer that their concerns are valuable to you.

Use the Benefits of Self-service Support Options

Many customers prefer to find answers to their problems without having to interact with customer representatives. Developing self-service options will help your business optimize each customer representative’s time and potential by relieving them of duties while creating a convenient solution for your customers to get the right information quickly and independently. Having reliable and efficient self-service options is crucial, but keep in mind that leaving customers on their own cannot always substitute appropriate support from an agent. Customers will still prefer addressing human support if their issues are urgent or complicated.

Maintain a Trained and Well-organized Team of Employees

Constant training in new customer service techniques is bound to ensure the efficiency of your team. Your service team must be up to date with company protocol and product details, as well as ways to respond to different situations that may arise when providing customer support. Team managers will need to be able to assess individual employee skills and strengths, as well as areas in which they could improve. While good teamwork is vital to your customer service performance, clear communication between team members will be essential to the successful implementation of good practices. To provide a smooth flow of information, easy communication, and optimal work organization, businesses should consider using some type of a work organization software. A reliable project management software comparison could help you choose an option that works best for your particular needs.

Recognize Customer Feedback

Many customers search for other customer reviews before buying an item or committing to a business. Upon seeing positive reviews, they will be compelled to visit your website or look for more information. It is important to acknowledge both positive and negative customer feedback. Word-of-mouth reaches an incomparably larger number of people with the rise of online review websites and social media. Responding publicly to either compliments or complaints will help your company look engaged and invested when it comes to customers. On the contrary, a poor response or no response at all can hinder your company’s reputation.

Do not Neglect the Power of Support

Successful implementation of new and different strategies into your customer service operation plan can significantly improve the performance of your service teams while generating more genuine customer satisfaction and engagement.

 

Oscar is a writer from Sydney and one of the editors at Bizzmarkblog. He enjoys conducting research in the vast fields of business and marketing and writing about the useful insights he gathers on a daily basis. Follow Oscar on Twitter.to stay updated with his latest posts.

Uncovering the Causes of Low Morale in the Workplace

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Via pixabay

Is low employee morale affecting your business? If so, there could be serious repercussions for your company. Unhappy employees will result in a multitude of negative consequences, and you could be at the start of a slippery slope to ruin.

Low morale means lower productivity, which ultimately results in fewer profits. It can also have an impact on customer service levels and can see once-loyal clients leaving in droves. And finally, when it comes to replacing poor performing staff, who is going to choose a company where everyone is miserable?

Make no mistake about it – low morale is a serious issue, and you need to fix things sooner rather than later. But what, exactly, are the common causes of low morale? And how can you start addressing the problem? Let’s take a closer look and uncover the causes of low morale in the workplace.

Inconsistent goals

Are you always moving the goalposts for your workers? If so, the always changing goals are going to have an adverse impact on their performance. Put yourself in your employee’s shoes, and understand that they are trying to do a good job. If you reward them by discarding the original measure of success for something else, how will that go down? Ensure you have clear goals in place that enables your employees to hit targets and taste success.

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Via pixabay

Confusing expectations

Unless you are giving your employees clear guidelines on how to do their jobs, you can’t expect them to do it to your liking – it’s that simple. Employees are not mindreaders, and you can’t afford for them to go days, months, or even years without exact and precise instructions. Be sure to outline their responsibilities in a contract, and give them enough opportunity to learn the necessary skills they need to do their work. You will find that this simple practice will make everyone’s position clear, and you will keep morale to an adequate level.

No systems to measure performance

Of course, having ideas of measuring and managing employee performance is one thing, but having the systems in place to do so is another altogether. Make sure you are looking for performance management solutions that are relevant to your company and its goals. Once you have employees on board, you will have a history of their problems, issues, wants, and needs, and will be able to give them what they require to solve them.

Lack of progression opportunities

People thrive when they are able to realize their potential. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true – those who never get a chance to progress or receive training to further themselves will often sink into boredom and despair. If you want to attract the brightest, motivated talent possible, it is essential that you give employees an opportunity to better themselves. Failure to do so in this day and age will make you out to be something of a business dinosaur.

No communication

When employees are having problems, they need to be able to access the boss to explain them. However, they won’t be able to do so if you don’t have an open door policy, or, at the very least, open lines of communication. In simple terms, the problems people have will fester, and you will also miss out on creative and innovative ideas to improve your business. Good luck!