Five Things You Didn’t Realise You Needed in Your Office!

Your office is so much more than four walls. It’s the space where your workforce spends most of their days, and so it makes sense that it should be a nice environment. Not only will this be more pleasant to work from, but improved mood is likely to boost productivity, meaning better work produced and more profits for you! If you look after your employees, they will look after your customers, clients and business- and providing them with a decent space to work from is one of the ways you can do this. We all know that we need good technology, ergonomically designed furniture and proper storage in the office- but there are a few other details that you might have overlooked. These things can improve worker happiness and productivity and make your office run that bit better. Here are ideas for five changes you could make!

Lots of Daylight

Daylight is a natural mood booster, and when your workers are happier they will do better work. You might think as long as your office is well lit, it doesn’t matter how much daylight comes in but it’s not the case. Make the very most of the natural light you have coming in. This could mean moving to an office with large windows, or if you own the building you could have the windows made larger. It could mean switching up the blinds or window treatments you have up to allow more light to come in, or changing the layout so that desks are positioned next to windows. It’s simple but so easy to overlook, if you want happier and more motivated workers a quick switch up in the office could really help you to achieve this.

A Light, Neutral Colour Scheme

As well as getting in as much natural light as possible, the way you decorate your office can have a big impact too. Choosing a light, neutral colour like a white, magnolia or very light grey can help make the office look more spacious and bounce the light around as much as possible. If your current space is looking a little worse for wear, a lick of paint can make all the difference. It will help to make the office look clean, modern, bright and airy. Even if you’re renting your office, you will usually be allowed to make cosmetic changes. Keep it simple yet beautiful and really make the most of any light coming into the room. According to colour psychology, blue makes people most productive and has a calming effect on humans, For this reason, adding some blue to your office could be beneficial if you wanted to bring in a bit of colour.

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Plants

Psychologists have shown that plants actually increase productivity in the workplace. In general, plants and flowers also help to boost our mood and reduce stress. This is thought to work on the principle of color psychology (green being a calming colour) and evolutionary. Our ancestors would have worked hard to produce crops and flowers and plants were seen as a ‘reward’ of this hard work. This is great as it means a few simple plants added to the office can make a big difference. Encourage workers to bring in a plant they love to put on their desk- and dot around a few bigger potted plants. As well as boosting mood, they’re a professional and unfussy way to decorate. The leaves add colour and texture to a neutral space without making it look cluttered.

Exercise Equipment

Unfortunately, office jobs tend to be pretty sedentary. This is bad news for employees, sedentary work can increase the chances of obesity (and its related ailments such as high blood pressure, heart issues and diabetes). It can reduce mobility and fitness levels and overall have a negative impact on health. As employers, once of the ways we can help to combat this is by providing office exercise equipment. Something like an active stool or exercise ball instead of a normal chair is good for posture, balance and core muscles. An under desk treadmill, stepper or exercise bike can be good for leg muscles and provide light cardio exercise. You could also switch to standing desks for some job roles. To take this a step further, you could add a stability ‘fitness wobble cushion’ which requires you to stand and keep your balance as you work- great for legs and core. Either way, getting employees moving in some way is good for their health, can reduce stress and even reduce sick days in the future. You’ll improve focus and productivity and decrease restless energy. Even the best employees can struggle being cooped up all day, these things can help to alleviate that feeling. If you have a social area, how about adding a pool table or a mini office golf putting set?

 A Social Area

Do you have a social area in your office, for break and lunchtimes- or a place to sit before work? If not, it’s well worth setting one up. First of all, workers won’t have to leave the premises when they go on breaks, and this can mean you’re not losing minutes here and there from them returning back a little late. It can also help with socialisation and bonds between employees. Businesses need workers who don’t just work well themselves, but who can also communicate and work well with others. Giving your employees a space where they can chat and get to know each other can be very beneficial. Collectively, companies spend a fortune each year on things like team building activities and events that bring employees together to improve communication. So this isn’t something to be overlooked. A few comfy chairs, a coffee machine and a vending machine would suffice. Ideally a kitchenette area with a place to heat food would be better.

Had you considered any of these things for your office? Do you have any ideas on how you can make your office more pleasant for workers, therefore boosting mood and productivity?

How to Build a Successful eCommerce Brand

People are rapidly turning to online shopping, which makes it a perfect time to start an online business. However, there are probably hundreds of companies out there offering products that are same, or at least similar, to yours.

The good thing is that branding can be a lifesaver for your business. You have to stand out from the crowd and show people why they should purchase your products, and not the products of your competitors.

Your products might be great, and your website appealing and well-optimized, but that doesn’t mean that you will succeed. According to statistics, 55% of all eCommerce sales are done through branded stores, while 45% are done via marketplaces. Therefore, you have to build a strong brand in order to beat your competitors.

It’s time to take the first step towards your success.

Personalized, but safe service

Customer data points are very useful for personalization. The data is your gold because you will know what your customers want before they do.

So, include those data points in your eCommerce business:

  • Shopping Cart – recommendations based on the current content of a customer’s wish list or cart
  • Search Queries – recommendations based on search terms
  • Purchase History – recommendations based on a customer’s past purchases
  • Social Behavior – recommendations based on product rating, shares and likes

You can also recommend products based on geographic location and customer segmentation, such as demographic. Use this data to provide your customers with the best service possible. This will help you understand your customers and their relationship with your product and brand.

Are your customers mostly gift-buyers? How often do they buy products from your website? Look for patterns in your customers’ behavior because that is precisely what will point you in the right direction. Also, it’s always a good idea to personalize your product packaging. Many brands are doing it, and people seem to love it.

Since, as an online business, you will collect and retain sensitive personal information about your customers, you have to show them that their information is safe with you, especially when it comes to payment and delivery.

You can make your brand trustworthy and reliable by using payment card industry data security standards (PCI DSS). These standards apply to all organizations that store, process or transmit cardholder data, so your business should have PCI DSS compliance, too. However, keep in mind that, even though you are operating online, you still need to adhere to your federal and state privacy laws.

Engaging approach

The impression you make on people who come in contact with your brand for the first time is very important. Therefore, you should make sure that they see your brand in the best light.

First, you have to ensure that your customers can see and feel that they can engage with your brand.

Always ask your customers for their opinion. Give them an opportunity to review your products and chat with you. Use these options on your website and social media pages. 71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend that brand to others. So, this will help you both increase brand engagement and attract new customers.

Next, you can turn your customers into brand ambassadors who will help you share your amazing story all over the internet. They are a powerful tool that will help you raise awareness about your company. The reason that brand ambassadors are so credible is that they don’t actually work for your company but are only huge fans.

Emotional connection with your target audience

If you want others to share your story, you have to give them a reason to do so. Tell them your story and engage with them on an emotional level. By giving customers a strong “why” you will provide them with something to believe in. Try to answer these questions:

  • How did you start your business and why?
  • What are your values?
  • What makes you different from your competitors?

People like to hear a story behind the products they buy. Get them to fall in love not only with your products but your brand as well.

For example, if you use your lifestyle as an inspiration for your brand image, you will attract people with similar interests.

If your vision matches your customers’ opinion, your fans will be dedicated to you. Actually, if you include this vision in your posts on social media and newsletters, they will be happy to share that with others.

Consistency as a branding tool

Did you choose your style? What about the color, design, style of writing, and other elements of your brand? Do your social media channels, emails and adds follow your style?

Once you determine your style, it’s important to stick to it. Use it consistently in all of your marketing efforts in order to become recognizable.

Your style represents your brand’s personality. It can tell more about your values then you think, and it can engage people on an emotional level.

Whenever you want to share something, ask yourself – is this consistent with your brand story?

Remember, your employees should also understand your style and vision. They have to represent your brand in the best possible way.

Conclusion

If you miss the opportunity to build a brand today, it can cost you your business. Products come and go, but if you build a personal brand, people will keep coming to your web shop.

Remember, brands are not established in a day, but these tips will help you get one step closer to success.

 

Guest author, David Webb, is a Sydney-based business consultant,online marketing analyst and a writer. With six years of experience and a degree in business management, he continuously informs the public about the latest trends in the industry. He is a regular author at BizzmarkBlog. You can reach him on Twitter or Facebook.

 

 

3 Things You Never Want to Experience With Customer Relations

Nightmares can affect us in many different ways. A recurring nightmare can constantly pester us and force us to wake up worried and in cold sweats, and they can also become psychologically damaging at times. Luckily, this is rare and most of us experience nightmares because we’re worried about something. Whether it’s a phobia of losing your business or being embarrassed during a public appearance, here are some of the customer relations nightmares that you never want your business to go through, and also how to avoid them.

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  1. Injuring a Member of the Public, a Client or a Customer

All hell will break loose if you injure someone in your line of work. When it’s someone in your own company, then it can usually be handled in a professional manner. This is because the employee doesn’t want to lose their job and the employer doesn’t want to create a public outcry or draw attention from the media.

Injuries can happen in a number of different ways, and there’s a huge difference between physical and psychological injuries. For example, specialised services like Elan Law bed bug lawyer may be required if you operate a service such as a hotel or fashion store. Bed bugs can easily transfer between people on their clothes, and it can create widespread panic. No one wants to be told that a customer found a bedbug in one of their packages you sent overseas, and it will create a storm of negative publicity.

In order to prevent situations like this, it’s important to learn everything about your business and plan for any possible failures because there’s no coming back from it. Make one mistake, and you’ll likely lose a huge chunk of your business, if not the entire company.

  1. Going Viral in All the Wrong Ways on the Internet

Going viral on the internet can happen in a number of different ways, but you’ll ideally want it to happen in a positive way. Going viral for negative reasons will get you out there but, contrary to popular belief, not all publicity is positive. The internet is a ruthless and cutthroat place, so if you want to stand out it has to be for all the good reasons and you may even need to learn about how internet culture works if you want to take advantage of going viral. The last thing you want is to have your name associated with an internet meme that mocks your company, because you will forever be branded as a joke business that can’t be taken seriously.

  1. Being Ridiculed by Another Company With No Comeback

And lastly, on the topic of internet culture, it’s important to understand that other companies will try and take advantage of internet trends to bring your business down. For instance, Wendy’s started a social media stir when its Twitter operator started ridiculing other companies and people on Twitter. The Tweets went viral and boosted business for Wendy’s. Although it sounds ludicrous that negative comments directed at paying customers helped to boost their business, it’s one of the quirks of the internet and you need to be ready to appeal to the general audience of social media if you want to remain successful. If you’re on the receiving end of this type of ridiculing, then you need to prepare a comeback or else you’ll be shunned by many young and impressionable consumers.

Why do only 10% of Startups Succeed?

Statistics show that around 90% of all startups fail, but what we can’t understand from this fact is why it happens so often? Another thing we can’t learn from such cold statistics, but experience has proven it time and time again, is that many startups fail even before they start working.

This, however, doesn’t mean that people should be put off and give up on the idea before they have even registered their company. On the contrary, this should send a message to all those interested that they need to stay focused, work hard and be realistic about their expectations. So, what are the characteristics of those startups that have made it?

Right product or service

Your offer may be of excellent quality, but if people don’t need it, you won’t be able to survive as an entrepreneur. As a matter of fact, most owners of failed startups list “lack of market need for their product” as the main reason for their failure.

This means that you have to be spot on when it comes to what you’re going to offer. It as to be unique and different, in a good way, from what your competitors are offering. In order to be sure there’s demand for your product or service, it is necessary to conduct market research, so that you don’t rely simply on your gut feeling.

Being involved in everything

A startup doesn’t really allow roles to be very clearly divided, since things tend to be pretty organic and responsibilities often overlap. That’s why all entrepreneurs need to pay attention to absolutely everything that’s going on. They don’t have the luxury to ignore anything, believing that someone else will take care of it.

This, of course, doesn’t mean that each task is equally urgent and important, which is why you need to be able to prioritize well. If you allow various less significant tasks to distract you from what’s really important, you won’t be able to focus on the things that really matter to your business.

Ready for fast growth

Depending on the line of business you’re in, you might face a rapid growth, which you have to respond to appropriately. Contrary to popular belief, fast growth is sustainable. It is also exactly what entrepreneurs and investors dream about and a sign that you’ve made it.

Startups should be looking at a double-digit growth rate after several months of operation. Otherwise, they’ll never be able to grow enough to reach the point when they can be considered a well-established business. Finally, startups sometimes run out of financial resources exactly because they haven’t grown fast enough. So, those companies that have made it wanted and achieved a fast growth in the early phase.

A capable team

Since there are different types of problems startups are facing, it’s always a good idea to have a versatile team of people to respond to all challenges, from the owner to a professional virtual receptionist. The versatility we’re talking about here refers more to a mindset, rather than a skillset.

Teams have to be ready to adjust their plans, change products, take new approaches or even start all over again. A good team can take a blow and recover and, most importantly, learn from their mistakes.

Aggressive marketing

Successful startups use aggressive and appropriate marketing methods to attract attention and inform people about the offer. In order to have an efficient campaign, you need to exactly who you are going to target and how you’re going to do that. That means you should be aware of the demographics, age and gender of your target groups and their shopping habits.

Using social media has become a must and all successful startups have exploited them quite extensively and efficiently. Those who have failed to embrace this and many other modern trends simply missed out on an opportunity to capitalize on some very efficient channels through which many new customers can be attracted.

Conclusion

If you want your startup to be among the 10% that make it, you should most definitely pay attention to these and many other things. Remember that most business endeavors fail because they either offer something not many people need or because they don’t bring any added value to their offer. Both of these issues stem from the period before the company is registered, which means you need to do your homework and research the market.

Needless to say, you need a lot of courage and flexibility to adapt your plans, but if you play your cards right, you’ll be rewarded with an amazing experience of witnessing your startup grow and a financial compensation for all your effort and troubles.

 

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Guest Author is Alex Williams is a journalism graduate, and a rookie blogger trying to find my luck. Blogs are the perfect opportunity for presenting yourself to wider audience, getting the chance to showcase my expertise and receiving recognition. I am a regular contributor at Bizzmark Blog

5 Ways to Market Your Business Online

With technology only improving, businesses and consumers are becoming closer than ever before. Social media is more prevalent in society than in the past, and small businesses everywhere are embracing the new ways to market their services using online tools to help promote further customer reach. Here is a list of 5 ways to help market your business online:

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  • Facebook

Facebook is a great way of advertising and raising awareness of your product. By creating a page for a business and adding its location you are opening up the possibility of having customers digitally check themselves into your venue. Customers are then able to engage and review a businesses services and share this with their social network. It is important to remember to reply to comments to continue to build the rapport between business and consumer. Facebook also offers paid advertising and marketing campaigns through their business portal

  • Twitter

Twitter is another way of attracting customers, although it does take longer to build a large network on Twitter. The key to a successful Twitter is to always engage in relevant posts, follow any relevant profiles and be smart while still being funny. Engagements are what build your followers on Twitter. If you’re worried about having the time of running your social networks, organisations out there to provide social media help to develop a content marketing strategy that will help build your online growth.

  • Website

Having a website allows you a stronger online presence, and gives businesses the opportunity to display a list of the services available to customers. A website is also a great way of sharing the products, events, sales and opening times. Services such as WordPress are simple website builders. For a low cost it is possible to buy your own domain from these sites, with the option of an email address attached.

  • Emails

In the modern world email is the best form of contact for most customers. Whether you sign up for a free email service or get one through a website, email is a great way of responding to customers enquiries in a professional manner. Customers respond positively to speedy responses from businesses. Through having a registered email address assigned to your business, you can provide subscription services directly to customers, providing them with the option of being notified of sales or further events.

  • Coupons Vouchers

Everyone loves to think they’re getting a good deal. Sharing coupon vouchers through your social platforms will drive business and grow the customer base. New companies that have provided new customer discounts or free delivery have been successful in entering the market in major cities across the globe. Through having a campaign offering free services or VIP sales to clients, for things such as signing up to your email subscription service, discounts on their birthdays, free delivery or new customer discounts, consumers are urged to try a product for the first time.

It is important to not to put all your eggs within one basket, and be able to see the broader picture. One method of marketing may work better for you than another, however the important thing to remember is that all this does not have to be done alone. Consulting with services that provide provide social media help can alleviate some of the stress that can be added when struggling between traditional face to face services and online services allowing the balance to be achieved within the business.

 

 

 

 

Avoid Unhealthy Communication Breakdowns at Your Practice

communication_cansA workplace wouldn’t be a workplace without a few communication breakdowns every now and then.

In most situations, interpersonal drama between coworkers results in a few headaches at best or the loss of a sale, client, or vendor at worst.

The stakes may seem high but in the grand scheme of things, they’re not.

But this doesn’t apply to medical practices. The stakes can be life and death which is exactly why communication is such an important part of the business.

A study conducted in the 1990s found that as many as 98,000 patients died in hospitals because of poor communication.

Another alarming statistic is the fact that 85% of medical malpractice is from communication failures.

With lives at stake, it’s vital that you tend to communication breakdowns at your practice and follow some of these tips:

Foster a Social Atmosphere

Going back to the regular workplace example, it’s not uncommon for coworkers to not know each other very well.

While not knowing someone’s name may lead to a few awkward interactions, the consequences of not getting to know your coworkers in a medical setting can be far more serious.

Your entire nursing crew doesn’t need to be best friends, but your practice should foster an atmosphere where people do take the time to get to know each other.

The better people are acquainted, the better they can interpret that individual’s personal communication quirks and way of working.

Furthermore, you can help foster an environment that prioritizes positivity and gratitude.

Simple things like a “thank you” can help people feel heard and respected especially in the high stress environment of a medical practice.

Embrace the Morning Meeting

As the article, “5 Surprising Ways to Fix Communication Breakdowns at Your Practice” explains, morning meetings are a great way for everyone in your practice to get on the same page.

They don’t need to be long, nor should they be.

But an effective daily meeting can help you communicate what’s working, what’s not, and how your team can work more effectively together.

De-stigmatize Criticism

coachingNobody is perfect, even the highly educated and trained people that make up a medical practice.

One of the most important ways you can get ahead of communication breakdowns is by creating an environment where critique is expected and necessary. This will help prevent people from getting defensive or avoiding situations all together.

De-stigmatizing criticism is important because often times the hierarchies in a medical practice create a system where people are afraid to ask their superiors questions they fear are too “obvious.”

Studies have found that these specific types of communication breakdowns are responsible for medical mishaps.

By making it “okay” for nurses and interns to not know everything, you’re helping avoid worst-case scenarios.

Communication is an integral part of any successful workplace or business. But because of the high stakes of the medical field, it’s even more important for your practice.

By holding meetings and encouraging socializing and transparency, you can keep your communication healthy.

About the Author: Kristin Livingstone writes on a variety of topics including communication and small business.

Set Your eCommerce Site on Fire

ecommerceHave you set your eCommerce site up for success? If you’re running an eCommerce site, naturally you want to maximize your sales and see your success grow year on year.

But with Business News Daily estimating that less than half of online stores are generating more than $25,000 a year, you might be wondering how you can do just that.

So, how can you really set your eCommerce site on fire?

Put Your Customers First

Make this the focus of your site and everything else will follow. Everything you do should be about your customers and their wants and needs.

Take for example your checkout process. Customers want to find and buy the products they love easily. A streamlined and user friendly checkout process will help with that. Add an extra boost of goodwill with free shipping so your customers don’t get hit by an extra fee after choosing their items.

How about expedited shipping, order tracking, or the ability to sign-in so that customers can save shopping carts or remember previous purchases?

The easier you can make browsing and buying for your customers, the greater your chances of success.

Make it Mobile Friendly

Your customers are on mobile these days, so you need to be too. Your eCommerce site needs to display clearly on any mobile phone or tablet. If browsing your site is difficult, your visitors will click away and find a site that is easy to browse. That’s why being mobile-friendly is vitally important.

The same applies when it comes to your checkout process. Your customers want to choose and add items, then pay for them, quickly and easily regardless of which device they’re using. If your checkout is slow to load or difficult to navigate while mobile; you risk losing a sale.

Merchandise Properly

Merchandising, the art of displaying your products for sale, isn’t just the province of brick and mortar stores. As an online store owner, you owe it to your business to give some thought about how your products will be displayed when customers are browsing.

As the article “Million Dollar Merchandising” says, ordering your products alphabetically or by price can seem logical, but might not be the best call for your ecommerce site.

Instead, think about merchandising your products in the way that best appeals to your visitors’ likes and interests.

This could be by:

  • Using data from previous visits to suggest products;
  • Grouping products in categories that are a natural fit;
  • Remembering customers’ previous purchases.

When you have an Ecommerce store instead of a brick and mortar store, you can arrange your shop slightly differently to best match each unique shopper, so take advantage of that.

Get Social

Social media is a vital tool for any business, and your eCommerce store is no exception. You can use social media to grow a following and build up a good relationship with your customers.

Your aim isn’t necessarily to sell-sell-sell, but instead to start a conversation and place your brand firmly in your customers’ minds. Make use of great content and shareable posts to keep customers interested in your store.

Social media also gives you the chance to connect with customers in order to solve their problems or answer any questions, giving your customer service a boost.

Another way to get social with your store is to include reviews and testimonials in your shop. Not only does that give your customers a chance to see what others are saying about the products they want to purchase, it encourages them to engage with you.

Keep these top tips in mind so you can increase your eCommerce success.

You’ll see your sales grow and your customer engagement increase.

About the Author: Tristan Anwyn is an author who writes on a range of topics including social media, SEO that works, and how to boost your ecommerce success.