5 Tips to Provide Better Omni-channel Sales to Your Customers

Nowadays, customers are all about convenience. For businesses of all sizes, and especially small and medium ventures trying to establish a foothold in the competitive market, one of the major obstacles is to provide a seamless purchasing experience for their customers across all relevant platforms. This is because managing sales on numerous fronts can be a cumbersome task, yet the modern customer still demands of their brands to allow them to stay in control of their purchasing habits and preferences.

This is why companies around the world and in all industries are starting to branch out their sales strategies and are incorporating numerous lucrative channels into their operations to appeal to the digital demographic, and boost sales on those platforms that 21st-century customers are using. So today, let’s go over the five tips to help you provide better omni-channel sales to your customers to drive customer acquisition and retention.

Focus on mobile commerce

We live in a mobile world, and it should come as no surprise that customers across the globe are increasingly consuming online content and making their purchasing decisions via mobile devices, especially their smartphones that accompany them on every occasion. Unfortunately, though, the majority of businesses are yet to realize the true power and potential of mobile optimization, as 90% of customers are still unsatisfied with the level of mobile service they provide. So, if you haven’t optimized your processes for handheld devices, now’s the time.

Not only should you optimize your entire website for all screen sizes and ensure a seamless browsing experiences on all mobile devices, but you should also optimize your check-out and sales processes to make it easier for your customers to buy using their smartphones. Remember, M-commerce is on the rise, so be sure to capitalize on this trend while it’s still in its infancy.

Use direct messaging to your advantage

Nowadays, customers want to talk to their favorite brands directly, preferably without wasting any time. Sure, email is still a powerful sales and communication tool you should use in your strategy, but it’s also important to provide your customers with a way to communicate with your representatives in real time, in order to answer their questions, resolve any unique problems that might be holding them back, and inspire them to complete their purchase. Aside from having a live chat function, direct messaging is the only way to achieve this goal.

It’s also important that you leverage all forms of direct messaging, ranging from messaging platforms on popular social media networks, all the way to the good old SMS function, which by the way has a high chance of incentivizing engagement. Combining all of the available messaging platforms and allowing your customers to make a purchase over text is a powerful way to drive sales and deliver a better overall experience. 

Manage sales orders from multiple channels

One of the biggest problems companies of all sizes face nowadays is the problem of importing sales orders from multiple channels. If done correctly, it can boost sales across the board, but if not implemented properly, it will cost you time and money, and it might even hinder logistics and inventory management. All of this can have a negative impact on the sales experience, and your brand experience as a whole. This is why you need to manage your entire sales operation form a centralized cloud platform.

In some of the most complex industries in the world such as manufacturing, companies are integrating comprehensive manufacturing software that provide business owners with hundreds of useful features that cover a range of processes, including sales, in order to make cross-channel order importing manageable and reliable for all parties. In turn, this type of cloud-based software provides reliability and scalability, and allows business owners to stay in control of complementary processes such as logistics and inventory.

Offer live chat and quick automated solutions

Another powerful way you can improve sales is to offer live chat services to your customers, but also to integrate some AI-driven solutions that will tackle menial and repetitive tasks. For the former, consider introducing voice calls, phone communication, and voice communication over social media. For the latter, be sure to integrate chatbot technology that will be able to communicate with your customers instantaneously and guide them towards a solution to their problems, but also incentivize them to make a purchase. 

Leverage the popularity of email

On a final note, keep in mind that while email communication is still one of the best digital marketing tactics you have at your disposal that drives engagement, it can also serve as an amazing sales tool if geared towards this purpose. Some companies choose to use emails to keep customers up-to-date with current events, or to simply notify them of new deals and discounts, but if you want to truly make email a sales-oriented tool, then you should let your customers know that they can make a purchase directly via the email platform.

Wrapping up

In the modern business world, sales is no longer a goal, it’s a journey and an experience – one that customers should be able to control and enjoy on their own terms. With that in mind, be sure to integrate these powerful solutions in order to create an omni-channel sales strategy and drive customer happiness through the roof.

How to Build a Positive and Healthy Company Culture

If you think back to the different companies you’ve worked at over the years, each likely left a different impression on you. This is because every company has a different company culture consisting of different of unique values, ways of operating, and management style.

Company culture matters because it not only helps create a unified workforce, it can also be a key to success. In fact, Deloitte’s core beliefs and culture survey discovered 94% of executives and 88% of employees agreed that distinct workplace culture is imperative to run a business successfully. The survey also found a correlation between those who described themselves as being happy at work and their company having a distinct culture.

Positive company culture can lead to more engaged employees who are fully-present and passionate about the work they do. After all, ultimately, employees want to have a positive experience when working at an organization — and it’s your job as a leader to provide that. HR plays a significant role in creating an office culture as it begins with hiring candidates whose beliefs and values fit into that culture. As Jessica Herrin, founder Stella & Dot states; “shaping your culture is more than half done when you hire your team.” On that note, here are ways you can build a positive and healthy company culture.

What is Company Culture?

When you think of company culture, what first comes to mind? Perhaps it’s a state of the art gym and having access to unlimited snacks, or maybe it’s the daily flexibility and laid-back atmosphere. While these can be elements of company culture, there is so much more to it.

Edgar Schein, author and former MIT professor defines company culture this way: “Culture is the deeper level of basic assumptions and beliefs that are shared by members of an organization, that operate unconsciously and define in a basic ‘taken for granted’ fashion an organization’s view of its self and its environment.”

In essence, company culture is about deciding what your values and beliefs as a company are and ensuring you have a team of people ready to live by them. Harvard Business Review concludes that there are six components of great corporate culture, which include:

  1. Vision
  2. Values
  3. Practices
  4. People
  5. Narrative
  6. Place

When all of these elements are fused together, you should have a differentiated culture, improved performance, and a lasting organization. But how do you go about creating a company culture that supports the fulfillment of your overall mission and business objectives?

Hire the Right Team

Your staff are the people that will embody and create the company culture, so they’re a good place to start if you want to improve it. It is imperative that you hire new employees based on cultural fit as they will create your company culture.

A job interview is a good way to help you hire for culture fit, but you have to go beyond the information you find on their resume. Ask questions that will give you a sense of their values such as what motivates them to do their best work, or whether or not they’re still friends with old colleagues. Behavioral assessments are another good way to see how they approached work situations in the past and if they’ll fit well with your team.

Once you hire the right people, you also have to familiarize them with the new culture. Shoe and clothing retailer Zappos did this by creating The Culture Book, which consisted of employees’ definitions of company culture. This is a single example of how you can get new recruits to understand your company, what you value, and how to function within the confines of these beliefs daily.

Prioritize Job Satisfaction

Satisfied employees are likely to be happier, better engaged, and more productive. For this reason, if you want a positive company culture, you need to ensure your employees are satisfied. Monster composed a list of top ten companies based on worker satisfaction, and one member of this list includes a holding company run by Warren Buffet. Just a few of the reasons his company made it there are reportedly because of the fun atmosphere, great leadership, diversity, and flexibility.

To achieve employee satisfaction, you need to find out what their needs are and how you can help them create a balance between work and their personal lives. Know that it also doesn’t have to be a guessing game as you can get feedback directly from your staff to enhance their employee experience. For example, if you receive feedback that there isn’t enough opportunity for growth and development, you could put training programs in place. If not, your most valued employees could choose to resign in favor of another company where they see themselves growing. Seeing as turnover causes employers hundreds of thousands every year, it’s a cost worth avoiding.

Next, acknowledging employees for the contributions they make to your organization is important. Research by Gallup found one of the main reasons an employee leaves a job is because they don’t feel appreciated. Recognize yours in a way that’s meaningful to them, such as by verbally praising them or sending out an email. For those that like to be recognized with rewards, you could offer employee stock options or another form of physical of financial incentive. It’s a way of rewarding them for helping the business meet their objectives which can have good returns in terms of productivity.

You can learn more lessons about company culture from successful organizations like Apple, Virgin, and Airbnb. Two key lessons incude the golden rule — essentially, focusing on how essential it is to treat your staff how you want to be treated. Doing so not only ensures your employees are happy, but it’s also a way to preserve the reputation of your company.

Lead by Example

When it comes to company culture, it’s critical that you lead by example. Good leaders should be able and always willing to listen and show empathy, as these are integral components of a healthy business setting. Being empathetic towards employees sends a message that their feelings matter and they are seen as well as heard. This, in turn, can help you develop a staunchly loyal and more connected workforce. Additionally, you’re teaching them how to behave and treat others within your company. When you see others embodying positive company culture, champion and encourage them.

Building a positive and healthy company culture isn’t a single day’s work. It requires the upholding of core values and consistency, and at other times, it requires tearing down values or old traditions that don’t resemble the company culture you’re aiming to build for the sake of integrity. At the end of the day, positive company culture is an impetus behind a thriving business.

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The Challenges of Self-Employment

Self-employment is becoming more popular than ever. Freelancing currently makes up about 35% of workers in the U.S. Additionally, more than 7 out of 10 small business owners say they’d rather focus on growing their business than going back to a traditional form of employment.

But, just because self-employment is popular, it doesn’t mean it’s easy. In fact, it can be quite scary to branch off on your own to follow your dream or build off of an existing business. The responsibilities solely fall on your shoulder, and if you can’t make it work, you risk not being able to pay the bills.

If you’re tempted to dive into the world of self-employment, there are plenty of benefits. You get to be your own boss, set flexible hours, decide exactly how you want your business to be run, and you don’t have to answer to anyone else. It’s great for people who are tired of their traditional job, people with unique skills, or those who want to try something new. For example, self-employment is often a great option for new moms or stay-at-home parents.

But, there are also challenges you’ll undoubtedly have to face. The more aware you are of those challenges ahead of time, the easier it will be to face them and overcome them.

Paying Yourself What You’re Worth

When you’re just starting out with self-employment, one of the biggest challenges you’ll face is knowing how much to charge people for your services. You can create your own policies that can help to determine your costs, and use a time card calculator to clock your hours. That can be helpful if you’re charging an hourly rate to your clients.

Unfortunately, it’s not always as simple as working a set number of hours. Your pricing should be less about income and more about the quality of life you want to have. You could have 50 clients at one time and be completely burnt out, or you could have a handful of clients, be well-rested, and make more money.

Don’t set your pricing so low that you have to take on more than you can chew just to stay afloat. Consider what your services are worth. How much time and detail are you putting into what you do? What would you pay for your services? Developing pricing strategies that answer those questions is an honest way to know how much you should be charging.

If you burn yourself out because you’re not charging enough, your self-employment will fizzle out quickly because that’s not a sustainable way to live. Set boundaries for working hours and for how much work you can reasonably take on. The best clients are usually willing to pay a little bit more, so go for those big fish and don’t underestimate how much you’re worth.

Facing Personal Challenges

When you decide to take the plunge into self-employment, you should anticipate that it will be stressful – at least for the first few years. First, you’ll have to devote nearly all of your time and attention to making your “business” work. That can impact your relationships and even your mental and physical health.

You might also not be an instant success. Your first few years will undoubtedly consist of building a client base and getting consistent work. It takes time to build up that kind of loyalty from people, and at times you might feel as though you’re failing. That can take a huge toll on your self-esteem.

It’s important to build your confidence by doing things like talking positively about yourself, banning negative self-talk, and staying focused on your goals. Building confidence will help you to stick with it and can provide you with the motivation you need to make your self-employed career a success.

Planning for the Future

Once you get a large client base and it seems as though your business is taking off the ground, the last thing you’ll probably want to think of right away is what you’re going to do when you retire. Self-employed workers often face the challenge of not having a retirement fund. Not only that, but many don’t even have an “emergency” fund for the future in case something were to happen.

It’s hugely important to save for retirement when you’re not working for a business that will do it for you.

As an individual, you can contribute to an IRA with the income you make. Self-employed individuals also currently get social security benefits. While the amount given by social security usually not enough to cover living expenses, it can help when your self-employed business is slow.

Planning ahead as much as possible will help you to stay secure for the rest of your life. Hopefully, you can continue to do what you’re doing for many years to come, but everyone needs to retire at some point.

Have you been thinking about becoming self-employed? The best thing to do is to weigh out the pros and cons. If you believe the advantages of self-employment outweigh the risks, you could be the dreamer the world is looking to with the next big idea.

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Creating an Employee Benefits Package that Will Attract and Retain Talent

As you may have heard, our economy is doing quite well, and the unemployment rate is lower than it has been in many years. This boom has led to more opportunities for qualified applicants to find their dream jobs, and now is the ideal time for companies to bring in the best and brightest. However, there is a lot of competition among companies, often in your same industry, so you need to come up with a benefits package that will not only attract the top talent but keep them with your organization for the long haul.

Times have changed, and meager benefits such as free coffee and soda or the company lunch now and then are no longer enough to draw in the best people for your business. Instead, you need to think bigger, with benefits that both make a candidate’s professional life better and improve their personal lives as well.

Flexible Scheduling

The idea of driving into the office every day to work eight hours with a 30-minute lunch is no longer as appealing as it used to be. In fact, over 88% of candidates reported that having a flexible schedule was one of the most attractive factors when considering a job. People want to have a work-life balance, so they are not too stressed at the office, and they have time to care for their loved ones.

Flexible schedules could mean split shifts where an employee comes in a few hours in the morning and then returns later that evening. It could also entail a modified week where employees work four 10-hour days and have a three-day weekend. With either of these routines, people can schedule their appointments or set a predetermined day to spend with family. This schedule could also help the company: when employees know that management trusts them to work flexible hours, they can also be more productive.

The opportunity to work remotely for at least half of the week excites about 63% of applicants because it lets them skip a costly commute, save money on clothes, and allows the chance to work from the comfort of their own home. Providing this opportunity creates a feeling of trust between the employer and the employee and can also increase productivity and improve their health. Again, this benefit is a win-win for the company as it cuts costs on office space, utilities, and equipment.

Health Plans

These days, health insurance is more important than ever. When a company provides affordable, comprehensive, and easily accessible health insurance, they show that they genuinely care about the health of their workers, and potential candidates see that. In some cases, the only place that a person can afford health insurance is at their job, so it makes a big difference. 

A good health insurance plan shouldn’t drain the paycheck and should offer plenty of options and plans from which to choose. Great health plans will have a soft spot for pre-existing conditions. So if a warehouse worker had a bad back and wanted to go to a new job, they would want to know that if they were injured again, they would still be covered with the health plan, or at least under workers’ compensation insurance

Wellness programs are also great perks and could include complimentary gym memberships, smoking cessation programs, or healthy food or snack options at lunch. Some companies also have a wellness plan built into their health insurance premiums, so if the employee passes regular health assessments, their monthly payment would be lower. This is a unique benefit, so candidates will surely notice if your business includes this perk. The point is showing the potential employee that you genuinely care about their wellbeing.

Benefits for the Future

Getting a new job is no small task, so when people look for a place to work, they want a company that they can stay with for the foreseeable future. They also know that life happens, and things can change as the years go by. A company with great benefits understands this idea. If they offer perks that encourage employees to live their lives to the fullest, then the employee will appreciate the business even more. 

For instance, companies that offer extended paid time-off programs give the employee the impression that they are free to live a life outside of work. The time off also provides the employee the chance to refresh so they can return to the job more focused and productive. Your business should also offer a minimum of six weeks of paid family or paternal leave for both mothers and fathers. Again, this gives the impression that your company cares about their outside life and offers parents a chance to cherish their children, so they are happy when they return to work. 

A good retirement plan shows the candidate that you are hoping to retain and mold them at your company for the rest of their working career and people like that kind of job security. Retirement plans might include a pension plan or a 401k with an employer match. Some of the more highly ranked 401k plans include an incentive like a 6% match after the employee puts in 1% of their income or matching 100% of their first 6% of contributions. Companies that want to draw in more talent for the long term should highly consider such options. 

In the end, a company that genuinely values its employees will stand the test of time. People want to know that they are not working for a faceless organization, but instead, a business that truly appreciates its top talent. Incorporate these benefits now, and you could see an uptick in quality candidates.

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Top 5 Destinations for Relocating from Hong Kong as an Investor

There is no denying the benefit of obtaining a second passport and residency rights in a country other than your own. From having the ability to leverage the passport to travel the world or enjoy the benefits a country has to offer to its citizens, all the way to obtaining a right to relocate your life and your career when you see fit, having a second passport is the best way to make it happen. This is something that property investors from Hong Kong are increasingly looking into in recent years, and especially in recent times during the unstable political trends taking place in the city-state.

While the Hong Kong real estate market remains an appealing prospect for new and seasoned investors, it’s important to start looking beyond its borders in search of more lucrative opportunities – ones that bring other benefits to the table such as permanent residency or even citizenship. Let’s take a look at the most promising destinations you can relocate to as a Hong Kong real estate investor.

Canada

Over the decades, the Canadian real estate market has remained steady and relatively unwavering in the face of new socio-economic trends, which makes the country and especially it’s biggest cities some of the best locations for overseas property investors. Not only does Canada enjoy a stable economy in its own right, but it also has numerous investment opportunities for those seeking to monetize rental homes as well as to flip properties for a profit.

This is because tourism in Canada is high on a year-round basis, but also because many people from around the world are relocating there and are looking to purchase homes of their own. That said, keep in mind that low-cost real estate in Canadian cities is virtually non-existent, so get ready for a cumbersome first investment.

Spain

Among the more affordable investment destinations in the world is Spain, a somewhat unstable economy that has left many amazing properties vacant and ripe for the picking by a skilled investor from overseas. But the best part about investing in Spain’s real estate market is that the local government allows investors to apply for a golden visa and gain permanent residency by buying property worth as little as 500,000 euros. While Spain is more expensive than Greece or Portugal in this regard, the country offers expedited golden visa applications and allows investors to obtain permanent residency much faster, making it easier to relocate in a hurry should the need arise.

Indonesia

Some investors might not be looking to relocate to a faraway destination, and are looking for lucrative real estate opportunities in countries that are closer to home. Luckily, the Southeast Asian market offers many prospects, of which Indonesia might be the most appealing one due to its year-round tourism and rapid urbanization.

That said, acquiring real estate as a foreigner might be tricky without experienced help, which is why Chinese investors are getting in touch with reputable firms such as Invest Islands to get the legal guidance necessary to obtain a property quickly, keep the law on their side, and relocate to this paradise country. The country’s proximity to Hong Kong makes it especially appealing to Chinese investors, as you will be able to stay close to your other assets and manage your portfolio with ease.

Portugal

Next to Spain, quite literally, Portugal is yet another European country that might be appealing to foreign investors because of its year-round tourism and the increasing urbanization of its coastal regions where people from around the world are vacationing in greater numbers. 

Add to that the fact that more and more people are looking for a home in these sunny and warm regions, and you have a promising destination with a long-term ROI potential. This real estate market is all about buying cheap properties and renovating them to appeal to the modern buyer, though, so it will take some time and hard work to monetize the investment. 

Turkey

Finally, the biggest city in Turkey, Istanbul, is currently one of the top investment hubs for foreign investors in the world, simply due to the recent political turmoil that has deterred many business leaders from investing. This is your opportunity to capitalize on a market where properties are extremely cheap, and the prices of labor and materials are low, which means that you will be able to flip a property with minimal financial waste and offer it to the millions of tourists pouring into the city on an annual basis.

Wrapping up

As property investors from Hong Kong are increasingly looking to diversify their portfolios into foreign markets, it’s important to find the destinations that not only offer favorable investment terms, but also provide other valuable benefits. Consider these countries for your growth strategy and invest in a destination where you can relocate with ease.

5 Ways HR Can Learn from Project Managers

What do the departments of project management and human resources have in common? As it turns out, more than you may expect.

Although it may be news to some, many of the skills needed to manage the various intricate components of a project are the same as those required to hire, promote, and protect the employees of a company. Both positions include juggling a lot of pieces while also providing positive results. Here are five tips that HR personnel can learn from the project management team.

1. Planning

Planning is an essential step for all project managers. As soon as they are faced with a new need or assignment, the first step is to go to the drawing board and think about all possible solutions, and then figure out deadlines for completion, what staffing will be required, and any other additional needs. HR employees must take the same steps when it comes to filling the needs of the company and its assorted departments.

Just like with project management, it is all about defining what success looks like for the current needs and working toward them. How will success be measured? Are you looking to find anyone to fill a vacant position, or are you searching for candidates that can advance and grow with the company? What new positions may be needed in the future? These questions must be answered before the recruiting process can even begin.

2. Avoiding Pitfalls

Because of the complexity and impending deadlines associated with major projects, common pitfalls must be avoided so the process can move along as easily as possible. Some common project pitfalls might include a sudden procedural change or a project member dropping the ball on their personal responsibilities. Project managers must have contingency plans, and so should HR professionals.

Common pitfalls for HR managers might include limited awareness of employee rights, a failure to complete proper paperwork, or limited knowledge of disciplinary procedures. A major concern would be the loss of an employee from a team that is already understaffed. Plans must be created before potential pitfalls cause issues for your business. Create organizational charts and introduce training classes that ensure that every individual in your HR department is fully trained on their responsibilities, so all bases are covered.

3. Collaboration

Since a project manager is working with so many separate parts that are handled by an army of team members, there must be a good system of collaboration. Project managers need to understand that they don’t know it all and that their team should be involved in the planning process. This is the same in the HR department.

There are a variety of responsibilities within the human resources team, from employee relations and benefits to payroll and hiring. The trick is to work as one fluid group to ensure that the proper employees are hired, that they have all the necessary benefits and signed paperwork, and that they end up becoming a happy and productive member of the team. To achieve this balance, proper communication is necessary, so have a meeting with all staff members where a consensus can be reached for creating the best system of collaboration.

It is also essential for human resources staff to communicate effectively with the supervisors of each team in their business so they can know what needs are necessary. Managers should always have the ability to reach out to HR for important employee matters. Additionally, HR should also have an open-door policy for employees who have personal concerns.

4. Tracking

The job of a project manager is not one filled with rest and relaxation. Instead, constant attention is needed for projects that are often complex in nature. The only way for one person to take control of the chaos is with an effective tracking system that accounts for the movement of each team member, including what has been completed and what is still pending.

Human resources also involves many moving parts, and luckily, there are systems available for better employee management. When it comes to hiring, applicant tracking systems can provide stability as they keep track of current applicants, rank them in terms of ability to do the job, and ensure that all paperwork is presented. For current employees, you can take advantage of personnel tracking software that tracks employee paperwork, tax information, and certifications, among other important records.

5. Managing Personality Types

When project managers assemble their team, they understand that even though everyone comprehends the main goal of the project, every member of the team is not the same. Each employee has their own processes, motivations, and work ethic. Still, the manager must be able to understand these traits so they can bring out the best in every member.

Similarly, in human resources, the goal is to keep employees content. The employees of your company also have different motivations and levels of success that they want to achieve. It is important to work to those traits and promote those who deserve the opportunity. Employees also have different motivators. Some may be happy with a monthly bonus, while others prefer a fixed schedule. It is the job of HR to understand the core of each worker.

Yes, the HR and project management teams have much in common, and the professionals who best harness these skills will see the most success. Adding these traits will lead to happier employees in both arenas.

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The True Cost of Hiring the Wrong Employee

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Making one bad hire might not seem like a huge blip on the radar. However, the negativity associated with the wrong fit could send ripples throughout your organization. This can impact your business’s bottom line in a variety of ways.

Below are several ways hiring the wrong person can impact your business.

Budget

Taking the time to find the right candidate requires resources in time spent and the costs associated with paying for ads on job searching platforms. Then, when you bring the new hire in, there’s onboarding. After all of this, if the employee isn’t the right fit, you’ll have to repeat the process again, requiring more time and money spent.

How much could this cost your business? On average, one bad hire could set a company back $14,900 — and this is for just one employee. This number also doesn’t take into consideration the costs to replace them or to retain other employees. The Undercover Recruiter states bad hires cost organizations on average $240,000.

This is a sizeable expense that not only impacts your company’s bottom line, it can affect other areas of your business as well.

Employee Morale and Culture

Finding the right fit both from a skillset and culture fit perspective benefits both the new employee and your current employees.

However, what happens if the culture isn’t the right fit? A change in culture could lead to more stress on the job for everyone involved, especially if there are clashes in communication styles or a drop in production. In turn, this could result in your employees looking for other employment opportunities.

Rounding back to the budget, retention is a key driver of hiring costs. It isn’t cost-effective to hire the best fit alone, you also want to retain your employees, as this reduces training and onboarding costs and improves employee morale since everyone fits in together; this is why company culture plays a huge role in finding the right fit.

One bad hire could disrupt community continuity. While it’s good to hire candidates who provide fresh, valuable perspectives to your business, it’s also important to examine how they fit into the department they’ll be in. Will their communication styles mesh well with others in their department? Do they share the same occupational values?

These are important considerations because you want to make the transition as seamless as possible. When there are cultural disruptions, it can impact your company and the customers you serve.

Customer Experience

Your customer experiences are vital to your organization’s success. If you hire the wrong person in a client-facing position, then it’s your company that will suffer from a loss in sales.

The reason for this is that brands want to provide a unified approach to communicating with customers. This gives clients the perspective that everyone in the organization is on the same page — a key indicator of a well-run company. If you hire someone who doesn’t grasp or, even worse, doesn’t care about the company’s identity, this will show itself when speaking with customers. This could damage your company’s reputation irreversibly.

Driving Away Potential Hires

When prospective employees search for jobs, they have more tools at their disposal now than ever before. One way they examine whether a company is right for them is by reading employee reviews on sites like Indeed or Glassdoor. Some may also read customer reviews to gauge how well an employer treats their clients.

With these factors in mind, if you made the wrong choice(s) as it relates to hiring, employees will take notice of this. This could reflect in employee reviews of a company, as they question leadership’s decision-making abilities. As a prospective employee, reading these kinds of reviews will make you think twice about applying with them. After all, if there are inherent problems in leadership, how good can the company culture be?

Culture is everything to employees, and reputation is everything to employers. So, here’s how to hire the right candidates the first time.

Employing Best Practices

You want to take your time to find the best fit for your company. Doing this requires a concerted effort among everyone involved in the hiring process from senior and departmental leadership to even your IT team, who can use AI to help you craft accurate and engaging job descriptions.

Along with an accurate job description, you want to create benefit packages that attract and retain the best talent. This makes your employees feel valued and gives them more incentives to participate. Furthermore, when you do find good prospective candidates, it’s important to test their skills. This is where skill assessments are vital. Not only does this allow the candidate to showcase whether or not they can do some of the duties of the job, but it also tests the validity of their resume.

Lastly, you want to build a company culture that finds, welcomes, and nurtures the right fit for your organization’s needs. As part of this process, you’ll want to establish an onboarding program that clearly defines your company’s culture and how your employee(s) fit into it. This will help them transition into the role while also knowing what’s expected of them.

Ultimately, hiring the wrong employee can have a multi-pronged effect that could affect all areas of your business. By using these tips, you increase your chances of hiring the right employee the first time.

Client Communication: How to Do It Right

Communication, they say, is the basis for any healthy relationship. Much like in romantic bonds, family relations, and our friendships, transparency and honesty are necessary for all parties involved to feel appreciated and to know each other’s expectations. It’s not much different with professional bonds, isn’t it? The clients that give you the most trouble are the ones that send you lengthy emails with zero useful feedback, the ones that bombard you with information you cannot use, and the ones that don’t know what they want. 

Whether you’re working as a solo freelancer or you’re a part of a larger agency, if your role involves any amount of client interaction, you know that misunderstandings can cause more headaches than any amount of actual work ever could. Implementing certain rules, sticking to specific habits in client communication, and setting boundaries are all very important ways in which you can ease those headaches and make sure that your collaborations are more effective.

Define the process

Some companies and freelancers still assume that every single one of their clients has the same idea of the services they provide. For example, the field of digital marketing is a vast one indeed, and if you haven’t specified which particular areas your expertise covers, you can expect your clients to either come to you with a slew of questions, or to assume that you do exactly what they need and want. In both situations, you’re already in a mess. 

First of all, make sure that every touchpoint of your communication entails clear information. Your website, for starters, should have a clear page explaining your services in full. When someone reaches out to you, before the collaboration even begins, you should make sure that they know exactly what you can do for them, and what your business doesn’t cover. That way, you’ll prevent many misunderstandings and you’ll be able to qualify client leads more efficiently than ever. 

Establish boundaries

We’ve all been there: a client sends you emails in the middle of the night, with no regard for your personal time off, expecting you to reply as soon as yesterday, and constantly in need of changes and alterations to your original service. Some clients are needy, others are borderline certifiable, but sometimes you cannot assess if they are a good match for your business until very late in the collaboration. 

In any scenario, setting those boundaries early on can help you manage those complicated relationships better. For starters, you can emphasize your work hours and when you’re available for communication via chat, phone, or email, and how long it typically takes you to respond. You should also let your clients know that when they need changes to your provided service or product, you have a process to stick to, and explain how long it takes. All of these details could be beneficial for letting your clients know how to get the information they want without disrupting your workflow. 

Embrace discovery

Especially when you’re in a creative industry, delivering something that will be in line with your clients’ expectations and needs can be tricky. Creative work is very individual, although based on expertise, and if you’re running a web design agency, for instance, you can often go through several stages of back-and-forth communication before you actually complete the work at hand, by no one’s fault in particular. Those interactions can still take away a chunk of your valuable time, and preventing that can be beneficial for you and your clients.

You can create and send out a customized web design client questionnaire as a part of your discovery process in an attempt to cover all of your bases and prevent all those changes early on. Of course, it’s always possible for your client to send the design back for tweaks, but you can at the very least prevent major, time-consuming changes that can affect your productivity. This is especially handy if your customers aren’t familiar with the industry and wouldn’t know what kind of details you need to begin with, so some guidance is essential.

Ask for feedback to improve 

Some clients like in-person meetings, some love Skype, while others enjoy the email correspondence that comes with clarity and transparency. In any scenario, you might not be perfectly compatible in terms of those preferences with each and every client, but you can find ways to accommodate their needs without disrupting your own process. A great way to avoid conflicts would be to ask your clients for feedback regarding your performance but also your communication and availability. 

Insights collected in that way could be helpful in defining your future relationships and in redefining expectations in your existing collaborations. In a similar manner, you should feel free to provide your own comments and feedback if you feel that your client should give you more space or that they aren’t available enough to the detriment of the project, causing missed deadlines and the like. Transparency in the form of regular feedback is a healthy way to let your client relationships blossom over time.

 

Although it takes time to evolve as a freelancer or even as a part of a team within an agency, you can certainly find ways to improve how you interact with clients. Take these tips into consideration, and you’ll be able to ensure long-lasting bonds and more satisfied clients down the line.

How To Prepare For An International Business Conference

Entrepreneurs are still keen on networking events, even though we live in the digital age. There’s always good potential in attending an international business conference. You can meet new business associates, find a mentor and expand your network of contacts. 

However, there’s also the chance that attending such an event will be a total bust but it’s a risk you must be willing to make. That’s why preparing for attending such a conference is very important because you never know what might happen. With that in mind, here are a few ways how you can prepare for an international business conference. 

Do some research first

It’s always a good idea to research the location where the conference is taking place. Usually, international business conferences last for a couple of days but you won’t be spending the entire day at the conference, that’s for sure. Therefore, treat it like any other trip and research some sights worth visiting or some entertainment that will make your visit more enjoyable. 

Also, as soon as you find out what is the location and the duration of the event, get to know more about travel insurance options for that country. This helps you make the right financial plan beforehand and get yourself insured in advance.

Plan your trip thoroughly

In most cases, the conference hosts plan every detail, including accommodations for their attendees. However, oftentimes, you’re only invited to attend, nothing more. If that’s the case, you’ll have to do the preparations yourself. Here’s a list of tasks you should focus on.

  • Book a hotel or a motel room.
  • Book a flight to your destination.
  • Arrange for someone to pick you up at the airport.
  • Arrange transportation to the conference.
  • Confirm your attendance.
  • Pack everything you need.
  • Make sure your passport hasn’t expired.
  • Plan your trip back as well.

It might not be a long or a demanding trip but you have to make sure you’re adequately prepared nonetheless. 

Protect yourself

Every international trip is not without some risks. That’s why it’s very important to protect yourself properly. As an example, keep your passport with you at all times and your valuables under lock and key. 

Moreover, check in with the travel advisories to determine what kind of documentation, if any, you should bring along. Last but not least, bring more money with you in case some unforeseen circumstance rises up, such as your luggage being lost or something similar. 

Plan to make connections

As an entrepreneur, your mission is to get the most out of the business conference you’re attending. More often than not, that means making as many connections as you can. Therefore, bring along your business cards you can hand out to potential associates. Exchanging information with key people is essential at networking events. 

Also, prepare your speech or presentation well if you’re one of the public speakers at the conference. After all, you want to put your best face on and make a good impression on the crowd. In addition, not every lead is worth pursuing. Try to determine what will benefit you or your business and focus on making connections there. If you try to explore everything, you might miss out on a good opportunity. 

Get some rest when you arrive

Arriving at a foreign country for a business conference usually means two things; travel fatigue and jet lag. If you can avoid any appointments as soon as you arrive, do so and get some rest, beforehand. Don’t  hesitate from investing in good accommodations. 

After all, a good night’s rest is required to retain your focus and have a better perspective on things. You will need some time to adjust to the new environment, as well as the new culture, which is next to impossible to do if you’re not well-rested. 

 

Attending an international business conference is always a good idea for aspiring entrepreneurs. You can learn new things and meet new people who can help you out in some way or another. That’s why it’s important to have a game plan and prepare yourself for what lies ahead. 

Healthy Communication in the Workplace

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Communication is one of the foundational elements of a properly functioning workplace, and as an HR rep, you’re likely going to be at the heart of your office’s communication channels. Whether you’re discussing work-life balance, resolving interpersonal conflict, or training employees regarding company policies, communication is going to be a key to success.

Why Good Communication Matters

A company is a living organism, and as is the case with all living organisms, communication between its various members is essential. Whether a business functions within a single office, maintains several locations across a country, or is completely remote in nature, healthy communication, among other things, helps to:

  • Communicate company objectives and values.
  • Promote teamwork and collaboration.
  • Maintain healthy professional relationships.
  • Encourage work-life balance.
  • Resolve interpersonal conflict.

The list goes on and on. One way or another, healthy communication is involved in nearly every facet of a successful company, which is why HR professionals, in particular, should make it a priority to facilitate and promote proper communication within the workplace.

Tips for Good Communication

From general training to specific person-to-person interactions, here are a handful of the best ways you can facilitate good communication within your company.

Offer Training

Training is a useful tool that allows a large amount of information to be communicated to an entire group of people efficiently and effectively. You can promote communication within your workplace in multiple ways by utilizing training sessions and seminars.

For instance, you can establish clear boundaries and protocols in order to avoid blurred lines when it comes to things like personal and professional relationships within the workplace. All staff members should be clearly informed regarding topics like sexual harassment and how to communicate sexual consent with a work colleague. They should also be made well aware of how to report issues of misconduct to a superior.

Along with protocol like this, you can also use teaching scenarios to help communicate to employees the importance of finding work-life balance and maintaining their mental health while on the job.

Promote Resources

It’s also important for HR representatives to establish themselves as a central source of resources for those in need. For instance, it should be made clear that if an employee is struggling in their personal life, they can come to HR in order to find resources for counseling.

Another example of providing resources would be informing a victim of sexual assault where they can find a sexual assault nurse examiner. Even someone simply trying to maintain a healthy weight should be able to come to HR in order to find important health information.

If employees are continually empowered with resources that help them maintain their health and well-being, it will go a long way in helping to promote interactions and communication with an office as a whole.

Keep Lines of Communication Open

A good HR rep is going to keep their door open at all times. If you want to promote good communication, you want employees to feel that they can come to you whenever they have a need without the fear of being turned away or asked to wait. This kind of communication starts with a good open door policy, which helps promote trust and encourages those with a need to approach you confidently with an issue or concern.

In addition, make sure that you take the time to learn how to look for common signs of distress, even if someone isn’t consciously communicating something specifically with you. If, for instance, an employee is failing to relate their particular issue with you, you may be able to identify what they’re dealing with by looking for other signs.

Say, for instance, that an employee is struggling with the recent loss of a loved one or the fact that they’ve checked out of their marriage. You may be able to pick up on the signs that they’re unconsciously projecting and help them communicate their struggle.

Be a Mediator

While it’s always nice to be a source of comfort, sometimes providing good communication requires some less desirable action. Any HR rep worth their salt is going to be ready to step into the role of mediator whenever the need arises.

The less-than-savory task of leading employees through interpersonal conflict takes focus and skill. A good mediator will be willing to dig to the root of an issue and then provide strategies that are aimed at resolving the conflict and preventing further problems from arising in the future. If you find yourself faced with the task of being a mediator, it’s critical that you step up to the challenge with grace and wisdom in order to maintain the relationships at stake and restore healthy communication between the aggrieved parties.

Practice Active Listening

Finally, it’s always wise to both practice and promote active listening. If you want healthy interconnectivity to percolate throughout your workplace, you’re going to want to start with your own communication efforts.

Start by taking the time to actively listen to your company’s employees. Avoid passing judgment, be patient, ask questions, and don’t be afraid to summarize and clarify in order to make sure everyone has been heard. If you can demonstrate active listening on a regular basis, you’ll provide a benchmark of healthy communication for others around you to follow.

Achieving Proper Communication

Training, seminars, resources, mediation, active listening, and open-door policies are all essential ingredients for maintaining healthy communication in the workplace. However, the most important thing of all is for you to take the time to properly prioritize communication in the first place. If an HR rep focuses on keeping proper lines of communication open within a workplace, potentially negative scenarios can be identified and addressed quickly and appropriately, leading to a smooth, functioning office over the long term.