Are You Paying Enough Attention To Client And Customer Opinion?

The answer is more than likely no. After all, why would you be? If anyone has an issue with your business, it’s not your fault, it’s theres. They can choose whether they want to buy your product or use your business. If they don’t, good riddance. One customer will not make or break a business. One customer will not determine whether a company is a success. But let’s stop right there because you have to remember that when it comes to client opinion, it’s never just one customer.

 

Did you know that 88 percent of customers online have admitted to being swayed on whether or not to buy a product by a negative review? Just think about how many sales you could be losing with that rather scary statistic. It could even be the reason why you business has failed to reach it’s maximum potential on the market. So yes, customer and client opinions are important. You need to listen to them, understand their issues and do what you can to resolve them. It won’t always be bad news, but you can’t bury your head in the sand when it is.

 

Open The Channels

The first step you must take is to make sure that your customers and clients know that you welcome their reviews, feedback and yes criticism. Every company should be willing to do this and should not shy away from the possibility of negative opinions. Indeed, businesses that open up channels in this way often have more positive customer reviews online. That’s certainly true for businesses like Peninsula. Peninsula business reviews are often extremely positive, and the company has determined it’s their encouragement of reviews that has lead to this reaction. They are not the only ones. Plenty of other businesses who have embraced reviews have reaped great benefits.

 

Is The Customer Always Right?

It’s fair to say that these days customers can complain, name and shame anything they want. Often, they have loud enough voices online to reach business owners like you. But should you always bend to their will? Is the customer really always right? You may have to start judging their complaints on a case by case benefit. Otherwise, you might find that customers have more power over how your business is run than you do. In a way that might make sense as surely, they know best what they want from your business.

 

Responding

There are two ways to respond to bad business reviews. You can respond directly to the individual who has put forward the complaint. Or, you can look for trends in negative reviews of your business and change the company accordingly. It depends on the situation. If you think one bad review is having a serious impact, it might be best to offer a direct response and reduce the damage.

You should be able to see now why it’s important to pay more attention to customer reviews and ensure that they do not damage your business.

Digitally Enhance Your Working Life

Many things are done online or via technology these days. As technology advances the more we find that software, the internet, and computers are doing things for us and making things easier and convenient. However, we can often forget to utilise such things during our working lives. Whether we are running a business, a department, or are part of a bigger organisation, there are certain ways you can digitally enhance your working life. I thought I would share with you some of the ways it can help you with your workload or with the running of your business empire.

 

 

Scheduling tools

Keeping on top of every work task you have can be overwhelming, especially if you have a lot of platforms to be using or systems to keep track of. So scheduling tools can make life simple by allowing you to time block work tasks. Here are some of the areas where a scheduling tool could digitally enhance your working life.

 

Social Media

Social media can be exhausting, but for many businesses, whether that is just you or a whole team of people, social media is a vital way to advertise and market your company. However, with the introduction of different social media platforms and ways you can promote on their with words, visuals or video, it can be hard to keep up and be ever present on them all. Which is why a scheduling tool could really help. Enabling you to write updates and share content for the day ahead, the week or even the month if you are organised. There are many websites online that will help you do that.

 

Blog content

Many companies have blogs these days, but again it can be hard to schedule in content and keep it consistent. There are many websites, even software at the back end of your blog, that can help you to create editorial calendars and schedule in blog posts to publish in the future.

 

Online calendars synced with email

It can be hard to keep track of appointments and meetings you have, so a calendar synced with your email can take some of the hard work away. Appointments made could be transferred to your calendar instantly, and your calendar could even be linked with other employees or partners to help you keep in line.

 

 

Software to keep contracts and leases in one place

When you work for yourself, it can be hard to keep all contracts and leases in one place. Of course, you could have a paper filing system, but often, being out and about, you may want to access this information quickly. Thankfully, there is software out there that can help you do this digitally. Websites like http://symfact.com could help and have an abundance of information all about it. Being able to access things instantly is what this world is all about these days, so there is no surprise that this should be reflected in your working life.

 

Applications to make life much easier

With the introduction of smartphones some years ago, the increase in popularity for applications is rising on a daily basis. There is an app for most things these days, and using them to digitally enhance your working life is a productive way to use them.

 

Social media apps

As mentioned earlier, social media is ever more present with businesses these days, and having an application on your phone means you can constantly be in touch with your audience on the go. The commute into town means you can reply to comments on the go. The lunch break means you are keeping up to date with the latest trends.

 

Appointment trackers

If making appointments and keeping on top of things is part of your working day, then an application to help track your appointments, where you are and times, can really help you to be more time managed and productive throughout the day. A lot of the time these applications can be synced to emails, other calendars and even other people. Websites like https://zapier.com have a lot of information about using them.

 

Contacts

Finally, having your contacts in your phone is one thing, but we all know that this can be one big long list of anyone you have exchanged numbers with, both personal and for business. So applications specific for work contacts or for personal use is a great way to keep in check of the numbers you need. Furthermore, you can add social media links, emails, etc. So that you are never out of touch with your business colleagues and clients.

 

I hope these ideas help you to digitally enhance your working life.

Breaking Down (Fire) Walls: How Businesses Should Deal With Hackers

 

With credit card details, sensitive information and access to personal computers up for grabs, hacking is big business. Indeed, more than one trillion of intellectual property is thought to be stolen year upon year. If you are a small business, you can’t afford to let this happen. The key is to fight back and stop the digital thieves in their path. Of course, it is easier to say than do because hackers are relentless and talented individuals. Thankfully, it isn’t impossible if you have access to the right information. Here’s how to deal with hackers and prevent from being a threat.

Assess Your Needs

It is all well and good investing in antivirus software, but it might not mean anything. The reason is there are numerous ways for a thief to gain access to your server, and AVG’s free trial might not cover every base. Therefore, it is essential to analyse the needs of the company before you make any investment decisions. For example, does the staff require access to the server? If so, employee training is crucial to teach them about the dos and don’ts. Or, do you store data in the cloud? Okay, make sure the supplier takes security as seriously as you.

Create And Update Security Plan

A study by AVG found a shocking 52% of small businesses didn’t have a security plan. In essence, this means half of all SMEs are at the mercy of hackers. In simple terms, your plan is how you make the company secure in the first place. Without a detailed set of rules and regulations, there is no strategy. Plus, there is no way to implement it throughout the whole business. Once you have one in place, it is vital that you update it once every couple of months. The industry changes and you have to adapt or else you could die out.

 

Work With Professionals

The first port of call is a security expert with years of experience and a strong knowledge of the subject. With their skills, your IT team should be able to prevent a hack from occurring altogether. However, it isn’t only security professionals you need to hire. Agencies like Rouge Media might deal in websites, but they are a vital part of the security team. As web designers and creators, they know which features to add to make the site safer from criminals. Also, coders will update bugs and glitches to fix any hacking issues.

 

Report It

Far too many businesses are the subject of an attack and take it on the chin. It is almost as if hacking is acceptable in this era. But, it will won’t stop being acceptable if you don’t report the issue. Theft is theft and should be detailed to the authorities as soon as possible. If you don’t know who to call, try your web provider to begin with so that they know attacks are taking place. Then, call the local police force. If they can’t deal with the problem, they will report it to a team that can.

Hacking can cost a company money and its reputation, so you have to fight back or risk losing everything.

 

Safety First: Protecting Your Business From Online and Offline Threats

Most businesses take their security seriously. It’s not just about keeping your company safe and not to let anyone steal it away from you as a lack of security will also put your employees at risk, their personal details, as well their general safety. Safeguard yourself completely by looking at it from a broader perspective; companies today are subject to threats from traditional robbers, cyber criminals, social engineers, and thieves who have made their way to the inside of your company.

 


 

Offline Safety: Alarm Systems and CCTV

If you’ve been robbed once and think the criminals won’t return, you’re in for a sad surprise. It is common for criminals today to target a specific trade, such as a restaurant or a hotel, and steal a small amount – only to come back for a bigger scoop later on. When you’ve already been robbed, the first thing you should do is to install a loud alarm system and a CCTV camera.

For most business owners who experience such a thing, it is common sense to invest in these right away.

When and if the robbers return, the system will have a preventative function as well; the sight of a red blinking light tends to scare most of them away. Think prevention when it comes to all aspects of your business and avoid having anything taken away from you in the first place.

Depending on the kind of business you’re in, it could be a good idea to get in touch with reputable security guards as well. Their mere presence signals safety and control to both outsiders and employees; you can even get in touch just to have a safe place to store your spare keys, for example.

Spend time with your employees and talk about how they can help you to safeguard it. They are the ones who are present in the office at all times and are able to spot crime right away with the proper training. If an attack is to happen when they are in the office, everyone needs to know how to handle the situation – such as complying with the robber’s instructions, memorising his or her characteristics, and securing the crime scene until the police arrive.

 

Online Safety: Safe Browsing and Employee Training

Your safety online starts, first of all, with a proper anti-virus software. Cyber criminals may attack from any corner and scurry away with your business details, employee’s personal details, and all of your credit card information. It’s important that your team knows how to spot unreasonable requests for information, strange-looking emails, as well as any other signs on your computers that the system has already been hacked.

Treat your company to a cyber security conference that focuses on training your employees to recognise attempts at phishing and other cyber security threats. Keep the training up and repeat it at least once a year; launch a mock attempt after a month or two to see if the information has sunk in  – and reward the ones who are ahead of the others.

 

Business security encompasses so much these days and you have to read more about it to be completely up to date. The reward is unquestionable, though, and provides your company as well as your employees with a sense of security as well as the actual security in case something should happen.

Tips to Help Your Brand Succeed on Social Media

Showcasing your brand on social media is one of the best ways to spread the word, increase interest and boost sales, but only if you use it right. You can’t just set up a Facebook page or Twitter profile and expect things to happen. Sadly, that’s exactly what a lot of companies do, and it doesn’t do them a lot of good.

If you want  to ensure your brand succeeds on social media, here are a few things you should do:

 

Create Quality Content

Most important of all, if you want your brand to be a social media success, you must create high-quality content on a consistent basis. This can be in the form of videos, product photos or the written word, but it must be engaging, and it must be there if you want to succeed.

 

Use Hashtags

If you want your brand’s posts to be easily accessible to your target audience, adding relevant hashtags is essential because they will help to get your posts out to the very people who are interested in the kind of stuff you’re posting about and selling.

 

Make it Photogenic

Social media is a very visual medium, and a picture really can say a thousand words, which is why you need to not only ensure that any product pictures you take are of a high-quality, but you also need to ensure that the design of your product is attractive too. Using printed pouch packaging, for example, which is bold, bright and in keeping with your brand identity will ensure that your product gets more shares. Think about Apple and the simple beauty of its products, which helps to make them so appealing and you’ll see how important appearances are when promoting your brand online.

 

Build a Community

 

Building your own brand-related community on social media is a fantastic way of engaging your audience and keeping them interested in the stuff you do. Creating coupons or running giveaways that only community members (people signed up to Facebook pages, for example) can access will keep them coming back for more. If you have your own website, setting up a dedicated forum to discuss your niche and your products could be even more effective.

 

Use Youtube

For a lot of brands, using video to show off products is an excellent idea. Videos allow you to show your products in action so that your audience can get a better idea of what it would be like to own them and get them excited to try them out for themselves.

If you do use Youtube, you must ensure that your videos are of a high quality, easy to find, and posted to a regular schedule, if you want people to watch.

 

Engage with Your Audience

Perhaps, the most important thing you can do if you want your brand to be a social media success is to engage with your audience.The more you interact with your friends and followers, and the better you are at answering their questions and discussing your stuff with them, the more they’ll trust you and the more likely they are to keep following, spread the word, and buy your products.

 

Now, you have everything you need to be a social media success!

 

Can You Hear Me Now? How To Communicate With Outsourcer

 

Although some companies find the issue contentious, the majority of businesses outsource. Why? It’s because the standard is better and cost lower. Still, there are matters that mean hiring outside help doesn’t always work. Quite simply, the inside scoop is that you need to be able to communicate effectively. Otherwise, the people you hire won’t be able to hit their targets and deliver their goals. Anyone with communication issues will find this ominous, yet you can still get results by improving your skills. Here is what you need to know.

 

Outline Your Wants And Needs

There is a difference between wanting something and needing it. However, far too many businesses put them in the same basket and confuse their outsourcers. You should remember that there is only so much they can deliver. After all, they are only human. So, a good tip is to outline which features you must-have and which they must provide, and what can wait. Think about web design for a moment. Creative website development is essential to incorporate modern software features. The colour scheme, on the other hand, can wait because it isn’t hard to change.

 

Be Clear

Even if you think you are succinct, there is a chance the outsourcer won’t understand. And, rather than admit they didn’t get the point, they will nod and agree to save face. Of course, this is when problems occur because they don’t have a brief. With this in mind, be as clear and concise as possible. Speaking too much and overusing words is a sure-fire way to confuse your partner. Instead, leave the jargon at home and talk in layman’s terms. Also, raise your voice so that they can hear what you are saying.

 

Ask Them To Repeat It

If you are not certain they understand, there is a solution. The fix is to ask them to repeat what you said. Even though it doesn’t mean they get the gist, it does show they are listening. And, that is a good sign because most people switch off when they can’t comprehend a concept. Also, the way they repeat it will give you an indication. If they say it back word for word with confidence, they know what to do next. If they repeat it and sound shaky, there is a good chance they are unsure. Of course, you can quiz them to make doubly sure, but it might not go down well!

 

Stay In Touch

You are not pen pals who write to each other once a month. You are business partners who need to confer on a regular basis. Otherwise, you have to trust they will hit their targets without any proof. With semi-frequent calls, you can check-in and keep up to date with the process. There is no reason to hound anyone because they should be a certain element of trust. However, it isn’t wrong or unprofessional to email, talk on the phone or drop into the factory once a week.

Ultimately, the key to outsourcing success is communication, and you can become an expert with the above advice.

 

Will Outsourcing Work? How To Make The Right Calls For Your Business

If you carried out a quick Google search for the pros and cons of outsourcing, you’d quickly discover that this is a fairly contentious issue. For every advantage, there seems to be a downside. In modern business, it can be tough enough to survive as it is without having to deal with the fallout of making the wrong outsourcing choices. If you’re considering working with external companies or agencies, here are some tips to ensure you make outsourcing work for your business.

 

Knowing what to outsource

This is the most important consideration for any business owner that is toying with the idea of hiring external help. There are certain elements of any business that lend themselves to outsourcing and some golden rules to bear in mind when it comes to keeping certain aspects of the business on-site. Generally speaking, it’s wise to avoid handing over control of anything that involves direct contact with customers and anything that is absolutely vital to the day to day running of the business.

 

Before you make any decisions, have a look around you and think about the skills and talents you have on the team. If there are obvious gaps, weigh up your options. You could hire members of staff, or you could consider working with freelancers or outsourcing tasks that are related to those skills to an outside company. Do some number-crunching, and think about the size and scale of the project. If you’re taking on a temporary job, you probably don’t want to be adding members of staff on permanent contracts to the payroll. If you’re talking about something that is ever-present, such as IT support, it’s worth getting in touch with an IT company and looking into managed services if you don’t want to recruit a tech team. It’s also beneficial to outsource tasks that will increase your efficiency but aren’t related to the inner workings of the business. Many businesses choose to outsource cleaning and janitorial services, for example.

 

Choosing the right companies

It’s always worth remembering that it’s unlikely that any external company will care about your business as much as you do. Having said that, it is possible to find agencies and other businesses that will do a brilliant, professional job for you. Don’t rush into making agreements and signing contracts before you’ve considered a few different options. Read client testimonials, have a look through portfolios and examples of previous work, and meet with representatives. Go for a company that offers that personal touch and a tailored service. You wouldn’t recruit members of staff who you didn’t feel were up to the job, so try and adopt the same strict approach with external companies.

As a business owner, you may come up against challenges or encounter jobs that you don’t necessarily have the skills or the inclination to deal with efficiently and effectively. If you can’t handle everything under one roof, outsourcing can be an excellent solution. Just make sure that you think about what to outsource and that you check the credentials of external agencies carefully.

How to Run Your Home Enterprise in the Most Efficient and Lean Way Possible

If you’re an entrepreneur who runs a business from home, one of the main things that you should be focusing on right now is efficiency. You don’t have a big business machine behind you, so this is something you will have to take care of alone. It can be difficult to get it right. But it certainly can be done. Here are some of the ways in which you can make your home enterprise more efficient and lean than it is right now.

 

Keep Things Small and Simple

For a start, you should try to keep things as small and as simple as they possibly can be. If you don’t do that, you will find that your business is overwhelmed by methods and ways of working that frankly aren’t necessary. So, you should take real steps to simplifying things. There is always a tendency to think that bigger is better when you’re running a business. But that kind of mentality and approach can actually do more damage than good, so it’s important to be careful. It’s something that you will really see benefit from.

 

Make it Easier For You To Communicate

 

Communication is a big deal for any small business. If your business does not communicate properly with suppliers, business partners, customers and clients, that will massively damage your business. You should try to ensure that your communication methods are modern and up to scratch wherever possible. For example, you could use VoIP to cut down on phone costs and bring your communication methods up to date. Invest in fast internet connections too. This will be massively important.

 

 

Get Your Paper and Digital Files Sorted

 

This is an issue that can bog down many small businesses. You no doubt have paper files and documents that you make use of. However, you also need to make sure that they are stored and organised in the right kind of way. Things can get very chaotic very quickly if that’s not the case. That’s not something that you want to happen, so it’s up to you to address this issue sooner rather than later. A document management system could change things massively. That might seem strange, but it’s true.

 

Don’t Think That You Have to Follow the Lead of Bigger Businesses

Many people who run small businesses from their homes mistakenly think that they have to follow the lead of what other companies are doing, but that’s one of those things that is simply not true at all. Your business is unique, and what’s right for Apple or Google is not going to be right for you. Don’t try to emulate or imitate the companies that you admire most, not yet anyway. When you are growing and expanding, then you can look to those companies for inspiration and guidance. But go your own way for now.

Your home enterprise is going to struggle, just as small businesses always do. So, don’t make your job of finding success any harder than it needs to be.

Make Like A Tree And Branch Your Digital Marketing To Get The Green

When it comes to effective digital marketing, it’s very easy to get caught in the hype of a certain discipline in particular. There’s no doubt that people are finding new ways to effectively spread your online presence all the time. But sticking to one path alone isn’t going to be enough. You have to learn to fight the battle from every side if you want to win. Here are a few of the different methods that will help you achieve online supremacy.

 

Your home

Having some kind of permanent home on the internet is crucial. Some smaller businesses will create a page on Facebook to this end, but if you want your brand to stand out in any way, then web design companies like massive.co.uk might be an essential friend to make. A website allows you complete control over the visual design and the message of your brand. You can use it to answer common questions, to give customers direct access to product and service information, to showcase your work. A website can be as versatile as your brand demands compared to just setting up a presence on a social media site.

Your friends

That’s not to say that social media isn’t also key to mastering digital marketing. The online world is a social one. If someone sees something they like, they might have half-a-dozen ways to share it. By creating and curating content for social media, you can tap into that share-happy nature of internet denizens and have your brand reach even more people. But people will also pay attention to who’s following you and how many followers you have. To many, this can serve as positive social proof of a brand worth paying attention to.

Your info

Speaking of content, telegraph.co.uk is just one of the many proponents of creating a business blog to host your very own content. Content won’t just help you keep customers returning and please them with interesting and informative copy. Content can be a way to rope in new visitors and expose them to the brand for the first time. For instance, someone might be looking to find out how to replace taps in their bathroom. When they look for info on how to do that, a plumbing site might benefit from having those instructions on their site, not only solving a problem and demonstrating their expertise but putting the reader in direct contact with a business that can help them.

Your message

What about the people who are already customers, brand fans, and generally onboard? They matter too. In fact, it’s significantly cheaper to retain existing customers than to win over new ones. Yet many fail to do so because they just don’t think about it. Sometimes it’s as simple as using tools like mailchimp.com to create and send newsletters that keep customers up-to-date on new products, deals, and content that can catch their interest. If you don’t keep your message strong, even loyal customers will forget about it over time.

Marketing budgets and the time you can spend on it are, of course, limited. You might have to prioritise one kind of marketing over the other. To that end, market research can help you find out where your audience is most active and where you’re likely to get the most ROI. However, as you grow, your efforts should be growing and expanding into those other methods as well.

 

The 5 Rules Of A Modern Marketing Strategy

 

For any business to be successful, the marketing strategy has to be on point. However, it is much easier to say than do in 2017 because the industry changes at a rapid rate. As a result, you might find it very hard to come up with a solution that gets results. Don’t worry if this is the case because lots of companies are in your position. Instead, focus on digging your current strategy out of a hole by adapting to the times.

With that in mind, here are the rules which make up a successful modern plan.

Don’t Target The Wrong Medium

There are plenty of reasons why this is important, but let’s focus on two. The first one is brand awareness. Quite simply, customers use a variety of platforms to consume content these days. As such, if you are not targeting the correct platforms, your message won’t get across. Secondly, there are some mediums which are less intrusive than others. Cold calling an individual comes across as rude and unwanted, whereas people read emails from unknown sources.

 

Do Be Truthful

In the past, the fine print used to cover businesses’ backs and give them the advantage over a consumer. And, people used to accept it and get on with their lives. That isn’t the case in 2017 because customers are fighting back. In fact, they will kick and scream and shout until the cows come home to make their voices heard. For example, Facebook users have caused the company to change its policies over the last couple of years. If it can happen to Facebook, it can happen to your firm, which is why honesty is the best policy.

 

Don’t Be Rude To Customers

With the help of social media, consumers and corporations are closer than ever before. With a single click of a keyboard, both the customer and the company can speak directly. What’s even better is the tone of the conversation because it is very informal and chatty. However, the tone can come back to bite you on the backside as it can lead to a false sense of security. Sure, speaking to customers without having to tow the party line is nice, but it doesn’t mean you are in control. They still hold power, so politeness and respect are paramount. The last thing any firm needs is a customer service scandal that has the potential to go viral.

 

Do Make Your Brand Easy To Find

Having a website is one thing, but making it easy to find is another. If you click here, you will see what it takes to create a site which is functional and accessible at the same time. The reason you have to take this info on board is that of the competition. The market is full of rivals in this day and age, and you have to stand out from the crowd. A tip: brush up on your SEO knowledge.

 

Don’t Make Brand Easy To Pass

When people do find your brand, you want them to connect. A connection means a conversion, and a conversion leads to more traffic and higher sales and revenue. The best option is to provide something that others don’t have and that pops off the page. Video content, for example, is both popular and creative at the same time.

 

Is anyone game for a spot of stop motion camera work?