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7 Quick Tips for Increasing Your Business’s Reach with Toll Free Numbers

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Are you thinking about getting a toll free number for your business? If you are running an eCommerce store or need to provide a customer service line, then you will want to consider getting one for your business. A toll free number is a national phone line that your customers can call for free from anywhere in the US. Virtual toll free phone numbers free up office space by connecting through the internet instead of a landline, which means you can connect your phone number to forward to any device of your choosing. Providing your customers with a phone line that they can call offers a way for your customers to reach out when they have an issue, and it creates another avenue in which they can make a purchase. If you’re still not sure how you can make your toll free phone number work for your business, check out these 7 quick pointers aimed at upping your business’s reach.

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1. Make It Easy To Remember

Providing a toll free number for your business allows you to advertise with one number. No matter where your employees, stores, or customers are located, you can provide everyone with one number to dial. When your customers see this toll free number advertised somewhere they will automatically know it is for your brand, therefore, when you choose the toll free number that you want, make sure you choose one that has a nice flow to it or consider getting a vanity number.

2. Handle Higher Call Volumes

Toll free numbers are equipped with the ability to handle large calling volumes. Since they work in the Cloud, you won’t have to worry about a call dropping because toll free numbers offer call forwarding, meaning a phone call can be transferred instantly to the next available person.

3. Be Available 24/7

When a store is available at all times, a customer is more likely to trust that company with their business. Being able to answer your customers’ questions, take orders, and offer your customers a way to pay their bills over the phone at any time will create an instantly better relationship with your business and your customers. Customers won’t appreciate it if there isn’t a single phone number for them to contact if they have an issue.

4. Use IVR to Send Your Customers to the Right Agent

When your customers call your business, you can choose to greet them with an automatic message or send them straight to an available person. One way to tackle higher call volumes is to greet all of your customers with an initial welcome and continue onto a menu. Explain menu options so that your customer can choose with whom they want to speak to. For example, if they are looking to talk to someone in customer service, they can easily press a number to speak to customer service, but if they want to pay their bill, they can push the number that will direct them to the accounting office instead.

5. If You’re Going to Move, Port Your Number

If you have already invested in a toll free number and want to move locations, you can still move and keep your initial toll free number. If a move is better for your business, your toll free number won’t hold you back. You can still keep the number that you have been advertising with for years.

6. Reach a Larger Audience

Since toll free numbers work on a national level, you can promote your business outside of your town. Even if your shop is located in one neighborhood in one state, you can still advertise your products to customers located all over the US. When you have a toll free number, you offer your customers a free way to get into contact with your business. Which builds a certain level of trust.

7. Use Your Toll Free Number for Marketing Campaigns

You can try out new ways of marketing by associating each campaign with a different toll free number and then measure which numbers are getting the most calls. This will quickly help you to figure out what means of campaigning are working and where you can change up your direction.

Reasons a Business Phone Number Makes Sense for Freelancers, Solopreneurs, and Startups

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When you are just starting in a new business endeavor, there are a few things that can wait and a few that can’t. You might think that having a business phone number is on the list of “something that can wait.” Since you already have a mobile phone number, you can use that for work, right? Yes and no. Sure that could work, but it makes you look unprofessional, it becomes harder to separate work and life, and it’s more likely that you’ll miss important phone calls. If you intend to watch your business grow, then reasoning that you can get a business phone number later when your budget is larger can cause many problems. First, it is hard to switch over from one to the other because when your business is progressing, the worst thing to do would be to change your phone number. Secondly, because you would be missing out on many features, it may not be a good option. If you are a freelancer, a solopreneur, or a startup, there are many reasons why a business phone number makes sense for you; here’s a look:

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1. Professional Appearance

If you are a freelancer or beginning a startup, you’re most likely working from your home or a coffee shop and not a highly-equipped office. This could turn some people off. They may not think that you are capable of running a business properly without having a permanent office location. With a virtual business phone number, you can give the appearance of running a larger company. The variety of features available to you, such as personalized voicemail, call forwarding, customized greeting menus, and call transfer services make it highly appealing and easy to accent your appearance.

2. No More Dropped Calls

Virtual phone numbers work on a cloud-based system, which means that no call will be lost. Not only can you set up your preferences to be forwarded to the right person during business hours, but after hours you can set up phone calls to be sent to a voicemail feature that you can personalize to your preferences. In addition to that, with call forwarding and voicemail to fax or email, you will never miss a voicemail message either.

3.Clear Calls

Cell phone signals can be tricky, but virtual phone numbers, which work from the Cloud, work on a fixed network. Plus, they are dedicated to your business and were created to handle large call volumes.

4. It’s Affordable

If the main reason you aren’t springing for a business phone number is because you don’t think your budget will allow for it, think again. Virtual phone number sites offer several different plans for all stages of business. From freelancers to corporations, you can find an affordable plan that comes with all of the professional features, but you’ll only have to pay for the minutes you use.

5. More Personal Time

When you are a freelancer, solopreneur, or a startup, it can be hard to create boundaries between your burgeoning business and your personal time. But personal time and self-care are just as important as your business. If you find yourself spending all of your extra time thinking about and working on your business, the company could suffer. It’s good to take time off and enjoy life in between work periods. Cut out time in your day to spend with friends and family. Having balance in your life is the key to success. With a virtual phone number, you can set up business hours where customers can call you and reach you directly, as well as out of business hours where they have access to your voicemail. You can get back to them as soon as you are back in the “office.” Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you won’t need a break.

6. No Robocallers

One of the best features on a business phone number is that you can choose an automated greeting where your customer can then select an option of where they would like to be directed. Robocallers will get stuck in the menu options and eventually will be timed out and hung up on. Instead of having your phone line clogged with robocalls, you can spend more time talking to your actual customers. Robocallers have become a massive issue in the past few years, and a majority of phone numbers have been compromised. At United World Telecom you can also sort phone numbers into black and white lists. The Black List blocks unwanted callers from reaching you which means once a robocaller tries to contact you, they won’t be able to call again from that number.

How to Keep Remote Teams Connected

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The information age has created a new shift in how people work. Before, millions of people had to make their way to the long-established “office” every day, from Monday-Friday, 9-6. Now, because of the invention of smartphones, laptops, and faster home internet connections, a growing number of people now telecommute to work. As remote work becomes increasingly more commonplace, more businesses are forming teams across states and countries. However, as the remote workforce grows, there are a few challenges that begin to pop up from not working in a traditional office setting.

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Things like productivity, time management skills, and lack of social interaction become problems. If you have cultivated a strong remote workforce and want to ensure that they can keep up from remote locations, then read on to learn how to keep remote teams connected.

1. Work from the cloud

Cloud technology allows all of your employees and managers the opportunity to access a variety of tools, share content, and collaborate in real time. The Cloud can also send updates out to your team, set reminders, and list tasks.

2. Social Media

Social media networking sites offer your team the chance to show off their creativity and collaborate effectively. You can find a whole list of niche social media networking sites you might not know about that offer places for your team to show their work and chat. Social media is an excellent tool for groups that are working all over the world as well because it allows them to maintain contact despite their various locations.

3. Virtual phone numbers

If your team is working remotely, consider getting virtual phone numbers to keep your team connected. Virtual phone numbers come with a variety of features and do not work on one specific phone line. Therefore, if you are dealing with similar clients, you can provide one virtual phone number for them to call and you can then have the call forwarded to an available person on the team. This is especially important for employees working from different states or countries because virtual phone lines can be local and therefore callers will not have to pay a hefty international fee to make a business call.

4. Plan get-togethers as often as possible

Meeting in person from time-to-time if your resources allow you to is the best way to get a bunch of employees to work as a team. Whenever possible, bring everyone together for a face-to-face meeting. It doesn’t have to be all business either; plan special outings together like an annual trip or a bonding expedition.

5. Train your team in time management

It is vital that your remote team is working in an organized way and consistently meeting or exceeding expectations. If possible, set up an opportunity for your remote team to take part in a time management training session to learn tips on how to organize and plan out their work days. You shouldn’t assume that just because someone is right for the job they are good at time management. And for employees who have mastered managing time, it wouldn’t hurt to participate as they may have the opportunity to learn new tips and tricks to make them even better at what they do.

6. Check-ins and using technology to interact socially

Set a time to check in with your remote employees, whether that is a daily, weekly, or monthly phone call. You can also keep in constant contact through email or GChat. When you have to schedule meetings, and some workers cannot travel to the location, be sure to set up a video conferencing call so your remote employees can feel as if they are in the same room.

7. Check on your management regularly

Managing a remote team comes with its own set of issues. It is essential that the manager of a remote unit has a trusted relationship with its employees, which can be hard to cultivate when they do not work in close proximity to one another. The best way for a manager to keep their long-distance relationships strong is to train your managers on the many tools available for remote working, such as being able to connect through virtual phone numbers and video conferencing. A manager should also be in charge of setting up digital networks, as this can help employees bond with one another over personal stories and sharing fun memes. It may not seem like remote workers need this kind of connection with their coworkers, but a good relationship with management and others can keep a great employee with your company for a long time to come.

Social Media Networks You Need to Know About for Business

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Social media networks can be for work or play, and some can be great for finding new business contacts. There are many big-named business social networks like LinkedIn, but have you ever heard of Sportifico? Depending on your business, you can find a social networking tool that fits just what you’re looking for. Whether that is for networking opportunities, jobs, or learning about an entirely new industry, meeting the right people can be done using the right platform. Check out these business-focused social media networks that are tailored to specific industries to expand your company’s reach.

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AngelList

The AngelList was created to help startups find investors, or “angels.” To get started, you or your company must apply and be accepted first, which is no easy task. (Less than 2 percent of startup companies are allowed onto the site.) Once you have been approved, however, like several other matchmaking apps, you can swipe left or right on investment opportunities or investors! You can also filter based on things such as market and location.

Spiceworks

If you’re into IT or digital marketing, then Spiceworks is the social media network for you. Spiceworks is dedicated to connecting these professionals with each other, and the site offers project management and planning apps as well as academic content. Tech companies can join in on the fun, too, and create content like tips and advice for the Spiceworks users. Anyone can join, so even if you’re not an IT professional and you’re only looking to learn more about it, you will still be accepted to the site.

Mixer

Attention creatives! This app is for you. Mixer was created with one thing in mind: to provide creative professionals with the opportunity to network with other creative professionals in entertainment, fashion, art, and music. Mixer users pay a monthly subscription fee, and in return they receive the opportunity to network, to import their work into an online portfolio, and post and apply for jobs with other creatives.

MeetUp

Meetup has a little something for everyone. Whether you are looking to connect professionally or personally, you can find a group to do so here. It is a popular and well-known platform, but it is a straightforward tool to use to find things that you are interested in and to connect with other people. There are plenty of writer meetups, professional happy hour meetups, and even meetups for people who just want to enjoy brunch. If you don’t find any meetups you are interested in joining, don’t worry, you can always start your own group.

ResearchGate

ResearchGate is a strict social networking site for researchers and scientists. There are more than 15 million users worldwide, but the vetting process for making it into the networking site is scrupulous. For example, if you do not have an institutional email address, you might not get admitted. But once you are accepted, you have the opportunity to connect with scientists worldwide and collaborate on projects as well as share research findings.

Sermo

Like ResearchGate, Mixer, and Spiceworks – Sermo is a networking site catering to one group of individuals. Doctors around the world can connect on SERMO once their medical credentials have been verified. Once verified, doctors can ask questions, converse on different topics, and they can even discuss confidential information anonymously.

Opportunity

Opportunity is a social networking site for nearly all professionals and can be used to find employment or professional contacts. Opportunity allows users with a LinkedIn account to integrate both sites, and with all of its information, Opportunity uses an algorithm to find you new opportunities.

Sportifico

Another niche networking site is Sportifico. This one is strictly for soccer athletes and coaches. Whether you want to build your own team or start a career in coaching or playing soccer, Sportifico can connect you with the people that can make your dream a reality. Once you have applied and are accepted, Sportifico offers a place to show off your resume, your skills, stats, and a way to send messages and search for connections and opportunities.

Things Not to Say at Work

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Most people spend more time at work than they do at home, so it’s natural that you could become so comfortable in your workplace that you begin to let your guard down. But, it is important to remember that it is still a place where you must maintain a professional demeanor. Whether you are expressing yourself to your boss or your coworkers, you should be careful in choosing your words. Don’t let anything pass your lips that could be considered harmful or demeaning towards the business or anyone in the company.

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Here are a few phrases to avoid that could potentially hurt your career or even end it.

1. “We’ve always done it this way.”

Regardless of whether that is true or not, what other people here is that you are resisting change. When you resist change, you cannot progress in your position, and you will remain stagnant. That isn’t a good look for an employee in front of their boss. Usually, things change for the better, or they are temporary for the situation at hand. If things didn’t change, you would still be waiting for dial-up internet or calling handwritten numbers from your Rolodex. If you are hesitant to a new way of doing things, try asking questions about it and learning the benefits. Once you are more aware of the new method, you will be more likely to trust it.

2. “That’s not my job.”

Many bosses will ask their employees to carry out tasks that go outside of your comfort level or that you may consider beneath you. It happens from time-to-time in any business, but instead of looking at it as an annoying extra task, think of it as a chance to show how versatile of an employee you are. Besides, saying that something isn’t your job, comes across as you saying that you won’t take one for the team. If you really cannot find the time to carry out these unrelated tasks, inform the asker that you have several other projects to finish first, but when those are completed, you would be delighted to help out. If you truly are busy, they should realize that and may ask someone else.

3. “You’re dressed up today. Do you have an interview somewhere?”

Some people feel like getting a little extra dressed up on certain days. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are trying to leave the company. By phrasing, this question in this way what you are genuinely portraying is that they don’t usually dress nice or maybe that they don’t like their job and could be exploring options. So what if they have an interview somewhere else? You will find out in due time if they leave the company anyway. Instead of asking them questions that they would like to keep private, say that they look nice or you like their shoes and move on. If you do decide to compliment them, be sure that the compliment is workplace-appropriate and you have a comfortable relationship with that other person, too.

4. “I don’t know.”

Sometimes you don’t know the right answer. That’s fine, but try to avoid saying this particular phrase. Instead reply, “I will find out for you” if the question was asked in person. If the person asks you over email or GChat, you can do a quick Google search or ask a more informed co-worker before replying.

5. “You’re how old?!”

You might not think that this question is a big deal, but it doesn’t work out in any situation. If you are incredulous that a person is so young in such a position of power you are making the accusation that they look older for their age. If it is vice versa, then you are conveying that they aren’t where they should be professionally at that time in their life. Simply, steer clear of age-guessing or any questions that may be related.

6. “I don’t enjoy working with this person.”

This is another response that makes you look like you are not a team player. Just because you do not like someone does not mean that should hinder you from maintaining a professional relationship with them. Sometimes working with people who have a different style than your own can be useful for growth.

7. “This task is not possible.”

Instead of saying this, try working out the issues. How can you be sure if you haven’t laid out the problem in front of you and contemplated all of the possible outcomes? Avoid being negative all the time when you’re in the office. Otherwise, your co-workers won’t want to work with you.

Tips Your Startup Actually Needs

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Congratulations! You’ve founded your very own start-up! That’s a dream that only the best entrepreneurs can turn into a reality. While there is no shortage of information out there for startups, here’s some advice that you MUST have to lead your business to success. Read on for five tips that your startup needs.

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1. Find Your Fans

This is true for any business that is successful. When you find your loyal customers and the people who truly trust and believe in your product(s), then you can have great success if you focus on pleasing them. Take time to thank your loyal customers and to listen to them. Find out what they expect and need out of your product. Your products and services should always be changing and getting better when you’re a start-up. All new startups should invest in a virtual phone number for their customer service line. It takes up minimal start-up cost, and you can find a plan that fits your specific needs and budget very quickly. Plus, with a virtual phone number, you can create a top-notch customer service line that will allow you and your customers to stay in touch, enabling you to nurture a prosperous, mutually-beneficial business relationship.

2. Create Your Own Product Category

When you don’t have any competition, it’s easy to be number 1. Take Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram for example. They all began as social media sites whose biggest comparison was to that of Facebook. But what actually made them so strong and so unique was that they were nothing like Facebook. Twitter offers an outlet to find news and express your opinions on current events and pop culture topics, or even share what you had for lunch that day. As long as it was stated in 140 characters, or now 280 or less, you could write it and post it up for all to see.

3. Efficiency is Key

It is better to start out with a smaller staff, especially, if your start-up is on a budget. It might seem like you need to begin hiring people right away as your business starts to grow, but sometimes it’s better to look inward and find out what is working within your industry and what isn’t. Instead of expanding right away, think about dispersing the people you have onto projects that are pressing right away. Eventually, you will have to hire as your business grows, but in the first year or so, it is better to get a flow for what works for your company and what doesn’t before adding on additional people just to have to let them go when you can’t find the funding.

4. Offer a Better Product, and Price it That Way

A great thing about having a start-up business and working on one great product or a core-set of great products means that you can price your product above that of your competition. That might not sound like the best idea right off the bat, but think about it; bigger businesses can slash their prices more easily to compete with the smaller guys with no problem. When you dedicate your business solely to creating the best, for example, soap, you can market it and price it as a handmade and one-of-a-kind product that is good for you, the environment, pets, whatever. Use your niche to your advantage.

5. Marketing

Impress your customers with an eye-catching logo, an easy-to-navigate homepage, and a thorough and professional website. All of your marketing pieces should be the highest quality so you can make a great first impression. If you can’t afford an in-house graphic designer, try to hire a freelancer, or if you are really low on cash, you can check out Canva, where anyone can create beautiful visual design pieces from professional templates.

Once you have created your perfect website, built a winning team, put your best product forward with the right price, and raised your customer service game, you will be well on your way to having a successful startup.

The Fastest Growing Global Markets of 2018

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The world’s most advanced countries have seen global trade become stagnant because of policy changes and controlled investments. The upside of this upset is that developing countries have had a chance to begin to equalize themselves with more economic powerhouses.

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These developing countries have been major contributors to global output. They are the countries that business owners should be thinking about when deciding to expand their reach to international territories. Read on to find out more about these emerging economies and the opportunities they can offer your business.

Expected Growth of Global Economic Markets

There are multiple countries throughout Asia that can maximize the growth output of your business. The OECD has sited Asia as the fastest economically growing region in the world. Growth throughout Asia in countries like Vietnam and China are expected to grow around 6.0% meanwhile the United States and Euro countries are only expected for grow by 2-3% and those numbers are expected to drop in the coming years as the countries in Asia continue to grow.

Where This Growth is Expected to Occur

The following is a list of economic growth anticipated by the fastest growing global markets for 2018.

China

China is projected to grow to 6.4% in 2019 in comparison to 6.6% in 2018 and 6.8% in 2017. The economy is steadying itself to a more reliable growth pattern rather than the extreme economic growth we have seen from China in the past decade. China’s president Xi Jinping has been working towards creating a more balanced pattern for the economy.

India

The growth rate in India is even higher than China’s and is expected to shoot up from 7.0% growth to 7.4% in 2019. This incredible growth rate is thanks to a rise in productivity. The growth potential of the market is currently accelerating and India is quickly becoming a huge economic presence in Asia.

Vietnam

Vietnam is hovering around the same growth rates as China with 6.5%. The government has been working tirelessly for Vietnam to become more attractive for world markets, and this strategy is proving to be lucrative. Huge tech giants such as Samsung have brought huge investments to the country.

Cambodia

Cambodia’s tourism sector took a plunge in the past but is now recovering and that recovery has helped to boost the economic growth in Cambodia to nearly 7%.

Deciding to invest in Cambodia is up to the personal choice of the business, however. Government corruption is still rampant in the country and transparency is not at its highest.

Bhutan

Though it has a very small population, the Kingdom of Bhutan is growing fast and strong. It is a landlocked and centrally located country between China and India. Its location makes Bhutan very important, and its economy is driven by tourism, agriculture, hydropower, and forestry. According to the World Bank, Bhutan is expected to grow at 11.1% over the next few years. The Kingdom of Bhutan uses a Gross National Happiness average over a Gross Domestic Product average to gauge the nation’s prosperity. Before you jump into investing in Bhutan take into consideration that its financial markets are not yet developed and the stock exchange is tiny.

South Korea

South Korea is not growing as fast as other countries around Asia, but it is still growing at around 3.0%, higher than most of Europe and the United States. South Korea may be seeing this boost because of its global trade deals and powerful friends.

New Zealand

Although not part of Asia, New Zealand is also in the running to become a top economic powerhouse globally. Its GDP growth is expected to stay at around 3.0% for 2019. This sovereign island country has built its GDP through agriculture, dairy farming, tourism, and a burgeoning wine industry.

Markets to Watch for Your Business’s Growth

This growth all around the world means that your brand has the possibility of expanding outside of your circle. When you understand where the money is going rather than where it is, you can give your brand a strong competitive edge. Asia and New Zealand are great potential marketplaces where your business can find new customers and can evolve prosperously over time.

A Virtual State of Mind – Tips for Building a Virtual Office

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A virtual office means that you can work from anywhere in the world. The internet has made it easier than ever for businesses to be built from the ground-up, all from the comfort of your own home. Many workers can telecommute to work because of the ease and reliability of the internet today. However, working from home or anywhere outside of a traditional office setting has both its advantages and disadvantages. Many businesses are choosing to take advantage of virtual offices because of the savings on office space rentals, tech, food, office supplies, and insurance.

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Some critics of virtual offices believe that working from home makes workers more susceptible to distractions such as family or friends, and they think that workers won’t be as productive as they would be if they were to work in a regular office environment. If you are thinking about taking your business into the virtual world, or if you already do telecommute, then check out these tips to help you create a productive virtual office space that will guarantee efficiency, creativity, and an increase in cash.

1. Get a phone system

In business, you will inevitably need to be able to connect quickly and efficiently with your employees, co-workers, clients, and customers. Many virtual phone systems offer forwarding and routing services to anywhere in the world. These phone systems help customers and clients get in contact with the right person in the business that they need to talk to. The phone system can often greet the customer automatically and then offer them a variety of options so that they can get into contact with the right department. It doesn’t matter if your sales manager is in Florida and your customer service agent is in Iowa.

2. Meet new-hires in person

If you are the boss, you should make it a point to try to meet everyone you work with at least once. It might not be financially possible for some companies to fly out managers to meet new employees or vice versa. Be that as it may, luckily, technology exists and if you can’t meet “in-person” you can still meet “face-to-face” kinda. Through Skype, Viber, Google Hangouts, and a host of other video calling apps, it is now possible to connect with and see others without leaving your living room.

3. Hold meetings

If your co-workers or employees are located within the same area, then you can hold in-person business meetings as much as you think necessary. Whether these meetings occur on a monthly, bi-monthly, or yearly basis, there are plenty of places that can host your group. Since you do not have access to your office building, you can set-up a meeting time at hotels with conference rooms, coffee shops, and you can even find some companies who are willing to rent out their free spaces to other businesses for meetings as well.

4. Communicate often and effectively

Since you can’t just walk over to Susan’s cubicle to talk to her about a marketing campaign, you need to have the next best thing. Staying in constant contact on Google Chat is an easy way to get answers fast from your employees. If something can wait more than five minutes, then you can always send an email. Be sure that your employees are aware that they need to be plugged in and ready to answer questions, emails, and phone calls while they are at work.

5. Establish a time management policy

The best thing about telecommuting to work is that you can typically make your own hours. However, it’s important to know when your employees are working so that you can quickly get in contact with them. Virtual offices also need to establish how long each person will be working a day and what is expected to be completed of them. This way everyone can plan their days accordingly.

6. Foster relationships between co-workers

It is highly encouraged to set up team building events for your employees if they can all attend. If your team is located all around the world, then it may be a bit harder to meet up for happy hour after work. Instead, you can set up a non-work-related Facebook group or chat group. It also helps to remember birthdays and share personal news and special occasions. If you know that one of your co-workers or employees is getting married, be sure to send them an e-greeting card or shoot them a congratulatory text. A little bit of effort goes a long way in creating relationships.

7. Encourage productivity with competitions

To make sure that your team is being as productive as possible, offer incentives for hard work. This can be done through bonuses or contests between employees. Set goals for the team and award prizes to those who reach milestones before everyone else. You will soon see your profits rise and your employees get excited about work.

8. Set boundaries

Working from home can genuinely be distracting if you live with a spouse, roommates, or children. When you decide to start working for the day be sure to let your family and friends know that you can be reached after you’re done. Shut the door to your office, if possible, and shut out any distractions that aren’t work-related. If your office is the kitchen or another high traffic area in your home, consider heading to a coffee shop.

Customer Experience: Why it’s a Necessity for All Businesses Today

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A primary topic of conversation circling throughout the business world today is focused on customer experience: why it’s a necessity for all businesses at the current time. Organizational leaders are recognizing the importance of delivering a customer experience that allows them to stand out in comparison to their competition.

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Whether directly related to customer service, product quality or the way customers feel about the organizations they do business with, customer experience is at the top of the list with regard to what determines if a customer will continue to do business with a brand or not.

It All Comes Down to Customer Experience

Current studies indicate that 89 percent of organizations compete primarily on the basis of customer experience. There is a large amount of opportunity to disrupt competitors and gain market share within an industry. Every single thing that a brand does – marketing, research, advertising or other areas – plays a role in forming the customer experience. This is precisely why customer experience is such a necessity for all businesses. In fact, focusing on customer experience may be the most important investment a brand can make in today’s competitive global business climate.

In the past, there were three general ways through which a customer could interact with a company – in person, via a phone call, or through writing a letter. Today, you can add faxing, emailing, and social media outlets including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Social media, in particular, has given customers an outlet through which to complain to the world if they are unhappy with a product or service they have been provided. Customers who are pleased with products and services also tend to share their experiences via social media.

Improving Customer Experience

With all of these new ways for customers to communicate with businesses, it makes the creation of a unique and powerful customer experience even more challenging. Regardless of the additional challenges, it is a vital component on the road to success for any company and this is why leaders of every organization should sit down and discuss the importance of the customer experience. To provide a starting point for discussion, here are some tips to consider when discussing how to improve customer experience:

  • Data from customer interactions via various channels should all be stored in one place. A customer may reach out via telephone one time and via a live chat the next time, but notes regarding these interactions should all be stored in one location for easy reviewing by your customer service team.
  • Carry consistency throughout the company. Particularly when a company is large, there may be different departments or teams to carry out various individual tasks. This can become frustrating to customers if they are bounced around from one department to the next and the individual teams do not seem to be on the same page. It is important for there to be consistency from one department to the next in explaining procedures and the handling of various situations.

Customers Determine the Effectiveness of Your Efforts

A company establishes what they want their brand to represent and how they convey that message to their market, but the customers are the ones who decide whether or not that message is clear to them and if they are happy with the way it has been conveyed. There is a lot that rides of providing a consistently positive customer experience. A company should hire and train good people and then ensure they are given the right tools to meet customer expectations.

If you are a business owner and have not already, it is time to undertake a full analysis of the customer experience and realize why it’s a necessity for all businesses today.

The Skills You Need for Effective Leadership

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Whether you are an office manager, a project leader, or the CEO, all effective leaders require a number of skills to help positively and successfully interact with staff and other team members. Here are a few of the skills you need for effective leadership:

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The Power of Communication

Communication easily ranks at the top with regard to the skills you need for effective leadership. As a leader, you have to be able to clearly and concisely explain things to your employees. Topics that require communication by a leader may range from a description of goals to details involved in a specific task. Effective leaders have to master all forms of communication, including but not limited to full staff discussions, one-on-one, and communication via telephone, social media, and email. A large part of communication revolves around listening, so leaders should establish a clear and easy flow of communication with their team and staff through regular conversations and an open door policy. Other necessary skills that fall under communication include: clarity, articulation, business storytelling, expression, presentation, reading body language, and reducing ambiguity.

Another one of the skills you need for effective leadership is the ability to inspire and motivate. Effective leaders must be able to inspire their workers to go the extra mile for the company. There are many ways to accomplish this. Among them are: building employee self esteem through recognition and rewards and giving more responsibility to those who show extra initiative, thereby increasing their investment in the company. Some of the skills you need for effective leadership that are related directly to motivation are asking for input, mentoring, team building, thanking staff, and understanding employee differences and concerns.

The Importance of Effective Leadership

Leaders who attempt to take on too many tasks themselves will face challenges in getting things done. Some leaders fear that delegating tasks is a sign of weakness, when it is actually a sign of a strong leader. Therefore, another one of the skills you need for effective leadership is in identifying the skills of each of your staff members and assigning duties to each of the staff members based on their skill set. By delegating, you are able to focus on other important tasks.

Positivity can go a long way in running a business. Being able to laugh at yourself when something goes wrong helps to create a healthy and happy work environment, even during stressful and busy periods of time. Simple acts like asking staff members about holiday plans can help to boost morale in the workplace. Some of the skills you need for effective leadership that are related to infusing positivity in the workplace are developing rapport, humor, helping others, friendliness, respect, empathy, and diplomacy.

Character Traits of Leadership

Trustworthiness is yet another one of the skills you need for effective leadership. Employees should be able to feel comfortable going to their leader with questions or concerns. It is important for a leader to demonstrate integrity as employees will only trust leaders that they can respect. Being open and honest will encourage the same kind of honesty in your staff. The ability to apologize, along with having credibility, accountability, business ethics, consistent behavior towards employees, emotional intelligence, empathy, reliability, and thoughtfulness all support the building of trust with your staff.

A few more of the skills you need for effective leadership include:

  • Creativity: the ability to think outside of the box, analyze, embrace different perspectives, observe, be open minded, and innovate.
  • Give feedback: offer positive reinforcement, mentoring, coaching, and a clear layout of expectations.
  • Responsibility: A leader is responsible for failures and successes and should be willing to accept responsibility when something goes wrong and also evaluate best solutions, learn from mistakes, and reflect.
  • Commitment: this includes follow through, determination, passion, and work ethic.

Last but certainly not least, flexibility is one of the skills you need for effective leadership that is most important as mishaps and last minute changes happen often. Adaptability is critical in being an effective leader.