What time is it in this global village?

advantage of hiring virtual assistanceRemote support was pretty much non-existent 25 years ago. Facebook didn’t exist 20 years ago. Times, they are a’changing…

Remote work has grown in popularity over the last 5-10 years and more so with the pandemic we’ve been dealing with the past 2+ years, it’s become a necessity. The Internet and evolving technology drive the ability for remote support workers to be just that: “remote”.  That can mean being remote locally or remote internationally; it can mean telecommuting for employees or freelancing as a contractor from anywhere on the planet for clients anywhere on the planet. The world has become larger and smaller at the same time: larger because remote working can easily tap into new markets around the world and increase competition (which can be a good thing); smaller because it takes less time and cost to do so.

It wasn’t too long ago that the average person didn’t know too much about video meetings or needed an international calling plan. Today, companies are expanding their enterprises globally without ever leaving their hometown; hiring remote employees who are local to new markets gives enterprise an edge. While this can be a very cost-effective way to conduct business, it takes more than just hiring people to work for you; it takes a thorough review of all factors that come into play for all stakeholders. It’s important to know the legal and accounting aspects of these relationships as well as being mindful of language barriers of both employees and clients.

Even in spite of the pandemic, the world is open for new opportunities.  With ever-evolving technology and lower costs to connect, open your mind to the endless possibilities that are happening around the world and around the clock.

Customer Loyalty :: a study in opposites

gift “Before the pandemic, I was making arrangements for my summer holiday to the U.K.  Among those many arrangements and bookings I had to make, two stood out in my mind – each of which are a great example of customer loyalty, how to build it and how to lose it quickly.

The first experience was with a large, well known mail order firm in the U.S. I had purchased travel clothing for my trip and not everything fit well so I had to return a few things. The return slip was easy to complete and advise what I wanted done with the returned items.

Rather than me hunting all over the house for a copy of their catalogue, they included one with the order so it would be easy to find substitutions if I wanted. They included a pre-printed return label within its own folded card with instructions. These few easy to do steps made the return of the clothing really easy and hassle free to the extent that I just had to fill in the sender address on the label, tape up the box and drop off at my local post office. It was almost a joy to return the things I didn’t want. Will I purchase from them again? Absolutely!

The other experience was with a tour operator for an excursion of a now well-known castle in Britain. I had made the booking back in March and I was so happy that the date was available as it was going to be one of my last days in Britain – I really lucked out! I was so looking forward to it even though it was 6 months away.

In May, I received a notice by email that my booking was cancelled and asked what other date would I like to choose? I replied by saying it was the only date I was available for the tour and requested that my money be refunded. I waited a week and sent them a reminder. A couple of days after that, they requested my PayPal account address. A week later I checked my account and there was considerably less money in my account than the original amount I paid. There was no explanation by email for the difference. I researched their website to see if there was a cancellation policy, none to be found. I emailed again advising what I had paid and what I had received as a refund and requested they remit the difference immediately. Will I purchase from them again? Absolutely not! Will I recommend them? Not a chance.

In both these situations, the return process is handled by using a few simple steps to keep the customer (me) happy and coming back. One of them has it perfected; the other has a lot to learn!

Do you have any customer loyalty examples to share that we can all learn from? Please comment and feel free to social share below. Thanks!

July down time: Cleaning up your brand image!

brand image tips

Our guest blogger is Loreto Cheyne of Lola Design.  Summer is a great time to work on your branding and marketing gear, getting ready for the busy 4th quarter…

After what seemed like an endless winter, summertime’s here, and that means joining colleagues at a patio, leaving the office early, and honing your BBQ skills. It’s a nice fantasy-but if you’re a business owner, it means if there’s any downtime, you’ll likely be catching up on the marketing projects you had hoped to tackle much earlier in the year.

You may not have days on end to devote to marketing catch-up. But if you can organize your projects and time, here’s three things that will let you communicate a little easier in the fall and have you ready for more marketing and networking:

1) Update your business cards. I’m always going on about the importance of your business cards, and with good reason. If social media is part of your marketing mix, be sure to have your contact info on your business card. You can:

  • add the actual URL (ex. www.linkedin.com/in/loretocheyne)
  • simply use the social media icon (blue “bird” for Twitter)
  • incorporate a QR code that when scanned takes readers to your blog.

2) Take a look at your marketing calendar and review major events coming in the fall. If you have a conference or a tradeshow you have already committed to, this is the time to do the prep work. If your tradeshow is October 1, don’t wait until September 25 to get your signage ready, or your rack cards, or sellsheets. Get ahead of the game now so you can do it right, proof properly and avoid rush charges. That way they are done, printed, and you can forget about them.

3)  Do a logo inventory. Is your logo still working hard for you? Because if it isn’t, now is the time to alter it, or completely redo it (not a week before your new ad campaign is launched). Find a designer you can work with (I will be glad to set up a consultation with you) and be sure to discuss your needs, likes, dislikes, deadlines and budget. Be realistic. Make sure your logo is created as a vector file, which will give you the most versatility over the long run (that’s an Illustrator .eps or .ai file).

These three marketing communication tips should give you plenty to fill up those pockets of “spare time” you may have this summer!

Loreto Cheyne is the principal and owner of Lola Design, an Ottawa-based graphic design studio. To book your complimentary consultation, email loreto@loladesign.ca

Website:www.loladesign.ca

Blog:www.loladesing.ca/blog

 

The Value of Black Goo

I was in denial. My driveway needed re-sealing for quite a few years and I was really hoping the night fairies would come and do it for me. Alas, no. A couple of summers ago, I thought I’d do it myself: get the bucket of black goo and the roller from the DIY store and spend time in 35C heat rolling said black goo on  my 2 cars wide and 2 cars long driveway. I never quite got around to it. I’m not a procrastinator but somehow I always managed to justify my lack of dedication to this part of home ownership.

About a month ago, a young man from 2 streets away knocked on my door and told me that he had a new business re-sealing driveways for the summer. He was studying accounting at university and thought this type of business venture would help him in school. (Great idea!)

I asked him how much to do the job and he said $195 tax in. I had to think about it – that’s quite a bit of money just to roll out a bucketful of black goo. I looked at my dismal driveway and thought woefully how long I had been putting off the task. I called him back to say that I would take him up on his offer. We scheduled the work for the following day.

My hero came over close to supper time the next day and while I was preparing the meal, I checked in on the progress by periodically going back and forth between the kitchen and the living room. The first thing I saw was him power spraying all the weeds out from between the driveway and the curb. I didn’t even think of that. The next trip to the living room I saw him power spraying the entire surface of the driveway. I would have swept the driveway; I didn’t even think of power spraying it. Then he taped off the entire perimeter of the driveway so that no black goo would get on the lawn. After that, he manually filled in all the cracks and holes (there were many). Only then did he roll out the black goo.

By the time he finished, that $195 was the best money I ever spent for value of work. Not only did he save me the labour of doing that type of work in the summer’s heat, he also provided value because he knew what he was doing. He’s done a lot of driveways and has a level of expertise that I will never have (nor wish to have). Sure, I could have done it, but outsourcing this task yielded much better quality results and freed up my time. Now I have this task off my to-do list.

There is value in everything we do, both personally and professionally; our expertise in what we do daily provides value to others.   What do you need help with in your daily life?  In my view, it’s worthwhile seeking out resources to help you get things done, things that you don’t know how to do, or have no wish to learn how to do, and free up your time on what matters most to you.  Agree? Disagree?

Say what?

Individuals with high EQ (emotional intelligence) are most likely to be strong, effective business #leaders. They realize that trusting relationships built on diplomacy and respect is the heart of both individual success and business #productivity.

Success in business is greatly impacted – for better or worse – by the way in which we communicate. Happiness in our personal lives is also greatly dependent on this very same skill. Becoming a good communicator takes practice. It requires consistent attention and effort on your part, and it is a skill that we cannot afford to overlook.

Dr. John Lund, a lead researcher in interpersonal #communication and an author in identification studies, conducted a significant part of research involved in identifying patterns of speech and differences in how men and women communicate.

There is no doubt that we can all benefit from Dr. Lund’s tips on how to better approach people when we begin a conversation, as well as his advice that we “don`t communicate to be understood; rather, communicate so as not to be misunderstood.”

Take a genuine interest in others. Really tune in to what the other person is saying and don’t think up questions while they’re talking. Think about what they’ve said, ask thoughtful questions and provide considerate answers. Always make an effort to remember names, dates and important life events. If you’re not good at this skill, keep practicing!

Being “liked” or having a “wonderful personality” are highly prized attributes, especially in today’s electronic environs. Supreme communicators also have a keen ability to shift gears when the context calls for it; they respond accordingly to what current situations require.

Good judgment is a key people-skill that comes directly from learning, listening to others and observing the world around you. It allows you to wisely select friends and associates, determine reactions and responses and make sound decisions.

To create trust and respect in others, people need to know that their point of view and feedback will be considered and used. Being known as someone who keeps an open mind also makes you more approachable and easier to work with.

The saying “honesty is the best policy” is not only true, it’s essential in building trust among your peers and clientele. Once it’s lost, it’s almost impossible to regain.

Did you know that when someone else communicates with us, the way we interpret their message is based on three things:

  • 55% is based on their facial expressions and their body language.
  • 37% is based on the tone of their voice.
  • 8% is based on the words they say.

Dr. Lund provides us with the above percentages which are the averages across both men and women together. If you looked at women alone they would even give greater weight to the facial expressions and body language and even less on the words. This tells us that it is critical that we become very self-aware of how our body language is speaking to others as well as the tone we use. A little test: next time you are on the phone look at yourself in the mirror to assess how your body language reacts to what you are actually saying. This will help you become more aware of how you are actually reacting to the conversation.