Informative Articles to Grow Your Business
Call today 800.525.1315
0 comments | Posted by: Terri on February 18, 2013 | Categories:
Have you taken a look at your business website lately? If you were a potential client, would your website instill a sense of confidence in your services? These are the questions Darryl Parker, of Parker Web, asks when maintaining and updating websites for small- to medium-sized businesses.
Originally starting out in 2002 building websites from scratch, Darryl and his team realized they would have to change with the times if they were going to continue being successful. “A significant reduction in project work during the 2008 recession had us looking at our company in a new light,” says Darryl. “Although we were already taking on web maintenance work, it was not our priority. As we developed the processes and systems around website maintenance, and built an even larger client base, we found we offered some unique value to the marketplace.”
Parker Web is now fully focused on web maintenance services with a focus on eCommerce operations. Below, Darryl gives advice on ensuring your business has a competitive website, emphasizes the importance of customer service and shares his prediction on the future of web browsing:
What are your recommendations for people wanting to keep their websites fresh and up-to-date? What should they be looking for?
My number one and most often overlooked tool in the website kit is the use of traffic analytics. We highly recommend Google Analytics. Even a cursory, uneducated review of the stats once a month or so is bound to turn up information that would be useful to you and your online business efforts.
Secondly, I recommend determining a path to make your website operationally-integrated into your business. This could be as simple as appointment-setting or bill payments or as complex as a ticketing system or online order-tracking. The web can quickly become the most valuable resource in your business if you look beyond marketing and develop an operational perspective on its use.
Finally, web credibility is a concept with which every small business owner should familiarize themselves. Most buying decisions today are Internet-influenced. If you meet someone at a networking event or at the Chamber of Commerce or even go on a sales call, you can bet they will come to your website and make a determination if you are credible or not.
You seem to put as much emphasis on customer service as you do technological know-how. Which is more important, and how do you maintain a good balance between the two?
Our customers tend to not be web-savvy, and they’re the first to admit it. They’ve hired us to be the web-savvy part of their operation. We gain and keep customers because we don’t fall into tech-speak or take an aloof approach to their needs. We realized very early on in our transition that web developers lacking in quality customer service were not a good fit for the customer experience we wanted to provide. I’m very happy to say we’ve made customer service priority number one by focusing on timely and knowledgeable communications and providing guarantees like our “Two Business Days or Less” service level agreement.
How do you see the increase of mobile web browsing, tablets and smartphones changing business websites in the future?
We’ve seen a marked increase in mobile device usage. In our own experience, our local B2B websites are averaging about 10% accesses through mobile devices and local B2C sites are seeing 25% or more. Due to the difference in screen resolutions, you must optimize the display of your site for traditional standards, even if you’re a small business. Failure to do so will have a rising impact on your perceived credibility as a business.
Check out www.parkerweb.com for more information on Parker Web and their web maintenance services. Need an idea for making your website operationally-integrated? Check out our appointment-taking and webchat services!
0 comments | Posted by: Terri on November 27, 2012 | Categories:
We’ve all heard of the importance of first impressions. Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne, in a Psychology Today article, states “The first thing you learn about someone influences everything else you learn about that person.” Meaning, the first impression you make with a client is extremely important, as it’ll ripple across every other interaction you’ll have with them. With this in mind, men and women in business devote massive amounts of time and energy to appearance—such as grooming and body language—in an effort to convey an air of confidence and trustworthiness to customers.
Surprisingly, not as much effort is extended towards the customers whose first point of contact is a phone call. In the 2012 Customer Tipping Point Survey by ClickFox, 54% of customers were said to lash out after a bad customer service experience by complaining to friends and family. Separate studies show the opinions of friends and family hold more sway than any marketing tool the cleverest ad executive could think up. One bad 30-second phone call could cost you not only the caller’s business, but the business of everyone in that caller’s social sphere.
Below are three tips to ensure your over-the-phone first impression is the equivalent of a nice suit and warm smile:
We humans are perceptive creatures. Amy Cuddy, of Harvard Business School, discovered that when meeting someone for the first time, we gauge two characteristics: trustworthiness and confidence. And trustworthiness trumps confidence in importance. We can typically tell, even if it’s on a subconscious level, when someone is being authentic. Say what you mean and don’t make promises you can’t keep. Honesty goes a long ways with today’s media-savvy consumers.
A calm, confident tone of voice is the firm handshake of telecommunication. Your tone of voice is responsible for 38% of the way your words are interpreted. An assertive, engaged tone will tell your callers you’re an authority, while a bored monotone will make your customers feel you’ve no interest in helping. Eliminate filler words, such as “um,” “ah” or “like,” and avoid letting your voice go up at the end of a statement, making it sound like a question. Try recording your voice and playing it back. It may surprise you.
Focus on the caller
In all this effort to make the best first impression possible, it’s easy to focus solely on what you’re saying and how you sound. But remember, it’s not about you. It’s about the customer’s experience in that moment. Practice the above tips until they’re second nature, and use the phone call to make your customer feel they’re the center of your attention. Listen to and absorb what they’re saying. When it comes down to it, all any customer really wants is to be heard.
Our AnswerConnect virtual receptionists have the first impression thing down pat. Often, we’re the first point of contact between a company and their customers, and it’s up to us to decide if the impression we give on behalf of the company is a great one or a mediocre one. We’re experts at making sure it’s the best one. How do you ensure your callers get a great first impression? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!
0 comments | Posted by: Terri on November 13, 2012 | Categories:
Hurricane Sandy has come and gone, but the effects of the largest recorded Atlantic hurricane continue to ripple throughout the United States. Here at AnswerConnect, our virtual receptionists have been fielding calls left and right for insurance agencies, renovation companies, disaster-response teams and other recovery-related companies as both businesses and homeowners begin the process of recovering from the devastating storm.
In the aftermath of disaster, good customer service isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Many of the callers we’ve been helping are exhausted, stressed and in desperate need of a friendly voice. Below are three techniques our associates use to ensure every customer feels they’re getting the best care during a difficult time:
Empathy is the foundation of good customer service anytime; it’s importance is magnified during a crisis. Keep in mind, those few minutes you spend with each customer is just a snapshot of their day. You can’t really know what they’ve been dealing with before they’ve crossed your path, but you can use that brief moment of contact as an opportunity to offer understanding and support. Your patience will make an impression.
Tone of Voice
When a frantic customer calls with a rushed tone of voice, it’s a knee-jerk reaction to match their pace. Awareness of that reflex is half the battle. Try to keep your voice even and measured instead, striking a balance somewhere between calm and efficient. Too soothing may come across as patronizing, make sure you still convey you understand the urgency of the situation.
Outline a Plan
Depending on your role, you may not be in a position to be able to fulfill customer’s request right away. But this doesn’t mean you can’t help them. Tell them what you can do, even if it’s something as small as making sure their information gets to the right person. More often than not, letting them know exactly what you will do, and the outcome they can expect, will offer much needed reassurance. Most importantly, make sure you follow through with your plan. There’s no quicker way to lose trust than by not keeping your word.
AnswerConnect saw a significant increase in call volume as many of our East Coast clients evacuated their offices over Halloween weekend. Our clients knew they could rely on us in their time of need, and rising to the call of duty was our pleasure. What other disaster recovery plans should companies have in place? Leave your comments below!
0 comments | Posted by: Terri on November 5, 2012 | Categories:
AnswerConnect has a very clear idea of what we want out of our tools. The apps we use, whether it be our live chat support, our customer relationship management system or our appointment-scheduling software, need to be fluid in order to both meet our constantly-improving standards and adapt to our clients’ changing needs. Rather than search for software that met this criteria, we came up with a better solution. Build our own.
Meet Maha. As a Technical Architect, Maha mentors the team of developers responsible for the innovative software behind our mobile apps, CRM, appointment-scheduler and several other utilities. Below, Maha answers some questions about the tools that keep AnswerConnect, and our clients, connected:
What are the advantages to AnswerConnect’s software being primarily cloud-based?
There are several advantages to using the cloud to power our software services. Our cloud-based solution is cost effective. Our customers can use our software without any upfront investment; there’s no hardware to buy or licensing fees to pay. Another advantage is less maintenance than local applications. With cloud services, there’s no need to maintain your software or download updates. We take care of all that! This frees our clients to focus on doing what they love.
It is becoming more and more important to be mobile, and our software lets clients use our services from just about anywhere. The flexibility allows our clients to think and work outside the traditional cubicle. Finally, cloud services are extremely scalable. Our products serve clients of all sizes very well.
How do you get feedback on your software?
We thrive on feedback! We use our feedback/task manager Looptodo to closely interact with the customers to make sure the products we deliver reach their needs. It’s an application enabled in all of our products to gather feedback from our customers. It’s made my life alot easier when it comes to meeting our customers’ needs!
What’s your favorite part of your job?
AnswerConnect is more than just an answering service! We’ve developed solutions for small- and medium-sized businesses with the goal of making work-life easier and more efficient. We offer appointment scheduling through SetMore, lead and customer management through our CRM solution, Distributed Source, and web chat with the help of Conversion Support. We would love to talk with you about how these products could help streamline your business!
0 comments | Posted by: Terri on October 29, 2012 | Categories:
The people of PureWaterGear see themselves as “Chief Evangelists” of their state-of-the-art filtration system, designed to filter water through everything from bottles to pitchers to shower heads. As Bob, CEO and founder of PureWaterGear, puts it, “What we do is a crusade, literally a God-given mission to impact humanity. The people we influence are people who understand the impact one filter can have in their lives.”
Bob is quick to emphasize PureWaterGear as more than just a storefront. A large portion of their proceeds are donated to charity, and their filtration products are a vital part of missionary trips world-wide. Below, Bob talks about the many misconceptions surrounding the bottled water industry and the satisfaction that comes from bringing clean drinking water to those who need it most:
How did you come up with this idea, what was that “a-ha!” moment?
Every 1.7 seconds another person dies from a water-borne illness. In some parts of the world, people walk miles to get to water (that’s not necessarily clean). Oftentimes, donated wells become overtaken by militants or pirates who charge local villagers fees to access the water. It’s because of these things, and hundreds of others, that I began on this path. The only way to solve these issues is PureWaterGear’s individual filtration systems. Our products allow these people to turn any water source into a reliable clean water source. People don’t realize how important water is until they travel abroad. PureWaterGear is the safest most reliable way to consume water on any continent, bar none.
What are some common misconceptions regarding bottled water?
One of the most common misconceptions about bottled water is that it’s good for you. Granted, the idea of choosing water over a soft drink is well-intended, but its execution is the crux of whether it’s truly a good decision. Bottled water has practically no FDA regulation when it comes to quality. Oftentime the bottles are filled with tap water. Even if the water is from a virgin aquifer from the Fijian or Hawaiian islands, by the time the consumer gets it the water has likely transformed into a toxic soup filled with chemicals like benzene and BPA due to plastic leaching.
Drinking water is vital to sustaining life. Up to 80% of the human body is comprised of water. It’s crucial you drink clean, contaminant-free water. In order for your body to utilize the water you drink, it has to remove any toxins that you may have ingested while drinking the water. As we say here at PureWaterGear: Use a filter or be a filter.
How much of an environmental impact does PureWaterGear make?
PureWaterGear makes a tremendous impact on eliminating plastic pollution. One PureWaterGear bottle will effectively eliminate 500 single-use plastic bottles. Over 65 million plastic bottles are disposed improperly on any given day of the week. If everyone used a PureWaterGear bottle, we could literally eliminate improper disposal of single-use plastic water bottles.
Tell us more about the Nourish a Life Program.
nour·ish [nur-ish, nuhr-] – verb (used with object)
1. To sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life,
health, and growth.
2. To cherish, foster, keep alive, etc.
3. To strengthen, build up, or promote.
Our goal with Nourish a Life is to follow the above definition as our personal and corporate mission. Whether it is supplying international mission-based groups with safe water filtration bottles for use in their travels, supplying them to distribute to the people they are ministering to overseas, or taking care of people close to home–the homeless, underprivileged & children. Doing our job to impact others with the tools we have.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of the this crusade is watching people’s eyes go wide-open when they understand what’s in our water, what’s in the bottles they use and how simple it is to fix it. No matter where I am, it seems like someone comes up to me and asks me “What’s that?“ about my PureWaterGear bottle. Meeting new people and making an impact, sharing the passion and mission without question makes every day worth it.
To find out more about PureWaterGear products or their charitable programs, visit their website or email Bob@PureWaterGear.com.