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small business, sop creation, Standardized Process, virtual assistant services

Best Customer Service Practices for Your Business

If you’re looking to provide value, retain customers, present business value, or reduce employee turnover, you must provide exceptional customer service to your customers. It is not only the business owner’s responsibility to focus on customer service, but the responsibility of the entire team. Customer service is especially important for small businesses as you are working hard to gain new customers and keep them coming back. Have you ever walked into a retail store or a restaurant and the staff seems to be miserable and is not at all eager to cater to your needs? How likely is it that you will return to this establishment or leave them a good review? Not very likely. As business professionals, we need to ensure that all our customers receive the utmost respect and care, as they are the reason we are still in business and we would like them to continue doing business with us. Surveys actually show that customers claim that they are willing to spend more with businesses that provide a positive service interaction. We’ve gathered some tips that will help you consistently provide excellent customer service and will allow you to exceed your customers’ expectations.

Know your product/service:

In order to sell your product or service, you need to be familiar with and have an expansive knowledge of it. If a customer comes to you with a concern or doubt, you must be able to discuss features and give valid insight into the product or service. It’s your job to upsell and provide value to your customer. As a business owner, it is important to keep in mind that you have the ability to offer a solution to a given problem. Make it your goal to know the ins and outs of your product or service so that your customer chooses your business instead of your competitors. However, avoid making any false promises or guarantees. We want to make sure we are always being genuine and truthful with our customers. 

Be Present and Attentive:

This is arguably the most essential part of customer service. In this day and age, we live in a very fast-paced environment. That being said, when a customer is left waiting for a response or doesn’t receive attention in a timely manner, it is unlikely that you will be their preferred choice in business. Whether it is in person or online, you must remain attentive to your customers at all times. Taking hours to respond via phone, email or social media might lead to the customer looking for other options. We want our customers to know that we value their time and preference. That being said, place focus not only on responding quickly but also on resolving any issues they may have in a timely manner. 

Keep a Positive Attitude:

The golden rule applies to customer service. Treat your customers the way you would like to be treated, with respect. Your attitude is everything and we never want to come across as rude or dismissive to our customers. It is inevitable that we will come across difficult or sassy customers. However, we cannot allow this to affect how we treat our customers. When a customer is perceiving our attitude in person, it is important that we keep a positive tone of voice, proper body language, and an inviting facial expression. This is much more difficult to present when communicating online with a customer. Consequently, we must go the extra mile when handling customers online. Always use positive language and focus on what you CAN do for the customer as opposed to what we CANNOT do for them. Make sure to always thank your customer for doing business with you. 

It is no secret that customer service should be a top priority for you and your team. Consider monitoring the communication styles of your employees to make sure all your customers are being treated equally and fairly. Listen to the feedback you receive from customers and adjust your customer service communication styles accordingly. Direct communication with customers can sometimes be difficult if the customer isn’t cooperative or understanding. Remain patient and trust in your ability to be the solution to their problems.

Implementation, SOP, Standardized Process

Why Companies Need an SOP Process

Picture this: You’ve opened up the business of your dreams. Everything seems to be running smoothly, but as you progress and grow, you will slowly be changing the procedures and guidelines in your workplace. New employees will flow in and out. Through this process, it is important to maintain a formalized process in order to improve efficiency and productivity for your business.

While you may have confidence in your team, it is essential to keep everyone on the same page when taking on daily tasks. So, how can you keep your business running like a well oiled machine? If you don’t already have Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), you may want to consider implementing them. 

What are SOP’s?

They are documented processes that a business puts into place to ensure tasks and daily activities are executed properly and efficiently by all team members. SOPs can be in the form of written out steps that highlight, in depth, the procedures and expectations that are to be delivered consistently. SOPs for all businesses will vary in regulations and operations, but ultimately, the goal is to keep your growing company running smoothly as is undergoes industry changes and development.

So why do you need SOPs and how can you get started? We’ve gathered a few reasons why your company can benefit from Standard Operating Procedures and our favorite app for adapting this business tool. 

Produce Results

To have a successful business it is important to remain consistent. In order to do so, SOPs can help your team members follow standardized procedures that will yield better results and lower risk of error. Considering every person works and learns differently, having the same guidelines and regulations set in place for everyone to learn will increase the chances of tasks being performed correctly. 

Better Employee Training 

When new employees have a detailed guide for success, this will make the training process and management of new hires much smoother. While learning through experience is beneficial, having the knowledge of how to properly deliver results can heighten confidence and improve ability to accomplish tasks with little error. 

Find Flaws 

When testing your procedures through SOPs, you open the door for improvement. As you are always working hard to improve your business, by laying out your procedures for others to follow, you can pin point what adjustments you need to make in order to keep your business running productively. 

Trainual

An amazing tool that can get you and your team started with Standardized Operating Procedures is Trainual. Trainual is an amazing tool for gathering all your SOPs and having them be easily accessible to your team. With a variety of templates and widgets, simplifying your standardized procedures is quick and easy. Here at Life By Design, our team members are skilled in designing SOPs for all business types.

Don’t know where to start or what SOPs you may need? Let us help you get started. Contact us HERE.

Digital Marketing, Goal Setting, time management

Time Management Skills To Grow Your Business as a Fitness Instructor

Time management, for all business owners, is about being productive while simultaneously being proactive. Doing more does not necessarily mean you’re being more productive with your time. Fitness instructors have a lot on their hands. You must be active and efficient with your time on a day-to-day basis. Considering how active you are, you may start to feel burned out from being so busy. Interacting with your community can take up a lot of your time. Whether that time is taken up answering emails, phone calls, or setting up personal sessions, you may want to get some of that time back. We have some great tips for how you can properly manage your time as a fitness instructor. 

As a fitness instructor, you like to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle, but this also includes taking care of yourself and having daily, weekly, and monthly goals set for yourself and what you would like to achieve. So one of the most important things you can do to manage your time wisely is by establishing those goals for yourself.

Make a list of all the tasks you have to do and schedule them out evenly on a calendar throughout the week or month. This will help you visualize all the things you want to achieve without overwhelming yourself each day. 

Next, to get into your new routine, you must stay strict with your time and yourself. It can be easy for us to fall into habits of procrastination. But stay disciplined and focus on using your time wisely and efficiently during the times you have planned for your business. By knowing and planning what you have to do during each time window during your day will help you avoid procrastination. There are also a variety of health and self-awareness apps that can aid you in curbing your procrastination periods. Some of our favorites include Focus@Will, Focus To Do, and Rescue Time. 

Limit technology. Unfortunately, it can oftentimes be very difficult to release ourselves completely from technology. Especially in a business, technology is how we connect with our communities, customers, and potential clients. However, making an active effort to avoid social media, emails, and texts when you are trying to stay focused can be very useful when managing your time. When working on high-priority tasks, you want to avoid all distractions. So switch off those phones and TVs to get things done quickly, so you can get back to doing what you love. 

Prioritize your time. If you’re a fitness instructor, you are constantly active and on the move. At times, this can become very overwhelming. Taking care of yourself, others and your business can be a heavy workload. It is important to prioritize balancing your time throughout the week. Always remember to focus on what works best for you, your work schedule and personal schedule.

Attraction Marketing, Digital Marketing, Marketing

Stand Out From the Crowd in Your Business

As business owners and leaders, it is important that we build trusting and strong relationships with our existing customers and new customers. We want loyal customers to keep coming back and interested customers to consider us. Relationship marketing is a subset of customer relationship management or CRM. Relationship marketing focuses on long-term customer engagement that can eventually lead to customer acquisition and sales increase The goal of relationship marketing is to build strong relationships that go beyond a single transaction with our company. A customer may be interested in your product or service at the time of purchase, but how can you build a connection that will keep them coming back and staying loyal to your company? We’ve gathered a few tips and tricks you can follow to build a strong relationship marketing strategy.

  1. E-Commerce 

Having a webpage where customers can go to learn more information and feel part of your organization is a great way to build a relationship with them. For example, if fitting, your website could include a section where customers can create a user profile that saves their information for the next time they visit your site. This will allow you to tailor the information on the platform to their needs and also track customer activity. 

  1. Customer Service

It is no secret that as consumers we always want to receive high-quality customer service. When you are on the phone with a company from which you are in need of service for a problem, you want to be understood. Customers appreciate when employees are kind, enthusiastic, and empathetic to their needs. A customer who is consistently impressed by your customer service will more than likely be more loyal to you.

  1. That Extra Touch

A major part of relationship marketing is going beyond your customer’s expectations. Let’s say you are the owner of a small retail store. What’s expected of your business is good customer service, an online platform, and the newest trends. However, there are some extra touches you can add to keep customers interested and loyal. Consider starting a rewards program or an email list for loyal customers to receive special deals or free gifts on their birthday. Showing your appreciation for customer loyalty will help you gain new customers and keep loyal customers happy. Even sending birthday wishes through email or thank you cards can be a small detail the customer will truly appreciate. 

  1. Hold customer events 

A great way to build brand awareness and find or retain customers is by hosting events where you can connect and build a community for your customers. For example, the popular athleisure brand “Lululemon” holds sponsored events where their customers can enjoy workout sessions while connecting with other people in the community. This strategy is perfect for interacting one-on-one with your consumer base. It is important that your consumers see you and get to know the face behind the brand. 

Running a business is not simply about transactional marketing where you only focus on increasing the number of sales. To build a lasting customer base, you must think about long-term strategies such as relationship marketing. If you’re unsure about where to start, consider reaching out to a Virtual Assistant to help you kickstart the process. 

Digital Marketing, Goal Setting, Marketing, Social Media Marketing

How Coaches Can Sell More Courses

Whether you are a business leadership coach, a motivational coach, life coach, fitness coach, or one of the many other types of coaches out there, there are people who want your expertise and skills. Take advantage of online courses as a form of selling your knowledge. As an entrepreneur, you want to share your success with others so that they can learn and succeed as well. However, you may run into dry spells where you find it difficult to continuously sell your courses. As a coach, your goal should be to consistently find new clients to share your intellect with. We have some tips for coaches on how to sell more courses. 

Podcasting:

A current and popular trend right now is podcasting. Podcasts are great for driving authority in your specific niche. Whether you lead your own podcast or join an existing podcast as a guest, participating in podcasts expands your reach in clients as you are able to reach people within your niche. It may be to your benefit to reach out to podcasters in your niche and ask about being a guest. 

Social Media:

There is no question that social media marketing is one of the best methods to get the word out about your coaching courses. With over 3.96 billion people actively using social media, advertising your courses through platforms such as Linked In, Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok is an effective way to gain attention and customers. Identify where your target audience is most engaged and link relevant content and promote your courses on these platforms. 

Online Communities:

Another great method for raising awareness and selling your courses is through online groups, more specifically, Facebook groups. Facebook is a great platform for finding communities within your niche. You can begin by starting your own Facebook group related to your courses where you provide snippets and incite on your expertise. Here, you can engage and communicate with clients directly and share updates. An important part of these groups, however, is consistency. Make a point to be active in the group by posting a few times a day. This will make your group stand out amongst others. As you begin to build a community, make sure to take advantage of the platform to sell your courses and provide value. 

Choose the proper platform for your course:

Now that you have integrated yourself into the online community of your niche, you need to focus on the course itself. Make sure to always provide high-quality videos with high-quality editing. Next, your course needs to be easily accessible to your customers. You can host your course on your own website or you can consider third-party platforms. A marketplace platform can host your courses for a fee and allow you to customize your branding. Some examples of a marketplace platform you might want to consider utilizing are Masterclass and Udemy. 

The selling of your course can be time consuming. Don’t get overwhelmed. This is the perfect opportunity to allow a virtual assistant to take care of these back end tasks that will help grow your business. Delegate and hire a VA to handle your social media, schedule podcast interviews, and upload your courses to your marketing platform. 

Digital Marketing, Marketing, small business, virtual assistant services

Using Business Psychology as a Marketing Strategy

As a business owner or business professional, an important question to ask yourself is why certain professionals and businesses are more controlled, productive, enthusiastic and successful than others? The answer is simple, basic business psychology and organizational behavior. Business psychology (also referred to as organizational psychology) is an applied science that uses a focus on human behavior to evaluate how an organization and its employees can implement strategies to increase engagement and drive profits. As business professionals, it is valuable to utilize valuable  team building, leadership, efficiency, innovation, and positive thinking techniques in order to establish a successful business. How can we do this? Here are three useful techniques to improve workplace wellbeing. 

  1. Team building

Collaborating and working together as a team can be the key to fortifying your organization. After all, a business is not a one man job. Encouraging cooperation and group effort will create value in the workplace. Consider implementing monthly group meetings where all team members participate in team building exercises. As team members build stronger relationships, they are able to work more effectively as a team. Additionally, encourage communication amongst your team members. As a leader in an organization, it is important to provide a safe space for team members to be able to communicate any conflict or issues within the organization.  It is useful to embrace an open-door policies to encourage communication and trust

  1. Develop and Implement Workplace Strategies

Once any conflict or issues have been addressed, the next step is to improve engagement, increase teamwork, enhance communication and create a more productive and successful workforce. It is beneficial to implement training programs, HR policies, employee and manager coaching, and performance evaluation. Once implementing new policies and programs, evaluate its effectiveness and continue to monitor how employees respond.

  1. Emotion over Intellect

A valuable tool to utilize in marketing your business is valuing emotional appeals over intellectual ones. By marketing how your product or service can benefit the consumer’s life in a worthwhile way, you will yield more significant results. How the consumer feels about your product or service directly impacts sales and profitability. Linking your service or product with positive feelings will improve brand identity and increase brand loyalty. Most importantly, make sure you are doing extensive research on what associations will generate positive responses from your consumer base and demographic. What positive aspect and reward can your customer receive by investing in your product or service?

Remember, a business is not simply about logistics. “To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace,” according to Doug Conant, former Campbell Soup Company CEO. Be mindful of the workplace environment you create. Your team is your best asset, so ensure they are working well together in order to increase efficiency. Implement workplace strategies that improve organizational behavior. Finally, don’t forget about the customer, analyze what they are looking for from you and execute marketing techniques that speak to their emotions.

Digital Marketing, executive assistant, Goal Setting, small business, time management

How Time Blocking Can Grow Your Business and Cut Your Hours

As a small business owner and entrepreneur, you are more than likely thinking about how you can maximize your time and still grow your business as much as possible. Time blocking is the answer in many of these instances. With this not-so-new technique, you can successfully plan every hour of your week so that nothing slips through the cracks. There are time blocking apps and weekly planners with time blocking grids. You can use your Outlook calendar or your Google calendar, no time blocking software necessary, or use intricate programs that schedule your tasks automatically. This time management method allows you to keep track of your task management and stay focused.

By setting boundaries, buffering your time, and blocking out time to work on your tasks you can retake control of your day. It’s also good to think about your obstacles so you can plan for them. Does your client always call at the same time during the week? Make a note of it on your calendar and plan for that interruption. Maybe that means you work on items that don’t require much brain power or focus because you know the client will inevitably call during this time. Notice the patterns in your day so you can make a plan.

Here are some interesting statistics on where our time goes:

  • We spend ten minutes every day searching for lost items, from books and phones to car keys and even the cars themselves. 
  • 3,680 hours or 153 days is spent searching for stuff, over our lifetimes.
  • Office workers waste an average of 30% of their workday looking for information

You have a limited supply of energy, focus and will power. And the distractions don’t help. Allowing interruptions and less important tasks to take up your time is a recipe for disaster. It takes on average 25 minutes to get back to a task after a distraction

Where do I begin? Here is a simple way to get started.

Create a new spreadsheet that has the days of the week across the top and the hours, from the time you wake up until you go to bed, down the left hand side. 

Fill in recurring events.

Fill in anything that reoccurs from day to day or week to week. These could be meetings, recurring tasks, networking events, work hours etc.  You can now fill in the blank spots with chores, you time, and hanging out with your family.

One of the easiest ways to make it feel like you have more time in your day is to group like tasks together.  Plan a specific day for errands.  Define a laundry day and a shopping day.  Don’t feel like you have to do this all on the weekends.  Laundry can be done while watching your favorite shows mid-week or you can run errands after work on your way home.

At the end of the day, if you feel stressed and feel like you do not have time for things you enjoy, time blocking may work for you. If this technique does not, a virtual assistant from Life by Design can take on any tasks you just don’t have time to do.

Digital Marketing, Goal Setting, Marketing, Social Media Marketing

Best Practices for Marketing in a Digital World

In today’s digital world, there is no reason a small business can’t thrive. By utilizing the many avenues of digital marketing in efficient ways you will be able to connect with over 4 billion internet users as well as generate consistent clients and revenue. We have put together the top marketing tips for small businesses.

  • Social media allows entrepreneurs, small businesses and influencers to connect with over 3.4 billion users in a nanosecond. This completely free technology is unmatched in the digital marketing space as you can find your ideal clients very easily. The most important aspect to this is time. Utilizing social media scheduling apps you can ensure posts are consistent and less time consuming in the long run. Researching hashtags that are appropriate for your niche can lead you to long term success. Consistent activity, appropriate hashtags, and communication are the most important ways to get the most out of your efforts in this space.
  • Know your customer. Finding and focusing on your ideal client base is key for success in any space, whether it be digitally or brick and mortar based. For example, if you have a nutrition business, you most likely don’t want to find clients that are looking for general contractors.(Unless you do, that’s fine too!) Look at who your posts/emails/and blogs are attracting and you can adjust your approach from there.
  • Focus on the long term. Where do you want your business to be in one month? One year? Five years? By setting appropriate and adequate milestones for marketing, you can make this time a little less cumbersome. Set and write down short and long term goals in an area you see regularly (be it an office space, calendar, or fridge!). This will keep goals in your mind and encourage you to actively work towards them.
  • Remain consistent in design when launching a campaign. Making sure all marketing spaces apply the same design aesthetic shows consistency and will let current as well as potential clients find you more easily. This simple tip will also look more professional and trustworthy. Try to use the same (or similar) colors and fonts in graphics, on your webpage, business cards and logo.
  • Develop Email Campaigns. On average, email marketing returns $44 for every $1 spent – that’s a 4,400% return of investment (ROI). You can bring more money and return customers to your business with the right emails – but what are the best emailing practices? To encourage return visits to your website, you should set up automated responses to thank customers after they subscribe or make a purchase. Consumers like to feel appreciated, with ‘welcome’ emails boasting an average open rate of 82%. A drip campaign needs to add value without spamming. Make sure the emails you create are of value. The marketplace pays for value. Everyone likes to buy, but no one wants to be sold. Keep the sales pitch out of it. Effective marketing tells the prospect WIIFM. (What’s in it for me?, meaning the prospect) What’s in it for your prospect? How will it bring them value?

As with anything, there is a learning curve and a development time. Patience and planning will ensure your long and short term business goals are being met. If at any time you need help with digital marketing for your small business, Life by Design Virtual Assistant Services is here for you. Our virtual assistant staff specializes in all aspects of digital marketing from graphic design to blog writing to email marketing, and much more.

Digital Marketing, executive assistant, Goal Setting, virtual assistant

Virtual Assistant Must-Haves for Saving Time and Money

When you first decide to start your Virtual Assistant business there are so many questions to ask yourself, one of the biggest being “What applications can I use to maximize my functionality as well as keep things cost effective?” As you’ve probably figured out by now, there are a ton of options out there for everything from time tracking to project management and everything in between. It can seem like a daunting task to learn them all and find out which work best for your business. Luckily for you, we have narrowed down the top applications for 2021.

Top Project Management App:

  • Infinity.  Infinity is a task tracking application with a multitude of uses. As one of the more cost effective project management programs, it allows you all the functionality of the top names for a better price tag. With packages including anywhere from 1 to 30 workspaces, and anywhere from 50GB to 5000GB of storage, it is sure to fit any VA’s needs. Not only is it practical for your wallet, Infinity easily integrates with other top platforms such as Clockify and Trello. The best part about Infinity is you pay once and have access forever, no monthly or annual payments. You can check it out here. https://startinfinity.com/pricing 

Top Time Tracking App:

  • Toggl. Toggl brings time tracking to a whole new level. It is perfect for those just starting out as freelancers as well as companies with large teams. The time tracker itself is completely free to use, allows for multiple projects to be tracked simultaneously, and is very very user friendly.  The time tracker as well as report generation can be easily accessed via web browser or mobile app, and reports can be generated as a pdf or csv file based on any time period, project or client making it easy to share with your clientele. 

Top Messaging App:

  • Flock. Flock is our pick for the top messaging application for any small business. While it has a very similar structure and functionality to other messaging platforms, it is free to use for 1-20 members, making it ideal for those first starting out. This version also includes 1:1 video calling, searchable messages, 5GB of storage, and unlimited 1:1 and group messages per team. 

Top Scheduling App:

  • Acuity Scheduling. Acuity stands alone as my favorite scheduling application for every business both large and small. Starting at a very practical price for one location (and up to 36 for its top package), it works seamlessly with a multitude of other programs such as Zoom, Wix, Mailchimp, Quickbooks, etc. The only caveat is that it can take some time to learn all of the functions available to you. 

Top Video Conferencing App:

  • Zoom. I think, by now, we have all heard of and used Zoom in some fashion as it has become the premiere video conferencing app for both business and personal use. As with the other applications mentioned, it was chosen based on its functionality for both large and small businesses making it perfect for freelancers. 

Top Video Recording App:

  • Loom. As with Zoom, Loom is a video chat app. However, we love it in particular for its function as a recording app making it easy to create training videos and communicate with clients on your own time. A top criteria for this list was cost effectiveness and Loom doesn’t disappoint with its free version

As a new Virtual Assistant, we suggest sticking to necessary applications that will be utilized for your current clients along with a time tracking application such as Toggl. As you continue to learn and expand your business, you can take advantage of free trials to learn more about them and hone your skill set to maximize your potential!

blogging, businessbuildingstrategies, Digital Marketing, Marketing, small business, virtual assistant, virtual assistant services

Why You Need A Blog For Your Business

With the ever-changing styles of marketing methods, it is hard to keep up with what the best techniques are for growing your business.  Blogging can be one of the most effective ways to increase brand awareness while simultaneously providing useful information to your target audience.

Now more than ever it is important for small businesses to have an online presence. Being a consistent blogger can take your business further than you thought possible. Content is still king when it comes to online business building. Consistent content on your social media channels, through email marketing, and through blogging can greatly increase your visibility online. Here are a few reasons why you may want to consider adding a blog to your business’ website.

1. It helps your audience know what is going on in your business: If you want to build customer loyalty and keep happy customers coming back, you’re going to need to keep them updated. Having a blog can work as a great tool to keep your customers in the loop. A blog will help also your customers relate to you on a more personal level, as they are able to give you feedback and have direct communication with you. You’ll keep the old customers coming back and new customers eager to learn more.

2. SEO boost: A great boost to SEO is increasing the outflow of fresh content, relevant topics and engagement. When you write blog posts consistently, this will generate traffic to your business. By utilizing relevant key words and creating new content, you are heightening your chances of appearing more frequently in search engines. Blogging is one of the most inexpensive ways you can increase SEO.

3. Build an email database: Email marketing is still a very important tool you can utilize to keep new and old customers updated. However, many customers are reluctant to sign up because they don’t enjoy spam mail. A blog, however, can build credibility and likability for your brand. If people enjoy your content, they are more likely to sign up for your newsletters. The main goal is to build trust between you and your consumers.

4. Pass Along Effect: If you are releasing valuable information that people enjoy reading, odds are they will want to share this information with others. A blog can highlight valuable information that relates to your niche. Once one person enjoys it, they are more likely to pass it on to others who share the same interests, therefore bringing attention to your business.  

If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to add a blog to your website today and start posting. If you don’t have the time, or the desire to, we can help! That’s one of the services Life By Design Virtual Services offers to business owners. We can write and schedule content as often as you’d like. Reach out and schedule your free consultation today to see if we are a good fit!