Customers are the lifeline of any business - big or small. That's why every organization today is working hard to acquire as many customers as it possibly can. But is that enough? Absolutely not.
With competition getting fiercer with every passing day, it's time for firms to look beyond widening their customer base. The need of the hour is to channelize their efforts towards retaining the acquired customers, which can turn out to be more beneficial in the long run.
This is where the customer support function comes in handy. Though most businesses don't realize it, this function plays a critical role in sustaining their connection with customers. Companies that provide good support services are able to provide customers with pleasant experiences that keep them coming back for more.
So how do you make sure that this happens? By using the right customer support tools that enhance your abilities and help you serve your customers in a better way.
In this article, we show you the best customer service tools you can use to meet the rising expectations of customers.
Here are eight tools for customer support that can help you sustain in this ever-evolving business ecosystem:
If you are a business owner, you need to keep tabs on the state of your business at all times. You need to know the strengths of your business and identify its areas of weakness. This knowledge helps you determine the course of action to take in order to propel your business towards the path of growth.
Strategy State is an affordable evaluation tool that enables you to analyze your business completely. When the evaluation is done right, devising the right strategies that bring in revenue and keeps you ahead of the competition becomes a lot easier. Knowing what is right and what's wrong, gives you an edge, when it comes to bringing an overall improvement in your business, or serving your customers in a better way.
The tool provides you with a detailed report showing your business score, areas that require improvement, and an action plan to take your business to the next level.
Pricing - starts at $87.
Feature-rich and powered by technology, ProProfs Knowledge Base Software is all you need to improve customer service in 2020. Its stellar features and smart settings work together to help you build an impressive self-help knowledge platform in minutes. Customers can use this platform to find answers to any questions they have about your firm, products, or services, without taking the pain to call or email your support staff.
The software is simple to use and highly customizable. It helps you on various fronts such as -
Pricing: starts at $0.
Many customers are opting to reach out to businesses via text rather than calls, and Podium is here to help you respond faster. A messaging tool with live chat features, Podium consolidates messages sent by customers through different messaging apps and brings them on a single dashboard. This ensures that your service teams do not miss out on anything.
The tool comes with simple features to facilitate smooth interactions between your support staff and customers.
Using this customer support tool, you can respond to queries, schedule appointments, and even close deals without keeping customers waiting on calls. By offering customers a convenient way to contact you, Podium also helps in generating leads and turning customers into your brand advocates.
Pricing: Price provided upon request
This is a customer support tool that enables you to capture customer feedback through simple feedback boards. The boards come with an integrated voting option to ensure you don't spend too much time preparing to gather customer feedback.
Using this tool, you can gather feedback from your team as well as customers from a single point. This makes it easy to understand what your customers and team members need and use the feedback to make improvements in your products or services. Feature Upvote is an excellent tool that helps you create feedback boards where your employees, as well as customers, can provide you relevant information, ideas, and feedback regarding your offerings.
Respondents are free to either upvote others or share their thoughts. You can then view the feedback and determine which ideas are most popular based on votes.
With social media becoming an integral part of people's lives, many customers are using different social media platforms to request help or ask questions. Often, such customers want to get responses as fast as possible, and that's they prefer social media over anything else.
A tool like Hootsuite can be of tremendous help in serving your customers on social media. Its smooth functionality combined by the unmatched social interaction and management features it offers, Hootsuite has got you covered as far as social media management is concerned. Leverage this tool to instantly find, schedule, manage and report content on social media.
Hootsuite helps you curate content, filter conversations via keywords, hashtags, and location of customers, monitor performance, and analyze results.
Pricing: $29 every month
Community forums are a great way of connecting customers with one another. When done correctly, these forums become spaces for demonstrating various product uses and sharing knowledge. Customers can exchange ideas, share best practices, and receive advice from other people who have used the same products.
If you know the positive impact that a community forum can bring on your customers, you must definitely invest in inSided. It's a great community forum tool that helps you provide customers with a central platform where they can share knowledge and get instant answers to any questions they have regarding your offerings.
It helps you gather customer feedback, know what they think of your product, the problems they are facing, and engage with them at a deeper level. Also, inSided combines community forum with in-app support and knowledge base, offering you a complete customer support package.
Pricing: Price provided upon request
Chat is the easiest way to reach out to a company, as opposed to calls or emails. So, it's crucial that you have a tool in place that helps you interact directly with your customers.
LiveAgent is one such tool that can be of immense help. Besides the live chat option, it offers you a ticketing system wherein customer requests coming from different channels are consolidated on a single dashboard, helping your staff resolve issues faster.
Comprising unmatched features and designed mainly for small teams, this tool uses the gamification approach to keep your customer support game on point. Your staff can score points and get rewarded once they complete a task, which motivates them to better their performance and give their cent percent when it comes to serving customers.
The tool is very simple, easy to use, and works on both desktop and mobile devices. On the back end, businesses can create profiles for individual service reps to offer customers more personalized experiences. Businesses that use this tool can monitor chats and identify those that generate sales.
Pricing: $39/month (all features included)
This customer support tool is great for businesses that want to give customers personalized experiences. Kustomer features a timeline that consolidates customer data into a single, simple report. This makes it easy for service teams to view customer history, including details on previous interactions and purchases.
With this data, service teams can personalize their interactions with customers and give them pleasant experiences. Kustomer is also designed to pool customer messages from different communication channels into a single conversation string. This gives customers and service reps a real omnichannel experience as they have the freedom to switch from one channel to another, without worrying about missing out on any communication.
Pricing: starts with $99/user/month.
Customer expectations are constantly changing. The challenge for businesses today is how to keep up with these changes to deliver pleasant experiences to their customers.
Luckily, there are numerous customer support tools to help you keep pace with rising customer expectations. From creating a robust knowledge base and providing personalized customer interactions to evaluating business strengths and managing social media engagements, there is a tool for just about everything a business needs to keep customers happy.
When buying a customer support tool, evaluate its features to see how well it addresses your problem. Opt for a tool that is easy to use and one that offers you value for money.
Investing in your own venture is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. The physical and emotional challenges are huge, and you need to have the determination and resolve to make sure your own business will prosper. In the first part of this series, we have talked about low capital infusion for starting your own business. On this second part, we are going to assess some of the biggest opportunities in business but may require bigger startup capital.
A $50,000 capital is ideal to buy your own franchise. The good thing about this is that you don’t need to develop your own business operating system because everything will be handled to you in package. The only downside to this is that you will not be carrying your own brand because you are franchising an already established business name.
Here are some franchising ideas under this price range:
In general, buying a business under $100,00 will reduce the risks of not carrying out various tasks such human resources, operations, sales and marketing, legal compliance, customer service, finance management and accounting, and a whole lot more. When you buy a franchise business, the foundation of the venture is already developed and its operating system as already been tried and tested and came out successful.
Here are some franchising ideas under this price range:
As you plan to get involved in a type of business that needs more capital to get started, it tends to become little more complex because of the amount of capital you need to infuse. However, they also offer more opportunities of growing into larger more established enterprises. You don’t necessarily need to franchise them. Since you have the money, you can develop your own business plan and create a brand that you can call your own.
Here are some business ideas under this price range:
Franchising a business is one of the fastest ways of becoming a full pledge entrepreneur with this amount of capital. At present, among the cost effective and practical franchise opportunity is the food industry, convenience store, and coffee shops among others. So if you are looking for a better way to pave your road towards becoming a successful entrepreneur, getting into the franchise business is the most lucrative way to invest in a particular business.
Other popular industries that offer franchise for sale within this price range include 7-Eleven, Ice Cream, Starbucks and Nando’s Franchise. You are not simply buying an existing business but you are buying a business model and operating system that is proven to make money and generate hefty profits.
The reason why some ventures fail is because the business owner does not provide the right of products or services or the target market is wrong. But with this amount of capital, you need not be wrong with your options.
Some of the businesses you may consider under this price range include:
Need more business ideas? Here are the best businesses to start in 2020 - Part 1
With myriad of business ideas for the year 2019, it can be quite difficult to figure out which have the more potential for growth and expansion for 2020. You will want to establish a business that is not only lucrative for the current year but can withstand market changes for the long term. In this list, we have compiled several business ideas that have seen recent growth previously. And because this list is based on the amount of startup capital you need, it will be a lot easier to browse for a god business to invest into based on your current budget.
Although joining a new trend may pose some risks on your investment, it may prove to be highly profitable and rewarding if your business idea takes off. Some of the business ideas we have included on this list have always been popular for years making it less risky but more competitive. But on the other hand, every business niche will certainly help make you money so choose wisely.
You don’t need a ton of capital to start your business. If you have $1,000 or less, you can start a business as long as it is within your interest. Here are some business ideas under this price range.
Investing bigger capital in a business means you are serious about its development. One of the main advantages of a bigger capital means stability for your business because you can purchase more assets for your business. Here are some business ideas for this price range.
Some of these business ideas can be launched with less than $5,000 but it will give you more leeway for asset investment. An infusion of funds into these types of business is always a welcome because it helps build more stability. A lot of businesses usually try to raise capital for their business but you don’t really need that much if you know where to start.
Having a bigger startup capital means being able to invest more in your business. Here are some business ideas that fall under the $10,000 price range.
A capital infusion of $20,000 to $25,000 can already buy a franchise business. Here are some business ideas you may want to consider.
Need more business ideas? Here are the best businesses to start in 2020 - Part 2
KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) are very important for any business. This is critical for evaluating your business's financial performance and it can also be used for monitoring customer satisfaction and other company objectives necessary for the growth and development of the business.
Too often we see business owners be unsuccessful in fully understanding how their business operates; and because they fail in logging in any existing departmental metrics of their company operations all throughout the year, these entrepreneurs often end up with an idling business pondering where the problems lay.
Key Performance Indicators are a significant part of measuring or evaluating the successes and failures of any business. KPI is a measurable value that shows how successfully a company is achieving key objectives for the business. Various business organizations use KPI’s to assess their success at reaching targets that is why selecting the right KPI’s will depend on the industry the business belongs to and which part of the business the company is planning to track.
Also known as a dashboard or flash report, KPI’s enables business owners and department heads to get a summary of how the business or individual departments are performing at any given moment throughout the year. A KPI evaluates the objectives of the business against the concrete, tangible data over a specified period.
But not every key performance indicator measures the overall performance of the business. This depends usually on the size of the business. Bigger corporations with multiple departments often have multiple KPI’s assigned to each department. Different departments have different operations and scope of work so the KPI must be specifically patterned to this. But even with having multiple KPI’s, each report must be tied together into a single flash for the business as a whole.
Key performance indicators can vary over multiple businesses. For example, the KPI for a distribution company will differ from a manufacturing company, and so on and so forth. Even similar companies within the same industry can have different KPI’s since not all businesses have the same goals and metrics. These key indicators are existent and monitored in most businesses for different reasons. In a flash report, these are evaluated meticulously and put under a magnifying glass so they can inspect it with a fine-toothed comb. When accomplished weekly, a flash report will show business owners the important areas of the business in which the company is underperforming and provides time for correction.
KPI’s are essential to all business objectives because they enable these goals to be at the forefront of every decision making. It is important that business objectives are properly communicated across the company because when people understand and are responsible for their KPI’s, it will make sure that the business objectives are on top of their minds. Simply put, you cannot manage anything what you cannot measure.
A KPI is as versatile as it is strong. From evaluating your finances to measuring the productivity of your employees based on the status of a job in progress, KPI’s are put in place to help an organization be guided in achieving their goals. Depending on what objectives you plan to achieve, your KPI may shift or vary depending on your goals, current project and timelines.
For example, by knowing on a weekly basis just how much money is coming in and going out, it provides you just enough time to correct the course when something is wrong. Instead of fixing the problem twenty days after the end of the month, you can now make necessary modifications throughout the week based on KPI management tools.
For measuring employee productivity, you will see things such as the number of hours an employee worked on including overtime, revenue generated and the status of a current job that is up for completion. When evaluating the work hours of an employee against performance, this can provide you with a general idea of the number of overtime needed to complete a specific project and help you see if you paid overtime for a much lesser productive work. For bigger companies, using KPI for employee’s productivity can also be used to measure performance for every department.
KPI’s serves as your guide to recognizing every moving part in your business, and may possibly just be the most essential part of management. This is why it is equally important to choose the right KPI’s to implement for your business. To do so, you need to know the process of selecting the right KPI for your company such as:
The KPI’s that you choose to implement for your business will be greatly influenced by your company’s existing business model and the industry that your business belongs to. For instance, a B2B software service company may opt to focus on customer acquisition and mix, while a retail company with a brick and mortar operation may focus on sales per square foot or average customer payout.
It is highly recommended to use KPI's template, to help you track your business performance and progress.
As an endnote, always makes sure that your KPI’s will specifically measure your progress towards overarching company objectives. Less is more so you have to understand that choosing between 4 to 10 KPI’s to focus will be more beneficial for your organization. The significance of certain metrics will definitely vary as the priorities of your organization changes so you have to carefully consider the stage of growth of your company. And while you may reference industry KPI’s, always remember that you need to choose the KPI’s that are most relevant and applicable for your specific situation and organization. This will ensure that you are being guided towards something attainable which will result to the success of your goals.
Part of being in business means that we’re always testing new ideas, experimenting and yes – making mistakes.
As entrepreneurs and business owners, we all strive to buy a high learning curve position and to reduce the number of mistakes we make.
There’s nothing wrong with making mistakes; the only issue is if we don’t learn from them.
Mistakes will be made, and that’s ok, but there are a few critical sins in business that can and should be avoided if possible.
Below is a list of the five key sins that can be deadly for your business.
Recognizing and avoiding these sins will help you grow and develop your company, it will help you reduce your risk, increase your chances of success and most importantly enable you to have more fun while operating a business.
We all make assumptions on a day-to-day basis, and that’s human nature.
The issue arises when we make assumptions within a business context that can have disastrous results.
It’s essential that we continuously test our assumptions on a regular basis. What may have been true in the past may not be true in the future, and with technology moving at such a rapid rate, we need to be constantly adapting.
By not seeking feedback or validating our concepts, we can head down the path of mediocrity.
Case in point, I was working with a client one day, and we were identifying the top and bottom 20% of his customers.
I asked as I always do, how much does it cost to service each client? The response was “$400 per month”.
I said “fine, and how much do the smaller clients pay you each month?”
The response was “$250 per month”. I looked at the person puzzled and said, “Wait, you charge them $250 per month, but it costs you $400 to service them, is that right?”
He looked at me begrudgingly and said: “Yes, but the smaller clients turn into bigger clients!”
My response was “Okay,
Let’s check all the big clients and see how many of those started off as small clients.”
By this stage, the client was reeling and becoming very defensive.
Sure enough, when we checked, all of the big clients had started out as big clients, and none of the small clients had turned into big clients.
This means it would have been cheaper for the company just to write out a cheque for $150 per month to the smaller clients and have done none of the work!
This assumption had cost the company over 1 million dollars over a 10-year period.
No one had thought to check the assumption of whether or not small clients turn into large clients, or if in fact, it was worthwhile engaging with small clients in the first place.
As it turns out only 4% of companies have systems and in place.
Funnily enough, only 4% of businesses do over a million dollars a year and turn over.
This strong correlation indicates that business that have systems and processes in place do far better than those they don’t.
More evidence can be seen if we look at franchises and chain stores. These companies all have strong systems and processes in place. When someone buys a franchise, what they’re buying is a proven set of systems and processes that will ensure their business succeeds.
As a business owner, do you have systems and processes in place? Especially for the ten most common tasks in your company?
The reason why systems are so important for companies is that they provide accuracy and consistent outcomes.
This is great for managing customers’ expectations and experience, but it’s also valuable for your employees.
Employees need to know what the process is for each task, if they don’t have these systems and processes, then they’ll make it up themselves. A lack of systems and processes all result in low productivity, confusion, mistakes, errors, and generally low levels of workplace happiness.
Click below to download a free flowchart maker to help with your systems and processes:
As mentioned in an earlier article, many business owners spend more time than they should on tasks that will have little or no impact on growing their business.
In business, there are often only a few core tasks that will help drive growth. If you’re not focused on those tasks, you can end up been busy all day every day running around putting out fires and solving small issues.
As business owners, there are an endless array of distractions that can suck time from us. Controlling how we use our time is really important.
Business owners often like to engage themselves in tasks that are emotionally safe. These are frequent tasks that we are very familiar with or enjoy doing. Now there’s nothing wrong with doing things that you enjoy doing, but often the significant gains are made from doing things outside our comfort zone or tasks that are going to have a considerable impact to your business’s growth.
To outline this concept further, below is a table that illustrates the above example.
If you would like to improve how you use your time, follow this easy exercise.
Before you start:
Download the free Time Analysis Exercise.
Click below to download your free Time Analysis Exercise:
Record the tasks that you are completing every 15 minutes.
For an 8-hour day, this will require you to fill in 32 slots, where you record what you have done.
This needs to be continued over one week.
In total, you should have 160 x 15-minute slots where you have recorded the tasks you were working on.
Break your tasks up into three sections.
Step 3 (Complete step 3 at the end f each day):
Score each tasks using the key below:
Use the dropdown menu to add a score next to each of the 160 x 15-minute slots.
Once you have done that, you can now analyze how you use your time.
The template will automatically calculate your total score.
Check your results:
On completion of this, you’ll now have a much better understanding of how you use your time throughout the week, and how you can better use your time to grow and develop your company.
Many business owners and especially those that have started businesses from scratch, often have ideas that nobody can do the job as well as they can.
This is entirely not true and is a limiting belief. Often this belief becomes apparent when business owners micromanage their employees.
The role of the business owner is to think, plan and develop the company; it’s not to get involved and every minute aspect of the business.
As discussed earlier there are three types of tasks 1 Low Value, 2 Essential and 3 Growth.
All low level and essential tasks should ideally be done by employees or outsourced.
This gives you the best opportunity to work on high-value tasks that are going to have the greatest impact on your business.
Another issue that some business owners have is they like to do everything themselves.
If there are tasks that need to be actioned in the business, which require specific skill sets, rather than trying to break your head on it yourself, why not get someone in who is an expert in that area and has done it 100 times before.
Many times, I’ve seen business owners work on projects that have taken up months of their time when they could have gotten someone else to do the job and had it completed within a week, and with a much better result.
In business, speed is the key!
As discussed previously, the role of the business owner is to think, grow and develop the company. To do this, you need time to think and plan.
Whenever a new task comes into the business, the first question you need to ask yourself is ” who is going to do this task.”
I support the approach of bottom-up delegation. This means that all tasks and duties within the business are given to the lowest level of employees within the business. They do what they can within their responsibility level, from there anything they can’t do is pushed up to the person above them.
This means by the time tasks come across the owner’s desk, they are of the highest importance and value.
To make this easier, it begins with recruiting right, great employee inductions, and continuous staff training. This should be supported by KPI’s for each role.
Business owners sometimes fail to seek advice from those who will be honest with them. This is understandable as some entrepreneurs link their identity to the business, and by default critiquing their business is the same thing as criticizing them personally.
In order to grow, business owners must seek the truth; they must be open and honest about the business and themselves.
Becoming comfortable and surrounding yourself with people that will agree with you is the road to mediocrity. Business owners need to be continually challenging their ideas, thoughts, and assumptions.
Often, it’s front line staff and employees who have some of the best insight to give, but in order to give higherups advice, you usually have to ask them. Create an environment that promotes constant feedback in an honest and authentic way. Ensure employees at all levels can provide input that will help develop your company.
Developing a business is hard work. But by recognizing some of the five deadly sins of business, you can improve your company and avoid issues before they arise.
Business is about driving results. Park the ego at the door. Focus on what the goal is.
What are some mistakes you’ve made in business? Comment below.
We know that life as a business owner can be very demanding. It’s filled with continuous challenges, most of which you have to battle alone, but knowing you’re on a path that has been walked before by others who have been successful can be motivating.
We’ve put together our favorite quotes from business gurus, leaders and people who have inspired us with their amazing life stories.
We hope this helps you on your own personal journey to becoming the best entrepreneur you can be.
Click here to see: Over 1,200 motivational quotes for business owners and entrepreneurs.
Successful people believe in their own self-worth even if they have nothing material in life but a dream to hang on to. This is because for these people, self-worth is much stronger than the rejection or acceptance of their ideas by other people. There is no fear in trying because they believe in their self-worth and that mistakes are often part of a much larger picture of attaining success.
As a person, you need to overcome obstacles by believing in yourself. This is the first step towards success and assessing your personal power as an individual capable of doing great things. It is normal for you to have low confidence at first and be filled with pointless insecurities, but it does not mean that you have to wallow in it for the rest of your life.
But the power of motivation can change this. More often than not, the will to achieve positive development is overcome by mere thoughts of negativities or negative paradigms. As a person, the best thing to do is to tap into your inner self and reassure yourself of your unique qualities. Reconnecting with your own self sometimes helps in building self-esteem which will fuel your determination to change for the better.
Daily inspiration enables us to surpass our limitations and ordinary experiences and is a strong influence of the attainment of our goals inspiring creativity, productivity, and overall well-being. Even if at first your own personal limitation is often associated with weakness and vulnerability, you still owe it to yourself to become strong and assess your position in the society. Being inspired to change and get rid of your limitations can help you do a lot of things and most of it is beyond the four walls of your own personal paradigms.
The truth is that the only problem that can hinder your journey to success is the way you view your limitations. Personal success should not be a rare commodity because by doing so, you are setting limitations to what you can achieve base on your potentials. When you find ways to remove all your limitations and jumpstart your travel towards success, you will be defining your personality as who you are and what you will be in the future.
Words are exceptionally the most powerful force in the world. We can choose whether to use this constructively with words of motivation and inspiration, or harmfully using words that will result to despair. Words have the unique power and ability to heal, to help, to impede, to hurt, to humiliate to injure, and to humble. Turning towards positivity, the power of words through daily inspirational quotes can help a person achieve his or her full potential.
John Burroughs said, “It is always easier to believe than to deny. Our minds are naturally affirmative,” and the power of positive words through motivational quotes can help us believe in almost everything. That we can achieve anything we put our mind to. In order to achieve personal success, it is important to change ourselves first. By doing so, you will have a more dedicated heart to actually change for the better. Motivational quotes offer great inspiration to achieve our goals no matter what. If you want to have a constant reminder to persevere and complete your objectives, quotes like these sometimes inspire people to do good and it is often a wonderful tool to motivate others to strive their best to reach their goals no matter what. In everything we do, we always have a fifty / fifty chance of success. If you don’t try at all, then you lose your fifty percent chance of winning.
If you want to be better instead of bitter, daily inspirations and motivations can help guide you towards a successful journey in life. This gives us daily inspirational reminders that provides us with the right perspective and strength that frees us from the chains of despair that all too often makes us prisoners of our own past.
When you aim for personal and business growth, you are consciously allowing yourself to remove your own personal limitations. Developing yourself to become better person is actually an investment that can assist you in improving not only your life skills but in the process, enable you to grow as a person.
We all have bitter experiences in our lives. The good thing about having daily inspiration is that it reminds us that we are not alone. It is common for some people to entertain thoughts about their personal capacities but when these thoughts go inside your head much too often, the belief and opinion about your aptitude in life becomes what is known in life coaching industry as self-talking. There are some who are inclined to self-talk and this refers to the thoughts and ideas they process that basically tells them what they can’t do as a person and why they cannot do it.
The thought that “I am not the only one” is extremely comforting especially during times of loneliness and personal insecurity and isolation. Reading messages of comfort and hope crossing over all cultures and race becomes very powerful.
In life, success is often associated with material wealth and stature in society but this can be changed by your own perspectives when you view things differently. Personal comfort is not always about money or shaded electric fence with automatic gates. It is rather about how you lived your life and what you made out of it during your existence. Model your thoughts and actions after individuals who have been creative and unselfish in their service to others. Only then will you be able to feel good and contented about yourself. Reading some of the best motivational quotes and daily inspiration will not only make you feel good but provide you with a different perspective in life as well.
– Warren Buffett
– Mark Twain
– Ben Stein
– Will Rogers
– Drew Houston
– Richard Harroch
– Roger Staubach
– Bernadette Devlin
– Gary Vaynerchuk
– Larry Page
– Robert Kiyosaki
– Ayn Rand
– Tomas Edison
– Eleanor Roosevelt
– Albert Einstein
– Japanese proverb
– Robert Greene
– Grace Hansen
– Jeff Bezos
– Winston Churchill
– Douglas Preston
– Abraham Lincoln
– George Santanaya
– African proverb
– Oscar Wilde
– Henry A. Kissinger
– Napoleon Bonaparte
Daily Motivation Quote To Inspire Success in Your Business