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Ask The Entrepreneurs: 14 Ways to Never Slack on Customer Service

Ask The Entrepreneurs: 14 Ways to Never Slack on Customer Service

Ask The Entrepreneurs is a regular series where members of those involved in the Young Entrepreneur Council are asked a single question that aims to help Lifehack readers level up their own lives, whether in a area of management, communication, business or life in general.

Here’s the question posed in this edition of Ask The Entrepreneurs:

How do you stay on top of customer service, no matter how busy you get?

1. Make FuseDesk a Feature

    My teams use FuseDesk to handle incoming requests, assign cases and track case history. The app links directly to an Infusionsoft account so we don’t spend a lot of extra time trying to remember who is emailing for support, what they bought and when it was shipped. It’s all integrated making it easy to send a template response. The system cut our response time dramatically!

    Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems

    2. HelpScout Helps Out

      We use HelpScout to provide a technical help desk for students of our online school. To them it means simply being able to request help by email — no logging into a dashboard to see updates or followups. For us, it means we can provide greater personalized support, really get to know students and manage all requests in one place — no cluttering up inboxes, yet still providing that personal touch.

      Lea Woodward, Startup Training School

      3. Take It to Twitter

        No matter what’s going on, our team is always on Twitter — and so are most of our users/readers. They resort to it if there’s any trouble and it gives us an opportunity to answer back, help out, and throw in some personality.

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        Derek Flanzraich, Greatist

         

        4. Segmented Customer Support

          Providing customer service throughout the day will only break up your day and take focus away from the stuff that’s making you busy. Instead, take an hour in the morning and an hour before you finish for the day to close out all customer service requests. By doing this, it becomes a game, as you work diligently to finish in that specific time slot you have allocated for customer support.

          Todd Garland, BuySellAds.com

          5. Real Time With Olark

            Olark

            gives us instant access to our customers and since users want to chat right away, it’s a good way to force us to talk with them and remember that they are the most important part of the business.

            Wade Foster, Zapier

             

            6. It’s a Team Effort

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              For many businesses, customer service may be easily shared among all members of the organization. Addressing customers’ needs is something no one should be too senior to do, and spreading the load will ensure that no customer feedback goes unaddressed. It’s a model worth trying out if you’re overburdened with customer requests.

              Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.

               

              7. Figure It Out Face to Face

                Establishing genuine relationships with clients needs to be a top priority for all leaders. Yes, this means taking time out of your “busy” schedule and really asking them for feedback over coffee, drinks or dinner. You should likewise create opportunities for group client engagement. Results from a facilitated focus group at my company produced the “pivot” that we now credit for our success.

                Christopher Kelly, Sentry Centers

                8. Give Access to Real People

                  As long as someone human has heard a concern and has made it clear that it will be addressed, most customers can be a little flexible about how long it takes to fix an issue. But the human touch is key to getting that room to work from your customers — if they feel like they haven’t been heard, they’re going to keep hammering until they get a response.

                  Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting

                   

                  9. If It’s So Important, Create a System

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                    If customer service is truly a top priority for you, then you should have systems in place to ensure quality control. Record and review all client interactions with your employees so they can constantly improve, and hold each employee accountable for customer service standards.

                    Nick Friedman, College Hunks Hauling Junk

                     

                    10. Stay Steps Ahead

                      Always be prepared and be a few steps ahead of your client to guide them in the right direction. With a team that’s great at project management and account management, you can seamlessly stay in contact with clients, updating them and building their trust.

                      Bobby Emamian, Prolific Interactive

                       

                      11. Create a Process Checklist

                        Documenting procedures and processes are key for us. We have developed a checklist called “The Customer Experience” in our office. This makes us more in-tune to consistently deliver our vision for how a customer should feel after doing business with us, no matter how busy we get. We make sure every client we have has experienced each step of the checklist before proceeding further in the relationship and project.

                        Kenny Nguyen, Big Fish Presentations

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                        12. Remember Their Importance

                          Ultimately, our businesses exist to serve our existing customers, not to create products or to attract new customers. Both of the latter two items are important, but not the most important. By reminding yourself of your priorities, it makes it easier to set aside the time to serve them well.

                          Elizabeth Saunders, Real Life E®

                           

                          13. Keep Up Communication

                            It’s not so much important what you say, but how often you say it. Customers, clients, and people in general love to feel that you are aware of their presence. Providing good customer service isn’t all about being pleasant, but also just communicating often and allowing your clients to feel validated. So whether it’s staying on top of emails or phone calls, make sure you respond often and quickly.

                            Steven Le Vine, grapevine pr

                            14. Make It Natural

                              Build a team that has natural customer service skills. Personally, I don’t have to get as involved with customer relations because my team is awesome and cares about each of our clients.

                              John Hall, Digital Talent Agents

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                                Last Updated on October 18, 2018

                                10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

                                10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

                                When it comes to starting your own business and pursuing your dream of becoming an entrepreneur, it can be advantageous to go all in and embrace the flexibility of finally quitting your day job.

                                Keep in mind, though, that it takes a special kind of person to take the business world by storm: a person who has cultivated the key characteristics of entrepreneurial success.

                                People with these characteristics are likely to succeed, whereas people without them have difficulty moving forward with even the most brilliant business ideas.

                                These characteristics of an entrepreneur are so important that I’ve decided to cover all 10 of them in detail so that you can start your business with your best foot forward.

                                1. Successful Entrepreneurs Practice Discipline

                                Plenty of business experts claim that you can’t get anywhere as an entrepreneur without vision or creativity, but that’s simply not the truth. Instead, the one quality that no entrepreneur can be successful without is discipline.

                                To build an idea into a business, you have to have the discipline to spend time slogging through the least fun parts of running a business (like the bookkeeping), rather than taking that time to do something fun.

                                Andrew Carnegie, one of the most financially successful Americans of all time, grew up working dull and difficult jobs in factories. Despite going to bed hungry some nights, he continued doing his best work. He was eventually hired by a railroad company and continued to move up the ladder until starting his own successful businesses. Carnegie is a fine example of an entrepreneur dedicated to discipline and hard work. He truly earned his dreams of prosperity and success.

                                When you’re the boss, there’s no one to keep you at work except yourself — and there’s no short-term consequences for skipping out early.

                                Sure, if an entrepreneur plays hooky enough he knows that the business just won’t happen, but it’s very hard to convince someone that ‘just this once’ won’t hurt (and to keep ‘just this once’ from becoming a daily occurrence).

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                                2. Successful Entrepreneurs Keep Calm

                                Things go wrong when you run your own business.

                                Most entrepreneurs go through crises with their businesses — and more than a few wind up with outright failures on their hands. But when you’re responsible for a business, you have to be able to keep calm in any situation. Any other reaction — whether you lose your temper or get flustered — compounds the problem.

                                Instead, a good entrepreneur must have the ability to keep his cool in an emergency or crisis. It may not make the problem easier to solve, but it certainly won’t make it harder.

                                Honestly, losing your calm is a quick path to becoming the kind of person who gives up in the face of adversity. Instead giving in to frustration, remember classic entrepreneur Benjamin Franklin.

                                Franklin kept his calm as he experimented and tweaked his inventions again and again in pursuit of success. He didn’t give up during his many failures – he chose to innovate. You can choose innovation, too.

                                If an entrepreneur can handle failure without frustration or anger, s/he can move past it to find success.

                                3. Successful Entrepreneurs Pay Attention to Details

                                Restricting your attention to the big picture can be even more problematic than ‘sweating the small stuff.’

                                As an entrepreneur, unless venture capital has magically dropped out of the sky, a small expense can be a killer. It’s attention to detail that can make a small business successful when it has competition and it’s attention to detail that can keep costs down.

                                Attention to detail can be difficult to maintain — going over ledgers can be tedious even when you aren’t trying to pay close attention — but keeping your eye on a long-term vision is just asking for a problem to sneak in under a radar.

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                                After a business grows, an entrepreneur might be able to hire someone to worry about the details. In the beginning, though, only one person can take responsibility for the details.

                                Skeptical about the importance of details? Look no further than Howard Schultz, who grew a small coffee shop called Starbucks into one of the most globally successful coffee businesses in the world through his extreme attention to detail.

                                He is famous for taking all aspects of growing a business into account, paying attention not only to financially smart business decisions, but also focusing on socially responsible business decisions. Details can take you far.

                                4. Successful Entrepreneurs Embrace Risks

                                No entrepreneur has a sure thing, no matter how much money s/he stands to earn on a given product. Even if a product tests well, the market can change, the warehouse can burn down and a whole slew of other misfortune can befall a small business.

                                It’s absolutely risky to run a business of your own and while you can get some insurance, it’s not like most investment options. Even worse, if something does go wrong, it’s the entrepreneur’s responsibility — no matter the actual cause. In order to deal with all of that without developing an ulcer, you have to have a good tolerance for risk.

                                You don’t need to channel your inner frat boy and take on absolutely stupid risks, but you need to know just how much you can afford to risk — and get a good idea of how likely you are to lose it. If the numbers make you uncomfortable, the risk is too great.

                                Embracing risks is essential for growth and additional success, as well. Walt Disney, for example, could have stayed comfortable with his advances in the film and animation industries, but decided to expand his brand with a new dream: a theme park that soared above the competition. Without taking this risk, the incredibly successful Disney theme park empire would never have come about.

                                An entrepreneur has to be willing to accept pretty big risks, with some level of comfort.

                                5. Successful Entrepreneurs are Balanced

                                You can take any characteristic too far. There’s a point at which attention to detail can become obsession or calm can become unemotional response.

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                                As an entrepreneur, you have to be able to balance your characteristics, getting the most of them without going over the edge. But balance for an entrepreneur goes far beyond keeping your characteristics in check, though.

                                Just as an entrepreneur doesn’t have a boss to keep them at work when necessary, they don’t have one to send them home when they’re done. If you are working for yourself, you have to decide how to balance your work and home life — and if you have a day job to add into the equation, balance just gets more complicated.

                                Oprah Winfrey, one of the most successful and influential entrepreneurs out there, understands the importance of balance. Winfrey has a lot going on; she runs her own media kingdom, acts, produces films, publishes print, and more. In an interview with Fast Company,[1] she talks about her efforts to balance priorities and self care, saying that she must ask herself what is truly important in each limited day.

                                You may or may not have as much on your plate as Oprah, but learning how to balance whatever you have going on in life will certainly help you farther along down the road as you learn to be a great entrepreneur.

                                6. Successful Entrepreneurs are Passionate and Motivated

                                In order to develop any of the above characteristics, you must have a foundation of passion. Staying disciplined day after day during the building of your business takes unrivaled motivation.

                                Before you start any business, ask yourself if you can sustain true excitement about your idea during even the darkest days ahead of you. If the answer is yes, then good for you! Nurture your natural motivation by taking these action steps throughout your business journey:

                                • Commit to making short and long-term goals. Check in with them often to stay on task.
                                • Have a plan in place for the inevitable days when you feel discouraged. Make a list of things that will help keep you motivated and focused.
                                • Share your ideas with trusted individuals who are just as excited as you are. They will help keep your enthusiasm rolling even when you are feeling down.

                                By being prepared for apathetic days and holding fast to your authentic passion, you can actually enjoy your journey to success.

                                7. Successful Entrepreneurs Adapt

                                Remember this one word: flexibility. Seasoned entrepreneurs know that change is not only a part of life, but also a part of the business world. Expect change and choose to adapt.

                                As a new entrepreneur, it will be tempting to cling to your original business plan with no exceptions, even if you notice it isn’t working. Good entrepreneurs know that it’s okay to make smart, informed changes in order to ensure efficiency.

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                                8. Successful Entrepreneurs are Marketing and Sales Experts

                                No matter what kind of business you are starting, a knowledge of marketing and sales will save you many headaches. A passion for creating a beautiful handmade lifestyle product is not enough to run a successful lifestyle brand; it is critical that you understand key business principles in addition to your natural skills or great product line.

                                Not sure how to start? Taking business courses is a great idea, but you can also easily brush up on sales and marketing through free online resources. Check out these 10 Sales Skills Everyone Should Master To Be Successful to begin now.

                                9. Successful Entrepreneurs Have Strong Money Management

                                Along with sales and marketing skills, money management is a very useful tool in the box of the entrepreneur. Understanding how to best manage your money can be the difference between early success and early failure in the business world.

                                If money management isn’t your strongest skill, prepare to hire a financial expert to help you with any tricky business that comes up. Financial guidance and knowledge is never a bad idea.

                                10. Successful Entrepreneurs Ask Questions and Continually Improve

                                Pride is a natural human quality, but it’s important to humbly conduct some constructive criticism every now and again on both yourself as a leader and your new business as a whole.

                                Assess how things are going and be willing to make positive changes if necessary. Here’re 15 ways to cultivate lifelong learning.

                                If you are always improving, then how can you ultimately fail?

                                The Bottom Line

                                Let me remind you of one important fact: the qualities of an entrepreneur listed here are not exclusively available to some people and elusive to others.

                                Although some people may have natural strengths and weaknesses, these qualities can be learned by anyone interested in taking up the entrepreneurial challenge. It might not be easy to change old habits, but it is absolutely possible to cultivate these characteristics in yourself.

                                Whether you’re a business owner or an aspiring entrepreneur, with hard work, you can train yourself to develop the qualities that truly determine the entrepreneurial spirit and future success.

                                Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                                Reference

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