Four Steps to Effectively Train New Employees in Customer Service

Four Steps to Effectively Train New Employees in Customer Service

Customer service is a foundation for every company because every one of them has to find a way to sell their product or service. Since this is so important to each business’ success, a great emphasis should be put on training new employees in customer service. Here are four steps to help get your workers up to speed and ready to market to your customers.

  1. Prepare your employees for the types of interactions they will have with customers- This means helping them prepare sales techniques for different situations such as phone calls, face-to-face meetings, or retail. Each scenario requires the employee to sell in a different way, so help them know what to do!
  2. Define customer expectations and educate employees on what they are- The easiest way to make sure your employees are giving satisfactory service is to see what your customers expect from your salesmen.
  3. Product education- Teach them the process and product they will be supporting from the customer’s usage viewpoint. They should be marketing their product or service based on why a customer cannot live without it; their knowledge of the product should be based upon this premise.
  4. Identify strengths and weaknesses to improve upon- Get feedback from employees as they get comfortable with sales and interact more with your customers. The market is always changing and the people who are dealing with buyers every day are your best tools to help you adjust and adapt.

These are four simple steps which will help your company provide excellent service to your buyers. After all, good customer service is the key to having a successful and profitable company because if they are happy then they will continue to purchase your products and services. There is always competition, so stay at the top of your field by paying close attention to your employees’ skills in customer service. 

Three Common Management Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Three Common Management Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Every business is reliant on managers to organize employees and maintain daily work. Good management is a fundamental foundation to any successful company. Since this is such an important position, every manager should be aware of the most common management mistakes and how to avoid them to ensure the company runs as smoothly as possible.

The first mistake is over management. A good manager should show employees what needs to be accomplished, but not how to accomplish it. It does not help anyone if they are told how to finish a job and it does not create a better employee if they do not have the chance to think on their own. A manager should present a problem for an employee and provide them the encouragement and support to devise their own solution and figure out how to implement it. The best way to avoid over management is by identifying the basic information that the employees need and then provide any extra help they need as they ask for it.

The second mistake that managers can make is under management. It is just as bad for a manager to dictate everything their employee should do as it is for a manager to neglect their employees. Never assume that employees automatically know what to do; everyone needs support and encouragement no matter how prepared or intelligent they may be. A good manager wants their team to succeed and will provide them the tools to complete their project. This means that managers should pay attention to their employees and what they need; being in tune to how the project is progressing and aware of where others are struggling with it, is the best way to ensure that the manager gives their employees the direction they need to be successful!

The third mistake that every manager should avoid is trying to be a friend instead of a manager. It is imperative to treat employees and team members well, but do not mistake common courtesy with friendship. Remember at the end of the day, the manager might have to fire an employee; a manager’s duty is to the company and not to the people. A great example of this mistake is Michael Scott from the popular show The Office. Scott is the regional manager of Dunder Mifflin paper company and a great deal of the humor from the show comes from the friendships and interactions between him and his coworkers. Scott has great difficulty separating himself from the employees and often runs into issues when he needs to fire them or discipline them; he has always portrayed himself as their friend and as a result they do not take anything he says seriously. Managers keep the company running and the employees on task, and they cannot do that if no one takes their directions seriously. Managers can avoid this mistake by keeping a fine line between their personal and professional lives. This may seem cliché but by being friendly and keeping a professional relationship with employees, managers can successfully run their team. 

Every manager should recognize these three mistakes and avoid them in order to be a productive and efficient leader. 

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The 4 Best Ways to Reduce Stress at Work

The 4 Best Ways to Reduce Stress at Work

Stress is on the rise in today’s society, with work being one of the leading causes.  However, there are many ways to reduce stress in the workplace and thus reduce individuals overall stress.  Here are four of the best ways to reduce stress in the workplace:

1.   Move More

Standing up and walking around for a few minutes every couple of hours can both increase productivity and reduce stress.  Walking, working out, and other forms of exercise increase blood flow throughout the body, allowing employees to refocus their responsibilities.  Focusing on the tasks at hand allows employees to decide what needs to be given the most attention and what can wait until a later time, this prioritization can lead to reduced stress throughout the workplace.

2.   Eliminate Multitasking

Multitasking is a big cause of stress in the workplace, so by giving employees fewer tasks at once you reduce the need to multitask and alleviate stress.  When people are given multiple tasks to work on at once, it is hard to prioritize what needs to be done when and how much time to spend on each task so that everything gets done on time.  The need to multitask can leave employees confused and stressed, it can even lead to a decrease in productivity, missed deadlines, and lower quality output.

3.   Meet Less

Instead of having a 30-minute meeting every day to talk about where everyone is with their responsibilities, think about limiting meetings to once a week.  Having one 1-2 hour meeting a week not only clears up a lot of free time in everyone’s schedules, but it also reduces stress.  A lot of time and effort goes into preparing for a meeting, so having to worry about those preparations more than once a week adds a lot of unnecessary stress to everyone involved.  Also, when there is a meeting every day, employees feel the need to rush through their work just so they can have updates to share at the next days meeting, which not only increases their stress levels, but also reduces the quality of work produced.

4.   Separate Work and Home Life

It is not uncommon for work to follow people home these days.  With all of the new technology, it is nearly impossible to separate between work life and home life.  One way to help make this division clearer is to get separate technology.  If you have a work computer that you use for all of your work, then leave it at work.  Taking the same computer to and from work every day and linking your work email directly to your smartphone can become very overwhelming, as even when you are off, you're still at work.  Drawing a clear line between work life and home life will allow you to get the break that you need while you are out of the office.  Having down time away from the office will allow you destress and come back to the office refreshed and ready to work.

The Benefits of Employee Feedback

The Benefits of Employee Feedback

Employee feedback is necessary in any working environment; employees crave it, while bosses often shy away from it.  It is easy to believe that it is only necessary to give employees feedback when they do something wrong, but it is helpful to both you and the employee when they know that they are also doing something right.  Employee feedback can have a multitude of benefits for both individual employees and the company as a whole. Here are some of the main benefits of employee feedback

First, employee feedback can motivate employees.  If you are directly told that what you are doing is right and you're doing it well then you will be more motivated to keep doing what you are doing.  Over time, employees work will also improve because they are motivated to work harder and do their best at all times.  This increase in motivation which will lead to increased morale and productivity among all employees, which will over time improve the company as a whole.  Also, getting feedback can make employees more eager to even come to work.  People innately crave feedback, good or bad, so when they start to get that feedback at work they will be more eager to go to the office to complete their tasks for more feedback. 

Providing your employees with feedback can also allow them to grow the company, while also growing within the company.  If an employee knows what they are doing right or wrong, then they can figure out what it is that you are looking for and how they can improve in the future.  It is easy to fall into the belief that if you tell your employees they are doing a good job then they will no longer put forth the same amount of effort, however, people are constantly seeking the approval of their superiors.  If you tell an employee they are doing well, then they will strive to do even better the next time you give them a task, and if you tell an employee that their work wasn’t where you would’ve liked it to be, then they will realize what it is you are looking for in their work and they will do better to meet your standards in the future.

Employee feedback does not always have to be simply when employees are not doing well.  It is helpful to always let employees know where they stand as far as their performance.  When an employee does several tasks with no feedback from their superiors, then they may start to wonder if they need to do things differently for the next tasks as they do not know how their work was received.  Thus, by not telling employees when their work is done well, they may assume they need to change it and instead give you something that you aren’t looking for.  Employee feedback helps employee motivation and production, as well as both individual and company growth, among many other benefits.

Top Benefits of Remote Working

Top Benefits of Remote Working

There has been a long debate over whether workers are more productive when they report to an office daily or if remote working actually improves their efficiency. While there are many obvious benefits of having workers report to a central office, there are some unexpected benefits of remote working.

            The first benefit of remote working if the flexibility it provides employees. Almost all workers complain that they do not have enough time with their families or to do some activity because they spend all their time at work. Remote working allows employees to schedule their other life into the workday. For example: an employee’s child becomes sick at school and someone has to go pick her up, instead of having to leave the office to drive her home then come back, a worker has the flexibility to bring her home and care for her while fielding calls and emails. This also applies when an employee is sick; with remote working, there is no risk of them infecting other people at the company and unless they are bedridden they can continue to do all of their work without having to take a sick day.

            One benefit that companies may be interested in is by cutting out an employee’s commute, they have now added all that time back to the workday. Commuting back and forth to the office can take up to two hours of useable time, even more when trying to work in big cities like Atlanta or New York. By staying at home, the workday can actually last from 9 am to 5 pm without having to deal with people running late because of traffic or leaving early to attend their child’s dance recital. Workers at home can dedicate all of their time to the business with very little being wasted getting from point A to point B or running around the office trying to find a certain person.

            The last major benefit of remote working is the feeling that your employer trusts you. The relationship between a company and its employees is extremely important and the more that they feel trusted and confident in their work, the better work they will produce. Remote working gives your employees the freedom to do their business without having managers breathing down their necks or fear that someone is just waiting for them to mess up. A safe and relaxed working environment is infinitely better for fostering employees that work hard and are efficient with their time.  

            These are just a few highlights of remote working the benefits that it provides both employees and the company. In practice, you will see there are many more benefits that come as a result of remote working. Consider these reasons as you decide on this matter and how it could truly help your employees.  

7 Common Hiring Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

7 Common Hiring Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Hiring is a difficult and time-consuming task that employers have to maneuver to keep their business running at it’s best. However, there are things that companies can do reduce the pressure and difficulty of the hiring process. Here are 7 common hiring mistakes and how to avoid them:

1.   Hiring too fast

Hiring is a long and time-consuming process, so employers often settle for an okay candidate instead of waiting for the best of the best because they do not have the time to keep looking.  A good way to solve this issue is by pre-screening candidates and only interviewing the few that really fit the companies standards.  Pre-screening allows even the busiest of companies to keep looking until they find exactly who they're looking for.

2.  Not hiring fast enough

On the other side of hiring too fast, is not hiring fast enough. Sometimes employers come into a new employee search with too many expectations. They come with this picture in their head of the perfect employee, and most of the time that absolute perfect person will not come along. It is important for employers to know that even the perfect job candidate will not have every single skill you hope. However, if they are really the right fit for the job, then they will be willing and able to learn to all of the necessary skills to make them the absolute best fit for what the employers are looking for.

3.   Not knowing exactly what you’re looking for

While some employers go into candidate searches knowing exactly what they want, others go into them with no expectations or standards. This is bad because not only will you likely have ht problems of hiring too fast or not fast enough, but if you don't know what you're looking for then how will you ever know if you've found the right fit for the position. I think a good common ground here is to set some expectations like educational background, degree type, and even experience levels, but not to set too many by adding height, language or technology requirements, especially if they have nothing to do with the available position.

4.   Doing all of the talking in an interview

It is very common for interviewers to feel the need to do all of the talking in an interview, whether it be about the company or their own personal life and background. It is important in an interview to tell a candidate a little more about the company, but it is more important for the employer to learn about the candidate's background. Interviews are about getting to know all of the potential candidates, not about all of the candidates getting to know you, so it is important to allow the candidates to do the talking and save more personal sharing for whoever gets the job.

5.   Going with your gut/not checking references

It is also common for employers to like a candidate so much that they choose to save time by not checking the candidate’s references, but the problem with trusting your gut in an interview is that everyone knows how to put on a good impression. Who you interview and who you get on the first, second or tenth day of work can be vastly different. People dress their best and put their best foot forward when it comes to interviewing because they want the job, but what you really need to know is how this candidate will act once they already have the job. This is where references are helpful, because previous bosses can tell you who the candidate really is after the interview, which can help you determine if they are really the right fit for your company.

6.   Giving just anyone the authority to interview and hire new employees

Employers also often delegate the task of hiring new employees to free up time for their more important tasks, but hiring should become more of a priority to employers. Employers can tell their interviewers what they are looking for in a new employee, but the interviewer may interpret these expectations in a different way than the employer, so who they end up hiring may not be what the employer was originally looking for. In order to get the employee that you know will fit in the position and company the way you want them to, it is best to make hiring a priority and personally handle interviewing candidates.

7.   Not clearly defining job expectations or the companies’ standards

It is easy to overlook parts of a position and thus leave them out of the job description, which can make retaining new employees more difficult. When you hire someone with the expectation that they will have a certain number of tasks and responsibilities without specifying that additional responsibilities may be added when necessary it can lead to issues in the workplace. New employees are often overwhelmed already, so adding more to their plate after hiring them on certain conditions can lead to tension in the workplace and may leave you back at the beginning of the hiring process; so it is important to specify in every job description that new tasks/responsibilities will be assigned as needed.

4 Tips to Make an Employee's First Day Easier

4 Tips to Make an Employee's First Day Easier

Being the new employee at a company can be overwhelming, so it is important for employers to plan ahead to make their new employee’s first day a success.  Here are four tips to help make any employees first day easier:

1.   Prepare and Introduce Your Team

It is important for employees to know when a new member will be joining the team, so sending out an email prior to their first day will go a long way. It would be beneficial to include the name, title and possibly even some background information about the new employee, so the team knows who to expect and where they will fit in the team.

2.   Prepare Their Space

You don't want your new employee to feel like an afterthought on their first day, so planning ahead and preparing them a space, whether it be an office or just a cubicle, is very important. Make sure their space is clean and tidy, with all of the supplies they will need to succeed at their new position. If they need a computer, also make sure that it is cleaned off and ready to go to prevent the usual technology issues on the first day.

3.   Make Time to Train and Have a Plan

Again, you don't want to make your new employee feel like an afterthought, so having someone escort them to their desk and leaving them there for the rest of the day to figure things out on their own is not the way to go. Reschedule appointments and get important work out of the way prior to your new employee’s first day, so when that day comes you can take at least a few hours off to help your employee get settled in. Teach them what they need to know, show them how to use the software; every company does things differently, so even if they have been in the field for a decade, it is important for you to take the time to teach them how your company runs.

4.   Print the Important Things

Make sure to have all of the necessary paperwork printed by the time they get there to make it run smoother. Along with paperwork, make sure to have all employee handbooks or informational booklets printed out so they can read over the company policies and procedures when they have downtime. Also, it would help to give new employees a list of important people to contact when things go wrong or when they just need a little help.

The 3 Ways to Maximize the Value of Breaks

Taking breaks throughout the work day actually increases productivity in the workplace by helping employees refocus their attention on the tasks at hand. Here are three ways to maximize the value of breaks to ensure increased productivity:

1.   Get Moving

Sitting at a desk can get redundant, which allows you to lose focus of what you should be working, so just take a quick walk around the office if you need to. Walking away from a task, especially one you have been working on for a prolonged period of time can allow you to stop and think about it without the pressure of feeling like you need to do it right away because it is right there in front of you. Many studies have also come out recently detailing the health hazards of sitting all day, so walking for even a few minutes every few hours can both help you focus more on your work and benefit your health.

2.   Meditate

Meditation has been shown to relieve stress, so if you're having a particularly stressful day at the office, take a break, meditate and clear your mind. Clearing your mind through meditation not only allows you to de-stress, but it also allows you to refocus and prioritize the tasks at hand to prevent future stress from becoming a problem. 

3.   Take a Nap

I know this one may seem a little out of the norm for most places, but a short 30-minute nap has many benefits. It can help reenergize the body just enough to finish out the workday, and much like walking, it also increases cognition and focus. Short naps have also been shown to increase memory and mental alertness which can help employees finish more tasks faster than they would have been able to before.

Breaks can be incredibly beneficial to employees, employers, and companies as a whole, but the benefits depend on how you maximize the value of your break time.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Hiring Freelance Employees

Advantages and Disadvantages of Hiring Freelance Employees

Freelancing is becoming more common in the fast-paced economy, with surveys showing freelancers made up 35% of the U.S. workforce in 2016. With this increase in freelancing, stable, full-time employees are becoming less common, but it is important for employers to know the advantages and disadvantages of freelancers before making the switch.

Advantages

With the freelance economy growing, freelancers offer many advantages to companies.

Freelancers cost less than full-time employees. The freelance economy is extremely competitive, forcing many freelancers to lower their rates to get ahead of the competition, which allows companies to hire qualified workers for less than a full-time employee’s salary. Also, because freelancers work on an as-needed basis, they do not qualify to receive company health benefits that a full-time employee would, saving the company in insurance expenses.

Freelancers can also get more work done, faster. Freelancers typically work project-by-project, allowing them to devote all of their time to a project, which results in a better quality output in a much shorter amount of time. Freelancers make a living through repeated work, which means that their quality of work is higher because they want to be hired again for future jobs.

Freelancers hold a variety of skills, which allow them to complete many different tasks. The variety of tasks that individual freelancers are able to take on prevents companies from having to hire a different full-time employee for each task individually.

Freelancers also do not take up space in already crowded office buildings, as they work remotely, freeing up space for companies that do not have enough rooms to give every individual employee their own office.

Freelancers mostly work remotely, so employers are not limited to the local workforce.  Employers can find the best freelancer to fit their needs without worrying too much about location. Also, freelancers are not as permanent as full-time employees, so if employers realize that a freelancer is not working out as they had hoped then they can simply hire a new freelancer without all of the paperwork.

Freelancers also come with their own networks of connections and resources, which can help employers source more work freelancers for future work.

Disadvantages

Despite their advantages, freelancers do still come with many disadvantages.

Freelancers are loyal to the whatever will make them the most money, so they come with little to no loyalty to an individual company. When a freelancer is hired, they complete a contract to finish the one or many jobs agreed upon, but at the end of that contract if a better deal becomes available then they will go where the money is. Companies often like to hire the same freelancers on a consistent basis because they know that rates will stay constant and the quality of work can only improve. That being said, for companies with that expectation of loyalty from their freelancers, they may want to look into extended contracts with competitive rates to prevent having to start fresh every time they need a job completed.

Freelancers require employers to take a big risk at first. Companies often hire freelancers after simply reading their resume and looking at select work samples, which is not a very good way to measure someone’s ability to complete the task at hand. Potential employees often pick their all-time best work to show prospective employers instead of their most recent, which is not representative of what they are capable of producing at that time. With all that in mind, companies have to take a risk hiring freelancers, hoping that they will be able to make high-quality products that the fit the company’s needs.

Freelancers are independent workers, which means that employers have little control over them beyond the contract. Freelancers do what the contract asks in the time frame discussed, but that is the only control that employers have over them.  If employers decide they want something changed or added, freelancers charge extra for each individual thing, while a regular employee would just make the additions.

Freelancers can be great assets to help companies accomplish more than they would normally be able to. However, employers need to consider all of the pros and cons to decide what is best for their company before making the switch from full-time to freelance.

Top Ten Benefits of Using a Staffing Agency!

Top Ten Benefits of Using a Staffing Agency!

            Companies who have recently received large contracts, urgent work, or seasonal needs have a choice to make: do you take on the task of trying to quickly find people to fill the extra positions or do you hire a staffing agency to do it for you? Here are ten reasons to hire a placement agency to do the hard work for you:

1.Ability to try out an employee before hiring- It is hard to determine whether an employee will fit in just through interviews. This can create a giant headache later on if the employee does not mix well with the other workers, the management, or their skills are lacking. Now you have not only a problem employee, but also a position that needs to be filled immediately. By using a placement agency, if a worker does not fit in they are simply removed from the project and replaced by the next one in line. This allows both the employee and the employer to decide whether or not the placement was successful without having to worry about a long-term relationship.

2.Ability to access very specialized skills and roles for a short period of time- A new project may require skills that your team does not possess or training they cannot get in time. Placement agencies can access candidates with those talents and bring them in to complete their aspect of your project without committing to finding them another job after the specialized task has been finished.

3.Ability to level out resource needs that are not constant or long-term- This point goes along with the previous one. If your resources do not cover the needs of a new project, then an agency may be necessary to bring in a source for a short or sporadic period. You do not want to make a long-term commitment to a short-term problem.

4.Quick way to get employees in without the hassle- Every person who has worked in HR or in a business environment is aware of the mountains of paperwork that come with the hiring process. For a short-term contract, the process of sorting through resumes, interviews, and eventually hiring is excessive. A staffing agency handles all of that paperwork for you, so they get the headache and you get a new worker.

5.Avoidance of the ACA limits- When a company reaches 50 employees, they have to provide health insurance for their workers. If you are a small company, and not at the point of being able to provide insurance or benefits then using an agency to find contractors may be the best solution. This way they are not categorized as full employees, but they do the work you need.

6.Cost appears in a different place on accounting statements- Contract labor, through staffing agencies, can be directly attributed to a project and then capitalized. Employee labor is difficult to capture the complete cost and capitalize. A full-time employee may be credited with working eight hours, but how much of that was used for other administrative duties? A contracted employee is credited based on how many hours of work they put into their project.

7.Finds a much larger talent pool- Placement firms are constantly recruiting so they always have people lined up. In order for your HR group to keep up, they would have to already have jobs posted, without knowing the actual need, in order to gather the number of candidates that these agencies have. This also allows you to see a different group of workers who may be more interested in doing short-term projects instead of those who are looking to come into a career track at a company.

8.It avoids any reputational problems your company may have- Sometimes a company does not have the best reputation for potential employees. Be honest: have there been large layoffs, scandals or public problems that are preventing your company from being an appealing place to work? Contracted workers through staffing agencies do not have as much of a choice in which company they go to. These are not your employees; they do not care if the managers agree with them, they do not pay attention to office politics, and massive layoff rumors do not affect their contract. This person has one job and that is to finish their contract and provide a service.

9.It allows you to provide experienced trainers for on the job training- While the idea of hiring a very experienced person may be appealing, it is not always feasible due to costs and other limiting factors. If you hire one from a staffing agency to come in for a short period of time, then you get all the benefits of their knowledge without the price. This worker can come in and train one of your preexisting staff members. Now you have spent a fraction of the cost to get all of the ability.

10.Avoid fear of firing- Many business ventures can be risky, and no one likes to fire employees when something does not work out. With contract workers, there is no fear of losing their job because the contract has simply ended. They are not relying on you to provide a job that will carry them to retirement. This puts less stress on your ability to take risks with your company and keeps your employees from feeling the pressure if a project goes badly.

Staffing agencies have many attributes that make them appealing to help you hire workers for your company. Here are only ten of the best benefits of using a placement agency, and once you have worked with one there will probably many more reasons that come to mind. 

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