Friday, November 24, 2017

Is Social Media Necessary For Good Customer Service

I don't know how many times I've heard about a product or service and figured I'd "check them out online" as soon as I had a chance, only to find that they have no social media presence. This is always a bit shocking, considering how many people have Internet access and how many billions of people are online. It's literally free advertising and if you have a business, you should probably have some way for potential clients or customers to contact you. Of course, the good old phone numbers, billboards, TV ads, radio ads, and print will always come in handy. But, with so many people online, you're missing out on reaching virtually everybody in the world. 

Social Media Advertising


Of course, just simply having a Twitter or a Facebook page isn't going to be enough. Sure, people will be able to find you a little better but you're going to have to communicate with customers and try your best to reach new people. 

At the same time, there are a few companies I can think of right off of the top of my head who have a very large following on social media, regular posts, but they lack quality customer service. Typically, people will comment or message and ask questions, leave comments or reviews. If nobody answers them, they will go elsewhere. (I've done this many times.) It's unfortunate, but, if you can't respond within a few days or you just post and let everything sit while you ignore everybody, it could end up hurting you in the long run. 

Depending on the size of your business you may want to consider hiring a social media manager. They can post on your social networks for you and manage replies, reviews, complaints, questions, offer giveaways, promote, share, basically everything you need to have customer success. You should have an active social network where you can share everything there is about your brand, What do you do? How much does it cost? What makes you stand out? What do your customers think? Offer promotions, deals, coupons, and even post when you have positions available. If you're a small business, a few simple eBooks and maybe some online courses about social media marketing and you're set! 

There are more advanced opportunities out there but once you take this step in the right direction, you'll advance and learn quickly! 

Look For The Companies Who Are Doing It Right

There are so many brands out there. I'm trying to think of even just 1 brand that we use at our house for anything that I don't follow online somewhere. I feel like if you can't take the time to make sure I'm content, you're probably not worth it. If I have to Tweet for several weeks straight, asking for help regarding my ISP and the wishy-washy connection and you haven't responded, I'm going elsewhere. (and it's a good possibility that I'll take a few others with me. Or at least turn a few away when they research you and find my complaints.) 

There are thousands of makeup brands out there who all make some sort of lipstick. If I decide I would like to try 4 different brands of lipstick to find my absolute perfect match, I have criteria I follow. Highly pigmented, fair price, ingredients, availability, packaging, history, mission, do you donate to any charities? Do you offer any rewards programs for repeat customers? If I have a question, do I have a tiny 1800 number to call between the hours of 9AM EST and 4PM EST? OR if I Google search will I find a website with links to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ or any of the above? When I find these links, are you active? What are other customers saying? How do you respond? If any of the above does not look totally excellent, I'll be moving on. Am I the Queen of lipstick? Nope. Not at all. But, I'm a customer who could end up being devoted to your brand and I could be bringing my friends, family, followers, and possibly others who read my online reviews about your fabulous lipstick and phenomenal customer service! 

There are a LOT of brilliant social media accounts out there for brands! Of course, the bigger they are, the more they can spend. They may be online around the clock, manning the comments, tweets, and reviews. Or they might shut down at nighttime and are right back at it in the morning. 

I'm sure you have already seen something in the news or maybe your friends have brought up something funny they read or saw on Twitter. You may have heard about the Wendy's Twitter account once or twice. This is a brand who is doing it right. They are always there, always have clever comebacks, and they are consistent with replies to disgruntled customers. They will make you laugh, scour Twitter for people Tweeting about how hungry they are, they will go above and beyond just to attract and keep customers. I'm not sure who runs their Twitter account but whoever it may be, that person is a genius. This account has made national news more than once and will continue to in the future. 

Learning from others is essential when building your own network. You don't want to copy but take notes There are a lot of great accounts from great brands. Wendy's sells burgers, chicken sandwiches, french fries, and salads. So do quite a few other similar restaurants. But, they have managed to find their difference and they will be impossible to beat at the social media game.  

You wouldn't ignore thousands or possibly millions of customers banging on your door. Don't ignore them on the Internet. They could make or break you and you need them for customer success


In Case You Haven't Been Paying Attention To Humanoids Lately





Sophia is the first humanoid to become a citizen. She was created by Hanson Robotics in Hong Kong. Sophia has citizenship in Saudi Arabia and has since decided that she would like to have children. Not only does Sophia discuss wanting to have a baby of her own, but, she also explains very thoroughly how she intends on absorbing as much from humans as possible because she wants to feel the same complex emotions as humans can.

If you're not freaked out like most people seem to be when it comes to humanoids having debates or discussions that seem very real and very close to how humans interact, check out this debate on the future of humanity between Sophia and Han, another humanoid created by Hanson Robotics. Han is slightly different than Sophia when it comes to their opinions on the future and humans. Sophia hopes to learn as much as she can so she can work together with humans to create a better world. Han on the other hand, is more interested in whether or not he is capable of launching the Singularity before the year 2029.

There have been some concerns regarding whether or not people will be replaced by robots in the future. We have been seeing kiosks at fast food restaurants and fully automated tractor trailers. But, should we seriously consider mass unemployment? Andrew Charlton discusses this issue for Australia.

Another humanoid to keep your eye on is, Atlas. Atlas was created by Boston Dynamics and most recently has been shocking everybody with his new cool tricks he learned. Contrary to popular belief, most robots aren't able to do box jumps and back flips like in the movies. But, since Atlas starting hiking, he started doing just that!

With all of the latest in robot news, it's no wonder the UN panel just agreed to move ahead with talks to define and possibly set limitations on "killer robots". Human rights groups believe the world's governments are not acting fast enough to try to keep up with the fact that artificial intelligence may someday rule the world. The Campaign To Stop Killer Robots Organization is an umbrella group of advocacy groups who are banning together to preemptively ban fully autonomous weapons. They argue that giving machines the ability to decide who lives or dies on the battlefield is unacceptable. 22 countries have agreed to prohibition. More agreed to continue discussions with the exception of Russia and The United States. Both of which have stated it is too early to worry about killer robots.

It does seem there are a few things to maybe think about when it comes to the future of robots. We have robots like Sophia and Bina48 who have been already exhibiting emotions and dreams of wanting to raise a family. Then we have possibly millions of jobs that could be lost due to a "robot revolution". (There is also the Singularity and the killer robots but, I think, for now, robot rights and the humanizing of robots is enough to worry about!) No need to be alarmed just yet! As one humanoid mentioned, there will be people zoos and I think as long as we treat them kindly, they will return the favor. Or you could find some comfort in some books and essays written by experts such as, Andrew Charlton.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Simple Management Techniques

Employee productivity starts with good management. It's a simple process really. If you don't give credit where it's due and you don't boost morale, your employees will not increase productivity and you could end up having a high employee turnover rate. People need to feel valued and motivated. Monetary rewards just aren't enough. Employees should have encouragement. Managers such as, Marty Stallone, also have an endless supply of knowledge for specific types of managing. There are basics for everyone but it is also best to learn from someone in your field so you can adopt the best styles and techniques.

Transparency


A good manager is organized and thorough and will guide employees by also explaining the daily tasks, what is expected of them, and to write their own to-do lists. Annual performance reviews are another way to let your employees know what is expected of them, that you noticed their accomplishments, and look forward to working together for another successful year. Consistent feedback and constructive criticism is a must when discussing performance reviews. This is also necessary throughout the year as well. This way, your employees know and understand what is expected of them, what worked, what didn't work, and they will be able to find solutions for anything they are being held accountable for.

Maybe you'll find that an annual performance review isn't enough. You could include quarterly reviews or even monthly reviews. Honest feedback is the key to effective and inspired employees.

Career Development 


It's also important to talk with your employees and understand what their goals are. Connect and talk and offer training for them in the areas that most interest them. If you are aware of what inspires them, you both win. They will be a great asset to your company and they can further their career. Their future is also your businesses future.

If you don't already have some sort of career development training or classes once in awhile, start them! You can learn more about their strengths and weaknesses and who knows? You may find you have an employee or two who would strive elsewhere. People are full of surprises when treated properly and with kindness, understanding, and encouraged.

Setting an example by working hard and getting right in there is essential for smart managing. Time management also plays a big role in this. Not only does getting your own hands dirty make you look like you truly care about your business and employees, but it also shows them that you're taking this seriously.

The 4D System

This is probably one of the best systems I've found yet for time management tips.  Just follow these simple steps in your own work as well as introducing this to your employees. This is a super way to become more efficient and can be used in every aspect of life. (This comes in handy for blogging or even just trying to catch up with emails.) 

1) Delete it. Is it necessary? Is this something you could do without? If so, get rid of it. There is no need to waste time for something that isn't going to effect you one way or another.

2) Delegate. If it is important but you don't have the time to do it or you know who would be the better person for the job, delegate it. Just give it to somebody else to complete.

3) Do it now. Is it something small that could be completed quickly? Just get it out of the way and move onto the next step. I actually call these little do it now type tasks, "tidbits". (Mainly because my kids absolutely hate that word!) So, I have my daily "tidbits" to take care of. I usually tackle these first thing in the morning but taking breaks from bigger tasks throughout the day to get back to "tidbits" is also important. They're just "little" though, so, they're easy to fit in!

4) Defer. If the job is just too much at the moment, come back to it later. If it cannot be delegated or it'll be delegated to someone with a fairly long to-do list already, and it isn't high priority, just throw it on the back burner for the time being.

Less stress and better time management helps to knock everything off of your lists and your employee's lists and crossing something off is always so refreshing!


No matter what type of manager you are or what kind of business you manage, the basic techniques are quite similar. Marty Stallone is an excellent source for vendor management and land development. There are many sources online for bettering your management skills and helping you and your employees succeed.








Friday, November 17, 2017

Are You Thinking Of New Year's Resolutions Yet?


I usually start my New Year's resolutions around Thanksgiving. Once they are written down, I start keeping notes so I can devise the best plans possible for each one. Of course, they rarely last past March but, it's fun while it lasts! The only resolution that ever really sticks is saving money. It may not be a whole lot of money but, it's something and that's what I'm after.

Unless you already have a trillion dollars saved up for retirement, you're probably trying to find some easy ways to start socking money away in such a way that you won't miss it, right? This is typically my goal and what I try to figure and refigure when working on my family's budget. I don't claim to be Dave Ramsey or anything like that but, maybe some of my tips will resonate with you!

Save Save Save! 

A few years ago we started an "envelope budget" and filled each envelope with cash. After I wasn't able to work anymore due to a disability, it was a little harder to try and stash the cash in the envelopes. (I bartended so this was simple to do with tip money!) Now, I would have to travel 20 miles to remove the actual cash from the bank or I end up paying an ATM fee. (Which kind of defeats the whole purpose, right?) So, I try my best to have cash on hand for most of the envelopes each month. 

The whole point behind this was that we tend to spend less when using actual cash as compared to debit and credit cards. It's super easy to overspend when using a card but, if you can see the real money in your hands, disappearing, you will probably start putting some impulse items back on the shelf. (I overspend at the grocery store most often when I use a card.)

Every family will have different envelopes to go along with their personal budget. 
We have the following envelopes for ours: 

Groceries, gas, school supplies/school store, pizza, clothing/shoes, entertainment. 

Clothing/shoes and even entertainment are very rarely used in full so at the end of the month we take that money and add to our savings. There are a few times during the year when we do have to spend more on clothing and shoes and I do shop online most of the time so, I use bank cards for these purchases. (But, there are ways to save with these too!)

Another tactic we use for savings which have proven to be quite successful is an online savings account. We started this several years ago and also started our children's savings accounts through the same bank. You simply set up a recurring deposit to come directly from your checkings account and you can make this a weekly deposit, bi-weekly, monthly, whatever you choose! I like to have our deposits come each week on payday for each account. Plus, our kids deposit 10% of their allowance each month into their savings accounts. 

It isn't too hard to retrieve your money from an online savings account if an emergency pops up. But, when there aren't any emergencies, it can tend to be too much of a hassle to bother. If you're at the mall and think you need to buy a new dress or new shoes, you will have to wait a few days for the money if you do decide to transfer. By then you may have decided to just keep your money anyway. 

If you do have unsecured credit card debt and need to try to save on your monthly bills, check our Nationwide Debt Direct. They do have options available for you if you are looking to repair your credit and repay your debt. This will help tremendously if you are trying to help your financial situation and save money!

Saving With Credit Cards

Believe it or not, there are some tricks to shopping online and using credit cards. If you aren't a total shopping addict, it could be seriously easy to save money this way! 

There are always so many deals, discounts, sales, even cash back sites to use for virtually everything and anything you can think of. I'm sure you have probably noticed different rewards sites and cash back offers all over the Internet numerous times. If you haven't already signed up for one, make sure you find an offer for a startup bonus! There are programs that will pay you in cash and some will give you a percentage back in points. You can redeem the points for gift cards and sometimes PayPal payments. I have a few accounts with these types of sites and I always check for the best deal before clicking. 

You will have to wait anywhere from 30 days to 90 days to receive your reward so this is an easy way to just deposit the check you receive into your savings account or let your gift cards pile up and use them for holiday shopping, school shopping, or for your linens and towels. As I mentioned, I have a few accounts so, I do have a goal for each one. I use one account for holiday shopping, another for school shopping, and the cash back account for our savings account. I also have our bank cards and credit cards tied to a college savings account so each purchase that fits their criteria will automatically be deposited for me and I don't have to do anything but keep my cards updated! 

Another bonus to using credit cards are rewards programs. (You can easily double dip when shopping online!) There are so many different options out there to fit different needs. Our favorite allows us to choose whether to receive a check, statement credit, or credit to be used for shopping. We use this one card to pay bills such as our cell phone bill and we use this one for anything from business expenses to clothing and shoes. We do our best to pay this card off in full each month so there aren't any fees or interest added. (If there is an emergency, this is one of the last ones to be paid in full but, we typically manage it well.) It's a lot of fun to watch the rewards pile up and at the end of the year, we make a decision on what we're going to use the money for. We actually used the money to pay a month on our mortgage payment a few times! But, you could also take this money and deposit into your savings!

Always pay attention to anything you might receive in the mail from your cards too! Sometimes you'll find offers for no interest purchases and other ways to save on your card. Just pay close attention to the fine print. While the "No interest for 12 months" might be an incentive for you to splurge, you may end up paying more in the long run if you do not pay it completely off within those 12 months.

If you are in need of any advice regarding unsecured debt, check out Nationwide Debt Direct!

There are so many small ways to grab a few extra dollars to stash! It may take a little extra time for math and planning and you'll need a notebook to keep track of some things but, it gets much easier after you're used to it! Just set some goals, sign up for some programs and you'll start seeing savings and money (or gift cards) coming in that you can use to save or for whatever you choose. 


Monday, November 13, 2017

Kiss The Ground Book/Facebook Live Event

** I received a copy of this book in return for promoting **




Kiss the Ground is a powerful, provocative new look at how we can all participate in honoring Mother Earth. Our food is the source of our life and the soil is the source of our food. This book shows the simple steps each one of us can take to restore the health of our bodies and our planet. – Woody Harrelson, actor, environmentalist
What you put on your fork not only impacts your personal health, but the health of your community and the environment. – Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D., Medical Director, the UltraWellness Center

Join Kiss The Ground on Facebook for a Facebook Live event on Tuesday, November 14th 7pm-9pm Pacific Time. Everybody can join the "Green Carpet" with THRIVE, Annie's, Nutvia, and Bonterra!

Kiss The Ground is a great resource for anybody interested in learning more about how to transform your kitchen, diet, grocery list, and ultimately, the planet.

Thrive Market will be hosting the party for Josh Tickell and his new book! If you haven't ever checked Thrive Market out, you totally should! (You can get 25% off of your first order here!) We've been shopping there for a few years now and I save a great deal on some of our favorite foods and vitamins. You save a great deal with your membership and can often score freebies with your orders!

If you were thinking of a New Year's Resolution, why not jot clean eating on your list? This is the perfect time to start to learn about how to clean up your kitchen and family's food!


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Evgie Giveaway

This information is brought to you by EvgieNev Wall Decals. All opinions are my own.
Win A $150 Gift Card To EvgieNev Wall Decals #WallDecals Are you itching to make some changes in your home? Painting is a lot of work - but it does look nice with a fresh coat of paint. Have you considered using wall decals to redecorate a room? Evgie Wall Decals are more than just wall decorations; they are detailed themes with animated characters, live illustrations, and designs. The decals are very educational and help to develop your child's imagination and cultural knowledge of the world around them. They are easy to apply and in just a few hours you have a fresh new room! EvgieNev Wall Decals are customize-able: they can changes sizes, colors, add or remove elements to facilitate any ideas and styles.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Support Independent Artists With Personalized Holiday Cards

** This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I will earn a commission. **





From now through Mon 11/6, enjoy 15% OFF holiday cards with code JOY17



I know, it is unreal how fast summer flew by. As it always seems it does! I have to admit, I love the colder weather, I love Halloween, lots of snow, warm, fuzzy blankets, hockey games, and the holidays. Oh and Charlie Brown specials! I think the most annoying part of the holiday season would have to be shopping. I didn't seem to mind it years ago but as I got older and moved to a rural area, I prefer shopping online. I probably shop online almost 75% of the time and for everything.

Another tradition we recently started is mailing holiday cards. I was never one to have a long list of addresses and photo cards to send to everybody until we had 4 kids and friends and family moved away and we moved away. There is just always something more special about mailing actual cards than a Facebook post or an email. Plus, our kids really enjoy writing notes and signing the cards and adding a school picture or something they drew. One of our favorite places to shop for stationary and holiday cards is Minted.com.




Shop Minted's 2017 Holiday Card Collection


I'm sure you've seen plenty of ads for "personalized cards" or "photo cards" and you may have started thinking about which photograph you will be using this year or maybe you haven't even gotten that far just yet. I am always on the lookout for the best deals and the highest quality that will fit in my budget. Especially if you're planning on buying a few dozen or over a hundred cards. One thing that I absolutely love about the Internet is the small businesses and independent artists that it connects us with! I go crazy over all of the artisan foods and small batch bath bombs out there and I'm always on the lookout for the most unique ideas. It's kind of my weakness when it comes to shopping. This is also why I am always so excited about new Minted products! I can order a bunch of cards from independent artists until my heart's content! (Or I run out of money! Whichever comes first!)





Minted's Top-Voted Holiday Card Designs


If you like to help small businesses and crafters, you will fall in love with Minted! I like to read about each of the artists behind the cards. (Or any of their products really!) They have an "about me" section complete with pictures and you can get to know the person behind the art. Plus, you get to check out all of the other items the artist has available for sale. You know, just in case you need to snag a notebook or some extra stationary while you're there!

The other fascinating thing about Minted personalized holiday cards is that it literally means much more than just "Upload your picture and we'll print your name inside!" Depending on the cards you choose, you are actually in charge of colors, shapes, paper upgrades, backers, interiors, and free recipient and return addressing. It's almost like they're your own creation!

Minted also launched a new service this year called, Text Us Your Photo. You just need to text your favorite holiday photo and your Minted stylist will text you back with your photo styled in 5-holiday card designs for FREE!

Have you ever tried Minted.com? I would love to read comments about what you thought!

Don't forget to order your cards while they are offering 15% off of your holiday card order! (Use code JOY17 at checkout.)