Sep 22

Don’t Be A Helicopter Boss

hovering_bossWe’ve all heard the term “helicopter parent” – one that can’t let go and likes to know all of the details of their childrens’ lives, no matter their age.

Many startup bosses are starting to exhibit signs of this behavior, keeping close tabs on all of their employees. It makes sense – for an entrepreneur, the company is like his or her baby. However, if a worker feels like he or she is under the microscope, performance and confidence could tank, adversely affecting the business.

As such, some leaders need to learn how to let go a little bit. Small Business Trends recommended adopting a MBWA strategy – management by walking around. The source found, after speaking with members of the Young Entrepreneur Council, that there’s a difference between micromanaging and just checking in. Swing by employees’ desks to check in every so often not only helps leaders control performance, but lets workers learn from mistakes and grow, the source said.

“I have used MBWA, and I’ve found that it really helps to strength one-on-one relationships with the people with whom I work,” one business owner told Small Business Trends.

Another way to give workers more freedom is to use a virtual phone system, allowing workers to speak directly with consumers.

When a caller needs assistance, they can use the menu options read by an auto attendant to connect directly to a representative they’ve been helped by before. This can not only strengthen patron relationships, but help take some of the responsibility off the owner.

Sep 22

Networking: 6 Tips to Increase Your Business’ Social Life

shutterstock_2456826Networking. It’s a term that has multiple meanings and applications. It has deep roots in Sociology, which can basically be defined as “the study of human social behavior.”

Networking’s roots in sociology help explain the emergence of the term “Social Media,” which refers to the process of connecting and engaging with one another online.

Networking is an essential part of success in business, and the concept was studied by American psychologist Stanley Milgram in the 1960s. His belief was that individuals are much more closely connected than one might think, and was able to support that theory in a project that became known as the “Six Degrees of Separation,” referencing the fact that no two people are more than six “people” connections from one another.

Milgram’s Six Degrees of Separation theory (which was also explored in Duncan Watts’ excellent book “Six Degrees“) helps explain the explosive growth of LinkedIn: today, LinkedIn supports more than 161 million professional users and reports revenues approaching $200-million. As a professional community, there is possibly no more influential network than LinkedIn.

Whether connecting online or in person, knowing how to build your network is important.

While online networking is extremely popular (and relatively easy), face-to-face still remains one of the most powerful ways to network. Whether it’s at a trade show, industry convention, or seminar, knowing how to make new connections is important.

With that in mind, here are six tips from freelance writer and editor Matt Viliano on how to meet people and build your network:

1.       Have an Agenda – Decide what you want out of the event

2.       Fly Solo – When you are on your own you are forced to talk to people

3.       Work the Room – Spend 5 to 7 minutes with each person

4.       Take Notes – Write on the back of a business card you receive (extra tip: don’t forget your own business cards)

5.       Watch Your Drink – You can loosen up a bit, but limit yourself to 1 drink

6.       Follow Up – Even with the hosts (you could be invited back for another event!)

Connecting on a professional level means you need to also present — and reinforce — a professional image. One way to do this is via a virtual phone number. A virtual phone number allows you to stay connected with your business no matter where you are and to maintain much better time management via the extra mobility offered by a virtual phone number. Callers to your business line (such as an eVoice toll-free number) can be set to ring your cell phone, home phone, home office phone, etc in sequence, or all at once. This means you’ll never miss a call.

Plus, your calls will be answered and routed professionally, just like with larger companies who use sophisticated installed PBX systems.

So, whether it’s online (via a social network), in person (at a trade show), or via phone (a virtual phone number), remember this: Networking is the key to success in business.

Aug 17

The Procedure Of Getting Toll Free Forwarding Numbers And Benefits of Enhanced Features That Come With It

An international business can get a toll free forwarding number in US that they can forward to any part of the world.

An international toll free number reassures the customers that the company is present locally and is there to assist them in an hour of need.

There are a good number of service providers who specialize in providing a toll free forwarding system that can be managed online and the calls can be forwarded to a phone in any part of the world. Although there are some charges for forwarding those calls, which depends on country to country.

Here is a process to look for an online toll free forwarding number provider.

Search For Providers: When looking for an online toll free forwarding service provider, we need to do a search on the internet for all the service providers.
Compare And Choose: There are a lot of plans and different type of tariffs from different providers. You need to choose which provider suits you the best and what plan of that provider suits you the best.
Activate The Account: When you choose a service provider, you can take a free trial or directly go for a paid account. It is recommended to test the services before buying a package. Now, you need to activate the account by providing necessary documents and making the payment.
Route The Call: When the account is activated, you are given a login ID. Using this login ID you can login to your newly set account and enter the number on which you need to route the call.
Monitor: Using the stats and the tools, you can monitor the quality of service of the provider along with analysis of your calls.

Apart from a local feel there are other benefits of the online toll free call forwarding systems.

A toll free forwarding number ensures that you never miss a single call with voicemail function, there is a voicemail server which records every message from the customer even when you miss a call.

The features like caller id, calling statistics etc. enable you to increase your reach and understand consumer behavior. It not only helps in internal evaluation, it also improves customer satisfaction. You can analyse your calls, monitor them and determine your business strategy with accordance to these statistics.

These are the benefits of online toll free forwarding number. You can now support your customers from all parts of the world while giving them an experience of being present locally.

Aug 17

The Process and Benefits of Reaching U.S. Customers Using a Toll Free Number

Customer support is the key to customer satisfaction. In order to ensure a great customer support a toll free number, instant chat support or some other free of cost instant help system is needed.

Although the world is getting digitally connected people still want a human factor when they have an issue. They do not want an automated response, or even chat support, they want someone from the company to hear them out. A toll free number definitely increases the level of satisfaction among the customers.

The process to set up a toll free number is very simple. Here is a step by step process to set up a toll free number in the United States.

Requirement Gathering: First of all you need to gather the information about what will be the number of calls that you will get every day. The hours in which the customers will need the support and the area from which most of the customers belong to. The requirement gathering process is necessary before
Current Service Provider: If you have a service provider for an existing telephone service, start by getting a quote from them. You will get a little idea about the market. Moreover, an existing connection can be made toll free in minutes.
Get Market Rates: When you get the rates from your provider always cross check them with the market rates. To get market rates, you can contact other service providers. You should also notice the rebates they give on scaling up. Some service providers charge a minimal rate beyond a certain bulk.
Choose A Provider And A Plan: There are different incoming rates for different states. These tariff differs from state to state and carrier to carrier. It is recommended to look for a carrier which provides minimum rate in your area of operations.
Check For Features: Some providers give all facilities for free while some providers charge for value added services. A good provider provides services like voicemail, caller id, etc. for free. Look for service provider who provides all these services for free.
Set Up Your Account: When you select a service provider, you give them the necessary documents and proceed with the account. Once your details are verified, your account is set up and ready to use.
Route The Number: You will have to route the number to an existing line. It is best to route the number to a phone which is never left unattended.

A US toll free number is very reassuring for the customers. For an international business it is a necessity to assist your customers when they need support. If an American customer has an issue and you are there to assist them, they are pleased. However, if the customer faces any trouble and you are nowhere to be contacted, they not only never use your product again but also do negative marketing on social media and among their peers.

For an international business, it is a necessity to have us toll free number as it gives them a psychological advantage of being present at the time of need.

It is best to have a toll free number set up in US which is routed to your office in any part of the world. It reassures your customers that you are there to support them when they need you the most. They do not care from where you speak, they want a local number and a person supporting them when they call that number.


Aug 04

Finding the Best Call Diverting Service

Call Diverting Can Give Your Little Organization a Major Organization Feel

In case you’re maintaining a little business and watching it develop, you know that it is so vital to arrive when your clients need you. On the off chance that you don’t have a call sending framework, you most likely realize that it’s a considerable amount of work taking care of and directing approaching calls. Call diverting is a basic administration feature that can spare you heaps of cash and help you transform you’re little business into the huge business you’re longing for. The official Call diverting Telecom protocols are developed and maintained by the U.S Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Section 214 license., an industry-wide protocol followed by Motorola, and more.

Call Diverting Deals with Everything For You

Call diverting permits your clients to contact you whenever, notwithstanding when you’re far from the workplace. When they call your business number, it’s sent specifically to your PDA, home telephone or whatever different telephones you assign. This offers focal points to both you and your clients. You can continue putting everything in order even while out of the workplace; they can contact you at whatever time they have to. This modest bit of additional client administration goes far.

Different Elements Offered By Call Diverting

Call sending bundles have bunches of components – some that you know and some that you don’t. You know call holding up, guest ID and other standard components. These make it simple for your clients to contact you, and they help to ensure your security. Be that as it may, call sending additionally offers a few administrations you’ve presumably never known about:

  • You can get a virtual telephone number. In case you’re organization’s across the country or abroad, this gives a nearby number to every region you’re working in. It gives your organization a nearby vibe.
  • Then again, you can get toll free numbers that make your business look greater than it really is. It gives you’re little business an expert touch.
  • You can pick one number for both telephone and fax. This makes it much less demanding on your customers and clients.
  • Individuals are progressively utilizing VOIP conventions, for example, Skype. These are free projects that permit you to convey on the web. Your call sending framework can be completely coordinated with whatever system you’re utilizing.
  • With the PC innovation we have today, you can have essentially boundless voice message memory. You can likewise pick a framework to effortlessly deal with numerous post boxes and control access to them.
  • A few organizations offer elements that help you track promoting and measure call length. This information lets you know precisely where your clients are originating from with the goal that you can center you’re promoting endeavors there.
  • Another advantage of having a virtual number is that you can keep your genuine number private. It won’t be recorded in indexes and this chops down drastically on deals calls and different disturbances.

You can likewise utilize call diverting to oversee and review approaching calls. In case you’re seeing an increment in calls coming in however don’t have the staff to handle it all, they offer computerized voice-mail. Your clients are given a menu that is anything but difficult to explore. This guarantees that the call gets where it needs to go, and it doesn’t bring about any bother for you.

Getting call diverting is a crucial stride in taking your business to the following level. It’s an incredible approach to deal with you’re approaching calls and venture a more expert picture for your organization. This implies incredible client administration, and the outcome is more business for you.

Aug 04

Drops of Thought on Small Business Saturday

Getting prepped for Small Business Saturday (Nov. 26)? We are too. Lately we’ve been discussing the importance of a strategy for businesses – like implementing a mobile loyalty marketing program and social media engagement –  and how more and more customers, bloggers, and business folks are getting involved. Here are a few key thoughts we’ve had while getting geared up about SBS:

1. Collecting a consumer’s contact information for text messaging, e-blasts, data collection and communication over social media networks and location-based services via a loyalty marketing program can aid businesses in keeping in contact with customers beyond Small Business Saturday. Obviously, we suggest our mobile loyalty solution, but any connection to new customers is essential.

2. Jumpstarting a social media strategy for a small business is also key. Check out this infographic from Intuit about the expanding small business web. Did you know that there’s been a 5% increase from Fall 2010 to Spring 2011 in merchants using social media to attract new customers and grow? The top reasons small businesses use social media are: attracting new customers, promoting the company brand, communicating company news, keeping in touch with existing customers, and more. Do you use social media to market your business – big or small?

3. We love how mammoth of a movement Small Business Saturday is becoming. Since we’re located in Maitland, FL, we’re working to connect and support small businesses in our area. How are you helping yours? If you’d like more information on how to find small businesses in your area (especially the ones participating in SBS festivities on November 26), you can look them up by zip code.

4. We’re getting on board with all of the many Small Business Saturday hashtags out there on Twitter. Some of the ones we’ve jotted down are: #SmallBusinessSaturday, #SmallBizSat, #shopsmall, #shopsmall2011, #fedexsmallbiz. Got one to add? Give us a shout-out.

Aug 04

Social Loyalty & Non-linear Consumer behavior

As I mentioned in my first entry, version 2 of our dashboard has presented us with numerous learning opportunities. We’ve worked to expand our infrastructure to help businesses measure customer acquisition and ongoing activity segmented by marketing source, and this effort has revealed some interesting insights.

In a traditional loyalty program, consumer registration is rather straight-forward. Customers are presented with the opportunity to join and registration data is taken directly at the POS when the card is issued, transcribed from a sign-up form, or the customer is driven to a web site. In general, the website registration rates for plastic loyalty card-based programs is particularly low since there’s little incentive for consumers to take that step. In all of these scenarios, though, the registration process is linear – step-by-step.

But our lives are everything but linear. Many of us start projects and tasks with the intention of completing them, but as life marches forward new priorities displace older, even undone, priorities on our lists. Loyalty program managers realize this fact of life, and for programs that collect an email address up front, there’s always the persistent reminder email to “fully register” or take other action. After just a few of these, the consumer perception of these messages moves from gentle reminder to nag.

What’s interesting about a socially-connected loyalty program is that these reminders can now come from alternative sources. We see a fair number of consumers that join the loyalty program in-store but fail to take the next steps in registration by replying to our SMS text request for an email address. However, these same consumers are seeing friends’ posts in social media, be it a “liked” page, a “shared” coupon, or an automated “check in,” and those same consumers that abandoned the registration process are picking it up again by clicking through those social links back to the merchant’s loyalty program.

This behavior caught us a little off-guard at first, particularly by the frequency with which we’re seeing it in some programs. It manifests in our program as an in-store visit followed by a social media connection bonus or full registration reward; the intermediary steps of replying with email address and survey completion are skipped. At first, we were concerned we had a serious bug in losing loyalty events, so we implemented some fancy cookie-based click tracking and reporting to get further insight. This revealed a not-insignificant pattern of non-linear consumer behavior, where consumers’ participation in social media, combined with a business’s presence there, yields meaningfully higher full registration rates than businesses who do not use the available tools to participate in social media.

The message is clear and our data reveals: businesses that link and participate in social media generally have higher registration rates and new customer referral rates than those that ignore social media. It seems to work particularly well because the “registration reminders” come from friends or just repeated casual exposure as opposed to the persistent nag of an email reminder from the loyalty administrator.

Aug 04

Android 2.3 and 3

Confused about Android 2.3 and 3?  That’s understandable. Didn’t Google just release Android 2.3? But release 3 is in the news, although Google’s has no planned release date. But Motorola announces a new tablet (Xoom) running Andriod 3.  And Asustek Computer announced the Eee Pad Slider – also with Android 3.Well, it does all make sense. First, Android release up and through 2.3 are for the original operating system that was designed for smartphones. And, 2.3 was released in December. Android 3 is the first operating system designed for tablet systems, and both Xoom and Eee Pad Slider are new tablets which were announced at CES.*  But a careful look shows that Xoom should launch in March and Eee Pad Slider in May. This leaves plenty of time for Android 3.0 to be launched before either of these specific machines. Google just hasn’t made a formal announcement, but all the guesses are that it will come in March.  Android 3 will appear with improvements to the UI (User Interface), a new email interface, and video chat. It’s also competitive in all ways with iOS according to It’s expected that iOS and Android will take 70% of the market for the smartphone and tablet market in 2011.

*Consumer Electronics Show, ran on Jan 6-9 in Las Vegas. Over 100 new tablet systems were announced, many running Android systems. Depending on the launch date, others could also include 3.

Aug 04

Exalogic – Cloud in a box

Oracle is moving into the cloud with this new cloud appliance. It follows the PaaS (Platform as a Service) model of cloud computing by providing both development and runtime environments. The device contains 30 Sun servers, with 360 processing cores, and the included Exalogic software provides  networking, storage, and virtualization technology It then includes both Solaris and Linux operating systems, JRockit, HotSpot, WebLogic and the Oracle Coherence caching solution. Provides the development environment so users can use these Java tools develop their own applications to runs on either Solaris or Linux. The device also includes Oracle’s Fusion Applications.

Oracle’s Fusion Applications includes over 100 specific modules in the following seven product areas: Financial Management, Procurement and Sourcing, Project and Portfolio Management, Human Capital Management, Customer Relationship Management, Supply Chain Management, and Governance Risk and Compliance.These modules follow SOA (Service Oriencted Architecture) and provide the same functionality as Oracle’s ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems and allow users to migrate to SOA and pick and choose the modules they need.Both Exalogic and the full release of Fusion Apps have just been announced. You’ll probably hear a lot more about them!