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From the blog

Self-Care Tips for Busy Leaders

As a leader, others orbit around you, looking to you for guidance and direction, hoping to better themselves in their work and overall everyday lives. Being a leader means putting the people who follow you first, and their livelihoods. A leader could be a boss, a co-worker, a politician, or just an everyday person; leader qualities live inside of everyone. Being a leader also means you might find yourself neglecting what is most important — your own self-care. Without it, everything is affected; our jobs, our relationships, and even our finances can suffer! It’s so important to take care of oneself, that we put together a list of four self-care tips for you desperate leaders. Keep reading!

#1. Be assertive! This one might not be too hard if you’re already sitting pretty with this personality trait trained and waiting in your arsenal, but if this doesn’t come naturally to join remember to practice it! Remember that YOU are your own master, and you’re not a slave to your own leadership. Say “no” when you want to — and don’t feel bad!

#2. Get away when you can. We strongly suggest that you use up your vacation days, or even weekends, to refocus. Center yourself back into the powerful leader that you are so you can attack the next work week. Sometimes just stepping away to look at the situation as a whole is just what you need to keep your sanity from slipping away.

#3. Stay involved in some sort of community. Even if you just visit your parents once a week, you’re still surrounding yourself with people who aren’t looking to you for a leadership. These people — your friends, your family, your lover — all hold you near and dear to their hearts, and will act as a softening agent to a reality that puts a lot of strain on you.

#4. The 3 Rs: Rest, Routine, Reward. You need to get the allocated 8 hours — or more — of sleep in a day. It’s hard when you’re busy, but SO MUCH changes when you’ve slept long and we’ll. You should also establish a morning routine that will leave you feeling happy and energized for the rest of the day (hint: avoid heavy starchy breakfasts). Finally, at the end of the day, you need to reward yourself with the things you like. It could be wine, a snack, a movie, or anything else, so long as you enjoy it.

Remember, self-care is the one thing we can’t afford to avoid! What are some of your self-care routines? Let us know in the comments!

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Does My Business Need to be PCI Compliant?

Different credit cards on table, closeup

PCI compliance is mandatory for every merchant that accepts credit or debit card payments on their website. The information entered by customers is sensitive data, so it must be well-protected.

The systems often store consumers’ credit card information for long periods of time, so it’s important that customers feel confident their information will not be compromised. In fact, a huge part of every customer’s buying decision is the degree to which they believe a website is trustworthy.

Technologies are advancing and being developed every day, so the amount of fraud activity is growing, and businesses can face liabilities as a result. That’s why every merchant or payment service provider with card payment solutions must be PCI compliant. Some people have been questioning the need for it, but here’s why it’s so important.

– Eliminate Risk

When you have a payment security option, your consumers will be happier with your product. When there is no security behind an online purchase, it’s available to the black market nearly immediately. In turn, your company could get sued.

– Fraud

As mentioned, purchasing anything online can be dangerous without security options. The black market is waiting to scam people out of their money. PCI compliance helps the consumer and the provider of the product or service.

– Secure YOUR Business

The world of business is tough and keeping your business safe is even tougher. If your payment system isn’t secure, you will have a problem at some point, if you haven’t already. It’s important to hold your payment system to as high a standard as you hold the rest of your business.

– Avoiding Fines

Fines can happen easily when you’re an online company.  Should your site get breached, not only will you have to deal with the loss of data, but you may also have to deal with fines or lawsuits from customers and other organizations. This could cost you hundreds of dollars if you’re extremely lucky, or hundreds of thousands if you’re only moderately unlucky.

– Standards

If your company is PCI compliant, it improves your reputation for everything. Assure your customers that your bottom-line is not your only priority, and that your company holds itself to a higher standard than competitors.

Companies that are PCI compliant are significantly more successful and safer. Many business leaders think PCI is not important for their business, but it is necessary for the consumer and producer. Consumers knowing that the information they put into a website is safe is of utmost importance. Protect yourself and your company by protecting your consumers.

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4 Office Spring Cleaning Tips

The weather is warming up and winter is on its way out! Now is the perfect time to start spring cleaning your office. Organizing and cleaning any room, especially if it has gotten out of hand, can seem like an overwhelming project. We’re here to help! We’ve compiled a few tips to help get you started on getting your office back to the productive workspace it’s meant to be.

Clean out your desk.

Your desk should only hold your most important items. Computer, phone, notepads, pens, and other vital supplies are examples of these. If your desk has drawers, they should only hold important items as well. If your desk is cluttered with food wrappers, old documents or pieces of mail, it’s time to start cleaning it out. Only keep what you need and use regularly.

Get rid of your digital clutter.

Our online workspaces are important to our productivity just as much as our physical ones are. An inbox full of junk or unopened emails looks overwhelming to some. If you have a digital to-do list or schedule, optimize it so that it contains reasonable goals for each day. Keep up with it, too! If one task doesn’t get done, assign it to a different day where you’re sure you’ll have enough free time.

Clean your furniture.

When your desk and online workspaces are organized, it’s time to get down to the actual cleaning step. Wipe down all of your furniture surfaces with disinfectant. Dust your bookshelves. Polish your wooden furniture. These steps should be a weekly part of your routine. If you can’t keep up with it yourself, consider hiring a professional cleaning service.

Clean your floors.

You don’t want to ignore your floors! You’ll need to vacuum, mop, and (if needed) wax them. If you’re willing to make this project even bigger, get down to the baseboards, air ducts, and corners and clean up all the collected dirt and dust. Squeaky-clean floors will make the room seem bigger and more approachable.

Spring is a great time to kick-start your cleaning projects and it’s also an opportune time to set new cleanliness goals and habits for yourself. Take the time to deep clean your office and help it stay clean by working regular maintenance tasks into your routine. Something as simple as clearing clutter off your desk daily will make a big impact. Try not to think of these tasks as chores – think of them as you investing in your own productivity and success!

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What is Charismatic Leadership?

We’ve all learned about charismatic leaders throughout history. Some examples are Martin Luther King Jr., Sir Winston Churchill, and even Mother Teresa. What sets these kinds of leaders apart from typical leaders is that they are skilled communicators, have a way with words, and are able to communicate on an emotional level with their followers. What else does charismatic leadership entail?

Sensitivity to the needs of their followers.

A charismatic leader is always finely in tune with the needs of the people they’re leading. Many leaders simply focus on their goals and string their people along with them regardless of how it affects their peoples’ well-being. Charismatic leadership means knowing when your people need a break, when they need to be pushed more, and when they’ve reached a proper level of equilibrium between the two.

Articulate communication.

If you think of popular charismatic leaders, you’ll likely end up thinking about how well-spoken they are. Charismatic leaders know how to communicate on a deep level and inspire hope in the people who follow them. These types of leaders don’t just bark orders, they work with their people and motivate them to be their very best through intimate and moving language.

Prioritizing learning from mistakes.

Mistakes and mishaps are an inevitable part of working toward most goals, and charismatic leaders know and understand this. This plays into our first point of being in touch with the people who follow them – this includes knowing what kind of feedback motivates their followers the most. Being abrasive is not charismatic and doesn’t bring people together.

Inclined toward intelligent risk-taking behavior.

The best charismatic leaders know where and when to push the boundaries of what is considered normal and accepted. Moving toward change requires this kind of behavior, but the real skill comes in getting people to back them when they make these moves. Charismatic leaders are adept at working toward their goals in controversial ways and getting people to support them throughout the journey.

The world needs charismatic leaders because, typically, they advocate for a better world in whatever context that means to them. The scale can be as big as running for president or as small as motivating their sales team to meet their goals. They tend to have the courage to stick to their convictions despite pushback and advocate for what’s right. If you’re in a leadership position, take time to evaluate how you could incorporate these qualities into your own leadership style.

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4 Tips for Dealing with Angry Customers

Dissatisfied customers are par for the course when you work in a customer service role. However, you should note that each unhappy customer is an opportunity to maintain or even improve your customer base. Your response will determine whether the customer will spread bad publicity of your business or rave about your stellar customer service. When confronted with an angry customer, here are some things you can do to help resolve the situation:

Don’t evaluate whether the customer has a right to be angry.

When a customer calls and is unhappy with a product or service, it’s commonplace for the service representative to internally evaluate whether they think the customer is justified in their anger. The problem with this is that the only thing this thinking can do is frustrate you more if you don’t agree with their feelings.

Try not to do this and instead focus on the fact that the customer does have the privilege to be irate. If you listen carefully to their expression of their anger, you might be able to figure out the root of their concerns. This will help you resolve the complaint much more easily than internally judging the caller.

Be patient.

When the customer is at their height of expressing their emotions, be patient and listen to their concerns. Don’t interrupt them, as this will likely make them angrier and simply fuel the fire. Wait for the wave of emotion to pass and then interject with reassurances that you care about their business and are there to help. If the customer hits you with another wave of intensity, complete this process again. Wait for the customer to calm down before approaching the issue at hand.

Repeat the customer’s concerns back to them.

After you’ve thoroughly listened to the customer’s issues, reiterate the highlighted priorities that you believe you’ve heard from their perspective. This will help you figure out which aspects of the problem to tackle first and reassure the customer that you are on the same page with them.

Own the issue.

It doesn’t matter what happened before the customer came to you. Who created the problem isn’t important to your immediate task of providing excellent service. When confronted with an emotional customer, let them know that you own the problem and will work hard to achieve the best results possible for them.

Customer service is not an easy job, especially when faced with a combative customer. It’s important to remember that you can handle that kind of situation, even if it is overwhelming and sometimes confusing.

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Why Are Business Ethics Important?

Maintaining a solid bottom line is what business owners want to achieve. However, the way that you achieve that goal is also important. Thoughtful business policies and practices are guided by business ethics, either set by the law or by the business itself in order to be accepted by the public.

The success of a business is dependent upon not only its financial stability, but also with the ways that the business is run ethically. If you are focusing on long-term success, remember that proper ethics take priority. When a whole company applies ethical practices, they reap the benefits of its long-lasting effects. So, what are these effects? Here are some ways ethical business practices can impact your business:

Improve public image

Aligning your business’s behaviors with its values is vital in creating a positive image. Modern customers are savvy – they do their research and are paying closer attention to how businesses conduct themselves and whether or not they commit to the values they preach. If your business follows its principles, that behavior will lay a good foundation in its endeavor to be positively-received by the public.

Support employee growth

When you run an ethical operation, your employees will feel like they are positively contributing to society. Applying ethics provides a sense of accountability for these employees and provides context and meaning to what they do every day.

Improve working conditions

Without business ethics, we would not have mandated minimum wages set across the country. Children would still be working in factories, 12+ hour days would be normal, and discrimination and unfair labor practices would be running rampant. By being proactive in your practice and ethically adapting with the times, your business will encourage positive working conditions.

Guide decision-making

Ethical practices in a business encourage a precedence of making decisions based on what is right. During rough times, a strong moral compass will guide you through conflicts by helping you make the right moves. It will also help you smoothly introduce change within your organization, which is something that is often easier said than done.

It is a business owner’s responsibility to consider and study the impact their practices have on their community, workers, and society. Once that information is obtained, they can choose the do the right thing, even if that decision is more costly than other unethical options. It’s crucial to our society that businesses treat their workers right and are conscious of the various impacts their behaviors can have on society as a whole.

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Coffee: A Call Center Staple

Coffee, is there anything more important at a call center?

Okay — sales are pretty important too, but that doesn’t mean coffee doesn’t rank high up there on the ladder. From our morning cup, to our mid-day treat that keeps us from crashing, coffee has been a key component of the call center workplace culture.

So much of the job revolves around this drink, and a good coffee situation can really help the overall mood of your employees. Here’s how to take advantage of, and improve, your workplace coffee situation.

Drink at the Right Time

Coffee’s natural ability to get us going has resulted in people downing cups of coffee the minute they wake up; this isn’t necessarily bad for you, but you’re not getting the most out of your drink that way. The reason being is that your body produces cortisol, a chemical that keeps people alert the most between the times of 8-9 am. By drinking coffee at this time, you are taking in caffeine when you don’t need it; instead, opt to have your first cup between 10-10:30 am for the best effect.

Use Creamer for Warmer Coffee

You may be one of those coffee drinkers that likes to look into their cup and see a void of never-ending darkness, but you may be surprised to find that adding creamer to your coffee actually keeps it warmer for a longer period of time.  Not everyone likes their coffee hot, but a warm drink means a slower sipping experience to enjoy while working.

Mind the H2O

A cup of coffee is about 98% water, which means that using the tap water from the sink for your pot results in coffee that taste like, well, tap water. You can better the taste of your coffee by always using water that’s been purified in a filter, or from a water cooler.

It’s also a good idea to run just water through your coffee pot every once in awhile to clean out the system, this removes any unwanted debris or tastes from your coffee.

Share the Love

If you’ve discovered a new favorite roast why not share it with your coworkers? When you can afford it, bring in a bag of coffee freshly ground at home and leave it in the breakroom. Who knows, the next week someone might bring in their own bag for you to try as well.

Fresh ground coffee isn’t the only thing you can share with your coworkers; new coffee pods, sugars, creamers, and other sweeteners can turn an ordinary breakroom into a mini coffee shop.

Now that’s something everyone in the office can get on board with!

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How Live Chat Can Improve Your Customer Service

Customer service is the face of an organization, and while the methods for delivering that service have changed, the goal remains the same. You want your customers to feel good about your service.

It’s for this reason that many companies have started to implement live chat into their customer service operations. Traditional phone-only communication is now coupled with live chat, and many companies are seeing the benefits of using this hybrid formula.

If your organization has been tossing around the idea of implementing live chat into your customer service but still don’t know if it’s a good fit, we’ve provided a run down of benefits which could help you in your decision.

Cost Efficient

Anyone who’s been tasked with setting up a call center’s phone lines can probably tell you not only how time consuming it is, but also about the costs. Setting up phone support is expensive and involves a variety of factors that must be in place before it can go operational. Implementing live chat support only takes only a few steps and requires less of an investment.

Some companies take this a step further and outsource their live chat for even more efficient operations and less costs.

Visual Aids

A large part of the population are visual learners, meaning that no matter how many times you lay out a solution to them over the phone they still won’t truly get what you’re saying. One benefit of live chat is being able to show a customer what you’re talking about. Whether it’s a product guide, screen sharing, a graph, or an animated GIF, visual aids can help customers better understand their issue and the solution.

Remote Real Time Assistance

No one likes being put on hold, and a call into a company’s customer service department is almost certainly going to result in one. Live chat eliminates this issue by putting a customer directly in contact with an agent.

Customers want answers, quick. In fact, Forrester Research found that 57% of customers will abandon their purchase if their questions aren’t answered quickly. They also found that 44% of online consumers find live chat to be one of the most vital features a website can have. Chat support provides agents the tools needed to guide customers through step-by-step instructions.

Agents are also able to handle multiple customers at once, adding an extra layer of efficiency to your operation.

Understand Your Customer Base

Learning about your customer base is the best way to create an experience that they will remember. Live chat can help you do just that. A comprehensive live chat software comes with features and tools that provide insight into customer behavior.
Customer data and relevant customer analytics can give your company insight and help you identify problem areas in your customer service experience.

Some of the data you can get for every live messaging session include:

• Time spent on site
• Referral links
• Customer location
• Operating system/device used

As you can see, implementing live chat can help your company continually modify its customer service experience to accommodate a changing customer base. If you’d like to learn more about live chat, or even outsourcing your live chat operations, click here.

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6 Tips for Providing Awesome Customer Service

Customer service is more important today than ever before, considering that people now have extensive options for products and services available with the click of a button. Providing a customer service experience that leaves people wanting more cannot be obtained simply by slapping a headset on an agent. Instead, it has to be developed through training and practice. We’ve provided some ways to revamp your customer service experience – many of which are currently being used by industry giants today.

Implement Live Chat

More companies are using live chat in addition to their traditional telephone customer service, and the resulting benefits are clear. Statistics show that many customers prefer live chat because it allows them to perform other tasks at the same time. Knowing that you’re not taking a customer away from their day’s plans can provide a positive experience for both parties.

Get Better at Saying No

An inescapable part of customer service is at some point saying “no” to a customer. The guilt you feel for saying no doesn’t mean you’re a bad worker. In fact, it makes you a better agent since you are identifying with the customer’s issues. When saying no, remain sympathetic with the customer, but don’t promise anything you can’t deliver.

Roleplay During Meetings

The best way to prepare for real world customer service issues is to roleplay with other employees during training sessions and meetings. Not only does this provide an opportunity for creativity and even some fun, the more hypothetical situations you’re exposed to the more prepared you’ll before anything that arises.

Utilize IT Automation

According to Spiceworks’ 2019 State of IT report, 43% of financial service organizations have implemented IT automation into their operations. Automated services, when applied to customer service operations, increase efficiency and reduce call abandonment rates. Customers are also more likely to prefer a callback later as opposed to staying on hold for an extended period of time.

Monitor Social Media

What started as a way for people to connect with friends and family online has become a vessel for everyone around the world to display their thoughts; great news for companies in good standing with consumers, bad news for those that mess up those interactions. You can keep a good reputation with your customers by constantly checking your social media accounts for any messages or mentions, keeping an eye out for anyone venting frustrations. If your company is called out publicly, it’s better to address it head on. Many times, just replying to a customer is enough to let people know you care.

Watch Your Tone

Have you ever heard the saying “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it?” A large percentage of customer service calls will end with no solution for the customer’s problem, but they can end on a positive note. Maintaining a firm, confident, and sympathetic tone with your customers keeps you in control of the call, while also validating their issues. You may be surprised when you start receiving good feedback on what you perceived as a negative issue for the customer.

Finally, to implement all of these points – if you’re looking to make your company’s customer service experience more efficient or want to cut down on the costs of maintaining the operation in-house, outsourcing your customer service could be the answer.

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4 Office Tasks You Should Consider Outsourcing

Every company or organization should have goals, and any and all resources should be allocated to successfully complete projects that support business goals. But what happens when day-to-day work operations begin to wreak havoc on those resources?

It’s this exact situation that forces many companies to start searching for solutions that save time and money. In most situations, outsourcing eventually comes into the conversation. The reasons a company turns to outsourcing varies. In a Deloitte Global Outsourcing survey, 57% of companies cited an opportunity to focus on core operations as the reason they decided to outsource, while 59% stated cost cutting was also a factor.

You know the benefits of outsourcing your customer service, but you may be lost on where else in your business you can apply outsourcing solutions. We’ve provided some examples of common office tasks you can outsource, and the benefits of each below.

Payroll

The saying “time is money” is uniquely relevant to payroll since you are literally spending time to pay someone.
By outsourcing your payroll operations, you not only save time but also money that would be spent distributing paychecks, processing hours, generating accounting reports, preparing taxes, and filing government paperwork.

Contracts Processing

Outsourcing contracts processing takes care of a variety of documents including legal contracts, new-hire contracts, mortgage loans, payroll negotiations, and transportation contracts.
Working with outsourced contracts processing allows your company to process at higher volumes, reduce customer turnover, and give you access to professional guidance in contract matters.

Claims Filing

With the help of outsourcing agents and automation software, claims filing service outsourcing can assist you with data confirmation, claim authentication, auditing, reporting, and documentation.
Benefits of outsourcing claims filing include
• Increased work efficiency
• Lower operational costs
• Access to exceptional technology and talent
• Time to focus on other aspects of business

Human Resources

Hiring a new employee isn’t free, and when you factor in the lengthy hiring process, the costs begin to add up. Outsourcing human resources cuts costs, and puts the operation in the hands of qualified experts who have extensive experience in the field.

Another area an outsourced human resources operation can handle is health insurance, specifically Health Savings Accounts, 401k’s, disability, and all other aspects of employee benefits.

Now that you’ve learned just some of the office tasks that can be outsourced, you can start looking into problem areas within your company that can be improved by outsourcing operations.

Don’t be afraid to change the way your company handles its day-to-day work. Many other businesses have made the move to outsourcing and have experienced the results first hand. In fact, 78% of businesses all over the world feel positive about their relationship with their outsourcing partner.

So, what are you waiting for?

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