Thursday, November 21, 2013

How Do You Handle Angry Customers on Social Media?

Upset or angry customers are a fact of life when you run a business.  No matter what you sell or what industry you are part of, things happen and people have bad days.  What's different now is that customers can express their feelings instantly to the widest possible audience through social media when they are angry with your brand.  Having a great response strategy will help you neutralize the negativity and possibly convert that angry customer in to a real fan.

Have a Plan - Take Pro-Active Steps
As always, planning is everything.  It is important that you have a plan and strategy in place BEFORE a customer takes to the internet or blogosphere.  Create a commenting policy for your blog and have it posted so that you'll have something to fall back on if you have to remove any comments.  All of your team members should be familiar with that policy as well as the procedure for dealing with angry customers or who they should call.

Listen for the Complaints
You cannot possibly respond to conversations that you don't see or know about.  Monitor your social media outlets, your blog, and Google Alerts (it's free!).  Depending on what your business is, you may want to monitor review sites such as Yelp too.  If there is a specific forum that your customers are fond of using, add that to your daily check list.  Your customers are talking whether or not you're listening.  Catching negative comments before they build momentum makes them much easier to deal with.  If you don't have the time to do this level of monitoring, you can assign it to your Virtual Administrative Assistant.

You will have to determine which negative remarks are worth a response.  Sometimes you have to swallow your pride and just move on.  Here are some situations to avoid:
  • Complaints that are on very small blogs or forums.  Your response may actually bring more attention to something that would have faded away.
  • Blatant attacks that are clearly rude or outrageous.  These are posts that anyone who reads it will see that the poster has a personal problem.
  • Interacting with a known crackpot who is only looking to pick a fight.  If the same person complains repeatedly, no matter what you do, don't continue to engage that person online.
On the flip side, do not simply delete every negative comment that you see.  That just causes your community to question your credibility.  Keep your platform as a place for open dialouge as much as possible.  But DO delete comments that are offensive or threatening.

Engage Quickly
Immediately say sorry, whether or not it is your fault.  Offer an apology for their unsatisfactory experience and try to take the conversation off line as soon as possible.  The longer you wait to respond, the angrier the customer gets and the more likely that others will pile on with more negative buzz.  An example response is:

"Hi (customer name).  Thanks for getting in touch and sorry to hear about (issue or experience).  If you send along your email to, we'll work with you to find a way to help with that problem."
Offer to make it right when you respond.  We all make mistakes, but customers remember how we fix them even more.

Speak Like a Person
Don't use a canned response to every online complaint.  Nothing makes people angrier than feeling like they are being treated like a number and not a real person.  Show empathy, communicate in a friendly tone, use their name, and use your name.  Often simply including a name or picture difuses the situation because the customer has a much harder time being rude to an individual as opposed to a nameless, faceless entity.

Never Get In To a Fight
Anytime you win an argument online, you've actually lost.  All customers remember is that you were combative to another customer who might have had a valid complaint.  They don't want to do business with someone they feel will not take their issues seriously.  Respond to the initial complaint, but don't get involved in a contentious back and forth.  Some things to remember when responding:
  • Don't get emotional.
  • It's a real person, just like you, on the other side of the complaint.
  • The complaint may actually be doing you a favor by pointing out something that needs to be improved in your business.  How many customers felt the same way and just left without saying anything?
Respond On the Same Platform
If the complaint or negative comment came on Twitter, respond on Twitter.  Don't use email to respond to a facebook comment.  Noone will see the response if you post it somewhere else.  When you respond online and in public, you earn positive word of mouth.

Instant access to customers and information can be a double edged sword for businesses.  But with a little pre-planning and a solid strategy, you may be able to turn those angry customers in to loyal fans.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

How do I become a Gmail Ninja?

Gmail is a fast growing platform for both business and personal emails.  Google has put together this great list of tips to help you become a Gmail Ninja!

Become a Gmail Ninja

If you don't have the time or inclination to set up these systems, assign the set up to your virtual administrative assistant.  Administrative Business Consulting is always working to get you back to the fun part of your business by helping you delegate the administrative tasks that eat up your day.  Contact us today!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What is a Webinar and How Can I Put One On?

Web conferencing is a service that allows meetings and events to be shared by users in remote locations.  Referred to as on-line workshops or webinars, these events can be used for:

  • Meetings
  • Training events
  • Lectures
  • Sharing information on new products and services
  • Promoting your business
This dynamic and engaging platform helps you build an audience that will regard you as an expert in your field, as well as keeping your education and travel budgets down.  With a little bit of planning, you can integrate this tool in to your marketing plan.

Determine your format
There are several available formats for running a successful webinar.  Take a look at this table for tips on how to choose the right one for your presentation:

One Speaker
A single presenter speaks, demonstrates, and answers questions from the audience.
Fewer people to coordinate and train on the webinar tool.
Lone presenter is more likely to become authority at the “front of the room” which may create reluctance to ask questions.
Interview Style
Interviewer asks a set of predetermined questions.
·         More engaging to hear multiple voices.
·         Interviewer asking questions often encourages audience to do the same.
·         More people to train and coordinate.
·         Scheduling run-through and webinar may be more difficult.
Moderated Panel Discussion
Multiple people on the line at the same time, with a moderator facilitating the discussion.
Offers variety of voices and perspectives.
Can be challenging to keep panelists from only talking among themselves.
Audience members participate fully via instructor-led exercises and facilitated discussions.
Participants receive deeper understanding of topic because they’re fully engaged in dialogue and exercises.
·         Can only accommodate a small group.
·         Requires experienced teacher/facilitator.

Fill Roles
Once you have determined the style, then you'll need to fill the appropriate support roles for the webinar.  Basic roles are:
  • Organizer/facilitator - this will be the person who schedules the session, creates the visuals, invites the attendees, tracks the participants, and follows-up afterwards.  You can take this role on yourself, or delegate it out to your Virtual Administrative Assistant so you can concentrate on being the expert.
  • Presenter/subject matter expert - you will generally be filling this role, but you can draw on others in your field for the interview or panel discussion style of webinar.
  • Assistant - during the actual webinar, you need to have an assistant that will help it run smoothly.  That person will be answering technical/logistics questions, running the slide show, and gathering other information that the presenter will need.  Again, this is a perfect role for your Virtual Administrative Assistant.
Plan Your Visuals
Webinars are a platform that relies on audio and visual content to get your message across.  Instead of having text heavy slides, use interesting visuals that illustrate your topic.  Have an intro slide that shows log-in information as well as logistic information like how to ask questions.  If your are using one of the multi-presenter formats, have a slide that introduces all parties with pictures if available.  Include a brief overview of the agenda and topics that will be covered.  When you are going to be referencing web sites or tools, try to include live versions or screen shots of those things.  Use interactive exercises like polls and Q&A sessions to keep the audience engaged.  Remember, your audience will probably lose attention if your presentation is longer than 30-60 minutes so build your presentation accordingly.

Pick a Provider
There are many providers (and growing) for putting on webinars.  You can use services such as,,, or any provider that you are comfortable with.  Things to keep in mind when deciding are:
  • How many people will be accommodated
  • Cost of the service
  • Does it have the features you need
  • How is the audio portion handled
  • Can you record the session for future viewing
Once the provider is set, don't forget to practice at least once with all the presenters and your assistant to make sure you're familiar with the tool.  Don't make the actual webinar the first time you log-on and try it out.  You want to be seen as the professional and expert to your customers.

Schedule & Invite
Now you're ready to schedule the session and invite your attendees.  The most effective days for webinars is Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday during the afternoon.  Set yourself a goal for invitees and attendees remembering that most webinars achieve a 30% attendance rate.  Your invitation should be targeted, somewhat personal, and sent at least 3 times to be effective.  Promote your webinar through your website, social media outlets, and blog to reach the widest possible audience.  Have your autoresponder send a thank you email and registration confirmation to each participant that signs up.

Everyone that took the time to participate in your webinar trusted your advice on and was excited by the topic that you chose to speak about, don't let that opportunity pass you by.  Follow-up the webinar with some value added contact that will cement your name and business in the customer's mind.  You can send each participant a copy of your presentation with additional text and exercises, you can give them a free service such as a short consultation, or you can add them to an exclusive newsletter or website access list.  This is a great chore to outsource to your Virtual Administrative Assistant.

The marketplace is quickly changing and customers are always seeking a more personal connection with the businesses they frequent.  Webinars are an excellent way to build your following and your reputation as an expert in your field.  Take the opportunity to differentiate yourself from your competition and dive in to the wonderful world of webinars.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Cutting the Cord and Going Mobile

Some businesses like Yahoo! and Hewlett Packard are pulling back from the mobile worker model.  But for many small businesses and soloprenuers, the mobile office has some great benefits.  It can provide a cost savings by lowering overhead spent on office space; it can increase productivity by giving workers more freedom; and it can offer new promotional opportunities by allowing you to be face to face with clients.  If you're either new to the idea or want to jump in with both feet, you'll need to have a few items lined up to be successful.

The first items of business for your mobile office are a laptop or tablet and a smartphone.  Tablets are lighter and offer a multitude of nifty apps to help you be more productive on the road.  But if your job or business requires a lot of typing or document preparations, you'll probably lean more towards a laptop.  The new Microsoft Surface may be a good option for people wanting a little of both.  What's most important is that the platform is reliable, designed for traveling, and has easily replacable parts like powercords.

A way to connect to the internet that is not dependent on WiFi is another necessity for being a truly mobile office worker.  That can be achieved in a number of ways. 
  • You can purchase a pre-paid wireless card such as the Verizon Jetpack.  This allows the user the have a weekly or monthly charge with no annual contract.
  • If you will be using alot of data, you might opt for a high-speed mobile access card with a data plan like MiFi from AT&T.
  • Many tablets are sold with 3G or 4G capability built in, you'll simply have to purchase a usage plan to access that feature.
A comfortable bag is a must for the mobile office worker.  And if you will be traveling by air, it also needs to be TSA friendly.  Amazon offers a wide range of options to fit most telecommunters' needs.  Headphones will also be a necessity to help you get the most out of mobile teleconferencing a videoconferencing.

The next crucial part of the mobile office puzzle is the right software for the job.  There are many cloudbased options available that make the wireless office an attainable reality.

  • File Storage - Instead of carrying around multiple USB drives, make use of the cloud storage available from services like Dropbox, Microsoft SkyDrive, or Google Drive.  These services will let you access and share your documents from where ever you are and keep your documents backed up separately from your hardware.
  • Video Capabilities - You will often need to meet with clients or co-workers face-to-face, even if you're not in town.  There are a variety of video/tele-conferencing services that allow users to do that including Google Hangouts, Skype, and GoToMeeting.
  • Accounting & Billing - Expenses and billings will still need to be tracked while you're mobile. and Quick Books on-line will give you the capabilities you need to run your business from anywhere.  Add a credit card payment accepter to your smartphone, and your one-person show is good to go.
Depending on your business model, you might also need to add on-line faxing services to your arsenal.  If you will be splitting your time between a home office and a mobile one, take a look at the services of  This is a subscription service that allows you to access your desktop computer from your laptop, tablet, or smartphone.  You'll have access to all your files and desktop items from anywhere you are.

Mobile officing may not be for everyone.  You need to be self-motivated enough to keep to a schedule even when there is no one looking over your shoulder.  But if you're a solo-prenuer, you probably fit that bill already.  Working in this manner can also make it hard for you to "escape the office" when you want to wind down.  Because you're always at the office, you are running the risk of overworking yourself because you never truly leave the office.  Setting up a schedule of off time and limits on when you will and will not be available can help to curb this tendency to be continually plugged in.

Technology is opening doors to increased productivity and freedom for both workers and employers.  With a few pieces of hardware and software, you too can join the mobile workforce and cut the cord.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Get the Most Out of iOS7

You've had a little bit of time now to start working with either your new iPhone 5 or the upgraded iOS7, and you might be wondering if you're getting everything out of it that you can.  Here are a few tips for improving your experience with the new platform.

Extending Battery Life
There are a couple of new features that may be draining your battery life in the background.  One is the Parallax setting.  This is the nifty new effect that makes your background look a little 3D.  But if the cool factor doesn't matter as much as the amount of time you can use your phone, you might want to turn it off.  Another one is the background app refresh.  This feature automatically updates apps and sucks battery power without user input.  If updating manually doesn't bother you, turn this feature off and save the power.  To access both of these settings, go to:  Settings-->General.  Switch the Background App Refresh setting to off.  For Parallax, go to the Accessibility area and turn Reduce Motion on.

Closing Background Apps
To close those pesky apps that are running in the background all you have to do is swipe up.  Double tap the home button and you will see all of the apps that are currently "on".  Simply put your finger on the one you want to close and pull it up.

Make Your Control Center More Secure
The new Control Center in iOS7 is handily available from the home screen, giving users easy access to common settings like airplane mode and wifi.  To get in to the Control Center, you just pull up from the bottom of the screen and it appears.  There is, however, the security issue that arises from that screen being accessible even when the phone is locked.  To keep potential thieves out of this screen, go to Settings/Control Center and turn off the Access on Lock Screen option.

Use Siri to the Utmost
Siri now has a more natural sounding voice and can either be male or female, based on your preference.  iOS7 has also made Siri more useful for returning calls, playing voicemails, and posting to Facebook.  You can even train Siri to pronounce things more accurately.  When she (or he) says something incorrectly, you respond with "that's not how you pronounce...".  Siri will ask for a better pronunciation and use your spoken response to suggest three alternatives.  You pick the one that is most accurate.

There's a Built In Flashlight
You can now get rid of that third-party flashlight app you've had for years; iOS7 has a built in flashlight.  To access it, swipe up from the bottom of your screen to enter the Control Panel.  You'll see the flashlight icon in the lower left hand corner.

Timestamps are Available for Individual Text Messages
There have always been timestamps for groups of text messages from a single contact, but now you can get those for each individual message.  To find this hidden feature, go to a conversation in your Messages and swipe to the left, the timestamps will appear to the right.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the cool new features and tricks available.  Take some time to poke around and get familiar with all the options out there.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Virtual Administrative Assistant Can be Your Productivity Partner

Small business owners often find themselves mired in administrative tasks the take them away from their true function as CEO of their company.  You might be spinning your wheels doing day-to-day tasks that need to be done, but don't generate any revenue for your business.  Hiring a good Virtual Administrative Assistant, like Administrative Business Consulting, can help move you from overwhelmed employee to super-productive CEO.

First you will need to determine what your core functions are.  What are the activities that
are billable, actually bring in revenue, or set your business up for growth in the future?  Those are the things you should be concentrating on, and you should be delegating the rest.

Many productivity management techniques recommend a "brain dump" activity. This is meant to be a time where you simply capture all of the items in your head and on your to-do list, either hand-written or typed. Those items can become task lists, calendar appointments, or project folders.  A Virtual Administrative Assistant can help by organizing all of the information you've captured in to their appropriate locations.  Simply email your notes to the VAA, and she does the rest.

Blogs and social media are activities necessary to build your business, but the minutia of putting them together may not be a productive use of your time.  As the CEO, you should focus on the content of those posts.  Your VAA can then be assigned to handle the formatting, editing, tagging, SEO optimization, and final posting.  This same idea can be used for presentations and email campaigns.

Other activities that may be eating up your billable time and that are tasks that can be outsourced include:
  • Travel and event planning
  • Research for articles or marketing
  • Setting calendar appointments for meetings and sales calls
  • Anything that can be automated
Part of being a productive CEO is to identify your strengths and delegate the rest.  Fire yourself from jobs someone else can do and promote yourself to jobs only you can do.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Creating an Effective Sales Kit

Most small businesses have a website (if you don't, you should!).  That platform is an excellent way for potential customers to find you and get your basic information.  A good sales kit is an effective tool to help educate prospects about your business and will move them from leads to customers.

The main reason to meet with a client in person is to understand their needs and how your business can fill those needs.  The first (and most important) item in your sales kit is your active listening skills.  Think of the meeting not as a sales call, but as a fact finding expedition.  The client will usually tell you what services will help them the most.  Ask questions and keep track of the answers.  If you're paying attention and taking notes, you can easily present them with solutions based on what they've told you.

Since this packet will be the face of your business that you leave with the prospect, don't skimp on the materials.  Have folders, letterhead, or any other static pieces professionally printed.  You can print any pricing sheets (or items that may change frequently) on letterhead using a laser printer.  A sales kit is also a good place to put promotional marketing materials such as pads, pens, and calendars with your company's logo and contact information.

The first page a prospect needs to see in the packet should highlight your business's unique story and how you are different than the other companies delivering your service.  Use this as an opportunity to set yourself apart from your competition.  Make your organization stand out as the obvious and reliable choice.

Other items to have in the kit are:

  • Current sales literature (brochures, sale flyers, business cards, etc.)
  • List of frequently asked questions
  • Diagrams or exercises to demonstrate your services to the prospect
  • Testimonials from or list of past satisfied clients
  • Press releases
  • CD Roms or DVDs highlighted your services
  • Proposal
You can put these together yourself, or you can have a Virtual Administrative Assistant service such as Administrative Business Consulting get these items ready for your meetings.  A good way to think of your sales kit is as a hard copy of your web site information.  It's something you can leave with the prospect so that it can be referred back to at their convenience.