Friday, 13 January 2012

Empower Your People to Improve Customer Service

The best way to improve and deal with customer service issues is to resolve them at the level at which they occur, which is almost always at the front-line level. When a customer has to talk to a supervisor or the next person in the chain of command, it brings about two things: frustration on the customer's part, and the impression that the company really does not wish to resolve the issue. "That's not our policy" seems to be the catchphrase in use.

And that's shameful. When it comes to customer service, when it comes to keeping a customer or losing a customer, policies can be changed, ignored, and overruled. And if a customer has to reach the regional director for that person to say, "Ok, we'll do that for you," do you really think that customer is satisfied? Hardly. Their issue may be resolved but the impression that it took this level to do it is not something that will thrill the customer to continue to do business with you.

Giving the people that your customers deal with first the power to solve customer service problems actually shows your customer that you care enough about their patronage to want to keep them as a customer. This doesn't mean giving free reign to staff to go willy-nilly with whatever they want to do to help the customer. Establishing methods and procedures that staff have the authority to implement means you can solve most customer issues at the front-line level without risking a "too-generous" loss of product or revenue. Policies can be worked around and empowering your staff to be able to work around them while working within them means better customer service all around.

The fewer customer service issues upper staff and management have to resolve the better your customer service program works for both your company and your customers. You work hard to get customers and you work even harder to keep them. So when a customer has a problem, make it easy to resolve that customer's problem. Empower your people, keep your customer happy and satisfied, and happily take in the revenue that that happy and satisfied customer will continue to give you.


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Thursday, 12 January 2012

Why You Should Hire a Freelance Writer

Most companies and businesses use in-house employees to create their internal and external communications material. The cost of in-house employees includes wages/salaries, benefits, and bonuses. In many larger organizations the workload can become huge and the production output of the staff can decline as the workload increases. The more documentation a company needs to get out, the harder and faster the staff have to work and eventually staff reach a point at which they start to scale back to gain a little breathing room.

To help alleviate this type of situation, many companies rely on the services of freelance writers. In many instances, companies who have specific documentation topics send out work to freelance writers who specialize in that topic. The company then gets a more focused document that is well-written and targeted to a specific audience.

When wages and fees are compared between in-house staff and freelance writers, even though a freelancer's fees may be high, the savings in time and benefits outweigh the fee. The freelancer is simply a contractor and the fee is the only monies paid. Taxes do not need to be withheld and benefits and bonuses do not have to be paid.

So next time your writing staff is overloaded with work or you need documentation on a specific topic that your staff is not familiar with, try a freelance writer. It just makes good business sense.
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Tuesday, 10 January 2012

eBook Prices on the Rise?

Recent articles on various websites and other media are lamenting the rise in electronic book prices. In some instances the electronic version actually costs more that the digital version. In all fairness, publishers make money on the amount of funds that come in minus the amount of funds expended to produce and distribute the book, and to pay author royalties. Publishing a book is not a cheap endeavor and authors want to get the most royalty per book that they can.

While everyone wants a cut of the pie, the reading public is on the fence, caught between the rock and the hard place. They've paid money for a device that they can use anywhere, anytime to read their favorite book, and they've been accustomed to paying, in many cases, under ten dollars per title. Now that eBooks and reading devices have become more acceptable and commonplace, readers are finding that eBook prices are on the increase.

As an author, I would much prefer a reader to pay $19.95 for a digital copy of my novel rather than $12.95 for a print version if the royalty payment on the digital version is higher. The publisher makes more and I make more. However, in seeing electronic publishing evolve over the years, the reading public has been used to and expects digital books to always cost less than the physical versions. This is the norm and if eBook prices rise, electronic publishing could suffer a major setback.

In my own opinion, which is neither based on industry factors or royalty payments, digital versions of novels should be priced at $7.95 to $9.95 per title; normal non-fiction digital trade books at $14.95 to $19.95; and larger electronic reference works such as directories and such $24.95 to $49.95. This takes into account the author's time and energy to write the book and the publisher's time and energy to edit, format, produce, and distribute the electronic version.

By keeping eBook prices down, publishers will encourage the reading public to embrace electronic publishing and enjoy buying eBooks to place on their devices for reading at home, on the commute to work, or on the beach. And the more books that are sold, the more money and enjoyment for everyone involved in the electronic publishing chain.