5 Great Time-Saving Apps if You Work from Home 78

5 Great Time-Saving Apps if You Work from Home

This is a guest post by John Baird, a personal finance and insolvency expert from Scotland Debt Solutions. He specializes in advising people on how to manage their money and deal with their personal debt problems.

Time is money, as the old adage goes, and the notion will certainly not be lost on anyone looking to pull off the balancing act between working from home and bringing up children.

Whether you’re running your own small business or working flexibly for a single employer, maximizing your productivity at home is never easy but any improvements you can make could be very valuable indeed.

So here are five apps and tools that could be really helpful if you’re looking to get more out of your time as a mom who works at home.

1. RescueTime

Getting distracted while working online is a constant problem for most of us these days and it generally takes a good deal of self-discipline to avoid the lure of websites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, to name just a few.

RescueTime helps users ration the time they spend on websites that are major source of digital distraction so that they can manage their day and use their time more productively on a routine basis.

2. Doodle

If you’ve never heard of Doodle before, then it’s time you did.

It is a tool that essentially allows a number of people to use the same online spreadsheet simultaneously wherever they are. This simple mechanism can be priceless if you spend any portions of your time trying to organize meetings with a particular set of people whose time is as in-demand as your own.

The system is super streamlined and makes it incredibly easy to see when certain individuals are free and available to meet up.

3. Pocket

If you’re a mother working primarily from home then there’s a good chance that you’ll be familiar with the feeling of trying to frantically pick up via a mobile device where you’ve just left off online on your home PC.

Pocket allows you to save webpages of interest on one device and have them ready to review and read again on another, such as your mobile phone or your tablet computer.

So any spare moment you find yourself with can then be put to productive use.

4. Evernote

Evernote covers a suite of software solutions that are all designed to simplify the processes of note-taking and scheduling. It is extremely useful for all those purposes and it can be used across virtually every type of computer, tablet or mobile phone, including all Apple, Android and Microsoft-operated devices.

As with any productivity-oriented app system, Evernote can take a little getting used to but once you’ve been using it for a while you might just wonder how you ever organized your working life without it.

5. YouMail

YouMail is a really interesting service that has to be paid for on a subscription basis but which can save time in crucial moments by essentially taking a voicemail message, transcribing it and sending the resulting text to your mobile phone.

You can also get it for free at the iTunes store and on Google Play.

So if you receive a voicemail while you’re out running errands or taking your little ones to school, then you’ll know what you need to action much more quickly than you otherwise might.

What other tools do you find useful for working from home?

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The Five Elements of Flawless Customer Experience 6

The Five Elements of Flawless Customer Experience

Providing a flawless customer experience is the ultimate goal for any business.

There’s a lot that goes into creating a customer experience that keeps your clients coming back for more. In fact, there’s so much involved that it can almost seem overwhelming.

However, providing a flawless customer experience becomes much easier when you approach the task through these five distinct elements:

Time
Understanding
Ownership of Emotions
The Unexpected
Follow-Through

Time

When it comes to your customers’ satisfaction, time is essential. Think of how a great experience at a new restaurant quickly sours if you’re left waiting for your food to arrive. Think of how your excitement over a great department store sale turns into frustration as you stand in line for what seems like hours.

Time is your most valuable resource and it is up to you to make sure you’re using your customers’ time wisely.

This is why restaurants have comfortable waiting areas with drinks and appetizers, or why airports have lounges with restaurants, shops, and even bars.

If your customers are being forced to wait for a service, make them feel as if their time spent is not wasted. The more positive drivers you offer customers, the less likely they are to grow dissatisfied with their experience.

Think of how you can implement this in your own business. Are there places where you can help fill customers’ time? Are there places where technology can be used to cut down on the time it takes to complete a task? Remember, it’s the customers’ time that should be valued, not your own.

Understanding

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You must understand what your customers want, when they want it, and how.

While this may seem daunting, getting a better understanding of your customers doesn’t take millions of dollars, complex data analytics, and a degree in psychology. Instead, all it takes is a simple look. Watch their process, engage with them, ask them questions, and listen to them.  

How are customers interacting with your product? What’s the first thing they do when they enter your store? What’s the last thing they do before they leave? How long are they spending in each department? Do you notice anything that hampers their experience?

Take a look at your competitors. How are your potential customers interacting with them? What does this business offer that you don’t or vice versa? What is your, as Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen says, “job to be done?” What are your customers hiring your product or service to accomplish? Understand why your users are turning to your products.

Ownership of Emotions

Many companies have already taken hold of their customers’ emotions, though cynically. Subliminal advertising is a key example. However, the ownership of emotions does not have to be cynical. When used correctly, it can be the “holy grail” for companies.

Owning emotions begins with the aforementioned ability to understand. When you truly understand a customer’s choices and then act to make the experience better, you’re building a relationship of trust. That trust is the foundation of emotional ownership.

One way to build this trust is to reduce the “emotional” noise that surrounds your customers. Let them know that, even on their worst day, your business or product is there for them and that it will be a constant in their lives.

Think of restaurants and the long wait times you have to endure when they’re busy. Think of how angry—or “hangry”—you feel as you stand around, waiting for your table, and listening to your stomach growl. However, think of how some restaurants are able to reduce that emotional noise by serving you finger foods and drinks as you wait.

Also, seek to understand what emotionally motivates your customers.

Why should they be motivated to visit your store or use your product? To feel confident? Free? Unique? Secure? Successful? Research shows that all human beings are motivated by one of those factors.

The Unexpected

Experiences become stronger and more memorable when they’re accompanied by an element of surprise. Surprise can be addictive, which will only keep your customers coming back for more.

Think about mailing your customers or clients small packages with gifts and swag. Everyone loves to get mail and everyone loves free stuff, especially when it’s least expected.

A surprise doesn’t have to be a huge flash mob (though it could be!). Hand out snacks at your store. Is it a cold day? Give your customers hot chocolate or warm punch. Is it a client’s birthday? Send a card! Even a small note of thanks for a customer’s business is a nice little surprise.

The most important thing to remember: simply be sincere and don’t become predictable. Chocolates on hotel pillows were once a great surprise for guests. However, now that their wow-factor has faded, hotels are continuously trying to get back to the “unexpected.”

Follow-Through

You’ve made promises and established goals. The only thing that’s left is to follow through on them. This starts with creating your mission statement, one that you, your employees, and your customers can commit to it. This will define your customer experience.

Your mission statement must promise to impact yourself/your business, the community, or the world. It may commit to impacting one, or all three. However, whatever it promises, you must follow through on. Your customers’ trust, and thus their experience, depends on it.

More about these five elements can be discovered in Unforgettable: Designing Customer Experiences that Stick, to be published in 2018.

***
Kyle H. David has made a career in technology and entrepreneurship for nearly 20 years. In 2001, he formed The Kyle David Group, now KDG. Over the past 16 years, KDG has grown at a rapid pace, attracting clients ranging from the United States Senate to major financial institutions, international nonprofits, and Division I universities.