Work From Home in the Customer Service Industry

Companies are finding it easier to hire work at home employees to take care of their customer service needs. With the new technology, high speed internet, and the trendy networking capabilities, it is even easier to have your customer service representatives across the world from your company and the customers will never know. This opportunity is available to anyone who has a solid motivation for work from home jobs and who wants to earn a good amount of money.

Customer Service Needs

Those who want to open a business and work from home in the customer service field need to understand that the major benefit to this line of work in really for the business who hires you. In hiring a freelance worker, there is no need for added expenses in monthly leases, office equipment, and utility bills. This leaves more money open for them to pay you on an hourly basis.

By The Hour – Work From Home

The average customer service worker at home is estimated to make an average of $14 an hour. Those who are taking the same calls in a center for a company only bring in an estimated $9 an hour. The difference is the result of savings to the customer when you are in business for yourself at home. If you have needs such as medical problems or want to stay at home with your children, this hourly rate is a good way to do it. The internet is full of companies offering a customer service position and great rates to those who get hired.

What To Expect

The companies looking to hire a work from home customer service representative may require you to have certain experience or training. Most, however, will start you out at the bottom and give you the training you need. They may also ask for a background check as if you were taking on a regular position. The individual company will give you the specifics of what they are looking for and how they expect the job to be done. Some companies may also reimburse you for charges you incur with your phone or other tools and tasks needed to complete the job but this too will vary from company to company.

What You Need To Start Work From Home

It is essential that a home office for customer service contain certain items to make work more productive and efficient. First, you will need a good computer that runs the way it should and the simple knowledge of how to work with it. Second, a high speed internet connection is also a necessity to communicate and place orders and other material for the company. Third, you will need a solid phone line and an unlimited long distance plan so customers can reach you. The most important item the work at home customer service specialist needs is a positive attitude and good people skills to be able to get along with the customers effectively and with high quality service.

Present and Expected Future Growth of Catering Services Business

Catering services business is a rewarding option with huge potential of growth. Considering the importance of social celebrations and events, corporate cultures and social lifestyle, you can consider the catering industry to expend its status and profitable nature further.

Catering service providers are finding recognition at small as well as big levels. The catering industry is not only favorable for home based businesses; it is helping the social caterers to make big profits. Though, it is obvious that only those service providers in the industry succeed who are able to withstand this demanding business option.

As far as the current trends of catering services industry are concerned, it has attained status among top industries with an ever-increasing demand of various services offered by it. Social caterers in the United States, for example, make sales of over 6.5 billion dollars every year. This figure should significantly increase if the sales generated by home-based and unknown caterers are added to it.

The restaurant industry came up with good figures even when other industries were struggling during the period of recession. The consumers in the United States spend about 50 percent of their total food budget in the restaurants. This clearly indicates how the establishments like restaurants, cafes and other types of eateries are growing their profits year after year.

The catering services industry in the developing countries too is enjoying the favorable period of growth. The countries like India has its people adopting to the new lifestyles which include better food preparations for different types of social and cultural functions and increased habit of people to eat in restaurants regularly.

The main promising factors that ensure that the catering industry is going to maintain its consistent growth for the years to come include:

  • Household with higher income are helping the catering industry to flourish. In the developing countries as well, the household income is increasing at a fast pace. So, more and more people are attracted towards the catering industry and the services offered by it.
  • Corporate culture that holds a number of meetings, conferences, business lunch and dinner parties are becoming greatly dependent upon the catering industry services. The trend might not be that new for the developed countries, but the countries that have recently discovered the corporate culture are helping in the industry to attain popularity.
  • Birthday parties, wedding receptions and other types of family events are more and more relying upon the catering service providers. This is mainly because of the increase in number of working mothers that give them less time to do preparations in the kitchen.
  • Finally, people are getting more attracted towards the fashion of eating out with families and friends. This type of lifestyle is again new for the developing countries.

As you can have an idea from the discussion above, the catering services industry is one of the best options for those planning to have their own business. Start with a good business plan and keep an eye on the existing competition to have a successful catering business.

Business Fundamentals for Entrepreneurs

Having a great idea and the motivation to strike-out on your own is a good first step in pursing the feasibility of a business. However, it takes more than motivation and a great idea to get things started. This article will reveal some of the simplest considerations that most would-be business-owners overlook.

The very first thing that should not fall under consideration is venturing out on your own without the proper tools beyond the scope of a great idea. According to statistics provided by the Small Business Administration, over 90% of small businesses fail due to a lack of planning. How many times have you heard or witnessed individuals that sat up over a weekend and wrote a stellar business plan then headed out on Monday morning to seek funding or investors? Impatience is the second thing that needs management. So often “I am tired of working for someone else” is the premise for people to start a business. This frame of mind will almost ensure failure because this approach to business involves looking backwards at getting out of a bad situation.

There is a prevailing philosophy that has to evolve, “Not all people are cut-out to become business-owners”. This is a harsh reality to face in a country such as the United States that prides itself on autonomy and ownership. Starting a business requires a commitment that may or may not pay dividends quickly. The key threat to small businesses is the initial funding or start-up cost and therefore many under-capitalized ventures hit the markets and get that rude awakening.

Before spending your first dollar a best practice is to do your “free research” on the Internet and in public libraries. Read recently published academic studies on the industry in which you plan to pursue. It takes more than just knowing a certain aspect of the business being that your competition may be more well-versed about the industry as a whole. You may want to ask questions such as “What are the regulatory requirements to do business within that particular industry?” You may want to research about “systemic exposure” or how the rest of the economy could or would impact that industry during troubled financial times. It is also a good practice to review some of the strategies of other potential competitors during The Great Recession of 2008. How did the industry leaders survive jn respect to operational changes and sacrifices. It is understandable that this may take several days or even weeks to accomplish, but by applying the best practices initially you will have a clear understanding of what to expect during certain economic times.

It is essential to understand who are the industry leaders within your business channel and what makes them unique. There should be an emphasis on this because your branding and marketing could benefit from such a consideration. A distinguishing characteristic may be customer service, quality assurance, product branding, or even presentation. These may sound trivial, but think about if you were a retailer for mens apparel and you specifically wanted to appeal to young urban males under the age of thirty. Labels equals status in many of these communities so a nice logo on the item that is visible may assist in the popularity and purchase of your garments. Even though this may have more to do with marketing and brand positioning, this is a must have against the competition.

However, before we get to marketing and branding there are other things needing consideration such as your mind-set, ego, time-line, available start-up capital, and feasibility. After you have trolled through the data and information from your research, the next step is the feasibility study. It is suggested that you do this prior to writing a business plan. In this way you can quickly determine whether or not you can enter the particular market or not and if so, at what level. A common mistake for new business people is to envision competing with the industry leaders. This is an ideal way to go broke quickly. In stead, set more realistic goals for yourself and get the notion out of your head that the Internet is going to make your business global. Facebook and the other social networks became popular because they were free to the end-user first and while trying to figure out a way to capitalize or convert those users into revenue. This would be a bad business-model to follow. Think about your region and the local competition first to see how much it would cost for you company to operate for the first 3 to 5 years without constant revenue.

Again this will require more local research this time on your specific region and take not of the deviations between your first broader macro research and the more localized micro research. The deviation between those two areas may actually become the niche that needs filling. In this way you can actually have a specialized niche within the region and a hybrid on a larger scale. Now, you may ask yourself “Why?” Simply put, the goal is to avoid what others are already doing in the sense that giving a “Thankyou” to a customer in a better way that the competitor is not enough. Another temptation to avoid is the centric mind-set that the business and industry has to behave according to your own belief or philosophy. This strategy rarely works out in a positive way. You have seen these business owners that rarely listens to their customers and as a result they have a revolving door of both customers and employees and the business stagnates and does not grow.

Growth must have a major role in the definition of your business because that is the incentive to attract customers, employees, and even investors. As a potential business-owner you will have to cleanse your mind of working for a company and view your company as your tangible boss. This may sound counter intuitive, but the cascade is like this, the economy drives the consumer or businesses that drive behavior which drives your company which eventually drives you to make the right decisions to meet the demand.

So far you have done your research, and you know how much it will cost you to compete in your local market. The next thing is to consider your liabilities as it relates to the company. You may use this also to determine what form of business ownership will work for you. It is a good business practice to incorporate whenever possible and in some states there are differences in levels according to projected revenues. Incorporating also gives you more protection than a DBA or partnerships. At this point you will learn another strategy that many successful business-owners do, delegate tasks that require professional expertise to professionals with their fields. A good business attorney, accountant, and business consultant are essential for start-ups. This is a gap that many would-be business people fall through the cracks. Another benefits is that these professionals may also assist in giving information that may be crucial in developing a comprehensive business proposal. They can help with the work you have done to reflect the requirements needed.

In review, you have your research, feasibility study, chosen your business ownership type, adjusted your expectations, hired professionals that know the laws and regulations better than yourself and you are ready to get started on the business proposal. Not so fast, “Where are your customers?” You guessed it, marketing research needs to take place for the particular individuals or companies that will use your products and or services within your area or online. One question to ask yourself, “How much will it cost me to contact a potential customer before a sale is completed?” And secondly, you need to discover the best way to contact these people or businesses. The prevailing statistics are that radio advertising a person is a passive-listener and only hears about every fourth word, direct mail only about 9% responds. Signs and other ad-hoc methods vary and television may be expensive depending on stations and providers. This means that a considerable budget may need to exist in order to solicit business. Again, this is another area where many would-be business people fall off the wagon and failure is waiting to catch them.

There is not an exact science to forecasting revenues so the goal is to have a very plausible theory and approach to this process. Avoid the temptation of raising expectations too high as some did in the dot com era for instance and went broke. The increases in expected revenue should be modest and function on the Standard Rule of 10, meaning that expenses should never go over 10% of revenue. Now, there are some businesses with a lower profit margin at 50%, but that is akin to paying US$10 for every US$20 received in revenue. As you can see pricing strategies for your products and or services are important and trying to make profits off of volume only works for those entities with high capacity transactions. This is the reason why 99 Cent Stores do so well low inventory cost and high turn-over of products. As a foot-note the difficulty with starting a business with very low prices is that it usually attracts the cost-conscious customer who is rarely brand-loyal and will use a comparable competitor. You see this behavior in customer that may shop at Wal-Mart, but purchase other specific items at the 99 Cent Stores. The danger in depending on these cost-conscious customers is that when prices rise they usually leave. Therefore, your pricing model needs to be established as feasible to sustain the business based on the value-added customer that you can possibly up-sell items or services. This is essential to your company’s growth and expansion.

Customer Service – Balance Between Speed And Courtesy

Customer Service needs to change

A few years ago when a person went to a coffee shop, or a store, they were greeted with a smile, asked about their day, and then were told to have a nice day after they conducted their transactions. I work as a Paramedic in the city where I live and frequently I have to get things on the run. This means that I am running into coffee shops, and restaurants and convenience stores, and something dawned on me. I realized that almost never does anyone ask how I am, and beyond a what do you need? I get asked no questions. There is not even eye contact, and when they hand me my change, or receipt there is no have a nice day, and not even a smile.

A few years ago when I went into certain places that I was at often, I was greeted by name. I have spoken with many people and this is not just a me problem. It is a customer service industry problem that needs a change. I completely understand that businesses want service to be fast, because it is something that people demanded for years, but businesses have taken it too far.

It is time for a change

I am not upset with businesses, I believe we have pushed this demand to where it is today and it is up to us to bring the customer service industry back to where it should be. This starts with us. What we need to do as consumers is almost force the conversation. When you arrive at your coffee shop today or tomorrow ask the counter people how they are, and ask how their day is. Let us bring manners back to the customer service industry. Pay them with a smile and when they hand you your items or receipt tell them to have a nice day. By doing this we cause a change in the balance. This slows the transaction down just enough that less mistakes will be made, AND, it shows people behind that counter that it is OK to be interested in a person’s day.

I don’t know if people realize, but the loss of personal communication, and real contact is an epidemic in today’s society. This can be transferred into your home business work as well. The people you want to bring into your home based businesses will be far more responsive to a person that has the capability to communicate effectively. Network Marketing is all about the people, and this is something that you need to remember. When you remember that business is about people, you will start to see far greater success in your home based business.