It is clear that the telephone plays a vital role in the day-to-day running of businesses, especially for a travel agency. With the development of digital technology, the telephone can now be carried by anyone in the form of a small hand-held device wherein you can call, chat or video chat with someone located on the other side of the world in real time, and seek and find information on just about anything through the internet, all at the touch of a button or a click of the mouse. This technological breakthrough has made being connected not only easy and convenient but also a must. But what happens when the calls continue to come even after work hours and even during holidays?
If you take a close look at a business such as a travel agency, this is exactly the type of organisation that can really benefit from a call handling service.
The primary role of a travel agency is to make airline ticket bookings, which is a role that a virtual receptionist can carry out from a remote location. Remote bookings are now made easier because of the Internet. The digital platform provided by the Internet makes it possible for a professional receptionist who is remotely located to book flights for clients. Because all travel businesses have to use a cloud-based online booking system, the call centre can easily access this, allowing the receptionist to have up-to-date information on bookings.
By having someone to answer phones for the travel business round-the-clock, none of its clients are left ignored. With just a call at any time of night or day, clients will be confident that a travel business personnel will always be around to book their flights once they decide on the schedule.
When you’re running your business remotely a virtual receptionist service can made a fundamental difference to your customer service.
A virtual receptionist would be able to answer queries about flight availability or enquiries on working out a connection to somewhere on the other side of the world, just as anyone would if they were actually in the travel agency office. This is a skilled job for anyone, yet it does not mean that the person must be located within the premises. In fact, many travel agents use call handling services as this is the most cost-effective way to offer a professional service to their clients.
While some travellers like to book their flight and accommodation separately, there are many who take advantage of the package tours on offer and by using a virtual receptionist who is fully-briefed on all available packages, they can make bookings on your behalf and the customer would assume the receptionist is located at the agency premises.
Holiday season and other festivals are definitely busy periods for travel agencies and if your receptionist is stretched at this time, why not let a call handling provider deal with any extra calls? We all want to get away in the winter months and during the peak holiday season, you can use a call handling service and when things get quiet down again, you can put a hold on the service.
Even people who work in the holiday industry need a holiday sometimes and losing your receptionist for a couple of weeks could really put a spanner in the works. With an established call handling company at your beck and call, you are always assured that your customers will be greeted professionally and your business will not suffer.
If your main goal is to ensure that questions and requests by clients are paid enough attention, then hiring a virtual receptionist will be beneficial for you. A virtual receptionist is trained to handle calls courteously and professionally, so you are rest assured your clients are talking with well-trained people round-the-clock.
With the top-notch quality of service virtual receptionists are giving your clients, you can increase your profit while saving on labour costs. Satisfied clients can bring in new clients through word of mouth. Plus, calls by those who are only available after work hours are also paid attention to.
Unlike in-house receptionists, virtual receptionists are paid only with the service they provide and once they provide it. They can answer large volumes of calls with unwavering amount of attention to every call.
If you run a travel agency, talk to an established call handling provider and they are sure to have a package that is ideal for your business, and if used as a back up to your directly employed staff, this service is an essential requirement for all businesses.
5 Ways Your Business Can Slash Expenses Now
When you feel the time has come to slash business expenses to reduce overheads, then there are plenty of different approaches to achieve this goal. Needless to say, when there’s been too little attention on spending less up until now, they’ll be greater opportunities for savings. However, don’t despair – there are always a few ways to make it happen.
Here are five ways that your business can save money.
1. Purchase Recycled Office Furniture
Whether you’re wanting to replace tired desks or chairs that are now proving unstable or a new office is being equipped, it’s necessary to set the office up with what the staff needs.
While companies often only look at buying new furnishings, there is another option, and that’s used office furniture, including workstations, chairs, desks, tables. Near new workstations, for example, are a good purchase for startups with a limited budget. With more than half of all new businesses going to the wall every year, many of these companies sell off their office equipment and chattels making it a far more affordable option for businesses keen to improve their carbon footprint. Used office furniture from reputable suppliers is high-quality and often comes with a warranty.
2. Optimise the Marketing Plan
Instead of marketing across many different channels and seeing varying results with each one, try narrowing the marketing strategy down. Examine the results to determine which channels and marketing campaigns have delivered the most customers at the lowest customer acquisition cost. In case that’s unclear, the customer acquisition cost is based on the average amount that it was necessary to spend to secure one new customer.
Once you know this information, it’s possible to tweak advertising plans to only spend on the most profitable campaigns from a customer acquisition standpoint. This optimises the current marketing approach to reduce the total marketing spend while delivering the same results.
3. Reduce Recruitment Costs
Look for ideas that will cut down on recruitment costs.
For instance, ask existing outperforming staff for a recommendation of a friend or colleague who might be interested in joining the company. Also, see if there’s anyone that you’ve been impressed with who could be invited to come on board.
When you’re using recruitment consultants, get the best deal in terms of what they charge. Check around on different job boards for the industry and other alternatives. See if you can do some of the recruitment work in-house to avoid the often-extortionate recruitment fees by putting in a bit of legwork.
4. Improve Systems and Limit Staff Meetings
Most workers aren’t that productive. Repeatedly, research has shown that office workers tend to grind for half the day and lose the other half to inefficient processes and procedures, overly long meetings, excessive breaktimes, gossiping, using social media and the internet, and more.
Breakdown each role so that there are systems and processes to follow. Remove all redundant steps to cut out the time-wasting elements. Also, have the staff members suggest better ways to get their work done, which often results in time savings there too. With meetings, go in with a plan, stick to it, set a time limit on the meeting, and get everyone back to work right after.
5. Be Greener
Use green technologies and ideas to save money on energy expenses.
Look at everything from energy-efficient light bulbs, dropping PCs down from performance modes to lower energy ones, and turn off what’s not being used all the time. Ask the staff for their suggestions on other ways that the company can be greener – employees often have amazing ideas in this area that can be implemented quickly.
There are a good many ways to save money as a business. Thankfully, it doesn’t mean it’s necessary to operate like a Scrooge either.
How Agile Training Can Improve Project Performance
Project management is a complex practice that requires the many stages of planning, execution, monitoring, and others. Usually, you work with a planned set of activities that are completed in a rigid sequence, with little to no room for changes. The ultimate goal is to achieve a particular result within a specific time while considering constraints.
Over the years, the agile methodology has become more popularly used in organizations. The approach has proven to be effective in improving project performance and responding to market dynamics compared to traditional forms of project management. However, given the differences between agile and traditional styles, agile training is crucial to making the shift in management practice.
Agile is About Increment and Iteration
Agile is essentially a mindset or framework that you can adopt in your organization’s projects. It is about breaking down work into smaller and more manageable pieces called user stories that are delivered in repeated cycles called iterations.
The rationale of the approach is to have shorter cycles so that you can continuously respond to changes and adapt to them rather than trying to deliver everything in one go at the end.
As its name implies, agile refers to being able to move quickly, especially in today’s volatile market. With such an approach, you can measure performance at the end of each cycle, so you immediately know how consumers respond. Although agile was initially targeted at software development, it has, over time, emerged as a global strategy that can be used in any organization.
Benefits of Agile Methodology
Nowadays, managers are embracing the agile methodology because the short iterations help lower risk and take action at the early stages. With an agile approach, you can expect to get a higher product quality since you are frequently testing it during the development stage. Since agile is flexible, you can make adjustments and developments incrementally to improve your product.
The agile method can also help you increase customer satisfaction since you can respond to dynamic and changing needs in the market. Likewise, being able to deliver products to the market quicker will merit positive reception from the consumers. Another benefit of adopting the agile approach is that the fast iterations will help you generate quicker returns on investment (ROI).
Agile Training is Critical
To successfully adopt the agile methodology, getting agile training is crucial. In the agile approach, collaboration among team members is critical, so ensuring that each member is well-versed with the strategy will help maximize its benefits. You have to train your team to be consumer-focused so that you are always addressing needs.
There are many agile training frameworks existing today, with one of the most popular ones being Scrum. The Scrum team typically consists of a Scrum Master, Product Owner, and developers.
The Scrum Master leads the team and ensures that the development team is effectively fulfilling its goals. The Product Owner then makes decisions for the projects, which include writing the user stories. Finally, the developers create the software and conduct continuous testing throughout cycles.
With the popularity of the agile approach today, you will find several training courses available to get you started. Courses typically tackle different project life cycle frameworks, essential agile values and principles, and the roles of each team member. Once you complete your training, you will become a certified practitioner, something that will surely give you an edge in the workplace.
Top 9 Best Tips for Distributed Teams Management
Managing remote teams is a challenge for any business, however, it’s a strategy used more often now as skills improve in nations where the cost of living is less. Companies are always seeking ways to gain more market share. What can inhibit growth is the expense of staff so hiring workers that can work remotely from the company’s main operating centers, is a strategy that’s work the effort.
Do you remember when working from home a day or two a week first came in? Initially, there were trust issues, i.e. are workers productive when they work from home? The challenge with allowing staff to ‘hot desk’ and work remotely was how the company could track their productivity.
When staff are in the office, they are visible, however, when they’re working from home before ‘monitoring apps’ they are not visible. Now monitoring is possible the challenge that remains is how to coordinate projects with team members located in different countries, with varying time zones.
In this article, there are a few tips on how to work with distributed teams to deliver what customers require, but for less outlay.
1. Live Meeting
For long-term projects with a fairly young team, try to organize an initial live meeting. Even with today’s technology, there is no better way to build a strong team than spending a few days together. And although at first, it may seem overly expensive, for high-priority projects this will be an investment that will have a high return in the long run.
2. Organize the Workflow
As a team leader or project manager, pay particular attention to the direct organization of team meetings and project management. The topics discussed, role distribution, project plans and documentation are of particular importance when managing a distributed team. It should be noted that for a one-hour telephone conference, it is still necessary to spend several hours on administrative preparation.
3. Time Difference
If you are in the United States, do not expect your project colleagues who are working remotely from another part of the globe to have a conference with you. Unfortunately, there’s not always a perfect time in the international team that would be convenient for everyone. Therefore, you will have to adapt to each other in turn. Again, due to the time difference, you might want to try to ensure that your calls are not longer than one hour.
4. Don’t Forget About Team Building
Spend a lot of time “offline” with individual team members. Make face-to-face meetings with each team member for training, feedback, motivation and building relationships.
5. Stay Connected
Take some formal and informal teamwork after your initial meeting. Acquaintance with someone as a person, and not just as a resource, allows you to build relationships based on trust, cooperation, and loyalty. Thus, it wouldn’t hurt to connect on social media, etc.
6. Cultural Differences
Learn another culture – learn a few phrases, at least how to say and write “hello” and “thank you”. You do not have to fluently speak a foreign language, your colleagues and partners will appreciate the respect you have shown. But it’s worth being careful, some project managers sometimes overdo it and then lose credibility in the eyes of their project teammates.
7. Use Technology, But Use Appropriately
Web conferencing, chats, blogs and video conferencing can be useful and can be used by you to achieve your plan. The only thing is, do not get carried away with these tools, use them appropriately.
8. Use Classic English
Although English is an international language, avoid local dialects, metaphors and anything else that can be confusing. This can be difficult right away – ask your teammates for advice.
9. Provide Information in Advance
Team members in another country may want to translate the material to you send or at least have time to read it in advance. It is very difficult to read and understand non-trivial information in a non-native language.
Technology has made it possible for people to choose where they want to live yet find fulfilling work and careers.
Companies have invested in their staff with diversified teams and business models that keep costs down yet deliver value to clients and stakeholders.
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