5 Best Practices For Startups With Virtual Teams

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Running a remote startup has huge cost advantages over traditional, brick-and-mortar companies, but it also comes with a few downsides. For one, it can be challenging to get virtual teams on the same page if you are miles or continents away from each other.

Without face-to-face interactions, you’ll have to contend with issues regarding collaboration, communication and the individual productivity of members. The good news is, there’s no shortage of strategies and tools out there that can help you overcome the distance barrier when it comes to working with a virtual team. Below are some of the top practices you need to follow as a remote startup:

Hold regular virtual meetings

Just because you’re exempt from the nuisance of seemingly non-stop meetings in-office doesn’t mean you should abandon them entirely. It’s easy enough to use virtual meetings to level up your remote team’s collaboration.

Virtual meetings will enable you to concoct solutions to problems quickly, maintain rapport, ensure everyone’s aligned on all fronts, make important business decisions, and develop more concrete goals as a team. For startups, it’s also a great way to provide motivation as you kick off your very first project.

A webinar platform like ClickMeeting eliminates most of the technical hurdles involved with regular virtual meetings. You can manage users, prepare your content, issue invites and even customize the look of your webinar room, all through the simplified setup page.

ClickMeeting is also equipped with a number of interaction tools, such as screen share, polls and live chat. These are helpful for accelerating the knowledge sharing process as well as maintaining the engagement of webinar or meeting attendees.

Use powerful communication tools

Many startups settle for email as the primary means of communication. Sure, it does the job of sharing feedback and important work details. But when it comes to keeping a remote team engaged, emails do little to nothing.

Let’s face it; an email inbox isn’t really the best place to discuss work-related matters. Not only are there social media notifications and newsletters to distract you, but emails also make it difficult to track the progress of ongoing tasks.

A better solution is to use a communication tool like Slack, which creates a virtual “workspace” where team members can discuss specific topics. It works by letting users create channels for pretty much everything — from ongoing campaigns to random conversations.

By organizing conversations into channels, you instill purpose whenever team members communicate online. Slack also makes these sessions beget more actionable results with the help of third-party integrations, like cloud storage services, project management apps and automation platforms.

Organize your tasks visually

Effective communication is only a piece of the collaboration puzzle for remote startups. Remember, discussing and monitoring are two very different things. Once you have finalized the tasks to be done, you need to organize and track them in a way that’s accessible to everyone involved.

A collaboration tool like Trello is the simplest you can get when it comes to visual task management. Put simply, it lets you organize individual tasks into “cards,” which are then sorted into lists.

Trello also allows you to assign cards to team members, set deadlines and apply labels. Everything can be done via the intuitive, drag-and-drop interface. It’s also worth noting that most of Trello’s core features are already made available for free.

If you want, you can go for a more comprehensive project management platform like Basecamp, which incorporates advanced community and communication tools. But since you already have Slack for that, a premium platform is only worth the price if you plan to consolidate everything in one place.

Streamline file-sharing with cloud storage

At this point, you now have a few tools you can use to share and work on files with your remote team. Trello, ClickMeeting, Slack — all of these tools allow you to upload files as attachments. However, none of them is capable of synchronizing changes in real-time.

As a result, it can sometimes be hard to get a hold of the latest version of a certain file. Cloud services such as Google Drive solve this problem by enabling users to seamlessly work on files without having to download and re-upload them. It goes hand in hand with the rest of their “G Suite” apps, like Docs, Sheets and Calendar.

Docs and Sheets, in particular, allow users to edit a document simultaneously — given they have adequate access privileges. They also have a “Version history” tracker that lets users easily restore previous versions of a document.

Plan casual hangouts

If you’re considering working together for the long-term, the least you could do is to really get to know your team on a more personal level. Doing so will help you get a deeper understanding of their strengths, work habits, preferences and so on. This also builds accountability between members, which in turn, leads to a more nurturing and productive company culture.

While there’s no specific way to do this, below are some ideas you should consider:

  • Book a coworking space
    If your remote startup’s members are within driving distance from each other, book a coworking space where employees can be productive together.
  • Attend events together
    To make your meetup as meaningful as possible, try looking for events you can attend and plan a group activity afterward. There are bound to be seminars, speaking engagements, and other events relevant to your niche — some of which can be found on social networking sites like Facebook or LinkedIn.
  • Use Google Hangouts
    You know that distance doesn’t have to be a hindrance to relationship-building. As such, don’t hesitate to initiate impromptu conversations on Google Hangouts or any other similar platform.
  • Plan a company retreat
    It may seem like a long shot for brand new startups, but a company retreat is more than possible if the time is right. Buffer, for example, shared a number of valuable tips on how they successfully held a weekend getaway with over 90 remote team members.

What’s next?

There’s no doubt that running a startup with a remote team can be quite overwhelming. However, with the right tools, strategies and attitude, you’ll be able to increase your chances of succeeding despite all the roadblocks that you need to address.

Source: 5 Best Practices for Startups With Virtual Teams

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The Role Of Technology In The Evolution Of Communication

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For as long as humans have been on this planet, we’ve invented forms of communication—from smoke signals and messenger pigeons to the telephone and email—that have constantly evolved how we interact with each other.

One of the biggest developments in communication came in 1831 when the electric telegraph was invented. While post existed as a form of communication before this date, it was electrical engineering in the 19th century which had a revolutionary impact.

Now, digital methods have superseded almost all other forms of communication, especially in business. I can’t remember the last time I hand wrote a letter, rather than an email at work, even my signature is digital these days. Picking up the phone is a rare occurrence too—instead, I FaceTime, Zoom, or join a Google Hangout.

When I look back at how communication has advanced over the years, it really is quite incredible…

The Telephone 

In 1849, the telephone was invented and within 50 years it was an essential item for homes and offices, but tethering impacted the flexibility and privacy of the device. Then, came the mobile phone. In 1973, Motorola created a mobile phone which kick-started a chain of developments that transformed communication forever.

Early smartphones were primarily aimed towards the enterprise market, bridging the gap between telephones and personal digital assistants (PDAs), but they were bulky and had short battery lives. By 1996, Nokia was releasing phones with QWERTY keyboards and by 2010, the majority of Android phones were touchscreen-only.

In 2007, Steve Jobs revealed the first iPhone to the world and Apple paved the way for the aesthetics of modern smartphones. Before the iPhone, “flip phones”, and phones with a split keyboard and screen were the norm. A year later, a central application store with an initial 500 downloadable ‘apps’ was launched. Currently, there are over two million apps available in the Apple App Store.

Since the mid-1990s, the Internet has had a revolutionary impact on communication, including the rise of near-instant communication by electronic mail, instant messaging, voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone calls, two-way interactive video calls, discussion forums, blogs, and social networking.

The internet has made communication easier and faster, it’s allowed us to stay in contact with people regardless of time and location. It’s accelerated the pace of business and widened the possibilities within the enterprise space. It’s allowed people to find their voice and express themselves through social media, YouTube and memes. The internet has connected and divided us like nothing before.

As a byproduct of the World Wide Web, email was introduced to the world in 1991 (although it had been operating years before) and it has vastly changed our lives—whether for better or worse depends on your viewpoint. The first users of the messaging platform were educational systems and the military who used email to exchange information. In 2018, there were more than 3.8 billion email users—that’s more than half the planet. By 2022, it’s expected that we will be sending 333 billion personal and business emails each day.

While email is invaluable and we can’t imagine a world without it, there are tools that are springing up that are giving email a run for its money. Take Slack (an acronym for “Searchable Log of All Communication and Knowledge”) for example, the company which launched in 2014 has often been described as an email killer.

However, while Slack has become the most popular chat and productivity tool in the world used by 10 million people every day, email is still going strong. In recognition of this, Slack’s upgrades have ensured that people who still rely heavily on email are not excluded from collaboratory work.

Wearable Technology 

The first instance of wearable technology was a handsfree mobile headset launched in 1999, which became a piece of tech synonymous with city workers. It gave businesspeople the ability to answer calls on the go, most importantly, while driving.

Ten years ago, the idea that you could make a video call from an item other than a phone would have been a sci-fi dream. Now, with smartwatches, audio sunglasses, and other emerging wearable technology, these capabilities are a part of our daily lives.

Virtual Reality (VR) 

The next generation of VR has only been around since 2016, but it’s already shaking up communications. The beauty of VR—presence—means you can connect to someone in the same space at the same time, without the time sink and cost of travel, even if participants are on different continents.

VR also helps to facilitate better communication. In a typical discussion, a lot of information is non-verbal communication which can be transcribed in VR. Voice tone, hesitations, head and hand movements greatly improve the understanding of the participants’ emotions and intents. Plus in VR, all distractions are removed and people can be fully focused on what is happening around them.

In fact, MeetinVR claims that there is a 25% increase in attention span when meeting in virtual reality compared to video conferencing. In addition, research suggests we retain more information and can better apply what we have learned after participating in virtual reality. 3D is a natural communication language overcoming linguistic barriers as well as technical jargon.

5G

5G, the 5th generation of mobile network, promises much faster data download and upload speeds, wider coverage, and more stable connections. These benefits will bring about significant improvements in communication. Instantaneous communication will be possible and those patchy frustrating video calls will be a thing of the past.

The average 4G transmission speed currently available for our smartphones is around the 21 Mbps mark. 5G will be 100 to 1000 times faster. The Consumer Technology Association notes that at this speed, you could download a two-hour movie in just 3.6 seconds, versus 6 minutes on 4G or 26 hours on 3G. The impact of 5G will go far beyond our smartphones as it will allow millions of devices to be connected simultaneously.

Looking ahead, there is already buzz about 6G. Although it’s still in basic research and around 15-20 years away, it’s interesting from an innovation point of view. 6G will form the framework of the connected utopia we aspire towards, and with it will come untold improvements in the speed and consistency of our communication.

I am the CEO and Founder of REWIND, an Emmy nominated immersive content studio that fuses bleeding-edge technology with award-winning creative storytelling.

Source: The Role Of Technology In The Evolution Of Communication

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Why You Should (Almost) Always Make the First Offer

Photo: vchal (Shutterstock)

For some reason, negotiation tends to be considered a specialized professional skill instead of a basic life one. Business school students and salespeople learn tons about how to work out deals, but most of the rest of us never learn much about how to negotiate. That’s one reason why buying a major asset like a house or car is so stressful for regular folks—negotiating is mysterious to us.

But everyone negotiates on a constant basis, and learning some of the fundamentals of banging out a mutually-beneficial deal is a crucial skill we should all acquire. The challenges of learning how to bargain is often the mixture of emotion, psychology, and math. Leverage can swing back and forth between parties, and emotions can play as much of a role as finances (as anyone who has overpaid for a house because they “fell in love with it” can attest).

That’s why learning some basic negotiation skills is essential—starting with why you should always seriously consider making the first offer.

The Anchoring Effect

You’ve probably heard that you should always make the first offer when negotiating, possibly with some vague explanation about setting the terms. This is, in fact, generally good advice—because of something called the Anchoring Effect.

The Anchoring Effect is all about bias—it’s an irrational tendency in human beings to rely on the first piece of data they acquire, regardless of its value. We all have this bias—study after study has confirmed that the first number you hear will influence how you value something. When sellers make the first offer, the final price is usually higher, and one study found that 85% of negotiated outcomes generally aligned with the first offer.

The crazy part is, even when we know the first piece of data shouldn’t affect us, it does. In one experiment, people were asked to write down the last two digits of their own social security number and then asked if they would pay that much for various items. Then, they were asked to bid for the same things, and despite the fact that the “seed” number they’d been given was completely unrelated to anything, folks with higher social security numbers bid much higher for everything.

Dropping the anchor

The irrational power of the Anchoring Effect is why making the first offer (sometimes called “dropping the anchor”) is a powerful tool in a negotiation. But that doesn’t mean it always works—you need to know how to use it in order to get the full benefit of the effect.

Here are some things to consider when planning to drop an anchor into a negotiation:

  • Be aggressive. People often worry that being overly aggressive with an opening offer or price will insult or scare off the other party. But an aggressive first offer is your best strategy. An aggressive first offer leaves you room to “compromise,” while still getting a better deal in the end (a form of the “Door in the Face” technique).
  • Don’t be absurd. Keep in mind that “aggressive” doesn’t mean “insane.” While an aggressive first offer can set the goalposts in your favor, throwing out an offer that is completely out of line with reality can make the other side wonder if you’re serious, competent, or credible.
  • Be specific. The more precise your first offer is, the more effective it will be in anchoring your opposition. The classic example is pricing a house: A list price of $255,500 will get higher bids than a list price of $255,000—or $256,000.

By putting some thought into the specifics of your first offer, you can most benefit from the irrational power of the Anchoring Effect.

Other negotiating success factors

As powerful as the Anchoring Effect can be in a negotiation, it’s not a magic spell. The first thing to keep in mind is that if you’re dealing with an experienced and trained business or sales professional, chances are they know all about it and have been trained in ways to “defuse” the anchor, which is often as simple as ignoring it and pivoting to details, or offering an immediate “counter-anchor” in an effort to redefine the terms.

The key to a successful anchoring first offer is information, really. The ideal scenario for dropping an anchor is when you know more than the other side. When the other party has access to more information than you do, it’s very difficult to drop an anchor. For example, if a homeowner knows the real estate market in their area well, they know how much their property is worth, and your aggressive anchor will simply seem absurd.

Or consider interviewing for a job—the interviewer knows what the budgeted salary for a position is, and you don’t. If your first salary ask is way outside that budget, it’s not going to have the intended effect. On the other hand, if you both know the same amount of information, your anchor will be predictable and expected, making it easier to defuse.

And if you’re both in the dark, a first offer will be pretty much a guess, making it impossible to know whether you’re actually helping yourself with your shot in the dark anchor. All that being said, making the first offer has been proven to have a beneficial psychological effect on the other side of a negotiation. So use this power. Just do your research first.

By: Jeff Somers

Source: Why You Should (Almost) Always Make the First Offer

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Related contents:

Getting to yes : negotiating agreement without giving in (Reprint ed.). New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0140065343.Adnan, Muhamad Hariz; Hassan, Mohd Fadzil; Aziz, Izzatdin Abdul; Rashid, Nuraini Abdul (2019), Saeed, Faisal; Gazem, Nadhmi; Mohammed, Fathey; Busalim, Abdelsalam (eds.), “

Bargaining for Advantage. United States: Penguin. ISBN 9780670881338.Saner, Raymond. The Expert Negotiator, The Netherlands: Kluwer Law International, 2000 (p. 40)

“Perspective taking as a means to overcome motivational barriers in negotiations: When putting oneself in the opponents shoes helps to walk towards agreements” (PDF). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 101 (4): 771–790. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.728.9853. doi:10.1037/a0023801. PMID 2172844

“Against Gridlock: The Viability of Interest-Based Legislative Negotiation”, Harvard Law & Policy Review (Online), vol. 3, p. 1 (2009).World Trade Organization, WTO members search for compromise as text-based negotiations on fishing subsidies continue, published 9 October 2020, accessed 15 October 2020United Nations,

Previewing work ahead, UN Assembly President says Member States must agree a bold post-2015 agenda, published 15 January 2015, accessed 16 October 2020

CNA, 15 nations complete ‘text-based’ negotiations for RCEP, signing xpected in 2020, accessed 15 October 2020CNA, India will not join RCEP trade deal in blow to sprawling Asian pact, published 4 November 2019, accessed 16 October 2020Johnston, Peter D (2008).

Negotiating with Giants. United States: Negotiation Press. pp. Pages 4 to 5. ISBN 978-0980942101.Chernow, Ron (2004). Titan, The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. United States: Penguin Random House. pp. Pages 111 to 112. ISBN 978-1400077304.

“Athletes’ performance declines following contract years”. ScienceDaily. 22 January 2014.Johnston, Peter D. (2008). Negotiating with Giants. United States: Negotiation Press. pp. Page 4. ISBN 978-0980942101.Johnston, Peter D. (2008). Negotiating with Giants. United States: Negotiation Press. p. 168. ISBN 978-0980942101.IBHS Union Voice (3 December 2008).

“”Bad Faith Negotiation”, Union Voice”. Unitas.wordpress.com. Retrieved 24 August 2014.example of use – “the Republicans accused the Democrats of “negotiating in bad faith”, Oxford Online DictionaryDouglas Stuart and Harvey Starr,

“The ‘Inherent Bad Faith Model’ Reconsidered: Dulles, Kennedy, and Kissinger”, Political Psychology(subscription required)“… the most widely studied is the inherent bad faith model of one’s opponent …”, The handbook of social psychology, Volumes 1-2, edited by Daniel T. Gilbert, Susan T. Fiske, Gardner Lindzey

“Merlone, U., & Lupano, M. (2021). Third-party funding: The minimum claim value. European Journal of Operational Research”. European Journal of Operational Research. 296 (2): 738–747. doi:10.1016/j.ejor.2021.04.059. S2CID 236586390.Malhotra, D.,

Four Strategies for Making Concessions, Harvard Business School, Working Knowledge, published 6 March 2006, accesses 2 June 2021“Negotiation” (PDF). Saylor Academy. Retrieved 10 April 2022.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83 (5) (2002), pp. 1131–1140

“BEST ALTERNATIVE TO A NEGOTIATED AGREEMENT”. University of Kuala Lumpur. Retrieved 10 April 2022 – via Course Hero.Lewicki, Roy J.; Barry, Bruce; Saunders, David M. (2014). Negotiation: Readings, Exercises and Cases (7th ed.). McGraw Hill Education. p. 467. ISBN 9780077862428.Thomas, Kenneth W (21 November 2006).

“Conflict and conflict management: Reflections and update” (PDF). Journal of Organizational Behavior. 13 (3): 265–274. doi:10.1002/job.4030130307. hdl:10945/40295. S2CID 145635552.Shell, R. G. (2006). Bargaining for advantage. New York: Penguin Books.Marks, M; Harold, C (2011). “Who Asks and Who Receives in Salary Negotiation”. Journal of Organizational Behavior. 32 (3): 371–394. doi:10.1002/job.671.Goldman, Alvin (1991).

Settling For More: Mastering Negotiating Strategies and Techniques. Washington, D.C.: The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-87179-651-6.Pease, Barbara and Alan (2006).

The Definitive Book of Body Language. New York: Bantam Dell. p. 131. ISBN 978-0-553-80472-0.Donaldson, Michael C.; Donaldson, Mimi (1996). Negotiating for dummies. New York: Hungry Minds. ISBN 978-1-56884-867-9.Van Kleef, G.A.; De Dreu, C.K.W.; Manstead, A.S.R. (2006).

“Supplication and Appeasement in Conflict and Negotiation: The Interpersonal Effects of Disappointment, Worry, Guilt, and Regret” (PDF). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 91 (1): 124–142. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.91.1.124. PMID 16834484. S2CID 11970038.Carnevale, P. J. D.; Isen, A. M. (1986).

“The influence of positive affect and visual access on the discovery of integrative solutions in bilateral negotiation” (PDF). Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. 37: 1–13. doi:10.1016/0749-5978(86)90041-5. hdl:2027.42/26263.Bowles, Hannah; Babcock, Linda; Lai, Lei (2006).

“Social incentives for gender diVerences in the propensity to initiate negotiations: Sometimes it does hurt to ask” (PDF). Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. 103: 84–103. doi:10.1016/j.obhdp.2006.09.001. S2CID 18202551.Callahan, J; Besterfield-Sacre, M.E.; Carpenter, J.P.; Needy, K.L.; Schrader, C.B. (2016).

“Listening and Negotiation”. 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. doi:10.18260/p.25571.Amekudzi-Kennedy, A.A.; Hall, K.D.; Harding, T.S.; Moll, A.J.; Callahan, J. (2017). “Listening and Negotiation II”. 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. doi:10.18260/1-2–28631.McKersie, R.B. (2012).

“negotiation”. Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 19 August 2019.“The Day-to-Day Life of a Dean: Engaging in Negotiations and negotiations”. Negotiation Journal 475-488. 28 (4): 475–488. doi:10.1111/j.1571-9979.2012.00352.x.Fisher, R.; Ury, W.; Patton, B. (2012). Getting to yes: Negotiating agreement without giving in. Penguin: New York.

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Accelerate Customer Success And Brand Loyalty With Data

 

Recently, financial services and telecommunication providers have experienced significant challenges. They encountered digitally savvy competitors, increased expectations for online customer service (pre-and post-pandemic), and higher case volumes of agitated customers. Meanwhile, remote work affected the productivity of service staff, daily operations, and more. But they aren’t the only service-driven industries reacting to disruption and increasing consumer expectations.

Quality of service can mean the difference between keeping or losing customers, so organizations need to examine how, where, and when they engage with them. A single customer view looking at experiences across service, marketing, and commerce is essential. Unfortunately, many businesses struggle with disparate data and disconnected applications that obfuscate that view. That means service fulfillment and relevant technologies must step up to help organizations deliver more consistent, seamless, swift, and personalized experiences for customers who agree “good enough” service won’t suffice.

Transforming your service strategy and operations with data leads to better business results. A data-driven service approach is making a positive difference in the financial services and telecommunications industries and can also help your business achieve these benefits:

1. Enhanced, personalized customer experiences across all channels

2. More productive, empowered service agents influencing success

3. Increased efficiency, prioritization, and automation throughout service operations

4. Reduced IT complexity and costs leading to higher margins

The Risks Of Poor Customer Experience

If customers experience less-than-stellar service, there’s a greater risk of switching to competitors. In fact, 80% of consumers will switch after just one poor experience1—driving businesses to compete on more than price and choice. There are other serious downstream effects: increased customer churn, diminished reputation and trust, stalled growth, and attrition of employees, agents, or leadership.

Business circumstances can change instantly. Customer interactions can portend issues with serious implications (i.e., costly compliance or regulatory fines or sharp declines in satisfaction scores). Each problem puts a company at greater risk for stolen market share you can’t afford to lose.

With a commitment to data-driven and digitally driven service operations—from the contact center to the field—you are better positioned with customers and can reduce or eliminate most risks. In digital environments, engagement barriers are often reduced or eliminated allowing customers to gain more service access, and brands to gain increased opportunities for better customer service delivery.

How To Unlock Data And Transform Customer Service End-To-End

Transitioning to data-driven service starts with leaders’ commitment to building and maintaining a cohesive data strategy spanning people, processes, and technologies that support business resilience and future growth. The next step is unifying data sources with intuitive and flexible analytics to achieve a single source of truth.

When you infuse analytics across service operations (and the business), agents and leaders gain that invaluable, complete customer view to impact personal, swift, effective service, and transform the call center from a siloed operation to an agile changemaker that affects marketing, sales, product development, and more. Tangible results include:

For financial services…

· Up to 31% increase in customer satisfaction

· Up to 29% increase in agent and user productivity

· Up to 27% reduction in customer retention

For telecommunications…

· 37% faster time to resolution

· 55% decrease in cost to serve

· 53% increase in average revenue per user (ARPU)

Let’s examine the four benefits of data-driven service and relevant resources as you focus on protecting the bottom line.

1. Enhanced, personalized customer experiences across channels

 

Customers are precious business assets, so carefully nurturing and protecting each relationship is key. Regardless of how they engage, each expects a personal interaction resulting in swift resolution. Maybe there’s a service issue and they made several attempts to get help. Or maybe there’s an opportunity to upsell their existing products and services. Unfortunately, the siloed data systems sitting inside and outside of your organization’s customer relationship management (CRM) system make it more complicated to deliver best-in-class service.

Data, analytics, and AI are foundational to digital enterprises where functional insights drive positive business outcomes. According to McKinsey, many companies using data-driven practices report above-market growth of +15%2—especially in the B2B market, but the same practices apply to B2C enterprises.

Charles Schwab relies on data to answer financial planning questions, improve customer experiences, drive operational leverage, and more. Shifting from a static to dynamic customer view with Tableau helps their call centers, branches, and headquarters staff see data errors or inconsistencies and discover insights to make product adjustments so clients’ money goes further and their engagement stays positive.

“Now those receiving and handling the customer calls are making their own impact, helping maintain higher customer satisfaction levels. They’re transitioning into a role where they’re looking at the data behind customer engagement.” Senior Data Analyst, Charles Schwab

2. More productive, empowered service agents influencing success

When agents shift from system to system trying to access information and manually perform processes, customers feel and react to the effects of disengaged communication, fragmented experiences, and long wait times. They want meaningful interaction from service staff seeing a complete view of customer and business data to influence smarter responses and actions.

As noted in the “State of Service” report from Salesforce Research, 91% of customers say they’ll make another purchase if the service is good1. With intuitive analytics, your agents can access and catalog data, then analyze it for valuable and trusted insights, and also share it with others to act in customers’ best interests. Access to pre-built dashboards like Tableau’s Call Center Accelerator gives your service team deeper views of overall service levels and helps all business leaders analyze agent performance—good and bad. Feel confident knowing data is at their fingertips to make better, quicker decisions in all customer interactions.

workforce

Thousands of customers depend on internet, cable, and phone providers to deliver reliable service. When customers use these services, ample data is created and can be collected. Verizon analyzes it with Tableau to ensure customers are satisfied, problems get handled, and departments like marketing or call centers can see patterns and behaviors to improve service. A Center for Excellence is critical as they perform analyses, support data management, and deliver insights to stakeholders for improved decision-making.

“Insights from dashboards help us optimize call center operations to reduce multiple customer calls. Monitoring these timely dashboards shows us that as the resolution rate and satisfaction index of customers go up, volumes for calls and dispatches—key cost drivers—go down. Senior Manager of Data Analytics, Verizon

3. Increased efficiency and prioritization of more complex cases throughout service operations

Before 2020, contact centers could manage traditional customer demand and service spikes. But these spikes are usually short-lived and predictable versus the unforeseen changes and new expectations growing from digital engagement and the pandemic. With a smaller workforce also handling call center cases due to downsizing, data-driven technologies that support efficiency, prioritization, and automation are necessary to the experience equation—particularly for large, dispersed enterprises.

Today, interactive analytics with built-in AI help your staff confidently understand all customer data and service performance in their workflows, which helps them be more predictive and proactive when choosing how to act on behalf of customers. AI-powered analytics also fuel speed to insights for better contact routing, improved call center and field staff capacity, and automaton of more cumbersome, time-intensive processes.

For example, a single dashboard displaying call center KPIs in Tableau can help management see and know where to optimize operations—from streamlining or eliminating multisystem dependencies to automating low-value processes that hamper productivity and communication. This frees up service staff to help more customers and address more complex cases.

Inconsistent, fragmented data at Telstra made pipeline, revenue forecasting, and quicker delivery of new technologies to customers difficult. But the combination of Sales Cloud and CRM Analytics transformed how they deliver customers new solutions and measure business value. Sales Cloud provides a complete view of enterprise customers and enables sales to forecast and collaborate for more meaningful interactions. CRM Analytics also helps line of business managers and service staff stay focused on how to achieve their business KPIs.

4. Reduced IT complexity and costs leading to higher margins

By using a self-service solution like Tableau, gain highly configurable, manageable, and customizable analytics to increase performance clarity and create faster, more accurate business decisions or predictions. IT is no longer a bottleneck, and service operations staff, business analysts, and executives have a clear understanding with direct visibility of the customer journey and what factors extend or detract from success.

This can translate to better planning with staffing, forecasting, and seasonality to reduce service costs and maintain high-quality, year-round customer engagement.

Growing through mergers and acquisitions, strategic data became vital to business operations for JPMC. IT made data easily accessible for business teams through Tableau so domain experts could keep up with industry changes, regulations, and risks, and optimize for customer success. For example, marketing operations analyze the customer journey to inform promotional materials and products like the mobile application and branch managers examine retail data to implement better banking experiences.

“We put Tableau on our robust customer data sets…to quickly ask questions like ‘How many customers have a Freedom and a checking account, and use the mobile wallet.’ ” Director of Analytics, JPMorgan Chase

Embrace Data-First Service And Win With Customers

In the competitive, highly regulated environment facing financial services, telecommunications, and other industries, leading with data-first service creates a winning position. Grow and protect valued customer relationships with the help of a world-leading analytics solution like Tableau combined with Salesforce, the leading CRM, to connect with customers in more meaningful ways across every channel—every time.

 

Allison (Ally) Witherspoon Johnston, Senior Vice President, Product Marketing, Tableau. Allison leads the Tableau product marketing team and has worked at Salesforce

Source: Accelerate Customer Success And Brand Loyalty With Data

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How Do I Teach Workplace Communication Skills to My High School Students?

In the modern workplace, communication can make or break a career. High school students who develop strong communication skills early go on to nail that interview, negotiate that pay raise, or make a great case for that promotion. However, those who fail to communicate effectively often end up getting passed over–no matter how smart or skilled they are.

As an instructor, you want to ensure your kids have the best chance at success in their careers, and communication is a key element in that. But communication can be tricky to learn. What are these workplace communication skills, and where do you begin when teaching them in your career readiness course?

Many high school teachers have approached AES asking these questions, and in response, we’ve developed a list of the different types of communication your kids will encounter every day in the workplace.

In this article, you’ll discover a breakdown of the three different kinds of workplace communication and how you can teach them in a high school setting:

  • Verbal Communication
  • Non-Verbal Communication
  • Email Communication

By the end of this article, you’ll have a better sense of each of these three workplace communication skills and how you can teach them to your students.

Workplace Communication Skills Breakdown: Verbal, Non-Verbal, & Email

Traditionally, workplace communication is made of verbal and non-verbal communication. However, with the rise of technology, email has also taken a central role in workplace communication, and will be one of the primary methods your high schoolers use to collaborate with coworkers day-to-day.

What Is Verbal Communication?

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Verbal communication is any conversation that takes place vocally.

While that primarily means face-to-face discussions, it could also include phone calls, video conferences, voicemails, and voice messaging.

The most important advantage of verbal communication is that speakers can use tone of voice to help convey the context of what they’re saying.

That context could be anything from sincerity to sarcasm — but either way, it’s a major benefit that verbal communication has over non-verbal.

On the other hand, verbal communication is almost always temporary, which means it’s the responsibility of the listener and speaker to remember the discussion without any aid.

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This isn’t true for voicemails or voice messaging, but it does apply to phone calls, video conferencing, and face-to-face conversations.

Because the latter three situations occur much more frequently than voicemails and voice messaging, it’s important to note that two people may have different interpretations of how a conversation actually goes.

These different interpretations — whether they’re accurate or not — can vary from mild misunderstandings to major miscommunications.

After all, with no central source of truth (like a written document or recording), any disagreements over a verbal conversation are up in the air when it comes to determining what was actually said and intended.

Fortunately, verbal communication isn’t the only method of conversing in a business setting.

In fact, non-verbal communication is becoming the preferred conversation and planning format for many companies, especially those involved in cutting-edge technology.

What Is Non-Verbal Communication?

workplace-communication-nonverbal

Non-verbal communication is any form of discussion in which vocal tone doesn’t play a part. 

This includes several forms of communication, like instant messaging, text messaging, note-writing, social media posts, letters, data analysis, and even email–though email is special for a few reasons.

Oftentimes, non-verbal communication entails some form of writing, which gives it one major advantage over any other form of conversation: documentation.

Documentation provides that central source of truth for what someone said, when they said it, and how they said it. This helps provide a strong sense of clarity and can resolve conflicts much more effectively than verbal communication.

However, it’s important to note that non-verbal communication entails more than just writing. It also includes crucial social cues like eye contact, body language, gestures, and even physical touch! As a result, you have a lot more areas of opportunity when it comes to non-verbal communication.

Take social cues, for instance. These non-verbal gestures and visual accents help to complement verbal communication. After all, combining the right words and gestures at the right time can make all the difference between appearing selfish or helpful!

Context is everything in this case — and social cues help establish that context when used in conjunction with speech.

Still, there’s one form of specific non-verbal communication that merits more of a breakdown, and it’s become the single most important communication method in the working world: email.

What Is Email Communication?

workplace-communication-email

It’s strange to think that email was once considered a quaint or informal way of conducting business. After all, these days you’d be hard-pressed to find a business that doesn’t use it as a central pillar of their operations.

The bottom line is that email is one of the most-used communication methods for companies today. Using it, you can direct projects, hold discussions, make decisions, and grow a business to new heights!

This is why it’s so important for students to know about email, how it works, and why it requires professional etiquette.

After all, emails are responsible for individuals taking action in a company. They’re the best way to make sure people stay in the loop on different ideas and projects.

With the right email, someone can open themselves up to new opportunities that they never knew were possible. With the wrong email, they could truncate their career and end up looking for another job.

Email is taken seriously in the business world. It’s significantly different from text messaging, instant messaging, note-writing, and chat.

If a student goes into a job with the expectation that they can treat email like a messaging service, they’re starting off on a bad foot. To get them on the best start possible, it’s crucial that today’s educators teach email communication skills.

But that’s easier said than done, right? In fact, all of these communication skills can be tricky to teach. So how do you actually teach communication skills to high schoolers in the best way you can?

How to Teach Workplace Communication Skills

workplace-communication-teach

When it comes to teaching workplace communication skills to high schoolers, you’ll find a lot of variety in terms of approach and methodology.

That’s because what workplace communication actually entails — like many soft skills — isn’t set in stone. Many states in the US have completely different standards when it comes to communication education in general.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t great teaching strategies out there.

On the rest of this page, we’ll take an in-depth look into some of the most popular and successful online resources for teaching workplace communication skills in high school. These resources provide excellent guidelines to help you think about how you’ll teach these skills.

How Do I Teach Verbal Communication Skills?

workplace-communication-teach-verbal

The Global Digital Citizen Foundation (GDCF) is an organization dedicated to helping modern students learn in the ways that are best for them. When it comes to developing new teaching strategies, they’re always making new strides in terms of experimentation and tracking results.

GDCF has a brief–yet effective–suggestion for how to teach verbal communication to students of any age: have them watch videos that demonstrate conversational skills.

For the videos themselves, you can use clips from popular movies that your high schoolers know, like The Avengers, or even popular YouTubers who work in groups, like The Slo Mo Guys. This may help engage them further by making each lesson focus on characters or people that your students love to watch.

Regardless of what you choose to show, the goal is always the same. You want your students to demonstrate that they’re aware of what conversations look like along with positive communication traits and negative communication traits.

During the videos, you have students take notes that:

  • Summarize/paraphrase the dynamic between the speakers
  • Pull direct quotes from the conversation
  • Mark interesting responses or replies
  • Delve into the vocal tone of each speaker and how it affects the conversation

After the video is over and the students are done taking notes, you can ask them questions about key parts of the conversation: Why did the vocal tone of one speaker change at a certain point? How did the other speaker reply? How did it impact the conversation as a whole?

Asking these kinds of questions helps students engage with verbal communication in a way that’s relatable and fun — especially when compared to learning from a textbook.

How Do I Teach Non-Verbal Communication Skills?

workplace-communication-teach-nonverbal

Non-verbal communication skills are just as important as their verbal counterparts, and it’s essential you use the best resources available to teach them to your high schoolers.

Upbility, an education thought leader on speech therapy, offers several suggestions to help you get started with teaching social cues.

One of the most direct ways they recommend is through simple roleplaying. This is where you create conversational scenarios in which one student says something, another replies, and the rest of the class takes notes on what they observe.

For this roleplay scenario, it’s key that you highlight the subtle areas where social cues add emphasis to a conversation. These areas include:

  • Facial expressions
  • Body language
  • Gesturing
  • Eye contact
  • Personal touch
  • Personal space
  • Physical appearance

Have your students take notes, and after each exercise, you can ask the participants and observers to discuss what happened, why they interpreted a conversation a certain way, and how that interpretation could’ve changed based on non-verbal factors.

As for written communication, your options are surprisingly more limited than when dealing with social cues.

That’s because “writing skills” are an enormous category that includes career readiness, creative thinking, problem solving, and more.

However, there is an excellent resource provided by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), which is a branch of the US Department of Education. This thorough guide offered by IES details every step you can take to teach writing skills to teens and adolescents–perfect for high schoolers.

We recommend downloading the guide yourself (it’s free) and following its information as closely as you can. There’s a lot of good information in there!

How Do I Teach Email Communication Skills?

workplace-communication-teach-email

Email–simply put–is one of the most powerful and convenient tools for modern communication. That’s why it’s essential that high school students learn how to write emails effectively and intelligently before they enter the workforce.

This includes understanding the principles of business writing in general, like common questions and implied tone. It also requires students to practice writing emails of their own — especially emails that they send in response to others.

However, this is all easier said than done, and these concepts include a lot more information than they may seem at first.

But when you approach email communication with an effective teaching strategy–like the Four Phases– you can take that complicated topic and make it understandable for students of any age.

One way to get your high schoolers thinking is to include an activity in which they need to decide if an email is formal or informal. This takes some prep up front, but it’s a great way to mix up your lesson.

Write 5-8 examples of both formal and informal emails and distribute them to your students. Pick students to read each email aloud, and then ask the class if they think it is formal or informal and why they believe so.

Depending how the activity goes, you may be able to start a class debate or discussion about which emails are appropriate for which setting.

Once you’re done with that part of the activity, have each of your students compose both a formal and informal email using school email accounts. This will be a great way to give them hands-on practice with effective email.

Need More Lesson Plans to Help You Teach Communication Skills?

Workplace communication skills are essential for your high schoolers to learn. After all, soon enough they’ll be joining the workforce full time, and if they find they can’t communicate in a professional setting, they could end up falling behind–or worse.

In this article, you’ve learned about the three main methods of workplace communication and strategies you can use to teach them in your high school course. If you use these strategies well, you’ll be providing your kids a solid foundation for effective communication.

However, these activities and strategies are just the beginning when it comes to teaching these skills to your students. If you need even more material to teach your students workplace collaboration and communication, check out the Business Communication module in our catalog.

Within this module, you’ll receive valuable lesson plans, assignments, eLearning material, and engaging exercises that will turn your high schoolers into professional communicators.

By: Chris Zook

Chris Zook is a contributing author to the AES blog. He enjoys everything about online marketing, data science, user experience, and corgis.

Source: How Do I Teach Workplace Communication Skills to My High School Students?

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