Somewhere on every entrepreneurs’ list as to ‘why they started their business’ you will almost always find “personal freedom”. This is up there because starting a business, carving a lifestyle, and leveraging ways to make money online allows them to break from the 9-to-5 routine and physical confines that are married with corporate life.
The point: you want freedom.
The issue is that a business can often take over too much of your time. You’re often putting in more time than you would at a desk job. When you do manage to take some time for yourself, like for a vacation, you still probably need to check in to keep things running.
The following aims to soften the workload by employing smart strategies, tools, and resources. Here are three of the main points of business you can handle while afar.
Shipping & Fulfillment
Product fulfillment will most likely be the most troubling part of operating your business when you’re not around the office. If you’re not there then how will you ship?
A workaround to this issue is by using product fulfillment services (see their pros, cons, and a few example companies). These companies give you the ability to bulk ship to their location, store your products in their warehouse, and then give them the ability to package and ship your products. The service comes with a small fee for the storage and processing but it’s certainly one of the best options if you need to fulfill orders and can’t be around.
Email & Contact
To combat a flood of email and other forms of contact you may want to consider:
· Creating a frequently asked questions page to address most issues
· Creating template emails to quickly respond to inquiries
· Subscribing to a customer support service via third-party providers
· Hiring a virtual employee to manage contact
Of these the easiest to employ would be a virtual assistant. You can delegate the majority email and contact tasks to them while being forward the important ones to you. Get a start by learning about VA’s and their uses. It’ll free a lot of your time.
If a customer is in distress and you’re not there to help them then you risk tarnishing your brand and losing out on repeat business.
The task of handling customer support while afar can pose difficulty but is easily managed once you put the Internet to good use.
· Utilize VoIP phones to avoid long-distance fees for customer support calls anywhere in the World (great for the basics).
· Utilize remote desktop support applications to handle tech-related support by gaining access to a customer’s computer to handle a problem (LogeMeIn used to be good for this but turned away from their free model so a provider like Simple-Help is a great alternative to get the job done).
· Utilize the help of virtual assistants (see a recurring theme?) to work with Live Chat so you can take customer support inquiries at any time of the day.
In all, there are lots of options for handling customer service without actually having to get involved. A small investment in services or applications, when compared to the cost associated with losing a customer, is a drop in the bucket and well worth the investment.
Go Forth …
And explore the World.
Use the strategies, tools, and resources found in this post to handle the workload while you’re away from your office. With these items covered, even if you’re half way across the World, everything will remain operational so relax and have fun. You deserve it.