Offering great customer service through social media


Social media is an opportunity for you to build your business brand by delivering excellent customer service. You should view social media as an open channel to the needs and insights of your market.

Follow these tips so you can use your social media to deliver fantastic customer service.

Keep an eye out
The people in charge of your social media should keep their eyes peeled for mentions of your business online. Failing to respond or share a customer’s positive or negative review could jeopardise your business image.

Respond quickly
Your customers will expect your business to engage with them on social media if they have raised a concern or are offering praise. The benefits of responding swiftly include:

  • Showing customers you care about their experience
  • Boosting your online profile by showing your social media pages are monitored
  • Answering questions or clearing up concerns that many other existing or potential customers may have
  • Promote your business through positive reviews

Public vs private responses

If a query or concern is made online, it is up to you to decide whether it is better to resolve the dispute in public or private. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook all have private messaging functions, which will allow you to liaise privately with your customer if it is a more sensitive issue. If you want to clear up some bad press you have been getting; a public forum may be a better space to reply to a complaint or grievance of a customer.

Keep your staff social media savvy


Your staff are representatives of your business, and their online profiles can do a lot of good or inflict damage on your brand’s image. Enforce a social media policy and educate your staff on the importance of your business’ online presence.

No negatives, only positives
Your employees’ online network can be a blessing and a curse to your business. To avoid reputational damage make sure your staff is aware that any inappropriate or harmful mentions of your business will be met with professional consequences. You should educate your staff on what constitutes unprofessional online conduct.

Some examples include:

  • Any rants bad-mouthing customers or management
  • Pictures of management or co-workers that are put up without consent or reflect poorly on the business
  • Proof of pretending to be sick to avoid work
  • Defamatory comments about your business or workplace

Encourage sharing
Your staff can advertise the positive aspects of work. Encourage your team to be vocal online about your office environment, special offers or workplace achievements. Make sure they tag your business whether it be on LinkedIn or Facebook.

The ins and outs of prenuptial agreements


A prenuptial agreement may be the last thing on your mind when you are getting married. Although it may not be a very romantic discussion, have this conversation with your partner so you can secure your personal and business finances in the future.

Get educated about prenuptial agreements so you do not leave your business vulnerable.

Prenuptial agreements provide certainty and security. Some benefits include:

  • Certainty regarding what will happen to your financial assets in the event of a relationship breakdown
  • Minimal legal costs during a separation
  • Protection of assets you owned before the relationship
  • Tax concession and stamp duty advantages

Aside from the obvious emotional concerns of planning for a scenario you hope never plays out, prenuptial agreements have several possible downsides including:

  • Preparation of the contract can be costly
  • Time-consuming and expensive legal advice that both parties must seek
  • The complexity of preparing the arrangement when considering children

Conflict resolution tips for leaders


Workplace conflict is inevitable, which is why you must manage arguments between your staff to keep your office environment professional and productive.

Establish office rules of engagement
Your code of conduct and workplace policies should make your job easier as a manager. Clear expectations for how staff interact with one another is key to setting the tone for workplace discussions, especially when they get heated.

Encourage employees to resolve conflicts
As a manager, you will not have time to get involved in every argument that breaks out in the office. You should encourage your staff to practice their conflict resolution skills so that in the future they will be able to solve their problems with their colleagues.

Referee the conflict
If your employees cannot resolve their dispute, you may have to step in. If you see that the conflict is escalating, bring the employees into your office for a face to face chat. You may help resolve the conflict by forcing each employee to listen to the other side and encourage a collaborative solution.

Improving cash flow for your business


Cash flow can be an issue for small businesses, especially if you have peak and low periods.

Follow these tips to improve your cash flow and avoid running into a tight financial spot.

Flexible rostering
Your staffing may need to change in peak and low periods. By employing casuals and using a flexible roster, you can cut back on hours when you need to improve your cash flow in quiet periods.

Monitor stock levels
Excess stock levels will increase the storage space you need, insurance costs and tie up your cash. Monitor your stock levels so you can find the most efficient level. Keep in mind delivery concerns, peak and low periods and your storage capacity when you make these decisions.

Have a mandatory deposit policy
For larger orders, it is worth having a non-refundable deposit. A deposit reduces financial loss should the product be returned or exchanged.

Personalising your business brand


Personalising your business brand attracts new customers by establishing authenticity and a point of difference.

Follow these tips to improve your marketing and create a unique brand true to yourself.

Put a face to the name
The best way to add a personal touch to your brand is to be human. Adding a team graphic to your website, business cards or advertising will share your business’ personality with your potential and current customers. For small business customers, seeing the people behind the good or service they are consuming builds trust and intimacy that can set you apart from your competitors.

Engage with your audience
Social media is a key part of a small business. You should:

  • Write stories about your satisfied customers and tag them so their friends can see
  • Engage in the comments section
  • Join in on internet trends like memes or challenges
  • Respond to both good and bad reviews to show you care

Be accessible
Corporate and business jargon can send customers running in the opposite direction. Easy to understand language and first person, are your best friends when you are writing anything from your business cards to your website content. A conversational tone that shows your personality will go a long way with customers looking for someone they can trust.

Authority for super complaints introduced


The new Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) will make it easier for individuals and small businesses to make complaints about their superannuation financial firms.

The Coalition government has responded to criticisms of previous dispute resolution bodies by creating a new financial disputes framework. AFCA has been described as a “one-stop shop” that will improve outcomes for consumers and increase the efficiency of the dispute resolution process.

AFCA’s jurisdiction
AFCA has been given authority over a range of complaint areas including:

  • Superannuation annuities
  • Corporate, industry and retail super funds
  • SMSFs (handled under investments and advice jurisdiction)
  • Approved deposit funds
  • Small funds
  • Retirement savings accounts
  • Trustees, insurers and decision makers of relevant super bodies

What you can make complaints about
Your super complaint to AFCA must adhere to its governing rules. AFCA has specific time limits for complaints but no monetary limits.

You can make complaints about:

  • The advice you were given about a superannuation product
  • Fees or costs that were incorrectly charged or calculated
  • Information you weren’t given about the product including fees or costs
  • Errors in the information provided to you; for example, if your benefit statements are incorrect
  • Decisions your super provider has made
  • Payment of a death benefit
  • Giving instructions that were not followed
  • Transactions that were incorrect or unauthorised

Avoid these small business tax errors


Unwanted attention and penalties from the ATO can jeopardise your small business.

Protect your business by avoiding these common small business tax errors.

Not using an accountant
Tax laws frequently change, and compliance requirements can be time-consuming and demanding. A registered tax agent will streamline your financial processes, provide advice on maximising your finances and keep you compliant.

Inaccurate tax returns
Small businesses that do not declare their income and deductions accurately will attract the ATO’s attention and financial penalties. All foreign income, capital gains tax, business sales and bank interest must be declared. You must also have legitimate evidence supporting your tax deduction claims.

Poor record keeping
Businesses that fail to keep accurate records will struggle to remain compliant. It is vital to keep:

  • Cash, online, EFTPOS, bank statements, credit and debit card transactions
  • Records showing when you use business purchases for private purposes to provide evidence for tax deduction claims

Incorrect superannuation payments
The ATO will sanction employers that fail to pay their employees’ superannuation correctly and on time. Make your mandatory quarterly payments are paid at the correct rate of 9.5 per cent of your employee’s pay. The cash-flow benefits of delaying super payments and missing deadlines are not worth the financial and criminal punishments incurred by frequent breaches.

Celebrating Xmas at the office on a budget


Christmas is a great time to reward your employees but the celebrations you plan do not have to break your bank.

You can have a frugal and fun Christmas at your office with these tips.

Use your office as the venue
Cut the costs of hiring a function room or booking a table at an external venue and take advantage of the space you already have. If there are other businesses in your building, you might use a combined workspace for your office event and ask them to chip in for the costs.

Get staff to contribute
Competitions and challenges create a festive office spirit and save you money at the same time. Start a Christmas baking or cooking competition, so your catering burden is eased. Challenge your staff to decorate their cubicles, provide some decorations but encourage them to get creative and use their own resources.

Pick your time
If you are booking a venue, December is not the best time. Book out of peak season in November or January so you can avoid premium rates. Think about holding your party during the week, even giving your staff half the day off, so you can take advantage of mid-week rates.

Set up activities
Some activities are fun and will not cost you a thing. Consider these wallet-friendly games that will turn up the fun on your Christmas celebration.

  • Trivia
  • Scavenger hunts
  • Secret Santa

Reducing your bounce rate


If customers are quick to jump off your landing page before you have even had the opportunity to convert them, your website has a problem. A high bounce rate can jeopardise your profit and may indicate that you are falling behind the competition.

These tips will bring your bounce rate down and your conversions up.

Build an engaging landing page
Landing pages with blocks of text will have your website visitors back on a search engine in seconds. You should make sure your text is broken up with suitable pictures, sub-headings, easy to understand language and icons. That way, the customer can easily find the information they seek and are engaged rather than deterred by your web content.

Make your website mobile friendly
Browsing on the go is more common than ever so if your site is not mobile friendly you are alienating a large segment of your market. Smart formatting tools will make sure your settings are up to speed.

Reduce loading time
Chances are if your website takes longer than two seconds to load your visitor will lose interest and leave your site. Optimising your site, using caching and sizing your images can all make your website faster.