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More than two-thirds of consumers say they would switch to businesses now offering contactless payment options. Over three-quarters of customers say they have changed how they pay, due, in part, to the COVID-19 pandemic. These statistics were unveiled by a new report by Visa. The report shows that 75% of small business owners are optimistic […]

The fact that 92% of U.S. small businesses have reinvented themselves during the pandemic says a whole lot about this bunch. Small business owners are scrappy go-getters with no quit in them. And the survey from GetApp proves that very point. Small Business Reinventing During Pandemic According to the survey, 92% pivoted their business in at least […]

Customer Experiences That Get Social Media Attention

Factors of a Memorable Shopping Experience

In its latest study, Avionos exhibits a streamlined experience, convenience, and simplicity in online and in-store purchases factor high among consumers. It highlights both sides have something to teach each other when it comes to satisfying customers’ expectations.

Avionos had 1,250 online shoppers who have shopped online within the past year. It reveals shoppers prefer traditional retailers over digitally native brands when it comes to relationship building and loyalty programs. This is despite digitally native brands having the edge over traditional retailers in terms of in-store experiences, highlighting the need for them to brush on their customer experience.

To start with traditional retailers, need to work on their eCommerce experience as just 52% say they were keen on that index. Conversely, 70% of shoppers see a secure and straightforward e-commerce experience as their top priority when shopping online at digitally native brands, according to the survey.

Digital brands also deliver great in-store experiences, with 75% of customers giving them the nod over traditional retailers. The report says terrible customer experience is detrimental to brick and mortar retailers. Of those surveyed, a significant number (67%) say unfriendly or unhelpful store employees will make them more unlikely to return.

Traditional retailers have a leg up on the social media battlefront. Nearly a quarter of customers (23%) say talking about products with friends or on social media is one of their favorite things about shopping online with traditional retailers. Only 17% say the same for digitally native brands.
“While we see the world change, retailers need to take the time to get the fundamentals right. That means personalization, streamlined experiences, quality products, and convenient shipping options. Without that, there’s no way traditional or digitally native brands will be competitive,” said Dan Neiweem, co-founder and principal at Avionos.
Lessons for Digital Brands and Traditional Retails
Traditional retailers first built their brick and mortar shops and followed through with eCommerce platforms. On the other hand, digital retailers took the opposite route. Despite their differences, there are lessons that each can draw from the other.

Digital brands have a competitive edge in selling online, fast shipping, and streamlined online experience. At the same time, traditional retailers, for their part, excel in relationship building and loyalty.

Additional perks digital brands offer includes a smooth delivery process (60%) and relatively easy return policies (55%). Brick and mortar retailers, for their part, offer faster check out (60%), relative ease of finding products (56%), and a wide range of stocks on offer (54%).
Though distinct, according to the survey, many customers don’t see much difference between the two. When customers were asked to identify their favorite things about shopping online with both models, four of the top responses were the same. Irrespective of the business model, customers rate convenience high. With 66% saying fast shipping gives a business strong points in their book. In terms of fast and free shipping, digital brands (56%) gets a slight edge over traditional retailers (50%).
Similarly, when it comes to personalized product recommendation, the difference was marginal between digital brands (32%) and traditional retailers (36%). There is a significant consensus irrespective of in-store or online the need for streamlining and simplifying experiences. Failing will not keep customers returning long-term, no matter the number of perks or benefits.

The Importance of Customer Experience in a Digital ecosystem
Digital customer experience encompasses all the digital interactions between you and your customer. And the impression that a customer gets from those interactions. Businesses who place a higher premium on producing a better customer experience will be rewarded with more customers, sales, and loyalty.
As more and more customers rate their experiences through customer reviews and word of mouth, businesses should tap into these insights to deliver their offerings better. Companies have to focus on creating further organic buzz to increase brand recognition and customer endorsements.
There is a need to have a better understanding of customer purchasing patterns. And follow through with timely promotional offerings and product recommendations. You can achieve this only if the business has a deeper understanding of the consumers’ interests and preferences. By increasing your customer’s touchpoints and engagement, you can help understand your customers better. And this will allow you to offer your customers the products and services they are looking for.

Tips For Reopening During And After The Pandemic

Although we are still in this pandemic, restrictions have now begun to lift, allowing some businesses to reopen their doors. But in this crazy post-coronavirus world, reopening your store isn’t as simple as flipping your open sign.

Even with these rolled back restrictions, 67% of people still aren’t comfortable with visiting a retail clothing store and 78% are not comfortable with sitting down at a restaurant. So how do you overcome these hurdles?

Make safety your main priority.
This pandemic has shone a spotlight on the way that companies treat their employees. The health and economic security of employees is now one of the top concerns for 90% of consumers when they decide which brands they use. Anyone who is caught not supplying their workers with completely safe conditions or is seen as not doing enough for their well-being could be quickly publicly shunned.
And don’t make the mistake of thinking that the backlash from failing to meet proper employee safety recommendations is going to dissipate anytime soon. Experts agree that what your brand does now will have long-term consequences that could leave you in a difficult situation for months or even years after the pandemic has subsided.

Therefore, you need to make sure that you are prepared to take the proper steps to help safeguard the health and safety of your employees before you think about reopening.
But what exactly does this entail? My clients are asking this every day.
In China, some retailers are making sure employees always work with the same group. This way, if one gets sick, they just quarantine the group, they don’t shut down the entire department store.

Provide a hands-off experience.
It used to be that companies strived to provide their customers with a comprehensive hands-on experience. Instead, retail spaces are now trying to make sure that they provide an experience that is as hands-off as possible. This means doing everything that you can in order to make sure that there are minimal physical interactions between customers and employees.
A lot of clothing stores are taking steps to help achieve this. For example, Macy’s, Kohl’s and Gap have all either closed most or all of their fitting rooms and will begin to hold returned merchandise for 24 hours or longer. By doing so, they help to make sure that employees are not having to go in and frequently help customers with the process of trying on clothes. Instead, they can safely direct the customers to wherever their desired clothes are located while safely maintaining a safe distance.

Use the right materials.
One of the most frustrating things about COVID-19 is that it can continue to infect people even when they avoid contact with anyone else. This is due to the fact that it has been shown to be able to live on various surfaces like cardboard, plastic or stainless steel for anywhere from 24 to 76 hours. So even if an infected person is long gone by the time another customer enters the same area, they could touch something they breathed on and consequently become infected themselves.
By using the right materials, this risk can be diminished. For example, copper is able to kill the virus within four hours of initial contact. By including more copper surfaces throughout your store, you can help ensure that germs pose a much smaller threat to employees and customers.
There is also the option to use antimicrobial materials to help further protect against coronavirus. You can make floors, walls, countertops, shelves and a lot more out of antimicrobial materials. So by preemptively stocking up on these antimicrobial structures, you can create one of the safest stores in the city.
In the Medly Pharmacies, which we are designing now, we created the Shiro chair that allows people to sit back-to-back, minimizing the chances of spreading the virus. They are also large enough to maintain the proper distance while allowing you to sit next to your kids if they are with you.

Make sure your store projects a sense of cleanliness.
If all employees are constantly wearing masks and encouraging or requiring customers to do the same, then not only are you helping to reduce the chance of the disease spreading, but you also send a clear message to your customers that you care.
Another strategy that is becoming more popular is using ultraviolet light to kill coronavirus. This technology is being experimented to disinfect clothes and dressing rooms after they have been used, according to The New York Times (registration required). Stronger and wider UV lights will kill almost any virus, but since they are harmful, the entire operation needs to be performed behind closed doors. That’s not an easy task to implement quickly, especially for small retailers.
You should also consistently perform thorough cleanings of your shopping area. While it might seem like this would interrupt shoppers as they attempt to make their purchases and make them frustrated, it actually tends to have the opposite effect. When customers see that you are taking cleaning seriously, it can help them trust your store more, which will increase the chances of them coming back during this pandemic.
While no one has the perfect answer on how to successfully reopen a store during this pandemic, following these tips can make success more likely. The big question remains: Are customers interested in your brand? In the values it represents? If customers were not excited to go into your store before the pandemic, they will be a lot less likely to do so now. Stores need to connect with customers at a deep emotional level. If the magic isn’t there, start connecting with your audience.

Article Credit Forbes

3 Ways, The Pandemic May, Make Your Business Stronger

During a crisis, for instance, a pandemic like COVID-19, some businesses will thrive, some will survive, and others will permanently shutter their doors. Those businesses that are open to adjusting the way they do business and seize opportunities to adapt and change will be more successful than those that do not. Change is necessary, and especially during troubling times, companies need to reevaluate where they are and where they need to be to remain viable.

Right now, it’s merely not business as usual, and any company with employees needs to install safety protocols, so employees feel valued and protected. Consumers are also looking for assurances that your business is protecting them and that you’re committed to providing your product or service with protections in place to safeguard their health. Consumers during COVID-19 are more careful and more invested in which businesses they patronize, and companies must work hard to retain their trust. While COVID-19 represents a discouraging future to some companies, it also offers opportunities to others. Here are some ways businesses can take on the challenge and turn it into an opportunity.

1. Learn to adapt, and you’ll become stronger

COVID-19 requires businesses to adapt or face failure. Take stock of your business and brainstorm ways to be innovative and strategize. Try new ideas, find ways to execute faster and more efficiently, and be proactive, not reactive.

2. Put your employees first

If you don’t put your employees first already, it’s time to make a change. Your employees’ health, safety, and wellbeing should be your top priority. One could argue all businesses should have been doing this anyway. Still, those who do and truly embrace this as a core fundamental will become an employer of choice for talent, retention, and professional development.

3. Be prepared to handle emergencies

Businesses who are oblivious and unprepared for emergencies like a health crisis, a natural catastrophe, or another emergency could end up closing permanently. The key to overcoming COVID-19 challenges is to inject your business with flexibility and adaptability to weather any disaster and come out on top.

Its possible COVID-19 could be a game-changer for the way businesses will conduct themselves in the future. It has already changed the way customers make purchasing decisions. Those businesses that see potential new strength in pandemic and post-pandemic environments will be the ones who successfully emerge from the current epidemic stronger and more resilient.

4 Business Principles That Endure The Pandemic

COVID-19 has turned our ordinary lives upside down. It has produced fear, uncertainty, and a massive loss of life. The basic principles of doing business successfully and ethically remain a rock-solid foundation for business owners during these tumultuous times.

Businesses that run based on core underlying principles know their customers well and maintain a close connection with them. They also stay agile and adapt to changing market forces. After the initial shock, it’s essential to look beyond the present day and adjust your business as quickly as possible. Here are four strong business principles that have survived the pandemic.

1.People Matter
As always, your greatest asset is your team. Organizations with a robust and loyal group who genuinely believe in the business mission can power through anything. Take care of your employees, first and foremost. Please make sure they are safe, healthy, and provided for. You never know when another challenge will arise, and when it does, they will have your back if you have theirs. A strong team wins every time.

2. Listen to Your Customers
Nourish the customer base that you know so well, contact often, and gain feedback regularly. Leaning on the strength of your customer relationships can help shore up your business during times of crisis.

3.Plan, but Stay Flexible
In any business circumstances, it pays to do strategic planning as long as you stay open to market changes. It’s true that those who fail to plan, plan to fail. It’s no different in a pandemic or other disaster. If you have the necessary plans in place, be sure to build in the flexibility to pivot with different scenarios and stay ahead of other businesses.

4. Look to the Future
Always be on the lookout for methods and technologies that can position your business for success in the future. Stay ahead of the game. Look at innovations that will enable remote operations, alternative work environments to keep your services going in case of another crisis.

In times like these, organizations and individuals need to stick with their guiding principles, maintaining their company culture, and doing what they know is right. A lot has changed, but these truths will always remain.

Article Credit Forbes https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbevis/2020/06/24/4-business-principles-that-survive-the-pandemic/#17c1b806778a

How Should You Advertise On A Small Budget?

There may not be much money left over for advertising once you get your business off the ground. Traditional print advertising, direct mail, and online advertising can be costly and hard to customize.

Once you’ve registered your business for free on the top search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and bing, there are many other relatively inexpensive things you can do to get customers.

Pay-per-click
Pay-per-click search engine advertising, in which you create an account and pay each time a customer searches for specific phrases, finds your web site, and clicks through to visit you, can be very inexpensive. Each click can cost you as little as a penny. It’s essential to be very specific with the search phrases that you specify and are willing to pay for. Using terms that are too general, such as “wedding gift,” could result in too many people clicking through to your web site only to discover that you do not sell what they are looking for. More specific multiword terms, such as “environmentally friendly wedding gifts” result in fewer clicks, but those you do get will be from customers more likely to buy what you’re selling.

Organic search
In addition to pay-per-click, there are things you can do to raise your company’s standing in the nonpaid (also called “organic”) search engine listing. Frequently referred to as SEO (search engine optimization), there is a whole industry of consultants built around this concept. There are a few things you can do on your own to improve your organic search engine listings and, therefore, drive customers to your site. To improve your search engine standing, you should continually update your website with new information and blog posts, Whittington told BusinessNewsDaily. Continuing to update your site with relevant information will get you repeatedly noticed by search engines.

Social media
Social media outlets, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, are venues that allow you to target particular groups of customers for very little investment. You can create a Facebook profile for free and post videos on YouTube, also free of charge. You can also create very explicitly targeted Facebook advertising for a small fee.
Be warned, however: If you are not familiar with social media, learning to use these sites can take time, and using them regularly can be time-consuming. Success depends on many factors, including whether or not your potential customers are the type who use these services and how effective you are (think talent and time) at using them.

Article Credits https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/

How Businesses Can Prevent Fraud Fraud is a severe issue that could take down a company, no matter its size. According to research by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), businesses lose an estimated 5% of their annual revenue.

What is business fraud?
Business fraud happens when a person or a company commits dishonest and illegal acts that result in a financial gain for that person or organization. Business fraud can often be covered and appear to be a legitimate business interaction.
Because fraud is such a grand problem – so much so that it could even lead to the critical failure of an otherwise healthy business – it’s important to combat it vigorously. Research published in Harvard Business Review (HBR) suggests that employees are in the best position to fight fraud.

What are the different types of business fraud?
Here are five major types of business fraud that could negatively affect your business:

Identity theft: A fraudster could steal the identity of your business and access your credit. Fraudsters may obtain access to your federal tax ID or financial statements. They could take this information directly from your computer.

Payroll fraud: This may be more common with a smaller business, but it can happen at companies of all sizes. Workers may ask for paycheck advances and not pay them back. They may also lie about hours they worked or have co-workers clock in and out for them. Utilizing a payroll service that lets you approve everyone’s time before they are paid may help to prevent payroll fraud.

Fake money: Your business may receive phony money. There is more counterfeit money in circulation than you probably realize. It would help if you learned how to recognize fake money so you can refuse to accept it.

Returns: If your business deals with consumer goods, you may have customers buy items, use them, and return them even though there is nothing wrong with them. Requiring a receipt and having strict return policies may help to limit return fraud.

Workers’ compensation: A business owner is required by law to purchase worker’s compensation. This insurance pays your employees if they get injured while at work. Companies should stay on top of safety and what happens in your place of employment to help prevent this type of fraud. You should also ensure that if an employee states they were hurt at work, the injury actually happened there.

Why Team Members Work Better When They Care For Each Other

When workers work in groups, companies thrive when members focus more on how they can benefit others and not just themselves, according to research published in the journal Academy of Management. This type of behavior is defined as prosocial motivation, which highlights the social viewpoint of work by emphasizing individual concerns about how their actions can affect others’ well-being. According to the study, prosocially motivated people are described as givers concerned primarily with contributing benefits to others rather than calculating personal returns.

The research was based on 67 teams from six companies and a lab study with 124 student teams at the University of Notre Dame. The study revealed that when staff members looked out for the well-being of others, employees were less likely to leave their teams voluntarily.

The highest level of team effectiveness was performed when team motivation to benefit others, and the interdependence of tasks among team members was both high,” Hu said.
The study’s authors said the study should encourage companies to build teams with employees who keep others’ best interests in mind.

Management attention should be directed toward enhancing motivation to help others, as teamwork is a coordinated action, and showing concern for others may bring about smoother interactions and more effective cooperation within the team,” Hu said.

Based on the research, Hu advised organizations to look at the types of teams they have. Some teams don’t require employees to work together closely. For these teams, Hu suggested administrators increase interaction within the group, add employees who are highly motivated to benefit others, and take a more active role in leading by example.
Hu said teams previously filled with employees focused on others’ well-being could improve their team performance by establishing a higher level of interaction and coordination among members.”
Tips for motivating staff members to work together
Any employer knows that motivation is the key to group productivity, individual performance, and a happy workplace. So, how do you motivate your employees? Here are some easy ways to ensure your employees receive the motivation they crave.

Make the workplace attractive. Employees don’t want to spend their time in a dingy, dull space. Having a well-lit, functional, and aesthetically pleasing environment will make work much more pleasant. Make sure employees have access to updated, working equipment. Keeping the space clean and attractive, this will make the environment more enjoyable and, in turn, motivate employees.

Be honest, respectful, and supportive. Employees don’t want to work in an environment where they aren’t respected. The easiest ways to motivate your workers are, to be honest, supportive, and considerate and to have a clear open communication. If employees know that their employer respects and supports them, they will be more loyal to the business.

Offer awards. To keep employees motivated, consider starting an incentive program. It doesn’t have to be monetary; it could be something as simple as a gift card or an employee-of-the-month day off with pay. When employees are rewarded for their hard work, they are more likely to do a good job and perform more efficiently.

Offer room to improve. If the business is growing, a great motivator is to offer your employees room to grow within the company. Not only is the money portion appealing, but employees will also feel respected for their work.

Give positive feedback. Everyone wants to know that they are doing a great job, so don’t hesitate to hand out positive feedback. This includes feedback that customers have given you about an employee. Letting your staff know that they made a customer happy will make them feel good and provide them with the motivation to continue doing their best.

Recognize accomplishments. Sometimes, all staff members want is a little credit for doing a good job. If you have an employee who has been working overtime or has gone out of their way to help their co-workers, don’t delay to praise them. It’s not about merely being recognized; when employees feel appreciated, it pushes them to continue working hard and helping others.

When you notice yellow, do you think about the sun or feel cheerful? When you observe red, do you associate it with anger, or perhaps emotion? Colors directly affect your moods, and subconsciously connects you to particular symbols or experiences. This is an essential factor to consider when you’re picking a color scheme and crafting […]

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