- I don't blog frequently, but when I do, it's appreciative.
I missed an important anniversary earlier this year; Paintrock Consulting Services, LLC, had its 5th year anniversary! And it wouldn't be possible without each of the people and businesses I've had the opportunity to work with, and one business who offloaded a job to me (Thanks, Tiffany!).
I think my favorite thing about being a consultant (besides being self-employed) is that I'm able to work across a great variety of client industries. Most of them face similar challenges or solution needs, but I've learned so much about the what those challenges are, and the innovative and interesting way companies manage them. The most beneficial habit that I've gained during this time is that I think about business processes, and efficiency opportunities, anytime I have an interaction with another business - as a passerby, customer, client or collaborator.
Now I find myself thinking about every step through a transaction or touch point with a business. This one runs a very lean organization; how do they plan and manage inventory so tightly? How can this operation which requires so much labor be automated in other ways to save expenses? How does that organization manage collaboration across an entirely remote team spread around the globe? If I'm lucky those lines of thought tend to lead to others. Such as: automating these processes more robustly and in collaboration with suppliers would allow the company with tight inventory turnaround to do more accurate forecasting and avoid waste, or wait times for products. Or, if this entity could coordinate with economic development teams they could participate in fast-track trials for manufacturing evaluation and improvement.
In short, working across a variety of industries and solutions has resulted in me thinking through things much more thoroughly. Veritically - what are all the components that could relate to this scenario, and how are they related? Sequentially - what is the trigger to kick off this process? How is it resolved? What can be learned by looking at all of them collectively; statistically? Collaboratively: how could that entity be unaware of the conflict they have with this other entity if they don't communicate, but are expected to share and collaborate on regulatory information?
I consider this 360˚ Thinking. And I am a better person for using it.
Need a little more help with your TCT West email migration before year-end? We have a few additional resources for you
The Pew Research organization estimates that this year, 2015, will see Millennials overtaking Baby Boomers in the workforce. We also know that Millennials are more prone to digital communication -at least as a first point of contact – when engaging with a new company, brand, service, provider, etc.
Virtually every website that you visit will have some sort of Contact feature – perhaps a separate page with multiple contact options: a fill-in form, email addresses, phone numbers, snail mail addresses, live chat, or multiple social media paths: Twitter handles, Facebook page links, Instagram feeds, and so on.
If you are a small business, keep this in mind: be sure to have Contact information, but you must also endeavor to monitor those incoming communications. It’s fine if you have a channel on every social media platform out there – but if you do, you’ll need to monitor those for engagement, at a minimum. Bonus if you devote the time to provide content to engage your existing and potential audiences.
The same applies to the most basic online contact – a fill-in form or email contact. Do you know where that information goes after a visitor to your website sends it? If not, you should do an immediate ‘health check’ on your website. Full disclosure, I’m not a millennial – more of a Gen Xer – but my communication style is all millennial. Millennials, and many others, are often behind keyboards or smart phones for most of the day. It is far easier for them, and me, to keep my fingers on the keyboard to reach out to your company – as opposed to stopping my productivity to pick up a phone and call you. If they reach out to a company, it’s usually digitally – texting, via social media, email, or submitting a fill-in contact form via your website.
When those inquiries are not handled, not only have you potentially lost a customer, but that person is likely going to share that frustration among other social media channels about your business. Case in point: over the last two weeks, I’ve submitted either emails or fill-in contact forms to the following entities, because I’ve just bought a home and would like various projects done: a home repair business, a co-op, a furniture store, a waste management company, an attorney, an insurance company, a car dealership, and probably some others that I can’t recall. How many of these entities contacted me back? Zero. None. In some cases I’ve reverted to phoning them, because they were the only providers in my area. But if there were more competition where I live, these businesses would not have been given a second chance to obtain my consumer dollars.
Don’t let your website disappoint a potential customer before they even have the chance to do business with you. Make sure all of your Contact lines of communication are active and addressed to prevent this problem.
by Kristi Robison
My mother passed away recently, and our family is still addressing issues with insurance companies and credit agencies. I've learned a lot through that experience, and would like to share a few productivity tips with you.
A few of the surprises that I've learned along the way were the suggestions to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles, so that they can "close" a driver's licence or identity account of the deceased, preventing identity theft. Another surprise was that some social media sites (Facebook and LinkedIn) required a copy of the Death Certificate to close accounts. Update - Feburary 12, 2015: Facebook will now allow you to identify a Legacy Contact in the event you wish for your Facebook posts to be memorialized, rather than deleted, after your death.)
Finally, I learned another valuable lesson on patience. Many of these actions are started by surviving family, but can encounter delays depending on the agencies (and the number of them) that you are dealing with. Hopefully the information here will help during that time. This information don't replace the wishes that your deceased loved one may have stipulated in a Will; but is intended as a guide for you to navigate through this time.
I've created an action list that our family used to divide up who could do what after my mother's death. I'm posting it here in the hopes that it might help you or your family through difficult times.
Action List Following the Death of a Parent or Spouse
These items are in no particular order of priority, and are fairly generalized. They are meant as a tool to use, not a prescription for how to manage your situation. Each situation is different and may require different flavors of the actions listed below.
There you have it - most of the things that our family did to manage after my Mother's death. Have we missed anything that you've experienced after the death of a spouse or parent? Please let us know!
Who doesn't love free tools? Once again, Microsoft is offering teachers and students alike the use of Office 365 for most up to date versions of Word, Excel, etc and a host of online collaboration tools. For Free!
Beginning today, teachers in the U.S. who are eligible to get Office from their school can sign up for Office 365 themselves using a school-provided email address at www.office.com/teachers. Students in the U.S. can check their eligibility at www.office.com/getoffice365.
This is a great opportunity for students to gain fluency with office and collaboration tools prior to entering the working world.
Have you seen the slow load icon on any of your favorite websites today? That is there to remind everyone what an internet without Net Neutrality would be like.
Net Neutrality is the principle that assumes all internet traffic and data are treated equally - that is, NOT charging differently by user, content, site, platform, or application. Information and knowledge are power - restricting access to that is destructive.
Here is how to take action, and contact your representatives to urge Net Neutrality.