How easy do you find communicating? Do you find replying to emails an afterthought at the end of the day? Does answering telephone calls get in the way of your work? Are client meetings a pain?

Does communicating with your client get in the way of your work?

Perhaps it does, but it is actually part of your work, and the commitment you put into your work output should be reflected in your communication with your clients.

I’m not preaching; I took a call from a company who had sacked their PR agency based on this very scenario.

It became clear the problem wasn’t the agency’s output, it was how the agency communicated with their client.

The PR output was actually good, but like so many agencies, an account handler was in charge of the relationship, not the person who was actually doing the work. Ironically, the account handler didn’t have a handle on the work!

Emails were answered via flippant one-line answers and signed off inappropriately. The tone was extremely casual and the responses held no weight of importance. It was sloppy communication, unprofessional, and in my opinion disrespectful given the investment their client was making in contracting PR services.

But the real problem was the lack of consistency in the communication

The agency’s communication didn’t match the quality of work produced. The work demonstrated a high level of understanding but the account handler didn’t, this alone resulted in the breakdown of the relationship.

You know that feeling, when confusion leads to doubt just because someones behaviour changes or lacks consistency. It’s very easy to get carried away with the work at the expense of communicating with your client. But your customer must always come first, and, yes, there will be obstacles to overcome, but communication is essential  to ensure your business relationship doesn’t become unsettling.

The agency hierarchy is a classic inconsistent communication

How many times do you hear companies comment that their last agency sent the directors to pitch, but after winning the work they never saw them again, sending a junior to manage the account instead? This lacks consistency, but above everything else, what do you think the message in this actually says? Maybe it isn’t intentional but you’ve just told your client they aren’t important.

I had a boss that would always say you would never find a printer that could provide speed, quality, and a competitive price in one package. He believed one of the three would always be compromised, he was right, even to this day I still hear his mantra. Could a similar equation be applied to PR agencies? Output, relationship, and price?

Perhaps it isn’t possible but being realistic is, you will know what is achievable with the resources you have and within the terms of the contract – don’t over promise and if something isn’t right hold your hands up and admit it and change it.

My final say on this is that consistency really is the key, so please don’t ignore your communication.


Videos are the best way to engage with your audience in today’s online world. It has never been easier to create videos and share them to the world, and, specifically, to your audience.

Businesses who use video are perceived to be more engaged with their audience – it’s a short cut to building rapport with your current and prospective customers.

But how do you get into the habit of being a prolific video creator? Here are 5 ways to easily generate video content to enhance your brand.

1. Make it easy and replicable

Firstly,  you need an easy process for creating videos. The more complicated you make this, the more of a burden it will become, and the less likely it will be that you will bother.  It needs to be easy to set up and quick to do.

Unless you have a spare few thousands of dollars lying around, make use of the surprisingly effective recording device you carry around with you – your mobile phone.  With reasonable lighting conditions, your phone can produce quality videos with little fuss. You can pick up a simple stand for the phone or use a selfie stick (but don’t hold it – attach it to something).

2. Get the audio and vision right

You’ll be more inclined to share your videos if they look and sound okay. The first and essential item is a microphone. You can get a good quality phone lapel microphone for $50. Viewers will forgive poor vision, but not poor sound. Don’t rely on the inbuilt microphone. You will sound distant and amateur.

You should also find a spot that has some decent lighting. It can be sunshine, or just a well-lit room. Bouncing bright lights off a wall or the ceiling will soften the impact and diminish harsh shadows. But once again, keep it simple. The easier it is to do, the more likely it will be for you to maintain the momentum.

3. Streamline your systems

There are a few elements you can create once, and re-use for consistency and branding. For $5 on Fiverr.com, you can commission an animated logothat will immediately give your videos a professional look.

Keep any intros short – no more than 3 or 4 seconds. Your audience is there to be informed by your content, they shouldn’t have to endure a long opening that is just to promote your brand.

Also you can find royalty free music on YouTube and iTunes that you can use for your video openers.

4. Learn some new skills

Invest an hour or two in getting your head around the editing software that comes free with your computer. On a PC there is Movie Maker and iMovie is on a Mac. Editing is actually quite fun, although it does tend to take longer than you’d think.

As the business world embraces video production, you will need to be creating content to compete. It is worth taking a couple of hours to get your head around the software so you can easily create, edit and share videos for your audience.

If all else fails, find a secondary school kid (got any lying around the house?). They’ll be able to show you what to do!

5. Look out for topics to generate

You will have moments of creative proliferation. The ideas will come thick and fast and you will be able to record those videos easily.  Of course, there will be other times when you’re busy, tired and the ideas just aren’t flowing.  Keep looking for ideas.  Jot them down on a note in your phone so you can check in on topics when you are stuck.

You should also build up a library of content that you have in store to release during the busy periods. You can add them to your YouTube channel as unlisted files and then make them public at the appropriate time.

Video is not going to go away. It is here to stay and it is one of the most effective ways to connect and engage with your audience. The sooner you embrace the sooner you can benefit from its power.

You can check out some technical mistakes to avoid here

 

Featured image via Geoff Anderson

 

Geoff-800Geoff Anderson

Geoff Anderson is the Managing Director at Sonic Sight a Sydney based video production facility; author of Amazon Bestseller “Shoot Me Now – making videos to boost business” and a presenter on using video for business. He has been working in TV and Events production for over 20 years.  Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


The advent of social media has given every person with an account a voice. It has allowed the ordinary person to publicise any perceived discrimination. But like the metaphorical double-edged sword, social media can also be a weapon of mass destruction.

Just recently a café in a Brisbane bayside suburb made headlines after a request by a reporter to the small business owner to put on some lipstick or not be in the picture promoting her business. The business owner vented her displeasure on her business Facebook page, and then social media took it to the next level turning on the reporter and newspaper. This was just after another café posted ‘housekeeping rules’ about their expectations of child patrons on the NSW central coast.

And further up the Hunter Valley a burger restaurant mocked a vegan customer on Facebook and all hell broke loose (socially speaking).

Back in 1995, an episode of the classic TV sitcom Seinfeld addressed the quirks of a small business owner who specialised in soup. The small business owner had precise requirements for ordering and taking the soup.

Jerry: “The guy who runs the place is a little temperamental, especially about the ordering procedure.”

Elaine: “Why? What happens if you don’t order right?”

Jerry: “He yells and you don’t get your soup.”

When not followed correctly, the business owner would yell “No Soup For You!” and threw the customer out. Now imagine how that would have played out in today’s culture of social media shaming.

With most  small business owners running their own social media accounts, this puts you in direct contact with your customers. Your business Facebook page allows you to develop and write messages for your customer base about situations or issues but you need to consider how these will be perceived by your customers, their contacts and even the media.

Social media users and the media outlets that picked up the stories above expressed different levels of outrage and sympathy – but what impact does this type of behaviour by business owners have on their business? The Hunter Valley burger restaurant received death threats when the business owner’s personal mobile phone number was posted on a page set up in response to the initial post.

When there is a great deal of publicity surrounding a business page like the examples above, social media users anywhere can post an opinion. Which often include negative reactions. How a business owner reacts to these opinions is important.

So what lessons can you take from their experiences?

1. Don’t post on your business page when angry

Very important! Engaging with backlash needs to be thoughtful so don’t provoke the social media beast. Take a deep breath. Have a glass of wine or hit the gym.  Write your rant on a piece of paper then burn it! You are not sharing your problems with a small group of friends, you are essentially shouting into a global microphone. Having a post go viral for the wrong reasons can be a social media disaster, rather than a boon to business.

2. Don’t allow your business Facebook page to be hijacked.

You should calmly reiterate your message to focus on the issue. To emphasise the stance on child patrons, the business owner pointed out to casual readers that her business was based in a commercial/industrial area and not a mall, with business hours reflecting that.

3. Control the information on your page

False information on the Internet can be difficult to dispel (… if it’s on the internet is must be true). You hold the power.

4. Champion your business

The Hunter Valley burger café had an existing larrikin tone to all their posts – they reiterated their stance and took action against the hate page created to harm their business by engaging lawyers to send a cease and desist letter. When they realised things were getting out of hand on their own page, they posted a notice calling for a stop to it.

5. Don’t delete the post, comments or page

Unless they are malicious or go against the Facebook code of conduct then leave them there. Critics in your audience will see it as proof that they were right if you delete them. Call out those posting vitriol and respond rationally and keep it civil – this is your business.

5. Monitor the posts

Plenty of people sympathised with the small business owner who was asked to put on some lipstick – however comments directed at the journalist were plainly inappropriate. Monitoring the social media reaction allows the business owner to educate any reader about their stance.

6. Thank your audience for their support

It is important to keep your customers on side and thank them for their support but also underline that personal attacks of any form are not acceptable on your business page. This highlights an ethical stance that you should embrace – and practice.

Remember, your business Facebook page is advertising your business. You may double or triple your likes, but it needs to be sustainable and for the right reasons.

Do you know what happened to the business owner in the Seinfeld episode?

Elaine gets the upper hand and says to him, “You’re through. Pack it up. No more soup for you. NEXT!”

It’s in your best interest to have positive effects in moving your business forward. Keep your social media professional. A good rule of thumb is to think – would I sign off on this statement on my marketing materials?

Have you ever been in a similar situation? Tell us in the comments how you dealt with it.

Yolanda Floro is Leaders in Heels’ Social Media Editor and currently completing her Masters in Law, Media and Journalism studies, focusing on New Media.

Photo credit: Jeff Cutler


Your Customer Service Team is the face of your company and it is important that all the human interactions are as good as your product. After working for 8+ years with Customer Service Teams, here are the top 5 mistakes I’ve seen and how to solve them.

1.   Lack of communication between teams

Some procedural changes take place inside the company and your Customer Service Team is the last one to know. If this situation sounds familiar take some action:

  • Send weekly emails with updates and make special remarks during team meetings.
  • Have a person in your time zone in charge of making sure all templates and manuals are up to date.
  • Periodically test your CS team with questionnaires to detect misunderstandings or poor knowledge of your business.
  • Give incentives to those who are most knowledgeable!

2.   Unmotivated Agents

Your customer service team along with your sales team is the face of your company. Treat them well. Make sure they know how important they are and give them all the tools they need to have fun at work:

  • Create fun competitions between teams.
  • Provide extensive trainings so people feel like they have a domain of your product.
  • See point 5. Give them a channel to provide feedback and product-related suggestions for future development, because it has the side-effect of motivating and involving your CS team.
  • Provide awards to entire teams.
  • Make sure your CRM tool meets all the needs your team has.

3.   Unification of Multi-lingual Teams

The response of your company must be unified, but each culture and each language has a unique way of expressing itself. Make sure you give each Language/Country Team Leader some room to personalize templates and treat your customers according to their culture or language.

If the agents are natives of that language, they will know how to improve the process so your clients from that country get the service they expect. You can also have them do some research to confirm certain details, like what titles, if any, you should use when addressing those customers. This helps customers identify with your brand.

4.   Something isn’t right: Prepare for the worst

The same way cities have evacuation plans and disaster sirens, your Customer Service Team needs a plan for when things go poorly. Think about all the things that could go wrong and how you are going to communicate with your customers to make them better. Here are some examples:

  • Your CRM doesn’t work: prepare a plan so you can communicate with your customers via Social Media and phone.
  • A feature of your product is buggy or not working: have a generic plan for all such cases, including the provision of service discounts or coupons.
  • Your page is down: have a page ready to be uploaded in this situation.
  • Have a contact plan that includes a service email to all of your customers, and special contact methods like telephone for your VIP customers.

5.   Involve your CS team in product improvements

Use surveys to ask your Customer Service representatives what needs improvement; don’t wait for the problems to appear to solve them. Get their perspective on what your customers really need, and what they think they need. They work 40h/week on the balance between customer and product, and they have a perspective that you may not have. Inquire, listen and take action!

photo credit: gordon2208 via photopin cc

Anna Danés
Anna worked in the web sector before founding Ricaris have a nice day (www.ricaris.com) in 2009, a successful services company providing distributed solutions for companies in the web sector. Managing Virtual Teams (www.managing-virtual-teams.com) is a new consulting product bringing together all of the experience across the distributed teams of Ricaris, and putting it into bite-sized courses, virtual team activities, and consulting packages. Follow Anna @virtualteams.


Ready or not, Christmas is almost upon us. Sending cards to customers and clients is a great way to cement relationships and highlight the work you’ve done during the year. But it can be hard to make it truly meaningful. So behold my guide to sending the perfect Christmas card.

Be personal

Stop your cards going straight from envelope to recycling bin by adding a personal touch. If you’ve got a small client base, handwritten messages are a great place to start. Include a personalised note about how much you’ve enjoyed working with them this year and how much you’re looking forward to continuing your professional relationship. Remind them of your shared successes during the year and congratulate them on milestones they’ve reached, awards they’ve won or progress they’ve made.

It’s a bit harder if your client base is large but do everything you can to avoid sending a generic ‘Dear Bob, Season’s Greetings from all the team at blah blah blah’. It’s bland, impersonal and boring. See ‘Be creative’ further down for tips on how to avoid this.

Be caring

Embrace the true meaning of Christmas by supporting a charity. Include info in your cards about why you’re supporting them and how, letting clients know how they can get involved. Some charities also design and sell cards for bulk use. Ask if they can be personalised for you. If you’re able to spend a bit more, buy clients real world gifts from charities like Oxfam or World Vision. What client wouldn’t feel good about a donation on their behalf providing a village with clean drinking water, a goat for milk or mosquito nets to prevent malaria? There’s a huge range of options available at Oxfam unwrapped and World Vision. View full catalogues at www.oxfam.com.au and www.gifts.worldvision.com.au.

Be creative

Think outside the box. Showcase your business’ personality by sending a card that makes your clients laugh or smile. Rather than sending mass produced cards, look into handmade or artisan options.  Find a local artist to design a cover or a photographer to take a quirky team photo. Send postcard style cards rather than the traditional format. If you know someone who’s quick with a quip, get them to write a poem or limerick for the greeting. Do what you can to add a little twist to traditional greetings.

Be paper free

Do your bit for the environment and consider a paper free Chrissie card. Film a video for your website or launch a Christmas You Tube channel – you could even film a series! Think Christmas wishes and carol singing; maybe even a flash mob! Paste it as a link in Christmas emails or in your signature block from mid-December on. Or make a personalised animated card. You can design your own at www.charityecardmarket.com.au. The instructions are super easy to follow and 20% of the cost goes to one of the nominated charities (you get to pick which one).

Be punctual

Don’t leave things ‘til the last minute – It’s not a great reflection of your business if your cards are delivered the week after the new year. Conversely, don’t jump the gun and send them too early. If you can, time the delivery for mid-December onwards. Take note of when your clients close up for the Christmas break as well as delivery times and cut off dates. If you’ve got a small local client base, add a personal touch by hand delivering your cards along with some Christmas goodies like candy canes or biscotti.

Be helpful

Make Christmas easier for your clients by giving them info they can use. Remind them of your Christmas opening and closing hours, whether you’ll be shutting up shop for a break or working the whole way through. Make sure it’s not all about you by including fun, quirky or little known facts about Christmas; Christmas survival tips (recipes, hangover cures, how to wrap oddly shaped presents); lists of Christmas markets or the best places to buy last minute Christmas essentials. Who knows, your card might end up being their Christmas lifesaver!

So go on, have a little bit of fun with your Chrissie cards this year. Crack a few funnies, make fun of yourself and give your customers and clients a chance to remember you for all the right reasons!

Image credit: Cordey

Shauna Maguire

Shauna is a freelance writer and the owner of ‘Take my word for it’, a content and copy writing business. A Christmas card phobic, she doesn’t send her own (but understands why others do). This Christmas she’s focused on sending charitable gifts so friends and family should expect goats, chickens and other assorted farm animals in their Christmas stockings. A happy Bleat-mas to you all! (Her lame attempt at a goat joke)


Personal concierge services are finding favour with time poor professionals in Australia and overseas – generating $220 million in revenue in the US according to an IBIS world report. The trend appears to be rising here in Australia prompting Rebecca Bojtor to establish a personal concierge service to cater mainly for time-poor women. Leaders in Heels caught up with Rebecca to talk more on what Finding Time is all about!

1. What makes Finding Time unique from all the other concierge services?
Finding Time is a personal concierge service with a difference, built on the idea of helping like-minded women in business to create a work/life balance. Working women today work harder and longer hours to fulfill work and life commitments, so Finding Time carries out the necessary day-to-day chores to enable time-poor women to shine in the areas that really matter to them. We take on duties that range from the fiddly to the mundane. Through its client base and referrals, Finding Time is able to develop and build on a ‘Women in Business’ network to utilise and promote, where appropriate, when completing requests for clients.  We believe in the philosophy that ‘many hands make light work’.

2. What are the biggest strengths you bring to the business?
Throughout my busy career, I have worked for Museum Victoria and Swinburne University of Technology where I developed excellent organisational skills and a flair for customer service. I have co-ordinated a number of fundraising events, operated a very successful holiday let and have always juggled to balance my own work and family life commitments. Through these experiences I have developed the strengths that benefit to my business.

Clients are essentially asking me on to organise their lives in one way or another, so being able to relate to them, understand how their lives work, and on occasion having to think ‘outside the box’ is what being a Personal Concierge is all about. Attention to detail, time management, and interpersonal skills allow me to work without compromise at all times and are vital in the success of my business.being able to relate to clients, understand how their lives work, and on occasion having to think ‘outside the box’ is what being a Personal Concierge is all about

3. What do you see for the future of concierge type businesses?
Over the past 5 to 10 years the Personal Concierge industry has established itself in the US & UK and is now a growing trend in Australia. After all, busy Australians already employ the services of cleaners and gardeners as readily they do personal trainers and tutors for their children.  The service of a Personal Concierge is simply expanding on those types of services.

A Personal Concierge not only addresses the problem of the time poor but more importantly gives them the choice on where they spend their valuable time. We live in a hectic world, and into the future this type of service allows time poor Australians to bring balance and order into it by giving them the choice about how they spend their time, at work, with the family, with friends or some ‘me time’ – the options are endless!

4. Have you encountered a funny situation while running Finding Time?
I was once asked to organise a “flash mob” as part of the celebrations for a Bat Mitzvah. I though, OK, I can do that, a bit of research on dance troops, pick some music, how difficult would it be? But no, the mother’s idea was to surprise her daughter by performing it herself with the help of a few friends…and me! It led to some very amusing rehearsals, some sore muscles and a lot of laughs. The day came, the music started and we were there in the middle of the party. I danced (loosely speaking of course) for an audience of about 50 that soon became part of the group, all laughing and thoroughly enjoying themselves. It was a hit, even the teenagers loved it. This was definitely the funniest experience I’ve had during my work, and I think it’s going to be a hard one to beat!I was once asked to organise a “flash mob” as part of the celebrations for a Bat Mitzvah

5. What has been your biggest learning to date?
Starting my own business has been a massive learning curve. There’s a tremendous amount of work outside attending to my client’s needs. I knew that I had the skills to do what I do, I can organise, plan, and work out solutions, but the actual task of running a business was, and still is, my biggest challenge to date.

I was drawn to run my own business because of my passion to help women like myself and the actual logistics of the business was almost a by-product. I’ve spend many long hours getting everything right, learning how best to represent my business in the online world took a lot of understanding and patience, making sure I had all the necessary legal requirements and getting systems and processes in place.

While taking on errands for clients, I learnt very quickly never assume anything, be prepared and never be afraid of asking questions – it saves a lot of time and unnecessary back & forth with the client. However I wouldn’t change any of it, learning is what keeps my mind healthy, and working for myself allows me to provide a valuable service.