Keeping Up With Your Customers' Changing Needs

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By Katie Torres

In today's face-paced world, it comes at no surprise that the rate at which customer needs change is also quickening.

What worked a year ago - or even a few months ago - may not be working any longer, and customer satisfaction might be at risk.

Fortunately for all of us, the basic principles of how to keep up with customer's needs are the same across the board, regardless of what kind of company we're talking about. 

Here are a few of the most important aspects of keeping your customers happy, despite changing needs:

1. Pay attention to current trends in your trade.

Always keep learning. You can learn a lot from simply looking at other companies around you and seeing what they're doing to gain business. 

If you are unsure of what your own customers are looking for, maybe a new point of view would help. Look to find out what other companies are offering that is working for their customers, and work at ways to make it better for your own. 

Conversely, if you find that a current trend is losing traction, it might be time to move on to some new ideas. Don't be afraid of this change. Your customers definitely aren't.

2. Understand that even small adjustments to how you run your business can have a great impact.

You don't have to do a complete brand overhaul every time you notice that a trend in your industry is changing (in fact, sticking to your core values regardless of changing trends is completely necessary).

But small adjustments here and there really add up to a greater improvement in customer satisfaction.

The point is to always keep moving forward in your efforts to improve. Every bit of information learned is useful. Put it to practice, and your customers will notice.

3. Live up to your word.

If you tell your customers that you always have a real-person-customer-service-agent ready to help and listen to their needs, then you best have a real-person-customer-service-agent there anytime a customer calls with a question.

Simply, do not make promises you cannot or do not intend on keeping. But also strive to be the company in your trade that can offer the best of the best.

4. Continually have the attitude that you are there to serve your customers.

When companies operate with the sole goal of making profit, customers see this. And, spoiler alert: they don't usually like it.

We mentioned that always sticking to your core values is a must; one of those core values ought to be service, and dedication to meeting your customers' needs. 

After all, companies would be nothing if it weren't for the customers who keep them afloat.

If these tips seem oversimplified to you, you can take a breather and rest assured that it really is pretty simple.

It may be a lot of hard work to stay on top of changing trends within customer needs, but the way to get there is not overly difficult.

What are some trends you've noticed within customer satisfaction? As a customer, what do you look for and value in the company you buy from? Let us know in the comments.

And if you happen to be in need of some gold ole' facilities maintenance help, take a look at our site. We'd be happy to hear about what your needs are there, too.

How to Maintain Culture as Your Company Grows

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By Katie Torres

There's nothing quite like the experience of working with a group of people who you get along with well, and who share your goals and values.

Having a team like this does wonders for a company. 

Not only do tasks get completed with great teamwork, but it also means that coming to work can actually be enjoyable.

But as companies grow, it can sometimes be difficult to maintain the culture that your tight-knit group once had.

This happens for a few reasons, but there are ways to prevent the culture from being lost in every one of these situations:

First, new employees mean new personalities. This can quickly change the culture of your business.

It is not possible to change the personalities and attitudes of your employees. Trying to do so only causes resentment and frustration.

So, it is important to carefully hire, right from the start. Make sure you ask questions that go deeper than the applicant's skills and job history.

Ask questions that, when answered, will give you a good idea of what the person's core values are, and who they really are as a person. This will help you to know whether or not they will add to the culture of your team.

As you begin to hire more people to your team, you will also find that a larger group of people presents challenges to maintaining culture.

In this case, communication is what will save you.

Even a group of people who get along well can run into problems if the communication is not strong and clear.

You may feel that there is not enough time to continue with your regular meetings - meet anyway.

Your team needs to remain on the same page, and everyone needs to stay up-to-date on your company's policies and procedures, and anything that is going on with the business.

Team growth can sometimes lead to complacency after employees become comfortable in their success.

Don't let this happen. 

It is great that your team is growing and progressing toward common goals. But there is always further to go.

Discuss what needs to be improved at weekly meetings, and frequently talk about your team's core values. 

Remind your employees of common goals, and create new ones that keep your core values at the forefront of your efforts.

Also, have fun together. Nothing breaks the cycle of complacency like a good trip outside the office with your team. Have dinner, go to a community event. Anything to foster the sense of community you had when you started off.

These are just a few ways in which you can maintain your company's culture as your business grows. 

Do you work for a company who does this well? Let us know how in the comments. It brings us joy to hear that other companies are succeeding in this area.

How Change Can Help Your Company Grow

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By Katie Torres

A few days ago, we were discussing the topic of change.

I made the comment that I don't (personally) enjoy change. It makes me panic. It's often difficult to navigate, and getting used to it takes time.

But even though there are many areas in life where consistency and routine are great, there are also many areas where change is necessary, and should be welcomed.

Our business - and yours - are among the places that desperately need change.

This is not to say that our companies are bad or lacking. But if we stay where we're at, our growth will become stagnant. 

Growth is not possible unless we are moving forward.

So if we must move forward, the question is, "how?"

There are certain aspects of business that never stop evolving. Special attention should be payed to these areas.

For instance, technology is always changing.

This is true of all technology, not just technology within our companies. So it pays to keep up with current trends. 

Make the investments necessary to keep up with the pace of technology in your trade, or else risk losing out to the companies who are advancing in their own use of technology.

Your customer's needs may also be changing.

As the world around us changes, we need to adapt to maintain success.

Your customers are adapting, even if you are not. So, if you have not made the necessary changes to stay relevant to the needs of your customers, your customers will move on to someone who has.

This is also another reason why staying up-to-date on technology is so important; because of the evolution of technology, your customers may now have different needs due to those changes.

For instance, a company looking for a website that stands out among other modern websites will need a graphic designer who is up-to-date on the current trends. They don't want a designer who is still creating layouts that look like they belong in a website from ten years ago.

One other aspect that always changes is the growth process itself.

As mentioned before, it is impossible to grow as a company without implementing change.

If you have the opportunity to equip your employees with new skills and avenues to create, why wouldn't you do that?

Sure, the direction may change a bit. But it could be completely beneficial to the quality of your business. 

Bottom line: If you don't embrace change, you stop growing as a company. If you choose to embrace change and make some mistakes along the way, at least you're learning what not to do. Even learning what doesn't work is a part of growing.

So, meet with your team this week and talk about it. Are there areas where you could be embracing change to grow as a company?

If you have stories of how embracing change has helped your company, we'd love to hear about them. Feel free to share in the comments, or better yet, tell someone else so they can benefit, too.

Communication: Let's Talk About It.

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By Katie Torres

Have you ever played the telephone game?

It never ceases to amaze me how the message can start so clearly with the first person, and end up so completely misinterpreted by the last.

I loved this game as a kid. But as an adult, in real life, it would be pretty frustrating if this is how we communicated with one another.

And yet, we sometimes do.

Has your company ever made a decision and passed down the information through managers, rather than taking the time to meet together or even pass out the same memo to everyone?

Hopefully not, but it has happened. This creates all kinds of confusion and misunderstanding when the messenger doesn't get the message exactly right.

Great communication is key to ensuring the message stays in tact, and is understood by everyone.

But a mixed-up-message is not the only thing we need to be concerned about when it comes to communicating properly.

So, here are a few ways in which we can make sure our communication stays strong within our companies.

1. Make sure the message is complete in all details to avoid misunderstanding.

The message you communicate must be complete. Leaving out important details means more follow up questions have to be asked, and there is more room for error if the message is communicating a task that needs to be completed.

If the message is a written one, read what you have written before sending. Make sure all details are included. If it is a verbal message, think about what you need to communicate before speaking.

2. Communicating well means crafting your message with care.

If you are writing a message to someone but use terrible grammar, the message can be easily misunderstood, and the sender could even be viewed as careless.

The person on the receiving end of your message should be able to clearly understand what you are saying. Remember: "Let's eat, Grandpa!" is not the same as, "let's eat Grandpa!"

3. Be considerate of your audience.

The way you speak to a coworker is different than the way you speak to a customer.

For instance, a mechanic might go into greater detail when communicating with another mechanic, but when speaking to a customer, the message would be simplified to make it understandable. 

In this case, lesser detail may be better. A customer coming in with a broken spark plug does not need to know how the spark plug works - they just need it fixed.

If you speak to all audiences the same way, you can't expect everyone to understand exactly what you're saying.

Taking the time to communicate well will save you from misunderstandings and mistakes.

It is the backbone of a business that runs smoothly, so it truly pays to do it well.

Fun Friday

Happy Friday!

This week at Envoy, we played a game where we all shared our favorite concert experiences. There is a blank copy at the bottom in case you want to copy and paste to share your answers, too.

But first, a video of some kids who really know how to enjoy music.

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PRESTON
Best “ROCK” concert you’ve been to: Foo Fighters (face was melted for 3 hours, Laney had to lay down on gross Gwinnett Arena floor due to exhaustion, I stayed standing and rockin #badhusband ) 

Best “POP” concert you’ve ever been to: Coldplay - Viva La Vida tour (wish I had gone to the Mylo Xyloto one)

Best “OTHER” you’ve ever been to: tough…..Outkast at Music Midtown before some of y’all were born or Zac Brown Band

Your favorite concert of all time: Needtobreathe - The Tabernacle

Coolest concert/concerts/music midtown event you have ever been to: U2, Southern Ground Festival (Zac Brown/country/rock/food festival in Charleston) Music Midtowns - assorted and yes, 21 bracelets @heather ….still remember hearing some guy yell “My name is Kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiid “ at one of his first concerts to go big while holding a Lite Tall Boy

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JOSH
Best “Other” concert you’ve been to: Jimmy Buffet
Best “Rap” concert you’ve ever been to: Ludacris - Music Midtown
Best “OTHER” you’ve ever been to: Luke Brian
Your favorite concert of all time (that you attended, and would go again like tonight if you could) Band AND Venue: U2 bartended in the Dome for a private party in a super suite
Coolest concert/concerts/music midtown event you have ever been to: Dome was my favorite. 

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SCOTT
Rock: Vampire Weekend at the Tabernacle
Pop: Imogene Heap at the Tabernacle
Other: Charles Bradley at the Tabernacle (was an opener)
Best Ever: Band of Horses at the Tabernacle in New Years Eve 2008/2009

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KATIE

Best “OTHER” you’ve ever been to:  The three I've seen have all fallen under the "other" category; Paramore (genre neutral), twenty one pilots (alternative, rap), and We The Kings (what we scene kids used to listen to in high school). And We The Kings was cool because I got to sing with the lead singer after the concert.

Your favorite concert of all time (that you attended, and would go again like tonight if you could) Band AND Venue: Paramore @ the Fox Theatre in Detroit, only this time I'd do it front row. 

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JUSTIN
First Concert I went to was Eminem!

(Justin didn't exactly play the game right, but at least he's reppin' for Eminem.)

Your turn! Post your answers in the comment section of our status. Here's your copy to play:

Best “ROCK” concert you’ve been to:

Best “POP” concert you’ve ever been to:

Best “OTHER” you’ve ever been to:

Your favorite concert of all time (that you attended, and would go again like tonight if you could) Band AND Venue:

Coolest concert/concerts/music midtown event you have ever been to:

How Your Perspective Changes Your Learning Experience

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By Katie Torres

I vividly remember the day I learned that Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States.

The excitement I felt to tell my mom that little fact was overwhelming. I literally could not wait to tell her what I learned.

And then, some years later, there was a shift in my attitude toward learning.

Learning became a burden.

It became six hours a day in a hard desk chair, my only "escape" being recess in elementary, and eventually just lunch in high school.

It became hours of forced homework and the punishment of a bad grade if I didn't do it.

It became failed tests because I felt too overwhelmed to even try to study.

Learning no longer excited me. If I'm being real honest, it just made me angry.

The curious mind that once longed for exploration was gone. 

Somewhere along the lines, it just changed. And learning was no longer something I desired; it was something I resented.

I wish I had the wisdom back then that I have now.

I wish I had realized that learning is not a burden, or a task to check off the list.

Learning is the way we live life. 

My attitude may have changed along the way, but the truth about learning had not. I just had a flawed perspective.

Learning opens doors. It shows us what we need to know to be successful, and it fills us with experiences.

There is no way you can book a ticket overseas if you don't ever learn how to manage finances.

You can't write a novel if you never learn how to write.

You can never even hold conversation if you don't learn how to speak as a toddler. 

Learning is so vital. Don't ever be deceived into thinking it's a burden.

Whether you have another training this week for work, or you have hours of homework piled up for that college course, remember that every bit of it will help you.

And if you have the proper perspective, it can even be exciting.

What have you learned that has made your life richer? Share it with us in the comments, and hold onto the excitement of learning.

Stop Playing the Comparison Game

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By Katie Torres

Our CEO loves to share blog posts written by Seth Godin. 

He shared one a few weeks back that particularly struck me as inspiring (here's the link if you want to read it for yourself).

His post was about our tendency to compare ourselves to the lives of others, particularly when it comes to how we view them on social media.

His point was that holding ourselves to a standard that isn't even necessarily based in reality is not the best way to determine our own success.

I finished reading his post, and just as I have after reading all of his blog posts, I felt extremely inspired...and also a little discouraged.

You see, Seth Godin writes exquisitely. He says all that he needs to say, usually in a very small amount of space. He writes so well that he doesn't even need to take up 500 words to be inspiring.

So I often compare my own writing style to his, and it's no wonder I feel like I'm missing the mark somewhere.

And then I realized...I was doing exactly what he said we shouldn't do.

I was comparing my own success to the success of someone I've never even met, based on a beautiful, polished post that he published on the internet.

It truly is a reality that his writing is great. But, what about the parts of his blog that I don't see?

I don't see how much time it takes for him to come up with great ideas.

I don't see the work he puts into editing his words before perfecting them.

I don't see the years he's spent working at what he does, to get to where he is now.

Does my writing need work? Sure. It always will, no matter how great it gets.

Do you need to practice and keep working to get better at what you do? Absolutely. We all do.

But playing this comparison game does not benefit us.

Let's appreciate what others bring to the world, without sinking into discouragement if we don't think we're as talented (or as beautiful, or as smart...etc.)

We can appreciate others and improve ourselves at the same time.

In fact, maybe the beginning of self-improvement starts only when we choose to end the comparison game.

4 Practices to Build Good Reputation in Your Business

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By Katie Torres

Your reputation in business is what makes you or breaks you.

One bad word about your company can have a devastating effect on sales, and on the trust you have with customers - especially if you are a new company who is not yet well known.

Most people already know that being a business of integrity is important. But how does a business accomplish that? How can you make it known to others that you are what you say you are?

Even the most reputable of companies can run into problems if a few key areas are not being payed attention to, so it pays to work on these areas before issues arise.

Let's talk about these key areas:

1. Strong communication is a must. 

It is extremely important that everyone involved is aware of what is going on. When a message gets sent to one person, but another is not up-to-date on the plan, it sets everyone up for misunderstanding.

When misunderstandings happen, it paints a negative picture about the company. It is so easy for someone to look at what they thought the plan was supposed to be, and wonder why the other person didn't follow through.

Communication fixes this. So invest time into how you communicate.

2. Documentation will save you in a pinch.

Document everything. 

When changes are made in plans, or when issues come up, someone needs to make note of this. You need a detailed record of what has happened so that if a problem does arise, you can backtrack to the source of the issue and find a solution.

When information is not properly documented, a business loses credibility in situations where something has gone wrong and they have no way to explain it. 

Documentation protects you from misunderstandings, and also from false claims made against you. Don't skip out on it.

3. Do your best, but don't make promises you can't keep.

You should always be doing everything you can to serve your customers. If they have a need, offer them the best solution you have to meet that need. But do not make promises that are so beyond reach that you cannot keep them. 

And if for some reason you can't accomplish what you've promised, you need to be honest with the customer and explain to them what has happened. Keeping it in the dark does not work. It comes out eventually, and becomes a much larger issue if you have tried to hide it.

Being open and honest with your customer is the best way to keep trust, and smooth things over when they have gone wrong. 

4. Understand that when mistakes are made, it is possible to resolve them.

It may take some time and some extra effort on your part. But do not give up the first time a customer is not happy with your service.

Rather than trying to cover up the mistake or talk your way out of it, just keep doing everything you can to keep open communication and to serve your customer.

Going above and beyond in every situation is how good reputation is built. 

You don't need to fear the opinions of others if you are doing everything you can to serve them. 

What will you do this week to build a good reputation?

How to Manage Time When You Don't Have Enough of It

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By Katie Torres

Finally settling down to rest after a long week of work is what most of us look forward to from the time Monday hits.

But it also brings a lot of stress if we get to Friday and realize we haven't gotten everything done that needed to be done.

How does this happen? Where does our time go?

We spend our entire week busy. No slacking off - it's all work. But somehow, we just still don't make our goals.

This is where it pays to prioritize.

The message is nothing new. We hear often that we're suppose to prioritize our time, make schedules, stick to the plan, etc.

But how many of us practice it regularly?

The truth is, life just happens sometimes. So we need to talk about how to get around that.

Of course, making a schedule is a valuable part of the planning process. Let's talk about how to do this effectively to get the most out of it.

1. Prioritize your tasks.

Write down all the things you need to do in a week, and list them from the most important to the least. 

It's okay if it looks like there's too much to accomplish in one week - this is why we're making a schedule. Don't get overwhelmed. Just write them down, and label what priority they are.

2. Block out your time in a schedule.

I like to do this by giving myself a page for each day. It helps me to clearly see what I've written out. And when each day comes, I can just flip to that page and only focus on what's there. I don't get distracted by the rest of my calendar.

When you block out your time, you might run into a problem where there is a task you can't complete within the week by only giving it an hour or two per day. Do what you can to prioritize your other tasks, so you can allot more time for that particular goal.

3. Put your schedule into practice.

It sounds so simple, and it really is. Just one piece of advice when it comes to doing what's on your list: 

As mentioned before, life happens. Unexpected events will inevitably come up. Give yourself some grace for that. 

If you cannot stick to the hours you've laid out 100%, it is okay. The point of blocking out time is not so that you have to be completely spot on in everything you do. It is so you can make your goals a priority with your time.

As long as you are prioritizing well and following through as closely as possible, you will begin to see more success in achieving your goals.

Try it out this week. And if you have any planning strategies you use that work for you, share them with us! We'd love to hear them.

Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers: What's a Business to Do?

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By Katie Torres

Type the word "Millennials" into the Google search engine, and you will find so many opinions that it is impossible to run out of content to read.

And when you look at all the various opinions, it becomes overwhelming and painfully obvious that there is a problem.

And there IS a problem.

Most might say that the problem is with a specific generation. 

But I think this misses the point.

Sure, generations have their own problems. But many of these problems don't just change over night. Many of them cannot be changed at all.

So where do we fix our attention to try and make things better?

Let's instead look at the fact that there is a disconnect between generations - one that causes rifts in personal relationships and in the workplace - and try to address that disconnect.

There are many trends that are happening within the Millennial generation, which are directly affecting businesses.

Millennials are, for the most part, people who pursue experience rather than possessions. This can mean a loss in business for a company who has spent its entire existence selling a material product.

Millennials strive to make a difference in the world; a regular 9-5 job at an office desk does not mean much to them if they are not growing or helping make the world a better place.

Millennials want freedom and flexibility in their work days. They are looking for a change in pace and environment. It is another way they pursue experience.

Now, whether we agree with these desires or not, they are there. This is real. And if businesses do not alter their current practices to serve a generation with these desires, businesses will suffer.

Employers must be willing to fill the disconnect.

Great employers get this right.

They create a working environment where experience is rich and their values are deeply infused in their culture.

Employees are not just employees in these companies. They are people. And they are people who interact with each other every day, working together toward common goals. 

Great employers provide opportunities to grow.

They give out responsibilities, they hold employees accountable, and they provide them with ample opportunities to learn.

This means investing in the education of their employees. These employers will invest in training, in books, in research...in whatever it is that helps their employees keep growing. They do not sit stagnant, watching their employees carry on in business-as-usual, day after day.

Leaders make it a point to include service in their core values.

This not only provides an environment where employees can make a difference in the world; it is also the right thing to do.

It is the right thing to keep growing, keep changing, and do what you can to bridge the gaps between generations.

This can be done without sacrificing the core values of previous generations, but it can be uncomfortable when companies are not accustomed to change.

Embrace the discomfort, recognizing that it is a growing pain. 

Understand that, when done right, this benefits everyone involved, regardless of what generation the individual comes from.

The employer is rewarded with employees who love their jobs, and want to stay around to do their best.

The employee is rewarded with a job they love, and a place where they continue to grow and make an impact. 

This can be a win-win situation.

How will you work to bridge the gap in your own business?