Chatbots and Customer Service

Every entrepreneur and business owner knows that customer service is key to a lasting and successful project, initiative, or company. Being the department that possibly interacts the most with your audience, it’s highly likely that you have spent countless hours looking for the best customer service employees and tools to elevate your service to the next level. When the digital age arrived, however, the rules with customer service began to change. No longer were you greeted with a, “Hello, how can I help you?” from a real live person, but instead with a, “Please press 1 for more options” message coming from a robotic voice. While both methods are efficient, it’s important to note that the customer service rules have changed, and programs like chatbots will soon become the norm.

 

Chatbots were born out of a necessity to more efficiently police and traffic calls in high volumes. Quite frankly, it would be nearly impossible for a small office of people to handle transferring incoming calls for a large company such as Wells Fargo or Apple in a timely manner. And with the technology available, companies are able to save money by no longer needing to hire that team of switch-board experts. Chatbots are also attractive to businesses because they allow the customer to have total control of the direction of the call, instead of relying on who is on the other end to understand what they need.

 

At first, chatbots were not very sophisticated and often served as a point of frustration for customers. Since they work off of keywords and not actual context, customers had to readjust their own customer service visions and learn how to interact with the new technology. Chatbots have come a long way since then, and have been integrated with machine learning technology that allows for an easier experience thanks to advancements within artificial intelligence.

 

Chatbots are able to do more than just get a customer from one complaint to a solution, however. They also can yield valuable data and metrics that show where the majority of customer complaints come from. Further even from this, because of the real-time nature of chatbots replacing employees live-chatting with customers to troubleshoot, they’re able to point customers in the direction of other services on your site that they may be interested in as well, all from the keywords that you used during your chatbot inquiry. This will drive sales and increase customer satisfaction.

 

The bottom line behind chatbots and customer service is to not be afraid of the growing technology. There is a healthy balance between an in-person customer service rep and chatbots, and by learning about the best practice for both services, you can create a custom service platform that will serve your customers in the best way possible. And as technology continues to advance, look to chatbots to become even more capable of driving your business towards success in more areas than just customer service.

What to Expect When Working at a Startup

A start-up company is not just like any other new business. It’s a new business that has its sights set for big things, and while start-ups are young companies that have their work cut out for them, success is not easy.

 

A quote from the cofounder and co-CEO of Warby Parker explains this further in a recent Forbes article. “A startup is a company working to solve a problem where the solution is not obvious and success is not guaranteed.” Those are tough odds for young companies looking to break into their market. And yet, start-ups continue to be on the rise in the U.S., with thousands of young hopefuls looking to be a part of the next big thing.

 

If you’re considering a job with a start-up, or are looking to join an existing start-up, here’s what you should expect.

 

Expect Change

Change could happen nearly every day at a startup. Since things are new and really young start-ups tend to only have a handful of employees, there’s likely not a rulebook yet as you’re just getting started on figuring out how to run your business. This makes for an exciting atmosphere, but it can also test your patience. You have to have a high tolerance for fast paced change, because adaptability is really the true nature of your business.

 

Everyone is Important

It’s not a generational approach; at a startup, everyone is a crucial member of the team. Even if there is a solid managerial structure in place, your work is vital to the success of the company. You won’t be able to hide at your desk if you’re feeling drained. This can create a very welcoming and supportive environment but can overwhelm anyone who’s not sure if they are up for the challenge. Teamwork will be heavily relied upon, and new ideas are nurtured instead of being turned away based on your tenure.

 

Benefits, Schedules and Offices are Untraditional

One of the most appealing aspects of start-ups is how untraditional they are. Younger generations have seen those before them fall into a working pattern that leaves people feeling a bit stuck in a routine every day. Start-ups often offer nontraditional job aspects that are extremely attractive, such as an open office with a casual environment, happy hours and downtown lunches with your teammates to celebrate wins, and flexible working hours with unlimited sick days. While these perks sound great at first, they can sometimes become cons quickly. Because startups are still growing, they do not always have the ability to afford health insurance and other standard benefits at a traditional company.

 

Things Move Quickly

Start-ups are a fast paced environment. Just as quickly as your dreams were realized, they can be taken away. While the long term successes will be great, it’s getting there that can be the problem. This means that you have to be able to prioritize projects to accommodate for big clients and changing routines. You could be moving offices quickly as you continue to grow as well. If you usually like to take a third or fourth pass at your work before sending it to a client for review, you’ll have to settle for two rounds. Time is very valuable and it certainly cannot be taken up by any type of doubt.

 

The most important aspect of a start-up is the atmosphere. It’s an exciting time even if you’re working from a few desks in an office basement. Keeping the above job aspects in mind, you’ll be able to adjust to your new job quickly – just be prepared not to settle into any type of routine too quickly.

 

Office Feng Shui: Unconventional Ideas for Your Space

2017 will see a lot of new trends, especially in office environments. Some of these trends have companies around the globe rethinking the layout of their offices in order to yield the best productivity. If you or your employees are feeling drained and your brain gets foggy throughout the day, try adapting some of these trending office layouts.

 

Where to Place Your Desk

Actual Feng Shui practices show that even your desk has an important place in your office. You’ll want to point your desk in the “power position” in order to maintain positivity and authority. According to Feng Shui, you should always have your desk set in a way where you can see your door. This way, you will be able to see opportunity as it comes through your career.

 

Storage Design

Office design is crucial to the atmosphere and culture of a company. Functional furniture and storage cabinets have to match the aesthetic of the office just as any desks and chairs do. To blend your storage furniture a bit, you can use small cabinets as office dividers in an open area, or turn them into a functional seating feature.

 

Flexible Layouts

As technology continues to grow and change at a rapid pace, so should your office. This is not to say that you need to remodel your office every couple of months, but moreso to say that your office should be adaptable for any amount of layouts necessary. If the budget is tight, your offices could double as work event spaces, seminar classes, and large meetings. Having an open concept will help keep this flexibility in your office.

 

How to Feng Shui Your Desk

If you’re looking to get a little clarity at your desk, Feng Shui uses a great layout designed to give you good energy and mental openness. By dividing your desk space up in the 9 sections outlined by the Feng Shui bagua map, you’ll be able to add functional and personal items to your desk that will promote productivity. A few of these steps include adding some greenery to the top left corner of your desk, a photo of a loved one in the right corner, or keeping an agenda near your mouse in the bottom right corner.

 

Office Wellness Areas

One of the biggest trends in recent years is adding a wellness space to your offices. Mental and physical wellness is extremely important for your employees. To keep a good energy and to promote overall wellness, adding bright and open, yet private, spaces will help to clear the mind, while physical wellness can be taken a step further by offering gym spaces and smart kitchens.

 

While these ideas may seem a bit unconventional, they will help you to optimize your office space for the highest productivity rates possible. By pushing the boundaries and trying a new style, the entire nature of your office can change. If you’re looking to remodel your space this year, you’ll want to keep this tips in mind.

 

Pepper Rutland, MMR President & CEO, on the Company Being Named One of the Best Places to Work in Baton Rouge

Pictured (l-r) are MMR shareholders and staff: Kevin Alexander, Vice President; Donnie Fairbanks, Chief Financial Officer; Grady Saucier, Senior Vice President; Holly Hollis, Corporate Counsel & EEO Officer; James “Pepper” Rutland, President & CEO; Amber Leach, Marketing Director; Rodi Rispone, Legal Counsel; Tom Welborn, Executive Vice President; John Courville, Senior Vice President; and John Clouatre; Senior Vice President.

Pictured (l-r) are MMR shareholders and staff: Kevin Alexander, Vice President; Donnie Fairbanks, Chief Financial Officer; Grady Saucier, Senior Vice President; Holly Hollis, Corporate Counsel & EEO Officer; James “Pepper” Rutland, President & CEO; Amber Leach, Marketing Director; Rodi Rispone, Legal Counsel; Tom Welborn, Executive Vice President; John Courville, Senior Vice President; and John Clouatre; Senior Vice President.

On Monday our team announced that MMR was recognized as one of the 2016 Best Places to Work in Baton Rouge by the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report and the Greater Baton Rouge SHRM, an affiliate of the Society for Human Resource Management and Best Companies Group.  MMR was impressively ranked third out of thirty companies who made the list in the “Large Company: 250 or more U.S. Employees” category.

The competitive Best Places to Work Program identifies, recognizes and honors the best places of employment in Baton Rouge. MMR initially completed an extensive questionnaire about its workplace policies, practices and demographics. Additionally, employees completed an anonymous survey about their engagement and satisfaction at the workplace. Survey questions covered areas such as corporate culture, training and development. The employer and employee surveys were then combined to form a set of data which enabled the analysts to determine the strengths and opportunities of the participating companies.

I am extremely humbled by this honor. One statistical fact that has always stuck with me is that people spend 80 percent of their waking life at work, so if you don’t like what you are doing or the job that you are in, you need to find a new career. At MMR, our employees are the heart of our company, and we strive to promote a culture that fosters personal development and professional growth while offering both tangible and intangible rewards to those with the drive to succeed.

Understanding The Importance of Employee Wellness

Pepper Rutlands exercise equipmentInterest in health has become a major focus for many Americans. Now, more than in recent decades, individuals are concerned about getting healthier and adopting wellness as a lifestyle, as seen in the incredible popularity of FitBit and other wearables which monitor activity and quality of sleep, as well as the consumer trend toward juicing, smoothies, and organic or Non-GMO foods. Consequently, it should not come as a surprise that U.S. News & World Report’s #1 trend in employee benefits to watch for in 2016 is wellness programs. As a consistent leader in our industry, the MMR Group had already begun investing in our employees, and this month, we’re proud to announce that our very own employee wellness center is open for all staff, at our in company headquarters in Baton Rouge, LA.

At MMR, we’ve taken notice of studies with regard to stress as a growing problem in America, and how it affects overall health. Research shows that stress can lead to significant, deadly illnesses when left untreated or exacerbated, such as heart disease, migraines, obesity, and accelerated aging. It is worth noting the role work plays into or sometimes causes stressful situations as well. According to a Carnegie Mellon University study, workplace stress has increased between 1983 and 2009, by a startling 18 percent for women and 24 percent for men. While employers cannot control stressful situations outside of the workplace, it is our duty to alleviate any issues resulting from work, and one of the best ways to do that is through well programs.

Most entities, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to private companies like Altitude in Massachusetts, agree that wellness programs and centers like ours are imperative, with the CDC going as far as to declare that such is a “vital piece of a healthy lifestyle.” In fact, nearly 28 percent of employees who participate in wellness programs offered by Aetna experienced less stress and 20 percent sleep better. That was early last year and just one study, as more services are offered, that number may likely increase.

Additionally, the benefit of giving employees access to sports and exercise equipment leads to an increase in productivity. According to that same study, healthier, better rested, and less stressed employees produce, on average, about 62 minutes more of quality work per week. Financially, that is about $3,000 per employee every year. Likewise, a recent study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine suggests that companies which invest in employee health perform better in the stock market than those who do not. Thus, such contributions are equally beneficial to all involved, and should be implemented on a larger scale.

Our 10,000-square-foot facility houses a weight training and exercise room, a basketball court, and will offer instructor-led boot camp classes. Active home office personnel and MMR staff employees can utilize the facility free of charge Monday through Friday from 6 AM to 8 AM, 11 AM to 1 PM and 5 PM to 8 PM. Click here to find out out more from our company website.