The Key Element That Will Make or Break Your Business

Comments (20)

When you made the leap into ecommerce, did you realize the importance of providing top notch customer service, satisfaction and support? These factors and your ability to deliver them rapidly and efficiently directly impact your credibility and ultimately your success.

Too Many online businesspeople assume that because this is a "digital age" and the Internet is a "digital medium", their customers expect and prefer to interact with their company via digital, automated means.

While it is crucial to the success of your online business to automate certain time consuming, tedious but necessary tasks, it is extremely important that you know right from the start that your customers do not belong in that "time consuming" category.

You must always remember that without your customers you have no business. You must be readily available to your customers when they need you. You must avoid trapping your customers in voice mail hell, late responses to emails and phone messages or worse yet no response at all. Exceptional customer service breeds satisfied customers which in turn produces repeat business for you and even new business from referrals.

When you have an extremely well funded organization, adding a customer service solution to your business is as simple as finding the appropriate staff to handle the job and then deciding on the right tool to handle the customer service requests.

But, what if you are a one (or two) man operation. Can you really do everything that a well funded company with a full-time customer service staff can do to keep customers happy? Yes, you certainly can and if you leverage the correct technology, you may be able to do a more efficient job than those larger companies are able to do.

If you run a company, regardless of size, you should consider implementing some of these unique tools and techniques to increase the productivity of your customer service staff.

My small company, Goldbar Enterprises is run by my wife and I, our affiliate manager, and a team of expert developers. We have been blessed by much success which we attribute not only to our hard work and perseverance and the quality of our products and services but a huge chunk of our success is directly tied to our exceptional customer care.

We're not happy until our customers are happy. Our business has become a lot more than a full-time job. We wear several different hats: marketers, deal makers, customer service, technical support, and business web site providers.

To avoid extra work, we set up our members only marketing supersite, The Ultimate Marketers Resource ( ) to be completely automated from the start. We spent months working out the technical details so that a customer could purchase membership, receive his/her login details and gain access in under 10 minutes time.

The system works great, but customers naturally expect and deserve top notch support. Our customers get all the help, advice and consulting they need as part of the package. We knew that thousands of members would be difficult to support but we also knew that if we put our heads together we could come up with a plan to use existing technology to help assist us with the support and still keep our overhead to a minimum.

To implement a basic support program, you should have an email address devoted solely to support requests. This will allow you to set priority for these requests so they do not slip through the cracks.

Moreover, your customers, like you, expect to receive a timely response to their questions. If it's impossible to respond within minutes of receiving an email, at least get it done some time that same day. Your customer will not hesitate to take his/her business elsewhere.

If you know what ICQ is, I highly suggest that you implement it so as to enable your customers to access your support person when they are online so that requests can be handled instantly. If you do not have ICQ and need to learn more about it, visit Mirabilis to download it free.

In addition to ICQ, your support program should include new web based tools that can help you to manage and fulfill customer support requests.

One of these web based tools that we highly recommend you implement is Humanclick. This tool allows you to interact live with your customers on your web site. If you are not available your customers can use Humanclick's convenient "leave a message" function to do just that, leave you a message.

Due to the number of technical support issues that may crop up when operating an e-business you can become overwhelmed if you do not have a well trained, technical staff. If you are fortunate enough to have a technically sound staff you can offer support on your own site.

If you are not technical and do not have a staff, have no fear, now you can utilize an awesome service from Expertcity. Expertcity is a company that offers free and low cost technical support for anyone right over the web. The service is great and the people there know what they are doing. Many companies are now outsourcing their technical support issues to them.

Once you have these mechanisms in place, you should then set up a call tracking program that you can use to keep track of your support requests and their status. This can easily be set up using a spreadsheet or database program.

Many programs may even have templates that you can use to set up a customized call tracking manager. This is important as it will save you time and also let you track the progress of requests until they are completely resolved. The goal is always to strive for complete customer satisfaction.

If you can develop a reputation as a company that supports its customers, you will be well on your way to developing a successful Internet business. The web offers many free and low cost options that can be easily set up to allow you or your staff the ability to excel at this very important and integral part of your business.

About the Author

Marc Goldman - Since 1999, The Ultimate Marketers Resource has been the only system enabling you to manage EVERY aspect of your business from Autoresponder services, Mailing List services and management, Lead Generation, and Ad Tracking, to Viral Marketing and much, much more remotely from anywhere in the world, anytime, from any computer for a low monthly fee. Click here to learn more before your competitors do:


paladin 20.08.2007. 02:29

How do I develop a credible software development environment? I suppose I need a higher skilled and self motivating environment.

Do I need to empower the developers to be the owners of a particular element within the development ?

I have abolished all carrot and stick milestones and deadlines nonsense - I've never seen anything valuable produced in such an environment. I need to prevent anything like this re-emerging.
To "Einstein" - Terrific. Thanks. More later.


Admin 20.08.2007. 02:29

The key to success is teamwork. If possible, create a project team that consists of six different roles, each with its own goals. By achieving these indivdual goals, the success of the project is most likely ensured. In this setup, a team model isn't an organizational chart. It doesn't define a hierarchical reporting structure. What it does does do is identify the different roles, responsibilites, and goals that go into making a project work.

By breaking a large team into a small, interdisciplinary teams. you can avoid confusion as to the status of a project, the lines of responsibility,and the elements of a project that might otherwise be overlooked. It also prevents duplicate work being done due to one person doesn't know what the other is doing.

If a team exceeds ten or more members, it is recommended to break them into specialty teams. Each smaller team focuses on a specific goal, and is responsible for different tasks. Members are assigned to each team based on their expertise in specific areas, and are accountable for the quality of results in that specific area. Since these teams work parallel to one another, productivity increases because efforts are synchronized. It also results in a better product because teams are held accountable for results, and can clearly see the project goals.

Ideally, a project team is made up of six different roles. By placing people in roles that best match their skills, the quality and chances of success for a project dramatically increase. The fundamental roles in a rpoject team are as follows:

1) Product Mangement
2) Program Mangement
3) Development
4) Testing
5) User Education
6) Logistics Mangement

Each role has different responsibilities, requires different expertise, and works toward a different goal. When team members succeed in these roles, the project itself succeeds. Team leaders can focus on achievement for their individual missions.

Team leaders should be entrusted with supervising, guiding, and coordinating the teams. Team members have clearly defined roles, which allow them to focus on specific areas of the project. At each phase of the development, one of the team model's roles is accountable for planning, managing, and executing the tasks associated with a particular milestone. They "own" the responsibility of ensuring that the team achieves a milestone.

It is the responsiblity of Product Management to see that the team achieves each phase of development. This role is responsible for identifying user needs, the business, problem, expected benefits of a solution, project vision, and the risks associated with the project. In managing the expectations of a product, Product Mangement ensures that expectations are clearly communicated to both the project team and the customer. This allows both customer and project team to have a shared vision of what the project entails.

Program Management is responsible for setting project design goals. In doing so, this role establishes what factors will determine the project's success, and what metrics will be used to measure this success. Program Management is also responsible for documenting the solution, researching th existing infrastructure that will be used with the product, and chronicling the success factors and metrics. This allows the team to see how well they are doing on the project, and the initial sepcifications that will be used in the product.


Naut 12.08.2007. 11:11

How do you launch unique business or marketing idea? Let's imagine that I have come up with a novel business idea and want get it off the drawing board and into the market-place. I have little money to invest and cannot reach the decision makers of any Corporate entities which may show interest.
I am naturally interested in making money out of my idea and thus have reservations about revealing too much information until I hold some kind of formal agreement which gives me the necessary protection.
My suspicion, seeing as we have about 6,5 billion people on the planet, is that 99,999% of so called unique ideas are a load of 'unowat', but by the same token, there are possibly 6,500 really good ideas out there which have the potential of making millions.
So good people, what do I do with my unique business / marketing idea? This particular one could be directly linked to the 2008 Beijing Olympics as I believe it holds a strong element of 'international appeal' but time is running out for this option.


Admin 12.08.2007. 11:11

The first think that captures my attention is that you wish to keep some things secret in order to protect the idea. The idea itself is not the "key" for success, so it is not so urgent to protect it. What is important is how to realize the idea and make it successful and of course who is on the back of the idea and how she or he wishes to fight for making the best out of it.
"Protecting the idea" probably is one of the reasons why many ideas are lost.
Realization is what matters. Ideas alone have no value.
So, what to do? make a business plan and a business model. And don't loose the chance of getting feedback from potential investors: what do they like or what not.

Some weeks ago I've heard from a Microsoft's guy: "Planning without realization is dreaming". I think the same is for ideas "great ideas without planning are just dreams".

Good luck and break the stone wall of protectiveness (the wall is made on paper...not stone)!


Catstronaut 22.11.2011. 05:44

How to make the best out of 2hrs of studying? I have 2 hours to study tomorrow morning before my chemistry class at 8:30AM. I plan to wakeup at around 5am or so before i get ready to study.

I've done this before but had little success, how can i be assured i get to the business and actually make use of the 2 hours best i can ?


Admin 22.11.2011. 05:44

You need to prepare yourself and plan your studies. Make sure you have a healthy breakfast (even if it's just a piece of fruit with a drink) and you're fully awake.

What are the topics you need to cover? What questions do you need to ask yourself? Have a look before you study and note the areas you aren't fully confident in - you should study these first.

Have a warm up session of answering questions (prepare these the night before) or write down key words (i.e. disproportionation) and try to define them (i.e. redox reaction in which the same element is both oxidised and reduced).

Have a 10-15 minute break for every 45 minutes of study. This prevents burn out and gives you time to process the information, rather than cramming a lot in with no time to rest.

Good luck. :-)


missleah26 10.03.2009. 05:37

Need your thinking caps on - ideas for a name? I am working on a project in my Marketing course and have developed a new chocolate bar - problem is it is nameless!

Key elements that i want to promote are:
- low fat chocolate with wafer/biscuit texture
- can be split in two and shared, like two Tim Tam's stuck together
- available in family packs also

I am aiming it at older business women who would have a stash at home for tea parties/gatherings etc and store some at the office for coffee breaks yet still be able to use for school kids lunch boxes.

Any ideas???


Admin 10.03.2009. 05:37

Here is a killer name:


I am from a Ad agency, this one is on the house !


. 25.08.2011. 21:06

How can I improve my quantitative literacy? I am absolutely dreadful with numbers. How can I improve?


Admin 25.08.2011. 21:06

I can't put everything in this answer, so I will try to be brief and not reference directly the (sadly broken) US education system.

Your 'innumeracy' is the result, most likely, of your parents and teachers not giving you sufficient help and interest between the ages of 4 and 10. To correct the problem, and it is VERY difficult, you have to regress to that age and repeat things and simple facilities you missed. My four year old grandson can add numbers less than six by putting up his fingers and (when he cannot get the memorized result) counting out the answer. His mother has worked with him on this, and he is already comfortable with the IDEA of addition. If you encountered addition only in the first couple of years of school, you were already on the path to innumeracy.

You have to be able to do mental sums of numbers up to twelve. You also have to commit the multiplication table (at least up to 12s) to memory. The REASON for this is not to put the calculator people out of business. It is to get you working the basic operations of numbers in your head and on paper. Then, when you encounter a simple numerical expression like 4*(8 + 6) = 4*8 + 4*6, the pieces will be quickly evident to you -- rather than struggling in your mind to figure 'What is 4*6???'
This should be in hand by your third year of school. Then, you have to understand fractions and their arithmetic. Without fractions, common denominators, etc. you have no basis by which to learn how to handle algebraic expressions. It all goes back to manipulating integers. That business with 4, 6, 8 above generalizes to a*(b+c) = a*b + a*c. But if you have brain lock with 4,6 and 8, I can't teach or illustrate the latter with simple numbers.

To summarize, there are three key elements of numeracy: computation, estimation, and procedure. The first (described above) is mechanical. The second comes with experience from the first. The third is learned from doing simple (and progressing to more complex) problems over time. Good luck!


Pete 13.09.2009. 14:37

Why are Obama's health reforms being opposed so violently? Surely a country as wealthy as the US can afford adequate and timely health care for all its citizens? Am I right in thinking that marches to Washington to oppose these health reforms can only have the financial interests of those wealthy medics, drug companies and others involved in the profitable health business at stake? Surely, all Republicans cannot oppose such measures?


Admin 13.09.2009. 14:37

What part of the US Health care is costing US government all this money?................Medicare, Medicaid, State Children?s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)

Who is in charge of this programs?...........US GOVERNMENT

Maybe GOVERNMENT should just "reform" what is broken before they F&(K with the rest of Health Care system?

What do you think.....



Brandy 08.07.2010. 23:13

How do i get my mini schnauzer to poo outside?!? I have a 7th month old mini schnauzer he is potty trained for the most part. He pees outside and NEVER inside but no matter what i do he goes poo in the house! Once in a blue moon he will poo outside but it is very, very little. I thought i would start here before looking for hours online. Any comments/answers will help.


Admin 08.07.2010. 23:13

Actually, Jeremiah's suggestion is about the -worst- thing you can do. Punishing a dog for pooping in the house only teaches them to -hide- the poop!!! This is not what you want.

The trick is to use a crate training system. Small crates are available for this purpose at most any pet store. You could also get away with a medium sized crate and a divider. Either way, the dog should have -just enough room- to turn around and lay down, but NO MORE. It will seem cramped and cruel, but the idea is that dogs desperately hate to poop where they sleep. So your dog will learn to hold it as long as possible before pooping. When you take him out of the crate, go IMMEDIATELY outside. Do not stop to say hello, or for anything else: out of the crate, straight outside. At that point the dog will probably poop almost immediately. When they do, praise and treat (the rewards here are key- lots of praise and a favorite treat tell the dog that pooping outside is a -good- thing, and they'll want to do it lots.

Your dog may have to spend a lot of time in the crate for the first few days to get the idea, especially overnight. If you catch them in the act of pooping DO NOT PUNISH! Take them immediately outside to finish. Remember also that dogs are more likely to poop away from your home, so you may find them more likely to poop if you take them for a short walk around the neighborhood. When taking them outside for a bathroom break, don't let them futz around. If they haven't done their business in the first ten minutes, take them back inside, back in the crate and try again in an hour or so. The key is commitment and consistency. Without these two elements, all your training efforts will fail.

One last note. Make sure to clean your floors and carpet thoroughly with a pet cleaner. or water/vinegar solution. Making the area smell bad with vinegar will discourage them from pooping inside.

So to summarize: get a crate, and reward for good behavior. Don't punish bad behavior. Good luck!


ocsic 13.01.2011. 01:21

How to start a small business ? I just want to know how much money you need I want to open a little Mexican store but don't know where to start is the loans or grants or licensing send me a like or something.


Admin 13.01.2011. 01:21

STEP 1 Business Ideas
To start a business you will need to choose or create a business idea. While this is an obvious step many people who want their own business don't have an idea, just the desire to be an entrepreneur. For the budding entrepreneur, there are many options; buying a franchise or an existing business, or looking to others for ideas for a start-up business. Once you have decided on the business you wish to start, then the real work begins.

STEP 2 Business Plan
Writing a business plan is your next and most important step, this is how you and others will evaluate your business. When seeking financing the investors or lenders will want to read your plan before they supply you with funding. If you're financing the business yourself, you will still want to have a written plan to develop business strategies and financial projections. A key element within the business plan is the marketing plan, which explains marketing strategies that will be used to advertise and promote the products or services. The goal setting steps of the plan will help you to analyze the success of the business in future years and clearly illustrate the capital needed to operate the company to break-even.

STEP 3 Financing
With your business plan in hand, you are ready to go find yourself some capital. Most small businesses have three options for financing: friends & family, investors or bank loans. Each of these options has different considerations for the business. Investors and even friends & family usually want ownership and control of their portion of the business. Bank loans burden the business with an additional expense of the loan payment, which can erode the business profits.

STEP 4 Getting started
You've got the plan, the money and the enthusiasm; you're ready, right? Not yet, as with everything you need to take the legal issues into consideration. First you should choose a legal structure: Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, or Corporation. Your financing decisions will have an effect on what legal structure you choose. Now you can file with the state to incorporate and obtain a federal Identification number.

STEP 5 Opening the Doors
Okay, it's time to get on the road to making some money; this of course means spending money. Where are you going to run your business? Will a home office do or is commercial space needed to service your customers? Do you need to hire employees to help you run the business? What are your bookkeeping needs, do you need an accountant? Finally, who could forget taxes, what taxes do you have to pay and collect? Now that your business is through the start-up phase, you can now look forward to the issues of managing a small business.


Destiny Alexandra 19.06.2013. 15:37

I'm going to be a Marine and wanted to know if once you are on base are you able to go to college? I've got a lot of different answers on this because a lot of people say it's impossible due to each time you're deployed you have to stop your classes and then start them over when you get back? I'm already close to my AA now and want to finish it and get my bachelors so I can become an officer by my second tour. Any advice on specific MOS jobs that would make this possible or on how this works?

Destiny Alexandra

Admin 19.06.2013. 15:37

A couple of the others were close, but here is the reality (as one mentioned). I am going to do this by the numbers for simplicity.

1. From the day you arrive at boot camp through MCT and MOS training - there will be absolutely no time to do anything related to college courses. This will eat up a minimum of your first 6 months of your 4 year contract and even longer depending on the MOS assigned.
2. The MOS, as indicated by another poster is a key element in your plans as is your first duty station assignment.
a. If your MOS is aviation or combat support, deployment is a real probability (not possibility). That means zero opportunity for college courses. You can be deployed with your unit anywhere in the world or even aboard a Navy ship. The continuity required to complete a college course is severely broken.
b. Duty Station - If you are stationed at a Marine Corps Base or Air Station as support staff (non Fleet Marine Force), you may have time for a college course or two in a year. The problem you will have is getting a college course that you "need" for your AA during a timeframe that you can take it. Expect night classes only. Like one said, trying to get continuity that leads to your AA is really tough to accomplish since it often "major" based. Most who finally get an AA degree will end up with a General Education AA - not good for a 4 year college that leads to a BA/BS. If you are in the FMF - not much chance at all to get time due to the working hours which can be 8 - 12 hours per day and sometimes on a weekend if the world has gone nuts!
3. MCECP (Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Program) - IF selected, gives the Marine orders to a 4 year college to complete degree requirements and subsequent assignment to Officer Candidate School where they can try out for a commission. This is a very, very tough program to get. Not impossible, but tough. I have sat on numerous MCECP selection boards as the senior member. 20 could apply but only 1 or 2 get the orders. It is that tough. Plus you MUST be at least a Sgt to even have a chance. Corporal selection is extremely rare. Your AA degree must be more than General and should be focused eg business, education, history, computer science, etc. plus the GPA should be 3.5 or higher. You will be asked questions about military subjects and current events. The sharpest of the candidates get the recommendation of the Board which consists of officers and SgtMaj.
4. Another route for an AA holder is to apply for Warrant Officer after the candidate makes Staff Sgt. Same tough board at Headquarters Marine Corps and sometimes at higher unit level, but maturity gives the applicant the advantage. If selected, orders to the Basic School (TBS). Later at CWO-2, the person can apply for Limited Duty Officer (1stLt is the goal). This will require progress toward a BA and BS degree via night school. Officers have more time flexibility for this.
5. MY recommendation: Assuming you don't have the money to finish 4 year college- Enlist, do your 4 years, get out and go back to college full-time on the GI Bill. If you focus on your schooling and limit the parties, you can get your 4 year degree. As noted by another poster, don't expect your AA to count for much. You will get the credit hours but they may not count toward your major. Apply for Platoon Leaders Class (PLC) program while a full time student. This gets you to OCS. With 4 years active duty behind you, your chances of completing OCS is very high (over 34% don't and they are mostly direct from civilian world).

MOSs - disbursing is the only one that usually ends up at a Station or Base. Even then, they are also assigned to deployable Regiments and Air Wings. During peacetime, get into an aviation unit or supply department. If the OpTempo is low, "maybe" time for one course per semester. Long work days can mess that up. After Sgt, command more likely to give you some slack - 3+years to make Sgt these days.

Lieutenant Colonel, U S Marine Corps-Retired (I was also prior enlisted, served 4 years active, little time active Reserve, BS in Engineering on GI Bill, PLC, commissioned.)


Ramy 19.10.2007. 00:46

Do you see Philippines as a place of best business, leisure, retirement, tour and permanent residence ? This is drafted to determine the world opinion as far as Philippines is concern.


Admin 19.10.2007. 00:46

I consider the Philippines to be potentially the greatest country in Asia.
BUSINESS: This is a third world nation with developmental problems including graft and corruption. It is on the cuspus of a great break through. The government is hard at work and has had some success in elimination of this key problem. When you analyze the the elements required for a successfull business they are all here. For people with small business skill the Philippines is an untapped gold mine.
LEISURE: The fabulous weather and unlimited scenic wonders. The fact that everything is affordable also helps. All warm weather recreational activities are available for a modest expense. The Schadd Aquarium in Chicago spent 14 million dollars duplicating the undewater environment I have 5 miles from my door. The list of interesting sites and activities are endless.
RETIREMENT: The five grain fresh baked bread I enjoyed in Tucson for $5.00.....I get at my local bakery for 80 cents. A home that would cost me over $200,000 in Tucson costs me $30,000 here......a three bedroom fully furnished apartment here cost me $200 rent......Medical treatment including a VA clinic are available..... I spent $60 for a sonagram....$1,000 for the capping of 12 teeth......
RETIREMENT: For me in the dictionary next to the word "Paradise" is a picture of the Philippines. Been there over 5 years and I obviously love it
TOUR: Very diverse.....less than a mile from my front door is a beautiful lush jungle and a 100 ft waterfall.....exotic birds.....a plethora of tropical fish....On Palawan is the biggest longest underground river..... The man made rice paddy terraces in Bagueo if lain end to end would stretch for over 14,000 miles....the Great Wall Of China is only 1,000 miles long....There are white water class rivers, bubbling hot springs, active volcanoes like those in Hawaii, 7,000+ islands the majority of which are unihabited, luxurious beaches, sailing and surfing, wonderous animals found nowhere else in the world.....

I am trying for dual citizenship and Philippine permanent residency as we speak


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