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Building Your Remote Customer Service Team

The COVID-19 pandemic forced plenty of companies to consider remote work, a setup that was previously frowned upon. While many companies worried about the levels of production at the start, it was soon made clear that employees performed as efficiently as they did at their offices.

 

If your company wasn’t negatively affected by the new working arrangements, then it would be in your company’s best interests to push through with a remote working setup. You will see your customer service team’s performance continue to hold steady, if not even increase in effectiveness.

 

However, just pushing through a remote setup without any idea how to successfully build an effective team will only negatively affect your company. Understand how successful remote offices function and see how these practices can work for your company’s specific situation.

This piece will present you with techniques that can help your company move on from a traditional office environment. Our tips will give your company a clearer picture on the specific challenges that come with remote office arrangements and how you can prevent such hurdles from negatively affecting your customer service workflow.

 

N Pointers to Help You Create a Successful Remote Customer Service Team

 

Hire the right people for the job

 

Working from home requires a specific kind of mindset from employees. Not everyone can manage their professional and filial duties while at home. When you’re building a team to handle your customer service requirements, they must be able to work on their own without heavy supervision.

 

Moreover, the most suitable candidates should also be able to use their own computers if your company won’t be able to immediately provide your employees with proper equipment. This way, the quality of their work won’t be compromised by their limited hardware.

 

Select the perfect customer service software

 

Once you have the perfect group of individuals set, the next step would be to pick the most suitable customer service software. There are plenty of programs available in the market, so it may be tough to figure out which one fits like a glove to your company’s specific needs.

 

A quick checklist of features you want out of the best customer service program for your remote CS team should include the following:

 

  • Shared inbox
  • Comprehensive ticketing software
  • Analytics
  • Note sharing
  • Collision detection
  • Cloud-based

 

Establish reasonable KPIs and monitor your team

 

Your CS team’s key performance indicators (KPI) are one of the facets you don’t expect to stay the same during the transition to remote work. Since remote employees face different challenges, it’s best to adjust your KPIs accordingly. 

 

Make sure that all the goals you set for your remote teams are achievable within the time frame you give them. Moreover, monitor these metrics and coordinate with employees that fail to make the mark.

 

Here are some of the KPIs that you can monitor your remote customer service team with:

 

  • First response time
  • Customer satisfaction index
  • Net promoter score
  • Minutes spent on call
  • Total tickets to resolved tickets ratio
  • Top support agents

 

Set up an internal knowledge base

 

If your company is just starting out on remote work, it’s vital to create an internal knowledge portal as quickly as possible. Since your employees won’t be able to immediately consult with their immediate superiors on certain issues, it’s important to have a base database for them to quickly refer to.

 

This database should include the answers to the most common questions customers ask, the most common terminologies used, and guides to your business’ products and services. Make the database easy to understand so your customer service staff can properly do their work.

 

Maintain clear communication lines

 

There will come a situation where a customer has a question that isn’t immediately answerable by the database. Avoid any potential trouble that might spew out of this situation by establishing clear lines of communication between managers and staff.

 

There are multiple approaches to creating good communication between your remote team and managers, but the most important thing is establishing these lines in the first place. Also check in with your team every now and then to see how they’re doing and figure out if there’s any way you could help them.

 

Consider outsource work

 

 If your business boomed during the pandemic and your CS team just can’t handle the influx of tickets, then it’s time to consider getting help from an outsourced customer service team. Companies that provide outsourcing services have skilled individuals with the right equipment to do the work properly.

 

If you choose to tap into outsourced services, it would be good to have them correspond with your in-house customer service team to speed up the induction process.

 

Benefits of Remote Customer Service Teams

It may seem counter-intuitive, but there are actual benefits to making the shift to a remote customer service team:

 

  • Increased efficiency. Since your customer service team will spend less time commuting to work and handling on-site distractions, they can be more efficient with their work.
  • Pay less vacation days. Companies that have remote customer service setups will notice that fewer people file for vacation leaves since they’re less stressed compared to an on-site setup.
  • Lower costs. You don’t have to maintain a large office space just to house your customer service teams. The savings you make here can be used elsewhere in the company.
  • Bigger talent pool. Since you don’t have to limit the size of your CS team to your office, you can hire more talents to resolve outstanding tickets your existing team can’t immediately respond to.

 

Successfully Build Your Business Away from the Office

 

The situation may have forced our hands, but it’s now clear to everyone that a remote setup works. It’s all about creating an ideal environment that suits your company well. As long as you prepare for every conceivable problem that may spring up, you can turn remote customer service work into a big edge for your company.

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Virtual Assistants

Top 10 Business Tools to Help Maximize Time Efficiency

Choosing the right tools for your business can be a lengthy affair; the process of searching alone can be an overwhelming experience. With more people working remotely than ever before, online management tools have become integral to the way we work. Finding the right tools to streamline your workload can transform the ways in which you do business.

The market is currently saturated with tools to help you communicate effectively with colleagues and complete tasks efficiently from afar. At Digital Trawler, we use a number of management tools to ensure that our time is being used effectively. Throughout my many years of experience managing remote teams, I have used a number of different online tools, both free and paid. Below is a list of the tools I have found most useful for communicating, encouraging productivity, and streamlining accounting processes in my business.

Communication

Effective communication is vital for small business owners. There are a number of online platforms that facilitate communication between colleagues as well as with clients. One of the things to be aware of when choosing a platform is what tone suits your business. Maintaining a professional tone when working remotely is key. It can be easy to slip into bad habits when you don’t have to visit an office every day.

1. Loom

Loom is a free tool that allows you to send quick videos when speaking in person is not possible. It is an efficient and expressive way to communicate with colleagues and customers. The benefit of Loom is that you don’t have to type lots of text, and you can use visual explanations of things that would otherwise be complicated. Loom is excellent for teams that have a number of members working remotely.

2. Calendly

Calendly is useful when trying to find a meeting time that suits everyone. It allows you to schedule meetings without emailing back and forth about dates and times. It is simple to use; you input the times you are free into the calendar, share the link with whoever you want to meet with, and they can choose a time that suits you both. This tool is free of charge and very useful for small business owners with busy schedules.

3. Soapbox

At Digital Trawler, we use Soapbox every week for our team meetings. I have found it very useful for sharing information with my team. Soapbox allows you to share agendas, take the minutes of meetings, and assign tasks easily. Sharing an agenda for your weekly team meeting through Soapbox encourages better communication between colleagues, and more efficient time management. Setting the agenda before the meeting and sharing it with your team will help you stay on schedule and allows team members to have questions prepared in advance. This is a paid tool but worth the investment.

4. G Suite

G Suite is a Google meeting and calendar integration service. It allows you to automatically add conferencing to your calls and share documents all in one place making collaboration simple. You have to pay for this service but it comes in handy if you need a custom email domain, unlimited cloud storage, or additional administrative and marketing tools. This platform won’t suit every business but it is worth it if you want a variety of cloud computing, productivity, and collaboration tools.

5. Slack

Slack is the ultimate tool for teams who are working remotely. It allows you to keep your employees up to date through instant messaging in a professional environment. It functions like a chatroom for your entire team. It allows you to connect in groups or one-on-one about tasks. It also allows you to create threads for specific topics which means that all of the important information on a topic can be found easily. Slack is a free tool and one that we use at Digital Trawler regularly.

Productivity

At Digital Trawler we optimise our time by investing in platforms that suit the tone, pace, and size of our business so that we can get back to catering to our client’s needs. You’ll be surprised how many of the menial tasks you carry out every day, especially when it comes to communication and finance, can be replaced by capable software, so that you no longer need to worry about them.

6. Automate.io

Automate.io connects your cloud applications with ease. It allows you to automate marketing, sales, and payments, as well as any other business processes you use. You can create one-to-one integrations as well as complex workflows without having to use code through a drag-and-drop interface. Automate.io is similar to Zapier but more cost-effective. A free version is available that is easy to use. There are preexisting templates available for marketing, sales, and business processes.

7. Mail Merge

Mail Merge is an invaluable resource that saves you time sending bulk emails. It is a free service that allows you to send customised emails using templates and contact data. This service is ideal for small business owners who reach out to their clients frequently. It incorporates data from Microsoft Word and Excel which enables you to create multiple documents at once like newsletters.

8. Hootsuite

The Hootsuite bulk uploader helps you to create posts for social media pages and groups. It even allows you to add images and videos to posts and customise link previews before scheduling. Investing a little extra money by purchasing bulk upload in Hootsuite will save you a lot of time on your social media management. The Bulk Composer is most useful to create posts for social media websites like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Accounting

The primary benefit of using online accounting software is to keep track of invoices and receipts. By automating your accounting processes you can save time and have peace of mind that your finances are in order.

9. Receipt Bank

This platform helps you to manage your receipts, invoices, and other documents so that you can be sure that your financial records are accurate and secure. One of the most helpful elements of Receipt Bank is that it matches your receipts to your outgoings in your bank account. It works by scanning your email to see which receipts came in and matches them for you. This is a paid tool but can be very useful for business owners who struggle to keep on top of their books. You can also capture and upload your bills and receipts using the camera on your phone.

10. Quickbooks

Quickbooks is an accounting software that allows you to manage your income and expenses. It is cloud-hosted but can be used both online and offline. By helping you to keep track of your finances, your business can save time on administration while ensuring that all of your documents are accessible. The software facilities invoicing customers, paying bills, and preparing the information you may need for tax purposes. It is simple to sync your bank account and credit cards which enables easy expense tracking.

It is known for its user-friendly interface and reliable security which makes it an accessible choice. It allows you to automate your banking, as well as getting real-time financial information on your bank accounts. You can also integrate it with conventional banking platforms for automatic savings. Similar to Receipt Bank, this software will facilitate any difficulties small business owners have when completing their own finances. Although it is a paid software, it is worth the investment as it is simple to use, and integrates well with preexisting platforms.

One last tip I will give is that every tool is only as good as the information you provide it with. In other words, if you invest in a tool to help you create invoices but you neglect to keep your client list updated, you could run into some trouble. Make sure you understand what is needed to use the platform correctly before making changes to your existing processes.

And there we have it, that is the full list of tools that have helped me save time over the years. If you still don’t know where to start, prioritise the areas where you feel time is being lost the most, and see if those processes can be automated using one of the platforms above. Whether it is your weekly email to your subscribers or staying on top of your receipts, there is definitely an online tool that will fit your needs and save you time.

Choosing the right online tools for your business is a tricky but vital task for small business owners. By automating all of the processes that would otherwise eat away at your time you can get back to what is important; running your business. Tools like the ones above save several hours per week which can be channeled back into productive activities. Some platforms will have an immediate effect, others will be accumulative. No matter which platform you decide to go with, you will save time and money by investing in specialised online tools that suit the needs of your business.

About the Author

ronan walshRonan has been working in Digital Marketing, specifically SEO for close to 10 years and is a lecture in Web Design & Digital Marketing in Ireland.
 
Owner and founder of Digital Trawler, a SaaS Marketing Agency based in Ireland. Digital Trawler helps companies with their marketing strategy and messaging and have experts in SEO, paid adverts, social media and conversion rate optimisation.
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Virtual Assistants

Knowing When to Ask for Help as An Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs are go-getters by nature. They won’t stop until they achieve what they want, and they’re willing to make risky moves in pursuit of their entrepreneurial goals. Sometimes, they even put themselves on the line in an attempt to make it big. But while passion and tenacity are admirable traits, entrepreneurs also have the tendency to become overly self-reliant, refusing to seek assistance from others when they’re in a sticky situation.

Being independent is one thing, but trying to take on everything yourself will only lead to stress and burnout. You may think that asking for help demonstrates weakness, but by trying to do everything and making every decision by yourself, you’re risking putting yourself in a vulnerable position, potentially costing you the business you’re working so hard to grow.

It’s important to keep in mind that asking for help shouldn’t be seen as a sign of weakness. While it’s understandable that you’d want to be viewed as stable, self-sustaining, and competent, asking for assistance when delegating tasks can help you grow your business a lot faster.

Why it’s important to ask for help

Creator of Emotional Mastery, Joan I. Rosenberg Ph.D. notes that humans are social beings, yet individualistic cultures make us believe that relying on others and asking for their help is a burden and makes you emotionally weak. But we all need to acknowledge that we need both independence and dependence, and not one or the other. In order for us to pursue our goals, it must also be balanced with our need to be with others.

Being capable is necessary to develop resilience and confidence, but we should also accept that it’s sometimes necessary to be dependent on others, especially during moments when we have to tackle downturns. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but when you lean on your friends and family during troubling times, not only will you become more centered and calmer, but you’ll also let other people really know you. Achieving things on your own is a feat in and of itself, sure, but you must also have to possess the courage to ask for help when needed so you can go after the dreams and goals you have set for yourself.

When to ask for help

4 Tips on How to Write a Kick Ass Job Post for a VABusiness owners need to learn how to take a pause from time to time. So remind yourself that you don’t always have to be a productivity machine. While you prefer to work every minute of every day to achieve your goals faster, it’s crucial to stop and take a breather and remember that what you’re doing most likely isn’t a matter of life and death and will still be waiting for you the next day.

Suzanne Rohan Jones is a career counselor and associate instructor on the online psychology program at Maryville University. In her interview with Thrive Global on managing anxiety, she points out that you should master the concept of a work-life balance, and find out what activities cause negative stress and burnout. When you find that you’re starting to feel stressed and anxious, you should pause and identify what’s triggering it so you can take the necessary measures to avoid them.

Jones also notes that it’s important to set realistic expectations for the amount of time needed to successfully accomplish work activities when also juggling personal commitments. You may feel compelled to say yes to all familial commitments and new projects and requests from colleagues and clients so you can wow them, but wowing people is impossible if you don’t know how to say no.

How to get help

It’s important for entrepreneurs to realize that you can’t do it all. You’re only one person and there’s only so much time you and energy you can expend. Know your limits and learn how to say no to anything beyond your reach. You’ll be able to feel more in control and less anxious, and even have a better time making decisions when you know how to hit the pause button.

You can always start by delegating your tasks; ideally, to an assistant you can trust. If you can’t afford an actual assistant just yet, you always have the option to hire a virtual assistant who can tackle low priority tasks. As previously mentioned by Marcel Petitpas, having a virtual assistant on board is a great first step to scaling your business, especially when you’re just starting out and trying to scale your venture. When you’ve learned how to delegate, you’ll be able to focus on the most important parts of your business while also empowering the people you assign to take charge of projects you hand over to them.

This article was specially written for Outsource School by Rosie Jas

About the Author

Rosie Jas is interested in all things entrepreneurial. She enjoys learning about the ins and outs of starting businesses and why some startups fail. She loves to bake and tend to her indoor garden.

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Virtual Assistants

Scaling with VAs – The Workflow Processes No One is Talking About

Scaling up your Amazon business is not always a walk in the park. It requires a lot of hard work, sometimes without much visible payoff. But when it comes to your inventory management, what if all it takes is syncing three essential things to ensure your scaling-up process is successful? Offloading and coordinating a few key tasks using reliable, well-trained virtual assistants can make things more manageable and efficient in turning your dreams of scaling into a reality. 

In this article, we’re going to share the importance of syncing your marketing, inventory, and cash flow teams to your inventory management and your business as a whole. We’re also going to talk about how Virtual Assistants (VAs) play a vital role in scaling your Amazon business.

Sounds good? Read on!

3 Important Things to Sync

Whenever Amazon sellers talk about scaling up their business, it’s all about marketing. They always talk about the latest marketing tactics or the most “ninja” marketing strategies. See, there’s nothing wrong with being updated in the marketing scene, in fact, it’s vital, but the problem starts when marketing is the only thing that you focus on. Running an Amazon business means dealing with inventory. If all of the attention is on the marketing side, your company will have difficulty increasing its revenue and achieving growth. 

Amazon inventory management needs to be brought up within the conversation much more. Before you scale up your Amazon business as a whole, you need to scale up your inventory management systems. We’re not saying that you have to take your away focus from marketing completely. Of course now. However, you need to pay attention to other aspects of your business to improve your inventory management.

So, what are these three things that you need to focus on and sync?

They are inventory, marketing, and cash flow.

And how do these three areas work together?

  1. First, you should set up a marketing plan. The marketing team should lay out your sales seasonal velocity, Lightning Deals included dates and units projected to sell, and other marketing tactics you’ve planned. When the marketing plan is set and done, it’s time to forward it to the inventory team. 
  2. The inventory team’s main job is to find out whether the marketing plan is feasible or not. For example, you want to put a 20% discount on your products during Valentine’s Day. But the inventory team tells you that your stock levels will not allow for the sales campaign you have in mind. If you are too aggressive, you’ll stock out. The best thing to do here is for the inventory team to give the marketing team’s plan back for them to revise it based on what the inventory levels can afford. Eventually, the marketing and inventory team will agree on a particular strategy in line with your current inventory.
  3. Last but not least, cash flow. After all of the changes to the inventory and marketing teams’ plan, the next move is to send it to the accounting team. This is where all the money talk happens. Is there cash on hand? If money is available, is it enough to fund the plan? If not, what are the other options? What are the projected sales from this marketing campaign? Will the capital be tied up to negatively impact cash flow if this plan doesn’t succeed? How risky or certain is this plan? These are a few of the many questions that need to be tackled. Put simply, the accounting team’s primary role is to ensure that there’s enough cash to support everything profitably and to prevent the business from tying up capital in slow-moving products for an extended period of time.

This is the flow of syncing up your teams. As you can see, they all complement each other. If one team fails to communicate with the other, your business will run into problems. It’s essential to remember that no team is more important than the other. All must work together because each affects the others and all three fail or succeed together. 

Outsourcing Tasks to Virtual Assistants

Now that you know how to sync up your systems within your business, you just have to do one last thing: designating the tasks for your teams. This part is easy for a company with employees that are assigned to each defined role. But what happens if one of the teams lacks the expertise to do its job? What if you’re a solopreneur, and your to-do list is already filled with tasks that you can’t just keep up? What if your business needs additional hires to be more productive?

See, there can be many challenges in the execution, but one thing’s for sure, a virtual assistant will do wonders for your business if adequately trained and kept on task. 

Virtual Assistants (VAs) aren’t new to the freelance marketplace. More and more organizations are hiring VAs that become a vital part of their teams. It can prove to be quite productive and cost-effective.

To sync up your teams properly, here are the specific tasks that you can outsource to a VA for each category:

1. Inventory

For this role, you will need a supply chain manager who has excellent communication skills. This person is assigned to source and negotiate with sellers regarding their products. They need to know how to communicate effectively to get the most out of their orders.

You also need an inventory manager who has good time management, organizational skills, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. For starters, they need to ensure that orders are delivered on time and that you maintain proper, balanced stock levels, avoiding stock outs and over-ordering. 

It can get challenging to keep track of everything, but an organized VA will know how to sort things out correctly. If an issue comes up, a VA with problem-solving skills should have anticipated it and handled it the right way. 

Lastly, critical thinking skills are also vital so that your VA can establish new ways to manage your inventory efficiently. 

2. Marketing

When it comes to the marketing team, there can be many roles to fill in. Fortunately, there are also a lot of VAs who specialize in marketing. 

First, you need someone to handle your Amazon listings. Hire a VA who can write well to improve the content of your listings. Then, if you want to boost these listings, you can assign a VA to run FB ads for your business. Doing this provides more visibility and attracts more potential customers. 

How about keywords? You can assign a VA to take charge of your SEO efforts. If your marketing plan consists of Lightning Deals and special sales campaigns, a VA experienced in email marketing can handle this aspect of your marketing strategy. They will segment your leads efficiently and send well-constructed emails to further boost your sales conversions.

3. Cash Flow

As for cash flow, an accounting team composed of professionals who know how to deal with money and allocate it properly is required. As this can be a more technical role, you can choose to hire VAs with an accounting background that you can train, or to work with accounting freelance experts to assist you. What is important is that they know how to make the right decisions for your company’s profit, revenue, and growth. 

Finally, you can also choose to hire a Project Manager VA who will oversee and coordinate with all of these teams and projects, ensuring they are completed within the set deadline.

As the business owner, your primary responsibility is to set your teams’ direction and streamline their processes. From there, your VAs can execute their tasks and work together. The flow of your scaling processes can be streamlined if you have the right people on your teams working collectively and in a coordinated manner. 

Sync Up to Scale Up

If you want to truly scale up your Amazon business, it’s time to shift your focus on your inventory management. Syncing your inventory, marketing, and cash flow should be one of your priorities to take your Amazon inventory management a notch up.

However, there are a lot of factors as to why businesses fail to implement this syncing process. If the teams don’t cooperate, it can lead to negative outcomes. For example, suppose the marketing team acts alone and launches the marketing plan without consulting the inventory and accounting teams. This situation could eventually lead to stock outs and loss of profit. There are many other ways that things can go south for your business, but you can avoid them by ensuring your systems are working together and that you create new SOPs and workflows to solve any issues that may come up as you are grooving things in. 

Hiring VAs can help you to further leverage your syncing process. It’s no secret that VAs have been utilized in the freelance space for a while, and companies are taking advantage of this set-up. Hiring a VA is significantly cheaper than traditional hiring, which is a game-changer for small business owners.

As you assign tasks to your VAs, you’re allowing yourself to have more time to work on the aspects of your business that matter most. The outcome? You can scale up your Amazon inventory management and get to work on the areas of your business that need the most improvement. A win-win situation. 

To further boost your scaling process, consider adopting an Amazon inventory management software such as SoStocked to make your VAs work a lot more easy, efficient, and manageable and to reduce human error. 

Whether you do use a software or you stick to using spreadsheets, you should ensure that your inventory forecasting system includes adding extra units to cover your marketing plans. We’ve provided a downloadable Amazon inventory planner for your teams. It’s a great tool that can help your teams to better coordinate in achieving a smooth management flow.

It’s time to level-up your Amazon inventory management by efficiently syncing inventory, marketing, and cash flow. Only a fraction of sellers do it, but all of those that do have seen significant positive results in their business. The biggest question is: Will you choose to be one of them?

About the Author

Chelsea Cohen is an Amazon inventory management expert and the co-founder of SoStocked.com, an Amazon inventory management software. She’s also a 7-figure Amazon seller, speaker & consultant. Her regular clients include 7 & 8-figure sellers. She has been featured on AM/PM Podcast, Seller Stories with Jungle Scout & the Amazing Summit stage, among others.

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Virtual Assistants

3 Key Areas of Your Amazon Business to Automate

Anyone who tells you that FBA is a get-rich-quick scheme is lying — running an Amazon business is a tremendous undertaking.

With so many moving parts, founders often find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer number of things they need to quickly become an expert in. 

We see brand owners stuck in the mindset that they simply need to work harder on their business to see the real results. In reality, they need to work smarter.

Now more than never, there’s no excuse to be spending your precious time and resources on repetitive processes with predictable outcomes.

Outsource School provides some tremendous resources for making the most of your understandably limited bandwidth by outsourcing the most time-consuming tasks to skilled Virtual Assistants (VAs). By providing extensive training, instruction, and feedback, you’ll be able to effectively offload tasks that require consistent employee input. 

But while you may have your process down for outsourcing tasks, are these tasks still taking up headspace and sucking time each day, week, and month? 

Let’s take it one step further: automation.

In this article, we’re covering three key areas that you should be automating in your Amazon business. With these tips, you’ll be on your way to focusing on true high-impact activities that will actually grow your business (and your bottom line).

While your business can never truly run itself — there’s a reason human input is valuable and important — you’ll set your business up for success and avoid spending too much of your valuable time on time-consuming tasks. Let’s dive in!

Listing and Keyword Tracking

The first key area of your Amazon business that you should be automating is monitoring your product listings and tracking your most important keywords. 

How are you currently tracking whether your product was switched to the incorrect category? If you are suddenly dropping off in ranking for your most revenue-generating keywords? If your product was mistakenly (or maliciously) flagged as an adult product? If you are no longer able to receive reviews?

Many FBA sellers are still manually checking their listings daily to make sure all of these items are in line, and wondering if there is a better way to keep an eye on these crucial parameters.

Hint: there is.

Alerts from Seller.Tools will act as a customized surveillance system for your storefront, monitoring any important change in your product listing, ranking, or review rating and eligibility. 

Once you’ve decided what you want to monitor, you can opt in to receive an alert through a number of different channels with any relevant information to then take action and correct the problem.  

Even if you’ve offloaded this task to your VA, you’re still using their time to constantly monitor when you could be automating. This is the next step to seamlessly running your brand like an enterprise-level business!

Ranking + Rebate Distribution

Although it may seem intimidating and complicated, ranking on Amazon is really quite simple: target high-value keywords and get solid reviews. 

Even FBA sellers who have figured this out still struggle with the time-consuming nature of verifying valid purchases, manually sending rebates to their customers, and following up on a schedule to try to convince the customer to leave a review on Amazon. 

While this isn’t complicated in and of itself, it quickly becomes a huge undertaking if you’re running multiple rebate campaigns and giving out 100+ products daily.

Does this sound like a bookkeeping nightmare? I’m with you. The Seller.Tools team had the same thought and knew there had to be a more efficient way to rank on Amazon.

Seller.Tools is an industry leader in rebate campaigns for Amazon sellers and provides the most innovative, cutting-edge tools to automate this process while also creating a phenomenal, 5-star worthy experience for your customers. 

Rebate Automation from Seller.Tools makes it even easier to offload ranking and review capture, as it’s far simpler and quicker to onboard a VA with this methodology. 

What if you could:

  • Send your customers right to your product, targeting your most important and profitable keywords
  • Automatically verify their orders with Amazon in seconds and provide real-time responses with Amazon order updates
  • Instantaneously create and deliver a real gift card with over 100 different store options to your customers
  • Reliably follow up and request a review on the other side of the 5-star-worthy experience automatically

And the best part: what if you were not involved in a single step of this process?

With Seller.Tools + ManyChat, it’s so simple to get your VA up to speed and manage far more pieces of this ranking puzzle than they could if it was executed manually.

Anyways, working with clunky Google Sheets and dealing with PayPal mass payments (and mass fees!) doesn’t sound like any fun at all. Want to get in on this? Check out Rebate Automation here to learn more!

Team Communication + VA Task Management

Finally, one additional key area of your Amazon business that you should be automating is in communicating with your team and assigning tasks to your virtual assistants.

You know you’re on the right track when you’ve built out a strong, well-trained team of VAs who are actively involved in the day-to-day operations of your business.

However, if you want to do it right, managing these VAs takes time that you may not have. Keeping an eye out for changes in key areas of your business takes up a tremendous amount of headspace that brand owners simply do not have.

You’re ultimately still creating a bottleneck in your business if tasks need to filter through you.

What if you could automate your communication and task management for your VAs, and send time-sensitive tasks that require action right to the person who will be taking that action? 

Using a tool like Zapier unlocks huge potential for true automation in these areas. 

Now let’s get to the good stuff: how do we automate communication and task management? Let’s think back to our previous example with Alerts. 

  1. Set up an Alert in Seller.Tools whenever your product is not eligible to receive reviews (or any other important listing attribute you’d like to monitor).
  2. Set up a Zap to send a quick task to your VA to address the issue. Include all of the relevant information in the task, so they don’t have to come to you for further instruction every time.
  3. Follow up with an automated Slack notification to confirm they have received the task and have the action item covered. 
  4. Reclaim your headspace and deep work time, and get back to work!

Your VA’s time is still valuable and still requires an investment on your part. Setting up automatic, action-oriented Alerts will make your team of VAs even leaner and reduce your overall costs by focusing their time and attention on action instead of monitoring and waiting for tasks to come through. 

Automating these three key areas will increase the return on investment you’re seeing in your team of VAs, and will unlock claimed time so you can spend more time on the things you do best. 

How do you automate your business? Join the conversation and leave your best ideas in the comments!

Cydney Glasser | Marketing and Communications Specialist, Seller.Tools

Cydney guides digital communication at Seller.Tools, and loves empowering Amazon sellers to crush their goals by building innovative growth-hacking strategies.

She has an educational background in marketing and nonprofit management, and has enjoyed working in digital marketing and impact communication within multiple industries. Cydney is thrilled about the endless opportunities within e-commerce and the chance to be a pioneer in an ever-changing industry!

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Virtual Assistants

How to Delegate as a Solopreneur

There is a common belief that only big businesses can afford to hire many employees, while the smaller ones, let alone the solopreneurs, simply have to stick to the DIY. 

Luckily, remote work has enabled the gig economy to flourish powered by the convenient freelance marketplaces where everybody – and I really mean everybody – can get the expert help they need, when they need it and for how much they can afford.

I specialize in consulting startup founders on how to build and launch their MVPs in a super minimal way by leveraging the open talent model – global freelance marketplaces. 

Typically my clients are early stage founders, thus bootstrapping or working within tight investment limits. Often they have an already existing business to keep running in order to feed the spin-off product development. 

Still, on average, we manage to work with at least 10 experts in the first few months and always have the right person for the job and the crucial advice to make the best decisions for the business. 

But today I’m not even talking about these small businesses. I’m talking about myself. A solopreneur. Somebody who runs a one person show, an independent consulting where it’s simply me. The product is my expertise service. The business is me. 

I’m going to give you 10 examples of the tasks that I’ve outsourced and couldn’t be happier about. Read on!

What to outsource as a solopreneur?

  • Logo Design

You’re either artistic or you’re not, but there are also many technicalities around it (the resolution, file formats, transparent background or not, etc.). 

Instead of trying to do it myself, I contract it out to someone, give them exact details of what logo I’m looking for then go through their versions as they’re submitted. 

  • Video and Photo Editing

Sure, there are many tools for editing media files and they all claim to be user-friendly. Still, for an inexperienced user to make sure the bullet-points appear one by one as the speaker (myself in the video) says the sentence, would probably take many trials and errors to get in sync. 

I’ve outsourced all my video work and kept working on what I’m really good at while the video was being prepared for me. 

  • Website revamp

In the spirit of the MVP, when I was first starting out, I did a simple website using one of the no-code CMS platforms (mind you, I’m a software engineer myself, but simply not specialized in developing front-end pages and not eager to learn something I don’t plan on doing in the future). 

Once my business started taking off, I wanted a more professionally looking website and with the options to integrate the add-ons I needed. I hired a WordPress developer and while he was working for me, I kept working for my clients on the work I plan to continue in the future. 

  • Website add-ons

When your business is growing, the new needs appear, for example to integrate scheduling calls within a calendar on your website. 

The platforms I use like Calendly, MailChimp etc. come with extensive documentation and integration instructions, but then again, I have my primary work to do. Happy to have outsourced the work, the investment has paid off so many times already.

  • SEO

Like many tech driven areas of expertise, this one is subject to the constant changes of the search algorithms, tendencies, and strategies. What might take me days of research, an expert focused on their field can do within a few hours of an audit of my website. 

  • Slides

When I’m preparing a talk or webinar, I simply throw the content on the slides and ask for help putting it in a nice format, all elements aligned, all colors combined. Lovely!

  • Book cover

Writing a book isn’t an easy task, let alone coming up with a good book cover. Outsourcing a task like designing the book cover to somebody who has the talent and experience required is a huge help and can save you hours of time working on something you’re not qualified to do.

  • Proofreading

Believe me, even the native speakers use proofreading services. When writing a book (or an extensive article), you are focused on the content and on the flow. The more you read, the less you notice mistakes. 

A fresh set of eyes can make a huge difference. I loved reading my chapters put in an elegant error-free version by the proofreader I hired.

  • Formatting

The online world can get complicated with all the different rules for the formats that are accepted by certain platforms. 

While it does make sense to have some standards that make things more convenient for the content consumers, it’s a lot to keep track of. My book final file was produced by a freelancer who does that multiple times per day and knows the formats front to back.

  • Keywords research

Based on your suggested keywords and your ToC, an experienced person can find the keywords that you can leverage to drive more visitors. This does take a lot of time and experience, and I’ll keep outsourcing for sure.

While I am 100% satisfied with my experience so far, in the next phase, I’d like to experiment with a long-term VA that would get deeper into my business and help me with the tasks that are more on the ”outside”, like reaching out to potential partners, checking in on the ongoing activities with the other collaborators, etc. 

How to outsource as a solopreneur?

What I tell my clients, I apply myself as well, and here it is: any successful collaboration, whether it’s a long-term one with a core team member, a one-time simple assignment, or a partnership arrangement, is built on and requires all of the following 10 points for successful outsourcing: 

  • Your own clarity on what you need help with and what you expect from the collaboration

Give yourself a diagnosis. hehe! What do you suffer from? What do you struggle with? And: what kind of result would make you happy and feel that your problem has been solved?

  • Your own clarity whether it’s the lack of expertise or lack of time that you are trying to solve

This is crucial. If you lack time, you find a follower type to teach/train to overtake some of the tasks from you, usually the repetitive ones. 

On the other hand, if it’s the expertise you are lacking, well, you need an expert. And you need to be able to express your pain point to them clearly. 

  • Selection of the right collaborator

Freelance marketplaces use references from previous clients to present the freelancers to the potential new clients. Together with the freelancer’s profile, the references are a great tool when selecting. 

In addition, I like doing video calls with the top 3 candidates, to get that feeling if we are indeed on the same page.

  • Selecting the right collaborator at the right time and on the right terms (full / part time, long / short term, or on an as-needed basis)

Often entrepreneurs are reluctant to hire and wait too long and get in the situation when the work needs to be redone by the expert when they finally join. 

In addition, there are many research tasks, solution suggestions etc., that should be done prior to starting acting. With freelancers, you can do one time consulting, or arrange to be in touch on an as-needed basis, but don’t be reluctant when reaching out for help and advice.

  • Crystal clear input

No matter if it’s a simple one time task or a complex consulting request, list down all you have in a systematic way so it’s easy for the freelancer to understand.

  • Well defined output

Make sure you and your collaborator are on the same page with the goal of the collaboration and outline it clearly in writing so they have it to refer to at all times during the work..

  • Patience and openness to hear the suggestions

Your business is your love child, I know. You know your domain and you know your customer base. But remember that you’re reaching out to an expert because something was missing in the first place. Hear them out and listen to the ideas they have for your project.

  • Pre-defined collaboration tools and processes

Solopreneurs tend to think that they don’t need management tools and processes as they are not a team…they are solo. However, if you don’t want to be hearing the same questions again and again from each freelancer, digging into old email threads, losing track of what has been done and what is due and when, start managing from day 1. All the info in one place, all the tasks on the board, etc.

  • Maintaining the professional relationship during the collaboration

Remember that each expert is a business on their own, just like you. They offer their expert services, they invest into their expertise upgrades, and they handle multiple clients at the same time. 

Let them know in advance when their services will (not) be needed, ask what they think about your plan, etc. Show that you trust them and value their services.

  • Staying in touch after the collaboration has been wrapped up

It’s always easier to get additional work done by somebody who already knows your business and your way of running it. Keep in touch with your ex-collaborators and cultivate your network so you can tap into them in the future as needed as well.

The world’s become extremely remote and there is no reason to limit your business within the walls nor to do everything yourself. To learn more, check out:

Tijana Momirov is a software engineer, product manager and founder of StartupSetup where she helps founders start their startups, all in a remote, agile and super lean way by leveraging the gig economy. She’s been a full time nomad since 2010 and loves blogging and giving talks about nomadic lifestyle, managing remote teams, future of work, the gig economy, productized services and more. She is a co-author of “Your Company with No Walls” and mentor at various startup organizations.