Shortcut Your Management Time with Exception Reporting

Do you spend a lot of time reviewing stacks of reports each month so you can get the information you need to make decisions?  Do you find out after the fact that something went wrong in your business and that if you had known about it sooner, you would have made different decisions?

If so, you might benefit from a special type of reporting called exception reporting.  Exception reporting highlights red flag areas that you need to take action on.  It contrasts with regular reporting, which lists lots of data that you may or may not need to take action on.

Here’s an example:  How often do you check your bank balance?  You probably check daily or even more, right?  Do you really need to?

Ask yourself when do you really need to know about your bank balance?  You need to know when it falls below a certain amount, or when you don’t have enough to cover imminent bills, right?  Why not stop checking your balance all the time and replace it with an alert that will send you an email under the conditions and criteria you set?  This will save you time.

Some exception reports are already built into some accounting systems.  A couple of good examples are the A/R aging report which shows past due invoices that have not been collected and the inventory re-order report that lists inventory items that reached their re-order points and need to be re-ordered.

There are many ideas to generate exception reports:

  • Missed and upcoming deadline tracking such as project due dates, tax forms due, and payroll due
  • Employees on vacation
  • Bills overdue
  • Expiration date tracking like end of lease and insurance policy renewal dates
  • Large variances in budget to actual reports

To take advantage of exception reporting, here are a few steps:

  1. Identify the reports you currently receive that you review but take no action no matter what.  Do you really need them?  If not, throw them out.  If so, ask yourself what trigger would have you taking action and change the regular report into an exception report that reports on that trigger.
  2. Think about what data you access all day that is not in a report or easy to use format.  Can you create an exception report or alert out of it and save yourself time?
  3. What information would you like to start receiving that you don’t have now?  It should be something that you would take action on if you knew about it.  Can you create an exception report for these new information needs?

Try exception reporting, or take it to the next level of implementation in your business, and watch your time free up and your management decisions sharpen.

Posted in Business Development, Time Management Tips | Leave a comment

Five Browser Productivity Tips

Most of us spend a lot of time browsing the Internet, and that means using browser software.  Google Chrome is the most popular browser with roughly 40 percent market share.  Internet Explorer follows with about a 30 percent share and Firefox is third with less than 20 percent.

Since most people use Google Chrome, we’ll use that browser to describe our five productivity tips.  If you don’t use Chrome, you can still look for the features we list on your browser of choice.

Better with Bookmarks 

Do you have a half dozen or so sites that you like to visit every day?  If so, bookmark them on a toolbar so that you have one-click access.  In Chrome, click the icon with three horizontal lines that is located on the web address bar at the top of your browser.  We’ll call this the Chrome Commands button from now on.  Mouse over “Bookmarks,” and make sure “Show Bookmarks Bar” is checked.

Type in your favorite site URL.  To add it as a bookmark on your bookmarks bar, click the star on the right side of the web address box.  It will turn gold, and then you can name your page as well as select whether you want it more prominently in the bar or simply in your list of bookmarks.  Repeat this for each of your most visited sites.

Now that all of your sites are listed on your bookmarks bar, you can visit them in one click.

Enlarge the Page

If a page is too small and you want to enlarge the entire thing, you can do so with your mouse wheel.  On your keyboard, hold down the CTRL key and roll your mouse wheel away from you while you’re on a web page.  The page will get larger.  Roll your mouse wheel toward you to reverse the effect and make a page smaller.

You can also customize your fonts by going into Chrome Commands, Settings, Advanced Setting, and Web Content.  You can find your font options there.

Download Redux

Do you need something you downloaded earlier today and forgot where you put it?  Access it again here by typing this into the web address box or selecting “Downloads” from the Chrome Commands.  Hey, even better, if you need this a lot, make it a bookmark.

chrome://downloads/

If you’re a history buff – that is, if you closed a browser screen and find you want to re-visit that page, then look for the History command under the Chrome Commands button.  It’s super-handy and will save lots of time when you need to backtrack.

Autofill

Tired of filling out forms?  Chrome will do it for you by remembering certain fields and matching them up with their form fieldnames.  You can have Chrome remember addresses and credit cards; however we can’t really recommend the latter for security reasons.  Manage this feature and its settings by clicking the Chrome Commands button and Settings.  Scroll to the end and look for Advanced Settings, then look for the Autofill area and Manage Autofill Settings.

Instant Dictionary

While browsing, have you ever come across a word or phrase you don’t know or want to know more about?  If so, highlight it right there on the web page and then right-click.  Select “Search Google for “the phrase you highlighted” to bring up the information you want.

Most of us have never had a formal class on our browsers, but it’s not a bad idea.  Hopefully, until you can get to that class, these tips will help you discover a little more about the browser you use every day.

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How Painless Is Your New Customer Experience?

Is your business easy to do business with?  Or is it difficult?   The answer could impact your revenue as well as your reputation for service.  Here are a few tips to help you stand in your customer’s shoes for just a few minutes to answer those questions.

First Impressions

What is the first image of your business that your future customer sees?  Is it your website?  A sign in your office window?  An ad?   Whatever it is, take a look at it with fresh eyes, like you’ve never seen it before.  You may have several images to consider if clients approach your business in many different ways.

What do you notice first?  Is the website simple or cluttered?  Is your sign rusty and crooked or new and cute?  Do you need to make any changes based on what you see?

Voice Time

If a customer calls, how many times does the phone ring before it’s picked up?  Does the voice sound inviting and excited that someone called, or is it as if you were just interrupted?  Or worse, did they get a recording?

If they walk in face to face, how are they greeted?  What does your waiting room look like?

Service

What is the interaction like with you?  Are you able to answer the prospect’s questions?  Do they feel comfortable with you or are they intimidated?    What do you suspect it’s like for your clients?

If the prospect becomes a client, what do they have to do?  Are there lots of forms to complete?  How organized are you in getting the client started and serviced for the first time?  Are you respectful of their time if they are in a hurry?

Mystery Shoppers

You’ve probably heard of mystery shoppers who are hired to give their opinions of what their client experience was like for them.  They go through a similar process, evaluating every client touch point and suggest ways to make it a smoother experience.

Almost every business could benefit from periodically reviewing the client experience to discover where the weakest links are and how they can be fixed.  Ask yourself these questions to see where you can improve your client’s experience and make it easy to do business with you.

Posted in Business Tips, Customer Service Tips, Management Tips | Leave a comment