Three Business Lessons: Checking Your Receipts, The Importance of Customer Service, And Managing Your Business Systems

“The receipts were communications that we were good to go, and that I would be paid, or that a change needed to be made, and typically, quickly.”

The Business Of Blogging/Writing

This blog post is going to involve the areas of Blogging/Writing, Business/Entrepreneurship, and Technology. As many of you know, I was able to monetize my blogging platform a couple of years ago. With multiple projects, I only have a little bit of time throughout the year to generate pieces here for myself now. Much of the content is generated by customers/collaborators. By the way, my new blog entitled, ‘Big Words Authors’ is now up and running and has a more literary/storytelling focus. Take look if you want to read creative writing narratives, stories, poetry, and my new book project entitled, “The Engineers: A Western New York Basketball Story”, and the many supporting promotional pieces that are on the way.

This piece, while it will discuss how I monetized my blogging platform, will also talk about two important aspects of starting your own enterprise: monitoring your business receipts and customer service. Over the years I’ve heard that systems are an important part of any successful business, and I’ve found that to be true. I will thus also discuss what happens if some of your critical systems breakdown, compromising important aspects of your business like your customer service.

There are currently numerous documents on the Big Words Blog Site involving blogging. Some were written by me, and some were written by a customer. A year or two after starting the Big Words Blog Site, I unexpectedly entered the business of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I plan to discuss SEO in greater detail in a separate post. For now, however, I’ll just say that I started collaborating with other entities to publish content, for which I’ve been compensated. I’ve worked with several collaborators, and each involved the generation of business receipts and customer service.

Checking Your Business Receipts

In one of my Fathers’ Day posts (2017), I shared a memorable experience where my father reprimanded me for not taking my receipt and counting my change – a life changing experience for me. It turns out there’s a business context for checking your receipts. As I’ll describe in the business context, checking your receipts not only ensures a given transaction was executed properly, but it can ultimately save your business.

In short, I was able to monetize my blogging activities through the area of SEO. I’m no expert in SEO, by any means, but essentially it involves increasing your rank in the Google search engine by being linked to other websites. This is a big thing in our modern digital age and there are companies that specialize in this. The client/company/partner I started working with created short informational pieces of all kinds, linking companies in them.

Our partnership involved my publishing the content they sent to me perfectly, meaning that the final published version needed to match the draft they sent me in terms of content, structure and the weblinks inserted in the original piece. Once I sent them the published link and it was satisfactory, they would send me a receipt letting me know that the piece was perfect. I have partnered with other customers performing the same service, and still others who simply want their links added to specific contents. When the partnership with my main customer started a couple of years ago, I couldn’t believe it. It involved me publishing large amounts of content and it became profitable.

Interestingly, in some instances with large numbers of pieces being generated and passed back and forth, inevitable mistakes occurred. These were either on my end or on theirs. This was understandable as they were generating thousands of pieces (from me and others), and I was publishing as many as they could send me. Occasionally, I would unintentionally leave a link out, to which I’d receive a polite message saying, “Can you please put the X link back into the piece?”. In some instances, they’d send me an apology and would ask me to change something to update it from the draft they sent me – an error on their part.

In some cases, a link that was anchored to text would need to be changed to a naked link (the actual ‘https’ web address), or sometimes the other way around. Either way, the receipts were communications that we were good to go, and that I would be paid, or that a change needed to be made, and typically, quickly. These communications also occurred when I was offered a piece, when I accepted it, and in some instances, when they needed me to delete a narrative for whatever reason. They were very important communications for our partnership.

The Importance of Customer Service in Any Business

Up to this point I’ve discussed an important element for any business/organization without explicitly stating it, Customer Service. Depending on the office in which you work, many federal employees are rated for their level of customer service every year. Simply put, customer service is the proficiency, quality, and speed with which you see to the needs of your customers.

An example from a McDonald’s restaurant comes to mind. Years ago in a McDonald’s Restaurant I ordered an extra value meal. I could taste the food as I ordered it and was set to scarf it down as I picked the tray up from the register. Somehow, I tipped my tray in such a way that my fries all fell on the floor, spilling out everywhere in front of me. Embarrassed and sure that I’d have to pay some more, I turned back to the register.

“Can I have another medium french fry, please?” Within seconds the girl working at the register got me my new fries fresh out of the fryer, and she didn’t charge me for it. This was an example of stellar customer service.

In terms of bad customer service, how many of us have had to call technical support for your cable/internet provider? Maybe you’ve had to call for your new technology device you just purchased. How long did you have to wait on the line and did the person even speak English? Was your problem resolved or did it linger for hours, days and weeks? Depending on your answers, you may have experienced poor customer service and have either complained about that particular business, or you may have never returned to do business with them.

In a nutshell, they say that the reputation of your business spreads by word of mouth. Thus, if your customer service is poor, the word could spread quickly. The same is true if your customer service is stellar. You want to stay in the latter group as it can affect your profits. That goes for whether you’re in the food service industry or SEO.

Business Receipts, Your Business Systems, and Your Customer Service

It is said that the most important part of your business is its systems. When I started the Big Words Blog Site, I set up a Microsoft Outlook account to handle the email correspondence for the site. I eventually downloaded the Outlook app onto my smartphone and upon using it, I could quickly see the notifications my customers sent to me once we started working together. From the palm of my hand, I could see if the published pieces were satisfactory or if something needed to be changed. Outlook and its app allowed me lots of agility, so to speak.

Unfortunately, there is generally at least one technical glitch per year for my business. Earlier this year something disappointing happened. My Outlook account was hacked and I could receive emails, but I couldn’t send them. This threw a major wrench in my operation. If I couldn’t send emails, how was I going to accept and confirm the documents from my customers? Immediately, I had a light-bulb moment and decided to set up a G-mail account to conduct my business while the host attempted to fix my Outlook account.

In short, it worked, but it wasn’t the same. Fortunately, my customers started sending their content to my new G-mail account so that aspect of our partnership continued. One problem I encountered though was the functionality of the G-mail account wasn’t the same as the functionality of the Outlook account. With the G-mail account, I could see when new emails were coming in, but I couldn’t quickly differentiate when an action was needed. Also, when I opened the account on both my PC and my phone, it was difficult to differentiate between the new posts that were sent, when they were sent, and if they were satisfactory.

Because I was multitasking and was a little lax in terms of checking my business receipts, I was slow to accept documents and slow to react to errors in the pieces I published. My response time had become embarrassingly slow, and frustration built for both me and my customers. One issue went unresolved for a week and half, which was unfortunate because my customer worked according to deadlines. This was confounded by the fact that my blogging software didn’t always update in the most expedient way. A customer wrote me back once saying that they would slow down sending content and I came to the sobering realization that I may have permanently destroyed our collaboration.

Restoration Of My Outlook Account, Moving Forward and Lessons Learned

It took my webhost about three months to fix my Outlook account. In the meantime, my troubles using the G-mail account with my business taught me a valuable lesson. I paid much closer attention to every piece my customers sent to me, as they had not abandoned me. I refocused and attacked problems with a renewed intensity. I closely watched my business receipts and responded to customer emails expeditiously. Once my Outlook account was restored, things were pretty much back to normal and hopefully they will stay that way.

Closing Thoughts and Conclusions

I learned several lessons from the entire turn of events. They are as follows:

• Check your business receipts and ratings regularly.
• Make sure your customer service ratings are as high as possible.
• Have a backup plan should one or many of your business systems go down.
• In the business arena, you must remain ever vigilant.

Thank you for reading this post. If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. You can follow me now on YouTube on any of my Big Discussions76 channels, the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, and Twitter at @BWArePowerful. Lastly, you can follow me on Instagram at @anwaryusef76.

The Big Words LLC Newsletter

Thank you for reading this piece. For the next phase of my writing journey, I’m starting a monthly newsletter for my writing and video content creation company, the Big Words LLC. In it, I plan to share inspirational words, pieces from this blog and my first blog, and select videos from my four YouTube channels. Finally, I will share updates for my book project The Engineers: A Western New York Basketball Story. Your personal information and privacy will be protected. Click this link and register using the sign up button at the bottom of the announcement. Regards.

Author: anwaryusef

Anwar Y. Dunbar is a Regulatory Scientist. Being a naturally curious person, he is also a student of all things. He earned his Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Michigan and his Bachelor’s Degree in General Biology from Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU). Prior to starting the Big Words Blog Site, Anwar published and contributed to numerous research articles in competitive scientific journals reporting on his research from graduate school and postdoctoral years. After falling in love with writing, he contributed to the now defunct Examiner.com, and the Edvocate where he regularly wrote about: Education-related stories/topics, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Financial Literacy; as well as conducted interviews with notable individuals such as actor and author Hill Harper. Having many influences, one of his most notable heroes is author, intellectual and speaker, Malcolm Gladwell, author of books including Outliers and David and Goliath. Anwar has his hands in many, many activities. In addition to writing, Anwar actively mentors youth, works to spread awareness of STEM careers, serves on the Board of Directors of the Friends of the David M. Brown Arlington Planetarium, serves as Treasurer for the JCSU Washington, DC Alumni Chapter, and is active in the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace Ministry at the Alfred Street Baptist Church. He also tutors in the subjects of biology, chemistry and physics. Along with his multi-talented older brother Amahl Dunbar (designer of the Big Words logos, inventor and a plethora of other things), Anwar is a “Fanboy” and really enjoys Science-Fiction and Superhero movies including but not restricted to Captain America Civil War, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Prometheus. He is a proud native of Buffalo, NY.