September 2009  
All of your business needs. One easy solution.
Volume 6 Issue 9   www.offassist.com
The Sound of Silence

Do you hear that sound? Me either.

Why? Because there is nothing to hear except the sound of silence. Both of my kids are back in school. It was great having them home for the summer, but it's nice to have the quiet, too. I got kinda of used to it, since they were both in school last year for the first time.

Now a lot of things are getting done in a much shorter amount of time since I'm no longer taking a break to search for snacks or art supplies or break up a fight every other hour. I even have to add background noise, so that it's not completely silent, but, well, having fewer distractions is definitely nice.

The change from Summer to Fall, from a full house - since I work at home my kids always have friends over during the summer - to an empty one, is just one of the changes that small and home business owners deal with. One of the reasons I think OffAssist has been so successful is because we've always been able to adapt to changing circumstances or markets - and we help our clients to do the same.

On a more serious note, OffAssist Team member, Lanel Taylor is doing the Komen for the Cure. Please consider donating if you can. Even $5 helps this worthy cause (and it's tax deductible). Thanks much!

In this issue...

Customer Care is Vital to Small Businesses
by Emma Golden

If you've ever worked in a retail environment, you know that the most important aspect in this kind of business setting is customer service. Whether you are selling food, clothes or what-have-you, dealing with your customers in the most positive, helpful tone is what will separate your company from the rest.

Sometimes you have to experience poor customer service in order to better understand the importance of good service. Experiencing less-than-helpful customer service is quite an eye-opener. For example, have you ever made reservations at a restaurant and the hostess either A) can't find your name in the system or B) says your table is not available yet? This kind of situation can be incredibly frustrating, but depending on how the staffers choose to handle it, you will either come out of it having been treated fairly and respectfully or you will walk away from the situation vowing to never eat at that particular establishment again. To make sure the former happens for your customer or client, you must remain calm and let them know you are doing everything in your power to solve the problem.

In this particular restaurant scenario, the best approach is to make the customer comfortable. Suggest that they wait in the bar area or lobby if your restaurant has either. Perhaps even indulge them with a free beverage of their choice while they wait. Or encourage future visits with a small token such as a "good for one drink" wooden nickel or window sticker. If the customer reacts negatively or irrationally from the get-go, the most important thing is to remain level-headed. Sometimes our most basic human instincts can get the best of us, but maintaining that sense of professional neutrality is of the utmost importance. However, if the situation gets out of hand, bringing your manager or some form of high authority into the mix is a smart, safe option that can be utilized to its advantage.

In a small, online business situation, customer service is just as (if not much more) important to the success of your business. Buying and selling items online can be aggravating and signals can be crossed on a daily basis. If you have ever ordered something online, you probably know all too well the technicalities that can (and do) occur. SCORE is an online group that classifies itself as "Counselors to America's Small Businesses" and describes itself as a "nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and the formation, growth and success of small business nationwide." In an article written for the Web site, Lisa Picozzi offers tips on understanding online customer service. In this, she lists several pointers about online customer service, including:
  • Offer customer-friendly site design and navigation
  • Give sales transactions a personal touch, even when you may never speak to your customers
  • Ensure ordering instructions are clearly outlined on your site
  • Answer questions and confirm orders electronically
  • Provide assurance of security of personal information transmitted over the Web
Most online companies have a FAQ section, but pages like this may seem somewhat contrived, empty and impersonal. In most circumstances, especially if your company is one with many choices and variations of products, your clients are going to have an endless list of questions. It is vital to both know your company's products like the back of your hand and make sure your company's phone numbers and email addresses are easily visible. Clients will expect you to be able to describe and explain a particular item to them with ease and a fair to strong amount of detail, so be prepared.

The bottom line with online customer service is patience and clarity. Handling disgruntled customers over the phone or through email is inevitably more complicated and frustrating than dealing with issues face-to-face. However, as long as you are friendly, helpful, understanding and informed as possible, it will prove for a much better experience all around.

Emma Golden graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor of science in Journalism and is currently a copy-writing intern at Absorbent, Ink. - The Promotional Products People. Make us your source for promotional gifts. www.absorbentprinting.com

Article source: www.selfgrowth.com


QuickBooks Tip
Fixing Invoices Correctly

Q: When I went to void an invoice that I had applied a credit to, the software said the credits might be applied differently. How can I fix the invoice so not all the credit is applied??

A: Go to your customer's transactions and click on the invoice that you want to void to bring it into the invoice window. In the invoice window you will see a button saying Apply Credits. Click on that button and "unapply" the credits that have been applied to that invoice.

After you have done that the credits will return to the customer, and you can void the invoice. You will now have the credits available to use against another invoice for that customer.

Note: Check with your accounting professional before doing this to be sure that's how they'd like it done. YMMV!
 
 
Tax Deadlines
September 15
- Individuals, Pay Third Installment of2008 Estimated Taxes

- 1120 & 1120S Returns due for those filers with timely extensions

- IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits for august issued payroll

September 22
- State Sales & Use Tax Return for monthly filers

September 30
- End of 3rd Quarter

October 15
- U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, Form 1040 final due date

- U.S. Partnership Return of Income, Form 1065 final due date

- U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts, Form 1041 final due date

- IRS Monthly payroll tax deposits due for September issued payroll

October 20
- State Sales & Use Tax Return due for monthly and quarterly filers

October 31
- Employer's Quarterly Payroll Tax Report(s) Form 941 and TWC
Tech Talk With Tom...
XP User Accounts
So here we are...counting down the days until Windows 7 is released. I know many people have been putting off upgrading their computers so that they can get a good deal on Windows 7, along with a shiny new computer. But what are you going to do with that old computer? If you are like me and have kids, this scenario usually means that the children are about to get a new toy.

Of course, this opens up a whole new way in which siblings can get on each others nerves: "Mom, Jimmy moved my link!", "Daddy, Sally uninstalled World of Legocraft III", etc. Trust me, you will be wishing that you could just tell them to look out their own windows. If only there were a way to do this on the computer...Wait! There is! You can easily set up separate accounts on a single machine for each user. That way, changes made by one probably won’t affect the other. Also, you can maintain overall control of the computer by password protecting the administrator account.

To set up users in XP:
1. Navigate to Control Panel
2. Click Users
3. Click Create New Account

You can also set passwords on the accounts. I personally keep my kids passwords to myself. It allows me complete control of when they can get on the computer. If you have older children (or want to use this in the office), then you will probably let them have control of their password.

So there you have it...A quick and easy way to make your old office computer kid-proof (or co-worker proof). If only it were this easy to keep the kids apart on road trips.

Tom Beauchamp is the marketing and tech expert behind OffAssist. He can be reached at tom@offassist.com.
Spotlight On...
Writer, Author, Speaker and Virtual Assistant

Jeannine Clontz started Accurate Business Services, a VA business specializing in word processing, desktop publishing and database management, in 1998. Her client base includes entrepreneurs, real estate professionals, attorneys, professional speakers, coaches, consultants, and home-based business owners.

Jeannine is a multi-award winning writer, author and speaker on many business topics, including business ethics, a topic she is particularly passionate about. In addition, she recently started a Virtual Assistance Coaching program (www.VABizCoach.com). Entrepreneurial Freedom, a book she co-wrote with Lauren Hidden of Hidden Helpers, is being utilized by community colleges nationwide as part of their business curriculum.

Jeannine is also a very committed volunteer and supports online and local community activities, including IVAA, NAWBO, the Arnold Chamber of Commerce, and many more.

A strong believer in continuing education, Jeannine regularly attends local and online classes to sharpen her skills and keep up to date on current technologies. For more information about Jeannine, her book, or her business, visit her on the web at www.accbizsvcs.com.
 
Have you nursed a secret longing to be in the spotlight, center-stage, all eyes on you?

If you would like to be featured in the OffAssist spotlight column, and have not been featured in the past twelve months, contact Candy@OffAssist.com and we'll see if we can put you in the limelight.

Humor
Crime sometimes pays, but it can't buy you a clue!

Two accountants are in a bank, when armed robbers burst in.

After a long criminal trial in a very high profile bank robbery case, the jury finally returned to deliver their verdict.

The judge instructed the foreman, "Please read your verdict to the court."

"We find the defendant NOT GUILTY of all four counts of bank robbery," stated the foreman.

The defendant's attorney, very proud of himself for winning, turned to his client and asked, "So, what do you think about that?"

The defendant looked around the courtroom slowly with a bewildered look on his face and then said to his attorney, "I'm real confused. Does this mean that I have to give the money back?"

Have an article you'd like to write for our monthly newsletter or want to be spotlighted? Have a QuickBooks question or something you'd like to see in the Tech Tip?

Email candy@offassist.com.

The OffAssist newsletter is made possible by the copywriting/editing skills of Ink Think VA, and the coding talents of VA Lab Designs.