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Industry 4.0 and the Need to Revisit the Balanced Scorecard Concept

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Traditional quality management and business excellence practices are proving to be ineffective when used in the context of complex processes. Additionally, these initiatives are defamed for generating a lot of papers or soft documents without any analytical or added value in respect to automation and productivity. Due to that, the focus must now shift towards a quality movement that will make industries ready to fully utilize the advantages of the digital economy.  

End-to-end digital integration leveraging newer technological innovations, like big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, simulation, and Cyber-Physical Systems are helping in virtual space connecting with physical systems and in making real-time decisions and strategic planning. Industry 4.0 refers to the reform, transform, and perform industry with the help of IoT, especially AI and ML. This use of advanced information and communication technology (ICT) for industrial growth is now often called the ‘fourth industrial revolution.’ 

The concept of BSC was developed decades back when technology was just at its nascent stage. Currently, the concept needs to be revisited else it will only become a subject of academic interest. The performance measurement model should be such to evaluate the quality aspects of an organization in the context of Industry 4.0. The framework used should develop virtual tools to assess weaknesses in the current systems.

The impact of Industry 4.0 can help in enhanced customer value proposition through a better understanding of customer needs, data-driven product development, automated manufacturing, and continued product usage data monitoring. These will have benefits like better CRM, new strategic partnerships, expansion of the geographical reach of products and services through digital channels, as well as the development of new client bases and better retention of old clients. Hence, any performance scorecard should help customers in terms of availing of superior-quality products at low prices and better service.

The perspectives of BSC, especially internal processes and learning and growth, should evaluate the quality aspects of an organization in Industry 4.0. It should ensure that strategy formulation, strategy execution, and performance measurement system are aligned to new technologies so as to reap the following benefits: 

  • Improve productivity – enabling to do more with fewer means, such as in production; faster production in a cost-effective manner with given resources can give more and should help in less downtime and improve Overall Equipment Effectiveness.
  • Flexibility and agility – for instance, it should help in easier scale up or down output as a smart factory, making it supposedly easier to introduce new products or processes.
  • Regulation – complying with regulations in industries should not be a manual process; instead, Industry 4.0 technologies need to be leveraged to automate compliance, including tracking, quality inspectionsserialization, data logging, and more.
  • Customer experience – Industry 4.0 should be used to quickly resolve customer issues and offer them more choices. 

 A traditional approach of BSC leads to fixed or orthodox KPIs which are not relevant in today’s technological scenario. The concept should revolve around improving processes using the latest IT; this includes having new KPIs. The main hurdle emanates from the harsh reality that the BSC concept owners are traditionally performance management consultants and they are not fully aware of Industry 4.0’s percept and concept, barring a few jargons. This eventually restricts their vision to old and proven approaches which are not helping in providing that competitive edge to the industry. The present winning strategy is flexibility and response to the fast-changing and uncertain ecosystem which can be achieved through Industry 4.0 technology. 

There is a need to develop a scorecard or maturity level assessment tool that evaluates an organization and its adoption of the benefits from Industry 4.0 while taking the given budget and deliverables into consideration. This can happen only when we involve tech specialists in developing and keeping the tools themselves dynamic so that these may undergo revision after around every 12 months to keep abreast of the advancements in technology.

Top 5 Skills CSRs Should Master in 2022

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In the context of the pandemic, the face of customer service was drastically changed by accelerated digitalization. One recent study developed by McKinsey discovered that customer interaction is now accelerated within 3 to 4 years. What count the most nowadays are customer needs or expectations, influenced by remote working. 

Gartner developed a survey on customer service and 64% of respondents stated that the focus for 2022 is related to the growth of the business and client retention by using two main approaches: firstly, to prioritize people and processes, together with the best use of tech solutions, and secondly, improving the self-service-channel, by SEO optimization and organizational websites. 

If the customer service and customer experience have changed, this means that customer service specialists should develop new skills or refine their skills so they can achieve greater results. In 2022, customer service representatives (CSR) should blend technological skills with data and more specialized talent, which means it is essentials for the companies to invest in training and development. There are five skills that any CSR should focus on mastering and what skills talent management specialists should look for when they are trying to hire new customer service specialists. 

Technical skills

CSR agents are not IT specialists. However, they can influence and offer feedback on the tools they are using because they listen to the customer and know their issues best when they navigate on the company’s websites or chat boxes. 

  • Tip #1: Use WhatsApp like a Pro

    WhatsApp has become one of the most efficient channels to use in customer interaction. Having 2 billion users, following Facebook and YouTube, it has become the third most popular social media channel and the most popular global mobile messenger app.

    The most recent tool, integrated by WhatsApp is Click to chat, which works for both its mobile app and the web browser which allows you to chat with someone without having their phone number saved in your phone’s address book. You only need the phone number of the person you want to chat with and the country code using this link in HTML format: https://wa.me/<number>. Going to that link will open a chat function with the person.

Emotional intelligence

If having tech skills is a need that is making strides, having emotional intelligence is just right behind it. Service agents can hear and feel a customer’s irritation over the phone and can solve issues as quickly as possible. Another great way of using emotional intelligence is social listening

  • Tip #2: The Five-Minute Golden Window and Instant gratification

    Dr. James Oldroyd discovered in 2007 in his Lead Response Management Study, that agents who can answer to the client in less than 5 minutes from the inquiry submission can be 100 times more able to contact the client and 21 minutes to win a sale, than the agents with a later 30 minutes reply rate.

    A KPI which can be measured and can help improve the speed of answer is # Speed of Answer (SA). It measures the average speed of answering a customer’s call by an available agent after the call is being placed in a queue. Other variations are:

    # Average speed to answer a phone call (ASA)

    # Time of answer

    # Average time to answer (ATA)

    #SA is used to indicate the call center operators’ accessibility and rapidness. It can impact the caller’s satisfaction and long-term loyalty.

  • Tip #3: Improve Live Chat Speed of reply

    Millennials use to chat more on Live Chat than baby boomers. They value personal and instant interaction; they want to speak to a real person and are not happy if they wait long to receive a reply. This means CSR should master Live Chat communication skills and improve their #SA.

    A recent study developed by Super Office showed that the average reply to a chat is estimated to be 2 minutes and 40 seconds, with the fastest reply time being 7 seconds while the longest took around 9 minutes. The live chat should include pre-written templates, a personal welcome template, and some FAQs prepared, rather than having manually type out replies. The reply time can vary from each field of interest; as such, each business should benchmark its results with its competitors. 

Communication skills

Customer service means customer interactions, and the clients always seek a human touch when they need help with a product or service purchase.

  • Tip # 4: The mirror technique

    When interacting with a customer, the real success lies in the ability to adapt to the customer’s communication style and expectations, then to mirror and respond adequately. For instance, if the communication is performed on the phone, what matters the most is to promptly answer and solve the issue. It is also important to talk as some customers need this kind of interaction.

    Let’s see other useful tips:

    – Always introduce yourself

    – Feel the customer

    – Personalize the interaction

    – Avoid negative phrases

    – Empathize

    – Avoid customer interruption

    – Communicate clearly and concisely when offering solutions. 

Personalization and micro-moments

The customer is bombarded with content, and the most important fact is to use the right time or moment and to provide a quick solution. Micro-moments basically happen when people reflexively use their devices and search, watch, or discover something. If you can reach them at that time, the chances that they will buy from you are high. 

  • Tip #5: Send Live Chat transcript as a follow-up email

    CSR agents should use their imagination in various aspects of their jobs. They can make customers feel special by having a better understanding and response to their individual needs. CSR agents can send personalized email headers and subject lines, but finding the right time to send a personalized offer that will help the customer to reach his goals is essential. Live Chat transcripts can be also another smart way to reach the customer when following up.

Working remotely with skill and passion

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people work forever, and there is no sign of going back to normal soon.

Working from home is quite more challenging than working from an office. It can require having a dedicated home office, a dedicated phone line or a phone software solution, an updated PC, or a good phone headset, and that’s besides having a good internet connection. 

Apart from that, social isolation, issues with teamwork and collaboration, sedentarism, and finding a balance between life and work are also other challenging aspects.

  • Tip #6: Level up your motivation while working remotely

    Think positively and focus on telecommuting advantages such as working from the comfort of your own home, being closer to your family, and others.

    For some people, dressing for work at home can be a good tip. Others may find that eliminating checking social media channels during work or turning off notifications on their phone might work. Sometimes, a short break outside or taking in some fresh air can be the best remedy.

    Another useful activity to keep you motivated would be to invest in continuous learning and training. This will keep you focused and help you become more productive.

Customer service is now in an era of innovation, being anchored on customer experience. There are also other important skills a CSR agent should have and improve, such as product and industry knowledge, consistency, patience, perseverance, accountability, empathy, critical thinking, problem-solving, and many others. 

A great way to keep pace with 2022 trends is achieving The Certified Customer Service Performance Professional recognition, through which you will be able to manage, monitor, and evaluate your overall Customer Service Performance, and have a direct positive impact on customer loyalty.

Meal Planning for Holiday Feasts

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Special meals and sweets often indicate the festivities, making it one of the most essential features during the year-end holidays. The abundance of food can also bring people to partake in holiday eating, which is the overindulgence of relatively unhealthy food. To avoid that, meal planning can be a good strategy to stay healthy during and after the holidays while still enjoying good food. 

Challenges in meal planning

Eating unhealthy food could jeopardize one’s working performance after the holidays. Optimal nutrition intake during the holidays can mitigate this and help to feel refreshed even after the holidays. However, preparing this kind of meal could be challenging for some people especially during holidays when portions are usually bigger to accommodate families and other guests.

Cooking also requires time and energy. Time scarcity, which is a condition when someone perceives their time is not enough for doing everything that needs to be done, was found to cause the rise of fast and convenient food consumption. Research from Universitatea Transilvania Brasov also discovered that time management and healthy eating are associated wherein planning meals can help a person have clear objectives as well as enhance the quality and complexity of food. 

Meal planning may vary depending on how, where, and with whom someone spends their holidays. Many people use holidays as the time to reconnect with their families and friends either by staying at home or traveling. To make holiday meals healthier with your loved ones, here are two ways of meal planning at home and during traveling. 

Meal planning for holidays at home

Some people accept guests during holidays, but even for those who celebrate holidays with just their immediate family members, the food needs to be extraordinary. Big portions and grand menus would take plenty of time. Meal planning makes it possible for individuals to think about recipes that could be done quickly such as preparing the ingredients in advance to avoid the feeling of not having enough time. Here are some tips to have stress free holidays meal preparation:

  • Estimate the number of people you’re expecting over and consider their dietary needs, allergies, and food preferences. 
  • Research holiday menus, take note of the time needed to prepare the food, and list down the ingredients modified with the portion quantities. Try to balance carbs, proteins, and vegetables.
  • Separate grocery lists for perishable and nonperishable items. Perishable foods should be bought a day before to guarantee freshness while nonperishable items could be bought 1-2 weeks before the holiday. Supermarkets are usually very crowded near holidays; by buying nonperishable items in advance, you can avoid having a long list of groceries and that long line towards the checkout.
  • Make a schedule on when to serve the main meals and the sweets. Try to serve sweets in between the meals to avoid family members, especially children, feeling full during mealtimes. 

Meal planning for holidays away from home

One might find difficulty in controlling the amount of food that they eat during trips or staycations because they can only eat what is available in whichever restaurant is within reach or have limited time to prepare their own food. A study in Scotland about children’s holiday eating habits found that nuggets and burgers were always found in kid’s menus provided by hotels. These types of menus focus more on making smaller portions compared to adults instead of the nutritional needs of the children. 

Meal planning can help parents have more control over what they eat as a family. Planning vacation meals also lessens the burden on decision-making on food and focuses more on having fun. Here are some tips for meal planning ahead of time before traveling:

  • Consider and check the menus and cooking facilities provided by your accommodation. If there is no functional kitchen with a fridge and stove available, you can prepare meals ahead of time or bring portable cooking equipment such as an electric pot, induction stove, etc.
  • In the case that there’s a nearby supermarket available, you can plan on buying the ingredients for your meals from there
  • Keep the meal plan as simple as possible.
  • Plan ahead if you want to eat out by doing a quick check of restaurants and the menus. Eating out is fun, but spontaneously eating out should be avoided if possible. 

The holidays are a time to recharge and have joyful moments with your loved ones over delicious food. However, holiday eating encourages people to consume more portions, including sugary and fatty foods that could affect one’s physical health after the holiday. That’s why planning out your meals is a good coping strategy to make meals more nutritious while avoiding unhealthy holiday eating habits.

How To Hygge Up Your Christmas

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In a previous article, the Danish concept of hygge and its role in today’s lifestyle was looked at. The use of natural, environment-friendly items and a cozy room set up everyone can enjoy are two of the leading themes in the hygge design. All these habits are rooted in the main objective: to appreciate the simple joys in life.

Apart from the fact that hygge is essentially effective all year round, it has a significant place in Danish Christmas celebrations. As  Meik Wiking would say, “it’s the most hyggelig time of the year.” In this season, hygge is exceptionally cherished everywhere in the country.

As we enter the holiday season, it is the perfect time to consider applying hygge to bring comfort and warmth into our homes and families. It is especially favorable for those who are still going through another lockdown period in the face of the new variant of COVID-19 and wish to have a festive, yet safe Christmas. Below are several ideas on how you can decorate your Christmas hygge style.

  1. Light up your candles

    Remember the first rule: no candles, no hygge. Aside from advent candles, you can also either purchase scented or organic ones in various sizes. If you go for scented candles, pick soft fragrances for an utmost cozy atmosphere. Nevertheless, there are a lot of brands out there that provide holiday-themed candles you may consider as well, such as pine, cinnamon, and even candy cane.

    Feel free to put the candles anywhere in the house; on the dining table, along the windowsill, around the fireplace, you name it. Not only does the light add to the homely atmosphere, but it will also elevate the aesthetic aspect of the room. You can choose to keep it lit the whole day, the Danes usually light up some advent candles for only an hour each day throughout December.

    Most importantly, make sure you put them in a safe place. Avoid areas where the candles can fall easily, such as on top of stacked books (some people do it, but it is not entirely safe). If you have kids, best to keep the candles out of their playing area. You do not want to set fire to your house, right?

  2. Set up your own hyggekrog

    Entering the festive season does not necessarily mean that you do not have time for yourself. After working hard the whole year, you deserve to enjoy this holiday by having a peaceful rest and doing hobbies you did not have the chance to do much, such as reading for entertainment purposes. Setting up a hyggekrog or a reading nook where you can cozy up with a warm blanket, soft cushions, and your favorite book in hand sounds like a perfect holiday plan.

    Larger seating options, such as a sofa bed or a corner sofa, might be more applicable for houses with big spaces. For those who have limited living space, worry not! You can try using an armchair or even lay a simple rug then add a nice blanket and pillows. Best to have this set up next to the window so you can savor the view of either a winter wonderland or rain pouring outside your house.

  3. Decorate your home with nature

    A hygge Christmas is dominated by neutral and earthy colors. White, beige, and sage are among the color options you may want to bear in mind. However, it does not necessarily mean that you are not allowed to use the primary Christmas colors. Combining these two palettes in your decor will help you achieve a harmonious look.

    One interesting Danish Christmas tradition is cutting down a pine tree right from the forest and bringing it into the house so people can decorate it with candles. Talk about being deeply connected to nature; bringing in natural elements into the house will amplify your hygge experience. However, if it is too much of a task to have a freshly-cut Christmas tree, you may opt for smaller natural decorations that are easier to find, such as branches, leaves, acorns, and pines. 

  4. Create your own DIY decorations

    There are several ways to make a DIY project with natural elements. One option is to arrange the leaves into a garland which you can further decorate with Christmas lights, ball ornaments, ribbons, and pine cones. Another idea is to attach the branches on the wall then add hanging stars or Christmas bells underneath.

    If you are feeling even more creative, crafting your own natural advent wreath will not only boost the overall look of the house but also sharpen your skills. You will need some straw, wires, and spruce. Essentially, you need to wrap and weave the straw and wires into several layers to make sure you have a strong base. Then, layer the spruce on top of the wreath and decorate it with greenery, pine cones, ribbons, and other Christmas decorations of your choice.

    Additionally, figures of nisse (an elf or gnome), animals, and Father Christmas, as well as woven paper hearts made of glossy paper often adorn the houses in Denmark. These paper hearts are especially unique crafts to the Danes. They’re fashioned from two double-layered glossy paper cutouts, with the flaps of the two cutouts weaved together to form the heart shape.

    Aside from the paper cutouts, glossy paper is often used to wrap Christmas gifts. Exchanging presents has indeed been an innate tradition of Christmas as a form of shared happiness. However, most of the regular types of paper used to wrap gifts are not good for the environment because they are rarely recyclable. What can we do to avoid this?

  5. Use eco-friendly gift wraps

    In spite of the fact that people still widely use conventional ink-printed gift wraps, some of which are made of foil or plastic, most recyclers consider them difficult to process. It has become a problem because recyclers usually need additional chemicals to get rid of the ink when recycling wrapping paper. Taking this into account, there are some sustainable alternatives you can consider utilizing.

    You may be familiar with kraft paper, which is a brown paper used to wrap packages, shopping bags, and lunch sacks. Despite its plain look, kraft paper is recyclable so you do not have to worry about polluting the earth during this festive season. Besides, you can decorate kraft paper with dried flowers and ribbons to make your Christmas gift look elegant and pretty.

    Another recyclable and biodegradable gift wrap is newsprint. Using old newspapers makes the gift look vintage–which is in line with the spirit of hygge as it favors the nostalgic value of vintage items. Even so, newsprint with ink usually takes longer to biodegrade. Otherwise, you may opt to use repurposed gift wrap, such as old magazines or nice packaging you have from buying certain products.

    Nonetheless, the easiest and probably the quickest packaging you can find in a gift bag. You can choose between those made of paper or fabric, such as a tote bag. It is convenient and reusable; recipients of the gifts can reuse it for when they shop or gift another person in the future.

As the main purpose of hygge is to create a joyful experience through simplicity, you can still pass on the festive spirit of Christmas while still being considerate to the surroundings by prioritizing a homely atmosphere and the use of eco-friendly materials. In the age of heightened consumerism where people prefer fancy things that often harm the environment, hygge emphasizes going back to nature which is one foundation for the existing concept of modern lifestyle. Hopefully, this ignites new and interesting ideas that you can try with your loved ones at home this holiday season.

And with that, have a merry hygge Christmas!

Holiday Stress and How to Deal with It

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The holidays are a happy time. Based on the study by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, people express numerous pleasant emotions during the holidays, including happiness (78% of the time), love (75% of the time), and high spirits (60% of the time). Many people love the holidays and look forward to spending time with family and friends.

However, the holidays are not always enjoyable for everyone. We all experience stress from time to time, but the holidays might add stress to the mix and make us feel even worse, such as setting up a budget for gifts, dealing with travel anxieties, or sitting through family get-togethers. Experts refer to this as “holiday stress”.

Stress can affect your mental and physical health. But what causes holiday stress and what can we do to avoid or lessen the effects of some of these holiday stressors?

Causes of holiday stress

The holidays bring with them a slew of difficult events. One is family gatherings, where there might be clashes of personalities and misunderstandings. For couples, choosing which side of the family to spend the holidays with can add to the stress. For single people, the additional stress might come from their inquisitive family members and their unsolicited opinions on certain life choices. 

Aside from that, gift-giving requires people to worry about overspending or underspending, as well as the etiquette of the gift type, its quality, and quantity. Travel anxiety can also be a source of stress, especially with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. There’s also that underlying pressure of making everything perfect if you’re hosting a gathering, from the decorations to the meals.

Work stress also does not go away. Even though time off from work is a major highlight of the holidays, many people get so concerned about not having enough time off and that work obligation may interfere with time spent with family.

Who is affected by holiday stress?

According to an American Psychological Association survey, females (44%) are more likely than males (31%) to be stressed over the holidays due to a lack of time (69% vs 63%), a lack of money (69% vs 55%), and an overabundance of pressure to buy or get gifts (51% vs 42%). Women are especially prone to holiday stress since they oversee many of the holiday activities, particularly those related to meal preparation and home decoration. 

Furthermore, women have a harder time relaxing during the holidays and are more prone to engage in unhealthy stress-management behaviors, such as comfort eating (41%) or drinking (28%). This is concerning not only in general but especially for persons who deal with addiction or substance misuse on a daily basis.

Around the holidays, people in the lower middle class in the United States face financial difficulties. People belonging to this demographic experience difficult struggles in affording and procuring material commodities. During the holidays, lower-middle-income people are subjected to commercialism and hype, as well as financial concerns about being able to afford the holidays without going into debt.

Coping with holiday stress

Holidays and stress seem to be linked in a way. With the preparations and celebrations, the already-hectic schedule gets considerably busier. There are a few things you may do to reduce holiday stress and feel more positive about the season.

  • Have realistic expectations

    The perfect holiday celebration does not exist. The pressure to be cheerful and happy is one of the main sources of holiday stress. If you find something that doesn’t go your way, accept it and let it go. Consider errors and mistakes as opportunities to demonstrate adaptability and resilience. To pick and choose what is realistic, you must first recognize what is specifically stressing you out. If the holiday shopping list is outstripping the monthly budget, simply cut back. Remember that the most important thing is spending time with loved ones, not on store-bought gifts, expensive décor, or gourmet cuisine.

  • Plan ahead

    Think of the things that often caused you to stress at the last minute and attempt to plan them ahead. Make a list of the gifts to buy or make, the budget you have for your holiday shopping, the time for decorating, and other things you need to do. From there, prioritize what must be done. Setting aside some time to consider the activities most likely will help you take tiny, real actions toward achieving them in a pleasurable manner.

  • Have healthy conversations

    It is necessary to be conscious of your emotional limitations when dealing with family and friends. Learn to recognize your emotions and know how to deal with them to communicate in a healthy manner. Focus on what you and your family have in common if you’re worried about heated arguments or negative dialogues.

    When things become too much, talk to close friends and family about your worries and concerns. Getting your feelings out in the open can help you navigate them and find a solution. Families may also organize activities that generate excellent fun and laughter, such as playing a family game or going through old photo albums.

  • Take time for yourself

    It is possible that, during the holiday season, you put yourself under the impression that you have to be everything to everyone. Self-care is sometimes the best thing you can do. Maintaining healthy habits — to the extent possible — will improve your mood. Find balance and self-care where you can throughout the holidays, such as making a healthy snack for yourself, drinking lots of water, and going to bed as early as possible.

Do not let this holiday season be affected by stress. The key to preventing holiday stress is to be aware of your actions. If your holiday traditions are not working for you or making you unhappy, it is time to do something about it.

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