Crafting Your Customer Journey Business Boundaries

Business Boundaries

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This video walks through 9 boundaries you should have in your business.


Well, alright. It's your girl, Auntee Rik. I'm a business operations and systems specialist. What that means is I help you to organize your business, automate some stuff, take some of the overwhelm away. And what I'm closing out business boundaries week with is business boundaries Bingo. I shared this on a couple of platforms. But I just wanted to go through some of the points based on questions and comments that I received when I shared it at first. 

I just want to start off with saying that your boundaries drive your processes and policies... in that, it's basically a matter of what do I want, What don't I want and what do I need to put in place to make sure either of those options work for me... so I'm trying to make this quick. Let's get into it. 

This is the bingo board and it has different things that you should have considered and implemented. At the very least. It's like the real basic stuff. Okay? 

So define business hours are when you're available, available to communicate with your clients. That's when you set your appointments. That's when you work. Sometimes, you know, you have business hours that are defined, but you're not interacting with clients, right? That's when you do your admin work. That's where you handle your marketing and that kind of stuff. Okay, so those are pretty straightforward. And the beauty of having your own business is that you set your hours but in setting your hours, make sure that your client facing hours when you're working with clients and customers, that you're not inconveniencing your clients or customers based on your business hours. 

Define non-business hours A lot of people said they had defined business hours but they did not have defined non-business hours. And so you just want to make sure you set aside some time to protect your peace... And those are times where you are not working at all You're taking care of yourself. You're taking care of home, you're doing housework might be doing laundry, time to play with your kids. You know, zoom with your friends, all that kind of stuff. For the most part under normal circumstances, Saturdays are like off the list. I rarely even get on a computer on Saturdays. That's just how my week works out. So you want to have defined non-business hours where you're not working at all, like, your peace and your sanity depend on it. 

Okay, I always use a contract. I can't remember if anyone didn't mark this off, but this should always always always, always, always, always be part of your business boundaries and your policies, okay? Even if it's not a, you know, a long lawyer drawn up contract. At the very least, you want to have a bullet point list that outlines what is included and what's not included. At the very least, you set those expectations, you set those boundaries and you work within and within those parameters, okay. 

Your communication policy covers how you communicate, when communication can be expected. So, do you take change orders by telephone or text message? Depending on your, your service or product? You probably do not... spell that out. Do you use a project management system like Asana or Trello? Or click up or something else? Or is email okay? Do you have a client portal where everything will be set? Like lay that out. Now, how soon can someone expect a response from you? Two to three business days is depending on again, your your line of business, two to three business days is kind of standard. I go a step further and that communication turnaround time expectation goes both ways. Okay. So part of my agreement states that you can expect to hear from me within two or three business days, I expect to hear from you within two or three business days, even if it's just to tell me I need another week. Okay? If you're a service based business person, you know, even when you don't think about it, you're holding time for your client to come back to you, right? You have that hesitation on starting anything new just in case they come back with feedback and you need to jump into that. So you want to make sure that that is also defined in your communication policy. 

Your refund policy, okay, under what circumstances will you issue a refund? How should someone request a refund if it needs to be requested, and how much is refunded? Like that needs to be spelled out. And I know it's true for Stripe and PayPal. They no longer refund the fees that come with using their service. So, you know that 2.9% transaction fee plus 30 cents transaction fee, if someone requested a refund, you know, they would they would give it all back. I mean, it comes out of your account, but they would give it all back. Now, they do not do that, that 2.9% plus 30 cents for the transaction fees are not refunded. So there's two things that happen here or two things that could happen. You either take the loss, right? And you want to talk to your accountant about that part of it, or you spell it out that under certain circumstances, the fees may not be refunded. You have to see like I said, talk to your accountant about that. Talk to your lawyer about that because depending on where you are, and where this transaction takes place, it may or may not be legal, so you want to look into how you handle that. Okay? Go a step further, especially if you're a service based person. If you're service based, if you've already started on the work and something happened... your project gets canceled or whatever. What of the deposit... does the deposit get returned? Do you get compensated for the time you've worked already? And how do you arrive at that calculation? Okay, so let's just say as an example, there's like a cancellation fee. Okay. And from that cancellation fee, maybe the fees that aren't returned from Stripe or PayPal are included for you in... in that cancellation fee refund, so when you refund that person, it's minus the cancellation fee. Again, that's something you need to work out with your legal and accounting people. But that refund policy needs to be stated and it needs to be stated upfront before you get started. 

Your cancellation policy now who gets to cancel a project, right? So you want to make sure you outline if the client wants to cancel, and then how how do they request that cancellation? And what happens once it gets canceled? Is there a confirmation that you send that Okay, I got your cancellation request, and it will stop on this day blahzay blah. And then on the other side, what happens if you need to cancel? You need to cancel because of scheduling conflict; you need to cancel because you just really need to fire the client. Like, you have to think about those things and set them out from jump. Okay. Um, and I just see a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot, especially freelancers and solopreneurs run into this problem like, it becomes an... it's an afterthought. It's something that you don't think about until it happens, like I was in, I was doing business for seven years without a refund policy because I never had to give a refund. Right. So I'm here to let you know, like put that in place beforehand. It just so happens that with my particular incident, it was someone that I had a working relationship with, a good working relationship with and we worked it out like in all fairness, but as soon as that transaction was finished and that project was called closed out, I immediately edited my, my contract because, again, you have boundaries, your boundaries drive your policies and your processes and how you work like, it's, I want this to happen, I don't want this to happen. And if this happens, then this is what I need to make me feel okay about it. All right. So make sure you outline that cancellation policy and what happens and how you accept the cancellation. 

Now, the ghosting policy was one that a lot of people took interest in. Okay, so there's different types of ghosting when you come, when this stuff comes into play. So sometimes, a client will disappear for whatever reason, doesn't matter the reason or why they disappeared, they're gone and you don't know. And perhaps you've reached out a couple of times and they haven't responded. Okay, fine. Now they come back six months, three years later, and just want to pick up where they left off. Okay, now if you've ever had that happen to you, you know that that's not how it's gonna work. Right? So, before you even get started, you want that ghosting policy. So at what point do you deem a client has ghosted you? Okay? At what point do you scrap the project, they forfeit any deposit and have to start over? What are the ramifications for having to start over do do they have to pay a restart fee or if it says been a certain amount of days, do they have to pay the new rate and pay it in full up front And this actually ties in into your communication policy, right? So if your client says to you, let's say your communication policy says I expect to hear from you within two business days, or three business days, and on that third business day, they come back to you and they say, Listen, I just need some time. And then they give you maybe I mean, three weeks or whatever, then they've communicated that to you. You can go on with your work life, right? So let's say they come back in that three weeks, well, they've already communicated to you that they wanted, they needed some time that's not actually ghosting. ghosting is somebody who doesn't say anything. So you're ghosting policy backs up your communication policy. So if I don't hear back from you in 10 days, I'm putting your stuff to the side. If 30 days passes, then we need to have a conversation and you maybe pay me 10% extra as a penalty and any of the remaining balance before we get started again because this is a business and we don't work for free right. Now if it's been more than 45 days or 60 days everything is scrapped... it's over. And you have to apply to, for me to pick it back up because you didn't communicate with me that you needed time. Now. Um, I always like to use at my discretion as a qualifier on that policy. Because of course things happen like... I'm recording this. I don't know what week it is, of you know shelter in place for me because I work from home, so like this is my lifestyle anyway. But you know... we're having a situation where people are just going through things like even, even if the illness hasn't directly affected them, like, a lot of there's a lot of emotional, psychological things going on. And like some people just can't take on what's going on right now like and do anything extra and that's fine. Right? So it's okay to have compassion. If they're... especially if they're communicating with you, right? But they could if they've ghosted you, and there's been no communication and they just pop up, there's no like, I'm sorry, I bounced, or, you know, there's no explanation, then sure, like, enforce your ghosting policy to the fullest extent. Actually, I'm just gonna throw this in here. I had a client who just went through a series of like, really stressful life changes. And it was maybe two and a half years before I heard from her again, right despite trying to reach out, and life happens. And we spoke and, and then she signed back on and that was cool. We had a working relationship already. But when she came back, it wasn't with the expectation that it would be just like open arms... welcome back, like the prodigal client, right? So you use your discretion, BUT at the same time you protect yourself up front by having that policy in there. Now if you have an employee, you have interns, you have a volunteer and they just don't show up, then that needs to be outlined as well. Right. So I had a couple of people say like, I don't think in my line business that the ghosting policy applies to me. But if you're if you have other people representing your brand, then you want to approach the ghosting policy from that side of it. Like what happens if you don't show up for work? Like, what is the process for you letting me know that you're unavailable? Okay, so that's the ghosting policy, 

Your brand style guide. Those are the rules for how you present your brand. It goes beyond the logo and the colors and the fonts but we start here, okay, um, and if you want a really elaborate brand style guide, it goes like you know, how is it written? How does it have to be written? If you have a logo, how large or small can the logo go So like, I've seen brand style guides where you can't make the logo any smaller than a certain set of dimensions. You can't change my colors. These are the pictures that are acceptable to use of me, please do not do this, do not do that. Please don't do cut out that type of thing. Um, so that's your brand style guide, not just for internal use, but you can also share it. Like if you're speaking on a panel or something like that. I've seen some really crazy fliers for some event, like stuff where people were doing cutouts of the images and people's faces were cut off, people's faces were placed on others on top of other people's faces like. Please don't do me like that. Right. So when you submit your materials for promotional materials, you also submit your brand style guide and request that they follow it. Okay, and then hope that they're respectful enough to follow your wishes. 

And I think this is the last one, but a dedicated business telephone. So even if you don't have a separate phone, even if it's just like a Google Voice number or one of those I can't remember what they call it, but um, VOIP, I think it is, you know, but basically cloud base, telephone, that type of thing, as long as it's a separate number from your personal phone. As long as it's a number you can like ignore doing your non working hours, right? Because the last thing you want is someone hitting you up during your non working hours when you're not working. Okay? And that's important. Not just not just to keep the conversation separate, but just so you can turn it off. If you have a family, like you want to turn off your phone, right, but you want to keep your personal phone for if somebody in your family needed needs to reach you, so yeah. And that is it for business boundaries, bingo. Okay. And thank you for joining me.

And next up is the customer journey. And then business boundaries... okay, like I said, they shape your policies and your processes. And that also drives what you do during your, during your customer journey and mapping out your customer journey, like all of this stuff is connected. Okay, so for now, I'm Auntee Rik. And you can follow me on Twitter. or Instagram or Facebook at aunteerik. 

Talk to you soon

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Business Boundaries

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