5 Social Media Hacks for Better Customer Service

Anyone who has ever tried to navigatesocial-media-customer-service-rep a voicemail menu or been stranded on hold by a customer service rep knows how maddening it can be to get help over the phone. According to an American Express survey, more than half of callers say they’ve lost their temper while on the line with a representative. That may explain why more and more people are turning to social media to vent their frustrations. In a J.D. Power survey of more than 23,000 online shoppers, 67% reported having used social media to lodge a complaint.

“When you post on Facebook or Twitter, it’s essentially public shaming, which forces the company to reply,” says online consumer advocate Kim Komando. Even so, fewer than 15% of messages actually get a response. Here’s how to make sure yours is one of them.

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Why You Should Buy Yourself a Car for Christmas

If you’re in the market for a screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-11-29-52-amnew vehicle, get serious about shopping now. December tends to deliver the deepest discounts of the year, with buyers receiving an average 7.7% off MSRP, TrueCar.com finds—vs. 6.8% in January, for instance. For an average buyer, that’s more than $300 in savings.

Why December? “Dealers and manufacturers are looking to meet their annual sales goals, so many offer rich incentives,” says TrueCar senior analyst Cari Crane. Meanwhile, prices are slashed on 2016 vehicles as next year’s models move onto the lot, says Brian Moody, executive editor at Autotrader.com. Follow these steps to drive down the price of your new vehicle.

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How a Father of 3 Built a Million-Dollar Business Around Craft Supplies

Brett Haugen’s million-dollar screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-2-47-52-pmbusiness idea hatched eight years ago when his wife, Mary, asked for a favor. She wanted him to use his design and woodworking skills to build storage units that could hold all of her crafting materials—ink pads, markers, paper punches—in one place.

Mary loved the custom cabinets he made for her, and her friends did too. Haugen, a mechanical engineer and manager at a computer-parts manufacturing company, sensed a business opportunity. “The only thing being sold in stores were generic storage units,” he says.

To test the market, Haugen built a few dozen products in his garage and posted them on eBay in early 2009. It was a good proving ground. Units that hold 48 ink pads, for instance, took 15 minutes to assemble, cost $5 in materials, and quickly sold out at $35 apiece, he says. But a display shelf was a dud. “It was generic,” he says in hindsight.

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Picturing the Way to a New Career

James Oliver can thank HGTVjames-oliver for his business idea. In June 2011 his wife, Ayana, called him upstairs to watch a couple decorating their living room. “They were hanging wallpaper that had a collage of their family photos,” recalls Oliver, a father of twins. “They said anyone could do it, but I couldn’t find how to do it anywhere.”

Oliver, a self-employed small-business strategist, saw an opportunity. Without giving up his consulting work, Oliver found printing and distribution companies and created WeMontage’s sample product: a photo collage printed on removable wallpaper.

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How to Reach $1 Million

When you think of millionaires, 160815_MIL_Investwords like “privilege” and “opulence” often come to mind. What about “comfort”? That’s a term more commonly associated with the middle class. But while most American families enjoy creature comforts, they yearn for a more enduring variant—the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have the financial freedom to pursue whatever life you want.

That sense of comfort is more attainable than you might think. The truth is, becoming a millionaire isn’t about living like the 1%. It’s about doing all the little things at work or in your portfolio or in your budget that can move the dial 1% here and 1% there to achieve your financial goals.

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How Two Friends Teamed Up to Sell Robots to Kids

When Marina Bers and Mitch Rosenberg Kinderlabmet at a 9-year-old’s birthday party in May 2011, they discussed a business idea, fittingly, for children. They arrived with their kids, who went to school together, and Bers buttonholed Rosenberg—who had a background in engineering and marketing—to discuss a prototype she was developing: A robotic toy that teaches problem-solving skills to 4- to 7-year-olds using computer science principles.

Bers, a child study and human development professor at Tufts University, wanted a startup veteran to help build her toy into a viable business. Rosenberg liked the product but wasn’t ready to leave his $190,000 paycheck. The following year, however, Amazon acquired Rosenberg’s company—a robotics manufacturer—and the payout on his equity stake was enough to let him forgo a salary, for a while at least, and take a risk.

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7 Smart Ways to Cut Your Moving Costs

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June to August is peak moving season, since most families want to relocate when their children are out of school. And for many families, a relocation can be expensive. The average professional move costs a whopping $12,230, according Worldwide ERC, an association that tracks mobility costs. (Moving can also be stressful: One study in Europe of 2,000 adults found that moving triggers more anxiety than even bankruptcy or divorce.)

If you’re relocating for a job, you can ask your employer to foot the bill. But if you need to pay your own way, follow these tips to make moving less painful.

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