We do a lot of hand holding with our clients whether they are tech savvy or Internet neophytes. Thus, a lot of our time is spent explaining everything from email setup to how business processes can be performed on the web. When I started this business as a one-person shop, most of my clients were barely using email. They asked a lot of questions, and because I had to earn their business, I performed a lot of research on questions that had nothing to do with their web application and contributed nothing to the bottom line. They’ve got used to that attention, and honestly, it has been an element of pride for us.
Our hand holding earned us a great reputation as “a company that did a lot of hand holding”. We took on a lot of clients that expected (and got) that attention. The challenge now is to figure out how to balance client expectations while striving to streamline more processes and sometimes–like a parent to a child–urge our clients to leave the nest.
We’ve implemented a few new steps:
- Help the callers — Too often, Stacy and I were on the phone while a client called in. Since we are the primary contacts, the clients asked for us and whomever answered the phone simply took a message. This created a cycle of telephone tag that ended up with a simple question like, “How do I setup my email?”
- Create educational content — We get so many phone calls where potential clients are really just researching. There was a time that I could explain until the cows came home. As we get busier, the time needed to educate others has become a time drain. So, pointing potential clients to specific pages on our website helps them gain an understanding on their topic of interest or even to see our portfolio of work.
- Collect preliminary information through web forms — Collecting initial data helps on two fronts: we get an advance sense of what our clients need and hone in on those elements, and gently urging clients to provide more information can indicate their determination.
- Give price quotes early — We hear a lot of great ideas for web apps. Some of those will take a significant investment to turn into a reality. Giving those parties a gauge about costs can help them realize if they have the resources to move forward in their research and prevents our staff spending a lot of time in planning before we hit them with a quote that is beyond their means.
- Use pre-formatted responses and quotes — Our ThunderTix app gets a lot of traffic and research. When we first hit the market, we were inundated with responses which took a huge toll on our ability to get our work done. Systemizing our responses with questionaires, requests for additional information prior to quoting, and pre-formatted responses has helped to greatly reduce the extra email/phone correspondence.
The TDSers are working hard to figure out new ways of streamlining to get things done faster. Stay tuned as we add our ideas and implementations. We’ll tell you what works and what needs fine tuning. We’ll share the failures, too!