James here and if you are a supplier or an agency or contractor, watch this.
Sometimes one of the most difficult things about having your own service business is communication with customers. We’ve always had pretty good success using a helpdesk. One thing I would certainly say is try and get out of the inbox. So there are two ways I would do that.
So you have emails back and forth, they get messy, they can be slow. Most entrepreneurs are behind on their emails. They have like literally tens of thousands of emails sitting there. So the ones you’re sending through as a contractor or service agency are getting missed. And also it’s very hard to track a job through the email. So get them on a helpdesk; I use Helpscout. We’ve tried other ones like Zendesk, etc. But we found Helpscout was the most email-like, but also creates a record that you can scan back through.
And then the second way is to use some kind of project system. Now in our business, what we’ve done is we use Slack. And where we’re using external contractors, everything from SEO – like we use Gert Mellak to help us with that, through to website development with Dave Wooding. We also have some other contractors in there from time to time. We add them into our Slack and they can communicate directly with my team. I like this because we have the version of Slack which we pay for so we can see an archive of everything that’s been discussed. It’s more real-time than email, and it’s stored in one place, and it’s very searchable. So it’s very, very easy for them. It’s very easy for us. So that is good.
So if you’re a contractor, then I would suggest you either set up your own helpdesk. A lot of the project management tools like Asana, Trello, Teamwork, Basecamp, they’re not really well suited to end customers. That’s why you’re having trouble. So if you have a helpdesk, then you can have a really good customer-facing experience or get yourself into their project management tool or their Slack, ideally. If you can get into their Slack, which is much easier now, then you’re going to have a much better communication. Now you don’t have to worry about trying to ping them on Skype, or catch them on Facebook Messenger or send them an email, get into their central hub.
So for my business, Slack is our office. And that’s where we bring contractors and they’re all there at our fingertips. If they want something from us and they put it into our office, they’re going to get an answer straight away. And all the people who are involved in the project are right there.
Hopefully, this is helpful. So again, a recap. If you are a service provider or contractor, make it easy for your customers to communicate with you. Don’t rely on email, use your own helpdesk or use the customer’s project management tool. Wherever their business is, go there and you’ll find it’s much easier.
I’m James Schramko. This is SuperFastBusiness.com.
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