When we first start a new position, business or personal endeavor, we tend to be fired up. Freshness is exciting, which can make us hyper-alert and apt to pay attention to minutiae.
Over time, routine can lead to reduced efficiency. And that can be costly when it involves client interaction.
Apply the following nine strategies to bring your client success practices back up to par and avoid losing steam.
If you frequently interact with current clients, your records need to be immaculate and easy for others to access and understand. Therefore, having a handle on where information lives is of utmost importance. Even if you have a great note-taking system of your own, it’s most efficient to use a CRM that integrates with the client journey beyond the sales stage — and use it the same way your client service colleagues do. That way, your entire team can enjoy the visibility and clarity that comes from a single source of up-to-date client details. Plus, you’ll spend less time answering ad-hoc internal questions about a client’s status.
Details about your clients are just one type of information that should be readily available to your entire team. Access to the conversations you and your colleagues have with clients is just as critical to providing top-notch service. Emails are an inefficient, siloed way to manage external communication. An automated and convenient feed like Accelo’s Activity Stream can be a lifesaver when you’re going to be out of the office or when you’re taking over another account and trying to catch up. Not to mention, you can review your own threads mixed in with those of other team members who have been in contact with your clients.
Customer onboarding can be one of the most time-consuming phases of work in a service business environment. Depending on the exact services you provide, this process may be flexible. While personalization is a good thing for clients, it’s not the best for your internal processes. To reduce errors and speed up the onboarding process, systemize what you can. Which steps are the same every time? These are the ones that should be part of dedicated workflows that you automate in a powerful platform.
Once you get comfortable with a client, you might feel you no longer need a dedicated agenda for your calls. But this lack of planning can generate unintentional inefficiency. Every call that lasts a few minutes longer than necessary and every follow-up email you have to send because you forgot something wastes your valuable — and billable — time. To make sure you and the client have the same expectations of each call, get in the habit of adding an agenda to calendar invites.
While it may seem like keeping track of every minute is only important to leadership, you might be surprised by the impact it can have on your days and choices. Time leakage often flies under the radar, and the planning fallacy proves that none of us is very good at estimating how much time something takes. Having an accurate record of where your time is going can make you even better at your job and, more importantly, even more attentive to clients. Identify small ways to up efficiency by differentiating between billable and non-billable time and noting how much time you allocate per client. Ideally, you’ll automate your time tracking to easily log time by client, task and project.
Clients’ requests, especially when they’re unexpected, can be a major cause of inadvertent time leakage. You may frequently find yourself distracted from your regular responsibilities while you fight mini fires coming in from clients, and that’s quite an efficiency killer. But what’s the alternative? The best way to continue providing quick, high-quality customer service without losing efficiency in your other duties is to have a consistent issue-tracking solution. Accelo users have a built-in way to manage tickets collaboratively.
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You may think of segmentation as merely something to do with a list of leads or prospects, but grouping people by various criteria can also be helpful once they become customers. Your business may have multiple pricing tiers with varying customer service benefits. Or, you may already think of your high-value clients differently. Take this informal segmentation to another level by sorting clients based on similar interests or needs this month or quarter. This can inform your outreach and conversations and may even open up new opportunities to upsell. Create custom fields or tags in your CRM to segment quickly and make your research and planning more efficient.
It won’t be possible for your business and team to get more efficient at completing client work if one or two people drop the ball internally. And even if you have automated workflows, remember that task notifications don’t necessarily translate into on-time work. If you or another team member is consistently missing deadlines, there could be a hidden bottleneck that’s making everyone less productive. Set the tone for catching inefficiencies right away by evaluating your own individual performance, identifying what you could improve and communicating what you’ve found with the appropriate colleagues.
Each of your client relationships sprouts with the first marketing touchpoint, grows throughout the sales process, is nurtured during project work and may continue to mature if they transition to a retainer. The journey through these stages should feel natural and be as efficient as possible for you and your team to facilitate. Consider the impact an end-to-end client work management platform can have on the efficiency and productivity of every department in a service business.
To implement all of the above hacks with ease, look into using a ticket dashboard.
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