We all, as service providers, work with clients directly or indirectly. Ultimately, we are all here to generate value to our clients, users, consumers, or people who use the services we deliver.
We, at Origami, truly believe that we should do whatever we can to help our clients succeed in obtaining the most by working with us. And many times this requires us to be patient listeners so that we can understand their needs and claims even when we are not sure whether they are right or not; good teachers to explain our products differently and lend an ear to hear about the way they imagine work to be, and to see things through their eyes on what can be improved.
Regardless of being as attentive as possible, providing such levels of service could be taxing on our customer management cost which directly affects the organization’s profitability. This is the point where we should determine what should be discussed with the client directly and what could be moved to alternative ways. So besides being in touch with your client as much as you feel is beneficial for both parties, we should also look to improve the technical communications. In our case, many of our clients call us for different reasons. Some are to inquire regarding possible solutions while others are to request for services to be performed. In the latter, which constitutes at least 50% of our communication volume, we have found a way that works and reduces communication time while improving the quality of the work process and reducing work time for all parties involved.
This was done by creating a customer portal and integrating it directly with our price proposal system and task management system. To make everything efficient, we first built the internal workflows and work processes on Origami so that everything is as efficient as possible and internal processes are as low touch as possible. Once all is optimized, it is easy to just add our client into the process. After all, if we have our studio, development, account managers and QA team working seamlessly, adding another player is no big deal.
First and foremost, our portal starts naturally, with a login page. Once a user reaches our simple and user-friendly portal, he is requested to provide a username and password. The username and password are matched with the contact list on our CRM. To elaborate – each client on our CRM has a list of contacts. For each contact, we can select whether we want to allow portal access or not. If approved, we can input a password and access level meaning if he can see all of the client projects or just a few selected ones.
In case the user forgets his password, he can simply reset it like on any other portal or application. Once signed in, the client can view a list of all his tasks and requests along with current status, and cost estimation if required.
The client can view the list of tasks directly, filter, and search according to different criteria. All the properties come directly from Origami and are incorporated directly into the general work process.
For example: If a client would like to request a new task, he will need to assign it to one of the relevant projects he owns. If a file is needed, the portal will request that the file is uploaded along when the task is to be opened in Origami. Once the task is created, the relevant account or project manager will be notified of the new task that was just opened by the client, along with the relevant development team. The development team will then provide questions in regards to the new task, which will then appear on the customer portal. Naturally, the client will be notified by email and will be able to answer directly from the task entry in the portal. This provides a lot of order into the process as no fractured emails, unlisted communications, and over- the- phone agreements are made. All communications are organized and listed under a specific task.
Then the development team will provide a time estimation that needs to be approved by the account manager. Once approved, the client will receive an email and will be able to approve the task which will then be added by the project manager to the work Gantt according to prioritization and availability.
A quick recap:
- The client saves time on calling us and sending emails by simply creating a task directly into our workflow. He can do that by existing as a contact in our CRM – no special work needed on our side except for checking a checkbox.
- The client inputs the task directly into our work process – without a long list of emails and running to open new tasks manually.
- All questions are sent to the client directly from the task inside Origami – and the client is notified.
- Once all is clear, a quote is sent to the client from the portal once the development team inputs the estimation and the account manager approves it.
- The client is then notified and upon his approval, the work dates can be set.
- Eventually, all continue with our ongoing flow – QA, customer approval, and launch to production.
So, we have saved a large amount of the time required to get this task executed, from conception to completion. Client reports, retainer status, and numerous other options that we have implemented are always available on the portal.
Meet your clients over coffee, see how you can provide additional value, and be interested. Just make sure to invest that time in the best way possible. Make all the technicalities as simple and automated as possible so that you have more time to take care of your client.