When our business started growing, we stored everything in Excel. I’m sure most people did. It is easy to learn and use. If you need to export data from most software programmes, it asks if you want .csv or Excel. It’s universally helpful. When Google created their Drive, it was Excel compatible. And then we experimented with a CRM. It was partially helpful in our company. Not for everyone. While our sales staff could track pipelines, our customer service team couldn’t really keep all the relevant details on the same programme. And our Operations team had no use for it. Everything on their end was still Excel.
Meanwhile, our Google Drive sheets were growing exponentially. It was just so handy! We were able to work from home if it was after hours, and share with anyone necessary. I remember being introduced to Sheets and Docs and thinking how much it would help our business if we all had access to the same information.
On the other side of our progression, we had already invented an online service website that clients could contact us through. They would be able to book or cancel services, arrange for change order deliveries, or ask for a quote. These all resulted in emails being forwarded to relevant teams, who then actioned the request. A bit of work still and not fully automated. But at the time, pretty advanced.
And then there were so many more advances that other websites were able to establish. If you logged onto other larger corporations, you could change your password yourself (we were still updating ours manually when the client requested a change). We had invested so much to create something advanced at the time, but needed to move forward and replace it already.
Jump forward, and today we have rolled out our Online Service Client Portal. So much easier now for customers to update their own details and requests on a fully automated website that issues direction to the couriers directly as well as informing our teams of any updates the client has made themselves.
We would previously receive phone calls asking to amend bookings, and then we would have to forward the request, or book it into our former website on their behalf. But this was still time-consuming for both sides of the transaction. The client had to take the time to find our number, if they didn’t have it saved somewhere convenient, and then call us. We had to enter their information to the old service and forward details to the courier. Now, the client logs in, clicks a button, and everyone is updated with the new request.
We have given our customers everything they asked for: access to previous invoices, ability to change their own details if a Store Manager was replaced, or new school staff were hired, and the selection of where emails are sent. Previously we had issued invoices to an accounts or finance emails address, and then have a site contact if we needed to call anyone on-site with a query. Now we can have Head Office details, location contacts, accounts and finance people, and whoever we need to add for a client. Everyone can specify which email they receive, who is notified of what, and no one gets spam if they want to avoid it all.
If you look out there, perhaps you can find a CRM that helps you, or have a website that is basically easy to use from a builder that already has templates ready to go for most industries. But should you be looking for someone to build your own website? These types of things are becoming more affordable. You can find an extreme amount of talent online able to cater to your companies requirements.
Our team has grown from us all managing our own Sheets, to everyone contributing to one database and website, to now our SEO and website designers, a software engineer and all the writing team that upload articles throughout the internet.
We designed the Online Service Portal and only have to upgrade it if a client asks for something to be added. Our new website is currently being designed by the team. And the writers are constantly working to create content for the website as well as other locations online.
So if you have the capacity to hire the staff, or hire someone who is freelancing, maybe your own fully automated site can help save you, and your clients, time?
Sometimes it’s a win-win scenario. But usually if you have the time to step back from the day to day grind, clear your mind, and think of that might benefit you AND your customers. Then Google pricing and check Fiverr for affordable talent.