Delivering customer service requires you to deliver the million + one things that go into each project + client – without missing a beat, a deadline or a deliverable. #nopressure
Actually, it can be a total “no pressure” situation! I have a super-sweet solution that can be a game-changer for service providers. Not only will it manage clients on your behalf, but you’ll also be able to track everything at a glance.
Oh, and P.S. you can get started for free! Let’s dig into how you can build workflow with 17Hats.*
ESTABLISHING A WORKFLOW
First, what the heck is a workflow?
A workflow is the sequence of the steps that sees a project or a phase of a project through to completion.
“Like a checklist?” Good question, boss. Yes, kind of like a checklist; except unlike a checklist, a good workflow keeps you accountable of what has to be done next + by whom it needs to be done.
Establishing a workflow is the first piece of the puzzle to delivering kick-ass service on client projects. However, we’re going to break up what you do into sections. This makes your workload more manageable + ensures nothing gets overlooked or forgotten. Because much like Aerosmith on the Armageddon soundtrack, you don’t want to miss a thing.
Let’s break this down into the 3 STAGES OF PROVIDING CUSTOMER SERVICE :: the pre-sale, the service delivery, the post-sale.
PRE-SALE :: This is the marketing portion of your project. This includes everything that has to happen before money is exchanged, before commitments are made, before work gets done.
We’re talking about managing leads, creating quotes, making calls, filling questionnaires, signing contracts + sending invoices, among other typical pre-sale activities.
DELIVERY :: This is the actual work + fulfillment of whatever it is you’re selling or delivering on.
Let’s say you’re a graphic designer + you have a branding package where you create branding style boards + logos + custom graphics.
This is where you’ll include all the steps that go into the creation of these. Furthermore, this would also include the back-and-forth communication that takes place throughout your project delivery, such as revisions + proofs/approvals. You know, typical delivery + project fulfillment stuff.
POST-SALE :: Just because you’ve completed the work doesn’t mean you’re done.
Payment balances, following up after the sale, collecting testimonials + and so on are all examples of important things to be covered in the post-sale phase. So yeah, holy post-sale work, too.
WANT SAMPLE TEMPLATES TO SEE HOW THIS CAN WORK FOR YOU?
When you look at it this way, you suddenly SEE why you feel overwhelmed trying to remember it all. That’s why we’re going to focus on creating the workflow for each of these stages, one at a time. It’s so much more manageable to do this in sections + you’re less likely to overlook something.
BREAKING DOWN EACH PHASE
Go ahead LIST EACH STEP THAT GOES INTO EACH STAGE. Note each “to do” that has to go down before you can move on to the next step.
Let’s use our former example of the graphic designer who creates branding packages. Suppose 1) you deliver the style board first. 2) Next, you get approval on that style board from the customer. 3) You then design the logo + the social media icon – cool beans!
You’ll want to take a similar “and then this happens… and then this happens” approach to establishing the steps of your workflow for each stage.
ATTRIBUTING A STATUS TO EACH STEP
Once you’ve listed all your steps, you will ATTRIBUTE A STATUS to each step.
First are your TO DO ITEMS. These are reminders of the things that you have to do + only you can deliver on. In the case of our graphic designer, creating the style board would be a To Do Item.
ACTION ITEMS are for when you have something to act on, such as sending a template, like a contract or a questionnaire. In our graphic designer’s case, sending the request for client approval would be an Action Item. These are things you have to do but unlike “To Do Items”, it’s more about fulfilling formalities/administrative tasks than it is about creating something out of your zone of genius.
Finally, PAUSE ITEMS are self-eplanatory. It shows that you can’t move forward until the client has performed a specific action. They act a bit like a placeholder to remind you of the status of the project + nothing will move forward until this person gets back to you.
LAYING OUT THE STEPS IN EACH PHASE
#PROTIP :: As a self-confessed Trello junkie, you can bet your bottom dollar that I love to use it to create my own workflows. It allows me to add, move + remove my steps quickly + easily.
Howevah! You could always kick it analog. Simply grab some old-school Post It Notes or flash cards to replicate this same, easy-to-mastermind formula.
Check out the video to see how I (+ you can!) easily do this, too…
CREATING TEMPLATES IN 17HATS
Before we enter all this information into 17Hats, I strongly recommend that you take a look at the templates 17Hats provides to you.
Why? Because when you look over the commonly-used templates 17Hats already has in place, it will draw your attention to anything you may have missed or that you forgot to cover.
Also, you will want to create your templates BEFORE establishing the steps to your workflow. Otherwise, you will be doing the same work twice.
Your workflow will use the templates that you saved. If you make changes to your templates, the template you initially saved will be the one that is used. You would then have to go back into your workflow to update the template it uses.
That’s why I always recommend that you create your templates prior to populating your workflow + get it right the first time around.
Templates are great to use because while each client experience is unique, every service will undergo the same process.
Thus, the same emails + contracts + exchanges will typically take place.
So how do you account for the unique nature of every client? By creating SMART templates that personalizes its content to reflect your client’s specific project + make this experience uniquely theirs (even if the process is always the same for you!).
CREATING SMART TEMPLATES
Go to MY ACCOUNT in the upper right corner. Click on the drop-down menu + go to MY TEMPLATES on the new sidebar that appears.
Check out the templates that 17Hats has already created for you.
Note that you are welcome to edit these to your preferences but also noteworthy is these existing templates cannot be deleted.
About the easy personalization feature I mentioned earlier :: I introduce to you Smart Tokens.
Smart Tokens are 17hats’ placeholder for entries like your client’s name or job location or project name. This means your template will auto-populate that content as you establish it to do so.
Let’s see how that looks when you create a contract template.
Just like any document you create, 17Hats templates can also use elements like HTML, images, text formatting – whatever you need!
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER
BRINGING YOUR 17hats WORKFLOW TO LIFE
Login to your 17Hats account. Select WORKFLOW from the sidebar. Then go to CREATE WORKFLOW.
Give your workflow a name. (And yes, you can create multiple workflows to apply to different contacts + projects – YAY!)
Note that if you are just creating your account, you’ll have to create a contact + a project before you can get started. 17Hats wants you to hit the ground running with an active account so to get started, be sure to create a test contact + a test project.
You’ll +ADD your To Do, Action + Pause Items to create your workflow like this ::
MAKING USE YOUR 17hats WORKFLOW
You will create a contact form to embed on your website for leads to show their interest in your services. You will use this form to collect information about interested LEADS + bring them into your workflow, like this ::
From the CONTACTS area, you will go to +ADD + select WORKFLOW.
A drop-down menu will appear with all of your workflows. Select the one you want to use.
Next, select your base date – meaning the date from which your project will begin – and click ACTIVATE.
You’ll now see that there is a green REVIEW button for you to engage with. This same button is located in your OVERVIEW tab, where your task list shows what there is to do (or what 17Hats calls “Let’s take care of business…”).
You’ll notice that you can see a whole lot more about your Contact – or client – at a glance from this page. For instance, items like contact information, their financial status + any of the documents you’ve exchanged will all live within this area to easily refer to at any time.
TESTING YOUR 17hats WORKFLOW
Call up your biz bestie. Buy some wine. Make a date out of role-playing a little where they are the client + you are, well, you!
Make sure you pick someone who isn’t afraid of hurting your feelings. While it’s nice to enjoy wine with a friend, the goal here is to get the 411 on what your client sees + experiences.
#PROTIP :: If your clients tend to be super-non-tech-y, find a friend who is, too!
STAYING ON TOP OF YOUR PROJECTS
Once you have everything set up, you basically have one job :: add new clients to your workflow.
Everything else auto-magically takes care of itself. You can see your list of “what’s next” in the OVERVIEW tab of your 17Hats sidebar. This area will keep you on top of what you have to do + what actions you need to take.
You’ll notice that this area also syncs to your calendar. Note that you can add others – like your Google Calendar – to coordinate more easily.
You can add items to your To Do list from that same sidebar just as you can easily view your Calendar as a whole from here as well.
17hats handles you Invoicing as well as your bookkeeping, should you choose to integrate those accounts.
If your project is billed by time or even if you just want to track the time you spend on a specific project, that’s do-able. Head to the upper right corner + you’ll find a timer you can set to your tracking preferences.
Dealing with clients isn’t easy + you can use all the focus you can get when you’re trying to PROVIDE CLIENTS WITH GOLD-STAR SERVICE.
The smartest business decision you can make is to set up your process – literally, once + for all!
The truth is that you don’t have to waste your time, energy or focus worrying about what’s next or did you remember to or where the hey you’re at…. hush that fuss + get yourself a workflow to make your biz life easier, your clients happier than clams + free your time to do the work that actually matters to you.