30 Jan Optimizing Your Client Process & Workflow
Have you given much thought to your client process & workflow? Starting to implement a new or leaner system will help make this your best year yet!
I aim to find ways to make my business work more smoothly both for myself and my clients. But I must admit even with my endless pursuit of streamlining, it’s taken me signing up to a new business management system to REALLY get clarity on every single step.
A Business Management System, for those who don’t know, allows you to automate all or part of your business process. They can be called a CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) or Workflow Automation System as well.
Here’s an example of how a CRM might simplify your process:
When someone typically contacts me, it’s via a form on my website. I then follow-up with a link to my online scheduler so we can chat live about their particular needs. I then send a proposal with terms and conditions for review and once signed, I would send an invoice for a deposit payment.
Without a CRM
Typically the way I have done this required several different applications: Typeform for my contact form, Calendly for my online scheduler, HelloSign for my contract and Harvest for my invoices. From a client perspective, this doesn’t take a lot of extra work as everything is sent to them directly and can all be done online, however from my perspective, there are several things that I have to manually do in order to get these items out to my client.
I have been meaning to find an all-in-one solutions so that I can consolidate these steps into one application AND create some automation.
With a CRM
I now have a contact form that automatically captures the client’s info into the program’s address book AND automatically sends a request for them to fill out a slightly longer questionnaire so I can get some additional information before our call. It also has an online scheduler, for which I can setup an automated email once they fill out my form in order to book time on my calendar. Once we’ve had a live chat, I have a proposal already setup so that I can easily send it including project scope, estimated fees, payment schedule and terms, with minimal updates required. I can also setup an invoice to auto-magically go out once they’ve signed my contract. So many steps saved in my process because every step fires off an automated next step!
Now that sounds (and is) amazing, but truth be told, the only way to setup something like this is to be very clear about every step of your process. This includes creating a few scripts for those emails that you find yourself writing over and over. Knowing what happens in what order. The more you want to automate your process, the clearer you have to be on what happens across every step.
This both ensures that you have a process that is easy for you to manage and seamless for your client.
Now, you may be wondering what particular system I’m using, however, because I’m still in the setup and testing stages, I’m not quite ready to tell you where I’ve landed. I don’t like to share links unless I can fully recommend them. I’ll be sure to update this post when I’m ready to share.
Outline Your Workflow
I don’t like to leave you hanging like this, so in the meantime, I’ll leave you with some things to consider if you’re thinking of setting up or fine-tuning your process:
- Think back to the last project you completed or service you provided. Write down the flow from start to finish.
- Start at the very beginning, how do people typically find and contact you? How do you respond back? Do you setup a live call? How do you schedule it?
- Is there a questionnaire that you can have your client fill out to give you as much info as possible up-front?
- Make a note of each program application that you use. Example:
- Contact form: Typeform
- Email: Gmail
- Online Scheduler: Calendly
- Can anything be consolidated? Is there an application that might do more than one thing?
- Make a note of what services can be combined into a package
- Do your clients typically always request a set of services? Can you put a price on those being an all-inclusive service?
- Are there services that a client often forgets to ask for that you know might make a huge difference in the overall experience?
- Identify any emails that you can craft into a script. Make the script general, you can always add some personalized touches as you’re about to send it.
- Hi *client name*, thank you for reaching out about your project. The next step for us to work together would be…
- Make a note of what steps can be automated and what steps should remain personalized
- Booking Process – automated
- Onboarding – personalized
With these things in mind you can start researching to see if there are any CRMs out there that would be a good fit for your workflow. Brownie points if one exists that’s geared to your particular industry.
You don’t necessarily have to have an all-in-one system (in particular if it’s cost-prohibitive), but it will likely help to have everything together in one place. At the very least, you’ll want to see how well you can consolidate your applications so that they work seamlessly with one another and not cause you to be signed in to numerous different programs to find everything you need.
I would really love to know what you learn about your own process and whether this exercise helps you streamline your workflow. Leave a comment and let me know what your biggest challenge is with your own client process. Do you even have one in place? If you do, is it working or do you have any bottlenecks in your flow?
I’m happy to keep this convo going if it’s something you might find useful.