When it comes to service delivery, businesses are as unique as the business owners running them. In fact, I find that service delivery is the aspect of the business that reflects the business owner’s personality and business culture the most.
Even though the elements of the process of building a website, generating publicity, or optimizing a system are very similar across different web designers, PR professionals, and systems strategists, the flow and experience of that process hugely vary.
That’s why no two service-delivery dashboards are exactly alike. And that’s what makes building them so fun! We get to put on our investigative hats and explore what works for the business owner and the team, what are their imperatives when it comes to customer experience, and what shortcuts we can create to allow them to work smarter.
Our own service delivery dashboard is pretty straightforward. In essence, it’s a series of checklists that helps us to ensure that no step of the process is missed. It also allows us to see where each client is in the process in order to monitor our own capacity and meet deadlines promised to the client.
The most complex dashboard we’ve created so far was for Brigitte Lyons of B Think Forward, a boutique PR agency. Brigitte works with CEOs and thought leaders to help them frame their message and get it out into the world through traditional and digital media.
Here’s Brigitte’s story…
The core of Brigitte’s team’s work involves pitching to media outlets and securing placements for clients. The full process requires multiple steps and several moving parts, in addition to crucial client care and management components. With the business growing quickly, Brigitte and her team soon found themselves awash in multiple spreadsheets, folders, subfolders, and checklists, all requiring constant updating. It was frustratingly difficult and time-consuming to find client information, project history, outlets pitched, status, and deadlines.
On top of that, there was very little visibility between projects and among team members, so no one had a big picture overview of what was happening with every client. The team completed weekly reports and held regular status meetings, but that did not solve the need for a real-time, ongoing understanding of every client’s status. With so many unknowns, and not wanting to make a mistake, the team would search extensively for information scattered across folders and platforms, email each other for clarification, wait for responses before acting, and regularly check in with Brigitte for direction on what to do next.
Despite having created strict workflows and successful outreach processes that consistently met her clients’ goals and delivered results, Brigitte was in a constant state of worry that something would fall through the cracks. Things got so stressful that she would, in her words, “bolt up in bed at 2:00 a.m. in a sweat and panic,” anxious that she did not have a complete pulse on what was happening with every client. Delivering an exceptional customer experience is at the heart of Brigitte’s service, and she dreaded the day she or a team member dropped one of the many plates they were juggling.
Everyone was talented, capable, and committed to success, but they were also stressed, confused, and constrained by broken and inefficient systems. Unable to take on any additional clients and still maintain a high level of service, Brigitte had reached a capacity ceiling, and knew that something had to change.
What We Did
Brigitte came to SystemsRock because her business had outgrown the processes that once worked so well. She admitted to us that she was skeptical that the perfect system could actually be created for her business – a solution that achieved all her goals seemed like a bit of a pipe dream. Brigitte had already looked at several tools designed specifically for PR management but found each to be lacking some essential function or integration capability.
She knew she needed something that addressed her specific business processes and client needs, but didn’t know what that might look like or how it could be built. And she worried that it would be difficult for her team to quickly learn, implement, and embrace the new system.
Together, we decided that a customized client management system would provide the peace of mind and efficiency Brigitte was looking for. Once my team and I had a complete understanding of her goals, outreach methods, and existing bottlenecks, we created a dedicated client hub that allowed Brigitte to instantly know at a glance what was happening with each individual client, and across the business as a whole.
We moved all of Brigitte’s client data out of the spreadsheets, folders, subfolders, checklists, and email threads, and into the hub. Everything the team could possibly need to know – contact details, goal tracking, outlets pitched, responses received, communication history, deadlines and more – is now available instantly.
It’s no longer necessary to update information across 10 different subfolders, notify team members through email, wait for status reports, and hope no one made a mistake. Updates are made right inside the client hub, and every team member can immediately see, in real time, what’s going on with all clients.
The full system was created in 4 months, and the team was using it, successfully and with great excitement, within one hour of its unveiling.
Brigitte’s client hub has resulted in massive productivity increases, a happier team, and significant time savings. Hear Brigitte tell about her experience in her own words …
Processes that used to take hours now take minutes. For example, the new hub allows for drastically reduces onboarding when a new team member is brought into an existing project. Previously, it would take at least an hour to get the person up to speed, followed by cumbersome email forwards, endless document searches, and constant back and forth with the project lead. Now, all the new team member has to do is log into the hub, and she has a complete understanding of the project history and status in minutes.
Similarly, weekly and monthly reports used to be a nightmare of chasing down emails, requesting status updates from all team members, waiting for responses, searching high and low for documents, and revising quickly-outdated information. Now, the team member responsible for reporting simply jumps into the client hub. She now creates a report in 15 minutes, not over a series of frustrating days.
“I can’t overstate the impact the system has had on our project management, client care, and productivity,” Brigitte says. “We can finally spend our energy doing the work, not just constantly managing it.”
Far from being resistant to a systems change, Brigitte’s team has fully embraced it. Without the uncertainty they faced before, team members feel empowered to work independently, identify priorities, and take action, without needing to constantly check in with each other and with Brigitte. They’re so excited about the new processes, Brigitte has received multiple emails from team members thanking her for the change.
Most importantly, the system makes client care easy and exceptional. As an example, instead of emailing clients with unengaging and unclear written updates, Brigitte now spends 5 minutes recording an update video, showing each client exactly what she’s achieving for them. She can share a view of the client’s specific project inside the hub, making it simple for them to understand the process and feel totally confident in it. “Clients are thrilled with this,” Brigitte says. “They rave about it. This has been absolutely transformative for client experience and retention.”
“This has opened up the whole world for me,” Brigitte says. “Natasha and her team created the backbone that will keep holding us up as we continue to grow. I’m so excited about what’s next for my business.”
And now back to you. What aspects of the client experience are you particularly proud of?