Do you like a quick turnaround on projects?
And because it is what we like, we aim to do it for all our clients too.
We pride ourselves on providing a responsive service and a strong working relationship with our clients. When a client contacts us, we aim to react as quickly as possible.
Just recently, we were able to demonstrate this practice for an offshore company. A client contacted us through the website on Friday afternoon; they had an unexpected shutdown on their offshore rig. We were able to respond really quickly and by Monday morning, we had a technician in Aberdeen ready to fly out to the site.
That’s quite a dramatic example. On an everyday basis, we aim to respond quickly when existing clients contact us asking for a quick turnaround as much as possible too.
But, as a business scales it can be easy for this response time to lengthen. As you bring in more business and add more personnel to your team, the chain of command can grow; like a game of Whispers, the messages from client to technician have to pass through more people, extending the response time.
So, as our business grows, how can we ensure that clients continue to receive the very best service possible? In this article, we will look at the different ways we can address this issue.
1. Ensure effective communication
The key to great service is outstanding communication. You need to be clear on the client’s needs and expectations, and effectively communicate what you can realistically achieve for them. Do not over promise and under deliver – ever! Always aim to be realistic. But, if you are able to do more than is expected, do it and make sure that they know about it.
2. Use account managers
On an everyday basis, we aim to keep our relationships with current clients responsive by giving them direct access to one person who oversees all the work that they require. These gatekeepers are able to then involve other key personnel when needed. Having a dedicated account manager for each client means that they get to know each client’s business really well. This helps us to anticipate needs or give more accurate quotes.
3. Grow wide not high
Rather than adding lots of hierarchy to your internal structure, add width in the form of more account managers. This will mean that decisions can be made more quickly. If you add in layer upon layer of managers, you will end up with a structure that is backlogged and unwieldy.
4. Use technology
When possible, use a centralised digital workplace to make sure that everyone can access information quickly. There is nothing that slows things down like needing to go check paper time sheets or hunt through a filing cabinet. Putting all your relevant documents in one online place can speed things up no end. There are a huge variety of digital workplace programs out there to choose from. Even using a very basic program like Google Workspace can help you keep track of all your important documents and give all those who need that information instant access whenever they need it.
5. Review your systems and processes
If there is an activity you do more than once, then you need to review whether you are doing that activity in the most efficient way. Reviewing your systems and processes means that when you do have a sudden growth spurt as a business, you will not get huge bottlenecks in your workflow. Often, the best people to review each process are the people directly involved in that process. Ask them about the challenges they come across when trying to complete their regular activities. Then troubleshoot – how can this be done better? It might mean buying a piece of software or sending your team on a training program, but whatever the investment, if it means your business grows it will be worth it.
6. Go mobile
One of the greatest tools we have at our fingertips is our mobile darkroom. It helps us to give a really responsive service, as a recent job shows. Rather than making your clients come to you, can you go to them in order to speed up the process? How this is done depends on your business. But is there a way you can meet your client where they are in order to get the job done faster?
A responsive business is a growing business
So much of building a responsive service comes down to communicating effectively with your client and working on your internal systems. We use our amazing account managers to ensure we build strong working relationships with our clients. And we also try to think creatively to solve problems; our mobile darkroom certainly helps us cut down operational disruption by providing film development on site.
So much of this is dependent on the type of business you run too. What will work for one will not work for another. But a great business is built by a great team, and often those involved in the day-to-day running of your business will have enormous insight into the best way to make things as efficient as possible. As with life, if you put the client and your team first, you will get the best result!