A Human Tech Team to Solve Your Website’s Technical Problems

No one wants to encounter problems with their website, but how they're resolved can change everything. And the last thing anyone wants is to struggle with a support bot— you want a human tech team to help you with your website.

Here at Valet, we feel strongly about how our clients experience their technical problems. And we know that our team plays an important role in making it a good one.

What does that mean for our team?

While every support ticket that comes in for us needs different resolutions, we keep in mind the same key principles and core beliefs. Every client on the other end of a ticket deserves a human tech team.

Three Core Beliefs Of A Human Tech Team 

  1. Not just Sympathy, Empathy

We have a lot of sympathy for clients experiencing technical problems. But working with websites both professionally and personally, we’ve encountered our own website issues, and this gives us empathy. 

Having empathy means we can understand our client’s feelings, even though they are not our own. We know exactly how we feel when having technical problems and can therefore really put ourselves in their place. We can then help them with a deep understanding that we otherwise couldn’t. 

This informs and guides our responses to support tickets. Empathy isn’t what solves our client’s problems, but it gives us the tone we hope resonates personally with them.

  1. There Are Humans On Both Sides

In an age when so much communication happens virtually, it can be too easy to forget the human behind an email. Valet always remembers the person on the other side of a frustrated support ticket.

Our team strives to be aware and conscious of the humans on both sides. In every email we send, call, and interaction we have with our clients, we remain mindful of the fact that we’re all humans. Humans with feelings, thoughts, opinions, and beliefs— humans who have good days and bad days. 

That includes not only remembering this for clients but also what kind of individuals and team we want to be for our clients. We want to be empathetic, friendly, kind, understanding, supportive, and helpful because that’s what each client deserves. Our relationship with each client matters to us.

  1. Clear Communication

Clear communication is an important key to being a human tech team. And for our team that means being honest, always setting realistic expectations for our clients, replying to them promptly, and keeping them informed.

Honesty

Clients expect honesty from us in everything from the fact that we never have hidden fees for our services to the fact that we will own our mistakes. 

If we tell a client the price of a certain development project, that’s the price. They don’t have to fear any unexpected extra fees being tacked onto their bill later. 

And if we make a mistake, we’re going to be straightforward about it. Our clients won’t hear excuses or catch us hiding something we broke. While we of course strive to never make them, they do happen. And clients deserve to know the truth about anything and everything happening with their websites.

Setting Realistic Expectations

When a client comes to us with a project, we're always sure to set realistic expectations for it. We never want to promise things we can’t bring to fruition. 

If a client receives a date for the estimated time for a project, our clients can trust it. If we say we’ll have something done then we will.

Prompt Replies

From onboarding to monthly maintenance our clients are always up to date on the status of their website. 

Clients never have to wait two weeks to hear back from us while they sit and wonder how their project is coming along. We’re prompt in our replies. 

Staying Informed

We don’t want our clients to ever feel left in the dark. We’re always available to answer their questions or explain things to them. 

When a client wants information on our processes or wants to understand better what’s happening with their website, we believe they should know what’s going on. Too many times we get clients who have no idea who is hosting their website, or if their previous tech team was updating properly. At times they don't even feel they can approach their tech team with their doubts, questions, and concerns. That doesn’t happen under our watch.

Do you need a human tech team?

Instead of waiting till something breaks and you’re frantically writing into support chat boxes with automatic canned responses— make our team your team. We can provide you with monthly maintenance services, e-commerce maintenance, support and development, audits, and assessments.

You won't need to worry about all of your WordPress website errors, problems, or issues anymore. You’ll have peace of mind knowing your website is backed by our team of WordPress professionals who provide you with the best website services.

How To Streamline Your Client Onboarding

What does your client onboarding look like? Do you streamline your client onboarding?

Gaining a new client for your business is always something to celebrate. It represents a new opportunity for revenue and growth. However, it’s important to remember that the effort you made to win that client over doesn’t just end. Not even once a contract is signed or a subscription is purchased. 

Client onboarding plays a vital role in providing your clients with the most positive experience possible. Which, over time, will make it more likely for them to continue using your services in the future. Revenue-wise, this is highly beneficial; you’ll be able to earn a higher LTV (Lifetime Value) for each customer.

Unfortunately, for both yourself and the client, onboarding can sometimes be a real burden. Especially if it involves heaps of paperwork and forms. This type of onboarding process is both frustrating and time-consuming. Instead, you can onboard your clients using your website and make things easier for everyone.

Streamline Onboarding

Here are four ways in which you can use your website to streamline your client onboarding:

1. Use appointment scheduling software

At the beginning of any professional relationship, your client will most likely have questions that will need to be answered. This is why scheduling that first meeting with them is crucial. Doing this by email or phone presents many difficulties though. Including unnecessary back and forth and potentially lost or disorganized information. It’s very easy to double-book yourself this way. Plus, when one of your clients inevitably wants to cancel or reschedule, this creates even more hassle. 

Give your clients the ability to view your schedule online and select an available slot; it allows for more flexibility on both sides. And it shows your clients how well-organized your business is.

When it comes to choosing which software you’d like to use, there are many options available.

Use appointment scheduling software: Calendly, the best automated scheduling software for you and everyone you meet.

Calendly is one of the most popular choices among scheduling software. And it rates very highly on a majority of review platforms. Along with reasonable pricing, Calendly offers a number of features. Such as confirmation and reminder messages, timezone detection, and a variety of integrations.

Use appointment scheduling software: Doodle, book meetings faster with the smart scheduling power of Doodle.

Doodle has also earned its position as one of the most used scheduling software, particularly amongst larger companies and enterprises. The user interface is often praised for its simplicity. And it even allows you to send out polls; which allows you to determine who can be free during your proposed meeting times.

Use appointment scheduling software: Acuity Scheduling, never ask "what time works for you" again.

Acuity scheduling could also be the one for your business, especially if you use Squarespace to host your website. You’ll be able to create a completely customized scheduling page to suit your business. Being HIPAA compliant, this software also allows you to feel much more confident. You have the knowledge that all the information is safe and secure.

No matter which scheduling software you choose to use; automating this process using your website is vital to a successful onboarding experience.

2. Provide a welcome pack

Upon signing up, a new client often looks for a healthy mixture of accompaniment and clarity when getting ready to start. They don’t want to have to figure everything out for themselves. But are likely also weary of contacting you too many times for help. This is why offering them a downloadable welcome pack can help get the ball rolling much faster.

The best way to do this is to have the welcome pack sent directly to them. You can send it immediately to the client, using the email address they signed up with. An effective welcome pack should include information regarding the features of the product or service the client has purchased. As well as best practices and useful tips. And a timeline that the client can use to map their own onboarding progress. 

Now you've sent the first email containing the welcome pack. And now a few more staggering welcome emails are required to complete the onboarding communication schedule. These should contain extra nuggets of information to further help the client. This will make your clients feel more welcome and at ease, increasing the likelihood of retention.

3. Offer learning content & video tutorials

Every client is different, which is why catering to visual learners by providing them with introductory videos is crucial. Plus, for most, seeing a product in action is much more intuitive than just reading a stand-alone article. Particularly if the product is SaaS-based. It will also save your business time and money. Resources that you would have needed to spend educating your clients manually and individually. 

Clients should be able to refer back to these videos throughout the onboarding process. Thus making them feel more comfortable when establishing how to use your product or service. You can make these videos available at a central point on your website (such as the help center). As a part of the welcome emails. Or enclosed within tooltips. 

4. Use a tool to collect client information

When onboarding a new client, there’s often a lot of information that needs to be collected. It's essential to have before the partnership can begin. Via email, content can often get lost within lengthy threads, causing frustration for both yourself and the client. Streamlining this process is the key to ensuring customer satisfaction and minimizing delays.

To do this, you could embed a form into your website. Which will allow your clients to provide you with the necessary information while they’re right there on your website. Google Forms is a good option for basic forms and surveys. And it's easily connectable to other products included within the Google Suite, such as Google Sheets. If you’re using WordPress, a great option is Gravity Forms

However, if you’re looking for something more robust and professional, sometimes it’s better to use a more advanced content collection tool. Even if it can’t be embedded into your website.

Use a tool to collect client information: Content Snare, the smart way to collect content.

Content Snare allows you to create detailed content requests for your clients. Thus helping you to effortlessly gather information, files, and documents. You can even start from scratch or use a built-in template to speed up the process. You can begin setting up just like that! Either way, the ease of use and automatic reminder emails ensure that your clients provide you with everything you need. And within any desired timeframe.

Summary: Streamline your client onboarding

Using your website to streamline your client onboarding can save you several hours each week. It alleviates the burden of a lot of manual actions. This allows you to put that time towards more important tasks and boost productivity.

A successful online onboarding process may take some time to set up. But, once this is done, your business can begin reaping the benefits that come with a much more professional approach. 

To wrap up, ensure you:

24/7 Website Support. Mandatory or Myth?

24/7 website support is a standard sales pitch these days. You can get nearly anything you want 24 hours a day. You can get a meal, a pair of socks, dog food, or a shed for your backyard. If you can't walk into a store and buy it, you can find online. Add to cart, click to buy now, with free 2-day shipping. Anytime. Anywhere.

Retailers have led the way here, and now, many services are also offering 24/7 options of their own. Sounds great right?

Maybe.

Many would argue that it's a sign of the times, something that makes you competitive. It's standard fare, and anyone without it is just not even trying. I'd agree that 24/7 is a necessity to be competitive or deliver on some services out there now. I'd disagree that it's necessary or even reasonable for everyone to be supplying it.

Features vs. Benefits.

A feature is a characteristic that a product or service has.

A benefit is a characteristic that a product or service has that brings value to you.

Feature shopping is the new standard. Any purchase now begs the question 'What am I getting for my money?' The longer the list of features, the better. Right?

Mmm, Not really.

My car has a feature for driving in snow, but I live on the gulf coast, so it's not much of a benefit. It was part of the impressively long list of things auto-dealers list on the window sticker but not ultimately why I purchased the car.

I own a crockpot that has a delay timer on it, so my food doesn't overcook if I'm gone longer than anticipated during the day. That is a great benefit to me, and why I paid a little more for it than a traditional one.

Just because I got something extra with my purchase doesn't mean it was useful. Consumers are subject to marketing hype now more than ever. Marketing is a science and the broader application of particular methods, like cramming features into services or products, causes us to think they are right and standard.

Do you really need 24/7 Support from your Website Maintenance company?

Since this 24-hour support availability is listed as a feature so it must be a good thing. Your Website is incredibly essential to you, and you want to be able to ask for help anytime there is a mission-critical issue. Even if that means asking for help at 2 AM. Moreover, the maintenance company is happy to sell it to you! This feature bags yet another customer.

This scenario is common and not wrong. If getting help any time of day is a benefit to you, then you've nailed your goal and can move on to other productive things. Bravo, you!

You just purchased peace of mind by having a human there to fix your problems any time of day. However, what if I told you that this was a feature disguised as a benefit?

Let's zoom out.

There are scenarios where your website software is so complicated, and your usage patterns may indeed require round the clock support, but these are few. Sometimes feature lists can blind us to reality. We perceived a feature as a benefit that solves a problem (or perceived problem), so we think "Problem solved!". However, what if that feature is blinding us to a more significant issue?

Consider that your Website could (should!) operate without the issues. Is the code old, convoluted? Would you benefit from having it cleaned up and eliminating the need for having to wake up at 2 AM to call anyone?

What about hosting? Hosting is where the round the clock service should be demanded and is a real benefit. They want to answer the phone in the middle of the night as much as you want to call them. They have a vested interest in making sure the platform is secure and stable.

We often get asked during sales calls whether we offer 24-7 support, and the answer is always no. Our first order of business upon taking on any new client is to do a thorough assessment to make sure that things are running smoothly and correctly. Our updates processes safeguard against pushing live updates that wreck the existing sites until a human can troubleshoot and understand the issue.

We don't offer 24-7 support because we don't need to. You shouldn't have to expect it as a rule from any maintenance and support agency if you are investing in a reliable infrastructure and ongoing best practices. There are indeed scenarios where this is a real need, but they are less common than you may think.

Weekly WordPress Update - August 2, 2019

Here is your quick Weekly WordPress Update from Valerio. If you would like us to cover something specific, please let us know!

Weekly Update Video Transcript:

Hello and welcome to the Weekly WordPress Updates by Valet.io for the week of August 2nd.

WooCommerce  3.7 release candidate is now available, this is a minor release with a few new features and fixes. You can set up a staging and test a new version of WooCommerce using the beta tester plugin or you can send us an email to support@valet.io and we can test it out for you.

On our security vulnerabilities round-up, we have a list of popular plugins that you need to make sure is on the latest version available: One Signal, AdRotate Banner Manager, Advanced Contact form 7b, and Coming Soon & Maintenance mode should be updated. At Valet we’re always on top of security of our client's websites and we take extra care while pushing these fixes as soon as possible.

That’s it for the week, have a wonderful weekend!

valet.io logo

Facing Up to the Challenges of Face Time: A Valet Roundtable Discussion

It’s possible today to run a company and serve customers from totally unconventional isolated settings. You can be the CEO of a multi-million-dollar venture and oversee the whole thing from a spare bedroom in northern New Hampshire. Or you can be that firm’s bookkeeper and crunch its numbers from a solar-powered grass hut you alone occupy on a South Pacific tropical island beach.

For that, you can thank the Internet and the existence of software addressing every conceivable business activity or purpose. The point is lots of people like working in virtual offices. But a problem with that kind of arrangement is virtual office workers tend to be isolated from colleagues and customers. They seldom see and interact with one another face to face. Yet people instinctively crave what’s usually referred to as “face time.”

Valet's Remote Team and the Challenges of Face Time

Valet recently gathered its team for a discussion of face time and the challenges of fostering it in a virtual-office environment. Sharing their thoughts on this subject were Valet Co-Founder and CEO Kimberly Lipari, Client Success Manager Maureen Crist, Client Success Lead Eric Dye, Client Success Pro Milos Milosevic, Lead Developer Josh Shashaty, Technical Project Manager and Developer Daisy Olsen, and Site Health Pro Valerio Vaz. All of them work from virtual offices across the U.S. and scattered around the world.

VALET: How do you define "face time”?

ERIC: Face time is any communication that is face-to-face.

KIMBERLY: I believe the definition of face time is subject to the purpose of the meeting. It could be an in-person encounter. Or it could be a video call.

Empowering-communities-advocate-Kimberly-Lapari
Kimberly Lapari
empowering-communities-hero-eric-dye
Eric Dye

VALET: But do video conferences really count as face time?

MILOS: Yes, they do. You can see the person you are talking with. And even better, you do not need to go anywhere.

DAISY: I disagree. Video calls are better than text-only for deeper communication, but they don't replace being physically in the same space with someone.

Milos Milosevic
Daisy Olsen

MAUREEN: I think it depends on whether the meeting is internal or client facing. Video conferencing definitely counts as face time for internal meetings. For client facing contact, video conferencing is better than no face time, but it's not the same as actually being there in person. Besides, many clients prefer to keep their cameras turned off or to dial into the video conference. In those instances, there’s no video and so it’s basically the same as a phone call.

Empowering-communities-is-what Maureen-Crist-does
Maureen Crist

JOSH: No. Video conferences do not count as face time. When you do a video conference, there’s the opportunity for you to do things that aren’t related to the discussion. Like, you could be playing solitaire while the other person is talking. That’s a distraction, and the other person wouldn’t know about it. But with actual, in-person face time, you can’t do that. Face time allows for no distractions. So, in my view, video conferencing isn’t really face time.

empowering-communities-voice-Josh-Shashaty
Josh Shashaty

VALET: But aren't video conferences valuable nonetheless?

ERIC: Sure are. The importance of face time is giving everyone the ability to read the visual aspects of nonverbal communication. This added element gives everyone an extra layer of context and understanding that is certainly valuable. These signals are exchanged whether this is in-person or via video conference.

KIMBERLY: Seeing someone's face and connecting with them using as many senses as possible are what make people feel connected. Video conferencing isn’t a substitute for actual meetings, handshakes, and the like. But, still, it can be incredibly powerful for relating and connecting. It stimulates the portions of the brain that store information and associate feelings of trust and emotion with the person on the other end of the conversation. So put me in the yes column.

VALET: What are the specific benefits of face time—and what are the actual, tangible consequences of neglecting it?

Valerio Vaz

VALERIO: I saw in the Washington Post where face-to-face meetings are the best way to capture a person’s full attention. There was research in that article showing that asking to meet with someone face-to-face is 34 times more effective than if you ask by email. It also said a physical handshake promotes greater success.

ERIC: Being able to communicate face-to-face adds a very helpful layer of nonverbal communication. This makes communication more robust. It also increases engagement between speakers and receivers. To be able to see one another's faces and expressions adds a human dynamic that easily gets lost otherwise. That Washington Post article Valerio mentioned also said that more than eight in ten executives prefer in-person meetings to virtual contact.

MAUREEN: Meeting with someone in person provides a deeper level of communication and develops a stronger relationship. You can read their body language, you can know when it’s time to stop the discussion and clarify confusing points—these are things that can easily go unnoticed during a video conference call. The consequences of neglecting face time are a lower level of engagement from both parties which can result in accounts and employees churning.

KIMBERLY: The human brain processes engagement with our conversational counterparts using various levels of senses. If you’re face-to-face, you’re using your full capacity to relate to and engage in conversation. As Josh said, no face-time allows for distractions. Plus, once the encounter ends, the memory of what you’ve been talking about fades and loses importance.

DAISY: I used to work for a company that brought all its employees together once a year for a face-to-face meeting. Then they stopped doing that. Morale across the entire company took a huge hit. Worse, interpersonal tensions increased.

VALET: What’s the biggest challenge a company encounters when trying to insert more face time into the picture?

VALERIO: The more spread out the employees are, the harder it is to overcome the problem of time zones. If everyone is at a remote location in, say, the Eastern time-zone, it’s not much of a challenge to coordinate schedules. But if you also have people in Australia, for instance, coordination becomes much more difficult, since morning in Sydney is yesterday afternoon in New York.

MILOS: A big challenge I see is the need for companies to invest in ensuring that remote workers have good, reliable connections and tools for online meetings. Another challenge is scheduling the right amount of meetings, whether online or in-person. If you have too many meetings, it diminishes their importance. Too few and you lose opportunities to make progress.

VALET: What about costs?

JOSH: If you meet face-to-face, you’ve got travel costs to deal with. And your productivity suffers because travel takes away time you could be spending at your workstation creating things or solving problems.

DAISY: Along the same lines as what Josh is saying, the larger and more globally distributed a team is the greater the financial and logistical burdens of bringing everyone together. Personally, I believe it’s worth the time, effort, and expense to be able to come together as a company once or twice a year in a designated physical location.

MAUREEN: Agreed. Cost is the biggest hurdle to delivering more face time. Here at Valet, our annual gathering of internal employees has helped us develop a stronger bond as a team.

ERIC: Face time is always economically justifiable. It's whether or not you need additional tools to augment face time. Generally speaking, it never should be an economic stress to incorporate face time into an organization's communication toolbox.

VALET: How frequently should face time occur?

JOSH: At least once a year.

DAISY: You should hold a large-group gathering at least one time per year. For a smaller gathering, you should consider holding it twice a year or even quarterly.

VALERIO: Internally, in a virtual office environment, you should look at having face time once every day for 3o minutes. Once every two days would be good if the team is involved in long-facing projects.

ERIC: It's not about the quantity of time so much as it is about the quality. However much or little face time you’re able to manage, you need to make sure that it’s used as best as possible.

KIMBERLY: Face time should occur as frequently as possible. Since we’ve been referencing the article from the Washington Post, this seems like an appropriate juncture to cite the part where they quoted a public-relations professor who said the need for face time is universal across industries because, ultimately, everyone is in a business that revolves around people. And face time is all about making connections with people.

Communication Tips to Make Your Company More Successful

Remember the warning they gave you back in high school driver-ed class about never getting behind the wheel while angry? You learned that driving while mad takes your focus off the road. Bad things can then happen. A car crash, for example. Well, that same safety principle applies to customer and colleague communication.

In other words, never talk to anyone while angry. When you're upset, the chances of you saying something you'll regret rise dramatically. Bad things can then happen. For example, your good relationship with that person ends up wrapped around a figurative telephone pole, totaled.

So only talk to people when you feel calm, collected, and clear-headed.

That’s just one of several insights Valet customer-support specialists recently shared in response to an in-house survey of their favorite communication tips and tools.

We think you might like these communication tips. Here they are. Feel welcome to make them your own.

Communication Tip 1: Work Remotely

Believe it or not, the most customer-responsive workforce is a decentralized one.

The team at Valet happens to be exactly that, which is very advantageous, says Maureen Crist, client success manager.

“We are a 100-percent remotely based team,” she offers. “We all work from home. But with the communication tools available now, we also feel totally connected all the time. Every type of conversation and interaction that takes place in a physical office can also occur in a virtual office. No one gets isolated. No one is ever out of the loop.”

From the perspective of the customer, it matters not whether conversations take place in a physical or virtual office, Maureen adds. “It’s all good as long as the conversation goes smoothly and successfully.”

However, it matters a great deal from the perspective of the company. “Going virtual eliminates the cost of leasing, furnishing, operating, and maintaining a headquarters office,” she says. “It also gives you a worldwide pool of candidates from which to fill jobs.”

Communication Tip 2: Humility Counts

Be humble in your communications with customers and colleagues alike, advises Eric Dye, Valet client success lead.

“Don’t act like a know-it-all or come across as always right,” he implores. “Those communication styles tend to antagonize people. They’re counterproductive.”

A form of humility practiced by Eric involves repeating a speaker’s words back to him or her.

“I do this to make sure I’m getting whatever the person just told me,” he explains. “Pride can keep you from doing this because the natural tendency is to go ‘right, I understand’ when in reality you don’t because you fear looking dumb.”

Communication Tip 3: Listen Closer

Amy Givens, who leads the Valet accounts receivables unit, suggests a key to successful communication is your ability to actually hear what the other person says.

But stopping the speaker’s words from going in one ear and out the other takes practice, she cautions. “It’s something you have to work at.”

Communication Tip 4: Explain Yourself

Josh Shashaty, lead developer at Valet, finds it helpful to give a reason for asking a particular question or when making a statement.

“Explain why you want to know this or why you’re saying that,” he recommends. “This helps to align the other person’s thinking with yours when you approach with a question or comment and they aren't at that moment in the same frame of mind or context as you are.”

One way to do this is by saying something along these lines: “Hey, I noticed you don’t seem to be a fan of the Oxford comma in your writing. Is that true? Just asking, because a lot of people who don’t use it aren’t aware that readers are grateful for it.”

Communication Tip 5: Use the Best Tools

These are the communication tools the Valet team uses regularly and swears by.

Slack. Slack is a messaging center that makes collaboration very fast and easy. With it you can talk to your teammates no matter the miles separating you. The system notifies you if anything related to a past conversation crops up and needs your or the team’s attention. Everything that transpires on this platform becomes part of your searchable archives (although if you get the free version you can search back only as far as the last 10,000 messages). More information here.

Google G-Suite. Google offers business versions of Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and other favorite features. Use G-Suite if you want to beef up your administrative control over how your team privately and individually use Google tools. That way, you can make sure collaborations do in fact take place and that no one is left in the dark. Learn about it here.

Google Hangout/Meet. Hangout by Google lets you and up to 10 other people talk to each other online and in real time. You can talk via audio only or with the addition of video. Both the sound and picture quality are pretty good, but you need to use Google Meet if you want high-definition audio-video. A lot of people do, believing that the sharper the words and images, the greater the team cohesiveness. Also, Google Meet allows as many as 30 people to log in at the same time. Unfortunately, Google Meet is available only to enterprise users. Go here for more.

Videoconferencing

Zoom. This videoconferencing solution is like Google Meet, but with the ability to welcome 100 remote users at the same time, not just 30. That makes Zoom particularly helpful if you want to host a training class or webinar that attracts a lot of signups. Zoom wins high marks for simplicity and the fact that more than one participant at a time can share his or her screen. More information here.

HelpScout. Customers can usually tell when you send them robo-emails. Not so much when you use HelpScout. In fact, recipients will be hard-pressed to tell the difference between machine- and person-made emails, help-desk tickets, and the like. But that’s only a small part of what HelpScout does. Its most vital role is to provide a single access point for everyone in your organization who needs to get involved with or monitor client conversations. Read further.

Meetingbird. Few things in life cause more teeth-gnashing and hair-pulling than trying to set up a meeting with someone. The times they want to meet with you are times you’re tied up, and vice-versa. So messages ping-pong back and forth as you negotiate a mutually acceptable time. Meetingbird (and its rival, Calendly) solve this problem. You tell Meetingbird the days and times when you’re available to meet. If colleagues will attend with you, they do likewise and tell Meetingbird the days and times they can make it. The system then presents to the customer only those days and times of everyone's actual availability. The customer sees those dates at a glance and picks the one that works best for him or her. Simple. And a huge time-saver and frustration-eliminator. Check it out.

Management

Harmony PSA. This is a professional services automation system that lets you manage contracts and projects from within your help-desk operation. Every detail of every contract and/or job is stored centrally so that it can be accessed across all of your business functions. In addition to managing contracts and projects, you can use Harmony to track opportunities, run sales campaigns, give accurate price quotes, receive orders, and manage your project assets. Read more here.

Holacracy. One of the smartest things you can do to increase the success of your teams is to quit trying to manage them from the top down. Better results come from letting your teams self-manage—particularly if your teams are remotely located. Holocracy is software that enables teams to assume the responsibility of running the things for which they are responsible. By using Holocracy, tasks no longer slip through the cracks as once they did and no one gets caught in the position of running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Take a closer look.

Grammarly. Clear writing is hard to do. Proper spelling isn’t any easier. Yet both are essential to good communication. That’s why you’ll welcome Grammarly to your box of business tools. It corrects mistakes you make in the construction, punctuation, and spelling of the correspondences you create. As a result, people who receive emails and other missives from you won’t end up scratching their heads wondering exactly what you were trying to say. Details here.

Checklist

Trello. The best way to keep track of checklists, assignments, due dates, and support materials is with Trello, a nifty package of easy-to-use, highly reliable scrum software. Scrum is a management technique designed to help teams of under 10 people work more efficiently and effectively. The technique emphasizes exceptionally close communication among all members of the team so that solutions to suddenly arising problems are quickly solved. If you need to organize ideas or systematize processes, this is the tool to get. It’s also excellent for aiding team or client collaborations. More information here.

Toggl. Time is money, but tracking it costs nothing if you use Toggl. This is a productivity tool that helps you answer the question of where did the time go that you spent on specific activities throughout the day. It helps with your communication by showing whether you spend too much or too little time conversing with your team and your customers. See it here.

LastPass. Much online communication begins not with a salutation but with the entering of a password. LastPass is a password manager that offers to keep all your passwords in a safe, convenient place on your computer or phone. It’s a Valet favorite because it also generates super-strong passwords and securely stores digital records, such as ID cards. Basically, any time a site or program asks for a password, LastPass handles everything for you. Learn more.

If you’d like to learn more about good communication—or if you’d just like to experience it firsthand—then please contact Valet.

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