Do you email them a list of all the documents and wait for a reply?
Do you repeatedly call the client and ask for the documents to be sent by a specific date?
This is a problem I recently faced in a marketing operations improvement project. The reason I describe it as marketing operations is because the client communication channels is key to the company’s reputation, which is their number one way of marketing themselves – strong processes and communications. The company was already a user of Zoho CRM, so making sure that the marketing operations improvements worked with that platform was important.
The Project Requirements:
We began with the simplest project type with the least amount of paperwork. Working side-by-side with the team, we discussed the key steps in the customer journey (from initial interest to completing the project). From there, we were able to identify the places where things could be setup ahead of time or automated. The big questions that stayed in our minds were:
“How can we make this easy and approachable for the client?” and “How do we make this easy for the team to manage?”
1. Data Gathering
Step one was to create a survey where we could collect key information from the prospective client before even scheduling a phone call. The survey would gather all of the key data points necessary for us to know how to move forward, including the specific kind of project they would require.
Using Zoho Survey, we could have all of the answers map into Zoho CRM to create a new lead. Once the lead completed the survey, he or she immediately receives an automated email thanking them for their interest and letting them know someone from the team will reach out within 24 hours. The team members also receive an automated email when the survey is completed, notifying them that someone has submitted information and a link to their answers.
This step significantly reduces the time necessary for the follow-up phone call, because team members no longer need to ask all of the questions over the phone. Instead, they can verify and clarify before moving forward. [TIME SAVED]
2. Get Signatures
With a new lead in the system, the next step was to identify the forms that require digital signature with minimal other fields to be filled in – such as the basic agreement.
We used Zoho Sign to create a template with all of the preliminary documents. The tool allowed us to decide which fields we could pre-fill (using the answers from the Survey), which fields the lead needs to fill in or sign, and any fields we need to fill in or sign.
When it comes time to send these documents, the team member can simply click the “Send for Zoho Sign” from the Deal within Zoho CRM. This is great for several reasons: when the agreement is completed it will be saved within the company’s Zoho CRM and attached to the specific Deal (project) and it will be associated with the correct contact. [FEWER EMAILS]
3. Collect the Rest of the Documents
Next we began organizing the remaining documents into categories (i.e. business information, personal information, project-specific information). It was decided that a wise way to reduce the feeling of overwhelm among potential clients would be to break up the documents into a series of requests, rather than all at once. We ended up with 4 separate requests for documents based on the categories we created.
Many of the documents we were collecting were files that the client may already have ready to go or are documents they need to fill in with thorough detail. So we decided to use Zoho Forms to collect that information. The features that were very useful included the integration with Zoho CRM, the extra security of encrypting files, and the ability to save your work and finish later.
We created 4 different forms that requested the user to upload the specific documents. If the user was busy and did not have time to finish his or her work, then he could choose the “Save” option on the form. This prevented the frustration of losing the work or having to set aside a long period of time to handle it.
As documents are submitted from the form, they are attached to the Account record in Zoho CRM so that the team can review them. The team also receives a notification as a form is completed. If they have any questions or concerns about the documents, then they can call the client and offer support. [FEWER PHONE CALLS]
4. Following Up
The last step in the process is largely manual because there are so many possibilities. The direction of the project varies once all of the documentation is collected. The one thing we could do to make things easier for the team and keep up the strong communication channels with clients was to create email templates.
Within Zoho CRM, we created several email templates for the team to use during the process that follows the documentation collection. Each email template allows for the first name to be pre-filled, the team member’s email signature to pre-fill, and any other field from the CRM (such as the project name or the amount of money involved).
While the team still customizes emails somewhat, having these email templates ready ahead of time significantly reduces the time spent. Previously, the team was copying and pasting from old emails, making edits, and then sending them – also allowing for a higher margin of error in the email content.
Through the whole process, the team is also using the customized Deal stages in Zoho CRM to track what has been completed with the client. This is a great way to communicate with the rest of the team what is happening with the project in a passive way. [IMPROVED COMMUNICATIONS]
We will be rolling out the more complicated versions of projects next, as well as integrating Zoho Projects. Using Zoho Project, we will align each step in the documentation process and beyond. This will allow team members to assign tasks to others when they need support. Again, it creates an open communication channel across the company about the status of a project.