Greg Spies on Handing Over The Keys. Tips For Helping Your Clients Manage Their BC Websites

Clients LOVE when you go the extra mile to help support them.  Greg Spies shares how you can provide better customer service, while reducing the time you take to support your client demands.

Sound impossible?  Take a listen to this interview with Greg and learn about the man and his methods for keeping happy clients.




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Handing Over The Keys: Tips For Helping Your Clients Manage Their BC Websites


One of the number one requests new clients bring to us when discussing a website project is their desire to be able to “edit” the website themselves. While it’s tempting to point to Business Catalyst and say, “see all these great tools – you’ll be able to edit the whole site” – there are a lot of qualifiers to that claim.

At my web development studio The Interactive Dept., we engage the client in a conversation from the start regarding how they plan to manage content on their website once the site is launched. This takes place in our Discovery phase, and involves three main steps.

1)   Define which content areas will need to be updated regularly. As you’re creating your sitemaps and wireframes to determine what content will exist on the site and where, also take into consideration how often that area of content will be edited. Some areas, such as contact information, or mission statements probably won’t change very often. Other areas, such as team members, or available resources might change monthly or a few times a year, and other content like news and blog posts could change daily. Identifying these differences will inform how you set things up in development.
 
2)   Determine who will be the editor, and what their skills are. Our clients are a lot of things – entrepreneurs, doctors, carpenters, mixologists – but they are not web developers. Nor are they graphic designers, though some may argue that. While they may be comfortable navigating through Business Catalyst’s admin, when it gets down to editing a few lines of code, they’ll quickly drift outside their comfort zone. It’s not reasonable to expect an already over-burdened office admin to learn what DIV tags are in order to edit their boss’ bio.
 
3)   Develop the site with updates and skills in mind. While it’s easy enough to put all the page content into {tag_pagecontent} – that won’t always be the most effective way to setup the site for your client. Once you’ve determined what areas of the site they are going to need to update regularly, and what sort of skills they have to make those updates, you’ll want to determine which of the various tools within Business Catalyst can best support that content.

One tool that can be of value in areas with a good deal of formatting is Web Apps. Take for example your standard ABOUT US team page with several employees. Each individual on this page would typically have a name, a title, a photo, a short bio, and perhaps a few bullet-points regarding their education. Each of these might have their own unique classes applied to them in order to set the desired formatting and layout. While building a Web App for 3-4 employees may seem like extra work at first, it will save time in the long-run when the client has to modify the page, by making certain all they have to handle is the data-entry.

Supporting Instead of Training

When my company first became a Business Catalyst partner back in 2009, we were excited that our clients would have the ability to update their own websites, and we put together a solid training session that would cover all the great tools Business Catalyst had to offer. Upon launching the site, the site’s editor would visit our studio, and for an hour or so we’d walk through hypothetical ‘future edits’. They’d take notes, ask questions, we’d get side-tracked a few times, but they’d leave feeling they had a solid grasp on the platform. A month or so later when they actually had some updates, we learned that wasn’t the case.

Not only did these in-person training sessions become far too time-consuming as we brought on more and more clients, they were entirely ineffective. I thought about how I learned new software and skills – and it wasn’t sitting in a classroom, but rather via resources online and videos on YouTube. So we started putting together short videos for our clients, covering the typical updates they’d have to make inside of Business Catalyst. Some videos were generic overviews that could be shared amongst clients – and we even placed a few up on our YouTube channel. Other videos were client-specific, and covered unique updates the client would make regularly, which we defined in our Discovery phase. These videos we placed online in a password protected area – providing our clients with a video library that covered the updates they would have to make.

 The advantage of using short videos was the client no longer had to take time out of their day to sit through a long training session at our studio. Nor did they have to really learn a new platform. When they had a particular edit to make, there was a video available to walk them through the process at any time of the day. Plus, if the site editor was promoted or replaced, the new site editor could utilize the same resources, and didn’t need to be entirely retrained on the platform.
Internally, it was important to keep the process for producing videos as simple as possible. We use Camtasia to capture our screens, and record our voice as we walk through the process. Videos are captured in real-time, and ideally require minimal or no editing prior to posting. Typically, a client will contact us asking how to make a particular edit – and we simply record a video of us making that fix to their site. So not only do we fix the issue at hand, but we produce a resource they can reference in the future when they need to make a similar update. The response is always positive.

We’ll Take It From Here

No matter how well things are setup within the platform, or how simple to use the WYSIWYG may be, there are going to be some edits the client either can’t, or has no desire to make, in which case you need to be able to help support them. At the same time, you can’t be putting a large project on hold every time an existing client wants to update a photo on their homepage. Figuring out how to manage requests for updates, especially small ones, is key to retaining clients. We try to separate these requests in our work queue, and focus specifically on them during designated times throughout the week.

It’s also helpful to determine how often updates/edits will come in with your various clients. Some of our clients require updates on a weekly basis, others we might only make a few small updates a year. As a business owner I have to make certain we’re billing for these on-going edits. For clients with very few updates, we typically bundle that level of support into their monthly hosting fees. For others with more regular updates, we either create service contracts or simply bill hourly, invoicing on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.

If your goal is to not only develop a strong reputation, but also create a solid recurring revenue model via hosting and on-going support to your customers, then retaining those customers has to be a primary focus. We hear all the time from potential clients “our old developer never gets back to us.” While that incorrect photo on our client’s site might seem like a small edit to us, it’s a big problem for them – and respecting that and making sure issues are resolved quickly, either on their end or yours, is key to developing a long-term relationship with that client.

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 Greg is a founder of Theinteractivedept.com , who's built over 30 amazing client web sites using Business Catalyst.


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