Remote Working

This week in Virtual Head Office – web support for a large decorating business with a remote working team

This week I thought I would write about one of our newer customers, a painting and decorating business with a team of decorators with a national presence.  This is a slightly larger business than most of the clients that we work with, with a team of just over 20 remote working staff to support.

The team are all based in different areas of the country and the business owner spends his time largely focussing on marketing to bring in new business and then on managing enquiries, chasing up quotes and relaying information to his team of decorators.

We have been working with them for about four months now and it’s been great to hear feedback from this client that already we have made a big difference to both freeing up his own time and speeding up the process of turning around enquiries.

The client has a website already, a huge website in fact with over 600 pages!  The website has good authority and is already doing quite a good job of bringing in enquiries, however, there is much room for improvement on the website.

One of the things we have looked at to date is the way that website visitors actually get in contact with the company.  Previously everything had been coming in centrally to the business owner.  At the point of getting an enquiry he had to look up on his database to see which decorator to allocate the job to, then contact the decorator to contact the person who had made the enquiry.  This was rather a long winded process, time consuming for our business owner, not particularly prompt as far as the person making the enquiry was concerned, and as calls or emails were being returned later the person making the enquiry in turn was not always able to respond to further details to get the ball rolling with the quotation.

We have created a widget to use on his website which has streamlined this process considerably.  The widget contains a map of the UK, linked to Google Maps, it gives the browser the option to either type in their postcode or to hover over the area they want on the map and click on a pin.  With either option when an area is selected the contact details of the decorator in that particular geographic area appear, including phone number (more about the phone later), email address and contact form.

On completing the contact form an email is sent directly to the decorator, copying the business owner in, simply so he is aware that an enquiry has been received, although he does not need to take further action.  The contact form has requested certain information, including requesting photographs, which the decorators are able to quote from without having to visit the premises, even though remote working means they all live nearby to their area, the process is still speeded up by being able to quote from photographs rather than having to visit the premises.  If no photos have been attached, the enquirer will then receive an automated email again asking them to send photographs in.

The appropriate decorator receives the enquiry immediately, and if all the information is not contained the widget has automatically chased this up.  The decorator can now concentrate on sending out the quote.  Our business owner hasn’t had to do anything.

If the person looking at the widget decides to call, they ring the number on the contact form, which is a central number answered by our pay as you go telephone answering service, who will take the details of the caller and then relay the message via email to the relevant decorator if they have further questions to ask.  Again the decorator is being contacted directly very quickly and again the business owner hasn’t had to do anything himself.  Having a central number for a remote working team gives a stable image to the outside world of an office with support staff within it.

Since the new contact form has been implemented on the website decorators are receiving all the information they need on the same day – previously this had been taking up to a week, and had obviously been time consuming for both our business owner and the decorator.

This week, our business owner has asked us to look at a forum that he has as part of the website and create a greater focus on threads with images on, a bit like the way Facebook works so we are working on this currently.  We’ll give you an update on this and will no doubt be blogging about this client again as we do quite a lot of work with them.

Could remote working work for your business?  It’s not always necessary to to take up an office.  Our article on whether to work from home or an office may provide some useful insights.

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