Great news! Your business is growing and you’ve made the decision to bring on your first employee. Adding your first team member is an exciting milestone… but also brings a new set of challenges that you’ll need to consider when it comes to customer and team communications – that’s right, you’re a team now!
Adding an employee can create some confusion if you haven’t properly defined roles and processes. This quick primer can help you get some structure in place to avoid the first employee hiccups and facilitate smooth team communications.
Step 1: Know your Role
The best way to get team communications right from the get go, is to clearly outline who does what, how customer and client inquiries should be handled and by who, and processes for handling communications that fall outside of your guidelines.
From a tech perspective, it’s important to put tools in place that support your division of labor. Make sure your new employee has a business phone number to use, rather than having them use their personal mobile number when handling your business. This not only helps to establish the professionalism of your business, but it makes sure all customer or client communications stay “on-net.”
One key solution to consider, is setting up an IVR or auto-attendant. This lets you set call routing rules based on how you’ve decided to handle inbound communications, so you make it easy for your clients and customers to connect with the right person on your team from the get-go. It’s also relatively inexpensive to get additional phone numbers so you can set up a dedicated number for existing customer support, and another number for new customer inquiries if you want to have separate numbers for each.
Step 2: Set Boundaries
As a business owner, you decide how you want calls handled and when. For instance, say your first employee works part-time, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. You don’t want calls to that team member to go unanswered on Tuesday and Thursday. Setting up auto-replies in your system can prevent delays in team communication to customers. Just make sure that the solution that you’re using is easy to manage, so you can make any changes or updates easily as your business evolves.
Another boundary to consider is when you want your employee answering calls. For instance, you may decide that all after hours calls should go directly to voicemail, and you don’t want them ringing your employee. Using a team communications solution with business hours settings lets you decide how calls are handled depending on when they are received, and are customizable based on your business needs.
Step 3: Share the Load
As you define out who does what, there may well be certain areas where both you and your employee need to communicate as a team. The ability to share a phone number with your team member, where you can see every call and text, and either one of you can answer calls and respond to messages, allows for faster responses to customers.
For example, if a client texts you and you’re busy with another customer, using a shared company number will make it so that your employee can respond right away, without needing to set up a group text. You can see everything that happened in the conversation so you can pick up the thread as soon as you’re available.
Shared numbers also ensure that you have visibility into the tone of customer interactions, so you can confirm that your employee’s communication style and messaging is consistent with your business values – and provide coaching early on as necessary.
Step 4: Delegate, but Maintain Visibility
Even though you’re delegating responsibility and sharing the load with your employee, you still want to make sure you keep control of your business and team communications. If you decide to let your employee use their personal mobile number for business calls and texts, you essentially lose visibility (and control) over those customer communications. Should customers start calling and texting your employee directly, you have no idea that the exchanges are happening. And if the employee leaves, they may take all that customer data with them, which puts your revenue at risk.
Even if you’re just a team of two (for now), you need to implement a business communication solution that keeps business calls and text on your business platform – separate from personal conversations. This not only helps with maintaining an accurate view of your customer roster, but also ensures that you maintain those critical boundaries noted earlier.
Step 5: Don’t Go for Broke
Adding a new employee is already a big expense for your business. Getting that person the tools they need to succeed shouldn’t be a barrier.
The problem is, many of the tools out there for team communications come with a hefty price tag – upwards of $30 per user – and still don’t include the things you need, like shared numbers and the ability to text-enable your existing business phone number. Look for a solution that’s lightweight and easy to implement – you shouldn’t need an IT consultant to get up and running.
App-centric, mobile-first solutions can be easily installed on existing smartphones and laptops, so you don’t have to buy any dedicated hardware out of the gate. Another big bonus of this mobile-first approach, is that you can let your employee work remotely if your business model allows – a big recruiting bonus since 59 percent of employees indicated that they’d be more likely to choose an employer who offered remote work, and finding good employees is more challenging than ever.
Cloudli TalkNText was designed with growing small businesses in mind. It lets you easily (and cost-effectively) add new users, share numbers, text with customers, and leverage advanced features like business hours and auto-attendant, so you can put your best foot forward without breaking the bank. Try it free for 7 days and see what a team communications tool can do for your SMB.