Often we use our blog to give you tips helping you market your business online or improve your use of WordPress. Today though I’m going to share with you something a little different. For more years that I care to recall I’ve worked on the Internet, more often than not that means literally online for every minute of my working day. In that time both myself and the other guys at The DMA have tried a lot of online systems, so we thought we would give you some insight in how we run our business today and the online tools that we use.
I’m going to avoid all the “cloud computing” hype although that’s exactly what I’m talking about. eMail is a service that you’ve all probably been using for as many years as you have been connected to the net. And for all of that time it’s been a cloud service as per today’s definition. The idea though is relevant in that many of the tools that we use today don’t store data on our local computers, it’s held on computers, far flung around the net, operated by disparate companies.
So, hands up if you hate eMail?
Yes I’ve got both hands in the air.
I won’t get into all my pet hates (people who CC their entire team I’m looking at you… ), instead let’s focus on the problems that can be solved. Since this is a show and tell on how we work let’s look at the situation at The DMA. We all have individual email addresses but for support and accounts we wanted to have email boxes that are shared between our team.
Some of the features we wanted:
- mail box(es) that everyone in the team could access
- a way of archiving eMail conversations centrally (not in individual people’s mailbox)
- ability to assign problems or questions to the person that can respond
Conquering eMail with Help Scout
Help Scout is web based, so it just works in any web browser including on devices like an iPad or smart phone.
It takes the place of your email client (ie Outlook or Apple Mail) and once setup it connects to your eMail hosting provider and pulls email in directly. The interface is very intuitive in many ways mimicking a normal eMail program with the first obvious difference being that it’s multi-user.
It’s pretty obvious from this screen shot what is going on, looks familiar huh?
What are the benefits?
Ok, well first up it solves all of the above mentioned items for us. All of the eMail goes to a central tool rather than sitting in separate Inboxes, one of our team is not in for the day the message does not hide from the rest of us.
If you’re not the right person to be answering a query you can assign the eMail to anther user. You can tag an eMail with a keyword so later you can see messages that are all about a similar topic.
And, you can add notes. This is the one feature that I love. Instead of CCing a load of your team members to keep them in the loop you just add a note to the eMail so everyone can see the history – this feature alone saves us all a lot of time.
Want to know who’s doing all of the hard work?
Reports in Help Scout answer this call.
You can see how many eMails each user has been involved in as well as statistics like time taken to respond and mark an eMail as closed. Also the by product of this is you actually track how much support or how many enquires you and your team are handling.
And… It’s cheap!
Compared to more complex Help Desk solutions Help Scout is really accessible. It starts with a free option for up to 3 users and then moves to $15 user / month. For all its benefits not really much of an expense at all.
So if I’ve got you thinking about your situation, the thing to do is check their website. It’s very well laid out, view it at HelpScout.net, check out the video on the home page as well as their nice overview on how the system works here.