Running a small business in any environment offers a number of challenges. In terms of local SEO, what are the challenges that an agency, freelancer, or consultant in this field may face, in addition to their daily tasks?
- Time constraints for managing own marketing and local SEO efforts
- Inability to grow the business as they may wish to due to being overloaded with work
- A need to balance the time spent carrying out services for clients against dealing with enquiries and finding new business
Many challenges, including those above, often interlink and can have consequences for an SEO agency or a freelancer. Efficiency is important in any size agency, but for an SEO it can be even more vital, especially when you are looking to demonstrate the work you have done to your client base. You might need to create monthly or weekly reports on the back of a promise to ‘dramatically improve ROI,’ all while doing the job clients pay for.
You probably use a wide range of tools to help SEO and other technical aspects of the business, but have perhaps not thought of how to streamline your operation itself and make it easier to grow your agency, manage employees, and much more.
Helpdesk software could be a solution worth exploring.
How discovering helpdesk can help you
Using helpdesk software can be a solution for SEO agencies and consultants that are looking to streamline communications with both staff members and clients. A helpdesk solution does represent an additional cost for an SEO, but the time-savings and efficiency gains from using helpdesk software can combine to make it a cost effective solution.
These are popular with larger businesses, and as such, many smaller companies, including local SEO agencies, do not realize the value they could add to their own business. Many view helpdesks as a large business service only. In fact, smaller businesses could definitely benefit from helpdesk software more than larger ones, so long as they understand why they are using it, and know how to make the most of it.
Gain a competitive edge
For an SEO, the greatest competitive edge they can get over similar agencies, freelancers, and larger competitors is often focusing closely on customer service and interaction. At the same time, focusing on keeping your clients updated and constantly interacting with them takes time out of your day when you want to focus on your job; providing quality SEO services and results.
It is something of a business paradox that looking after customers can make you inefficient, but that is where helpdesk software can come in.
Is it better than email?
Some will have read to this point and will be thinking they have email, and that can do these tasks perfectly well. There are a number of differences, however, that make helpdesk software stand out above a traditional email solution:
- Give freelancers or virtual PA’s access accounts to the helpdesk software and what is relevant to them
- Easier tracking of conversations with employees and clients, no more trawling through a cluttered inbox looking for that important message
- Track activity of all freelancers via interactive task lists and time stamping
- Ability to involve as many or as few people in a particular stream as possible
You cannot do any of that if you operate via email; you could give access to your email account if you wanted to, but who would realistically take such a risk? This is why many companies are moving to helpdesk and wiki-based solutions to aid their agency operations.
Who should use helpdesk?
Any agency that wants to improve their customer satisfaction and efficiency would be good candidates for using helpdesk software. Our focus in on SEO agencies who are looking to grow their business, but do not have the time to so because they are currently doing everything for themselves, including all tasks in relation to client liaison.
As there are so many strands to SEO, you will find many freelancers around the world to whom you can outsource specific tasks. Customer interaction is one such task you might outsource; by using a helpdesk software solution, you can easily keep an overview of a situation without having to involve yourself. You could even use people in your company to manage these freelancers, so that you free up even more time to focus on the high-value tasks.
In terms of customers, your freelancer or virtual PA can then deal with any incoming queries from existing customers, pass on enquiries from potential new customers or deal with it themselves, send out reports and regular updates, and any other client-centric tasks that you regularly complete.
Pros and cons of helpdesk software
Before we look at three of the prominent helpdesk solutions available, let us refresh ourselves on the benefits using helpdesk software can bring:
- Ideal for an SEO agency looking to save time, improve efficiency, and grow their business
- Very efficient and cost effective way of managing process in small businesses
- Ability to manage a team of freelancers from one place rather than sending various emails
- Maintain high levels of customer focus and satisfaction from your SEO agency
- Ability to gain a competitive edge in terms of service focus and delivery
- Track conversations with customers and your team at-a-glance
- Respond quickly to customer queries, minimize customer ‘downtime’ and focus on the job
- Use helpdesk software for as few or as many processes and operations as you want, make every aspect of your agency more efficient
In contrast, there are disadvantages you have to deal with:
- Cost associated with using helpdesk software
- Time investment to teach yourself how to use the platform, setting it up, and then training all members of your team
It is probably clear by now just how powerful helpdesk software can be, and the benefits it can bring to an SEO agency or consultant. You can have confidence that the disadvantages we identified will be offset by long-term time-savings and efficiency gains. If it is something you have considered before, or have decided you would like to try it out having read this, here are three to look at.
Zendesk brings together customer queries, whether it come via email, SMS message, or their social media streams. Agencies get a snapshot of what their customers are saying or asking across a variety of categories, meaning that no matter how they are communicating with them, they are able to respond.
You can also pre-load queries and build a knowledge base of FAQs and more so that more of your customers can find answers for themselves, again saving you time. Zendesk allows for hosting conversation streams and simple overview of these, and anyone dealing with a query can access information from across the business.
At the top level, local SEO business owners can track their service metrics via a wide range of data, such as how long it takes a customer to receive a response from you, average time to solve a problem, how often issues recur, and many more.
Zendesk’s account options range from a $20 a year ‘starter’ subscription for new businesses to those ranging from $24 – $119 a month, depending on whether you pay annually or monthly.
Desk is provided by ‘Salesforce,’ which is a larger standalone CRM solution. For simple customer efficiency and dealing with enquiries, Desk is a helpful small business aid. Desk allows you to centralize two email accounts, two Twitter accounts, and two Facebook pages, as well as phone and live chat options.
Branded email response templates are available for an additional $19 a month to put a professional and personal slant on all of your outgoing communications. Service delivery information is available, while admin and agent account options enable business owners to control what freelancers are able to access, it is easy to keep a line between what your in-house employees do, and what freelancers and virtual PA’s see and do, for example.
Should you go for Desk’s knowledge base feature, you can host this encrypted on your site for $69 per month.
For the Desk service itself, there are a number of options. The first person in your business to register is free, with each additional agent $49 per month (currently $29 for a limited time). If you are looking for more flexibility from your helpdesk solution, Desk has an option to pay $1 per hour, per agent, which might work for you depending to what extent you are planning to use the software in your business.
Freshdesk offers a large helpdesk suite, allowing you to bring together emails, instant messages, and social media feedback in a similar manner to the products already analyzed. An added benefit is that you can direct specific things immediately to your email account, or that of someone else in your company, so that you can deal with it urgently. This is perfect for the local SEO agency owner who is happy to take a step back and only get involved when necessary. At the same time, you also have the ability to forward emails that you receive to your Freshdesk system, great for when you email a client from your individual email address once, and then seem to receive all support queries direct!
Freshdesk offers the widest range of subscription options, with advanced features bolted on to the higher end packages, rather than available at an additional, standalone cost.
Their basic package starts free for the first three agents, with additional agents added at $15 per month. From here, a range of options are available up to $49 per month per agent, which can be reduced to $40 should you pay annually.
Freshdesk also allows you to buy a ‘day pass’ should you need to, ideal for if you need a short-term solution to deal with higher than usual demand, for example.
Finding helpdesk software
All of the solutions we have looked at, and many others, provide free trial options so you can get a feel for which helpdesk software will work best for you and your business needs.
It is important to take helpdesk software for what it is – a tool to help streamline your customer interactions and make your business more efficient. It is not an enterprise level CRM solution, and you should not treat it as such. Software such as Salesforce and SugerCRM are available if that is more the service you need.
However, for managing selected aspects of your workload and process, managing freelancers, and interacting with customers so you can focus on other areas of your business, helpdesk software can have a massive positive impact.
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