Becoming a fully remote agency can be challenging. But what happens when your customers, partners, contractors and vendors go all-remote at once too?
Since mid-March, companies all over the world have moved to remote work to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. To understand how teams are continuing to bridge the distance, we’ve been interviewing organisations that collaborate with their clients via Slack Connect, the secure way to work with multiple organisations in the same Slack channel and Slack workspace.
Three global agencies discuss their strategies for fostering a more collaborative partnership with clients.
Inviting clients into the creative collaboration process
Crema, a Kansas City, Missouri-based digital product agency, collaborates with its clients by connecting in channels at every step of the mobile app and website-development process.
‘Most clients give you work and expect you to come back a few weeks later when it’s done. Sharing Slack channels allows us to pull clients into the process. If we can make decisions faster, we can deliver their products faster.’
Crema creates two channels per client. The first is an internal channel of the form
#client-name. That’s where Crema and the client can come together to discuss design or development needs. Once they decide on next steps, those decisions are brought to life in
George Brooks, Crema’s CEO, says one of the biggest advantages of communicating in channels is how easy it is to connect the company’s tech stack right in Slack. Crema relies heavily on Zoom, especially now that most teams are working remotely. ‘It’s been our bread and butter lately,’ he says. ‘It’s so easy to spin up a Zoom call with the /Zoom command in Slack.’
Bookkeepers enjoy a 43% reduction in client response time
Headquartered near Queensland, Australia, IQ Accountants offers accounting, bookkeeping, tax consultations and business development services to organisations around the world. To sidestep email and complex, paper-driven processes, the team turned to Slack to collaborate with its clients.
IQ Accountants currently uses 30 channels to keep in touch with bookkeeping clients. Managing partner Kyelie Baxter says the company has seen a 43% reduction in response time – from seven days to three – since it began sharing channels with clients.
‘When we’re processing our client’s work, we might find that they’re missing a bank statement or haven’t uploaded a tax invoice,’ Baxter says. ‘Now we can just Slack them and ask, “Can you please upload this invoice?” Previously, we were having those conversations over email, and the response time was so slow.’
Baxter explains that Australia’s tax system requires organisations to log quarterly and monthly activity statements. When paperwork is disorganised, deadlines can easily turn into a race against time. ‘Sometimes we only get 21 days to complete the process, but clients don’t send us information until day 14,’ she says, ‘which leaves us with seven days to do all of the work. Being able to communicate in Slack helps us get ahead of the deadlines.’
Reducing email clutter is the greatest advantage of sharing a channel with clients, Baxter says. Before Slack, IQ Accountants would receive on average 20 emails a day from clients during peak season. Now it’s down to just one or two.
‘Clients are much more responsive in our channel with them. That’s a win for us because it increases our efficiency in getting the job done. It’s also a win for the client because it decreases frustration and gets their work done faster.’
Using channels to pivot between multiple client projects
Spark 64 is an Auckland, New Zealand-based consulting agency that helps clients enhance their business with AI technology, from conversational chatbots to image-recognition tools and business intelligence.
Ming Cheuk, Spark 64’s co-founder and CTO, explains how his teams share channels with clients to keep communication organised. Channels are typically named by project – for example,
#smartsense-project. The company uses these channels to document:
- Key project decisions
- Meeting notes from video conferences
- Status meetings
- Follow-up questions about requirements and dependencies
Cheuk says channels help Spark 64 work on multiple projects for the same client at the same time, including an instance when a client’s first project required less assistance across the Spark 64 team. For this project, the developers used the client’s channel primarily for progress updates, answering questions and scheduling in-person meetings.
That project was already mid-flight when the client requested another project with simultaneous deadlines. The second project required a tighter integration with the client’s core development team, so this time, the new channel had many more participants, such as engineers from various teams. Being able to spin up individual channels for each project helped Spark 64 keep conversations and information organised.
‘For both projects, we reduced the emails to virtually zero,’ Cheuk says. ‘Slack was our primary means of communication aside from weekly in-person meetings, and it worked seamlessly.’
‘Talking to a client by connecting in a channel was as easy as talking to someone internally, without having to jump workspaces. The ability to private-message people from another organisation helped take lengthy discussions offline.’
Channels open doors to more effective communication
Whether you’re new to remote work or a seasoned pro, collaborating with Slack Connect can bring everyone closer together – from internal teammates to external partners. And when clients have an opportunity to weigh in on key decisions and deliverables mid-project, teams can co-create better outcomes.