A mate of mine commented on facebook the other day “It’s 11am and I’ve already had 87 emails to action this morning”. I’m sure this is a situation many of us had experienced at work. Many of these email were updates, questions and simple file shares from colleagues, but in email they all still require the same amount of attention regardless of the topic or reason. He would still have to click each one to determine what to do with them.
How do you communicate with your team and more importantly your cleaners in the field?
If you work in a remote team, as many of our supervisors, area managers and cleaners and community members do, it’s likely you’ve struggled with clear communication with your team. As your business has grown, you’ve found that your team communications are becoming increasingly cluttered and hard to keep track of in email inboxes.
At times, you just need to send a simple message to each other or to a cleaner to update them on the progress of some company task. Many cleaning businesses are still doing this via email, Skype, and even SMS.
Here’s the Problem
We need more transparency. Our need to know what is being discussed. Our team all need to be on the same page.
Because it helps our team if everyone is made aware of what’s going on in all sides of the business in order to either interject, ask a question, or for individuals to plan their own work around what was being done elsewhere.
The software industry is becoming particularly good at communicating with their teams, and it’s not by email as you may think. Why, am I even discussing software businesses when we are interested in communicating with cleaners in the field. Well, for many software companies there team is often made up of Contractors and Employees spread across the country and the globe. I don’t think cleaning businesses are too dissimilar.
As an industry are usually a mix of Contractors and Employees and for many, this spread of people stretches well past our local suburb. Many cleaning companies are looking to operate not only interstate but internationally especially between the likes of Australia and New Zealand.
So what are the tools that software teams are using to communicate?
Well we are using Online Instant Messaging tools, rather than SMS and email. So what are the benefits of instant messaging tools and why would I want my team using them. When we think of online messaging, we can think it’s just a way our team could waste time chatting online, but when we use them correctly in business it closes the gap between our teams.
So SMS or Short Messaging Service was wonderful in it’s day, and we rely on it so heavily, but the issue is, that SMS is only recorded on the devices of the 2 people messaging. SMS is primarily built to be used from one person to another. It’s really cumbersome if you want to send SMS to a team. Even if you do send group SMS well, it doesn’t allow for those receiving the message to see what the others on the blast responded with.
Which is why email became the Go To tool. A simple CC, got everyone involved and collaborating well. What we’ve seen, is though that our inboxes are getting full, and real collaboration over a long period time becomes a mess of emails back and forth that unless you read the email live as they come through, it take forever to read through and catch up on the conversation.
So, this is where Chat comes in. Rather than treating each communication as a transaction like SMS and Email, chat places all comments and messages within the same feed. It also allows us to bring teams into different rooms or channels to discuss items just based on a topic, department or group.
Let’s put this in Context.
The chat program we love and have seen working great for mobile businesses is one called Slack. So how, does a cleaning company use a tool like Slack.
Slack communications happen all in one place and can be segmented by creating Channels for various topics. You can assign your users to as many (or as few) channels as you need in order to keep topics visible to the team members you want to see any individual topic.
This ensures everyone who needs to know, knows.
In a Cleaning Business we would think of Channels similar to Sites. So you may have 50 sites you service, therefor have 50 Channels. Each Channel, will have a registered group of Users/Cleaners that can communicate and chat within that Channel.
So think about a Site you service, with 8 cleaners onsite, a supervisor and maybe an area supervisor. Slack allows you to simply post a message inside the Channel, which will instantly notify all the members of the message and allows them to respond and see other’s responses.
Use Case: A client calls and says that there has been an update to the Entry Procedure for Site. All you would do is open the Channel relating to that Site and post the details in that channel. Without needing to contact the team individually, the team can then respond, ask questions all within the Slack, and see the other teams members responses and questions. So now, our team onsite, are now communicating freely and easily between themselves, the mobile managers and the admin and office staff.
What the best thing about Slack is that for so many user it’s FREE.
So what other tools should you check out if you think the team chat would really help your business.