Founder: Pashmina Lalchandani, Owner
Company: Flow Simple
ABOUT FLOW SIMPLE
Flow Simple promises “headache free” online marketing for business owners. They provide paid search management (PPC) including Google Adwords, Bing Ads and Facebook, Google Analytics support and reporting, local search optimization, reputation and social media management, and website presence management. Flow Simple has been a Certified Google Partner since 2008, and prides itself on offering the best service and client experience.
About Pashmina Lalchandani
Pashmina Lalchandani is a leader in paid search and online marketing, as well as user experience strategy–and she’s a certified expert in Google AdWords and Google Analytics. She has a proven track record of helping individuals grow their business through online marketing and search ads, serving local, nonprofit, e-commerce and national clients. In 2010, Pashmina founded Flow Simple to manage online marketing efforts for local business owners.
How do you instill the message of “flow simple” in your own organization’s workday?
I’m a big fan of efficiency. We use many tools and processes to eliminate confusion and our reliance on email. Email can be a waste of time. Keeping our inbox clutter free is important and a good way to increase flow. I’m vigilant about a clean inbox, I constantly unsubscribe from emails to keep noise down to a minimum (Right Inbox and Unroll.me help) and I’ve instilled this practice in my team. The tools we use are all simple; processes and tasks are often automated, or can be done with one click, and are easy to adapt to because they create a more efficient way of getting things done.
The automated approach you apply to internal workflows is not the same approach you take when dealing with your customers. Can you explain that?
We’re service-oriented and we deal with a smaller customer pipeline, so we are very high-touch when it comes to our clients. Our clients appreciate that they have a single point of contact. They have an expert they know by name who understands their business, their goals and their history. Even in terms of customer acquisition, we don’t use analytics or do much online marketing. Most of our clients come to us through word of mouth and networking.
You mentioned that, when it comes to customers, you try to avoid technology.
We try to avoid email. I’m a huge believer in handling as much as we can by phone. Issues can be dealt with faster with less misunderstanding, and you build better rapport with your client over time. This also goes for sales. We don’t do any drip marketing or automate the follow up process. That’s one of the reasons we love Grasshopper: If someone calls, it rings every person in the company. It’s not often that we let our calls go to voicemail, and definitely never to an automated phone tree. Study after study proves that if you answer the phone, the person is more likely to do business with you. Everyone on my team is qualified, so I’m OK if anyone talks to any one of my clients or a new lead.
So what are your thoughts on customer support software?
I think personal relationships are lost in software. No one understands how to tailor their language or answers to their customer anymore. We’ve structured our company so that each client has a specific manager. This is more useful than just going into a support bucket where no one knows the history of the client, or knows how to talk to that particular client. When there’s an automated support system in place, it can become more about closing out the ticket, not hearing the customer and solving their issue. As much as I love the apps we use, almost all of them fail at effective customer support. Only FreshBooks and Moz are good at support.
You have an interesting approach to project management. Can you explain that?
It’s not about who gets what done, as long as everything gets done. Most tools force (or previously forced) you to assign each task to a specific person. I chose to use Teamwork Projects a few years back because, if I want, I can leave tasks open to “Anyone.” Any team member can claim a task, or take care of whatever is most pressing, which is great. On the one hand, I know people are motivated because they are self managing and assigning things to themselves, and on the other it’s nice that my team can also pick things to work on that they are passionate about. We primarily rely on Teamwork for our day-to-day workflow.
How much of a factor is cost as you select tools and services for Flow Simple?
It really depends on how much. If a tool costs under $200 a month, to me, it doesn’t matter. On more expensive tools, if it truly makes your working easier or that much more efficient, just do it. As we’ve grown, price has become less of an issue, but I also generally favor the tools that give an annual discount. Once I know I like the tool and I’m not going to cancel, I save a lot by switching over to an annual plan.
Want to learn what tools Flow Simple is using?