Streamlining and Improving through Automation
Front Office can be a hectic place in any children’s activity center.
It is the hub of organization for your business, so it is important that you don’t let hectic turn into chaos.
First of all, it is important to have organized and professional people who know your business working in your Front Office. If you don’t unleash information into your Front Office staff’s hands, you are constantly going to be interrupted with questions.
Secondly, it is important to provide tools that help mitigate chaos in your Front Office and enable your staff to be efficient and effective.
Thirdly, do whatever you can to raise your level of service in your Front Office area.
Here are six tips that will help you apply some simple policies that will not only improve service but it will also present your organization in the most professional light.
- Greet everyone that comes in the door – by name if possible. Using a professional, proactive greeting as they approach the desk such as “Hi – How may I help you?” Never wait for them to ask for help. They may not always know what they need.
- Never keep customers waiting – whether on the phone or in person. Customer questions and conversations take precedence. Answer the phone on the first ring and always answer customers’ questions immediately in person.
- Respect their time and be real. Keep it short and informative. There aren’t many things, besides emergency situations, that should distract you from the customer standing right in front of you, on the phone or on hold, or the one waiting on an email response.
- Don’t take or make personal phone calls when you could be helping customers. Helping them always comes first. Check phone messages often and answer them as soon as you possibly can.
- Make those who have the best phone presence your primary phone staff, but also train everyone else in best phone practices and etiquette.
- Pitch in to help when the Front Office is hectic. Whether with phones or heavy office traffic, it is always better to have a live people talking to customers than forcing them to wait or deal with voice mail.
Go back to that second item – providing tools that support the efforts of your Front Office staff. This is where technology can really be a game-changer. There are several management systems that help organizations to be better at what they do. The trick is to be sure you choose the one that gives you ways to be better at what you do AND spend less to do it.
Automation not only eliminates mundane processes from your Front Office staff’s daily responsibilities but also makes your data more accurate. Billing, registration, employee time tracking and bar code attendance tracking are critical business areas that automation can be applied to make your Front Office more efficient.
Automated billing processes not only eliminate time-consuming manual processes, but improve cash flow and collection issues by making sure that you get your money at the same time every month.
Online registration tools give you an easy way to offer as much of your curriculum as you want via your website and customers always available registration options. No more wondering class availabilities and options, no more waiting in lines, no more worries of getting your child in the right class – no more of any of the inconveniences and issues of manual registration processes. Online registration gives organizations overnight 24-7 availability without requiring more staff resources.
Employee time tracking with time clock features turns time tracking over to employees, requiring you simply to approve and send the details on to QuickBook – or to your account. This helps eliminate mundane paperwork and helps to reduce the billable hours from your accountant.
Portal access – that puts ordering and payment processing into the hands of parents – also opens up an avenue to provide self-serve information to parents. This can be huge for your Front Office because it cuts down on phone traffic that usually comes at already hectic registration or event times.
Activity-specific modules can also help to reduce chaos in the Front Office. Costume and recital management provides automation and minimizes errors. Point of Sale tools give organizations the inventory tracking and payment tools they need to sell items that students want and need for classes without causing a tremendous impact to staff.
The real beauty of supporting your Front Office staff with technology is that they have newly-found time to spend nurturing relationships with your customers and helping to execute the marketing activities that you now have time to plan. Instead of just keeping your head above water in running your business, you finally can move through what is tactical to work on strategic activities that will attract new families and grow your business!