In need of website support? Here’s what you need to know.
March 22, 2017
At the beginning of 2015, we made a major shift in our business model based on a demand from our customers and it led to the creation of our Long-term Engagement Team (LTE). Our LTE group focuses on improving customer experience during, in between, and after projects by providing continued month to month website support on projects large and small. Through these partnerships, we realized that it’s not just tech that’s important but understanding who are clients are, what they need, and the type of experience and interactions they want to have with GeekHive.
We thought it was high time we sat down with Director of Long-term Engagement Tim Butler, who has been a part of the group from the beginning. This interview is a part of our GeekHive interview series, which includes interviews with our Chief Technology Officer Jay Oliver and our Director of Technology Kevin Varley. These in-depth interviews (with team members who have helped shape the culture and direction of our organization for years) are meant to give you an insider’s view into what GeekHive offers, how we operate, how we think, and what sets us apart from our competitors.
Read on to learn more about our Long-term Engagement Team and what you can expect when you hire a support team.
Tim, how did the LTE group come about at GeekHive?
Honestly, because we noticed a need for it in the marketplace. With a closer eye on internal budgets emphasized through our GGOB practices, we recognized the importance of recurring revenue from retainer based projects.
We knew we needed to do something to build up this side of the business with the primary goal of providing our clients with a great experience. We weren’t quite sure what we were getting into and although there have been a few bumps along the way, the plan has worked and proven extremely valuable. As the saying goes, “a good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.”
How have you developed your team over the last few years?
The reason for building out the LTE division at GeekHive was to have dedicated resources that are focused on making the web a better place. We built the team around the concept of being proactive. We aren’t a team of developers waiting for the next fire alarm to sound, we prevent the fires. Our success starts with building the foundation – TRUST. And our clients trust us because we take care of things so they don’t have to worry.
What is important for clients to know before hiring a support team?
We want you to know what we know, so we don’t dance around issues. We won’t always deliver good news, but know that when there is bad news to deliver, we are already working on a resolution. The trust we build shows clients we have their best interests in mind, and also gives us access to find the sparks before they turn into a 5-alarm fire.
When do clients usually approach you about doing this type of work?
We’ve had clients engage us at all stages of the development workflow. Being introduced early in the project so we can immerse ourselves in the client’s business objectives and help shape their future digital strategy is the best case scenario.
We even have clients that come to us initially for a new project then turn into support clients once their project goes live. In these cases, since we built their initial installation we’ve become experts in their business needs and tools and are essentially an extension of their team at this point. It’s a wonderful benefit for them.
On the flip side, we’ve had plenty of clients come to us when their roof is already on fire. When we are thrown into a fire-type situation we excel at determining the root cause and extinguishing it. This fast application of our technical skills often leads to future assignments. At the very least, we build rapport with a client who knows they can come to us when a problem arises in the future.
What advice do you have for someone looking to hire a support team?
It is very important to make sure we are a good fit, both as it relates to our technology expertise and more importantly, our cultures and values. We are hopefully going to be working together for awhile, talking weekly, perhaps even daily. Compatible company temperaments are crucial!
My goal is to provide great experiences, both externally and internally. The entire client journey has to be seamless. If my team grumbles every time a new task is asked of them, then it’s going to be difficult to achieve success. It’s very important that the relationship is dynamic, with both parties contributing to the success of our objective.
Full disclosure – I’m going to be asking myself the same questions about you!
What can someone expect once they start working with a support team?
Whether you set up a contract to receive 20 hours of support monthly or 80 hours, you’ll have a small group of dedicated developers available to work through any site objectives or site issues that arise. The benefit of having a small team is that they won’t rotate out, and will become an expert in your product. Also, having a cohesive set of developers makes it easy to pick up where they left off from month to month without any ramp up time.
We’ll get you set up with a project in Jira so you can monitor progress and we’ll schedule daily or weekly check-ins to give you updates and get your feedback in terms of changing objectives. We’re always available for questions and are very flexible in our approach so we can tend to each of our support clients needs.
Why did GeekHive decide to make this team their own division instead of having everyone do this type of work?
We never wanted anything to get in the way of supporting our clients. Having that dedicated team means they are never competing for time based on the projects we are engaged in. Once we have a contract of hours in place, they receive that monthly, no matter what. In addition, there are the other benefits mentioned above.
What is the main challenge of doing this type of work?
Building a “support team” that felt like they were actually bettering the web was certainly a challenge. The old adage is that no developer likes to work on support or maintenance work. Who wants to spend any time fixing other developers code issues?
I understand the want to work on something new. To build shiny new things… but if you dissect that mentality – the want and desire to constantly use the latest technology or be the first to build upon the newest coding standard – it plays largely into why so many sites are built so poorly and require teams like ours to fix them.
What excites you about being a part of this team?
There’s a lot I enjoy, I like that there’s never a dull moment, every day is different than the last, we get to problem solve and use our brains daily, and we really get to know our clients and develop an understand of their goals so we can be a part of the solution.
What is the best compliment you’ve ever received from a client?
It’s always great when the full team gets recognized for their efforts. Always nice when a client recognizes that “we couldn’t have done this without you!” (And yes, an actual client has said that to me!)
That said, the best compliment I can get is having a client ask us to perform or fix something else… because that means they trust us and value our partnerships enough to give us more work.
Can you tell us about a time when support work saved a client from a big problem?
Providing ongoing support for clients, you are in a position to see and assist a wide variety of systems and touchpoints. Having insight into the full landscape of a client’s digital eco-system, not just focusing on one system, enables us to serve and help shape our client’s future digital roadmap.
Being proactive in nature, there are many times we have been able to assess the current platform and identify legacy components that are nearing the end of the supported shelf-life and swap them out for more current services before any major issues arise.
Again, our objective in working with our long-term clients is to prevent failures before they become major problems. Proactive, not reactive.
What is the biggest takeaway you’ve learned from doing this type of work over the last few years?
Communication is key. Overcommunicate!
Does your team have a motto?
Ha, not officially, but we should! I read an article the other day about the changing landscape of service (experience) companies that emphasized the importance of relationships in building long-term clients. Kind of a no brainer but stealing something from that article, which resonates with my team’s objective…ALWAYS BE HELPING. My job is to make my client’s job easier, and the only way I can do that is by building the trust needed to build a relationship where they can rely on us to put their best interests first and get the job done on their behalf.
If you’re interested in learning more about how our Long-term Engagement Team may be able to help you, contact us here to learn more.
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