DOTW: Client Management! What do you use? (Participation = 3+ Hero Points)

This is a DOTW topic I don’t have much first hand experience with as I’ve mostly built sites for myself or projects I was involved in rather than as a freelancer or web dev firm. So, I’ll get straight to it.

1. How do you manage clients? Do you use a service? Simple contact list? Pen and paper? :smiley:
2. What would you consider the pros and cons of your method/service?
3. What features do you wish the service you use had? (Bonus 3 Hero Points)
4. What features do you consider essential for client management? (Bonus 3 Hero Points)

Many of you may have already seen in the forums or on our product roadmap that we’re working on The Hub 2.0 and it will come with a bunch more features, especially around site management. That got us thinking about client management as they often go hand in hand. We know some other WP services have already added some client management features, would be interesting to hear from anyone already using others and what your ideal client management platform would be?

Please do keep in mind this won’t be part of the initial Hub 2.0 release. This is more discussing ideas/plans for after that, possibly Hub 2.1, so things can change but I'm really interested in hearing what you all think about this :slight_smile: and also what you currently use for client management. Would you want client management to be part of the WPMU DEV service?

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-At least one comment = 3 Hero Points(must participate within 7 days of thread post date)
-Question #3 and #4 = 3 more Hero Points EACH
-DOTW = Discussion of the Week
-Last DOTW: WORDCAMPS AND MEETUPS! GOOD OR BAD EXPERIENCE?

PS. Thanks to everyone who has been participating in the DOTW’s! We’ve had a lot of great feedback and conversations so far. Some weeks I know I'm not as active in these as I'd like to be but I do read every single reply! Planning on making a DOTW specific subforum soon and moving all the past DOTW's into it so they are easy to find for everyone. That will also mean being able to subscribe to DOTW's specifically.

  • Bernard

    Hi there,
    I think this is a nice discussion to talk about, so thank you in advance!

    1. How do you manage clients? Do you use a service? Simple contact list? Pen and paper?
    I manage my clients with my classic Mac address book, so not really with special equipment. To make a bill, I use free online tools (rompslomp.nl). I send monthly reports to the client using the WPMUDEV tools.
    2. What would you consider the pros and cons of your method/service?
    I have a good billing administration with this method.
    3. What features do you wish the service you use had? (Bonus 3 Hero Points)
    I wish the WPMUDEV tools were completely translated and are more variable so my clients would believe I type them personally. Further, I do not believe it is possible to send reports to clients I put on a multisite?
    4. What features do you consider essential for client management? (Bonus 3 Hero Points)
    I believe it is essential to stay in contact with clients. For example, it would be great to send an email directly to the client on a preset date to stay in contact and to discuss evolutions and suggestions for the website.

    • Tyler Postle

      I wish the WPMUDEV tools were completely translated and are more variable so my clients would believe I type them personally.

      Bernard what else do you want to be translated? Or you just mean more languages translated for Reports?

      and as for more variable, we have that planned for Reports 2.0. It is still a little ways off at this point as we need to re-design the UI to fit everything in.

      Further, I do not believe it is possible to send reports to clients I put on a multisite?

      Not right now, but very soon! Likely as soon as next week :slight_smile:

  • PlusMuchMore

    1. How do you manage clients? Do you use a service? Simple contact list? Pen and paper?
    Just starting to use WHMCS.

    "Optimize and automate your business with the WHMCS billing and automation platform. The easiest way to run a web hosting business."

    2. What would you consider the pros and cons of your method/service? Professional looking, easy to use, all automated, however - a fairly long learning curve and you have to spend a little time, it's not FREE OR even cheap. but does have low-cost version (mine was free as part of a reseller hosting package from Name Hero - a very advanced Hosting Company.

    3. What features do you wish the service you use had? (Bonus 3 Hero Points). I have not come to anything yet that I need except maybe a more friendly customer support system like WPMUDEV has.

    4. What features do you consider essential for client management? (Bonus 3 Hero Points)
    Patient, more knowledgeable and sympathetic support staff for us newbies. I never feel any hesitation to call on wpmudev support even at 3 or 4 in the morning (my time) but I sure do at Name Hero. But they have only been at it for 3 years or so. I like the CEO's video presentations and he makes all kinds of videos to talk to us. That's not what happens with WPMUDEV. I hardly see anything from him like he's on too important business elsewhere. He does, however, have many fine presenters with personality and most importantly, the knowledge and confidence to be the 'goto' you want to listen to (and follow their advice). I do have to say WPMUDEV has become the benchmark for me. Even though I've been sick a lot these past two years I stayed with my membership. Many other suppliers I had during this time it was NOT HARD to let them go. They were a dime a dozen type that I could easily replace.

    Not so WPMUDEV. Even though I could have taken a "holiday" from the service I quickly decided not too. I class the company, my friend and partner.

  • James Farmer

    Really interesting! Keep up the great feedback & ideas.

    Especially keen to know how you think WPMU DEV can supplement your other tools... like where are the gaps that we can fill for you (as opposed to, say, trying to be trello or sprout).

    And I'm definitely around :slight_smile: Just not that good at useful videos, too focused on trying to make WPMU DEV a better service and suite of products for ya!

  • Baldafrican

    Hey Tyler Postle

    This weeks topic will surely provide very useful info for us all. Thanks for that!

    1. Use a combination of software. WaveApps for invoicing. 1Password for logins. Hub and InfiniteWP to manage sites.

    2. Pros is that the software is all great and easy to use. The Con is having to log into every platform to get things done.

    3. I wish that the hub had the following features;
    a. Secure section to allow clients/collaborators to view the site and manage their access from the hub.
    b. Access to the WP admin dashboard without having to enter login credentials. Maybe use google authenticator or a better solution rather then the user having to look for the login credentials when trying to make an update that the hub does not perform for whatever reason (eg: Divi theme)
    c. Ability to create a staging site from the hub.
    d. Allow us to update staging and live sites separately or together from the hub.

  • Greg

    Great topic !

    1. How do you manage clients?

    I am part of a coop, therefore they provide all the invoicing tools.
    As far as CRM is concerned, I developped my own interface on a private WP site, so that I have all the data and functions tailored to my needs. Real time saver !

    2. What would you consider the pros and cons of your method/service?

    Pros : it is 100% free and tailored to my needs
    Cons : it is quite a lot of work to set-up and there are technical limits

    3. What features do you wish the service you use had? (Bonus 3 Hero Points)

    A built in mail client that allows me to follow client conversations from within the CRM.
    I think that the most important feature of all is the ability to create custom and tailored views and reports.

    4. What features do you consider essential for client management? (Bonus 3 Hero Points)

    A well-structured database. Often, I've seen compagnies change CRM or accounting software. When you have a clean and neat database, maintenance and upgrades are so much easier.

    On the other end, on a poorly managed system, every update is long and risky.

  • Mohamed

    Hi Tyler Postle ,
    Thank you for interseting and valuable topic
    Actually I started related topic : How to customers support ?

    1. How do you manage clients? Do you use a service? Simple contact list? Pen and paper? :smiley:

    Support
    Recently , I migrate to AgileCRM .
    Accounting
    WaveAPP
    Payment
    Payoneer
    Wordpress Managment
    ManageWP , And start try HUB

    2. What would you consider the pros and cons of your method/service?

    Pros :
    AgileCRM : Multi platform for marketing , sales and support
    WaveAPP : Amazing in accounting
    Payoneer : Powerful , simple and supported in my country
    ManageWP : Powerful incremental backup
    Cons

    Many Apps :slight_frown: I hope to do everything in single place , I know each one good in somethingso may be integration will be good solution
    Payment : Payoneer is perfect but I need to be more automated and support direct payment online from my website for example
    HUB : Is good idea but bad in organzing , backup ( take a space and consume more resources ), limited to WPMU DEV plugins , no integrations , no team.

    3. What features do you wish the service you use had?

    All-In-One Solution
    Accept Payment using Payonner
    Integrations
    Addons (even with extra money )

    4. What features do you consider essential for client management?

    Powerfull White-label reports ( Integrate with Google Analytics )
    Internal Support System
    Integration with payment method
    Integration with Accounting app

  • Fabio Fava

    1. How do you manage clients? Do you use a service? Simple contact list? Pen and paper?

    Well, I've started my WordPress Managed Hosting Service not to be huge, but to offer very fast hosting for my brazilian clients, with an affordable cost. So I have only a couple clients for now, that allows me to pay the hosting fees. I still pay by myself the Plugin/Services Licenses.

    2. What would you consider the pros and cons of your method/service?

    My project is to grow very slowly, yet keeping the very fast access to my clients. And mainly because if I grow slowly I can keep both tracking of each client, but also person-to-person support, wich I see as the main differential of my platform.

    3. What features do you wish the service you use had? (Bonus 3 Hero Points)

    I wish The Hub 2.0 (WPMU DEV is my Service Provider) could manage the Multi Network Environment I use, and also have The Shipper handling Local-to-Production-to-Local in a seamless way so I can focus on growing up a bit more my platform.

    4. What features do you consider essential for client management? (Bonus 3 Hero Points)

    I think the "big thing" is the support: that's one of the main diferentials of WPMU DEV. So I prefer to grow slowly (or even not grow) if I have to offer a slow server, or automated/outsourced support. I know that if it "takes-off" I'll have to review my policy. But for now it's pretty ok for me.

    Cheers!

    • Tyler Postle

      I wish The Hub 2.0 (WPMU DEV is my Service Provider) could manage the Multi Network Environment I use

      You mean having them displayed separate in the Hub? Yeah, that wouldn't be easy since it's still technically one install and a lot of stuff is shared across the network. Sounds like you've made it into a Multi-Network too? Which adds even further complexity to it. With that said, we'll always be keeping Multisite in mind when improving The Hub. Next up on that subject is Hub Reports subsite support, which you may have seen me mention earlier - on the way very soon.

      Glad so many members see support as being so important to their service :slight_smile: we of course do too. Closer to Hub 2.0 we'll have to have a dedicated DOTW on that topic and see how we can improve that side of the experience for you all.

  • Matthew

    Wow this is a great topic! Thanks for the opportunity for us all to learn from one another about how to successfully manage clients.

    1. How do you manage clients? Do you use a service? Simple contact list? Pen and paper? :smiley:
    Basically, I just use the contacts on my phone and name all clients DNA! They have a special ringtone also, the Apple Ring of Death. And I send large men to their places of business to collect 'billing'
    Seriously, I need to get into something more efficient, I use basic Excel and Outlook tools for tracking and tasking, sorting contacts and such. I use PayPal for invoicing, and Braintree to allow payments directly from my site without needing PayPal, all invoices are sent out or printed using PayPal though, it's just the best way I have to keep track of what is getting paid and who needs soft reminders, like their websites being replaced by a fat man's butt crack with the caption "have you paid your bills?"
    Jaxom and @DigitalPowerups were telling me about WHMCS not too long ago and I have been trying to find time to look into that for client/hosting management.

    2. What would you consider the pros and cons of your method/service?
    It requires time, and effort to maintain, flipping from one place to another to check things or maintain communication effectively.

    3. What features do you wish the service you use had? (Bonus 3 Hero Points)
    A way for me to display billables to clients, when their billables are being worked on when something else is scheduled, maybe even a way for a client to add/approve additional billables or schedule phone calls. It seems to me like a lot of clients do not understand that calling randomly at 3 AM and insisting something be completed while they are waiting is crazy, but okay if they understand that time is being billed! An easy way for clients to see when they are at the forefront and this is a good time to make contact about their projects.

    4. What features do you consider essential for client management? (Bonus 3 Hero Points)
    Billing as a whole package, being able to track when bills are due and when someone needs to be billed for one service or another. I know this is likely the DUH answer... I really think tracking the progression of a project would be great. A place where we can lay out the timeline of the project by milestones and where notes can be kept that a client can login to and see where we stand without needing the phone call.

  • splaquet

    I have a quick group question on this topic, before I throw out my thread reply...

    Is anyone else on here a GSuite Partner/Reseller? I'm having a heck of a time finding a free (or very affordable) & simple CRM that handles GSuite deployments. I currently use the GSuite module from ModulesGarden, for WHMCS. It works, but it's far from working great.

    I was hoping someone on here had a better solution for GSuite deployment, invoicing & payments.

  • jyllstuart

    1. How do you manage clients? Do you use a service? Simple contact list? Pen and paper?
    - Docusign for digital signing of contracts
    - Wave accounting for invoicing
    - Teamwork PM for managing projects
    - WeTransfer for secure file transfer
    - Dropbox for storage across all my platforms
    - iThemes Sync to keep things up to date across client sites (light bulbed today realizing I can do this in The Hub)

    2. What would you consider the pros and cons of your method/service?
    Pros: I chose these services because of (a) functionality and (b) cost.
    Cons: So, at least 6 sites to manage everything. If something happens to me, that's way too complicated for someone else to pick up. Answering this made me realize that I need to re-evaluate my methodology.

    3. What features do you wish the service you use had?
    If I could integrate all my desired functionality (secure file transfer, accounting, project management, etc) into a single platform - I'd be singing its praises!

    4. What features do you consider essential for client management?
    I use GSuite for business. One of the things I like is how the email is organized by conversation. Keeping up with messages on a day to day basis is essential so that each client feels like you truly care about their specific project.

  • Lawrence

    1. How do you manage clients? Do you use a service? Simple contact list? Pen and paper?
    I use Wave (https://www.waveapps.com/) for my one-off and reoccurring invoicing.

    2. What would you consider the pros and cons of your method/service?
    Pros: free, very easy to use and they have (as mentioned above) reoccurring invoicing and and estimates feature.
    Cons: Processing payments costs approximately the same as PayPal. Some people think that's evil but I look at it as a cost of doing business.

    3. What features do you wish the service you use had? (Bonus 3 Hero Points)
    CRM features but not the heavy duty sales focused stuff. More just a way to track conversations with the clients, have notes on certain things etc.

    4. What features do you consider essential for client management? (Bonus 3 Hero Points)
    Issue and contact tracking. Reminders for letting you know you've not talked to them in while. Make it ridiculously easy for them to give you their money.

  • sushling

    1. How do you manage clients? Do you use a service? Simple contact list? Pen and paper?

    At the moment I'm using a custom client-management-tool, but will migrate to WHMCS soon.

    2. What would you consider the pros and cons of your method/service?

    With WHMCS I will be able to add hosting-services to my portfolio more easily. The downside is to modify WHMCS to make it compliant with German tax-laws and European privacy-laws, because I use it not only for client-management but also for billing purposes. It's possible but takes lost of effort to put in. Same goes with the portfolio extension … I have evaluated WPMUDEV-hosting and the offerings are really great, but at the moment I still don't have this many sites to merge under one Multisite WP …

    3. What features do you wish the service you use had? (Bonus 3 Hero Points)

    Better compliance with German tax laws :wink:

    4. What features do you consider essential for client management? (Bonus 3 Hero Points)

    Ticket-System incl. Email-Piping, Integration with external tools (if not included) to provide products/services and billing …

  • Julian

    I'm using various tools to manage clients as well as some manual work.

    - Trello. Great for creating a simple overview of a project with to-do's and milestones. Easy enough so clients can participate there and leave feedback.

    - E-mail, texts, phone calls and Trello. These are the main ways of communication. It can get messy if you want to later find something someone shared or said, but you're not sure if it was in a text, an email... I need one tool for communication and file sharing really. That would be much better.

    - Wetransfer and Dropbox for sharing large files and storage.

    - 1Password for safely storing client login credentials. One of the best pieces of software I've ever spent money on :slight_smile:

    - Local by Flywheel's built in ngrok live links so clients can see their site while it's in development. It sort of works but it's not great at all. Am looking for a better alternative.

    - I send out invoices manually. Really need a good tool for this to automate it more but I haven't found one I like yet. Need something that's available in Dutch for my clients and ideally it would support the iDEAL payment method.

    The ideal tool for me would bring communication, task lists, file sharing and storage with version history, real-time client feedback, some sort of staging site access, all together under one roof.

  • Tedster

    Just a slight step above pen and paper :slight_smile: I have a multisite setup at a rather obscure domain where I create a site for each "client". I quote client because only a few of them actually pay me. Others are for friends who I help out with their web needs. Needless to say, I'm not a professional developer.

    Anyway, each site has only one contributing user besides myself, as network admin. Any new issue becomes a post and discussions around that issue are done as comments. It's a simple setup and easy to use for myself and my, ahem... clients.

  • splaquet

    1. How do you manage clients? Do you use a service? Simple contact list? Pen and paper?
    We primarily manage our web clients through WHMCS. Our servers all use cPanel, so the built in automation is a priceless feature. We take advantage of:
    - invoicing
    - support tickets
    - cPanel logins/email setup/credential resets
    - domain acquisition/renewals
    - hosting account creation/suspensions/terminations/cancellations, etc
    - WordPress deployment
    - GSuite deployment

    We had previously invoiced our clients via QuickBooks, but with such little profit margin on the domains, it became more time than it was worth with some clients. We have a personal relationship with the majority of our clients, as we're typically their web developers -> webmasters, but that doesn't mean that they pay their bills in a timely manner :wink:

    For team (and sometimes client) conversation and project management, we use:
    - Slack
    - Asana
    - GSuite

    I wish that we had hopped on Slack forever ago, and same with Asana. We've used plenty of tools like these two, but these two are simple enough, integrate with nearly everything, and just about anyone can pick them up quickly.

    2. What would you consider the pros and cons of your method/service?
    WHMCS
    - In my opinion, WHMCS isn't a large enough company where they're growing out the software fast enough. Building out new features, some being core/essential features and some being more advanced features, is something that they leave to 3rd party developers. In the end, you can end up spending more on third party integrations than the cost of WHMCS itself. If you're making enough profit on those features, then it's worth it... but that's not always an easy call when you initially start offering a new feature.

    Asana/Slack: Pros
    both have free versions. fortunately, the free versions offer enough to satisfy our major needs.

    Asana/Slack: Cons
    paid versions are both way too expensive IMO. unfortunately, we don't have the extra funds to justify purchasing paid versions (i think they'd both have a better product if they offered an affordable option, that wasn't a pay per-user feature)

    Overall Learning Curves
    Having someone learn a new task is one thing, but having them stay on task is another thing. Simplicity is key. If an error arises, having a workflow that the entire team can easily follow, and take part in, is essential.

    3. What features do you wish the service you use had? (Bonus 3 Hero Points)
    - An easier method for our "Base WordPress installs." The 1-click cPanel WordPress install is super simple, but going through the motions of uploading all of the core WPMU plugins, setting them all up, adding them into Google Analytics/Webmaster Tools/Console etc... that's become a bit of a chore :disappointed:

    - An easier system for deploying & managing new servers (dedicated/bare metal, cloud, VPS, etc). I'm about the only person in the office who knows enough about Linux to handle those setups. (And on that note, I'd say that i'm like a 2 on a 10 point scale. I know enough to get the job done and to be dangerous... but don't always know enough to resolve advanced issues)

    4. What features do you consider essential for client management? (Bonus 3 Hero Points)
    Automation, Automation, Automation! Working smarter, and not harder, is the only way to do it. When you're dealing with a small in house staff, everyone needs to multi-task enough already. Checking in on something that isn't quite working right is one thing, but having to wash/rinse/repeat everything, every time, for each and every new client, would absorb so much valuable time... leaving no time for growth (learning new tech, finding/developing new customers, etc)

    Suggestions & Feedback
    I realize that this isn't something requested on this topic, but it's something that I'm constantly fighting myself over. To outsource or to handle internally? ...that is the question.

    The skill levels of some of our fellow WPMU customers/colleagues/friends truly impress me at times!

    Hearing "through the grapevine" on how some folks here are:
    -- looking for work (have free time on their hands or would like some extra income)
    -- have too much work (would like to offload)
    -- have specific skill sets (valuable to have in our back pocket)

    I realize that there's a "for hire" type area on the WPMU boards, but inter-communication isn't very easy within this system. If there was an area on here that could:
    - showcase our work/portfolio (simple external URL links would do, either for websites or other)
    - list off specific skill sets, resume style & 1-10 self issued field knowledge (like Illustration/logo design, PHP/Java, Linux/SysAdmin, GSuite, Databases/MySQL/Spreadsheets)
    - personal resources that we have available for others (server/hosting comes to mind, SSL certs), for free/donation/development/pay
    - a job listing/request board (like a fiver or other freelance site)

    ... I'd be SO much happier about life :smiley:

    I've used plenty of freelance sites before and have a few go-to freelancers that I work with, but sometimes I quickly need more. Some of us have already gotten to know others of us, so it seems like it'd be a very smart integration. That being, connecting one another to help each other :wink:

    k... enough out of me for today :stuck_out_tongue:

    - splaquet

    • Tyler Postle

      splaquet nice! We use Slack and Asana as well. Along with Trello.

      It's hard to imagine life without Slack at this point. We use to use Skype and google chat when I first started here... makes me cringe even thinking about that compared to now :joy:

      Hearing "through the grapevine" on how some folks here are:
      -- looking for work (have free time on their hands or would like some extra income)
      -- have too much work (would like to offload)
      -- have specific skill sets (valuable to have in our back pocket)

      I realize that there's a "for hire" type area on the WPMU boards, but inter-communication isn't very easy within this system. If there was an area on here that could:
      - showcase our work/portfolio (simple external URL links would do, either for websites or other)
      - list off specific skill sets, resume style & 1-10 self issued field knowledge (like Illustration/logo design, PHP/Java, Linux/SysAdmin, GSuite, Databases/MySQL/Spreadsheets)
      - personal resources that we have available for others (server/hosting comes to mind, SSL certs), for free/donation/development/pay
      - a job listing/request board (like a fiver or other freelance site)

      Just going to throw my thoughts out on this as we haven't talked a lot about this internally yet, but what I'd really like to do is update the DEV Profiles eventually and include a lot of the above more integrated into the main profile that is linked via avatar/display name. That would include a way to privately contact other DEV users too. Perhaps could add an optional status where users can indicate if they are currently accepting jobs or not, things like that in addition to being able to better promote/brand yourselves on the profiles. That's a discussion for another day but is an area we plan to update eventually. Thanks for bringing it up :slight_smile: Cheers

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