Based on my previous post, we decided to hire part-time freelancer who will reply to all emails and do all non-technical correspondence with the client.
Now, I am not sure how to train this person, that is, what tasks to give him/her. Let me present some of my concerns:
Should we hire a person who is not a developer or a designer? (our projects are development and design) Obviously we can get not only lower hourly rate, but I don't think that a designer or a developer would accept being a PA or something.
Should this person reveal his identity to clients (so that they know they are not talking to anyone of us directly) or the client should think he's talking to someone of us?
Should this person work our time or Philippines time or he/she should work US time (most clients are from the USA)?
At this point we plan to have a person who will reply emails only for those clients who contact us first. Do you think it's realistic that we train him/her to be able to bid to new projects in our name?
While you certainly don't need someone with the skillset of a developer or designer, you do need someone who understands the processes thoroughly. There's nothing more annoying to an educated client than dealing with an uneducated company representative. So, skills - probably no. But, understanding - definitely yes. If that means you need to train someone, that would work as well. They should be able to speak about design or development from a confident, knowledgeable place rather than simply taking notes and passing along messages. If a representative does NOT understand the business there is a great deal of delay in working. Often a 10 second, educated question can save three days of back and forth emails. That's what you should be seeking to make your life easier. They don't need to know specifically how to do XXXXX, but they should be aware of the information needed to accurately proceed with XXXXX.
No. If you hire them as a company representative, they should be presented as a company representative and not as a third party. This should be outlined in a contract and a non-compete and non-disclosure agreement between your company and the representative. Your clients do not need to be aware of the business arrangement you have with the representative.
When do YOU contact clients? Optimally the best time would be a blend of the two. For example 7am Pacific to 3pm Pacific Time. This would make the person available during morning hours on both US coasts, a full day on the east coast and most of the day on the west coast of the US. Or split it to 6-9am West coast, then 1-4pm West coast. Covering morning and afternoon hours on all US coasts. These are just ideas. No matter when the person works, you can work around that since it's your representative. The key factor is to be able to touch base with clients in the morning and the afternoon regardless of which US coast they may be located on.
This goes back to item 1. If you expect someone to calculate quotes and bids they better be completely aware of your requirements and what it takes to complete client requests. In addition, you are placing more of your livelihood in their hands if they are bidding jobs for you. What if they forget something and underbid? What if they overbid and you suddenly find your client base dwindling. Frankly, I would not trust a contact worker who may or may not understand the work to be done with quoting or bidding ANYTHING.
I would hire someone who is not a developer/designer. That skillset is not important in this role, and may lead to some second-guessing of his/her bosses.
The person should say something like the following:
Hi! I am [insert name] and I am a [insert title, maybe contact manager?!?] for [insert company]. I will be your personal go-between with the devs and you. Anytime you need something, feel free to let me know.
US time. I wonder what is going on with people when I get emails from them at 3AM EST. You don't want that in the equation.
Yessir. You want them to do as much project management as possible. Give incentives to them for getting more work.