In the past, we’ve talked about how Tout works with companies in fields like technology, housing, and hiring. Today we shift our way over to education to show how Tout can help schools streamline their communications.
Turns out running a school is no easy feat. It requires a deft balancing act of communication between staff, teachers, current families, and prospective families. Managing the day-to-day administrative work along with annual processes such as admissions and hiring creates the perfect storm of emails, which is where Tout fits in for Trinity Classical School of Houston.
Tout improves parent-teacher email communication for TCS, as well as communications with other schools and prospective staff members. Here are a few of the recurring tasks that Tout helps out with:
1) Notifying applicants about upcoming dates in the admissions process
Trinity Classical School uses a rolling admissions process where each student’s application is processed in the order that it is received. As a result, each accepted applicant has their own timeline with a different due date for enrollment. Tout allows TCS to communicate with applicants at every stage of the admissions process, from initial inquiry to application to interview to acceptance to enrollment.
2) Exchanging academic data from other schools
As the school receives student applications, they need to request transcripts and recommendations from applicants’ previous schools. TCS uses Tout to coordinate with other schools in order to finish up the admissions process.
3) Hiring new teachers
Each spring TCS begins to hire new teachers for the upcoming school year. They need a way to communicate with applicants and keep up with all the resumés and applications as they arrive. A series of Tout templates help TCS navigate through the hiring process by setting meeting times and following up with applicants’ references.
4) Sending payment reminders
Tout allows TCS to send billing reminders to school email lists in cases where the school's accounting system doesn't offer the flexibility they need, or when the school needs to send an email reminder to new families who don’t yet have access to the school's intranet.
5) Reminding families of upcoming volunteer commitments
TCS relies on its parents to help out by volunteering at events such as school field trips. Tout allows the school to send a reminder to just those families that have signed up to volunteer that week.
Ah, information technology. Having worked in the IT world for several years, I can confirm that it has a reputation for being unnecessarily jargon-laden and user-unfriendly.
Help with a Smile, however, is an IT company working to shrug off this reputation. Their President and Chief IT Specialist Michael Spadaro has built a company that is friendly and customer-centric, and at the center of all of their communications is Tout.
How Help with a Smile Uses Tout
Michael: We're an NYC-based IT support and consulting firm, and we use Tout for communicating with sales prospects that are (hopefully) looking to improve their IT support situation. We store our e-mail templates in Tout and share them among the sales team. Being able to collaboratively develop sales messaging templates is not only a time saver, but it makes sure that the communications are on-point with our sales strategies. At the same time, we love how easy it is to customize a template on-the-fly to keep things personal.
Before Tout, our sales processes were very "shoot from the hip"- as a small company without a dedicated sales staff, we don't have the luxury of spending a lot of time writing and re-writing e-mail communications to prospects, which is exactly what we were doing before.
3 things you can do to embody the voice of the customer
- Constantly tweak and hone your templates
- Use your Tout templates to keep your team on-message, with a positive and light tone.
- Ask others outside of your field to [read your templates] and give you suggestions.
IT professionals have a well-earned reputation for not being able to relate well to the rest of the business world- bucking this trend is what Help with a Smile is all about, but many IT companies could use a dose of user-friendliness in their sales processes.
3 signs your prospects are engaged
There's been several occasions where we've used Tout to focus our sales efforts on prospects based upon their positive interaction with a message we "touted" to them. We can see when a prospect is showing a great level of interest, whether by:
- Repeatedly viewing the message
- Forwarding the message to others who are also viewing
- Clicking on links in the message
Even those bits of information alone can tremendously inform the sales process. Given this knowledge, we can prioritize our sales tasks to reach out to these individuals through other methods of communication as a follow-up to our e-mail.
Ever wonder what happens after you hit the "Send" button on your emails? Some of them are deleted without being opened while others never make it past the spam filter. Without a standard reply or a response to your "Hey, did you get my earlier email…?," you're blind to your recipients’ actions.
“Sending an important email without Tout feels like operating my business in the dark.”
- Forest Linden
Wondering whether your important emails have been received is a pain, but multiply that tenfold when you're running your own company. We had two founders of their own businesses weigh in on this topic: Forest Linden, the founder of Tech Husband, who doles out advice and training around web tools; and Matt Cooper, the Founder and CEO at Addroid, a platform that creates streamlined, affordable video banner ads. Forest and Coop both weighed in on how Tout has helped them stop worrying about email responses so they can start working on what's important: running their business.
FL: If 24 hours elapsed between when I sent an important email and getting no response from someone, I would start to get concerned that they didn't get it, and if a day and a half or two days went by with no response from them, I would send out another email to touch base and make sure they got the first email.
MC: Basically I was just sending regular emails out into the abyss and then days later would just think, "I wonder if that guy got my email? Should I try him again? I wonder if he saw the link I sent? Maybe I should call? Nah, that's crazy. Could I email again to check? Maybe I'll follow up with a quick note, but I wonder if I'm just bothering him at this point?" I'd pretty much go back and forth like this.
MC: As the CEO of a new startup I find myself working many different roles. While I enjoy working on the product, I realize that it's not much good if no one hears about it. So, for the time being I'm the lead sales person, and I'm having to get up to speed on the process of sales and the tools of the trade... What I was really struggling with was sending and following up on emails. Tout has helped me dramatically increase the amount of prospecting I can do in a day and now I finally know if I'm getting though.
FL: With ToutApp, the entire worry cycle is gone because I can see if they opened my email... Since I can see whether or not they viewed it and how long they had it open for, I know when people have read an email, and now I can relax and give them a few days before I follow up.That allows me to focus on other important aspects of running my business, rather than wasting energy worrying and sending out second emails to see if people got the first one.
To find out what's working and what isn't working with your inside sales efforts you need to be able to measure the results. Tout solves this one problem and does it well.
- Matt Cooper
You can learn more about how Tout satisfies your curiosity with email analytics here.
Any experienced businessperson has attended their fair share of conferences and tradeshows. They’ve networked, they’ve delivered their pitch, and they’ve handed out and received endless swathes of business cards. As our society continues to talk about going paperless, the fact that business cards are still prevalent seems a little outdated.
At Tout, our mission has always been to make emailing simpler and more efficient by providing features like templates, tracking, and easy-to-message groups. Still, our product is flexible and ever-changing; we hear about new use cases from our customers every day. So when we heard about users relying on Tout as a replacement for business cards, we had to share it!
Tout solves a key problem for any salesperson: following up.
Picture South by Southwest in your mind: It’s a time for concerts, panel sessions, parties, and endless, endless amounts of networking. And with networking comes business cards. And with business cards come dead trees. All that aside, though, keeping track of the sheer volume of contacts met during SXSW is a daunting task.
We caught up with Vivek Sharma of Movable Ink who attended South by Southwest this year to get some insight into his use of Tout.
What was life like before Tout?
VS: [Before Tout, I would] carry a stack of business cards and do a card exchange. No one ever follows up on collected business cards. One could spend hours sorting through cards, transcribing data, and following up. Why not skip the steps and go directly to a personalized email? I've saved hours and hours of time with this streamlined process.
My inbox is also searchable so I'll always be able to go back and track older communications with someone I met. I love Tout!
How did you use Tout at SXSW?
VS: I used Tout to send people my contact information, follow up with them, and demo my company's technology. My company, Movable Ink, delivers live and streaming content in emails. Tout's the perfect solution to demo this to people I meet. I send people I meet a personalized email with an example of Movable Ink technology (see below).
It's the perfect tool to get people to experience what we have built on a visceral level.
Have you recommended Tout to anyone? How did you describe it?
VS: I do… in fact I describe Tout to anyone I've met and I'm about to send an email to. I tell them it's like a Mailchimp for personal use.
Bonus: What are your favorite Tout features?
VS: Tout's delayed send is an awesome feature. People are very busy during SXSW so its useful to auto-send the follow-up three days after the event, when they can actually absorb it.
The iPhone app is very easy to use when you're on the go. Finally, being able to track whether your email was opened or clicked on is a big benefit.
Have you ever emailed customer support or your IT department for help with a problem? Most of the time there's a lot of emailing back and forth, just to identify the problem. It clogs your inbox and it takes forever. If you can effectively communicate the right information to customer support or your IT department, you'll not only avoid an extensive and unnecessary email dialogue, but you'll also get your problem solved much faster.
Take the first steps to solve the solution yourself
You know what they're going to say first - stop, close, and restart. Go ahead and get that taken care of, and if you're still having an issue, move on to troubleshooting. Most sites have a help page. If it's easily accessible, search for your problem in the help page and see if there's an answer. Yes? Do what it says. No? Proceed to step two.
Send the right information
Since you weren't able to solve the issue yourself, it's time to go ahead and email support. While we all want to be polite in our communication, the best way to get your tech problem solved fast is to be direct.
Here's what to say in your email:
- Describe the problem
- Describe how you came to encounter the problem (what did you do before)
- List the steps you've already taken to try to solve the problem
- Attach a screenshot of the problem
Once you've done all the steps above, you'll probably get an email back with a list of action items that you can do to solve the problem. You'll avoid the back and forth, and the support team will be able to answer your questions right away.