Alan Finlay is
head of marketing and communication at
Boomtown, which offers on-demand technology support to restaurants and retail stores across the United States. Boomtown (@goboomtown) has offices in Tiburon, CA, and Scottsdale, AZ.
We talked with Alan Finlay about the difficulty that comes with solving IT issues for clients. Learn how Boomtown’s trying to change the game of IT support and how they’re making client communication priority number one. [The interview below has been lightly edited for length and clarity.]
Tell us about Boomtown and its philosophy. How did it get started?
Technology evolves in order to make our lives and businesses easier and more efficient, not to create more headaches. The problem is: this isn’t always the case. We’re here to solve these issues and simplify technology so business owners can focus on what truly matters: their customers.
How does Boomtown work?
All of our customers have the Boomtown app either on their phone, or a dedicated support tablet at their business. When a customer has a question or issue, they launch a video call with one of our technical experts to diagnose and troubleshoot the issue before we ever send a local technician.
This allows us to solve the issue quickly 85 percent of the time without having to send a local technician, which saves the business time and money. If it’s not a problem we can fix remotely, we can send one of our 500 local technicians either the same or next day, depending on the urgency of the issue.
What kinds of business do you primarily offer tech services for?
Boomtown works primarily with restaurants and retail stores across the U.S. We have serviced thousands of businesses since we launched.
By volume, most of the businesses that we serve are small businesses that typically have one location. That being said, a growing segment of our business is working directly with multi-location restaurant or retail stores with 10-100 locations.
How do you tackle these communication challenges…
When we started, we did not have 24/7 coverage and we quickly learned that problems happen at all hours of the day, even if a business isn’t open 24/7. We have addressed that by fully staffing 24/7 support, in our Scottsdale, AZ office.
We offer an online scheduling system that syncs to all of our experts’ calendars, checks their availability and allows the customer to select from a set of times that work for everyone. This cuts down on a ton of back and forth.
Knowing when a local technician will arrive?
Our customers get real-time ETA updates by email and also, if they open the app when a technician is on their way, they will see their technician on the map so they know exactly when they will arrive.
Troubleshooting over the phone?
We do offer support over the phone at Boomtown for those that don’t have a smart phone or don’t want to use our technology, but we have data that shows we can resolve issues up to 50 percent faster when we can troubleshoot over video as opposed to trying to have a customer describe their issue over the phone.
It’s amazing what a quick look at the issue can do and how much time and money it can save people.
Not everyone has time for a phone call?
There are a LOT of questions that people have that aren’t urgent and don’t require a video conversation. In our new app, we have built in the option to text chat with Boomtown (as well as any of their other technology providers) over the app. This allows people with quick questions to ask them in the app, put their phone away and get back to business, and then check for the answer when they have another free minute.
As businesses bring in more technology, and all that technology integrates, it is getting harder to determine where the source of the problem actually is. Sometimes, it actually requires actions from two different vendors to fix the problem. We built Boomtown from day one to fix this issue. Both our video and chat communication is built to accommodate multiple organizations in the same ticket.
Tips from Boomtown on Better Communication with Clients
- Be open and transparent. Be clear about all expectations and pricing up front. Communicate everything that goes well and everything that goes wrong. Nothing kills a relationship faster than trying to hide information.
- Over-communicate. People would rather hear too much from you and always be in the loop than to be left in the dark.
- Leverage technology for efficient communication. Using dated technology for our own businesses can leave our customers wondering if we're really the right team to be handling their technology.
For more advice on client communication, check out “How to Bridge the IT Knowledge Gap When Talking to Customers.”