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How This CEO Slashed His Staff's Email Inboxes This founder of onboarding software for small companies uses technology to contact customers and create a company culture for a remote team.

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Craig Bryant started Kin HR because he needed onboarding services for his rapidly growing company, We Are Mammoth. Unable to find a vendor offering what he needed, he decided to build it himself, drawing from his own background managing employees. After experiencing rapid growth, Bryant realized the need for flexible and affordable HR software and launched Kin HR last year, a human resource software solution specifically designed for companies with fewer than 100 employees. Three of the six employees that work for Kin HR work out of the Chicago headquarters, with the other half sprinkled across the country. While he didn't plan on running two companies simultaneously, he's at the helm of both and relying on technology like never before.

How This CEO Increased Slashed His Staff's Email Inboxes - Craig Bryant

Craig Bryant of Kin HR and We Are Mammoth
Image credit: Kin HR, We Are Mammoth

Here are three digital tools he can't live without:

Intercom. Kin HR employees used to manually email every customer who signed up for a free trial. This process was extremely time consuming as well as prone to errors, such as typos and incorrect names. But since the company began using Intercom, a user intelligence and customer communication app, new customers receive an automated personalized message throughout their free trial and existing users get targeted information on updates and feedback. Intercom also allows the customers to communicate in real time with a Kin representative at any time. Bryant says that the because the app eliminates the need to manually write, format and send several hundred emails each month to sales prospects, the technology allows employees to save around 100 hours in total each month and focus their efforts on customer service once prospects respond. "The app has also significantly increased the engagement and conversation rate for the free trial with our prospective customers," Bryant says.

Related: What's Wrong With the Modern Conference Call (and the Man Who's Trying to Fix It)

HipChat. As more of the Kin team works remotely, Bryant has struggled to maintain office culture and help employees express their "presence." With his employees in different locations, they missed the personal chit-chat around the water cooler as well as knowing what each other was working on throughout the day. Three years ago, Bryant set up employees at We Are Mammoth with HipChat, a web chat software, to stay in touch and Bryant started Kin employees on it last year. When employees return from vacation they can quickly scan through HipChat and get up to speed on the latest office chatter, like who had a birthday and who will be out of the office in the morning for a dentist appointment. "One of our employees just moved to Seattle and has been sharing his frustrations over buying new furniture just like he would if we were hanging out together in the break room over coffee," Bryant says. He selected HipChat because it was the most advanced tool at the time and while today there are other tools with more features such as Hall and Unison today, he says that his employees like HipChat's simplicity.

Related: How This CEO Went From 400 Different Passwords to Just One

Basecamp. Working collaboratively across the country presents many challenges and wading through tons of project-related emails takes valuable time. Bryant began using Basecamp at We are Mammoth 7 years ago after hearing about it from other small companies and began using it for Kin marketing projects as soon as the company started. "When we are launching a product, creating a client newsletter or designing a new landing page, we use Basecamp for all project communications and files. It allows people in different locations to easily review content, share feedback and make edits," says Bryant. He says that it also allows anyone in the company to see all marketing activities and chime in with thoughts and ideas. "Basecamp reduced the amount of internal email by 75 percent and increased project transparency by three times because everyone now has access to project updates," Bryant says.

Jennifer Goforth Gregory has over 18 years professional writing experience and specializes in writing about small businesses. Her work has been published MSN Money, FOX Business and the Intuit Small Business Blog and American Express OPEN Forum.

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