3 Inefficiencies That Hold Your Business Back

By Cassandra @ Setmore

Writer, editor and scheduling product expert at Setmore Appointments.

This year marks Setmore’s 5th birthday, but when we first started out we used a barrage of third-party apps and software to perform the otherwise intricate function of customer service: customer management (Distributed Source), chat (Conversion Support), feedback (Loop) email client (Gmail), and email listserv (MailChimp). Five apps serving five functions, and needless to say things got complicated while the software licensing fees stacked up.

We made a lot of poor decisions and we were slow to respond to queries, which translated into lost opportunities. But the story has a happy ending: we came to realize the shortcoming, and made the decision to migrate all functions to a single platform (Intercom), reducing our response time from hours or days down to minutes across all channels.

Multiple laptops and cables clutter a table.

Trust me, our support infrastructure is a lot simpler than it looks.

The climate that governs whether a business succeeds or fails depends largely on how quickly you respond to opportunities and how quickly you remove impediments to that success. Putting a name to the problem is the first step, so here are three major inefficiencies that plague businesses everywhere, and what you can do about them.

Inefficiency #1: Outdated tools

We’ve already discussed the importance of having a business website ad nauseam. Apps and software also play a key role in taking care of simple tasks, a process formally known as automation. Most business functions that are simple and tedious can be or have been automated – take for example the practice of sending out appointment reminders. Many businesses still don’t use software tools to automate their business practices, and this is a huge problem. According to a 2013 survey, only about 40% of businesses actively adopt new appointment scheduling technologies, and here are some other noteworthy percentages:

Graph showing low software tech adoption rates among businesses.Business technology adoption rates (Source)
E.g. 1 in 2 businesses adopt new Accounting tech.

Fair warning, introducing new technology can be a detriment rather than a benefit where it increases complexity rather than streamlines a complex process. See Exhibit A: our example at the beginning of this blog post. Ensuring the simplicity of the solution is just as important as using up-to-date tools, which is why we’ve purposefully designed Setmore to integrate with dozens of other apps, enabling you to use solutions cohesively rather than independently. Most of these integrations will automatically export new Setmore contacts to a preferred software platform, such as MailChimp or Salesforce, which cuts down on the manual labor of having to duplicate customer data yourself.

Inefficiency #2: Complacency

When we were using five different apps for Setmore support, at the time we weren’t looking for a better solution because there didn’t seem to be a problem. After all, the apps were functioning as expected. One of our key learnings was this: consolidation needs to take place proactively.

“We shall have no better conditions in the future if we are satisfied with all those which we have at present.” – Thomas Edison

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” – Not Thomas Edison

Setmore has no plans to stop adding new features. Using your suggestions and requests, we will continue to build upon the infrastructure we’ve laid out so far to make the product better and more comprehensive, and we expect you as our users to hold our feet to the fire and hold us accountable for that progress.

One of the reasons why software adoption rates among businesses are so low is because business owners often become too comfortable with their existing toolsets and they stop looking for something new. You should never be satisfied with where you’re at; always be absorbing information about new solutions, methods, and apps, and engage actively with other leaders about how they address and overcome specific challenges. A great way to tap knowledge sources is to read blogs, so if you made it this far, give yourself a pat on the back.

Inefficiency #3: Trying to do everything yourself

Anyone who’s followed the exploits of Jack Bauer knows, you get twenty-four hours in a day, no more and no less. Some of those hours have to be filled with sleeping and eating if you’re a fan of the whole “living a healthy life” thing (mark my words, it’s not just a fad). Recent studies have shown that overwork and sleep deprivation decreases your emotional intelligence and makes it harder to make complex decisions.

“If something can be done 80% as well by someone else, delegate.” – John C. Maxwell

As an owner or manager, you know your business better than anyone else. Yet the goal of delegating is not to complete a task with the same level of thoroughness and attentiveness that you yourself would give it. The goal is to free yourself up for big-picture responsibilities: vision, direction, branding. In other words, let your staff worry about the rigging and the rowing, it’s up to you to steer the ship.

Working smarter, not harder

Inefficiencies are the killer of any workplace, and are a major contributing factor to why half of businesses close within four years of opening. When faced with this reality, it’s hard to resist the urge to distort reality, giving rise to common sayings such as, “It won’t get done right unless I do it myself,” and, “Why change our software? It’s working for us so far.”

It’s important to understand that inefficiencies are an environmental hazard, that they will persist and affect your business and your employees until the inefficiencies are wiped out. To sum up, if the environment isn’t working for you, change the environment. If it takes five apps to do customer support, find a new way of doing customer support.

Thanks!

–The Setmore Team

What inefficiencies have you identified with your business and how did you address them? Let us know in a comment below!

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18 Responses

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  • Hey Cassandra,

    Love the topics you discussed here about holding your business back. I think small changes that improve everyday operations, such as getting an updated printer and employee communication, can really stop businesses from holding themselves back. Small changes add up to make a difference.

    Thanks,
    Dennis

  • I am trying to integrate instagram with setmore for photo publishing but get the following error.

    {“code”: 403, “error_type”: “OAuthForbiddenException”, “error_message”: “You are not a sandbox user of this client”}

    • Hello again, the Instagram plugin has been patched and should be fully functional now! Give it a shot and let me know if you encounter trouble. Thanks!

    • Hi Dee, thank you for letting us know. We are working with Instagram to fix the issue, unfortunately in the meantime you won’t be able to stream Instagram photos to your booking page. I’m sorry about this! Hopefully we’ll get a patch in soon. Stay tuned.

  • I’ve been using your app for a few weeks now, and I really like it so far! The one issue I’ve had is with the “label” options. When a patient doesn’t show up for an appointment, I can label them as “no show”, but it still keeps the money they would have been charged in my weekly income totals.

  • I’d like to know why Setmore defaults to our first day of use each time I open the program, rather than the current date? Other than that works great, just annoying when you are in a hurry.

  • I’m a new start up and I love Setmore app. I just started using it and it’s great!!. I am in the transport courier services. The only improvement that I would suggest is to allow the customers to attach a file at the time of appointment booking. In my line of business, my customers will need to attach a packing slip or bill of lading so that I have a copy of it when I get their booking. Since there’s no way to do it in Setmore, my customers have to send me an email with their attachments. This defeats the purpose. So please, allow the customers to attach a file at the time of appointment booking. Thank you!!

  • Hi, I would love to see an area where you can customized appointment reminders. I love that reminders are automated, however there is information I would like to add to them ie. payment method, cancellation policy etc. As well, when booking a 2nd appointment for a client back to back, I would like to be able to turn the 2nd appointment reminder off. The client receiving 2 reminders sometimes confuses the client to which appointment is correct. Thank you

    • Hi Angela, you may customize the automated text reminders by going to Settings > Notifications > Customization in your account. I’m not entirely sure if there is a variable field for Service Cost, but take a look and see if the provided options work for you. Here’s a support guide on how to access this feature. Best of luck!

  • I have been using this app for approximately 2 years now and have seen you develop and grow. My clients love your app I am going to be upgrading this month as I love the idea of the integration with my Google calendar and some clients don’t have an email address for their reminders. Your response times are now very quick to issues and your customer service staff are excellent. Thank you, and here’s to many more years

  • My issue with my business is I am one person and can’t do everything by myself but can’t hire people to do work. I need contractors but they want top dollar for being lazy. So I take the appointments myself and make a lot but need help with appointments and phones. I love your app and it does have issues but I will wait for you to grow and introduce new features time and time again. Thank you so much.

    • Hi Tanya,

      I have a very dear friend who operates a small biz admin support company. She specializes in working with startups, is remote and extremely frugal with her rates. She only take new clients by referral, unless she has had an encounter with the prospect …

      Let me now if you’re interested in checking her out and I’ll forward her information to you.

      – Bonnie

  • What’s holding my business back is waiting on you to fix all the issues with your system. If the basic items still do not work why should you keep adding things. Get it to work first before you try to expand!

    Your support even said you where aware of issues with the last update and yet it still isn’t corrected or working properly?

    It is actually broke so you should fix it!
    Should I recommend someone for you to delegate it to that will actually repair your system?

    I’ve been waiting for simple things to be fixed when is that going to happen?

    • Hi John, I’m terribly sorry to hear that. I checked our comms system and it looks like you’ve been working with one of our support staff to resolve the issues. In the future if it’s taking too long to get a problem investigated, you can email me directly at help@setmore.com and we’ll rattle some cages on your behalf. As the blog admin, my toolbox to remedy issues isn’t quite as extensive as what our support staff are capable of, but I’d be happy to offer what assistance I can.

      That being said, I know we’ve been in correspondence before and I can imagine the level of frustration you might be feeling. As I’ve spent the better part of the last eight months living and breathing Setmore, I too am aware of various shortcomings with our app. It is perhaps not ironic that one of the themes I explored in this blog post was the hidden opportunity costs that come from not actively researching your options. We’d hate to lose your business, but I also want to make sure you have the best solution that fits your needs.

      Setmore is dedicated to continual improvement, both by adding new features and improving old ones. It’s hard to measure and showcase just how much effort we put into watching over and responding to customer comments, questions, and issues across multiple channels. But your feedback is instrumental in helping us evolve and shape the app – and yes, there will be some rough edges that require smoothing over. Thank you for commenting.

  • I would like customers to be able to choose a “from and to” time and then have the system book it. Right now they have to book the start hour and put the time they want i.e. 10am – 4pm in the comments field and I get then go in and edit it the time to 360 minutes. This will then show the hourly slots booked to new customers on the site.