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.
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Inefficiency #1: Outdated tools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:
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.
–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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