From your desk, you glance up at the ticking apparatus over your head. It’s 3 o’clock you think, and start preparing for once of your clients who are scheduled to come in at 3:30 p.m. Wading over a stack of papers on your desk, you check your rolodex to look up her email. Rolling past “S” you find her last name and open up a tab on Internet Explorer to do a tad bit of research on her business. Thirty seconds pass and the page finally comes up. Why can’t we use Chrome--it’s much faster and could save time, you think.
Thankfully, today we have additional options that can save us time, and like people, even businesses can get stuck in their ways and continue using technology or practices that are out of date. When that happens, time is compromised, employees can get fidgety, and client information can get missing amongst stacks of documents.
If you’re business uses one of the following items or methods, here are some alternatives that could help you to redeem more time:
1. Switch to an online customer relationship management (CRM) system instead of the rolodex.
Popular in years past, the rolodex was a more efficient way to be able to quickly turn to client's or customer's information without having to walk to a file cabinet or check record-keeping books. Today, with online CRMs, you'll be able to manage your information with having to physically reach across your desk or flip through pages. Simply enter in your client's information and save it on the Cloud. Be able to pull up records faster and store thousands of client's records all from one central management system all while saving time and money (less purchasing of record-keeping products--only storage space on the Cloud).
2. Replace direct mail campaigns with more efficient tools like MailChimp or Constant Contact.
Direct mail campaigns have its pros and cons. For one, businesses are able to reach the masses with monthly catalogs, newsletters, flyers, and deals, yet even some customer's are just not convinced. An inconvenience of direct mail campaigns is that physical resources must be purchased--which increases your spending, but by using MailChimp or Constant Contact for delivering your email marketing campaigns with automatic messages and analytics tracking, you'll save more time and money. They'll be less of the need to open an Excel file with client's names to have mailing labels printed, and customers might be happier since they could pull up an email and have their coupon ready to go at the store counter (no more fumbling through wallets, purses, or going back to the car for a forgotten coupon and hearing sighs from folks behind you).
3. Take appointments with a web scheduler rather than by phone.
Accepting appointments by phone definitely needs round the clock management. From checking the voicemail to making sure that vacation greeting messages are set, taking appointments by phone can become, well, rather hectic. That's why we believe that easy online scheduling with a web scheduler is the better option in terms of appointment management and time. Allow current and potential clients to see employees' availability and the services and or classes that they offer without having to correspond by phone or email. Clients could also book and manage their own appointments without calling or emailing in by logging in to your web scheduler. And as an even nicer feature of an appointment management system, businesses can accept payment through PayPal, Cayan, or other payment processors that can allow clients to pay upfront so that once their appointment is over, they can continue with their schedules.
4. Trade in the bulky credit card terminal for phone attachments like Square.
Who's ever gotten to the cash register after loading up on groceries and the credit card terminal stopped working? Yeah--not so good; reduce the likelihood of this happening by using Square--a small payment processing device that you could connect to your iPad or smartphone. Square also has a contactless chip that allows clients to use Apple Pay by tapping their phones so that they can quickly progress through the line. Save your customer's time by providing a speedier checkout with the original credit card terminal.
5. Try Gmail as an alternative to Outlook.
As an easier online emailing system that integrates with various phones and computer systems, try Gmail for storing, managing, and filtering your emails. While Outlook is nice, using it on your desktop requires computer storage, and is less convenient for using across platforms. Want to filter and label your emails easily? Gmail would also be a nice alternative for color coordinating your labels and also filtering through your incoming mail.
6. Migrate from Internet Explorer.
While Internet Explorer has been a web browser of choice, other web browsers are likely more preferred by users today for their speed, cross-platform use, and features. Try using Google Chrome with in-browser extensions that work with Google Drive or Mozilla Firefox to give your browsing a boost and be able to use it without a certain computer platform.
All in all, don't get stuck in efficient practices (or old ways) for your business that could cost you valuable time and money. Redeem it by trying out these modern alternatives to help your business take flight!