How Client Management Software Can Increase Your Productivity
Client management software can offer many time-saving advantages that could increase your productivity and bring your business to the next level.
Online stores are all the rave. They offer stunning websites and allow customers to transact online. They also keep track of your inventory, ensure that you charge the correct sales tax, and, in general, organize your entire business. No wonder online stores are so popular.
If you are an event planner, interior designer, photographer, web designer, artist, or pet groomer, you probably look with envy to businesses that have an online store. While you may be drowning in paperwork, SMS, and emails, online store owners seem completely organized. Their physical store even runs on the same platform as their online store, saving them tremendous time and providing their customers with a seamless user experience. It is only natural to wonder if a traditional online store could work for your business.
The short answer, unfortunately, is: probably not.
Traditional online stores, such as Shopify, Squarespace, or Wix, assume that you sell highly standardized and reproducible physical products, digital products, or services for which the online shopper pays at check-out.
Not many service businesses fall into this category because they provide a customizable service or one-of-a-kind artwork tailored to their clients' requirements. Although some components of these services appear similar, they are rarely identical.
That's where client management software comes into play.
Client Management Software — What You Need to Know
Client management software is a cloud-based application covering all aspects of your customer engagement, from lead capturing and proposal writing to contracting, invoicing, and payment.
These software packages integrate with your website and with your accounting software. And yes, they are made for small businesses. You typically subscribe to them annually, and, generally, they do not cost very much compared to what they offer.
Client Management Software Is Often Industry-Specific
Client management software comes in different forms. They have often been written for a particular industry.
For example, Studio Designer is a client management application for interior designers, allowing them to manage all aspects of a design project for their clients. MoeGo is a different software package focused on pet groomers, while BuilderTrend is tailored to the needs of contractors. HoneyBook and Dubsado are a little bit more general and appeal to event planners and web designers, or more broadly, freelancers.
Client Management Software Has Many Advantages — Increasing Your Productivity Is One
Although these client management applications cater to a specific industry, they broadly follow a similar playbook.
They connect to your website. Whether a visitor to your website clicks a book-now button or fills out a contact-us form, they interact directly, albeit invisibly, with the client management software. That way, all the information is in one place, and you can instantly respond to the request from your smartphone, tablet, or desktop.
They ensure an on-brand, on-message client experience. Since you have invested a lot of time and money into building your brand, your client interactions should follow your brand guidelines, from your logo to the fonts and colors. Fortunately, it is standard functionality to customize a client management application with your brand elements. Often, they even allow you to use your domain name and your custom email address in your client-facing correspondence.
They follow industry best practices. Whether you are new to an industry or have an established business, client management applications can save you a lot of time by offering features that customers expect or appreciate, such as contract e-signing, SMS reminders, or self-scheduling. The best part: as these features are part of the software package, they are usually easy to configure.
They integrate with other apps. To tailor a client management application even further to your requirements, you can connect it with other apps, such as QuickBooks for accounting, Calendly for scheduling, MailChimp for email marketing campaigns.
They keep your business organized. Since you handle all of your external and internal communication and all of your business transactions in the client management software, you minimize the dreadful paperwork, giving you time to focus on delivering an excellent service. The software not only keeps track of your next appointment but also of your unpaid invoices, sending automatic payment reminders to your clients on your behalf.
They are accessible from anywhere through any device. Whether you use your smartphone, tablet, or desktop, you can seamlessly work with your clients wherever you are. If you are on the road, at home, or in your office, you can access your customer files from anywhere, giving you a tremendous boost in your productivity.
They allow your business to scale. As client management applications are cloud-based, they can grow with your business. If you hire more staff, add another store, or decide to provide your services nationally, many of these applications can support you along the way, removing a significant obstacle to any future expansion plan.
Align Your Business Processes With the Client Management Software and Not the Other Way Around
Any software, especially one written for a particular industry, follows a blueprint, a certain way, of how to transact in this industry.
Following a built-in blueprint can be very good because it somehow forces you to follow best practices — as long as you align your business processes to this blueprint.
However, many small-business entrepreneurs unintentionally try to configure the client management software to replicate their processes, not following the blueprint. That is a mistake, which could later cost them dearly, even preventing future growth plans.
Unfortunately, not many client management applications, if any, include a description of these blueprint business processes in their documentation. It takes experience, analytical skills, and time to understand how a particular software works and how the developers have intended it to be used.
If you are thinking about subscribing to a client management software, I recommend working with an expert who can advise you on how you would need to change your business processes to align them with the blueprint processes of the application before you implement the software.
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