Should I Implement a Live Chat Feature?

The eternal question of Live chat – should you install it on your website or not?

The pros are more clients, more sales, faster support, and a more professional looking site.

Some of the drawbacks include having to respond to client inquiries quicker than phone or email support, and not being able to install the widget on your social media… until now.

New studies suggest more than 30% of customers expect you to have live chat on your website.

On a mobile device, that number shoots up to a staggering 62%.

Even though live chat has been around since the 1970’s (believe it or not) it has been getting more popular recently.

In this article, we’ll get into the specific reasons why live chat is great for closing more sales, stepping up your customer support game, and automating your followup.

You’ll learn the practical ways that live chat can increase your bottom line revenue as well as make your prospective clients happier, and your current clients more satisfied with your outstanding service.

It’s easy to discount live chat as ‘just another widget,’ but let’s take a closer look at why this is one of the most game-changing features that you can add to your website. (Or as you’ll learn in this article, to your social media as well!)

WHY LIVE CHAT IS A MUST-HAVE FOR YOUR SMALL BUSINESS

When clients land on your website, chances are they’re looking for information – more specifically, answers to their questions.

They generally either want to know more about your business to decide if they will become a paying client, or they want to get in touch with you because they have an issue with their upcoming, current, or past service.

If you have a live chat feature on your site, this can be a wildly successful shortcut because it eliminates most of the searching that a customer needs to do in order to get the answer(s) they want.

For example, here are some ways that live chat helps:

INCREASE IN SALES

Live chat builds trust by reassuring the potential client that there is a real person behind your business.

By receiving answers to several questions about your business in real time, they can rest easy knowing that they aren’t just inputting their credit card information into a website that’s built by some scammer or con artist.

You can also have them input their name, email, or phone number, which allows you to take the follow up off-line and onto a communication platform that’s more accessible to them. After all, they’ll leave your website soon enough, and after that you need a way to be able to reach them for follow-up to close the sale!

Essentially, live chat becomes a lead generation system to help you close additional business by providing you with leads.

You’re essentially converting your website visits into client leads, like magic!

Really you’re just capitalizing on the website (or Instagram) traffic that is already visiting your page by converting them into a lead that you can call, text, or email!

To back all of this up, Forrester found that there was a 10% increase in order value from clients who engaged with a rep in live chat before buying.

HELPS WITH SUPPORT

Having a live chat feature also cuts down on the back-and-forth of email and eliminates the wasted time of having to look up answers from past client responses/message threads/emails.

One of the worst things you can do to a frustrated client is force them to be inconvenienced or have them wait to hear back, because this can lead down the road of them leaving negative online reviews on platforms such as Yelp or Google, which will negatively impact your credibility in the eyes of future potential clients.

The quality of your response matters, too. Kayako found that 19 out of 20 clients would prefer a high quality response, even if it took more time.

This can even cut into your current business, if your current clients happen to look your business up online!

Just make sure you respond – SuperOffice found that 21% of live chats get ignored. Don’t become a statistic!

OTHER LIVE CHAT PLATFORMS

Other live chats that you can make use of as a small business owner or solo-preneur are generally  platform specific. We’re talking about Facebook (Messenger), Instagram (DM), and Yelp (Message My Business Feature).

There are also a number of standalone live chat platforms such as Intercom, Weebly, Wix, and Olark.

The problem with these platform specific chat programs (as well as the standalone ones) is that they’re all generally stuck to the platform that they operate on.

PocketSuite is changing the game by having a portable live chat feature.

That’s right, you can now place your live chat directly onto your own website without the knowledge of how to code or get your programming degree!

But websites aren’t the only place you can install PocketSuite’s live chat feature…

LIVE CHAT ON YOUR FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM

How’s this for a mindblowing idea – did you know you can install Live Chat on more than just your website?

That’s right – PocketSuite allows you to install your live chat widget anywhere, including on your Facebook and Instagram profile!

You can engage your clients in real time while they’re browsing your social media, which is probably the best time to engage with them because you’re top-of-mind and they’re not distracted by the million other things that are occupying their busy day.

POCKETSUITE LIVE CHAT HIGHLIGHTS

The PocketSuite live chat widget defaults to OPEN, so your client’s definitely won’t miss it.

When clients submit their info or start a live chat with you, you instantly get a notification in your PocketSuite app, which allows you to start a conversation with them in real time.

You can message them through the PocketSuite app (which you’re hopefully already using for all of your other booking and payment needs) so it couldn’t be any easier to stay in touch.

Once the client inputs their phone number into the live chat, it will send them a text, which they can essentially use to continue the conversation with you.

Texts have a 98% open rate, so you can rest easy knowing that your clients have received your communication.

Just make sure you respond quickly – on average, customers have to wait over 2 minutes for companies to respond to their live chat inquiry. That’s troubling!

From there, they simply respond to the automated text, and their response gets funneled directly into your PocketSuite app for follow-up! PocketSuite automatically marks Live Chat messages as “LIVE” so you know to prioritize responses to those messages, if your Inbox is too full and you need help triaging responses.

It’s simply the best way to convert your website or social media visitors into leads and then into clients!

Speaking of getting more clients and making your current clients happy, have you checked out the best way to run your business using just 1 app – PocketSuite?

Upgrade your business with online booking, accept credit cards, process payments, scheduling, business messaging, and a wild array of additional features that will free up your time to focus on answering all of those live chats coming in!

Try the Premium plan if you’d like to take a look at one of the most powerful business apps out there. Of course, don’t forget to turn on Online Chat and add it to your website, social media, and any other online sites.

Like this article? You’ll love our guide on how to generate leads for service businesses in 2019 and of course our Frustrations with Square article!

Frustrations with Square Appointments

Square Appointments is marketed as a flexible, easy-to-use app that allows small business owners and solo-preneurs to make use of online scheduling for their small business.

It boasts a free plan for solo-preneurs, cancellation fees, client reminders, and calendar sync.

Sounds like a perfect fit for small business owners at first glance…

In this article we will be discussing the features of the Square Appointments app as well as some frustrations that many independent professionals have with it.

The history of the Square Payments app lies in the acquisition of BookFresh, an appointment scheduling app.

The strategy behind this seems to be for Square to acquire businesses that share commonalities in terms of being different “tools that Square could offer through their core merchant experience.”

Sounds perfect! Now you can set up online booking and manage your appointments from the Square app, right? Not so fast…

INTEGRATION DIFFICULTIES

Unfortunately, as opposed to integrating BookFresh features into their main app, Square chose to keep the apps separate, which means more confusion and complexity for small businesses.

BookFresh was a pre-seed startup and was never integrated in the Square platform. It is siloed, which means independent businesses need to download and use multiple apps.

There are some ways to integrate the two, but they are far from robust.

One option actually requires a third-party app to integrate everything. A third app! You should visualize me shaking my head right now because that’s bonkers.

DEPOSITS AND CREDIT CARDS

Another drawback is the fact that you can’t take deposits – you must submit a payment request twice, once for the deposit and another time for the payment.

You also can’t store your customer’s credit cards on file, which makes it inconvenient because you need to ask for the credit card each time you do a transaction. Imagine how cumbersome that becomes for repeat clients!

CUSTOMIZATION CHALLENGES

Additionally, the ability to customize the app is definitely lacking.

The rigid structure of the app is reminiscent of Square’s other apps – namely, the main POS app as well as the Cash app.

Your head will be spinning by the time you’ve figured out how to customize anything that pertains to your workflow. There’s no way to collect any additional information from clients when they book you, nor can you get them to sign any waivers or contracts.

LIMITED CALENDAR SYNC

The app also features a Calendar sync, which can be helpful if you’re currently using Google Calendar.

Which is great… unless you’re using iCal. Where’s the integration with one of the most popular calendars in the world, the default Mac calendar?

There was an online request for this on the Square Seller Forums back in 2016, with zero responses.

Another difficult thing about setting up Calendar sync is that you must do it on desktop – there’s no way to set up calendar sync between Square Appointments and Google Calendar on your mobile. How dated is that!

TECHNICAL ISSUES

The appointment app has also run into multiple technical hiccups which resulted in unhappy customers. Eventually the engineering team intervened to solve the issue, but it had to be debated in a public forum (rather than advocated for by a dedicated support team) in order to resolve it. Hmm!

You’d think a company that prides itself on its dedication to small business owners and solo-preneurs would be able to handle the issue offline instead of having their dirty laundry out for everyone to see.

In another public fiasco, customers using Square Appointments were appalled that the app didn’t have the capability to display their availability properly, resulting in these business owners missing out on appointments.

As a small business owner, I can assure you that every single possible customer that I can get for my business matters a whole lot.

It can be the difference between being profitable this month and bleeding red (losing money).

So I need a solution that is going to work properly and display my availability correctly.

Just imagine a client books an appointment with your business that you can’t honor because you have a scheduling conflict! That’s nerve-wracking to you because you have to reach out to try and reschedule, possibly losing the client forever.

It’s also frustrating to the customer because they were probably searching awhile for a service provider that is available at the specific time that they need.

Once they confirmed with you, you doubled back and informed them that now you can’t do that appointment…

This looks unprofessional, feels frustrating, and usually results in the customer canceling the appointment completely because they’ve lost confidence in you and your business.

Unacceptable!

EMPLOYEE DIFFICULTIES

What if you have employees? At the 5-10 employees range, you’re paying upwards of $90 per month.

How about if you have more than 10 employees? You’re paying a pretty penny (they call it a ‘custom price’ for software that should cost about $90 per month, when you could have unlimited employees for about the same price.

It’s strange that the more I try to expand my business, the more money I have to pay for the exact same technology. Does that sound predatory to you? It does to me.

RAISING FEES

As Square continues to hike fees, desperate business owners are looking at less expensive and less bloated alternatives in order to continue to run their business lean and profitable.

As Erik Sherman from Inc.com points out:

“2.75 percent of $21,000 is $577.50, which is $302.50 higher than the old monthly fee. If you can swipe all the transactions, then the only way to keep your fees with Square under that $275 number is to process no more than $10,000 in monthly transactions. Not exactly a smart goal for an entrepreneur.”

As a small business owner, I can agree with that. Why is it that whenever you try to become more successful, there are forces pushing you back down and punishing your success?

It takes an iron-willed business owner to pay that much in transaction fees, especially once you get into the $20 – $40k per month range. Isn’t that the goal, though? Sounds like a great incentive *not* to grow your business.

MISSING FEATURES

At the very least you’d expect an app that’s charging *that* much to provide some extra features besides appointments and online booking, right?

For example, where is the ability to store payment information for recurring clients?

What about information about your clients in general? I’d like to be able to take notes about my clients’ preferences in the same app, not have to bust out a notepad. That’s just unprofessional.

And don’t even get me started on business messaging. As we’ve discussed previously, business messaging is a critical tool for business owners for multiple reasons:

  • Easier to separate business from personal
  • Group messaging is a breeze
  • Ability to send out automated SMS campaigns with discounts, promos, etc. to generate more bottom line income

Where is this capability in the Square Appointments or main Square POS app? Nowhere to be found, to the chagrin of all Square clients.

PocketSuite is a great alternative to Square Appointments for the following reasons:

  • Everything packaged in 1 app – run your whole business with it
  • No excessive fees
  • Business Messaging included
  • Smart Campaigns included
  • iCal integration included
  • Flat rate for unlimited employees
  • Responsive customer service team

Try PocketSuite for free today and transform the way you run your business, forever. You won’t want to miss this!

Like this article? You’ll love our guide on how to generate leads for service businesses in 2019, and of course our Frustrations with Square article!

Client Payments: However You want them

1) Point-of-Sale

Occasion: Quick way to charge a client’s card if they hand it to you or simply tell you the card details over the phone.

Benefits: Fast! Also you can store the client’s card for future charging at will.

How: Tap the CHARGE button on your home screen of PocketSuite, enter client CC info, charge any $ amount.

Save on processing fees at 2.9% + 30¢ per payment, compared to Square or PayPal.


2) Invoicing

Occasion: Sending a traditional (and professional) invoice to clients for services.

Benefits: Allows clients to pay any invoice amount online (from their smartphone or computer) with convenience.

How: Tap the INVOICE button on your home screen of PocketSuite. Deliver any invoice via text or email, and clients will have the option to pay online.


3) Appointment Deposit Upfront

Occasion: If you want to collect payment on an appointment upfront when scheduling a client to your calendar.

Benefits: In one-fell swoop, confirm a client appointment on your calendar while receiving a full or partial $ deposit upfront.

How: When scheduling an appointment in PocketSuite, set a “$ Deposit” amount on the appointment and require your client to confirm said appointment with a credit card when you send it to them.


4) Payment once an Appointment/Job is Complete

Occasion: When you want to accept payment immediately after an appointment is complete.

Benefits: Uber-like experience to charge a client’s card that is linked to an appointment on your calendar.

How: Tap the CHARGE button on any appointment on your calendar that has been reserved with a client’s credit card. You can charge any $ amount and even hand the phone over to your client to add a tip (if desired).


5) Online Payments

Occasion: If you want to have clients book/pay you online – you can accept payment through your website, Facebook page and Instagram profile.

Benefits: Allows you to turn anyone visiting your website or social media pages into an instantly booking and paying client.

How: Enable ‘Online Booking’ in PocketSuite, and integrate your booking widget onto your website. Then paste your booking links on your social media profile.


6) Selling Packages

Occasion: If you want to sell upfront to a client a group or package of services/classes for future use.

Benefits: Collecting payment upfront, and then having a simple way to track all the sessions/credits used by each client.

How: Set up / save any standard package or program you sell, then send it off to your client (via text or email) to review and then purchase online. Credits are auto-added to the client’s account and you can start tracking those sessions!


7) Recurring Payments

Occasion: When you need to automatically charge clients each week, month, etc. – for ongoing memberships or recurring billing.

Benefits: Literally get paid while you sleep. No work on your end to have to invoice/charge clients, and no work on the client’s end to have to remember to pay an ongoing bill.

How: Enable ‘Subscriptions’ in PocketSuite, and send any type of subscription plan you’d like to a client (with a set $ amount and payment schedule). Your client confirms that plan just ONCE with a credit card only and voila!


8) Class Deposits

Occasion: When you want clients to sign up for a class and pay a drop-in fee ahead of a class.

Benefits: Double whammy: fills up your class roster allowing clients to sign up for a class ahead of time, and ensures you get PAID for the class ahead of time.

How: Enable ‘Classes’ in PocketSuite, then set up your class schedule (class name, $ drop-in, schedule, location, etc.). You can sign clients up yourself or post your class schedule online (see ‘Online Booking’ above) for clients to sign up & pay online.


9) via SMS Shortcode

Occasion: When you are requesting payment from a client via SMS text (i.e., sending an invoice via text, a package via text, requesting a job deposit via text, etc.), clients can literally just reply “1” to pay.

Benefits: Literally the easiest way around for a client to make a payment.

How: If you send any payment request to a client via text message, then your client will be given the option in the text thread to “Reply 1” to pay whatever is due (assuming your client already has entered a CC on file before).


10) Cancellation Fee

Occasion: If your client ever cancels an appointment falling inside your cancellation window.

Benefits: Gives you the ability to charge a cancellation fee — so you can be compensated for clients who fail to show up or cancel on you last minute.

How: When a client taps on their appointment link and hits the CANCEL button, they will be shown that by cancelling, their card (on file) will be charged your cancellation fee (as set by you under Settings > Business > Cancellations).


Bonus: GIVE YOUR CLIENTS THEIR OWN APP…

11) Client-side app

Occasion: If your client wants more control over sending you one-off payments not tied to any particular transaction.

Benefits: Gives your clients more flexibility and an organized record of all payments they send to you as the business.

How: Clients can download PocketSuite to their smartphones as well – they create a ‘client’ account instead of a ‘business’ account. They can add your business details under their PocketSuite contacts and send you payment at will via credit card, debit card and even ACH transfer.


12) Gift Certificates

Occasion: For holidays, special occasions, or just because…

Benefits: Gives you the ability to sell anyone an e-gift card that can be assigned to anyone as a gift and used to pay for any of your services. It’s a great way to pull your income forward during slow periods.

How: When a client taps on your booking link to buy any of your gift card items, they can purchase it for themselves or assign it before checking out of your booking site by entering the name, number, and a brief message to anyone.


 

13) Payment Button

Occasion: Whenever from whomever

Benefits: Gives you the ability to securely get paid any amount by anyone from your website or social media page (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.).

How: Just like Venmo and PayPal. when a client taps on the payment button or link on your website or social media, they can enter the amount that they want to pay and a quick note and send. You’ll be notified of the funds immediately and you can cash out in minutes.


Mobilize your Business

The world is going mobile, and so are your clients. That means you should too.

For some business owners and entrepreneurs, initial reaction to the terms “mobile” and “text message” may seem unprofessional.

For some professionals, after a long day of running the day-to-day and dealing with clients, having to sit in front of the computer for busy work is just a necessary evil of being a small business owner.

Well, the times they are a changing…and mobilizing. 

The benefits of text message far surpass the “what I’m used to” feeling you might have while sitting in front of a desk.

Payment speed, customer convenience, workflow efficiencies, relationship building, marketing and more — these are all fundamental reasons why your peers and competitors are rapidly adopting apps and mobile tools to help their businesses succeed in today’s mobile world.

And your clients? Not only do they accept mobile with open arms, but nowadays they expect it.

You should be happy that your clients live in apps and over text message. As evidenced below, this mobile wave will actually help you build a lightening fast business without causing you any stress.


Here’s a fun (yet slightly depressing) fact: the average time it takes a customer to pay a standard invoice is 14 days.

Newsflash: the average time it takes a customer to pay a PocketSuite invoice (sent over text) is 1 day. (See more)

Why is that (you’re probably asking)? Well we asked some of our 15,000 business owners on PocketSuite, and they responded simply: “Because it’s easy”.

Clients don’t need to get cash from the bank, or remember to mail a check, or go back home to their computer to log in somewhere online to make a payment. On mobile, your customers can pay anywhere, and they can pay over SMS text message. This isn’t some new technology or app your client needs to learn in order to make a payment. Heck, they don’t even need to create an account (i.e., PayPal). It’s a simple tap to pay. Or how about “text to pay” 🙂

In short – you’re not moving mobile for selfless reasons. You get paid quicker. Seize the day!


There are two types of businesses I run into these days when it comes to scheduling: (1) Tech Savvy, and (2) Old School. Now, there are of course others who don’t fall into these 2 groups. For the most part, these are the 2 main types you might fall into.

Tech Savvy
You’ve got some business software with a proprietary calendar. It helps you add really detailed stuff to your calendar, it’s on the web, has a log-in, sends reminders, maybe has some other cool business features, etc. The problem with the ‘TechSavvy’ approach is that the software that is being used is completely isolated from the rest of their life and it’s at your desk. Most software out there does not sync with your personal or any other calendars you use (i.e., Google, iCal, Outlook, etc.). If you want to see your business schedule, well you need to log into some portal from your desktop and view what’s on tap. You can’t see if you have a lunch scheduled that day, or if you have a doctor’s appointment, or your schedule to pick up kids, etc. You’re stuck seated, isolated. No bueno!

Old School
You do scheduling your own way. So a paper calendar or you use your Google Calendar because it’s handy and it gels with all the other personal events you’ve got going on in your life. The problem with the ‘Old School’ approach is that you’re missing out on tons of efficiencies that can help you save tons of time running your business. I get it though – “time” is tough to value. But think about a calendar that gels with your life that’s also mobile, that also sends automatic reminders to clients, that puts appointments directly on your customer’s calendars FOR them, that supports “credit card confirmation”, that auto-sends Thank You! when the appointment is complete, and more. Things you do yourself and things you also can’t even imagine doing yourself.

Start adopting a tool with the best of both worlds. Make sure it’s easy, make sure it syncs with your entire life schedule, and (most of all) make sure you can use it anywhere!


If you work in an industry where your client needs to trust you, then communication is key.

If I’m hiring anyone to come to my home, or to depend on for a special occasion, or to take care of a love one (animal or human of course), or who I’m simply paying a lot of money — I want to make sure I can contact that professional at any time. And that doesn’t mean I’m going to call you at 4 o’clock in the morning to ask you a question.

There’s a reason why people have adopted (and LOVE) text messaging as a mode of communication — it’s convenient, fast and reliable. So why not give that feeling of convenience and reliability to your CLIENTS when building a relationship with them?

Have you ever simply forgotten to respond to an email? Or lost an important email in the midst of junk mail? Or had a client be upset at your “email response time” (however reasonable that might actually be)?

Be available when your clients need you, and give them that warm & fuzzy convenient experience. Build mobile communication into the core of your workflow, and form a deeper and more direct relationship with your customers.


Give Customers Mobile Convenience

We’re talking CONVENIENCE across the board here.

Payments, scheduling, messaging, e-signing documents, and more.

In a major way, introducing all these parts of your business to clients in the palm of their hands is incredible. Your clients can be literally ANYwhere and pay an invoice you send them….Get a reminder about tomorrow’s appointment…Field a text saying “Running 15 mins late”…Receive a waiver to sign. Literally ZERO effort on them to take any action.

And that last sentence ties into why convenience is good for YOU. The “zero effort to take any action” I just mentioned? Well that “action” typically drives the success of your business — your getting paid, winning a new client, filling up your schedule, etc. 

Give clients what they want and good things will happen 🙂

4 Ways Calendar Sync Can Make You More $$$

Syncing your work calendar with your personal calendar is crucial when it comes to running an efficient business (and a functional life!).

Make sure you’ve synced your calendar in PocketSuite (or any other calendar tool you are using), to maximize the $$$’s in your pocket.

Here are some awesome benefits to syncing your calendar…

Reduce your Client Churn

Opportunity cost is a fancy term used for simply “missing out”.

If your calendars are not synced, then you can miss out big time on a client and new business. Huge opportunity cost.

Imagine this when dealing with a new client…

You ask a new client what time next week works for them to meet. Or better yet, you share your calendar with that new client. They choose a date and time that appears free, the client is happy, you’re happy.

Fast forward a couple days, and you look at your personal calendar and see you actually have a lunch scheduled that day. Or a doctor’s appointment. Or you have to pick your kids up at school. Or you have family in town.

Your next move is to being forced to tell that new client that you’re actually NOT available during the time you initially said you were. Meaning, your client has to re-think their entire schedule too.

Not only that, but questions arise in your client’s head:
— Is this business owner not organized?
— Will he or she reschedule on me again?
— Is their behavior now going to be similar to the quality of their work?

Your client could very well “churn”. Meaning, you ask to reschedule, and you never hear from the client again.

If you’re lucky, then you can reschedule with the client, but they’re not going to be happy.

And if they do churn, then that’s you “missing out” on a new client that could put $$$ in your pocket.

Eliminate the Back and Forth Plague

Let’s return to the aforementioned client example.

If that client doesn’t churn, then that’s great news! 

Unfortunately, here comes the rescheduling work…

Frustrated, your client will then ask about another date & time in the future that might work. You’ll have to check not just your work calendar but also your personal calendar to ensure there’s not conflict that day. That’s 2x the work on 2 calendars.

If there’s a conflict, then you’ll have to search some more on your 2 calendars to find a couple other dates/times that might work for that client.

At some point the client will hopefully find a time that will work for them.

However the back-and-forth time spent is killer, and it’s not necessarily a fun or convenient experience for any new customer.

Get Booked while you Sleep

Imagine a world where you felt like you had a personal assistant who never bothered you, who you didn’t have to pay for, and who you didn’t even know existed.

If you share a sync’d calendar clients – then you’ve accomplished just that. 

You’ve got your powerful, invisible, free personal assistant.

A major competitive advantage you can reap as a busy professional is not just syncing your calendars, but sharing your sync’d availability with clients.

You can do this by adding online scheduling to your website, Facebook page or Instagram page (if you’ve got one). You can also send (via SMS text or email) your availability via a URL or booking link to customers.

Sounds advanced, but it’s really not.

Interested clients never need to call you to ask when you’re free; or email you asking what times work. Your calendar can answer all those scheduling questions upfront with a simple availability view. Bonus: You can get new clients put on your calendar while you’re busy with another client…or while you sleep.

These are just some simple strategies to help share your true availability with the world – minimal effort for you, but goes a long way for immediate scheduling (and payment) efficiencies for your business.

Keep your Personal Life Sane

Whether you’ve got kids, a spouse, friends, hobbies or anything else that might take up your time other than work – you want to make sure things run smoothly in your personal life. 

I’m sure your family will appreciate knowing when they can spend time with you.

I have a feeling your friends don’t want you cancelling their plans.

If your personal life starts conflicting with your work life, then that puts you in an awkward position where you have to choose.

Do you pick another customer paycheck? Or do you pick spending more time with your family?

Don’t put yourself in that position to choose.

Make sure that your personal and professional calendars are sync’d so that you never have to make that fateful decision of getting double-booked, and disappointing someone important to you.

The happier your home life is, the better you’ll feel. Positive energy will translate to better work, thus happier clients, and more referrals 🙂

Opportunity Cost Can Cost You Real Money

You may not recognize it, but opportunity cost affects your business every single day. Opportunity cost is essentially what you give up (the benefits of the next best alternative) when you make a choice. To understand how to keep your opportunity costs low, let’s first meet John.

John is a new client. You and John spent about an hour back-and-forth discussing his exact needs as a client and then figuring out a date that works for both of your schedules to fill said needs. Fast forward to today – you’ve got John’s job on your calendar this afternoon. You start heading over to John’s house. Suddenly you get a call. John has to cancel last minute and he’s not sure about rescheduling. He’ll “get back to you.”

Immediately, you get a pit in your stomach. That feeling is not simply about losing out on a piece of business. It’s about the time you spent planning the job, the afternoon you blocked off for the job, and all the other clients you turned down in preparation for the job.

If only you had known that John wasn’t a reliable client, you wouldn’t have invested all that time with him. You would have gone with another client – another choice. Unfortunately, no one can know these things beforehand, especially when it comes to new clients. You can, however, protect yourself with 3 simple steps in order to reduce your ultimate opportunity costs.

1. Institute a fair cancellation policy

You know your time is money, but most clients don’t understand this. Communicate to your clients a fair cancellation policy. Your customers need to know that your time is serious, and instituting a cancellation policy gets this message across. John would’ve thought twice to cancel on you if he knew there was an actual cost for him to bear in doing so.

2. Reserve your client’s payment information ahead of time

You need to enforce your cancellation policy, and you need your client’s payment information to do so. However, it can be a big “ask” for your clients to blindly hand over their credit card to a brand new business. Increase your client’s comfort level by using a trusted third party when collecting their payment details. That way, your client is happy to hand over their payment information and you both can sleep well at night.  

3. Stop invoicing

Invoicing leaves you vulnerable to late payments. Clients just get lazy when it comes to paying bills – no one enjoys writing checks, so it’s easy to push it off. And worst case, clients can totally forget about paying altogether! Every dollar in your pocket can be used to reinvest in your business, so the sooner you have that hard-earned cash, the better. Keep customer payment information on file to eliminate the need for invoicing altogether and guarantee timely payment. For unreliable customers like John, you of course want to make sure they pay when they cancel, but more importantly make sure they pay when the job is complete.

3 Steps to Convert Clients to Recurring Business

Converting new customers into returning clients is a key element to your business’s success. Having a “recurring” customer base is crucial when it comes to accurately projecting out your budget, making marketing decisions, and even estimating your own take-home pay. Not to mention, it’s six to seven times cheaper to keep a current customer than acquiring a new one.

Plain and simple, doing great work is, obviously, the best way to keep a client for life but there are lots of professionals out there who do great work. You need to do more than the obvious to stand out. Here are some simple and softer techniques you can do to make sure your past clients call you the next time they need future service.

1. Don’t play hard to get

First impression is everything. For your clients, their first impression of your brand is the first time they schedule that initial appointment with you. Be sure to make that process as seamless as possible.

I’ve never met anyone who enjoys dealing with logistics. Don’t force your clients to spend more time than needed when scheduling an appointment with you. Your customers don’t have time to trade endless voicemails or emails with you to figure out if you can help them and when you’re available.

When they call, pick up. When they email, be quick to respond. Ideally, have a way for clients to browse your calendar and availability, in real-time, and send you specific job requests directly online without even needing to pick up the phone. List your services online, so your clients know exactly if you can fulfill their needs.

Save your clients time dealing with logistics and they’ll love you for it. Think about it. If these clients like your service, they will  schedule appointments with you many times over. Make it easy for them.

2. Make the payment experience hassle-free

Paying for services can be a pretty inconvenient experience for clients. It’s the awkward “How much do I owe you?” then “What kind of payment do you accept” then “Let me grab my wallet / a check / my card.” It’s cumbersome.

First, make sure your clients know upfront what they’re going to be paying when they hire you (or at least a ballpark range). Transparency always makes everyone more comfortable. This also reduces the risk of any type of negotiation or pushback when it actually comes time to pay.

Be accommodating when it’s actually time to pay up. Don’t force your clients to have cash on them or dig up a check. Accept any type of payment, but don’t be afraid to introduce your customers to new payment technologies that can make their lives easier

Payment technology is changing. Look at how Uber has transformed the way clients pay for taxi service. If I didn’t have to open my wallet at the end of each hired job, I’d want to recreate that payment experience as much as possible.

3. Anticipate your client’s needs

In many cases, your customer’s needs are not simply “one and done.” Clients hire a variety of “regular” service needs, ranging from once a week to once a month to once a year.  

Keep notes on your clients and reach out when you think they might need service again. You know if your business is the type where services are recurring (i.e., cleaning, styling, training, etc.). If your client could be due for another service appointment, send a friendly email or text inquiring and letting them know you’re happy to help.

Direct marketing to past clients can can be very effective and add a ton of value. If you did great work, and if your scheduling and payment experience is frictionless, there is every reason for your client to recreate that experience with you over and over again.

Turning your Messenger into a Business Tool

Chances are you might be using text message (or email) to handle all your client interactions.

Customer interactions can range from new client onboarding, to back-and-forth logistics, to appointment follow-ups, to monthly check-ins, to even running campaigns or announcements to client lists. 

For all you business owners who use regular text message as your client messenger, one of the main issues you probably run into is organization.

You’ve got a list of all your customer conversations intermixed with chats with family and friends. To boot, organizing what needs to be prioritized and who needs to be responded to in what order becomes a problem. The speed of back-and-forth is great, however maintaining an organized customer list becomes exponentially painful as your business grows.

For those who use email as your primary customer communication method, speed might be your biggest issue.

The filtering and searching through clients and records is more manageable with email (vs. text), however what you gain in organization you lose in responsiveness and speed…the loading of email and the digging through spam. This also impacts your customer’s happiness — 56% of customers prefer texting a business than any other method because of the brevity, easy of use, and speediness of the communication method. So pushing clients to email you won’t necessarily start your relationship off on the right foot.

There needs to be a happy medium. And there is…

A messenger for businesses that has the same organization benefits while also maintaining the speed your business needs to compete, all the while keeping customers happy.

That’s why PocketSuite exists – messenger for your business.

We set out on a mission to make texting better…better than your normal messenger.

Unlike standard text message, email, or even Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp, business messaging requires a few unique building blocks to ensure it can help your business succeed.

1. Client conversations – organized

Without your clients, your business would not exist. Thus, giving you the quickest and most direct path to access your clients is crucial.

In PocketSuite you maintain your entire client conversation list on a single, main thread. This gives you a simple and straight forward way to view all your customer chats separate from your personal chats. You have the freedom to keep SMS text with friends & family, and a separate Messenger to handle all your customer conversations.

Within each customer chat thread in PocketSuite you have detailed access to the entire history of interactions with that client…and that doesn’t mean just text. That means messages, photos shared, call logs (missed calls and connected calls), notes, contact details, and even appointment & payment history (we discuss these features below).

So if it’s a responsible and timely business a client wants to hire, having PocketSuite Messenger at your disposal for quick customer access and record keeping is a win.

2. More than just texting

Simple texts and emojis are great for friends, but with clients you might need more than that.

That’s why PocketSuite comes with the ability for you to communicate with clients in more ways that just a simple back-and-forth. Messaging features for businesses include:

  • Scheduled Messages: Set a date/time in the future for any type of message to be sent out to a client. Schedule a message to be delivered in the morning, after an appointment, or to wish a client happy birthday. 
  • Text Campaigns: Send text message blasts to groups of clients. Create & save customers lists, and send messages like company announcements, service deals, happy holidays and more.
  • Group Messaging: If you want clients to interact with one another (say, for those signed up for a group class), you can create a group message, have your clients download PocketSuite, and chat altogether as a group. Clients can meet each other and engage as a group!
  • Saved Message Templates: Create & save any common messages you send clients — like out-of-office messages, answers to commonly asked questions, or general instructions you typically sent clients ahead of appointments. 1-touch “grab & send” makes taking a saved message and shooting it off to any client easy as pie.
  • Appointment Reminder Texts: We talk about scheduling further below, but an integrated calendar makes setting up reminders texts to go out to scheduled clients incredible simple and powerful.

TO BE 100%TRANSPARENT, YOUR CLIENTS DON’T NEED TO DOWNLOAD THE POCKETSUITE APP TO COMMUNICATE WITH YOU. THEY SIMPLY REPLY TO YOU JUST LIKE NORMAL TEXT MESSAGE.

3. A dedicated business #

With each PocketSuite account comes a dedicated business line that is assigned to you, in the area code of your choosing.

Why is that important?

Protect your personal number from customers – old and new. Give your business a professional new # for clients to text and call any time. Instead of customer messages syncing directly to normal text message feed which is intermixed with friends and not easily trackable, have all customer reach-outs be funneled to a single, organized feed in your PocketSuite app.

Know who is is calling – a client calling your business line or a friend calling your personal number – with smart caller ID, so you’re always prepared when a client is calling you. Outbound calling also makes it 100% certain that your personal # will be shielded whenever you are calling a customer from within PocketSuite.

4. Integrated + complementary tools

Customer communication and relationships are far and away the most important parts of your business. But they are not the ONLY part…

That’s why your PocketSuite account comes with an integrated calendar and payments feature.

Within the thread of every client conversation, add them to your calendar, send them a payment request, or charge a credit card you have on file for them.

Online integration (like bookings and forms), contract e-signing, recurring payments, packages and more are also available depending on how many additional workflows your particular business needs.

Do more with your Messenger

The days of thinking customer communication is merely a “necessity” are over.

Think of it more as a tool that you can leverage to make your business stand out from the crowd…by delighting more clients. Keeping you organized and speeding up your customer responsiveness can do a world of good for your business.

We will leave you with the below chart calling out where an awesome messaging tool can actually make you MORE money from the clients you deal with every single day. Whether it’s PocketSuite or Facebook Messenger or text message, make sure the communication building blocks are set for your business, so you can grow your business into something your customers absolutely love…

Text Message Benefits to Small Businesses

Today, 56% of consumers would rather text a business than call.

The main reason being? Convenience.

Delivering a convenient experience to your customers can go a long way when it comes to building a long-lasting relationship with clients. More customer happiness means they will keep coming back and they will tell their friends about you.

And it’s not just about your client’s convenience factor.

It’s about you.

Text message statistics don’t lie, and they all point to one thing — if you communicate with your clients over text, then you get heard loud and clear. No missed calls, no lost emails, no snail mail. Whether you need an invoice to get paid, an appointment to be confirmed, or a follow-up note to be read – text message is the platform for communication success.

Plain and simple: your customers read their text messages!

Not only that, but they read them immediately after they receive it (‘SMS procrastination’ does not exist).

Any important information about you, the service, or anything at all – if you communicate over text, your client will digest said communication.

You won’t ever hear the:

Oh I didn’t get the email” or “I’ll get back to you when I get in front of a computer“.

You’ve got something important to say. So make sure your customers list. Use text.

Because of the effectiveness of text, more businesses are shifting gears.

Not just text – but also apps.

The idea is things get done quicker when on mobile.

Whether that’s communicating or transacting – small business owners are moving mobile to help their businesses compete and to improve their cash flow.

The average time it takes a client to pay an invoice over text? – 24 hours. That compare to 7-12 days in pre text message days. 

Going mobile is simple.

Start here – and get your business ahead of the pack!