Five Tools I Use In My Business
Elevate your client experience with these biz tools & apps
I talk a lot about branding from a visual perspective, but your client experience should receive as much attention as the other elements of your branding.
your visuals + your voice + your experience = your branding
How you handle everything from the first inquiry to the last payment, and everything in between, should be as smooth as a Bruno Mars song.
I take a lot of pride in creating an experience for my clients, one that lives up the values of my business and enhances the brand I am building. One of the most consistent things that client’s comment on is the ease of my process.
Over the last few years, I have literally spent HUNDREDS of hours listening to podcasts, reading blogs, and scanning social media posts to find the right tools for my business. While there is no one size fits all solution for everyone, I encourage you to get out there, subscribe to free trials and try each app, program or web plugin—find what works for you and your clients. Here’s what I’m currently using:
I have been through THREE project management/CRM systems and Dubsado is finally the one that I plan to stick with. Not that the others out there are bad…they just weren’t a great fit for my business. Dubsado offers a trial period (your first three customers) and fantastic customer support. They are constantly adding new features which is one thing I felt was lacking in the others I’ve tried.
Pros: Client Portals (the top reason I made the switch), Automated Workflows, Easy Proposal Selection (it generates invoices based on the client’s selection)
Cons: No app (yet), but the mobile browser version works well enough.
Others I’ve Tried: 17Hats, Honeybook
Asana is where I store all of my business to-dos. I know a lot of people are die-hard Trello users, I tried it for almost a year, but Asana’s checklist format speaks to my list-loving heart. When I complete a task, I just hit that little checkmark and boom there goes a flying unicorn telling me how awesome I am for completing said task. Who doesn’t want a unicorn flying across their screen?
I start my week by looking at what deliverables are due for each client in their Dubsado timelines and I add it to an Asana list. While I also keep a calendar, the checklist format is visually easier for me to follow and helps keep my projects straight. This way I ensure things are done on time.
Pros: Browser and phone app, can be used with an internal team and external clients, easy-to-use, UNICORNS!, NEW! a board-mode for the people who like Trello
Cons: Haven’t found any yet
Others I’ve Tried: Trello
Don’t you hate going back and forth with people trying to schedule a meeting?
One of the easiest ways to make yourself available to clients is by using a calendar scheduling program. You set the days and times you want to make yourself available, sync it with your calendar of choice (Google Calendar is mine, but it syncs with others) and then provide clients/vendors/friends with the link to your Acuity calendar. Once a date and time is selected, they receive an email confirmation (which you can customize) and it’s added to your calendar. They will also receive a reminder before the appointment.
I put the link to my calendar in my email signature, so even if I’m out of pocket, a client can easily access the link and make an appointment. I also add this link to my client portals in Dubsado.
Pros: Syncs with Zoom Video Conferencing (see below), easy interface for clients, reminder emails, custom CSS to add my own branding
Cons: Setup is a little tedious
Others I’ve Tried: Calendly
There is something to be said for face-to-face interactions, but as a pre-dominantly online entrepreneur, meeting with clients isn’t usually possible. Thanks to video conferencing, we get the next best thing. From initial client consultations to website tutorials, I use Zoom Video for all of my conferencing needs. Zoom syncs up with my Acuity Scheduling account, so the link to my private conference room is attached to all communications with clients. The best thing is that this service is free for one-on-one use, and up to 40 minutes with a group. You can also record your meetings, which I do for my website trainings. Clients then get a link to the video that I upload to my Vimeo account and it stays there indefinitely for them to reference.
Pros: Recorded meetings, one meeting link that you can send to clients
Cons: Free version has a time limit for groups
Others I’ve Tried: Skype
Consistency in your graphics is key to maintaining your business branding. The best way to do that is to have templates built out. For those who are not savvy with design, programs can still create beautiful graphics with the help of programs and apps like Canva or Over. Use your templates to standardize colors and type, but get creative with text size, hierarchy, and patterns to make each template a little unique, but still consistent.
Pros: Both have great templates to start from if you’re not creatively inclined. Pro versions allow you to upload your own fonts. You can create all kinds of graphics (social, business cards, flyer, etc.)
Cons: Canva’s app isn’t as robust as Over, however, Over doesn’t have a browser version—so there’s a trade-off.
Client experience is a big piece of your branding puzzle! If you go back and read through these again, you will notice that each one of these programs works with the other to create a seamless process from start to finish.
Take the time to cultivate an experience that turns clients into raving fans. If you do that, referrals and testimonials will pour in, making your job that much easier and your brand that much stronger!