We’ve seen so many changes in the past year, but there’s one we’re particularly excited about. We can’t help but notice how focused small businesses are on providing a better customer experience.

That’s due to the fact that most savvy business owners recognize that the loyalty they once enjoyed may now be in jeopardy.

With so much uncertainty, consumers are open to finding new providers for services and products. This is especially true if they can’t quickly and easily determine if their favorite is currently still in business, out of business or temporarily closed.

Today’s consumers also prefer to utilize online search and listings, DIY scheduling and texting to get the job done.

Instead of seeing that as a threat, consider it a challenge to the “old way” of doing things. Let’s look forward to embracing the new ways. #Hello2021!

If you’re determined to cement your place in your customers’ hearts, long-term, start with these four rules small businesses need to break now.

OLD RULE #1: “Call us during our hours of operation”

NEW RULE: Offer Client Portals and two-way texting

You likely have many Millennial and younger clients. Therefore, you know they don’t like talking on the phone. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em where they’re willing to meet you. Thryv provides a Client Portal where customers can find all the information they need about your business. They can also interact with you from the portal, schedule an appointment, make payments and more.

Plus, more consumers say they prefer text messages from businesses, from product announcements to promotions to appointment reminders, but only about 20% of businesses currently offer texting as a means of communicating with their clients. For small businesses, this is an easy way to stand out. While you’re at it, be sure your website is mobile friendly, too.

OLD RULE #2: “I printed business cards and put my number on my truck. I’m done, right?”

NEW RULE: Monitor and update online presence regularly

Harnessing the power of online listings is a game-changer for small businesses everywhere. That’s why Thryv connects its users to more than 60 online listings sites. This ensure that the business’s information, including location, website, hours of operation and more, are always up-to-date no matter where a customer may be searching.

Thryv also integrates with Google My Business, eliminating all the hassle of getting verified and managing the listing. In fact, businesses can even create Google Posts from their Thryv dashboard.

OLD RULE #3: “Call the office, and we’ll get you on the schedule”

NEW RULE: Schedule appointments online; follow-up via text or email

Not only do more of your customers today prefer to avoid live phone calls, they also are finding it harder to get someone on the line when they do try. According to ZocDoc, a resource for medical practices, 25% of patients said they struggle to reach their doctor’s office by phone, and they end up waiting weeks to try again. Talk about lost business!

Further, the ZocDoc survey found that 80% of respondents are more motivated to book appointments online. With Thryv, users not only offer online scheduling to their customers, but also sync their entire team’s calendar, so no appointment is ever missed.

Businesses can also send out confirmations, reminders and follow-ups so you’re always top-of-mind with customers, too, utilizing automated text messaging, or emails, if you prefer.

In fact, did you know that more than half of Americans check their email before they head in to work? And 17% check their email as soon as they wake up. If your customers are gluttons for pre-coffee emails, why not set up your email marketing campaigns and appointment reminders so your message is there when they are?

ThryvPay, ThryvPay app, paymentsOLD RULE #4: “We only take cash and checks”

NEW RULE: Offer multiple, contactless ways to pay

Let’s make this super simple: Most consumers do not want to handle cash, very few still carry checkbooks, and they certainly don’t want to touch that grimy payment pad.

Contactless payments made online or with a smartphone are the new rules every business needs to adopt now. We can’t stress this enough.

Consumers not only want to know they’re safe, they want to streamline how they pay you. Running your business with Thryv’s end-to-end customer experience software makes this simple. Thryv offers multiple ways for your customers to pay you, including the new ThryvPay, as well as PayPal, Square and Stripe.

You can also securely store your customers’ card information for easy payments you both can agree upon. You can even request payments via text.

Now that you’re ready to enter 2021 with new rules, discover more about how Thryv makes payments easier. Check out the video below: