Think about how much time you and your staff have spent booking client meetings. And think about how helpful would it be if you could clump all the phone calls you receive from clients into specific time slots of the day, and know in advance what they’re calling about. Well, there are services that will let clients book their own meetings and phone appointments with you through a portal on your website.
Finding a service
There are various scheduling services available, with price points ranging from free to several hundred dollars a month. Here are my needs and wants for such a service.
- Is easy to use so clients don’t get discouraged
- Automatically syncs; I didn’t want to spend time manually updating it
- Is universally accessible, so clients don’t need to have iPhones, Outlook accounts or Gmail accounts
- Lets clients include what they want to talk about
- Is secure
- Offers clients a list of meeting types from which
- Automatically exports into my client database
- Reminds clients about the meeting or call in advance, via email or SMS
- Sets specific time frames for meetings
The service I settled on is called ScheduleOnce. For US$19 per month, here’s what I can do.
- We send clients to a secure website via email or a button embedded on our website.
- Once there, they choose a meeting type. They can pick from three types of phone meetings (two 15-minute, one 60-minute), three types of face-to-face meetings
(two 60-minute, one 90-minute) or a web meeting (60 minutes). When needed, they can also request custom meeting lengths.
- A calendar pops up with choices across three months, showing which days are free for that period.
- They pick a day and time, and enter basic personal information (name, phone number) and what they want to meet about.
- We get an email notifying us of the meeting request. My staff double-checks it against my calendar, and if I’m free, approves the meeting with a click of a button (15-minute phone calls do not need to be approved; they simply show up in the blank spots in my schedule). A notice is sent to the client confirming the time and date, as well as any specific notes the staff member chooses to add. For instance, they could add, “Kevin also wants to update your information while you are in.”
- My staff’s action puts the meeting and details into my work calendar.
- If my staff modify the meeting’s time or details, those changes are automatically sent to the client to approve or reschedule.
- Two days before the meeting, an email reminder is automatically sent to my staff, the client and me. A link to cancel or adjust the meeting is included.
- Three hours before the meeting, email and text message reminders are sent again.
The service allows us to set a maximum number of meetings each day, so we’ve limited me to four client meetings a day, with at least half an hour between each.
I opted out of the higher-end service, since that increased the cost from US$19 to US$49 a month. That option lets you customize the meeting request form and export meeting notes directly into my client database. I decided to copy the confirmation email into the meeting notes instead.
When our clients decline to use the service, we enter them manually (without their contact information) so we can still take advantage of the service’s notifications.
Overall, an automated scheduling service will keep you more organized and help you save time.