Category Archives: Appointment

Did We Forget to Give Teams a Remote Working Playbook?

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Did We Forget Give Teams Remote Working Playbook

Imagine you’re a new employee at a time when many people are starting their careers remotely. Where is the remote work playbook? Are employees ready for remote work routines? How do they feel about their remote working routines?

Maybe you felt a little uneasy and didn’t know how to blend in when you started your first job. Perhaps you didn’t know who to ask questions from or seek support — or even how or what to ask, in the first place? After a while, you gained a feel for how things operated in the business you were in and whom you could turn to ask questions within the organization.

Where is the Teams Remote Working Playbook?

Imagine you’re a new employee at a time when many people are starting their careers remotely. Your first coding, writing, or new internship is your job. How do you handle your schedule with college, study, and work? Who’s going to help you navigate this new form of time management? Hopefully, if you are an employer, parent, or mentor you will know how-to guide this new person.

But as a young new employee — how will you understand office culture if you’d never worked?

Interpersonal issues

It’s difficult for first-time remote workers to stay motivated, especially if their boss only occasionally calls but rarely meets them. Their superiors and coworkers aren’t as accessible as they would be if you were in the office each day — or if you had had a relationship in the past (before COVID) as a full-time employee.

Finding the knowledge these new workers need will take more effort and time than has previously been addressed.

Many firm policies, procedures, and onboarding programs provide guidance but lack cultural awareness. New remote employees may be overwhelmed and have questions, but are hesitant to ask. New employees and their employers often believe an individual should resolve matters independently and avoid drawing attention to themselves. Some businesses don’t realize that everything has changed over the last couple of years and new protocols need to be in place.

Changing channels to remote work

Managers should explore daily check-ins with remote new employees.

An onslaught of messages and responsibilities throughout the day may not offer a new hire a sense of belonging. Consider combining emails, phone conversations, video meetings, and online collaboration portals.

Encourage questions and use blunders as learning opportunities. Consider providing a “virtual buddy” who will furnish informal support to your new team member along with virtual coaching. Always think about the career growth of your new employee — and specify possible career routes and milestones. Teaching a career path and the acquired learning helps the new team member feel a ray of hope.

Prescribe working part-time at the office or on the job site if your less experienced employees can accommodate the schedule. One-third of workers aged 18-24 preferred working offsite only one day a week, according to PwC, and only a fifth of those polled agreed.

Onboarding and rapport development are great — but organizational knowledge is likely best shared by more senior teams.

Working it with remote work

As an example, consider the case of Emily who started as an IT apprentice for an international horticultural company during the pandemic. She initially shadowed her mentor online and his calls and team meetings helped her master IT troubleshooting. She spent a few days in the office before Covid-19 forced its closure.

Emily admits she was initially intimidated. “I was afraid I’d make a mistake or remove a file from the company but my team is fantastic. If I have questions, I can easily reach someone remotely.”

Within four months, she was working solo, more confident, and well-versed in the process of helping staff with IT challenges. Emily excels in her work due to her management and team’s support, continual IT studies, and her personal drive to grow.

But this type of achievement may not be shared by others who work remotely for the first time.

Perceptions and Health with remote work

During Covid-19, researchers studied teleworking to see how it influenced employees’ job performance, job happiness, and physical and mental health. The researchers found exciting data. You can find their comments in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

The research plan Implementation was thorough. The main thing that the subjects said helped them to adjust to their new work schedule was how widely people embraced them. Remote work isolation and conflicts with family and work commitments were the main issues that stopped the new team members’ growth and adaptation.

Those new employees who were the best at adjusting were the ones who had prior remote working experience and thus expertise. Those who were starting their first full-time job and had never worked remotely were not as successful.

Recommendations for making remote work less stressful for new hires: Improve teamwork by teaching everyone at the same level and the same time — and supply a mentor.

Helps for the new employee for remote work — especially if they are young

Discuss communication with all coworkers and superiors together. Teach employees how to use databases to manage tasks and address fundamental IT issues.

Include remote workers in the creation of remote work schedules and the schedules of the in-office staff — review remote work initiatives and have your onboarding team help.

Look for “charge agents’” who will mentor and coach new remote workers. Collaborate with other organizations in your network or sector to share best practices.

In terms of mentorship, the trend toward virtual will likely continue even after all employees return to the office. Virtual mentoring can help employees feel valued, acknowledged, and empowered to perform at their best. Some of the practices of the past for office protocol will never be the same again — so get used to and encourage innovation in your teams.

Making your work programs accessible requires learning communities, communities of practice, and staff resource groups. To provide these services remotely was practically unheard of in the past and has been a challenge. But these practices are becoming normalized in many businesses and institutions since the pandemic.

Rewards and recognition in remote work

Consider rewarding and recognizing remote workers who show initiative and inventiveness. Also, explicitly nurture soft skills in new hires by understanding the need for human interaction to develop these talents.

Giving a new employee some early wins can help develop confidence. Let them co-chair a meeting or deliver a topic of interest to the company. Any leadership opportunities you provide will begin to build trust and credibility among the new employees’ peers.

As you work with your new employee or team member — especially if they are at university, or part-time — your scheduling conflicts will become much less common.

Your current new employees will help you rewrite the playbook for your future remote employees.

Take the awkwardness out of the scenario by using Covid-19’s two years of experience to greet new employees from anywhere — and help them become creative and productive.

Did We Forget to Give Teams a Remote Working Playbook? was originally published on Calendar by Max Palmer.

Image Credit: Olia Danilevich; Pexels; Thank you!


Create Focus Time in Office 365 Calendar

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focus time

While meetings are important, they can also prevent you from being able to create focus time. This is because everyone is too busy with excessive meetings. As these events build up, it is important to mark the time that you need on your Office 365 Calendar. Blocking time allows you to focus on what needs to get done before being filled with meetings. On Office 365 Calendar, there is a feature available to block out this focus time for important tasks.

The expansion of remote work means you will be taking care of much of your business through meetings with colleagues and bosses. It is not unusual to receive a “quick” call from a colleague who has a question. Have you ever had that surprise meeting added to your day? These meeting norms mean you need to be proactive in blocking out time so that you will not be disturbed. It is a great way to make sure you get your work done on time. That is why the focus time feature that Microsoft offers is so important.

Benefits of focus time

In jobs that rely on numerous meetings, it is important to make time to do more focused work. Technology allows colleagues and bosses to share calendars to ensure availability for collaboration and meetings. While great for collaboration, it is equally important to make better use of shared calendars to display your own focused time. Users can use the technology to set aside time during the day to do focused work and to block time for breaks.

This helps improve productivity and helps reduce fatigue by ensuring a proper balance of work activities in your day. Consider setting aside focus time as blocks of time during the workweek as needed for high-level thinking tasks. These tasks could include writing, strategizing, analysis, and tackling complex processes.

The focus time feature available in Office 365 Calendar allows you to block this time out to focus on your work. The time scheduled is shared across multiple Microsoft applications, so your Microsoft Office Outlook Calendar displays the time. In addition, your Microsoft Teams app also blocks out time. You can schedule your focus time for those apps using your MyAnalytics tool. These apps and tools are available on Microsoft 365. Here are a few tips on how to create focus time in Office 365 Calendar.

Focus time best practices

Office 365 allows you to automatically book your focus time while also allowing you to protect that time. You can do that by silencing chats on Teams and blocking notifications. It is important for your colleagues to understand what focus time means. Make it clear that this status on your Office 365 apps, like Outlook and Teams, means you should not be disturbed. Make sure you have sufficient focus time blocked during the workweek, and make adjustments to increase or reduce time.

It is also important to eliminate as many distractions as possible during your focus time. For example, if you work from home, you do not want to have the radio or television on. During your focus time, you should also ensure that you put your mobile phone away and turn off your email. The less distractions you have, the more time you have to focus.

Set your focus time

The focus time feature on Office 365 ensures you are not disturbed by others or by notifications from your apps. This can include blocking notifications, such as emails or meeting invites. You can set the focus time either manually or automatically.

If you want to set your focus time manually, you can do so at any time and on any day. To do this, you can simply change your status to “do not disturb” on the Office Calendar or in Teams. Office 365 also allows you to automate the focus scheduling process through the MyAnalytics application included in the suite of applications. Here’s how to use the automatic scheduling function.

MyAnalytics makes focus time easy

First, sign in to your MyAnalytics account. Find “focus” on the vertical menu and click it. You can define your focus period by identifying the amount of focus hours you want to schedule. The wizard will help you schedule this time. Whenever you start using this focus plan, you configure how you will book that time into your calendar. You get to customize your preferences using MyAnalytics, so it will book based on your chosen booking settings. You can choose the amount of hours for focus time you would like to schedule each day. You can also choose whether you prefer your focus time to be in the morning or in the afternoon. And finally, you can decide whether you would like to silence or accept the notifications for chat.

Once you have selected these options, you will get time blocked out on your calendar as focus time. For those focus time blocks on your calendar, your status in Microsoft Teams will display automatically as focusing. This presence status tells others that you should not be disturbed during this time. You can set priority contacts in Teams to ensure that you receive important messages from those select few you choose during focus time.

The focus time is now scheduled on your calendar like any other appointment. The focus time can be canceled or changed just like other calendar appointments. You can simply drag the event to another place on the calendar if you want to change the time. You can also delete the event from the calendar to cancel it.

Use MyAnalytics to Modify Focus Time

One of the advantages of using Office 365 is that it provides numerous applications and resources to make your life easier. When you use MyAnalytics, it can help you create a focus time plan, as noted above. It also allows you to update your plan settings by choosing Plan configuration in the upper right-hand corner of the MyAnalytics Focus dashboard. Then, the Plan Configuration navigation tab will open, where you have the option to modify how many focus hours you want for each day. And, you can update other preferences here as well. After you have created your focus time plan in MyAnalytics, your focus time will show up in your Outlook calendar. During those blocks of focus time on your calendar, your status will display as busy.

Block emails, notifications on a mobile device

Now that you understand how to schedule needed focus time to complete important tasks, you can block other distractions. You may find your focus time works well by blocking part of the day. You can avoid getting disturbed on Teams or with notifications on your computer. But, even after focusing on your computer, you can still be distracted by your phone. You can set your Outlook mobile app to “do not disturb” to stop the mobile distractions, such as emails on your phone.

Focus time on Microsoft Teams

After you create your focus time and it is listed on your calendar, Office 365 provides additional features to help you stay focused. Teams automatically sets your status as “Focusing” and “do not disturb.” That is important because your status in Teams does two important things. First, it tells colleagues who may want to send you a message on Teams that you should not be disturbed. Second, the status stops notifications that otherwise would disturb you. Both of these actions can help you avoid unnecessary distractions.

Teams also provide another feature, just in case your colleagues do not get the hint with your “do not disturb” status. You can set an automatic message to send in chat if someone attempts to contact you during your focus time. To create a status message in Teams that automatically displays when someone tries to message you during focus time, go to the Teams app. At your profile picture at the top of Teams, select “set status message” to view your options. Type the message that you want others to see in the box. Then, select “show when people message me” to have the message display automatically when someone messages or mentions you in Teams.

Image Credit: Cottonbro; Pexels; Thanks!

Create Focus Time in Office 365 Calendar was originally published on Calendar by John Hall.

5 Tips for Using Appointment-Based Businesses in 2022

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Tips For Using Appointment Based Businesses 2022

New year, same bookings you’ll need to keep scheduling at your appointment-based business. Celebrating the turn of the calendar is always fun and exciting, but now it’s time to get back to the old grind. That includes scheduling any upcoming appointments for services you’re going to need in the coming days.

Whether it’s a check-up at the dentist’s office or getting an oil change for your car, there are a few things you should remember as you schedule your appointments. By following these five tips, you can be sure you’ll be well received — and well served — in 2022.

1. Be on Time

This should be a no-brainer, but try to be on time to your appointments whenever possible. Being punctual limits the number of variables that appointment-based businesses have to deal with. If you arrive late to your appointment, you end up pushing back everyone else’s appointment bookings as well. This makes it difficult for appointment-based businesses to keep up with their schedules and keep everybody happy, even though they didn’t do anything wrong.

If you have a problem making your appointments on time, elect to receive appointment reminders directly from the business. Through online appointment software, establishments can send you automated reminders specifically for your bookings. You can choose to receive them via text, email, or phone call.

If you’re not already using an online calendar, consider doing so. There’s already one installed in your smartphone, with dozens more available to download. Online calendars are perfect tools for the perennially tardy, helping to develop better time management habits — including getting to appointments on time.

2. Double-Check Everything

One thing that will really help you stay on time is to double-check the time of your appointment bookings. Even if you’re getting appointment reminders, a passing glance and a wrong idea could cause you to miss your appointment by as much as a day or as little as an hour. If you make it a habit to always double-check when you’re scheduling appointments, you’ll be able to fix the commitment in your head accurately.

You should also double-check the information you provide when scheduling an appointment. This ensures you can be contacted if something changes and that you’ll be getting the service you need when you arrive.

Say you’re looking to have your hair colored by your favorite stylist. If you accidentally select a bang trim when booking the appointment online, you might be able to fix the error when you show up. Chances are you’ll need to reschedule your appointment, though, as your stylist probably won’t be able to complete a full color treatment in the time she allotted for snipping a half-inch off your bangs. Even if she does have the time, it will be an inconvenient last-second switch.

3. Be Patient

We live in a world where convenience is no longer considered a luxury, but a requirement. Answers to questions can be Googled in an instant, entire meals prepared and purchased in minutes, and the latest movie streamed from any device the moment it comes out. Even with that expectation of instant gratification, you shouldn’t let a hiccup in your appointment experience cause you to lose patience with your service provider.

Try not to get upset with the person at the front desk when you have to wait, even if you were on time. They cannot help that your doctor is seeing another patient at the moment. Perhaps the person before you arrived late, or the examination revealed a significant problem that required immediate treatment.

Stay in good standing with those at appointment-based businesses because they are still working during uncertain times to serve you. Working through waves of a pandemic isn’t easy, especially if many of the staff are home sick or getting tested for COVID, leaving the rest of the workforce stretched thin.

4. Practice Good Hygiene

Whether or not you attend appointments regularly, maintaining good hygiene is always important. This will help minimize the spreading of germs, especially during the winter when the cold and flu are more common.

Be sure to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer when the opportunity presents itself. The point isn’t to engage in health-and-safety theater, but to help prevent any illness from spreading, which is the courteous thing to do. After all, wouldn’t you hate to attend your scheduled appointment only to get sick the next day?

5. Practice COVID (and Common Cold) Courtesy

If you yourself are feeling unwell, reschedule your appointment. During this unpredictable time, many businesses are more willing to accommodate clients who need to make last-minute adjustments to their bookings. Try to give a heads up at least 24 hours in advance if you can. Most businesses are likely to understand and be willing to work with you on a scheduling solution.

If you do end up having to go out, try to be courteous by wearing a mask when inside business property. COVID-19 is still a pressing concern for much of the nation, and nobody wants to get sick, even if it’s just a nasty 24-hour bug and not the latest coronavirus variant. Wearing a mask for an hour is such a small sacrifice when it can help your community stay healthy and strong.

Keep these tips in mind, and every appointment you make in 2022 will run smoothly. There are bound to be some challenges that you will face with appointment-setting, but after everything you’ve endured these past few years, it shouldn’t be anything that you can’t handle with ease.

Image Credit: Alex Green; Pexels; Thank you!

4 Security Measures Appointment-Based Businesses Should Implement This Year

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Security Measures Appointment Based Businesses Implement

Many modern businesses are placing a heavy emphasis on cybersecurity, and with good reason. With so many aspects of life taking place in the digital realm these days, it’s more important than ever to be careful with company data and personal information on the internet. However, this doesn’t mean that you should slack off on physical security measures for your appointment-based business.

Sad though it is, there are real dangers in the world you need to be ready for. It’s best to adopt the attitude of expecting the best while preparing for the worst. With that thought in mind, here are some security measures that your appointment-based business should consider putting in place this year:

1. After-Hours Security

Depending on the nature of your business, you may carry stock or supplies that offer an attractive target for thieves. For example, hair salons across the country have long been victimized by crooks who steal costly hair extensions, causing thousands of dollars in losses. Most such incidents will occur after hours when there’s no human presence to deter mischief. You can keep your guard up and dissuade misbehavior by installing a few gadgets and security measures in your place of business.

Auto-locks on doors will ensure that a back door for employees is never left unlocked by accident. Security cameras on the exterior and interior of your business will catch thieves or vandals in the act and also act as a deterrent that will cause those up to no good to think twice before trying anything. Motion-sensor lights are often enough to spook potential robbers away, illuminating faces for security cameras and giving the impression that someone might be nearby.

You can also install cameras and a lighting system on the inside of your business that will at least help you track down anyone who successfully breaks into your building. Be sure to have adequate locks on filing cabinets and any other places critical information might be stored. A break-in could result in information being stolen, so you want to make sure your business is protected. You might even go as far as to store customer information on hard drives that are locked up separately.

2. First Responder Connections

Establishing a good relationship with your local first responders is always a good idea. With this relationship in place, you can share plans you have developed in case of any sort of emergency situation. Being familiar with your place of business means that responders can be exactly in the right place at the right time when needed.

For example, you might reach out to your local police station and ask to arrange a short meeting with a representative. You can give them a walkthrough of your business, its alarm system, exit points, and any other factors that seem worth pointing out. This outreach will enable officers to more effectively address any security issues that occur even if they beat you to the site. Trained responders can also provide an accurate risk assessment to help you strengthen the security of your business.

3. Emergency Planning

As noted, an emergency plan is something you can share with first responders, but it’s also something you should always have on hand for yourself and your employees. Consider the emergencies you could potentially face — a catastrophic weather event, a hostile intruder, a flood, etc. — and develop response protocols for each. You never want to have to face an active shooter or an incoming tornado, but you’ll be much better off if you have a plan set beforehand.

A common example many establishments have is a fire escape plan posted throughout the building. The next time you take a trip, you might notice that your hotel room has a map showing you where the nearest fire exit is located. This isn’t because the hotel is expecting a fire to occur, but because they want to ensure everyone is kept safe should disaster ever strike. You should follow their lead to help ensure the safety of your customers and employees.

4. Adequate Insurance

You might not be able to thwart every single security threat you face. In that case, you’d better be insured. Insurance will help mitigate the cost of theft and damage that might occur to your business so that you don’t take too many financial hits.

There are several different types of business insurance you should look into, such as liability insurance, practitioner’s insurance, and auto insurance if you use a company car. You can even get data breach insurance for a cyberattack. Your insurance agent can explain the types of coverage you need, including some you may not have thought of. Then you can take the steps required to get protection as soon as possible.

It’s always better to be safe than to be sorry you didn’t do more to boost the security of your business. Rather than wait until the worst occurs, start implementing security measures today that will keep your business, your employees, and your customers safe.

Image Credit: Dan Nelson; Pexels; Thank you!

3 Ways to Be Productive Despite Uncertainty

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Stay Productive

Humans tend to be creatures of habit, setting up and following routines that make them feel comfortable and safe. Within those routines is a sense of predictability that helps individuals find and keep their bearings. But what happens when consistency goes out the window or a lot of uncertainty starts to creep in? Every human being on this planet has had uncertainty in these last two years. But what can we do about it now?

Not knowing where things are headed and pivoting away from well-established routines leads to stress and anxiety. Magnifying that stress is the fear of the unknown and the pressure to respond to situations without guidelines. In addition, the energy it takes to manage ambiguity, and the unease that goes along with that ambiguity make it more challenging to stay focused. As a result, productivity can take a hit, whether your stress involves team issues, personal objectives, or stuff at home.

You Can Be Productive Despite Uncertainty

Despite the constant change around you, there are ways to work with it and establish some sense of normalcy. For example, you may need to redefine what productivity means, help reshape your environment, set different boundaries, or shift your focus. If you’re finding it challenging to stay on task during uncertain times, here are three ways to reclaim a sense of direction.

1. Adjust Your Work Environment and Schedule

When things change on a dime, you’re expected to respond urgently and rearrange your plans. Suddenly, your kids may not be attending in-person classes today and will need supervision while they learn from home. In addition, you might need to schedule critical appointments during working hours, care for sick family members, or practice social distancing.

Adjusting your work environment to accommodate unpredictable shifts in responsibilities and precautions can be an effective way to respond. For example, you could negotiate remote or hybrid work schedules for yourself and your team. In addition, having the ability to work from anywhere — like a remote worker — helps employees handle personal and professional obligations without stressing about them.

You won’t have to worry about finding someone to watch the kids or ill loved ones. The need to use sick time or PTO to take care of your well-being also won’t be as frequent. With remote or hybrid schedules, it’s easier to juggle doctor’s appointments and family events without losing productivity.

Focus on work assignments for a few hours, take care of personal responsibilities, and go back to your home office. You’ll probably find that you get more done in less time without as many distractions from colleagues. And with hybrid work arrangements, you’ll still maintain a sense of connection with the office and your co-workers.

2. Try New Time Management Strategies

You might already be practicing some form of time management on your Calendar, whether that’s block scheduling or prioritizing your tasks. But when your environment becomes more chaotic or uncertain, you may find that some of your techniques don’t work as well. For instance, the Eisenhower Matrix won’t necessarily apply to scenarios where priorities are constantly changing.

Everything could become an immediate task in a single day. And by Friday, you might have several former high-priority assignments scrapped or buried by five new ones. There could also be days when there’s not enough information to determine what’s urgent and what can wait.

Instead of relying on familiar strategies, you can look for redundancies and repetition. Time management techniques like the DRY Principle can help you improve efficiency regardless of what you’re tasked with. This technique involves tracking your time to identify what tasks you’re repeating.

Perhaps you’re sending the same emails to clients or co-workers. Repetition could also be occurring with scheduling, content creation, or meeting agendas. Productivity can be lost because managers and experienced employees aren’t delegating tasks or training others. Under the DRY Principle, you can establish ways to automate repetition, eliminate redundancy, and balance workloads. You can set up productivity protocols for these situations.

3. Make Contingency Plans

As a leader, how will you respond if several employees walk out the door at once? Or you lose someone who’s fulfilling a critical role or working on a high-profile project? Turnover has an immediate impact on employees because someone has to fill the gaps left by others.

Filling those gaps could mean temporarily redistributing responsibilities and increasing workloads. However, it could also entail restructuring positions, bringing more vendors into the mix, or relying more on existing external partnerships. If temporary assignment shifts or permanent restructuring will occur, how you communicate and plan those changes will impact the productivity of anyone involved.

In the face of uncertainty, don’t spring changes on any member of your team. For example, telling an employee that they are now responsible for website management on top of everything else is not productive. Just because you think someone has the skills to handle the tasks doesn’t mean they can, and they may currently be overwhelmed with tasks. More than likely, they’ll feel caught off guard and perhaps resentful that they weren’t asked in the first place.

Your employee may find themselves unprepared to juggle a new set of tasks or meet the demands those new assignments require.

Implementing fly-by-night solutions for staffing shortages that seem convenient might lead to more turnover. That’s why it’s more effective to develop several solutions in a well-documented and communicated contingency proposal. Then, although you can’t predict every two-week notice, you can plan for it at all levels.

Line up backup vendors or freelancers for departments that already have skeleton crews. Build relationships with temp or staffing agencies for front-line positions. Also, create a pipeline of internal and external successors for leadership roles. Most importantly, communicate the reasons and tactics behind contingency staffing plans. Be sure to solicit buy-in from employees willing to step up instead of assuming they’ll embrace anything you throw at them.

Stay the Course

Maintaining productivity is tough during uncertainty because the unknown often consumes your thoughts. The stress of many “what-ifs” can result in confusion, an inability to concentrate, and conflicting priorities. Accomplishing tasks with determination and efficiency isn’t as simple as going with the flow when chaos seems to be surrounding you.

However, you can reestablish control by adjusting work environments and schedules, trying new time management strategies, and making contingency plans. Putting these methods into practice will help keep productivity at acceptable levels in the face of ambiguity. While the shifts that occur during constant change aren’t always predictable, the ways you respond can be.

Image Credit: Cottonbro; Pexels; Thank you!

5 Ways to Customize Your Customer’s Experience When Making Appointments

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Customer Experience Making Appointments

Customers today like to have control over their interactions with businesses. Customizing their encounters helps them to ensure that they’re getting the exact experience they want. Businesses that are flexible in providing customization options to their customers are likely to draw in and retain new clients.

For appointment-based businesses, being customizable sometimes requires thinking outside of the box. There are certain aspects of appointment setting that are rigid and, to remain optimal, can’t be changed. However, there are a few ways you can customize the appointment experience for customers if you’re open to trying some new things:

1. Offer Plenty of Options

Appointment customization won’t be possible if customers don’t have options to choose from. This should be your starting point. Think of some ways you can make appointments special for your customers, from exclusive deals to surprise discounts.

Some industries have loads of options already at their disposal. For instance, hair salons have all sorts of different products, hairstyles, and stylists to choose from. For the adventurous customer, every appointment can be a new experience.

Other businesses might need to get a little more creative. A dentist might mix up regular checkups by offering different types of prizes for kids to choose from for good brushing skills. A mechanic’s shop can offer different drinks or entertainment options in the lobby while customers wait for an oil change. All of these will contribute to the customization of the customer experience.

2. Include a Survey

After every appointment, send customers home with an optional survey regarding their visit. In this survey, you can ask each customer about any individual preferences they would like to include for their next visit. For example, one survey response might state that a customer would like the same dental technician for their next visit because they had a great experience with them.

With this knowledge, you can help clients customize their future appointments. Not every request can be granted, but assure your customers that you’ll do your best to accommodate them. Keep notes within a customer portal so your team can remember these individual details and carry them over from appointment to appointment.

Survey responses will also be useful for finding out which areas of your business need the most improvement. Feedback might show that your check-in process runs slowly or that the guest bathroom isn’t cleaned as often as patrons would like. Now that you know what customers are noticing, you can make real changes to improve the appointment experience for them.

3. Implement Multiple Tools

If you have multiple tools at your disposal, you can offer different forms of service to your customers. Let’s use appointment reminders as an example. If you have the tools to send reminders via email, text message, phone call, or even a social media message, you can provide a unique appointment booking experience to each customer based on how they best receive such messages.

Offering multiple payment options is another tool you can use to provide more flexibility for clients. Some customers will prefer to pay with cash, while others will want to use a card. Others may prefer to pay with a mobile app or simply want to prepay for their appointment online. Have the tools for all of these options, and every appointment experience can be a different one.

4. Track Key Data Metrics

Customers won’t always know going into an appointment what sort of customization options they would like. Neither will you without getting to know them better. Keeping track of all of your customers and their personal tastes is a tall order, but it can be done in part by tracking some key data metrics.

Data can tell you a lot about your customers, their habits, and future trends they might follow. Take a look at your customer demographics, for starters. The customization options you provide can reflect your primary demographics. If most of your customers are students from a local college, they might like different options in the lobby for getting some studies done or accessing the internet from their personal devices.

You can also look at different behavioral statistics. Your morning customers might enjoy a fully customizable coffee bar to perk up their appointments, while customers who arrive late in the evening might prefer various entertainment options toward the end of their day.

5. Let Customers Take a Stance

You can enable your customers to take a stance for what they believe in without forcing ideals upon anyone who is uninterested. Take recycling, for example. Some of your customers might be into recycling and other renewable efforts. Having that option at your place of business will really speak to them without pushing away those customers who feel indifferent.

How about customizing a donation program? Allowing customers to round up their charges to the nearest dollar and putting that money toward a good cause can make for a gratifying end to an appointment. Support multiple charities and outreach programs, and your customers will be able to choose where they wish to donate should they feel inclined to do so. Once again, customers who don’t feel like donating at the moment won’t be required to.

Be careful not to provide too many customization options, or your customers and staff might get overwhelmed. However, including some personalization to each appointment will go a long way toward building firm relationships with your clientele and boosting those retention numbers for years to come.

Image Credit: Alex Green; Pexels; Thank you!

How Appointment-Based Businesses Can Prioritize Convenience Today

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Appointment Business Convenience

Have you ever tested your appointment-based business’s appointment service? Even with an excellent hosting service, there are likely steps that are inconvenient for customers. Of course, it’s important to offer high-quality service. But sometimes customers want the most convenient option rather than whatever is top-of-the-line.

This article will help turn your appointment-based business into an organization that is both high-end and convenient for your customers. The ease with which they’ll be able to access your services and resources will help them to enjoy their experience so much more.

Put Everything Online

Digital advances have made life more convenient in many ways that your business can leverage. Providing as many resources as possible that your customers can access online is one surefire way to make the experience more convenient. For instance, you might enable your customers to access their records at any time and from anywhere.

When looking to provide resources, start by making sure your website is updated with all necessary information. This includes hours of operation, appointment availability, and even your late or no-show policy. Customers will be able to answer many questions on their own in an instant rather than waiting on hold to ask a representative.

Online payment methods are convenient for customers and save employees time. You can even add online prepay options. Being able to quickly prepay for upcoming appointments is a huge plus for many customers. It can speed things along at checkout and streamline the in-person appointment experience. With online payment methods, customers can complete required tasks while they’re taking the subway, eating lunch, or even while on their smartphone in bed.

Make Scheduling Fast and Easy

The scheduling process is a vital part of an appointment-based business, and it’s also the area where many customers get hung up. A frustrating booking process will turn customers away before you even get the chance to wow them with your service. Convenient and easy scheduling is what your business should strive for right out the gate.

One of the most tedious aspects of appointment scheduling is inputting all of the needed information. This might be necessary the first time a customer visits your business, but it shouldn’t be required after the initial visit. You can make return scheduling more convenient by creating customer profiles that save important information. This way, customers only need to log in to start scheduling their next appointment.

Making it possible to book appointments online, as mentioned previously, is a great start, but you’ll need to stay on top of a few things. Slow loading times on your website can be just as frustrating, if not more so, than waiting on hold. Look for ways to keep your website running smoothly and avoid outages so that customers can always easily book their appointments.

Manage Your Time to Perfection

As an appointment-based business, it is vital for you to respect your customers’ time. Otherwise, you’ll become an inconvenience to them. To avoid this, ensure that appointments start and end on time. This means you need to successfully juggle a number of variables, ranging from streamlining the check-in process to working with late arrivals.

As a leader of an appointment-based business, you need to be ready for anything. For example, you can include buffer times in between bookings. This way, late appointments don’t bleed into the next appointment slot. There is nothing more inconvenient than arriving for an appointment on time and having to wait because of a tardy fellow customer.

As another helpful aid, consider posting wait times on your website for customers to be able to view en route. Knowing that appointments are running slower than usual will inform customers that they can hit the road slightly later instead of wasting time in your lobby.

Solicit Customer Feedback

Want to know how to prioritize convenience today? Just ask your customers. They know exactly how they would like your business to improve. Give them a chance to speak their mind, and you can gain some valuable insight on how to rework your appointment experience.

Include an optional survey at the end of each appointment. This could be attached to a thank-you email or a payment confirmation. Your survey should be concise and ask a few specific questions but also allow customers to voice their opinions in a fill-in-the-blank option.

Say you take a poll of your customers and learn that it’s difficult to find your office in the business complex where you’re located. That can tip you off to the need for better signage and more thorough directions. This simple solution helps to reduce late appointments and makes the entire business function more efficiently. One suggestion has now turned into a substantial resolution.

If you’re struggling to find more ways to promote convenience in your appointment-based business, just put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What would bug you about the appointment process or experience if you were interacting with the business? This will provide additional insight into how you can continually improve your company.

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!

5 Issues Appointment-Based Businesses Sometimes Face — and How to Resolve Them

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Issues Appointment Businesses Face

The best outlook you can have as a business owner is to expect the best but prepare for the worst. A positive attitude will get you far, but you should always be aware that issues will arise — and you have to be ready to deal with them.

Part of your preparation will be to know what issues you will most likely confront when running an appointment-based business. This short list contains some of the top issues appointment-based businesses around the country face on a regular basis and what you can do to address them.

1. System Errors

Operating your appointment-based business is a cinch as long as all of your software is running smoothly. So what do you do when there’s a system error bogging down your business? You can’t expect your customers to sit around while you call your IT guy, so you’ll need a quick solution until repairs can be made.

Many dentist’s offices keep paper records of the day’s check-ins in case an outage causes them to lose internet access. This way they can still manually check in patients even if there’s an ongoing system error.

How quickly you can fix a system error will depend on the know-how of your personnel. Having IT staff on hand or on call ensures that there’s always someone who can take care of an unexpected system outage. Learning how to fix small and simple errors on your own is also a worthwhile investment, as you’ll be able to help take care of customers immediately.

2. Payment Method Problems

Since most transactions these days are processed digitally, there’s additional room for error that wasn’t there when all transactions were handled via check or cash. While computerized banking has made payment faster and easier than ever, problems with cards, apps, and systems are always potential roadblocks that can get in your customer’s way during an appointment visit.

Offering multiple payment methods can cover the gaps created by individual payment problems. If your debit card processor isn’t working, you can always accept cash or even a Paypal transfer. This might not be the ideal situation for you and your customer, but it will get the job done and send them on their way while you take the time to fix things.

Another way you can eliminate payment issues is to enable prepayment. If a customer is able to pay the full balance of their appointment charges before they even check in, they won’t have to worry about being slowed down by your card reader being on the fritz.

3. Customer Issues

Mistakes happen even to the best workers and businesses, but not all customers will handle unfortunate circumstances calmly. From time to time, you will have to deal with a disgruntled customer who is upset at their appointment wait time, the perceived inadequacy of customer service, or some other aspect of their appointment experience that rubbed them the wrong way. How you deal with these customers is extremely important for your business’s longevity.

The reason that “The customer is always right” is that no business can operate without paying patrons. That’s why you need to be as patient and understanding as possible with customers who are experiencing problems. Try to work through the issue with them without playing the blame game. The way you handle a customer complaint determines the outcome. The better their complaint is handled, the more likely they are to return. Additionally, they are more likely to praise your brand to their friends and family.

Of course, there are lines that customers should never cross. This means you may need to make some exceptions to the established dictum. Your employees and other guests should never have to endure bigotry or abuse of any kind. Customers who cross such lines can be refused service indefinitely.

4. Scheduling Hiccups

As hard as you may try to craft the perfect daily appointment schedule, there are bound to be some scheduling issues and hiccups. Customers might arrive late to their appointments or fail to show up at all. Or you could have a large number of walk-in customers trying to squeeze into an appointment slot at the last minute. Learning how to roll with the punches when maintaining an appointment schedule is something you’ll have to get accustomed to.

The secret to schedule management is to be proactive, not reactive. For example, adding buffer time in between appointments now will come in handy on a snowy day when many of your customers arrive late. Thanks to this proactive decision, you can still fit everyone into their bookings without having to turn anyone away.

5. Health and Safety

Something that has been extremely relevant for the past couple of years is the health and safety of your clientele and employees. COVID-19 is not going away without a fight, and appointment-based businesses should remain vigilant while continuing to operate.

Keep your waiting room clean and sanitized, well-ventilated, and spread out. No matter how people feel about the current state of the pandemic, customers will always appreciate a tidy space when attending appointments. Your cleanliness should also extend to areas for employees only. It should be a high priority to keep them safe and healthy as well.

You’ll also need to be prepared for a workday with minimal staff in the event that some of your employees need to get tested for the virus or stay at home to recover after a positive diagnosis. Craft a plan for dealing with days that feature many appointments but fewer employees. You should allow clients to reschedule last-minute without penalty or have on-call staff members ready to help when needed.

The greatest businesses didn’t rise to the top due to luck. They learned how to deal with the common problems in their industry and used that experience to become better organizations. Your business can do the same by anticipating the roadblocks you might encounter. And from there, you could develop a plan to overcome every single one.

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thanks!

The Appointment Economy: Customer Engagement

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Appointment Economy Customer Engagement

An appointment economy is emerging to improve consumer engagement, and field experiences as the globe opens up. So take a moment to check your Calendar and get your appointments scheduled and up to date.

An appointment-as-a-service indicates that time is valuable to both parties. Have you ever made a service appointment and been told to maintain a window of several hours open because they couldn’t commit to a time? Ever made an appointment at a hospital just to spend an eternity in the waiting room? Have you ever strolled into a company and wished you could arrange an appointment ahead of time? Or wished you’d scheduled a remote work conference differently?

We’ve all had these inefficiencies that are time-sucks — but you can tighten up your schedule for maximum productivity.

The Appointment Economy — Customer Engagement — and Productivity

Increasingly, clients demand creative, tailored, and time-efficient services due to the epidemic and increased digital penetration. In an “appointment economy,” you may rapidly become a competitive distinction in gaining client connections and loyalty if you’ll maximize your time — and theirs.

The pandemic changed businesses and customers

Customers’ personal and professional life became digital-first because of Covid-19 safety regulations and the fear of illness. People learned to browse and find products using digital applications and gadgets, whether they were purchasing groceries, a meal at a local restaurant, or a new vehicle or house.

A combination of health concerns and physical distance restrictions necessitated the rapid adoption of virtual applications such as remote learning, telemedicine and telehealth, courtroom litigation, insurance claims processing, and more.

Covid-19 changed culture and behavior swiftly along with the advent of digital-first activities came a new kind of client, Generation-N. A new routine and expectation in the experiences — business associates chose inspired new routines and expectations in the first 90 days of pandemic disruption.

Businesses and social contacts demanded services in both physical and digital contact points to be integrated, convenient, intuitive and frictionless, experiential and customized. Maybe you noticed, as we did — Many clients became more impatient and expected results on their timetable.

The order of the day was for firms to speed up digital interaction while introducing new experiences — and most of these constraints had to be done while we worked at home. And now, it seems, customers and clients want businesses to up the scheduling and appointment game even more — or think we can — because we are back at the office.

During the epidemic, businesses began to digitize obsolete procedures and infrastructure quickly.

Now is the time to invest in next-generation experiences, particularly in the new miles of consumer contact. Consumers increasingly find the usual four-hour appointment time inflexible and unappealing, and it’s paving the way for an appointment economy.

Reimagining the Service Path

We are seeing a reimagining of the service path, and this new path puts the digital-first client first. Recent research found that clients regard appointments as a way to save time. As a result, more appointments and scheduling are being made in business than ever before.

Changing your appointment and scheduling protocols

These new scheduling and appointment protocols are an opportunity to redefine field service as a critical personal contact points, boosting engagement and satisfaction among clients.

Digital infrastructure is required to facilitate seamless scheduling, on-site customization, and relevant follow-ups.

In a digital-first era, people prefer face-to-face service. 77 percent of US clients choose in-person appointments with digital alternatives — up from 67 percent in June 2020. So what do analog appointments represent for digital transformation in a world where digital-first is becoming the norm?

That means digital infrastructure from appointment scheduling to on-time engagement to post-service follow-up. In the future, one-third of clients aged 18-44 will choose virtual appointments over in-person meetings. While now a minority, it might be regarded as a sign of the appointment regulation’s future.

Saving time and accelerating results may become more crucial when younger consumers mature and become the market majority.

Customers want appointment-based business transactions and services.

Customers would feel more comfortable visiting a company in person if they could arrange an appointment. But that’s just the start. And what is the inclination of your client?

Eighty-two percent of your clients and customers would prefer to visit a firm with an appointment. It all boils down to action and who you choose to do business with. Over 75% stated they would be more inclined to visit a company in person if they had an appointment.

In the tech industry — we have always had people just drop by the office — and this is many of our clients and customers. But as we get back into the office, we see that nearly all of our clientele and customers prefer an appointment. So keeping everything scheduled requires an uptick in scheduling and for the teammates to pay an additional amount of attention to details of the business day.

Like the attention to detail increases, as people make and keep their appointments appointments — a remarkable thing is occurring — the productivity is up on a significant level.

Personalizing customer experiences draw new consumers and future-proof businesses.

Most customers (78%) feel customized care makes them more inclined to buy. Moreover, this figure will likely rise as AI fuels digital-first experiences.

The surprise to business is that teenagers and those in their twenties are far more likely to agree with the viewpoint of having an appointment. Maybe schools are preparing teenagers better to make and keep appointments. These meetings save consumers time and allow brands to learn about their customers in advance, either by asking questions or by using data like purchase history to give a genuinely tailored experience.

Youth prefer purchasing online and picking up in-store or curbside.

While this isn’t precisely “shopping with an appointment,” it does represent that younger and perhaps more digital-first consumers prefer to buy on their terms — and that often means on a schedule. They prefer screens to aisles and want to pick up their items when they want.

Their time is their most valuable asset — so plan accordingly.

Customers don’t want to give up their convenience, control, and better digital-first experiences as the globe opens up, but it appears our clients and customers won’t go back to normal. It’s clear that time and experiences matter in the appointment economy and businesses must progressively distinguish themselves via field service personalization.

Businesses may utilize appointment-setting to improve field service quality, plan better, employ resources more efficiently, and plan better.

You’ll want to clue your team to up their game in the appointment and scheduling department. We are still in January, and there is no better time in the first quarter. Appreciate the customer’s time and presence and find greater productivity that benefits everybody.

Offering the right experiences at the right time and scale is the hallmark of good business with the right technology. To see how you are doing with these new goals, invest in real-time analytics and scheduling. One of your most significant ways to facilitate digital self-service appointment scheduling, rescheduling, and cancellations are with your Calendar.

How to manage today’s scaled up appointment needs

Automate, self-service, and chatbots to manage today’s needs. Enable human agents to foresee and solve issues and achieve desired results by scaling automated technologies to gather and unify critical client contexts.

Remember that you will want to make experiences part of the unified customer experience, with digital at the center. So move beyond a “how did we do” email or survey and thank consumers for their business.

Video and voicemail messages

Try a video or voicemail message. Use your appointment and economic data to forecast the future. This is a business opportunity to adjust capacity if reservations surge or fall next month so that you schedule with predictability.

The expectations of service have shifted.

The expectations of services have shifted, and you still have to work on experiences and services — your upgrades are here to stay.


Your customers can and should be able to anticipate more convenient scheduling and tailored services both now and in the coming years. Companies that can effortlessly provide value to customers online, curbside, and in-person will succeed in the appointment economy.

Image Credit: Sora Shimazaki; Pexels; Thanks! 

The Appointment Economy: Customer Engagement was originally published on Calendar by .

4 Ways to Make Your Appointment-Based Business More Efficient

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more efficient

The best businesses in the world are always looking for ways to be more efficient. Efficiency saves both time and money for you and your customers. By making your appointment-based business more efficient, you can provide effective services to more customers while keeping your expense column at a manageable level. Even small adjustments to your business strategy can lead to massive improvements in your efficiency.

Try a few of these tips to make your appointment-based business more efficient:

1. Review Customer Info

For many appointment-based businesses, a lot of customer information needs to be recorded in order to provide the best service possible. At times it’s as simple as taking notes on a customer’s most recent service record, like for a haircut. Or it can be more complicated, like when a doctor’s office keeps track of local pharmacies, recent treatment plans, and medical history. Making sure customer info is accurate is essential for running a smooth operation.

You should be periodically reviewing customer information to confirm that it is up-to-date. You can do this by calling frequent customers to confirm that the basic information you have on file is still correct or by adding a prompt in your online booking program that asks customers to review their information with every visit.

If you need to send out a bill to a customer and don’t have the right address, that entire process can be slowed down by a matter of weeks. Complications can also arise from outdated payment methods, delayed name changes, or a simple clerical error that wasn’t caught immediately. Frequent review periods will keep such mishaps to a minimum.

2. Remove Duplicates

Another thing you should be reviewing routinely is your customer database. From time to time, you may accidentally find some duplicates in your system. This might occur when you add a new customer into your system and their second appointment comes several months or even a year down the road. They then register as a new customer even though they’ve made a previous visit.

Duplicate customer entries can bog down your system and software, especially if you let them pile up. If only one customer entry has the correct information, you could end up mixing up two entries, leading to a lot of complications when sending messages, checking in, or even providing service.

Consider making it part of your monthly checklist to skim through your customer list and look for duplicate entries to remove. When you discover a pair, be sure to keep the entry that is most recent with customer and appointment information. Verifying information with the customer is also a good idea — and a good opportunity to try and book them for a new appointment.

3. Digitize the Check-In Process

One of the most underrated aspects of your appointment-based business is its check-in process. Customers are expected to check in so that service providers can be ready for them. This is also how customers can confirm they’ve upheld their agreement by arriving at the predetermined time.

The check-in process should be as quick and as painless as possible for customers. A smooth check-in ensures that appointments can start on time or even early. Digitizing your check-in process will make everything easier for your customers as well as for yourself.

For starters, by checking in for an appointment through a mobile app or website, customers can look at current wait times to see if their appointment provider is running late. This information allows them to get something else done during their day rather than sitting in the waiting room for longer than anticipated. Online forms are also easier to fill out, and recurring customers can quickly verify their information without needing to wait in line at a desk.

4. Automate Messages and Reminders

If you’re experiencing a lot of late arrivals and no-show appointments, it might be because you’re not sending out effective reminder messages. Life can get crazy for everyone, and customers can easily forget an upcoming appointment as they juggle deadlines for work, errand lists, responsibilities at home, and more. A good reminder system will help them to uphold their commitment to your business, as well as make your appointments more efficient.

The beauty of an automated messaging system is that you don’t have to handcraft every single reminder you send to your customers. This will save your team a lot of time they would otherwise be spending on the phone or drafting tedious emails.

Customers will also be able to make their own adjustments to how they receive reminder messages. If they prefer to receive their reminders the day before an appointment, they can select that option through your online system. If they only need a reminder the week prior, this can be done with a single click rather than through a drawn-out process with a business associate.

When more efficient processes become a priority for your business, you’ll encounter fewer errors and roadblocks in your day-to-day operations. Start implementing some of these ideas right away, and soon you’ll see just how smoothly your business can run.

Image Credit: Jopwell; Pexels; Thanks!

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