Category Archives: Scheduling

5 Scheduling Conversations to Have With Employees This Fall

By | Scheduling | No Comments

With each new season comes an opportunity to rally your team. Whereas business often slows down in the summer, fall is a time to pick things up.  

There are a number of tasks to accomplish before the new season arrives. Much of them are back-burner tasks, such as cleaning and reorganizing the office. However, conversations around scheduling should be at the top of your fall agenda. 

Getting everyone’s schedules together before fall is crucial for planning. Not only can it give you a better sense of your team’s capacity, but it helps you plan for the next fiscal year and finish up annual initiatives. 

While every business is different, certain scheduling conversations apply across the board. Take a look at the following topics to broach with your employees this fall and ensure that everyone is ready for what’s ahead:

1. Team Meeting Days

Like them or not, meetings are part of working on a team. Decide whether your current cadence makes sense, and if not, when and how often the team should meet. 

Maybe you don’t necessarily need a full team meeting every week. Perhaps every other week is enough. Or maybe you simply need to settle on a different day and time than before. 

See how your team members feel about your current all-staff meetings. Figure out what tweaks could boost productivity and efficiency. Simply shaving 15 minutes off the meeting time could jog conversation along and give attendees time back. 

2. Vacation Plans

One great thing about fall is the reduction in vacation requests. Most people are back from the summer, so there’s less maneuvering around those who aren’t present. But that doesn’t mean you should neglect this aspect of scheduling. 

There may be people who did not take time off in the summer. Ask whether they have a fall trip in the works. Encourage them to put time off on the calendar sooner rather than later. 

While planning for the season, take a moment to review your PTO policy. Talk through hiccups from recent vacations to ensure everyone is able to take time off work without a hitch. 

Discussing vacation plans also helps you and your employees identify loose threads that need to be addressed before they head out. That way, nobody is left high and dry when someone didn’t complete their tasks prior to takeoff. 

3. Summer Hours Assessment

Your company may have changed its business hours in the summer. If so, fall is the time to bring everyone together to reassess those changes. 

In terms of worker productivity, there are pros and cons to having summer hours. Reducing hours in the summer encourages better work-life balance. It can also boost productivity during business hours because people are more rested. 

With that said, summer hours can be stressful. Employees may scramble to get the same amount of work done in less time. And because there are fewer windows for scheduling meetings, collaboration can be tough. 

When evaluating summer hours, ask your team:

  • Who prefers summer hours and who doesn’t?
  • Does the data show summer hours cause an increase or decrease in productivity?
  • Did customer volume change during the summer?  
  • Is there more to accomplish in the fall than summer?

If there’s not a significant change and workers prefer the summer hours, you may opt to keep them. If not, summer hours might not make much sense. 

4. Schedule Flexibility

The new season might be a good time to give employees more autonomy with their schedules. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on workers’ routines, so go ahead and experiment. 

Flexibility doesn’t mean that everyone makes their own schedule without considering others. That would be chaotic. Perhaps people can work from home most days, but on designated days they can head into the office for a team lunch meeting. Different departments could even build their schedules together. 

Flexible scheduling is about doing what makes sense for your team and your company. If everyone is doing good work with a flexible schedule, there’s no need to force a more rigid one on people.

5. Performance Reviews

As you plan through the end of the year, performance reviews will probably happen in the late fall. You should always be preparing for these by giving feedback to workers consistently, but you still need to set a hard date for the conversation.

Getting these evaluations on people’s schedules is a good first step this fall. At least a few weeks in advance, give employees an idea of when they will occur and what they will be focused on. 

When team members are involved in scheduling conversations, they feel more empowered in their work. In a culture of flexibility and empowerment, everyone wins.  

How Far Is Too Far Out to Schedule Appointments?

By | Scheduling | No Comments

Imagine if someone wanted to schedule an appointment with your company 10 years into the future. You’d probably laugh it off. A lot can change in a decade. 

That may seem like a wild scenario, but the underlying question is an important one: How far is too far into the future to schedule client appointments?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that question. Just because your scheduling software lets you book years in advance doesn’t necessarily mean you should. 

So how can you decide on a cutoff? Maximize your scheduling software by asking yourself the following questions: 

1. What are the limits of my tools?

Before you can even think about customer preferences, know the limitations of your scheduling tools. 

How do you attract clients? What about booking their appointments? And how do you send out reminders and handle change requests?

Although some platforms can do it all, many can’t. In each program, click as far as you can into the future. When you can’t go any further, you know how far into the future you can schedule appointments.

What if it’s not as far as you’d like? Start searching for a program that can meet your needs. 

2. Is there customer demand?

Everything you do — including how you schedule appointments — should be based on what your clients want. If customers like things as they are, there’s no reason to switch things up. But if they want the ability to schedule sessions further out, then give them what they want. 

When it comes to scheduling, beware that customers won’t always tell you their issues. They may not even know that they have a say in your scheduling practices. 

In order to figure out what they might want, check out your appointment management platform. How far in advance does the average customer book their appointment? What about the fifth and ninety-fifth percentiles? Try to accommodate even your pickiest customers. 

Just as importantly, ask them directly for feedback. Soliciting feedback can come in the form of an email, a text message, a survey, or a conversation. 

However you do it, check back in after you set new booking parameters: Do your customers appreciate the changes?

3. Does it make sense with my business model? 

Scheduling appointments far in advance makes more sense for some businesses than others. Consider where you fall in the range of companies that typically use appointment scheduling software:

  • Call centers would likely want to confine appointments to a shorter time frame.
  • Event planners and caterers would likely prefer to schedule far in advance.
  • Academic advising appointments make sense to schedule within the semester.
  • Dentists and doctor’s offices may prefer to schedule checkups 12-16 months in advance.

When in doubt, learn what’s typical for your industry. Ask partners how far in advance they book appointments.

You don’t necessarily have to do what your competitors are doing, though. If you discover nobody is booking appointments a year out, maybe it could be your competitive advantage. Do what will set your brand apart without hamstringing your team. 

4. What does my customer volume look like?

The limits you place on far-ahead scheduling depend on how many people are booking appointments. If there’s always an opening on a given day, then there may be no reason to schedule something a year or two in advance.

If there’s a high volume, though, open up your appointment schedule. You may have heard of restaurants that have reservations years in advance. The reason is probably their popularity: People simply need to wait that long in order to get a table. 

Booking appointments far in advance can create a sense of exclusivity. If that’s your strategy, however, do your best to cater to people who would prefer to be served sooner. 

5. How far ahead has my business planned?

Your company calendar will be a big factor in how far ahead customers can schedule appointments. If you have a ton of new initiatives in the works for next quarter, then it may not be a good idea to book it up already.

Remember, customer expectations should be set at the time of booking. If you know your service offerings are going to change, then it’s probably best to shut off bookings past that period. 

Another way to think about this is based on the season. Your company may see a surge in clients in one season and a drastic decrease in another. If that’s the case for your company, you can prepare for the busy season by getting appointments booked far ahead. 

6. What are my goals for recurring clients?

Some businesses automatically schedule recurring clients after their most recent appointment. A dentist’s office, for example, typically schedules clients every 6 months. That kind of schedule can get customers into a rhythm. 

Some people prefer to plan in advance, while others like to live by the seat of their pants. Some are more diligent than others about keeping appointments. Others tend to go with the flow. 

Extending your scheduling horizon can help you accommodate all types of clients. Your stricter customers will like having something locked in, and you’ll still have space available for those who like to book at the last minute. 

Appointments are a juggling act. There are pros and cons to scheduling things far out, just as there are for short-term scheduling. Let your customers guide you, and you’ll make the right call more often than not. 

How to Simplify Scheduling for Working Parents

By | Scheduling | No Comments

Having a quality product or service isn’t enough to attract more customers. Getting more business is a matter of minimizing the obstacles preventing people from engaging. And a key demographic with significant obstacles is working parents. 

Working parents are constantly struggling to balance their careers, families, and personal lives. And that job is even harder in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the school year begins, many parents will have to homeschool on top of their other parenting and professional duties. 

Because they have to prioritize, many of them let their appointments fall by the wayside. Therefore, anything your business can do to make scheduling and attending appointments easier on working parents benefits you both.

Working parents have their work cut out for them. Use these simple strategies to tap this valuable, time-crunched audience:

1. Normalize self-service scheduling.

Allowing customers to schedule their own appointments can be a gamechanger. Working parents, in particular, want this ability. They simply don’t have time to hop on the phone for every appointment they make. 

It only takes a handful of scheduling calls to disrupt your daily flow. But with self-service scheduling, you can book appointments at any time of day and on any day of the week. 

Letting clients schedule their appointments makes things simpler for them and your employees. Working parents need this kind of flexibility; if you can deliver, you’ll bring more of them in your door. 

2. Create special times for working parents.

A way to demonstrate your awareness of working parents’ circumstances is to offer special hours for them. This could double as a promotional opportunity for your company. 

Think about this strategy like parking lot spaces for expectant mothers: It’s easy to offer, and people will respect it because they understand the plight of working parents.

For an added layer of protection, give working parents special access codes for your scheduling software. Not only does that support them, but it helps you collect data on a key customer demographic: What proportion of your client base is working parents, and how often do they visit?

3. Initiate contact.

Working parents are a lot more likely to make an appointment if you initiate the process. Don’t think of it as bugging them; treat it like an additional service you provide your most loyal customers. 

The good news is, there are a number of ways to get the ball rolling:

  • Ask them about scheduling their next appointment after their current one.
  • Send an email reminder about scheduling after a predetermined amount of time.
  • Call them with their permission.
  • Set up recurring appointments.

All of these methods can help get your clients into a routine. The more they interact with your company, the more important you become to them. The result is fewer cancellations, no-shows, and difficult clients.

4. Bring your business to them.

There’s nothing wrong with bringing more customers in your door. But if you can, why not offer house calls? Parents who need to stay home in order to watch their kids will appreciate it. 

A big part of making an appointment is getting there. Remember, not every client lives right next to your business. Designate a radius you’ll drive to for house calls, and make this public on your website. Blast it out on social media, and see how many working parents sign up. 

If house calls aren’t a fit for your business model, consider delivery. While you can’t deliver a service, it would certainly help working parents if their eye doctor would drop off contacts to try on, for instance. 

5. Make your office kid-friendly. 

Parents often worry that bringing their children to an appointment will disturb others. In a kid-friendly office environment, it’s not nearly as much of a concern. 

Setting up a play area in your office could solve this problem easily. Provide kids with toys and space, and they’ll stay out of other customers’ hair. Include a water cooler and some snacks in case kids — or their parents — get hungry or thirsty while they wait.

Working parents aren’t a rare breed. There are bound to be working parents at your company who can attest to that. Accommodating their — and their kids’ — needs isn’t always easy, but it can make a night-and-day difference to your company’s bottom line. 

Productivity Journal vs. Time Trackers

By | Scheduling | No Comments

Like many others, I’ve spent years on a productivity quest. That may sound hyperbolic. But, think about it. We’re constantly adjusting productivity strategies and experimenting with new hacks.

Sometimes this works out, other times they don’t. And, that’s okay. Productivity is discovering what works best for you and being flexible enough to implement these changes.

But, I have noticed something throughout this journey. All of these hacks and techniques are pointless if you first haven’t tracked your time.

That more sound laborious. However, being productive gives you purpose. It’s also good for your health and wellbeing. And, because you’re getting more done in less time, it improves the quality of your personal and professional lives.

To figure this out, we can use one of the following methods; productivity journals and time trackers. While there are differences, both have the same goal; helping you become a lean, mean productivity machine.

Each method gives you a chance to pinpoint your personal production peaks. They also give you a chance to clarify your goals, track your progress, and reflect on what works and what doesn’t. They can even let you know where you’re wasting time and what’s getting in the way of your productivity, such as your biggest distractions.

Possessing this knowledge allows you to make the proper adjustments so that you can finally work smarter, not harder. But, which method should you use? Well, let’s figure that out.

What Are Productivity Journals?

As the name implies, productivity journals are journals that document your productivity. Although you might be tempted to think of this as a diary, that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth.

“Sure, it’s a place to log your activities, but the logging of those activities is more matter-of-fact than emotionally driven,” explains Jessica Greene over at Zapier. “It’s more ‘I worked on a blog post all day’ and less ‘Writing this post reignited my dreams of launching my own blog.’

“You can add entries to a productivity journal as often or infrequently as you want,” adds Greene. “Each time you complete a task, at the end of the day, or even once a week. And you can document that information wherever you want: A paper notebook, an app, or anywhere else that saves text.”

The only criteria are you “save everything you write in it” and keep in one location. Why? Well, you’ll need this information so that you can “go back and access previous entries to see how you spent your time on different types of tasks and projects.”

How do you use it?

The best thing about productivity journals is that they’re flexible and simple to use. In fact, you can create a powerful productivity journal in just three steps:

  • Record. List your big goals for the day, week, month, quarter, or year. Keep this to no more than 8 items so that you don’t get overwhelmed. Next, break these down into more manageable mini-goals.
  • Analyze. Track your progress, tasks, and emotion for a month. You’re doing this to pick up on patterns so that you know your energy highs and lows, where you succeeded, and what needs to be developed upon.
  • Improve. Analyze your data so that can clearly see where you need to improve. For example, what if you notice that you have the most energy and focus in the morning? Then that’s when you would start scheduling your most important or challenging tasks for the day.

Another practice would be writing down your top goal for the day. It will remind you what you’re working towards on a daily basis, explains Jari Roomer. Other key components for this method would be setting 1-3 daily goals/targets/intentions, the lessons learned, and your daily wins. Roomer also suggests jotting down any thoughts or ideas that pop-up.

For more complex journaling practices you could try Interstitial Journaling. “During your day, journal every time you transition from one work project to another,” explains Tony Stubblebine—Founder and CEO of Coach.me. “Write a few sentences in your journal about what you just did, and then a few more sentences about what you’re about to do.”

He adds that this world well with the Pomodoro Technique. After working for a 25-minute block, journal for 5-minutes. At the minimum, note the time, what you just accomplished, and what you’re going to do next.

The pros and cons of journaling.

As someone who enjoys writing, I’m a champion of journaling. I find it therapeutic and it gets all of these ideas out of my head so that I can focus. Moreover, it brings clarification to my goals and allows me to reflect on my progress.

Additionally, assist you in prioritizing problems and identifying solutions. Science has also found that journaling can stretch your IQ, invoke mindfulness, improve your memory, and spark your creativity. It can also help you develop emotional intelligence, self-discipline, and stringer communication skills.

That doesn’t mean that productive journaling is flawless. It can also be time-consuming and difficult to analyze. Mainly this is because journaling focuses more on how you feel. That makes it easier to overlook certain problems, such as unconscious behaviors like spending too much time on a website.

The best tools for productivity journaling.

If you want to give productivity journaling a chance, you just need a notebook and a pen. However, there are notebooks specifically designed for this task. There are also some digital options if you want to be more eco-friendly and access your planner from your devices.

1. The Productivity Planner

Printed on sustainable paper, this planner is pretty straightforward. It helps you set your most important and secondary tasks for the week. It also allows you to rate your productivity for the day, plan your week, and stay focused with the Pomodoro work system.

2. Bullet Journal

“Created by Ryder Carroll, a digital product designer, in 2013 bullet journaling is simply a method for note-taking and day-planning using good ol’ paper and pen,” explains Calendar co-founder John Hall. In other words, it’s a “customizable journal that’s a cross between a planner — to-do list — and diary” designed for rapid logging.

3. Franklin Covey Planners

Considered the grandfather of all planners, these will help “you to identify values, create successful habits, and track and achieve your goals.” What’s more, there is a variety of options ranging from daily planners to monthly calendar tabs.

4. Passion Planner

Sure, the #pashfam rely on this to organize their lives and keep track of their goals. But, for them, they consider the Passion Planner as a “paper life coach.” They offer a variety of colors and options like weekly, annual, and academic.

5. The SELF Planner

“The Self Planner helps you master your time, focus on what’s important, and take control of your life — every day,” states it’s site. “Use the various templates to get clear on your priorities, mastermind your future, and infuse every day with the things that matter most to you.”

6. The ONE Thing Planner

Based on the personal planners of coauthors Jay Papasan and Gary Keller, this planner is intended to help your identify your priorities. From there, you can use it to make sure that your daily activities are aligned with them.

7. The Mastery Journal

The makers behind this journal state that this “will guide you in mastering productivity, discipline, and focus in 100 days.” It was developed by entrepreneur John Lee Dumas, who used these skills to build multiple multi-million dollar businesses.

8. The High-Performance Planner

You can use this planner to get into the right mindset, prioritize your goals, rate your performance, and strategically plan your day. Since it’s also a journal, you can capture thoughts and ideas and take note of where you need to improve.

9. The Morning Sidekick

If you want to have a productive day, then you need to start off on the right foot. And, that’s exactly what this journal does. It encourages you to self-reflect, plan your day, and map out your biggest task. There are also pages to track your progress to hold yourself accountable.

10. Note-taking apps.

Finally, if you want to go digital, you’re in luck. If you use the big three, then there’s Microsoft OneNote, Apple Notes, and Google Keep. But, there’s also the popular Evernote app that’s ideal for everyone. If distractions are an issue, try out Simplenote.

Of course, you could also track your productivity using a spreadsheet management expert and author Jim Collins or this one from Chris Baily. There are also premade worksheets like the 168 Hours Timesheet.

What Are Time Trackers?

Time trackers essentially do the same thing that productivity journals do. They shine a light on when you’re most energetic, focused, and motivated. Additionally, they can pinpoint when and where you’re wasting your valuable time.

The key difference? Time trackers are digital tools that run in the background of your devices. That means they track your time automatically without you even realizing it. Better yet, they analyze the data and make suggestions on where and how to improve.

How do you use it?

Here’s what’s great about time tracking apps and software. Just download it and you’re pretty much all set. Some tools will just automatically track and categorize how you’re spending your time on your computer or phone.

Others, however, will require you to hit start, pause, or end. Usually, these types of solutions are used more for billing purposes. But, they can still provide an accurate picture of what your screen time looks like in real-time.

The pros and cons of time trackers.

The main advantage with time trackers is that you don’t have to manually do this task. You can essentially set it and forget it. That’s perfect if you feel that journaling is too time-consuming and tedious.

Another perk is that these tools are more accurate and objective then productivity journaling. They are literally monitoring your activity to see when you’re most productive and what distracts you. They will then analyze this information and show you how you can work better.

But, just like journals, there are issues with time tracking. Most notably, they don’t take into account the emotional context of work. Why is that important? Because emotions provide insights into what motivates you and how to improve your performance.

Another drawback is that there isn’t offline functionality. You may even forget to track tasks like checking your email or attending meetings. And, there are also times when the app or software is buggy and provides inaccurate reports.

The best time tracking tools.

If you decide to use a time tracking tool, here are some of the best options available.

1. Calendar

Calendar is a scheduling tool that also provides analytics to see where your time is going. It uses machine learning to review data like meeting distribution. As a result, it will make smart suggestions on when and where to plan your next event. It can even provide a breakdown of who you’re spending time with.

2. Toggl

Available for iOS, Android, the web, Toggl offers a basic version or a more robust paid option. It’s a popular time tracking tool thanks to its simple interface. In fact, you can get started with just one-click. If you forget, it will remind you to start tracking. Another cool feature is the ability to track idle time.

3. RescueTime

As with Toggl, RescueTime is available for Android, Apple, and desktops. It also only takes one-click to get started. However, it automatically tracks the time you spend on apps, websites, and documents. It can even block the most distracting sites and apps as well.

4. Timely

Timely is another tool that will start to automatically track your time by running quietly in the background. It also uses AI to analyze and categorize how you’re spending your time. It can be used for individual use or for teams.

5. Harvest

If you’re flying solo, Harvest is an excellent tool for tracking billable hours. If you have a team, Harvest can keep track of your team’s time via timesheets. In addition to being compatible with most phones and browsers, it also integrates with tools like Slack, Trello, and Zapier.

6. Clockify

What makes Clokify stand out is that it’s 100% free. But, don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s subpar. With this tool, can track hours using a timer, categorize time by project, and mark time as billable. It also provides a visual breakdown of how you’re spending your time.

7. Timeular

Unlike the other selections listed here, this is actually a nifty 8-sided dice. After assigning an activity to each side, you simply place it on your desk. When it’s time to start an activity flip it to start. It is accompanied by a mobile and desktop app as well.

8. Wrike

Wrike flawlessly combines project management and time tracking. Although it may not be the most accurate time tracker, it’s definitely helpful when collaborating with others.

9. Time Doctor

Time Doctor is a fully customizable tool designed for teams. It takes screenshots to track activity, reminds you to stay off distracting apps and sites, and even monitors when users take breaks. You can also organize it to track the time spent on specific projects and clients.

10. Forest

Forest is an app that’s mean to keep you focused and present. How? By being a gamified Pomodoro timer, time tracker, and app blocker all rolled into one. Even better, the app has partnered with Trees for the Future to plant real trees.

The Final Verdict

Which method is more effective? Well, that’s totally up to you depending on your preferences and goals. If you want to stop wasting time on your screen, time trackers can produce more accurate insights. If you want to improve your motivation, productivity journaling may be the way to go.

In my opinion, I think a hybrid approach is best. Journaling gives you that much needed emotional context, while time trackers deliver hard data. Combining that information gives you a better understanding of how you’re spending your time and where to improve.

How to Plan Your Perfect Eating Schedule

By | Knowledge Base, Scheduling | No Comments

As wonderful as eating is, it takes a lot of time. Planning your meals can give you more time to enjoy your food, as well as more time to get things done. 

Meal-planning is not just about figuring what to eat. Eating at the right time can boost your energy, keep you feeling full throughout the workday, and cut down on your snack intake. 

We’re wired to think about eating in terms of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The trouble is, the same eating schedule doesn’t work for everyone. What if you work the night shift? What if you need to spend your lunch break running errands?

The solution is to find eating times that work for you. Here’s how to do it: 

1. Keep tabs on your productivity.

Everyone has their own daily rhythm. Some people are most productive in the morning, while others crank out their best work in the afternoon or at night.

To figure out when you should eat, think through your peaks and troughs. If you usually take lunch at noon but always feel groggy afterward, try a different time. Eating earlier in the day could keep you from crashing as hard. 

2. Monitor your hunger.

Hunger is your body telling you to feed it. Even if you’re in your groove at work, don’t ignore it. 

Try not to think of hunger as a binary. Are you hungry enough for a full meal, or would a granola bar be enough? There’s nothing wrong with putting a 3 p.m. snack on your schedule, as long as it’s truly a snack. 

Realize, too, that our body isn’t great at distinguishing hunger from thirst. Practice mindful eating: Sometimes, a drink of water is what we really need. At other times, our body might be responding to a nutrient deficiency rather than a lack of raw calories. 

3. Snack responsibly. 

Snacks can be part of a healthy diet, but they should not be arbitrary. Plan out your snack times so you don’t overeat, and so that you can focus on your work. 

Try to combine snacks with other break-time activities. Maybe you bring a bag of trail mix along with you on a walk. That way, your sole focus isn’t shoveling food into your mouth.

If you struggle with snacking, get an accountability partner. At home, encourage your spouse to say something if you grab the bag of chips right after dinner. 

In the office, social norms can keep people from speaking up. A good alternative is to ask your office manager to choose healthier snacks, which are both less tempting and less harmful if you do decide to binge. 

4. Consider when you exercise.

Planning meals around your workout schedule can be tough. If you prefer to exercise first thing, then you need to think through your morning routine: How are you going to wake up, work out, shower, eat breakfast, and still get out the door in time for work?

If you want to exercise after work, be sure you get a bite to eat 2-3 hours in advance. Depending on when you get off work, this might mean taking a later lunch than people typically do. And because making dinner takes time, it might also mean eating supper later in the evening. 

As important as exercise is, don’t let it dictate your meal schedule. Find a balance: Perhaps you work out earlier than you otherwise would so that you have time for a filling breakfast before heading to the office. 

5. Factor in your sleep schedule.

Most people have trouble falling asleep on a full stomach. Especially if you exercise after work, avoid eating dinner so late that it gets in the way of your sleep. Popping into the kitchen for a midnight meal is almost never a good idea.  

One exception? If you’re so hungry that you can’t sleep because of it, feel free to grab a late-night snack. Just be sure to practice portion control: Especially when you’re tired, it’s easy to overeat. 

6. Keep it consistent. 

Eating at regular times in the day keeps your metabolism stable. That, in turn, prevents swings in your mood and energy levels.

Be proactive: If you worry that you’ll be so busy tomorrow that you won’t have time for lunch, then it might be best to work a little more before you leave the office today. If you need to wake up early one day, postpone breakfast until your normal time. 

What about special occasions? Events like office parties and birthdays may require you to eat at odd times. That’s OK, as long as you get back to your routine afterward. 

Don’t let eating be a haphazard activity. Prepare healthy meals, choose the right time to eat them, and listen to your body afterward. For finding your ideal eating schedule, self-awareness is key.

Top Appointment Apps For Scheduling Your Business

By | Appointment, Scheduling | No Comments
Schedule

Are appointment apps and calendar software a necessity? They are if you want to schedule and track appointments, accept online bookings from clients, and send appointment reminders automatically. The top appointment apps and calendar software programs are also useful in blocking off internal meeting times, organizing your schedule, and even accept deposits or prepayments. As a result you can save time while increasing revenue.

Here is our guide for what makes up an appointment app, why you should use an appointment app, and what to look for when you decide to add this tool to your business. We’ve also selected the top ten appointment app solutions for this year and into the future.

What is an Appointment App?

An appointment app is a convenient way for your clients or customers to schedule appointments. The application may also be referred to as online scheduling software or mobile booking software.

Many of today’s appointment apps go beyond just a basic scheduling portal. They now offer comprehensive business,  calendar, and time management capabilities that add efficiencies for your clients, team, and business as a whole.

Benefits of Using an Appointment App

There are many compelling reasons to add an appointment app to your business:

Around-the-Clock Scheduling

Rather than only be able to take appointments during business hours because you rely on staff to create the schedule, you can use an automated scheduling system that can make appointments at any hour and any hour. Customers may not always be able to reach you during business hours. Or, they may prefer to make an appointment without having to call and then be placed on hold.

With 24/7 scheduling through an appointment app, your customers and prospects can schedule their appointment when it’s convenient for them. Doing so can help you attract and retain more customers.

An Enhanced Experience

The traditional appointments process can take a lot of time, with multiple back and forth communications about the best day and time. Even then, the appointment may not be set and require more time to reschedule. It can start to feel like a real hassle for your customer.

With an appointment app, your customers have access to a simple scheduling process where they can see the available time slots and reserve a time that fits their needs. They can also get reminders or use the system again to easily reschedule the appointment.

Increased Search Visibility

As a service business, attracting local customers may be your top priority. It’s important to have a strong online presence and appear in front of prospects on their search queries. Appointment apps can help you do that by integrating with search engines through Google Search and Maps so you appear when those customers look for your service..

More Business Insights

Appointment apps often include data analytics tools so you can learn more about your audience, such as your most popular service or the busiest days and times each week for your business. You can then take this data and make better business decisions about when to schedule employees, types of promotions, and more. A physical appointment book will never be able to reveal such business insights.

Time and Cost Savings

Removing a legacy appointment system that uses paper processes and consumes significant amounts of time can be a real savings for a small business. An appointment app eliminates paper costs and reduces manual processes, saving both time and money. Those savings can be applied to other parts of your business, allowing you to focus more on service as well as use the extra money to grow your enterprise.

Less Risk of Human Error

Humans make mistakes. For example, when scheduling an appointment, one of your employees might have transposed the numbers in a phone number or they added the customer to the wrong time slot. Multiple people could be using the same appointment book and double-booked in a time slot. Those human errors create dissatisfied customers.

An appointment app reduces those human errors by automating the scheduling process. The customer puts their information in while the app sends reminders and only schedules open time slots. Fewer human errors mean happier customers.

What to Look For in an Appointment App

Those benefits all lead to greater business success. The only problem is that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of appointment apps and calendar software to choose from. Here are some factors to consider when you researching the ideal appointment app for your business:

Ease of Use

It’s important to have an appointment app that your customers can immediately feel comfortable using. It’s got to be simple and convenient, including a clear process for scheduling an appointment with the fewest amounts of clicks and screens to navigate.

Booking and Attendance Features

The appointment app solution should include features designed to ensure that customers compete the booking process and actually show up for their appointment. Look for features like rescheduling, appointment confirmations and reminders, and waitlists.

Marketing Tools

The appointment app should also be able to help you get the most out of your marketing efforts. Features that can help you do this include a shareable booking link, search engine booking tools, and social media booking buttons.

Staff Capabilities

Along with customer service and marketing, you also want an appointment app that can help oversee your team. It helps to have an appointment app that can support multiple users so other team members can see or change anything in the app as well as plan the employee schedule for the week or month.

Payments

Although it is not a must, being able to integrate payment processing with your appointment app adds a new level to your customer experience and further reduces the labor required for your service business. It is especially beneficial for those businesses that take deposits at the time of booking, often used for late fees, cancellations, and/or “no-shows.”

Overview of Best Appointment Apps

Although our list of appointment apps may not include all these factors in every solution, you can’t go wrong with the following 10 solutions for 2020 and beyond. Here are the top ten appointment apps we selected and why each one stands out as an ideal tool for your business.

  1. Appointment: Appointment app with longest track record of success
  2. Calendar: Appointment app with powerful technology like machine learning for intuitive assistance
  3. 10to8: Appointment app with integrated payment processing
  4. VueMinder: Appointment app made for Windows users
  5. Setmore: Appointment app with a live call answering service
  6. Grapple: Appointment app for scheduling meetings
  7. Calendarwiz: Appointment app for sharing schedules with groups, teams, and clients
  8. Evie: Appointment app that automates your entire meeting schedule and calendar management process
  9. Square Appointments: Appointment app that embeds social channels in your scheduling process
  10. Bookeo: Appointment app with text notifications

Now, dive in deeper to each of our top appointment apps for 2020 and beyond.

The Best Appointment Apps for 2020 and Beyond

1. Appointment

Appointment

Considering that Appointment.com has been providing online appointment scheduling since 1999, you’d be hard-pressed to find a company with more experience in this area. What makes Appointment.com continue to stand out among other leading online appointment scheduling software is that the company continually evolves to meet their modern user’s needs.

Appointment.com comes packed with features like allowing customers to book an appointment with you 24/7 — even if you don’t have a website. Customers can also cancel or reschedule an appointment on their own. If you have several locations, employees, or services that’s not a problem either since Appointment.com handles these multiple options for you.

Additional features include the customers ability to pay through PayPal, allowing them to create gift certificates, and send out reminders via email or SMS. It also syncs with leading cloud-based calendaring solutions like Outlook, Google, and iCal.

If none of these features are right for your business, Appointment.com’s powerful API allows you to customize it to fit your specific needs.

Following a 30 day free trial Appointment.com offers plans starting at $29/month.

2. Calendar

Calendar

If you want to meet with a client or your team, scheduling events can be a time-consuming process. Calendar can be a major time-saving assist for you.

With Calendar you simply share your existing cloud-based calendar, such as Google Calendar or Outlook, via email or an embedded link on your website. Those persons trying to schedule with you can then see your availability and pick a date and time when you are both free. After they’ve chosen a time, the event is automatically added to everyone’s calendar.

Even better, Calendar harnesses the power of machine learning. This means that it can analyze your previous meeting data to make smart suggestions on where, when, and what type of meetings to schedule.

You can currently sign-up for Calendar for free.

3. 10to8

10to8

If you’re tired of no-shows, then you may want to look into 10to8.

This online appointment software sends automated confirmation emails and SMS to clients. It also sends them reminders and gives them the ability change or cancel the appointment. Because it syncs with Google Calendar and Outlook all new appointments or changes are automatically updated in your calendar. If there are any questions or concerns, there’s a helpful two-way calendar-integrated chat so that you and your clients can address them in real-time.

10to8 also accepts online payments through PayPal, Stripe, SagePay without additional charges. You can also coordinate between multiple staff, calendars, rooms and locations seamlessly.

10to8 offers a free plan if you book fewer than 100 customers per month. If you book more than that, monthly plans start at $9.6.

4. VueMinder

VueMinder

VueMinder is a calendar program specifically designed for Windows users. Unlike some of the other apps and software you can view your schedule directly on the Windows desktop background. However, it does sync with Google Calendar and Apple Calendar. This means you don’t have to completely switch to Outlook.

That’s just scratching the surface. With VueMinder you can schedule daily, weekly, monthly, or annual events and appointments. You can also define tasks and break large tasks into smaller sub-tasks. Other useful features include the ability to store contact information, color-code your calendar, and create customized popup reminders. VueMinder will also send reminders through SMS and email.

While you can download a free version, access to more of the robust features require you to purchase the software starting $49.95.

5. Setmore

Setmore

Setmore is the only online appointment scheduling calendar software that provides a built-in live call answering service. To ensure that appointments are kept it will then send out alerts and reminders. If an appointment must be rescheduled you can easily do so by using the software’s drag and drop feature where you just move the appointment to a new time slot.

What makes Setmore unique is that it integrates with Facebook, Instagram, Slack, WordPress, and Weebly. This gives your clients more opportunities to share your calendar with clients and team members. Thanks to Setmore’s mobile app, you can book, manage, and sync your calendar while on the go.

For those of you have have under 20 staff logins and calendars, Setmore is free. For larger businesses, plans start $25/month.

6. Grapple

grapple

One of the newer meeting schedulers on the market is Grapple Meetings. Through the app you can select various meeting times and then create a poll. Once you do a page is created where clients and team members can select the availability that works best for them.

Participants can then view what selection other individuals made. That may not sound important, but it makes scheduling and rescheduling for groups much more easier and efficient.

You can sign up for Grapple for free. Doing so gives you access to both it’s collaborative software and in-built meeting scheduler.

7. CalendarWiz

Calendarwiz

CalendarWiz is a customizable calendar that can be shared with groups, teams, or clients. Just simply create a single or recurring event and share it with invitees through email, your website or social channels like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You can brand your calendar by changing the calendar colors to match your brand and adding your logo.

After an event has been created and shared, you can send an invite with a request to RSVP — you can also track who has accepted or declined the invite. Everyone will then receive automatic reminders and announcements to reduce no-shows.

CalendarWiz also lets you color code events, prevent double-booking with the self-service feature, and let your community suggest calendar events.

Following a 30 day free trial, plans start at $9/month.

8. Evie

Evie

Evie is an AI scheduling assistant that automates your entire meeting schedule and calendar management. How? Just Cc Evie whenever you mail attendees. Then ask Evie to help schedule a meeting or a call or to send out an invitation. That’s it. Evie handles the rest by finding an optimal time for everyone to meet based on everyone’s calendar.

Evie can then send out calendar invites and request meeting follow-ups automatically. More advanced features include the ability to include location information in emails, reschedule or cancel meetings, set meeting duration times based on your preferences.

If you schedule five meetings or less per month Evie is free. If you schedule more than five, you’ll have to choose a plan starting at $20/month.

9. Square Appointments

Square Appointments

With the free Square Appointments your customers can book an appointment with you 24/7 via a free online booking website. However, Square Appointments can also be embedded on your social channels like Facebook and Instagram. Because it syncs with your calendar, your availability will always be accurate and up-to-date.

You can also prevent no-shows by sending clients appointment reminders through email or SMS. You even have the option to charge a no-show fee. And, if the client must cancel or reschedule the client can do so on their own — meaning no more back-and-forth emails.

With Square, you can also accept payments remotely.

10. Bookeo

Bookeo

Bookeo can accept client bookings from your website and Facebook page anywhere, anytime. It then sends out automatic confirmation emails and email and text reminders. You can also receive email or text notifications when an appointment is cancelled or rescheduled.

Furthermore, Bookeo allows you to customize your calendar. You have the option to set business hours, appointment lengths, and color-code your various services.

Bookeo also lets you accept online payments and can be integrated with your existing marketing tools like Google Analytics and MailChimp.

You can try Bookeo for free for 30 days. After that, plans start at $14.95 per user/month.

For Better Customer Feedback, Use Scheduling Software

By | Scheduling | No Comments

You leave comment cards by the door. You send email surveys. And yet, you never seem to get the customer feedback you need.

What’s the secret to getting better customer feedback more often, and from more customers? Believe it or not, scheduling software.

It all starts by letting customers schedule their own appointments. Not only can you ask for comments in the interface itself, but you can also set up feedback appointments. Both help you problem-solve and innovate your customer experience.

Don’t want for customers to complain about the experience. Reach out for feedback. Here’s how to do it through scheduling software:

1. Let them choose the channel.

Not everyone likes to give feedback in writing. Customers could schedule a phone call with someone at your company, they could engage through video chat, or they could join you in person.

Each forum comes with its pros and cons. An in-person feedback session is going to be more involved than one that happens over the phone. However, it might be better for establishing connections with customers.

It’s important to accept what your customers are comfortable with. Don’t force them to come to your office if they ask for a call. Offer as many channel options as you can. 

2. Promote feedback sessions.

Beyond offering multiple times and modes of communication, you need to find ways to excite your customers about giving feedback. Increase engagement with a promotion strategy. 4

To promote customer feedback sessions, you can:

  • Inform customers about feedback opportunities after regular appointments.
  • Announce a special week dedicated to feedback, such as a customer appreciation week.
  • Leverage social media to encourage customers to schedule.

Even if they just want to stop by for a ten-minute chat, get customers in the habit of using your scheduling tool to give feedback. Make it as convenient as possible, and they’ll be more likely to do it. 

3. Offer rewards for feedback.

When a customer takes time out of their day to give you feedback, make it worth their while. Rewarding them is common courtesy. There are plenty of ways to do it:

  • Provide a discount on your product or service when the customer schedules a feedback session.
  • Surprise customers who give feedback with gift cards to area restaurants.
  • Give shoutouts on social media to customers whose feedback helps you improve.

For repeat feedback-providers, go above and beyond. Follow up with a gift that is tailor-made for them. These are the kinds of actions that win customer loyalty. 

4. Never underestimate the power of food.

One way to liven up a feedback meeting is to provide free food. You can put special lunch meetings on your schedule and allow customers to book on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

A meal makes the conversation more casual. Eating during the conversation communicates that you aren’t in a rush, and that you enjoy your customers’ company. 

Meals also create an opportunity for group meetings. Getting a few extra servings delivered is worth it for a wider perspective. Treat it like a focus group, letting your customers have a conversation with one another while you mediate the session. 

5. Always be professional.

Just as you would with any other appointment, practice professional behavior at your feedback sessions. To respect your customers time and protect your brand:

  • Show up early to in-person meetings.
  • Dress in professional attire.
  • Make sure necessary materials are printed off and organized.
  • Let the customer set the agenda.
  • Don’t do all the talking.
  • Ask meaningful questions to encourage conversation.

6. Respond to criticism with compassion.

Not all feedback you receive will be positive. That isn’t a bad thing: Criticism is often more helpful than praise.

Don’t make customers feel guilty for giving you the good, the bad, and the ugly. If you get defensive, customers will shut down rather than say what’s really on their mind. 

Use questions to flesh out criticisms. If a customer says your wait times are too long, for example, ask what amount of time they consider to be unacceptable. If they are having trouble using your scheduling program, encourage them to pull up the program to show you their issue. Be honest if there are things you can’t change. 

Honesty and empathy are key. Try to put yourself in your customers’ shoes, and acknowledge your shortcomings. 

7. Actually make improvements. 

It should go without saying, but customers need to know it: Their feedback has to result in real changes. Otherwise, they will feel like their feedback was not taken seriously. 

Send them updates about how you’re integrating their suggestions. Either send it out via email, or set up a session for all feedback-givers to walk through the changes they inspired.

If you truly care about your customers, prove that to them by asking for improvement ideas. With scheduling software, you can always keep your door open. Your customers, as well as your bottom line, will appreciate that. 

The 10 Best Productivity Scheduling Apps

By | Scheduling | No Comments
Schedule

There have always been plenty of ways to increase your productivity. The key here, is that the information about productivity is always changing. You can’t pick one productive way that fits you — and then never read another article or study about productivity. There will always be another app.

You can use hacks like the Pomodoro Technique, create a daily routine, and plan your entire day. You can even ditch bad habits, such as multitasking and having too many meetings. Just remember to always have eyes and ears to newer and faster processes and tools that will help you on your way.

How fast will you become — for now — a lot faster. Later, who knows –but, you will become more and more amazing.

Another effective way to be more productive is by “embracing” new things — including scheduling apps. These handy apps eliminate those back-and-forth communications when scheduling appointments, events, and even tasks. A quick app entry will make every part of your life quicker.

The problem — you may be thinking is that there are too many scheduling apps available on the market. This means that you may end-up spending too much time searching for a scheduling app that best suits your needs. To help narrow down your decision, here are the best productivity scheduling apps out there.

1. Calendar

Instead of playing phone tag or exchanging lengthy email threads, Calendar uses a smart scheduling link to essentially automate your scheduling. Simply send your availability via email or through an embedded link. The other party then picks the best date and time for them. After that — the event is added to everyone’s calendar. Literally three or four clicks. Boom! Done.

Even more promising is that Calendar uses machine learning to make suggestions for when, where and how your meetings can take place. Calendar also sends follow-ups to ensure that every attendee confirms the meeting.

You can even use the free Calendar app to help manage your team. This because the apps intelligently categorizes project meetings in order to determine the relationship between your plans and the people attending the meeting.

2. Plan

Plan is best described as a “one commander center” for all of your tools. That’s because it syncs with the tools that you and your team use on a daily basis. This includes your email, calendar, Salesforce, Zendesk, JIRA, and Github. Now you don’t have to toggle between tabs since all of this information can be viewed in one dashboard.

Additionally, with Plan you can see who’s exactly working on what and when it’s expected to be completed in real-time. As a result you and your team will never miss a meeting or deadline for a task or project.

Plan is free for one to two users — but you’ll have to select the $9/month plan if you have more than three users.

3. Any.do

Any.do stores all of your todos, lists, and reminders in one convenient location. The app also comes with a calendar so that you can plan out your day, week, or month. There’s also location based reminders and how you can share your tasks and calendar with others.

As if that weren’t enough Any.do also comes with Assistant. This feature automatically analyzes all of your tasks so that it can automatically do it for you. This means if you have recurring tasks, events, or meetings Any.do Assistant will take care of it for you on it’s on.

The app syncs across all devices and plans start at just $2.09/month.

4. Notion

Notion is another app that places all of your work in dashboard. This includes everything from your calendar, lists, todos, notes, Kanban board, and spreadsheets. Like Plan, this means you and your have team have everything needed to stay on the same page without switching between applications.

Notion integrates with Google apps, Slack, Twitter, Figma, and around 50 other popular apps. However, one of the coolest features is that the interface will fade away when you start typing. That means you won’t get distracted by notifications while working.

You can try Notion for free and it works across most devices. Later you can pick the plan you want, after trying it out.

5. Doodle

Doodle has been a favorite scheduling app for years. And there’s a good reason why. It’s one of the simplest ways to find the best availability for everyone to meet — it’s also kind of fun.

Simply suggest a date and location and then invite participants to vote in a poll. When the votes are in you can then select the most popular option. Since Doodle integrates with your Google or Facebook account events are automatically synced to everyone’s calendar — even if the don’t have Doodle account.

For individual users Doodle is free. However, for teams and more robust features like reminders, you’ll have to go with a Premium account starting at $39/year.

6. Accompany

You just scheduled an appointment with a high-profile individual. You obviously want to be prepared when meeting them. This involves beefing up your knowledge regarding their company or the latest news involving them, their organization, or industry.

Instead of searching for this information yourself you can let Accompany do the legwork for you.

Containing the profiles for over 250 million people, Accompany provides a rich calendar, executive briefings, and a curated news feed. This allows you to quickly view information like quarterly reviews and professional history so that you’re completely prepared for the meeting.

While Accompany is free, it’s only available through the App Store.

7. IFTTT

IFTTT is one of the best productivity tools around. That’s because you can essentially automate everything from controlling your smart devices to scheduling social media posts to muting your phone at bedtime. For example, whenever you publish a blog post on WordPress IFTTT will automatically post it to Facebook.

There are a ton of date and time triggers that can make you productive. This includes reminding your team to submit expense reports at the end of the month through Slack, receive SMS and calendar reminders, and saying when you’re busy/available with blink (1). The possibilities are endless.

8. Acuity Scheduling

If you’re in the service industry then you definitely want to check out Acuity Scheduling. It allows clients to book appointments online so that you no longer have to deal with those back-and-forth communications. Acuity also lets clients reschedule events on their own and even pay for your services through PayPal, Square, and Stripe.

When an appointment is booked Acuity will automatically add the appointment to your Google, Outlook, iCloud or Office 365 calendar.

If you’re working solo, Acuity is free. Plans start at $15/month. Acuity is also part of our top calendar apps for business owners.

9. Setmore

Setmore is another tool that lets customers book an self-book appointments with you in real-time. Because Setmore integrates with WordPress, Wix, Weebly, and Facebook there are a variety of ways for customers to book your services. Once an booked, you, your team, and the customers will receive SMS and email reminders to help lessen no-shows.

You can also use the Android or iOS app to create recurring events, book classes, and accept online payments. For larger businesses there’s even a live call answering service — but you’ll need the $89/month plan.

10. Sling

Finally, if you have team then you’ll want to use Sling. This app will schedule your team in a matter of minutes while also eliminating conflicts by receiving real-time updates on double-booking and time off request.

You can also use Sling track your team’s hours and export these timesheets for payroll. And, you can keep communicate more effectively with your team through group messages or creating a unique newsfeed for your team.

Sling is free if you’re just looking for a tool to schedule your team, for additional features you’ll have to select a paid plan which starts at $1.75 per user.

Slice Your No-Show Rate With These 5 Tips

By | Scheduling | No Comments
appointment guide

It’s not just you: Cancellations and no-shows are time-wasting issues at every service company.

Missed appointments cost the healthcare industry alone $150 billion dollars a year. With those stakes, you can’t just accept frequent cancellations and no-shows.

You may not be in charge of your client’s schedules, but there are ways to significantly reduce cancellations without upsetting or alienating customers. Take a look at the following ways to do just that:

1. Check for a common cause.

If you see a spike in cancellations, it doesn’t mean that your customers are careless or inconsiderate. There are plenty of other reasons that could be to blame, such as:

  • Customers have issues with your scheduling system that they don’t know how to articulate.
  • Your hours of operation have recently changed.
  • You aren’t sending out appointment reminders.
  • External circumstances, such as the pandemic, are keeping customers away

To get to the root of the issue, reach out to your customers. If they cancel by phone, you can simply ask them. If they cancel on scheduling software, you can provide a portal that lets them check their reason among common ones or provide their own. 

Get data from at least a dozen customers before taking any action. You may need to readjust your availability, send stronger reminders, or provide incentives like discounts to get customers in the door.

2. Default to self-service scheduling.

Having a centralized scheduling software for your company can save you time, not to mention the headaches that come with cancellations. Unless clients request otherwise, ask them to book appointments themselves online. 

With self-scheduling, customers can:

  • Schedule appointments at any time.
  • Choose times that work best for them.
  • Reschedule appointments.
  • Sign up for waitlists.

Customers crave autonomy. Even if something comes up at a time they schedule, they’re much more likely to reschedule if they can handle it themselves.

When that happens, scheduling software helps you shift your own plans. There might be a waitlisted person ready to take their place, for example. 

3. Institute a cancellation policy.

A strong policy can deter cancellations. Just the mention of “policy” can get customers to take your time more seriously. 

A cancellation policy is an opportunity to let your clients know how cancellations and no-shows affect your business. Done right, it can help them understand their role in your success. 

What should your cancellation policy include? Outline a preferred time frame for cancellations as well as a method for notifying your company. Within a certain number of days of the cancelled appointment, a fee may apply. 

Once you create a cancellation policy, be sure to let your clients know about it. Revisit it quarterly, and again make sure clients are abreast of any changes you make. 

4. Require payments beforehand.

If you’ve already paid for an appointment, you are incentivized to actually make it. That’s why prepayments can be a lifesaver when it comes to reducing cancellations and no-shows.

Clients don’t have to pay the full price for the appointment, either. You can charge a deposit beforehand and bill the remaining balance at the time of service.

What if clients want to pay afterward? Offer that option to reliable customers. Treat it as an additional incentive for them to make their appointments.

5. Enhance your customer experience.

One reason that you might be getting frequent cancellations is that customers simply are not excited about the experience you offer. A stronger experience not only reduces no-shows, but it also attracts more customers in the first place. 

Maybe the issue is ho-hum customer service. Perhaps your clients worry that they will wait too long to be seen once they arrive at your office. These are the kinds of mistakes that spur negative conversations about your company, causing others to second-guess their appointments. 

It’s critical to create the sort of environment where customers feel welcomed. Instead of dreading their appointment, they ought to be excited for it. Signs that you’ve got it right include positive feedback and early arrivals. 

Cancellations happen, but they should not get to a point where they make you sweat. You have more control over cancellations than you think. The key is solving them in ways that put the customer first. 

6 Tips to Supercharge Customer Support With Scheduling Software

By | Scheduling | No Comments

What distinguishes your business isn’t just the quality of your product or service; it’s also how your product or service is delivered. In fact, 73% of consumers say the experience is their main consideration after price and product quality. 

One way to ensure that you’re delivering a great experience is using scheduling software. By using automation technology to manage from appointments to service calls to follow-ups, you’ll help your company stand out. 

Scheduling software is a set-it-and-forget-it system for customer support. But like any system, it isn’t foolproof. Use these six tips to get it right:

1. Default to self-service.

Most scheduling software gives you a choice: Either you schedule clients’ appointments, or you let them do so themselves. Letting clients choose is a win-win: Your team saves time, while your customers are able to book when and as often as they want.

From transportation to lodging to restaurant reservations, online booking is what today’s customers are used to. In healthcare, for example, 77% of patients see self-scheduling as important.

Why do customers insist on self-booking? The practice lets them:

  • Schedule appointments during hours when you’re closed for business. 
  • Take time to compare your availability to their own calendar.
  • Cancel and reschedule appointments on their own.

 

2. Send purposeful reminders.

Reminding customers about their appointments is important because they have busy lives. In the rush of modern life, it’s easy to forget even things they schedule themselves. 

Sending reminders can reduce your no-show rate, but it can also demonstrate that you are eager and ready to provide for your customer. Customers shouldn’t have to contact you to make sure you’ll be ready for an appointment. 

The reminders you send should be timely and meaningful. You wouldn’t send the same notification to someone whose appointment is booked for tomorrow as you would a person who has an appointment a couple of months from now. And if every reminder looks the same, customers are less likely to pay attention to them. 

With scheduling software, you can automate reminders based on how far away the meeting is. These can be delivered through emails or text messages, and you can tailor the notification to match the circumstance. 

3. Be flexible with payments.

Depending on your line of business, you might be able to accept payments before or after an appointment. If you can, give customers that option.

Some people like to make payments when they book so they can forget about it. Others would rather wait to pay in person. Still others want to receive the service before they pay. 

Scheduling software that integrates with payment services lets your customers choose. Providing that flexibility shows that you’re confident in your product or service. 

4. Add value with follow-ups.

With scheduling software, you can keep customers in the loop of what’s going on at the business. Doing so takes you from just a business to a part of their community. 

When you follow up, include an incentive or educational content — and ideally both. You can offer customers a range of items, such as:

  • Discounts
  • Bonus gifts
  • Invitations to events
  • Tip and tricks
  • Refund policies

Like reminders, these follow-ups should be unique to the situation and customer. Try dispensing certain ones, like discounts, after a set number of appointments. Others, like bonus gifts, might be best sent for the customer’s birthday. Exclusive event invitations might be based on the customer’s package or price point. 

5. Keep their data secure.

Customers value security. Keeping their information secure is simple with scheduling software. 

For example, you can set appointment notifications to be sent only to team members who need to know about them. This is particularly important in industries like healthcare, which are governed by privacy frameworks like HIPAA.

Scheduling software also encrypts sensitive information. That way, payment details or patient records aren’t compromised in transit. 

6. Always ask for feedback.

Do not expect customers to give feedback if you don’t ask for it. After an appointment, around renewal times, and whenever you roll out a new service, reach out to customers for comments.

Use your scheduling software’s reminder and follow-up features to do this. Include a quantitative portion — a 0-10 satisfaction scale — and a qualitative prompt. Often, the best insights into what you could be doing better come from customer comments.

There’s no single formula for customer support, but there is a singularly important tool: a scheduling system. To take your customer experience to the next level, embrace it. 

Register Now & Get a 30 Day Trial Register Now