effective communication Archives - Appointment - Online Appointment Scheduling Software

6 Tips for Mastering Appointment Reminders for Your Clients

By | Appointment | No Comments
Want to Get More Done? Organize Your Thoughts

Your clients are busy people. They don’t need a reminder for every email you send, but sending no reminders whatsoever isn’t a smart strategy, either.

You could take the age-old approach of sending three reminders — one far in advance, the second a few days before, and the third the day of — but that’s a lot of reminders. When the appointment rolls around, your client may walk in annoyed with you. 

Going the no-reminder route can leave clients wondering whether the meeting is still happening, or whether it’s slipped your mind.

The question is, how can you strike a balance between the two?

1. Always confirm via email.

No matter how you set the appointment — over the phone, in-person, via text, or in an email — make sure to confirm the scheduled time via email. An email is a searchable record that clients can check if in doubt of the details.

If applicable, copy the client’s administrative assistant to make sure it gets on their calendar. To avoid crowding the client’s inbox unnecessarily, ask whether reminder emails should go only to the assistant in the future. 

2. Make time to personalize.

It wouldn’t be wise to promote an event or product without a plan; take the same approach with your meeting reminders. Every email and text message you send is a representation of your brand.

To track your meetings and appointments, invest in an online calendar tool. Block off time to create customized reminders. If you’re worried you’ll forget, set your calendar tool to remind you to do it. 

This might seem a little extra, but the personal touch is important. If you allow your online scheduling service to fire-off automatic, robotic appointment reminders, chances are clients will dismiss them in the swarm of other system-generated reminders they receive.  

3. Stay on the radar.

Reminders do not necessarily need to be about a meeting. Clients encounter your brand in all sorts of contexts, so be sure to use those touchpoints as subtle, positive reminders.

Take social media. Encouraging clients to follow you on Instagram and Facebook keeps you top of mind while they’re using those channels. The content you post can trigger them to think about the upcoming appointment. 

Do the same if you send an email newsletter. Add clients to your list so that your business regularly shows up in their inbox. And if you host experiential events, be sure to invite clients to those activations, too. 

4. Send a response-worthy reminder. 

An unanswered meeting reminder can leave you wondering if the client is still planning to attend. The solution is to write a reminder soliciting a response.

Try opening your message with a question. You might ask about the client’s progress on her latest project, or whether she caught the big game over the weekend.

One way or another, get personal. A message that suggests a real person is behind it is harder to put off. Plus, it’s a great way to maintain a long-term client relationship

5. Include an agenda.

Appointments can be a big waste of time if the agenda for them isn’t set ahead of time. Shortly after the meeting is scheduled, develop an agenda and set it to everyone who plans to attend.

A reminder with an attached agenda not only serves as a reminder, but it also gives the client a way to prepare. Meetings are maximally productive when both parties arrive prepared. 

6. Make multiple reminders meaningful.

Sending multiple reminders is not always a bad idea. If a client schedules an appointment months in advance, it’s a good idea to send at least two: one confirming the meeting, and one a day or two in advance of the conversation.

Those messages should not look the same. Use them to build social capital with the client or to grow the client’s knowledge of your business. An introductory survey with questions about the client’s business, interests, and needs can both break the ice and help you provide a better service.

As you learn the art of appointment reminders, check in with your clients. Do they see the reminders you send as useful? Is there some piece of information you might be neglecting to include? You might be surprised at just how much they appreciate hearing from you.

4 Reasons Leaders Waste Valuable Meeting Time

By | Business Tips | No Comments
7 Ways Appointment Software Supports Sales and Marketing

The meeting that could’ve been an email: We’ve all been there. As much as we want every meeting we attend to be productive, almost every one of us has left a meeting wondering: “Was that really necessary?” 

According to a study by Harvard Business Review, 71% of senior managers in a range of industries say meetings are unproductive and inefficient. Executives spend 23 hours per week in meetings, on average, up from 10 hours in the 1960s.

Almost nobody actually enjoys meetings. So why do leaders waste so much time in them?

1. They get sidetracked.

Given how long they spend in meetings, many leaders struggle to create an agenda for each of them. Some are thinking ahead to the next one, while others try to tackle every meeting on the fly. 

Meetings should always have a defined purpose. Make that reason clear when calling the meeting, and prepare an agenda immediately after scheduling it. Give other participants a chance to comment on and contribute to it.

Setting a specific agenda ensures that you show up prepared, and it also gives your team members an idea of what to expect. Whether you prepare to use a written list or a series of slides, developing an agenda allows you to guide the discussion. 

2. They are disorganized.

Business leaders have hectic schedules as is, and meetings only add to the craziness. Staying organized is key for productive meetings.

Use scheduling software to manage your meetings. Calendar allows you to pick times and dates for your events, share your availability with others, and avoid scheduling conflicts. What’s more, Calendar’s dashboard shows where and with whom you spend your time, helping you make sure that your schedule aligns with your priorities.

Without a shareable scheduling system, it’s tough to know who’s coming to a meeting or whether someone might need to duck out part way through. Those details let leaders structure meetings in ways that make the most of everyone’s time. 

3. They have too many meetings on the calendar.

Between meetings, interviews, and training sessions the number of meetings on your calendar can add up quickly. It’s important to know when meetings are appropriate and when they are not:

  • When you should have a meeting: when you need to plan for the long term, get or give feedback on major projects, host executive-level negotiations, or deliver employee performance reviews.
  • When to keep meetings short (or not have them at all): when you need to share weekly progress updates, present revenue and expense breakdowns, brainstorm for marketing assets, or explain changes to your personal schedule.

When leaders use good judgment, they can cut out meetings that are unnecessary and focus on the ones that matter.

4. They can’t keep their employees focused.

The most wasteful type of meeting is one that attendees do not find valuable. If you want your employees’ meeting time to be spent effectively, it’s important to keep them engaged throughout.

There are multiple ways to make meetings more interesting:

  • Add visuals to presentations. Photos and videos can drive home key points. Beware, though, that adding too many visuals wastes time by distracting attendees.
  • Encourage group participation. Activities encourage buy-in from non-presenting members of the meeting. Ask people to raise their hands in response to certain questions, or request suggestions around a challenge. 
  • Keep all meetings under 50 minutes. Meetings that last for an hour or more should be split into two or more sessions. Set a timer if your meetings consistently overrun their slots.
  • Identify key takeaways at the end of each meeting. Concluding meetings with action items not only makes them more meaningful, but it provides markers for future measurement. When meetings begin with a review of the prior one’s action items, participants feel a sense of purpose and accountability.

Unproductive meetings may seem like a fact of life, but they do not need to be. Schedule only the meetings you need, always develop an agenda in advance, and keep participants engaged. Neither you nor your employees have time to waste.

5 Unique Follow-Ups for Preferred Customers

By | Business Tips | No Comments
Morning Routine Hacks

Closing a sale is just the start. If you don’t want to ruin a good relationship, following up and staying top of mind is essential.

Think about what’s at stake. Get the follow-up right, and the customer not only comes back but also spread the word to other potential customers. Do it poorly, and that customer will spread the bad news even further. 

Not all follow-ups are created equal. The secret to a great one? A personal touch. Here are six ways to provide it:

1. Write a thank-you note by hand.

In the digital age, a handwritten note goes a long way. More than eight in 10 American adults see handwritten messages as more meaningful than those sent by text or email.

What if you aren’t the best writer in the world? Don’t worry about it. Nobody is going to judge you for a misspelling or missed period when you’re writing to say “thank you.” Keep it conversational and concise. Be sure to add something personal you learned about the customer during the sales process.

This follow-up technique works even better if the note is written on a visually appealing postcard. Pick one that your customer will want to hang on his or her fridge to stay top of mind. If the customer spent an unusually large amount, toss in a gift card to your favorite restaurant. 

2. Check in over coffee. 

Your customers know you’re a busy person. When you reach out to schedule a conversation over coffee, you signal to them that they are a priority. 

People can be picky about coffee shops, so try to find out what your preferred customer likes. Is she a Starbucks person? Is that indie coffee shop on the corner more her style?

The best part of this tactic? It’s a chance to open up new business opportunities. But don’t spend the whole time talking about work Ask about her as a person: What does she like to do in her free time? Does she have kids? What causes does she care about? 

3. Give a thoughtful gift.

Your best customers have been generous with your business. Return the favor: Give them something that you know they’ll find valuable.

Choosing the right gift is important. It could be something sold by your business, a book you know they’ve been dying to read, or a floral arrangement. Aim for the $50-$200 range, depending on how close your relationship with the customer is.

It’s also important to present your gift well. Wrap it appealing paper or put it in a bag with a bow on it. If it’s a gift card, package it in a colorful card. 

4. Highlight them on social media. 

Everyone appreciates a public shout-out. Especially if you have a strong social media presence, say “thank you” by featuring your top customers in a post or image. 

If you’re a B2B company, reach out in advance to ask how the customer would like to be positioned. Help them cultivate that image, and you might even earn them some new business.

Encourage members of your team to engage with social posts that mention customers, but make clear that authenticity is key. A salesperson who worked directly with the customer might be able to make a meaningful comment on the post, but someone in an HR role probably cannot.

5. Invite them to a company party. 

Your holiday party, after-work happy hours, and company game nights are great opportunities to make your best customers feel like part of the team. Invite them, ideally by phone or in person, for a night of fun.

Give customers a chance to interact with each other, too. Not only do your best customers probably have a lot in common, but bringing multiple of them to a company event can minimize awkwardness. That way, they aren’t the only “outsiders” at a team event.

High-value customers don’t come along every day. Make them feel special — because they are — by spending some extra time on the follow-up. Get it right, and they might just spend some more with you, too. 

6 Follow-Ups Your Clients Won’t Forget

By | Business Tips | No Comments
Freelancer working

Follow-ups can make or break your customer relationships. Top customers, in particular, expect attention before, during, and after the sale.

How can you squeeze the most value out of those encounters? Be genuine, be generous, and be helpful. Here are six ways to do it:

1. With a thoughtful gift.

Giving a relevant, helpful gift shows that you see top customers as more than just numbers: You care about what they like, and you’re willing to go the extra mile for them.

Did a certain customer mention on an upsell call that she loves chocolate-covered strawberries? Send her a dozen of them a few days after that meeting to show your appreciation. 

2. By inviting them to a webinar.

Hosting events doesn’t just bring leads in the door; it can deepen your connection with existing customers. Add value by inviting them to a webinar.

Especially if you’re a B2B company, learn what continuing education your clients might want. If you’re a marketing firm, can you share some of your favorite tactics? Say you’re a health insurer: Could you put on a wellness event via videoconference?

3. By surprising them with a meal out.

Who doesn’t love going out to eat? There’s no better way than breaking bread together to turn a high-value business relationship into a personal one. Structure your day so you can make time for client meals without shortchanging family.

No one likes to make a decision on a hungry stomach. In a follow-up email, ask your potential clients where their favorite place to eat at is, and then schedule a meeting with them at that restaurant. 

4. By sharing relevant content.

You know how marvelous it feels when someone sends you exactly what you need right when you need it. If you know a client is struggling with a decision or unsure about how to do something, give that feeling to them.

Did your company just publish a whitepaper on the efficacy of social media advertisements? If you know a small business you’re pitching has a slim or non-existent social presence, send it to them!

Sharing relevant content shows potential clients that you care about what matters to them. When they see you’re tuned in to their needs, they’ll be that much more likely to do business together.

5. By taking a personal interest in them.

When you’re sincerely interested in someone, it shows. And thanks to the reciprocity principle, the customer or prospect you’re targeting will be tempted to return the favor of your genuine follow-up.

Don’t do this via email. Either in person or by phone, have a real conversation with them: Ask them how their day is going. What are their hobbies? What are their favorite books, movies, or songs?

6. By volunteering together.

Research shows that volunteering makes you happier. Not only does it provide a sense of purpose, but it promotes physical activity and social interaction. Inviting prospects or customers to a volunteer event with you spreads those warm, fuzzy feelings. When the conversation turns back to business, they’ll associate those same sensations with you.

Casually ask preferred customers about the causes they support. Schedule an hour or two to support one organization involved in those areas, and invite your prospect along. They may be busy, but at the very least, they’ll appreciate your sense of social responsibility.

What if your prospects don’t have any volunteer activities in mind? Bring a little cheer to a retirement home, take care of animals at a local shelter, serve meals at a soup kitchen, shelve books at a library, or pick up trash at a local park. The possibilities are as broad as your client base. 

All it takes to win over and keep top clients is some personal attention. Treat them as more than a sale, and you’ll see the payoff sooner than you think.

How to Have More Productive Brainstorming Sessions

By | Business Tips | No Comments

The combined brainpower and creativity of your employees is a powerful thing. When you focus that many people on a tough problem, you’re able to find solutions that no one person could spot.

Why do some brainstorming sessions seem to produce better results than others? Because brainstorming is about more than just mentioning whatever comes to your mind. Here’s how to make yours more productive:

1. Make brainstorming sessions a staple.

Imagine walking into your conference room one morning, pointing to people at random, and telling them they’re going to brainstorm: They’d feel clueless about what they should be contributing or what you might want to hear.

When you make brainstorming sessions a way of life at your office, you create a culture where employees are always prepared to think about new ideas. People who expect to be asked for ideas on a regular basis not only come up with better ones, but they feel greater buy-in when those ideas are implemented. 

Set a regular time, and start each session with a clear team mission. Once a week, perhaps right after your all-staff meeting, put everyone’s brains together and see what problems you can solve.

2. Encourage pre-brainstorm solo ideation.

Why bother sending out an agenda before the brainstorm? Introverts, in particular, need time by themselves to think clearly, but everyone can benefit from pre-ideation.

Ask each member of the brainstorming session to come prepared with a few ideas ahead of time. Doing so will make members more confident in their own ideas, and it will allow others to build on those ideas. Depending on the problem at hand, three to five starter ideas per person should be plenty plenty.

3. Get the time and place right.

How creative do you feel at 4 p.m. on a Friday afternoon? What about first thing on a Monday?

Take advantage of the fact that most people do their best creative work in the mornings. Schedule your meetings early in the day, but give people time to get oriented so their brains aren’t on their inboxes.

Consider a change of scenery as well. If it’s a nice day, take your team outside. If not, how about a trip to a local coffee shop instead? New environments encourage new ideas. 

4. Work in small, strategic groups.

One of the most common mistakes in brainstorming exercises is allowing too many people into each session. Three to seven participants is the perfect number of people to get ideas flowing without having too many voices talking over each other. Adding more members tends to result in unproductive side-conversations.

Choose people who have different points of view on the subject at hand. Think about personality, too, taking care not to overwhelm the group with too many talkers. Especially when the topic has to do with business strategy, include members from multiple departments.

5. Provide structure and limitations.

Think about how your son or daughter responds to “How was your day today?” compared to “What did you eat for lunch?” The first question is so broad and vague that it often yields the famous one-word response, “Fine.”

Adults and children alike struggle to respond to a prompt that is too open-ended. Limiting the question a bit can actually prompt better, more specific answers. 

Help your team out by providing boundaries, such as a budget or a specific audience. Giving your brainstorming sessions a few definitive guidelines will allow your team to think creatively within those set bounds and come up with effective solutions.

6. Suspend judgment.

For a brainstorming session to be productive, everyone attending must feel free to mention all their ideas — particularly the crazy-sounding ones. An idea that initially seems off-the-wall may turn out to be the perfect solution.

Create an atmosphere where your employees are not afraid of “sounding dumb” by focusing on quantity of ideas over quality. Setting a timer and asking the team to spitball as many ideas as possible in five minutes is a great way to make everyone feel comfortable around each other.

Once everyone’s ideas are up on the whiteboard is the time to pare them down. Until then, there truly are no wrong answers. 

There’s a solution out there to every business problem. Put enough brains together — and get the conditions for the conversation right — and you’re sure to find it. 

5 Ways to Improve Office Communication

By | Business Tips | No Comments

At work and in life, communication is key. Open, efficient lines of communication make companies more productive and keep employees happy. Twisted or broken ones produce mistakes and burnout.

But good communication is about more than talking to each other regularly. To communicate well, companies need clear processes and effective tools. Here’s where to start:

1. Minimize drop-in chats.

What’s wrong with walking down to a co-worker’s office to ask a quick question? Not only does it interrupt what he or she is working on, but it tends to spiral into unrelated conversation. As important as the outcome of last night’s game is, it’s irrelevant to work.

Encourage your employees to reduce the small talk by using Slack for small questions and comments. For longer conversations, or those that require multiple people, schedule a meeting. Small talk can be healthy for office relationships, but precious work time can quickly go down the drain when employees are visiting each other’s work spaces throughout the day.  

2. Share calendars.

The practice of sharing calendars allows employees to schedule meetings with each other and gain insight into their co-workers’ projects and daily schedules. Many calendar apps allow workers to share tasks, view what’s been completed by each party, and send messages back and forth.

To choose the best online calendar for your business, take into account usability, integrations, and features. Look for a low-cost or free option that provides insight into who you’re spending your work time with. If you work across time zones, be sure your calendar can automatically adjust the time depending on where each user is. 

3. Send out meeting agendas ahead of time.

Meetings can be valuable, and face-to-face communication is still the foundation of strong relationships. But without a clear agenda, meetings can run long or be dominated by side conversations.

At least a day in advance of each meeting, compile an agenda and send it out ahead of time. Ensure everyone knows what the meeting’s goal is, who is involved, and what they might need to bring to the table. This doesn’t mean there’s no room for fun in meetings, but an agenda helps you respect your workers’ time by making the best use of it. 

4. Encourage personal relationships.

Efficiency is hugely important for good communication, but do not let it get in the way of office camaraderie. Carve out time for your employees to get to know one another on a personal level. Host office lunches and holiday parties. If a meeting involves new faces, do a brief icebreaker activity at the start.

The better your employees know each other as individuals, the better they will be able to communicate with each other and work as a team. If anyone feels left out, the whole team’s efficiency will suffer. 

5. Avoid over-communication.

We’ve all had the experience of coming back to work after a few days out of the office and having 1,000 unread emails in our inbox. Not only does going through those take time, but it adds unnecessary stress and risks miscommunications. With over 281 emails sent and received every day around the globe, over-communication is a real risk.

Be careful not to create an environment where people’s inboxes are constantly flooded with unnecessary or irrelevant messages. Instead of sending out multiple informational emails throughout the week, perhaps you can send out one concise weekly email that summarizes the team’s progress.

Be sure, too, to consider your audience. Does everyone on your team need the information you’re sending? It’s better to over-communicate than to under-communicate, but your workers will start to tune out mass quantities of emails in their inboxes. 

The same principle holds true for meetings. To the best of your ability, invite only the people to each meeting that need the information you’re presenting. Present only the information that those people need. 

Poor communication is frustrating and costly. Be a model of good communication. Put the right processes in place, and you’ll achieve that ideal blend of efficiency and strong relationships.

6 Tips to Respect the Time of Your Team

By | Business Tips, Time Management | No Comments
Why Online Appointment Software Should Be on Your Christmas List

Time is precious, but it’s also easy to squander. When you’re an entrepreneur or business owner, you can’t afford to waste your time or that of your employees.

Here’s how to respect your team’s time so that your employees can be as productive as possible:

1. Message First

Interrupting someone mid-task is never a good idea. When you distract someone, you bump them out of their flow, and impact their productivity. In fact, according to this survey 50% of people feel less productive because of workplace distractions. If you need to ask a quick question, or if you realize you need a longer chat with someone, take the time to shoot them a quick message. Learn whether they’re knee deep in a big project, or whether they have time to talk. 

Whether your team uses Slack or some other messaging tool, a quick message goes a long way. Your team will see that you respect their time and care about what they’re working on as much as what you’re working on. 

2. Schedule Time

If you know you need to have an extended discussion with someone, make sure to schedule an appointment with them on their calendar. This allows an employee to not only prepare for the conversation ahead, but also helps them schedule their day accordingly rather than scrambling for a last-minute meeting. 

Being respectful of their calendar and their current workload will help your employees prioritize their work and fit in any last-minute tasks you may have to throw at them. Make sure your team understands best practices for calendar sharing so they respect one another’s time, too.

3. Consolidate and Save Questions for Work Hours

Although it’s tempting to reach out whenever a question arises, try to keep your employee contact within work hours. Sending that 9 p.m. work email makes your recipient feel like they need to be on call at night. We all know how important it is to disconnect, and after-work communication makes it that much harder for your employees to relax after work.

Gather any late-night questions or concerns you may have on a spreadsheet, and shoot your employee a note in the morning about them. Plus, gathering them for one email means fewer interruptions for everyone than if you reached out to them multiple times. 

4. Know Their Prime Work Hours

Everyone has those times of day when they are the most productive. Some get to work early and are most productive before anyone else gets into the office. Others are hyper-focused in the afternoon and knock out their best work then. 

Know your team members’ prime work hours so you can avoid distracting them during those times of day. Ask workers to block off time on their calendar so you can easily check to see when their prime working times are. You’ll know to avoid random chats or tasks during those hours, and your team will have the opportunity to be as productive as possible.

5. Have a Discussion

What’s the best way to know how and when your team prefers to work? Talk to them. Have a discussion with new employees about their working habits, and share your personal habits as well. Open communication with your employees early on will help you get a better grasp on how you can all work efficiently together.

Beware that schedules change. To help everyone be as productive as possible, discuss communication and work habits at least once a month. The more you learn about your own working habits and those of your team, the better you’ll all work together.

6. Be Generous With Time Off

When you show workers that you respect their time, they’re all the more likely to use it wisely. Unless you have a pressing business reason to deny a PTO request, don’t. Default to trust. Let them take time off to care for their sick relative. If someone says that they need a vacation to keep their stress levels in check, encourage them to take it.

While they’re away, apply the same “pressing business need” standard when deciding whether to reach out. Aside from needed passwords and do-or-die client communications, help them keep their mind off the office. Once they’re back at work, they’ll be more productive than ever.

From your CFO to your front-desk associate, everyone’s time is valuable. Recognize that in your office policies, and watch your team’s productivity grow.

5 Ways You Can Communicate Effectively in a Business Meeting

By | Time Management | No Comments
If you’re like most business professionals, the majority of your day is spent in meetings. Sometimes you can get a lot accomplished during this time. However, they are often ineffective. If you want to get more accomplished in your business meetings you need to communicate effectively. You need to communicate the purpose of the meeting and the actionable takeaways when it wraps up.

Here are five ways you can communicate effectively in business meetings.

Take the time to prepare.

Before delivering a speech, you always take the time to prepare what you’re going to say. The same thing applies to your business meetings. Before you even schedule the meeting, prepare what you’re going to say. The reason you should do this before the meeting is scheduled is because it forces you to find a clear value or purpose for the meeting. If you have trouble preparing useful content for the meeting, it’s maybe best to hold off or cancel it all together. Once you’ve prepared, gather your thoughts into key bullet points you can reference throughout the meeting.

Don’t talk over others.

If two people are talking at the same time, odds are neither one is being heard. As excitement (or tension) rises in the room, people tend to talk over each other. This is extremely unproductive. If you get interrupted, refrain from trying to battle the other person for the ears in the room. Let them finish their points, and make sure to address them afterwards. If they try to interrupt you again, respectfully tell them to let you finish before they respond.

Pay attention to body language.

Body language is a huge part of effective conversation. When you’re speaking, make sure you are making eye contact with others and that you are sitting in an upright position. When looking at someone in the eyes, it builds trust and makes you seem more sincere. Additionally, you should gauge the body language of your listeners as well. If they are looking off into the distance or slouched in their seats, odds are they aren’t picking up what you’re saying.

Always try to mix things up.

Business meetings, especially long ones, can get very dull very quickly. Sometimes, that’s just the nature of the content being discussed. When you sense things start to go dry, try to mix things up a bit. If you need to, you can take a break completely from what’s being discussed. Open up the floor to discussion and get everyone reengaged. If you’re diligent about keeping track of where you left off, these breaks won’t serve as a distraction.

Always summarize and repeat key points.

This is something you need to learn for any kind of communication. People often underestimate how well their points are received by who they’re talking to. To be honest, people are generally bad listeners. While you can’t make them “listen better” you can take it upon yourself to hammer home your key points. After you’ve delivered your message, you should always summarize and reiterate your key points. It will help both you, and the audience retain what’s been said. Before you head into your next business meeting, make sure you remember the five points listed above. It will help keep your business meetings organized and productive.
Originally published here.  
Register Now & Get a 30 Day Trial Register Now