I keep my work stuff at work, and separate from everything else. Overall I have set hours where I’m available for my workday and in many cases I’m using our own system for managing my day-to-day work life. Management has given each team member the flexibility to use what works for him/her for task management. In that regard I use our internal version of the software we sell for client management and task management. My Office365 calendar syncs with our internal system so team members can see my availability, know which clients I’m scheduled to meet with, and add appts to my calendar. But scheduling with customers was a challenge.
Once upon a time scheduling an appointment with a prospect or a client involved multiple rounds of back and forth to check availability, find out who else needs to be included, setting up the meeting request. It meant a one-hour meeting could easily turn into a two-hour total time commitment. And with hundreds of meetings a year, that adds up to a big waste of time. And frustration.
Enter appointment setting solutions. I use Calendly personally but there are other solutions out there. Reasons I choose Calendly:
- Different Appt Types: For training appointments, we might have multiple team members that can be booked for training appointments. We are able to set up a training appt calendar with round-robin appointment setting to really maximize the availability to our customers. But then, I can also set up an appointment setting specifically with me and share that link when appropriate.
- Calendar Integration: Calendly has integration with my Office365 calendar (and others) so it can check my availability for any appointments that I set up outside of Calendly too. This means I only worry about one work calendar.
- Embedded Scheduling: One of the features I really liked was the ability to embed the scheduling module into our corporate website. When I was the primary sales agent at our company, I embedded an option to schedule a demo or discovery call directly into our corporate website to make it easier for prospects to book directly. There is also an option to set a return address to a “Thank you” page which works great when you are using analytics to evaluate the strength of online marketing campaigns.
- Making the Appointment: With the addition of zoom integration and meeting requests (rather than just email confirmation), meeting scheduling has gotten even easier. Once the guest makes their selection for the meeting date and time, Calendly creates the meeting in Zoom & creates the meeting request on my Office365 calendar with the zoom information embedded.
- Single-Use Links: This is a feature that was added fairly recently and has been a welcome addition to our company. While I tend to be pretty open with sharing my calendar, there were some team members at our company that were worried about giving essentially unlimited ability to schedule appointments to prospects and clients. Especially in cases where the client may need to have a service package in place to schedule a consulting call. Enter one-time-use links. Once the client support level has been verified, they can be sent a one-time use link to book the appointment as-needed without giving them access forevermore.
While some folks might think that automating the scheduling side of things de-personalizes the appointment process, I would argue just the opposite. Making it super easy for my clients to schedule with me when they need to rather than waiting until I’m available to figure out when to meet with me, means they actually have better access to me. At times I may have upward of 6 hours of pre-booked meetings in a day which might delay responding to a request for an appointment but if they have my link (which I included in my signature file for a long time), then can book with me anytime they need to.
From a sales perspective, this was a no-brainer. Letting prospects book immediately when they were interested, YES! Following up to remind them of other topics they wanted to cover that we didn’t get to the first time and including the link to make it easy for them to check against their calendar. YES!
Efficiency may be the obvious benefit. But increased availability, reduced friction in booking appointments, cutting the time between realizing you need an appointment and actually having the appointment, and having appointments magicically show up on your calendar are all additional benefits to using an appointment setting app. Seriously, I wished my vet, dentist, doctor, and hair dresser all did the same!