Can an appointment scheduler make you a better service provider?
You love what you do, and you love your clients (or at least most of them 😉) But you probably don’t love spending valuable time on back-and-forth emails to schedule appointments. And don’t get me started on cancellations and reschedules!
Over the last couple of years, I’ve tried a lot of different tools to automate or simplify my business practices so I can spend more time helping my clients. Some didn’t work out as I’d hoped, but I was thrilled to put together a system for managing my email and tasks.
One thing that remained bothersome for me was setting up appointments with prospective clients. I had created an inquiry form which allowed them to suggest three possible times for a phone call, but it didn’t always work well – like the woman who emailed me late on a Thursday night looking for an appointment at 4:30 pm on the Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, or the one that emailed me at lunch time looking for a phone call at 1:00, 1:30 or 2:00 that day. I generally need a little lead time!
I set out to find a more practical solution.
I’d had great success using Doodle for polling groups to find meeting times that would work for everyone, so I decided to try their MeetMe feature for one-on-one appointments. I connected it to my calendar so clients could easily see when I was available.
There were a few drawbacks.
- Although I added text explaining what to do, some people found it complicated. They didn’t always click through all the necessary screens, so nothing was scheduled.
- Even when the client completed all the steps, I didn’t always receive the email notification.
- Once I received the request, I still had to select and confirm the time.
In other words, it was better than nothing, but not perfect. It was time to find something more suited to my needs.
There are quite a few products out there that allow clients to book appointments on your website, but Acuity Scheduling kept popping up in the Facebook groups I’m in, so I decided to check it out for myself.
They offer a Freebie plan, but I signed up for a free 14-day trial of the Emerging Entrepreneur plan, as I wanted the following features:
- Reminder emails – for me and my clients
- Automatic time zone conversion for clients
- Syncing with my Google Calendar
This plan includes many other features which I might not have been willing to pay extra for, but am happy to take advantage of:
- Customization of the wording to sound more like me
- Customization of the branding to match my website
- Integration with Mailchimp to offer clients the option of signing up for my newsletter
- Integration with PayPal to collect payment for paid consultations
- Embedding of the scheduler into my website
I also have separate schedulers set up for initial consultations with potential clients and project check-in calls for current clients.
Not only am I saving a lot of time and bother setting up appointments, but if someone needs to cancel or reschedule, they can easily do that on their own – which is good for them as well!
This is one service that has definitely paid for itself in time savings and improved client service.
How are you currently booking client appointments? What do you like and dislike about your system?
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