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!

How much time do you spend scheduling, confirming, and rescheduling appointments?Click To Tweet

I set out to find a more practical solution.

Doodle

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Even when the client completed all the steps, I didn’t always receive the email notification.
  3. 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.

Acuity Scheduling

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.

Omnify

If I hadn’t already found a system that’s working for me, I’d be checking out Omnify. It appears to have all of the features I’m enjoying with Acuity Scheduling, plus it builds profiles for each of your customers including their social profiles, birthdays, notes, family members, and more.

It’s a bit more expensive, but right now you can get lifetime access through AppSumo for only $49.00. That’s less than you’d normally pay for one year!

I don’t know how long this deal will last, so check it out today if you’re thinking about an online appointment scheduler.

Let’s talk!

How are you currently booking client appointments? What do you like and dislike about your system?

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Janet
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Janet

I'm a web designer and DIY marketing facilitator who loves helping others succeed by sharing the knowledge and insight I’ve gained through marketing my own business for over 15 years. When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.
Janet
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Comments

  1. I am kind of old school and book the appointments directly with clients. I realize this has limitations, but it also provides me flexibility, which I like. I also have a couple of clients who are not technologically savvy. At the same time, I can see the benefits of having a scheduler set up, and it certainly would be helpful for a multiple person business!

  2. This is a fascinating review of scheduling tools. Like Seana, I’m old school. I really do prefer to personally, “personalize” the scheduling process. It’s also part of how I build rapport and trust. It helps me get to know the clients better in terms of what their preferences are, understanding their other time commitments, and getting a sense of how they make decisions and navigate their time. It also provides us with immediate flexibility and adjusting as needed. However, I also understand that for the type of work that I do and the type of schedule that I keep, scheduling in this way works. In other scenarios like what you’ve described, I can see the scheduling tool being a major benefit. When I’ve worked with coaches, they often have used a scheduling tool and that seems fine, especially because they are scheduling every hour of the day. The main thing is that you’ve found something that works for you and your clients. Go Janet!!!

  3. Great post, Janet! I love Accuity and adopted it after trying other tools. I agree with Linda, depending on the type of service provided, a 1:1 will help us understand and learn about the client. For consulting and group teaching, however, I’m loving Accuity.

  4. If there’s anything I hate it’s phone tag! Or even email tag. I use TimeTrade — even for lunch dates! And I have a scheduling page on my website. TIP: Create an Ideal Schedule for yourself, and offer appointments accordingly. For example, I don’t offer hands-on appointments on Tuesdays (reserved for my volunteer job, errands, and other appointments for myself). And I don’t offer appointments for 20-minute, or 1-hour phone calls in the middle of a client 3-hr. session day, so no one can accidentally preclude the type of appointment I’d rather have that day. 15 day free trial. $49/year for the “Individual Edition”. Other editions available.

  5. I usually work on my own so scheduling hasn’t been a big factor for me. However, I have a few clients that do coaching work and they definitely use these scheduler sites. I’m going to forward it on to them.

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