Five Effective Steps For Customer Appointment Management
Over the last five years, we have experimented with a range of techniques to manage our diary appointments. From having a virtual/personal assistant to using online appointment scheduling systems.
There are certainly benefits of using an actual human being to organize your diary. Your VA/PA can ask important and relevant questions and build relationships with your clients, which is invaluable, but it can be a time-consuming process.
In the last six months, we have found that managing a diary is becoming more and more challenging. It has taken a while, but we think we have now found the ideal solution. We use both! Yep, an online booking system, which is followed up with the personal touch.
What Online Booking System Do We Use?
Click here to visit the site.
Previously we have used Doodle, however, they stopped supporting iCloud. As we are all Mac users then this caused us a real issue, so we were forced to return to a manual system. Since then I have been playing with all sorts of diary booking systems. Until recently I struggled to find anything that ticked all of the boxes, then I stumbled upon some software called Acuity Scheduling, which ticked everything on my list below (and more).
Here is my list of “must haves” for our diary system.
a) Work with iCloud as well as Google Cal & other diary systems.
b) Be able to configure it to take payments (and offer discounts)
c) Send confirmations and reminders to clients
d) Send text message confirmations (they work so well with hairdressers and the dentist, I thought it would be a great bonus to have this for our coaching clients).
e) Integrates with MailChimp, Xero, Zoho and Zapier.
f) It is easy to embed into our website, and our clients find it easy to use.
g) It works well on mobile.
h) I can customize the look of the diary
To view the Green Umbrella diary, click here.
The five steps for our Appointment Management Process
Step 1 — Initial Enquiry from Customer — response
When a client asks for an appointment, we personalize a reply email which has the “sandwich effect”. ie: Personalize the top and bottom, but the middle is taken from a script. We use MailButler (MacMail only), where you can add any “script template” into the middle of an email. Here is an example of a script that I have written for a client who needs to book in for a client review (non-chargeable).
Step 2 — Client Self-Scheduling
The clients book themselves in for a day and time that suits them. I love this as it allows you to skip the part in the email trail that says “sorry, I can’t do that day, or that day”, which always feels very negative. You can hear the client huffing and rolling their eyes as they receive yet another “no can do” message from you. This way it is simple for both parties (although it does take the “humanisation” from the process).
Step 3 — Client Confirmation
Although the client receives a confirmation from the automated system, I have found that a phone call or a personal email from you confirming everything helps solidify the booking. I am a big fan of speaking to clients as this is where real business happens. If you become too automated then the spark is lost. So picking up the phone to confirm the arrangements is a must!
- Client receives a text message notification
- The client receives an email notification, with the option to add the booking to their calendar.
- The client receives a phone call or personalized message from Green Umbrella.
Step 4 — Eliminate “no-shows”
There is nothing worse than wasting time with “no-shows”. On a Thursday, I send the following email to all clients that are booked in for the following week:-
Our time is valuable, therefore this process is necessary. Knowing that you have another few hours spare to your schedule next week if a client is unable to attend a meeting is rather helpful when it comes to how productive you are.
Note: If I am not in the office on a Thursday, then the handy scheduling tool in MailButler works a treat!
Step 5 — After the meeting
This is where the magic happens. Once we have attended the meeting/coaching session then we always follow up with a thank you. We complete this process in a variety of ways:-
a) We email people with notes of the meeting. This usually includes action points.
b) On our CRM system (Capsule), we have a track for all training and reviews. So we have a series of follow-up emails to make sure that we never forget the client, and they are included on mailing lists, etc.
c) Most of our clients are also sent a “Touchnote Postcard” in the mail. This is the best form of marketing. During the meeting, we will take a photo of the client and this is sent in the post.
Quick summary of the software mentioned
- Acuity Scheduling — Online diary system — free to £34 a month.
- MailButler — Helps manage your MacMail (I use this every day) — Free version available. I use the £7.95 a month version.
- Capsule CRM — Fantastic CRM system @ £8 per use a month.
- Touchnote — Send physical postcards in the post from less than £2 per card (including postage)
Do you have any techniques for diary management?
Do you have a process for managing your diary and ensuring that you have excellent customer service for your clients? I am always keen to hear of any ideas that can make a business stand out from the crowd, so please comment below with your thoughts.
Originally published at www.green-umbrella.biz on January 19, 2017.