9 ways to maximize efficiency with online scheduling tool

9 ways to maximize efficiency with online scheduling tool

It’s here; the digital age is upon us. Nearly everything we do these days—from ordering pizza to filing our taxes—is done online. It’s no surprise that using an online scheduling tool and booking appointments would follow suit. And it has, in a strong and very present way.

The concept of online scheduling software is simple: you create a calendar, select the time slots when you are available, then share your calendar link with whomever you want. They book appointments on their own, at their convenience. You check back later to see which meetings you have on the calendar. Online scheduling is growing so rapidly that we included its adoption in our list of 2018 New Year’s resolutions for growing businesses.

Everybody’s doing it. If you currently are not, now is the right time to start. There are many solutions available, but, of course, not all are created equal. I, as you would expect, am partial to Agile CRM’s online appointment scheduling tool. However, regardless of the tool you choose, there are some steps you can take to optimize your efficiency while using it. Here are nine tips for accomplishing that:

1. Check and update every day

Check and update every day-01

In the real world, our priorities are ever-shifting. Things come up, appointments get canceled, and you have to stay on top of that. An online scheduling tool eliminates tons of manual work. But, it’s still important to update your calendar every day to reflect any new obligations you may have or time slots that you filled outside of the system. Let the system do its work but complement that with a few minutes of human input on a daily basis to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

2. Leverage a time buffer

Leverage a time buffer

By time buffer, I mean the minimum amount of time before a meeting in which an appointment can be scheduled. You don’t want someone booking an open time slot that starts in five minutes. You won’t be prepared or able to deliver the value your clients and prospects deserve.

How much time is enough for you? One hour before the meeting? Determine this and configure your system so that no one can book an appointment less than one hour in advance. Doing so lets you maintain control of the scheduling process. Plus, it will save you a lot of stress, and perhaps a few grey hairs.

3. Include a general, generic welcome message

Include a general, generic welcome message

When someone clicks your calendar link and lands on your scheduling page, what will they see? How will you greet them? Do you have different types of customers who speak different industry lingos? Rather than trying to be slick and catchy with your welcome message, I recommend going for something simple, welcoming, and neutral that will apply to everyone. Something as simple as this would work:

“Hello! Thank you for your interest. Please select the time slot that’s most convenient for you, and I will accommodate your schedule accordingly. I look forward to meeting with you and will speak to you then. Have a great day!”

That’s a very bland example, but you get the point. The goal is not to “wow” your constituents, but rather to make it inviting and simple for them to book an appointment.

4. Offer different meeting lengths for different purposes

Offer different meeting lengths for different purposes

The tool you choose should let you specify the length of the specific types of meetings you offer. For example, you might offer 15-minute time slots for quick check-ins, 30-minute time slots for those with sales questions, and one-hour meetings for product demos.

The tool should allow you to specify the meeting type length and assign a label to each one. This makes it easier to book a slot, as it provides clear options to choose from. This also reduces instances when someone books an hour slot for a 10-minute call. Less time wasted more productivity.

5. Don’t forget about your own time

Don’t forget about your own time-01

Unless you’re a superhero with the ability to be in multiple places at once, you simply can’t be in back-to-back meetings all day. You’d never get anything else done. That’s why I recommend you block off periodic time slots, reserved just for you.

You can use these to catch up between meetings, work on pending tasks, or just grab a coffee. You need to factor in time for the administration of your daily workload. Be sure not to leave entire days or huge blocks of time open without breaks in between, unless you want to be tied up for that long.  

6. Share your calendar link everywhere you can (or want)

An online scheduling tool provides you with a unique link so that others can access your calendar. You can share this link on social media or pin it to your social media profile page. Post a link to it on your website. Include it in your email signature. Post it anywhere people will see it because many will come across it at random times and want to book an appointment right then and there.

According to LSA Insider, 40% of online bookings are made outside of business hours. This means that when someone is browsing social media in the evening and comes across your calendar link, they can book a meeting while it’s on their mind. Bookings happen 24/7 with an online scheduling tool, so be sure to make your link visible and easy to find in the places where your constituents spend their time—day or night.

7. Sync with your other calendars

Better scheduling tools allow you to sync your online calendar with the other calendars you use. For example, Agile CRM’s online calendar can be configured to sync with your Outlook, iCal, or Google Calendar. This means that when someone books an appointment with you online, you’ll see it on your other calendars as well. Juggling multiple calendars can be tricky—well, juggling is tricky anyway, but you get the point! Sync them all so that when someone books with you online, it is reflected in all your live calendars.

8. Leverage your mobile device

Leverage your mobile device

Some solutions won’t provide this feature, but I suggest you look for it when selecting an online scheduling tool to use. We—as members of the modern workforce—are constantly on the move. It’s hard to predict when or where you’ll need to check your calendar. Look for a tool that provides mobile access so you can check your schedule while commuting, taking your lunch break, or relaxing on your couch with a cold beverage at the end of a long day.

Plus, your customers and prospects will want mobile access as well. According to Pingup, at least one-third of all appointments booked through online scheduling software is done via a mobile device.

9. Always send confirmation emails

Always send confirmation emails

This should go without saying, right? You’d be surprised by how many people miss this step in the process. Your tool should provide you with the option to automatically send a confirmation email when someone books with you.

You should be able to create a stock email that gets sent—and automatically populated with relevant meeting information—as soon as someone hits the submit button on your calendar. For an extra tip: include a calendar file in that email so they can easily save it to their own calendars without having to enter it manually.

The Bottom Line

Like I said above, everybody’s doing it! Peer pressure sucks, but in this case, it’s the truth. Appointment scheduling is moving online, like it or not. It’s better to get ahead of the curve and start using it now, than to bumble around with manual scheduling until you’re the only one left doing it.

There are myriad benefits to using an online scheduling tool, including:

  • Time saved from minimizing manual scheduling, that you can instead spend on higher value tasks
  • Reduction of no-shows because people book at their convenience, not under pressure
  • Millennials (steadily becoming the largest consumer demographic) prefer it
  • 24/7 access to your calendar for your customers and prospects
  • Historical records of all your appointments
  • Improved customer satisfaction

Benjamin Franklin once said, “For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” When the organizing is done automatically by an online scheduling tool, those extra hours earned begin to grow exponentially.

Are you using online scheduling? Do you have any helpful tips to share with your peers? Don’t forget to do so in the comments section below!

Best practices: Using webinar marketing to move leads through the customer journey

Best practices: Using webinar marketing to move leads through the customer journey

If you have ever attended a webinar, you know they can be highly insightful, with key takeaways that solve real and relevant problems. Or, they can be incredibly boring. The difference lies in how you prepare, execute, and follow up on your webinar. And of course, you need super engaging content. There are many types of webinars, so for this article, we’ll focus on prospect-centric webinar marketing.

CRM Implementation: Getting started with Agile CRM

CRM Implementation: Getting started with Agile CRM

Are you using a customer relationship management (CRM) solution? What about a marketing automation solution to drive your lead generation and nurturing? Do you have an effective way to provide customer support to your clients? Are you under the impression that CRM implementation is a monumental challenge? 

If you are using a variety of those solutions, are you tired of switching between various systems to access your customer and prospect data? Are you losing efficiency through data inconsistency across your various platforms? Are you frustrated at seeing your teams working in silos, with different, disconnected data sets? Is it a problem that one team doesn’t have a view into the interactions their colleagues on other teams are having with your customers?  

If so, we’ve got a solution for you: Agile CRM, the all-in-one CRM that integrates sales, marketing, and customer service solution for growing businesses. Below, we dig into what Agile CRM implementation entails, and how it prepares you for success.

Highlights of SaaStr Annual 2018

Highlights of SaaStr Annual 2018

We just got back from SaaStr Annual 2018, held last week in San Francisco. Thousands of attendees piled into the Hilton Union Square to gain new insights into the direction of the SaaS space. They learned new trends and innovative ideas that are driving the industry forward and made connections that will help take their SaaS companies to the next level.

As a Gold Sponsor of the event, Agile CRM had a unique opportunity to connect, share insights with, and learn from attendees representing companies of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and focus areas. As we place a great emphasis on ensuring the success of our clients, Agile CRM couldn’t afford to miss the event. As William Pollard once said, “Without change, there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.”

10 email marketing best practices you need to know

10 email marketing best practices you need to know

As the primary tool for communicating with customers and prospects, be it B2B or B2C audiences, email marketing drives the marketing/sales channel for any business. To get the best results, staying tuned into the latest trends and email marketing best practices helps tremendously.

There is a lot that goes into planning a well-executed email marketing campaign: audience segmentation, upgrading transactional emails, setting your cadence, choosing the right tone for your audience, etc. This post shares the 10 most important email marketing best practices for growing your subscriber base by enhancing email deliverability and the responsiveness of your emails.

How a help desk ticketing system benefits customer service

How a help desk ticketing system benefits customer service

If your business provides customer support to clients, you are probably aware of what a help desk ticketing system is, at least in theory. But, just in case you don’t, here’s a quick rundown: Helpdesk tickets are your individual customer support cases. Each time a customer submits a new case, a ticket is created and used to track all the progress made toward resolving the customer’s issue, until it is finally closed.

A help desk ticketing system helps you automate the time consuming, repetitive administrative tasks associated with managing customer support cases. It typically links back to an overarching customer relationship management (CRM) database that stores all of your contacts’ information.

Agile CRM – Zapier Integration

Agile CRM – Zapier Integration

Every growing business is in a constant state of evolution. As you grow, you consistently come across new requirements that are necessary to continue that growth. An ideal way to meet them is to look towards emerging trends and innovation in the SaaS sphere. With a growing reliance on technology to manage your business, you are likely to see an increased dependence on SaaS applications to address those requirements and streamline workflows. Once those applications are in place, they will ideally enhance the efficiency of your team. This is particularly true when you use the Agile CRM – Zapier integration. 

Unfortunately, many businesses implement 50 disparate applications, to address 50 different needs, without integrating them. This quickly becomes a problem, as managing your data separately in all those applications opens the door to data integrity issues. Not to mention the fact that managing so many applications in silos, to improve efficiency, can actually reduce it. The man-hours needed to coordinate those applications start to build up. This can create more confusion than benefits for your business. Agile CRM already provides integrations with over 50 third-party applications. And by leveraging Zapier integrations, you can sync hundreds of additional applications with your core Agile CRM system.

What are Zapier integrations and what do they do?

Think of Zapier as a multilingual translator that can help two people, speaking different languages, communicate with ease. More specifically, it’s a translator of web APIs that allows different SaaS applications to interact without language barriers. In short, Zapier integrations allow you to trigger workflows in one application while working in another.

This streamlines your ability to work dynamically with various applications while maintaining focus on key business objectives. Zapier is currently building a core ecosystem of over a thousand applications to integrate with. By leveraging these integrations, you can minimize time-consuming, administrative work and focus on higher value tasks. 

If there are two applications that you are currently using, odds are you can create a “Zap” to sync them. This allows you to easily connect two apps, and synchronize actions and workflow steps between the two. This would otherwise require programming and coding… and cost a lot more. 

Because Agile CRM features an open API, you can utilize Zapier integrations to connect a variety of applications into your daily workflow. Indeed, Zapier recognizes the value of Agile CRM in its arsenal of app connections. Last year, Zapier named Agile CRM one of the 10 fastest growing applications that it connects with. 

9 lead generation strategies for eCommerce

9 lead generation strategies for eCommerce

If you use an eCommerce platform to sell your products or services, you’ve probably wondered what you could be doing differently to generate more qualified leads. There are loads of tactics to do that, some of which are more effective than others. Lead generation for eCommerce is not much different normal lead generation… with a few differences. In this post, we discuss the top lead generation strategies for eCommerce sites.

10 highly effective email automation workflows

10 highly effective email automation workflows

Email automation workflows can solve for a host of needs by enabling you to send the right message to the right person at just the right time. The best part of automated email workflows is that they operate on their own, as you focus on higher-value work. Simply determine the scenarios in which an automated email workflow would serve your needs, set it up, and let your marketing automation solution do the rest. Here are ten highly effective email automation workflows for the digital marketer:

10 tips for running a successful sales meeting

10 tips for running a successful sales meeting

Meetings can take many forms. They can be highly effective in engaging, motivating and inspiring your team. Or, they can be counterproductive, waste time and distract your team from the mission at hand. There are certain elements that every sales meeting should have, in order to supercharge your reps and send them back into the field sporting their game face and high confidence levels.

Here are our top tips for running a successful sales meeting: