Rarely do I come across a technology that can both save us time and make us money. Today, I want to share a quick and easy tip that will change your life: adding an online appointment scheduler to your website.
If you’ve ever set up a phone call with me, you know I’m fond of my virtual meeting scheduler. It saves me from going back and forth by email to find a time that works for everyone. It also allows prospects to get on my calendar quickly or during non-business hours, before their sense of urgency wanes.
For the advisors I work with, an online appointment scheduler helps them streamline their scheduling process, convert more leads, and get more done during meetings. If you haven’t set up an online calendar, take 15 minutes to change your life today!
What is an Online Appointment Scheduler?
Online appointment scheduling software allows someone to click a link and view available spots on your calendar in order to book a time that works for them. Try it out here. The software syncs with your Outlook, RedTail CRM, or another calendar to view when you’re busy and when you’re free. When someone books a meeting, the appointment is automatically added to your calendar and the time is marked as busy.
There are three popular software providers: ScheduleOnce, TimeTrade, and Calendly. All three are good options, but I recommend Calendly for one very important reason; I think it’s the most fun to use. The big three offer similar features including:
- Setting busy or available hours
- Offering various meeting lengths
- Adding a time buffer between appointments
- Allowing you to confirm a meeting before it’s scheduled
- Time delays to receive advance notice for new meetings
I’ve tried all three systems and I recommend the free version of Calendly, which provides unlimited meetings and syncs with Outlook, Office, and Google Calendar.
What if You Don’t Use an Online Calendar?
My dad still uses a paper appointment book, so to set up his online calendar, we blocked off a few hours each week for him to be available for meetings set up online. We chose Tuesday and Thursday from 3:30 to 6:30 pm when he’d normally be at the driving range. He marks his paper calendar as busy during this time and gets an email notice 24 hours in advance if someone books a call online.
Benefits of Online Scheduling
Once you get your online calendar set up, you’ll wonder how you ever survived without it. Here are a few of the benefits you’ll notice right away.
The most obvious and immediate benefit is that you will save hours of going back and forth by email or playing phone tag to find a suitable time for a meeting. Instead, you can share a link to your calendar and allow contacts to schedule a time that works for them. They can easily add the meeting to their calendar once it’s booked.
Philip Board, a top client of mine in Upland, California explains, “When we’re speaking to a client trying to book a meeting they often say, ‘My spouse isn’t home right now, can I get back to you?’ We send them the link so they can cross-reference their calendars and bam! The meeting shows up on our calendar.”
GENERATE MORE LEADS
The second important benefit is that scheduling a phone call online is an easy and low-stakes way for prospects to take the next step with you. If they’re reading a blog post or visiting your website after hours, they’re much more likely to schedule a phone call online than they are to remember to call you the next day. Once you have your scheduler set up, add it as a call to action for each blog post or marketing email you send out.
Advisor Philip Board has had success with new prospects scheduling a phone call on his website, “The link on the website has been used with new prospects for initial consultations. I’m surprised wholesalers haven’t figured out it’s an easy way to get to my calendar, but until they do it’s an invaluable tool for prospects.”
GET MORE DONE DURING MEETINGS
An online appointment scheduler also helps you get more done during your meetings. When clients schedule a call in advance, you can better prepare for the meeting. You are able to review the latest updates to their accounts and have their information at the ready, as opposed to when the phone rings and catches you off guard.
FEWER IN PERSON MEETINGS
Advisors who have adopted online meeting schedulers find that when clients can quickly book a phone call anytime, they opt for fewer in-person meetings. This means less time spent commuting to and participating in live meetings that could be quickly conducted over the phone.
STAY ON THE CUTTING EDGE
As we all grow more accustomed to technology and your client base gets younger, having online appointment access will become more important. Philip Board believes the trend will continue, “I think as we move into the next generation of clients, they will expect to have something like this available to them. Many of our clients still love to hear from us by phone and mail, but having the option online makes things easy for them.”
How to Set Up Your Online Scheduler
- First, go to Calendly.com and create an account by typing in your email address and clicking “Get Started for Free.”
- Then, you can log in using your Google account, or you can click the link below to create an account with a password. Enter your name and a password to create your account.
- Check your email to confirm your email address, then your account will be up and running!
- Log in using your email address and password, then create your unique Calendly link (calendly.com/claireakin/) and set your time zone.
- Then, sync with your Outlook, Office, or Google calendar. If you don’t use an online calendar, skip that step and choose a few hours per week that you will set as “available” on your online calendar.
- Go to your dashboard, then click “Account Settings” from the upper right menu to customize your calendar message and add your photo.
- Go to “Event Types” and click edit to customize the availability of each meeting type and set your business hours.
- Under “Event Type” then “More Availability Options,” I recommend setting the minimum scheduling notice to 24 hours so new meetings can’t sneak up on you.
- Under “Event Type” and “Question Form,” I recommend requiring a phone number entry so you know which number to dial at the time of the meeting.
- Poke around your new account to add blackout dates, preferences, and further customize your calendar.
How to Use Your Scheduler
Once you’ve set up your scheduler, you’ll want to make it easy for people to use. I recommend adding it to your website, marketing materials, blog posts, and email signature. Be sure to keep the link handy so you can send it within an email to folks requesting a meeting time. When encouraging people to book by email, I usually say “Please use this link to schedule a call or suggest some times that work for you” so they have a choice of scheduling the old fashioned way if they prefer.
If you’re a current client of mine, simply create your Calendly account and send me your custom link so I can add it to your website, social media profiles, and blog posts. Feel free to give me a call if you get stuck. If you’re not a current client, send me an email or schedule a meeting to get started today!
Claire Akin runs Indigo Marketing Agency a marketing firm serving top independent financial advisors. Claire is a former Investment Advisor Representative who holds her MBA in Marketing from the Rady School of Management at UC San Diego as well as a BA in Economics from UC Davis. It’s her goal to help advisors leverage content marketing to grow their businesses by embracing a true specialty.