04 Jan Online scheduling tools. Save time with the right ones.
If running your business requires many virtual or real meetings with customers or collaborators, you are already aware of how time-consuming calendar management can be.
Sometimes you need many email exchanges to be able to find a suitable date and time for all parts.
The good news is there are many online tools that can save you time and effort (thank you, Web!).
Plus, many of them offer a free version. Though they might have limited features, still they can be very useful in case you need a very basic tool or if you wish to test it before going premium.
So, how do online schedulers work?
Once you have set up your account and customized your booking page, you can go ahead and set your available hours in the desired time zone. You can then share the link with clients who need to meet with you: send it via email, embed it at the end of your blog posts or on one or more of your website pages.
When people click on the link, they are redirected to the available times and dates you previously set on your calendar. They would, then, have all the time they need to decide when it is better for them to schedule a call.
You can also set some mandatory fields the customer has to fill out while scheduling (like name, email, phone number or Skype ID, or any other useful information).
Once the online form has been filled out, clients can book their spot on your calendar. They will receive a confirmation email with all relevant information. At the same time, you will be notified with all of the relevant details about the appointment.
And there you have it: your meeting is scheduled.
In your account, you can also set up and customize reminders for yourself (usually with paid versions only) and for your clients (you never know…).
As you can see, the procedure is very straightforward.
There are many online calendar management tools out there and they all have similar features. Some may result more intuitive than others while setting your account up, but is really all up to you. I would recommend trying some of them and see which ones you feel more comfortable with.
Here are some of the most popular online appointment schedulers.
I think Calendly is very intuitive. You can share your calendar directly with clients and collaborators. The meeting will be automatically synchronized with all calendars. It integrates well with Google, Outlook, Office 365, ICal. You can also embed it on your website so users can book directly from there and you won’t have to manually share any link. Group events can also be created. The application is optimized for mobile devices and automatically adjusts to the right time zone.This is a very useful feature if you work with people around the world. For example, you set your availability for 5 pm Italy’s time and your customer in New York will see it in his/her time zone.
This tool makes it also possible to share your calendar and integrates well with Google Calendar, ICal and other apps as well. The code can be embedded on your website or your Facebook page. Like many other tools, it allows full customization for reminders and follow-ups. Plus, you can insert a captcha (to avoid bots) and, thanks to an integration with Stripe, to process payments.
Acuity is perhaps a little less intuitive than the previous ones, but it is highly recommended for small and medium-sized businesses with more complex organizational needs. It offers a payment processing feature too. Your customer is redirected to a check-out page (PayPal, Square, Stripe, etc) before the appointment is confirmed. It can be integrated with many other online services, including Zapier, Quickbooks, MailChimp etc.
Like Acuity, 10to8 offers a wide range of features, including reporting and automated SMS and emails to remind your clients of their appointments. It allows you to create a client database and send forms to gather feedback or other relevant information.
The list could go on forever…here you can find many other online schedulers in case you feel you need some more time before making a decision.
So, how have you managed your calendar so far? What is your favorite tool?