The CoachAccountable Blog

What's new with the CA platform, tutorials on using it, and customer spotlights.

On Not Overwhelming Your Clients

I’m going to open this discussion with a quote:

With great power comes great responsibility.
– Voltaire (or maybe Spiderman, for some reason it’s not clear)

CoachAccountable gives you, as coach, great power to cause accountability, follow through, and ultimately results with the people you coach.  It can serve as a brilliant “auto nag” system that can gently guide your clients to act upon your coaching, doing so in a hands-off manner that takes the edge off any creepy feeling that you’re obsessing over what they’re doing (or not doing) in a given week.

You have the power to set in motion timely reminders for the assignments you give your clients, helpful reminders for upcoming appointments, notifications of when deadlines have slipped, and routine prompts for tracking things of importance.

These things can be sent via email or text.  They happen automatically.  They nudge your clients to succeed.  They’re great.

Until they’re not.

This great power entails great responsibility: you can setup CoachAccountable to be this lovely vehicle of awareness, but by the same token you can (inadvertently!) setup CoachAccountable to spam your clients into annoyance and tuning out the whole thing.

With great power comes great responsibility.

We occasionally hear from coaches (sometimes as part of their cancellation feedback!) that their clients are overwhelmed by the notifications that CA sends.

I’m going to make a provocative statement here and now about client overwhelm and CA:

If your clients are overwhelmed by the notifications of CoachAccountable, you’re doing it wrong.

This is good news, though: like any bad thing with which the ball’s in your court, you have the power to do something about it.

Happily, CoachAccountable gives you a LOT of control by which to do something about it.  Let’s take a look!

Notification Settings

The first place to go to tune how much and when CoachAccountable notifies your clients (and you!) is My CA >> My System >> Notifications.

This page offers numerous settings, here are the ones concerning Actions and Worksheets.

Maybe we just shouldn’t notify our clients when things fall behind, and just talk about it on our calls instead?

With a few clicks you can turn off notifications for late assignments for all of your clients.  Note how many of these are to do with YOUR preferences, when YOU want the system to send you notification of things your clients are up to.  (So if you as coach are feeling overwhelmed, this is a good page to visit!)

Appointment Reminder Defaults

If you use CoachAccountable to schedule appointments with your clients, the system will send handy reminders to both you and them to ensure you’re both prepared for a productive session.  When setting up your Appointment Types (My CA >> My System >> Appointment Scheduling) you can create a set of default appointments.

In these defaults you can find a nice balance between being reasonably certain your clients will be prepared for your session, like this…

This should suffice to have ’em come prepared.

…and just plain annoying them, like this:

Why would anybody do this? Please, nobody do this.

Assignment Reminders

Like Appointments, when setting up Action items and Worksheets for your clients you are able to set in motion a collection of reminders to go with it, like so:

One thing working in our favor here is that once an Action (or Worksheet) has been marked complete, the system won’t send out any more reminders for it (no need to be reminded to do something that’s already been done, right?).

There is still to use moderation.  It might be temping to setup a big string of reminders (it’s not due for 2 weeks, I should have the system remind them every day so they don’t forget!), but again we want to make sure our clients don’t get more reminders than would actually be difference-making.  When we cross that threshold we risk entering the eyes-glaze-over zone for these notifications (wherein they’re simply ALL ignored).

For longer term assignments I like to give 2 reminders: one that’s somewhere in the middle of the time span between assignment and due date (a sort of “hey, this assignment is still out there, so make sure you’re working on it!”), and one that’s just a little before the deadline (ideally functioning as a “hey, you’ve still got enough time to get this done on time, so please get on it if you haven’t already!”).

Smaller or more near term assignments I like to give 1 or zero reminders.  Why would I not set any reminders at all?  Well…

Be Mindful of the Whole Picture

In a coaching call you and your client might come up with a dozen good things for he or she to get done in the coming week.  Reminders for each is apt to be tedious: you might attach a reminder to just a few key Action items, or maybe even make an additional Action item to serve as a helpful prompt for your client to get crackin’ on their list:

Your preferred degree of flippant vulgarity, of course. Never underestimate the boon of a little levity.

Mind any Metric Mayhem

Metrics keep your clients on top of performance and reporting of key thing they’re out to track/improve over the course of working for you.  Reminders make reporting a breeze, being sent off whichever days a data point is called for.  Some things they’ll be tracking weekly, some things they’ll be tracking daily.

Like “Being Mindful of the Whole Picture” above, think about how the collection of Metrics a given client is working on will play out in terms of reminders.  If they have, say, 8 things they’re tracking daily, it could be a bit much to get 8 emails every day, each prompting your client for “What’s your number on this thing for today?”.  If you’ve got your client tracking a lot of things regularly you might skip all the reminders and setup something like a regular Worksheet into which they can report on everything in one fell swoop.

Group Notification Settings

Groups are great in that they serve as a hub for your coaching groups to communicate about the shared experience of going through your coaching program, a way to foster a sense of community and shared accountability.  But for some people in some groups, getting an email every time someone posts a message or a comment to the group is just too much.

Let your clients know that they can opt out of comments and/or messages from other group members by simply clicking the “Settings” button while logged in and looking at the Group.  You as coach can set the defaults for these settings to whatever is going to be most appropriate for your people:

Suspect this is gonna be chatty and not everyone will be down for that? Better uncheck these.

Zero to Sixty in 4-5 (settings)

Ultimately CoachAccountable can be configured to send way too many notifications to your clients, or none at all.  Between these two extremes lies a sweet spot for any given client, a volume in which CoachAccountable is sending helpful prompts to keep progress moving along between your sessions and without blowing up their inbox.  Tuning the settings in these 4 or 5 areas will allow you and your clients to find just that right balance.

There’s no one size fits all, but know that you don’t have to get it perfect right off the bat.  After they’ve been on it for a week or two, ask your client how the system’s automated notifications are working and tune as needed.  It’s a great way to be truly of service to your client, and to help them get the most out of your coaching.

My First In Person With A Customer

Most of the time, I interact with CoachAccountable customers through phone, email, or screen share. While I think those are all perfectly acceptable forms of communication, I relish the opportunity to meet with a customer face to face. Getting to know coaches is one of the perks of my work, and the best way to do so is in person.

That opportunity — my first — came up the other week. David Frank Gomes, of Life Compass Coaching, emailed John to ask a couple of questions. David recently joined the volunteer board of Create Change, a charity working to empower girls and youth in Canada and Ghana, and he wanted to know how to best setup program participants in CoachAccountable.

David, who resides in beautiful Vancouver, has been a user and fan of CoachAccountable for a couple of years now, and had actually met with John in person a back in 2014. Since I had a trip planned to Vancouver to visit family, John suggested that David and I meet up. Thank you John for keeping me in mind!

David and I ended up meeting at a cafe right next to the scenic Granville Island. Coffee in hand and laptop and iPad open, we talked about how to best setup the Create Change program — a leadership and marketing program for Vancouver highschool kids who raise money to send girls in Ghanan to school — in CoachAccountable.

It was a fantastic time. I listened to his vision for the program and how CA would fit. We went through Courses and Groups and piping in Worksheets from Metrics. One suggestion I gave that seems to be much appreciated with whoever I talk to is the idea of Starter Kit Courses. If nothing else, take advantage of the automatic delivery of Courses to send onboarding messages, Worksheets, and maybe even a short screencast tutorial to get new clients off and running with the system.

The beauty of meeting up in person is the conversation: the attempt to understand the coach and the program and the subsequent feedback and back and forth that occurs as new questions and ideas inevitably arise. And to top it all off, selfies are possible:

davidandpaolo

I appreciate the chance to get to know our customers because I end up learning more about coaching, why folks become coaches, and more and more, what quality coaching looks like. All valuable knowledge in and of itself, but especially in the context of the work I do.

Thanks for meeting up with me David. It was lovely chatting with you and I’m glad I could be of service!

Delightful Collaboration VIII – Setting Location and Description for Appointments

Here is a great example of where CoachAccountable gets better through me being exposed to a style of doing things other than my own.

The calendar feed of appointments is a lovely thing, allowing both coaches and clients to have appointments [set within CoachAccountable] appear right within their usual calendars (like Google Calendars, iCal, and Outlook).

Beyond the what and when, calendar software aficionados know that it’s handy to have location and descriptive information about a calendar event be right there as well.

For my sake when it comes to coaching appointments there’s nothing to it: “where” is invariably on the phone, and there are no access or dial-in details to speak of, or really anything else–I call them and that’s that.

Liz HeimanBut last Thursday I had a great call with Liz Heiman of Percio Strategies.  We went over a bevy of great questions of how to setup and do this or that within CA, and Liz made a great case for how useful it would be to have location and description information about an appointment appear right along side appointments within people’s calendars: vital for coordination of meeting locations and a great boon to timely attendance to have dial in information right there for attendees.

I.e. CoachAccountable really should have location and description information settable for appointments, and that information should appear right in people’s calendars.

I was sold.  I spent the afternoon adding this to CoachAccountable.  Let’s see how this works!


Adding location and/or descriptive information to your CoachAccountable Appointments starts with your setup of Appointment Types.

When adding or editing any Appointment Type, you’ll see a new line, “Extra:”, with a link to click:

Tucked away towards the bottom. Unobtrusive if you don't need it, there if you do!

Tucked away towards the bottom. Unobtrusive if you don’t need it, there if you do!

Give it a click and you’ll be presented with places to type in your extra information:

In this example we have web and dial-in access information for a web-based meeting.

In this example we have web and dial-in access information for an online meeting.

Once setup for a given Appointment Type, you’ll have this information pre-filled in for any appointments you schedule of this type.  If you’d like to modify this information (or even just give it a peek) you can by clicking the “Modify location/description information…” link when scheduling:

Again, tucked away nicely but easy to access.

Again, tucked away nicely but easy to access.

This is nice if, say, the dial-in information varies sometimes, or you want to add a little note for your clients to see in their calendars:

SUPER fun. Worth noting for sure.

SUPER fun. Worth noting for sure.

Once this is set, where can this be seen by coach and client?

First off it’s visible to both parties within CoachAccountable in the widget listing of upcoming appointments.  Simply hover over an appointment that has either or both a location and description set, and it will appear:

Handily found if you need it by hovering over the appointment.

Handily found if you need it by hovering over the appointment.  During writing this I made those URLs display as clickable links, but feel content to skip redoing the screenshot.

But the real fun of this is having this information appear right in your calendar system of choice, provided you’ve done the one-time setup to make your CoachAccountable appointments appear there.  Here’s how that appointment shows up when viewed in Google Calendar:

No affiliation with Google, etc. etc.

No affiliation with Google, etc. etc.  They do seem quite keen on making your calendaring experiences more groovy, though, so I reckon they won’t mind me giving them a named shout out in this space.

And there you have it!  You can put key location and descriptive information in your appointment types if it’s standard and consistent, customize it when scheduling specific appointments in case it’s not, and ultimately have this information appear right in yours and your client’s calendars automatically.

My thanks again to Liz for her insightful glimpse into the world of relying upon calendar scheduling and integration for more than just the what and when, CoachAccountable is better for its expanded support of calendar integration!

How to Integrate CoachAccountable with your Website

You may already have a website whose purpose is to present you and your services to the world, and if so you might wonder how best to “integrate” that website with CoachAccountable.

It turns out that CA is itself designed to be a complete experience for your clients, so integrating it with your regular website is often as simple as making it easy for your site visitors to log into the CoachAccountable accounts they have with you.

Here are a few ways to connect your website with CoachAccountable:

Login Link

A common way to integrate CoachAccountable with your coaching site or member portal is to make a link from your site to CoachAccountable’s login page (https://www.coachaccountable.com/login).

Wrap the login link as a button or even a prominent line of a text, such as “Head to my personal coaching account” or “Login to my account.”  Something like this:

loginbutton2

They can click the button or text, log in as usual, and will be taken right to the system.

You can direct your clients to check the “Keep me logged in” checkbox when they log in.  If they do so, clicking that big button in the future (from the same device) will have them be taken right from your site and on into their account, making for a truly seamless transition.

With white-labeling, this concept is taken further as the login page itself can be customized using your branding.

When you have white-labeling enabled, the standard login page (again, https://www.coachaccountable.com/login), will appear branded (with logo and color scheme) for visitors who have logged in previously to your system, like so:

standardloginwl

White-labeling also allows you to direct visitors to a custom login page using a unique login link, found by going to My CA > My System > White-Label Branding, then scrolling down to Customized Login Page. This custom login page always appears branded according to your settings:

loginpage

This customized login page contains Custom About Text, found on the right side of the page

Use this simple but effective method to unite CA with your website, and give your clients a straightforward means to access their accounts.

Remote Login

White-Label Branding gives you the ability to embed a login widget on your website.  This is similar to the login link above, except now your clients have the ability to enter their username and password right from your website — no need to be taken to an intermediary page to do so.  Here’s what the login widget looks like, embeddable anywhere:

Super basic, but you can style it with CSS to make it fit right in with your website.

Super basic, but you can style it with CSS to make it fit right in with your website.

 

Head to My CA > My System > White-Label Branding then scroll down to Remote Login System. Here you’ll find the HTML snippet you’ll place somewhere on your website. This section also allows you to define the logout URL, where clients get taken after they log-out, the text that appears on the widget, and any custom CSS you would like to style the widget with.

remotelogin

Due to the ability to match the style of the widget to that of your website, Remote Login is a truly consistent method of integrating your two systems.

Both a simple login link and the login widget represent two easy ways of integrating your site with CoachAccountable. Give these a try: there’s a good chance you’ll find one of these approaches is all that’s needed to integrate CoachAccountable with your website.

Using CoachAccountable to Share Progress

CoachAccountable helps translate idea and insight into real, tangible progress. Over the course of a coaching engagement, this progress gets captured: Actions completed, Metrics recorded, Worksheets filled out and more all serve as tangible proof of your clients’ growth.

As a general rule, the detailed documentation of this coaching work is private, just between you and your client.  There are, however, scenarios in which it is desirable or even necessary to share how things are going to an interested third party.  When working with individuals from a client company, for example, the hiring entity will often want to peek in at how things are going in order to be assured that their coaching dollars with you are well spent.

In these situations it’s useful to take advantage of CoachAccountable’s ability to summarize client happenings and export the data in a format that’s easy to both share and understand.  CA is setup to make sharing a breeze.

Here are three methods you have available for sharing the results and progress of your coaching work.

1: Happenings Reports

Happenings Reports allow you to set up automated, recurring reports of what your clients are up to.  You set the report up once, then sit back as they get delivered to the pertinent parties on whatever regular schedule you choose.

Happenings Report listing

Setup is simple. Head to My CA >> My System >> Happenings Reports and click +Happenings Report. From here you’ll simply need to indicate who to send to, which clients to report on, and when to send.

Here’s what one looks like in your inbox:

Happenings Report example

Happenings Reports are meant to be versatile enough to handle different types of recipients and scenarios. For example, you might find HR management calling for once-a-month reports on concrete, quantifiable evidence of client performance. A Happenings Report is perfect for this, especially one that hyper-focuses on the numbers by being configured to include only Metrics.

Another useful feature of Happenings Reports is the ability for client and coach to make comments on any item within a Happenings Report via email by clicking on the small comment icon next to the item. Comments made via email are recorded in CoachAccountable as Stream Item, and (as always) emailed automatically to the other party.

This feature creates another opportunity for you and your clients to have productive discourse. In this way, Happenings Reports function as both a reminder and opportunity for conversation. Going through a Happenings Report might trigger a comment that wouldn’t have been made otherwise.

To learn more you can check out the full illustrated lowdown on Happenings Reports.

2: Client Exports

Have you ever wanted to download a record of everything you and a client have ever done together?  CoachAccountable allows you to do this in a couple of clicks through Client Exports. Though not automated like Happenings Reports, Client Exports offer a bit more flexibility in how the information is presented.

On the Clients tab, hit Export for a given client. Here you’ll choose the date range that the export is to cover (or just leave it blank to include the complete history), which types of items you’d like include, and whether you want items to be displayed in chronological or reverse-chronological order.

Include as little or as much of the client record as is appropriate for your purposes.

Include as little or as much of the client record as is appropriate for your purposes.

What comes out is a lightweight HTML file that’s easy to publicly showcase, or send in a secure manner:

clientrecordaaron

Use Client Exports as case studies to show off your coaching style and results, as a regular end-of-engagement souvenir for your clients to keep, or as a way to keep interested parties in the loop on how the coaching work is unfolding. Read more about Client Exports here.

3: Direct Access

This method is the most involved but especially handy for those third parties who would like a live window into what’s going on with your clients. Rather than give someone a report, you can, with CoachAccountable Team Edition, allow them to login in order to directly view (and not interact with) certain clients of interest.

For a third party, there’s a certain assurance in this practice that nothing has been altered in any way — the third party is viewing what is actually happening in-system.

There are two ways to go about this, with the difference being how much the third party can actually see.

Approach 1: Selective Client Pairing

Client pairing is appropriate for when you want to give a third party view-only access to one or more specific clients.

To set this up, add the individual as new coach.  When presented the Permissions Settings for this new coach, designate the individual as one of the team coaches but DON’T grant any of the permissions for that role, like so:

viewonlycoachperms

This setup ensures that the third party will only be able to view the clients you pair with that coaching account. The next step is to actually do the pairing and make sure no interaction can take place between the client and the third party user. Click the Pairing button for your newly added coach, then click the clients you’d like to pair the coach with.

By default, clicking on a client will give a coach “Coaching” access. Since you don’t want the third party to actually engage with your clients, simply select the triangle in the upper right of a given client to toggle the status from “Coaching” to “View only.” Hit Save Pairings and you’re all set.

viewonlycoachpairing

The red triangle in the upper-right indicates “View-only”.  In this setup we’re giving Frank view-only access to Lee Bron.

In the majority of cases, you’ll use this client pairing approach because it allows you to retain control over which clients your third party actually sees.

Approach 2: View All Clients

This approach gives the third party complete access to view ALL clients within your account, and is useful and appropriate to, for example, give someone high up within your organization a the complete picture of all coaching being done.  It is the ultimate in administrative oversight and enables complete transparency.

Similar to selective client pairing, you’ll add the interested third party as a new coach. When presented with the permission settings, instead of making this person one of the team coaches you’ll give them an administrative only role.   Then under the Administrative Permissions, check the boxes for “View all client happenings”.  If groups are relevant and this individual should also get to see all group happenings, check the “View all Group happenings” permission as well.

viewonlyadminperms1

This user will, like a normal coach, be able to login and see the list of clients as well as everything your clients are up to.

The Admin can't interact with the client at all. Notice the lack of big, green buttons.

The Admin can’t interact with the client at all. Notice the lack of the usual big, green adder buttons.

A powerful and detailed record of the coaching work naturally arises over the course of using the tools of CoachAccountable within a coaching relationship.  In addition to making the actual week-to-week coaching better, you can leverage this record to share the results of your work and better demonstrate the value of your work.  Enjoy!

Media Embeds in Worksheets and Elsewhere

It can be nice to offer your client assignments that are in essence self-contained lessons, where in learning materials are presented right in line with the questions or tasks to work through.  Say for example you want them to watch a video and, as they do, answer some questions about that video.

This scenario calls for a Worksheet Template with embedded media.  Let’s take a look at how this works.

When creating a Worksheet you’ll find the Embed Media button in the WYSIWYG toolbar, forth in from the right:

It's a video-like icon, but don't let that fool you: you can embed audio media as well.

It’s a video-like icon, but don’t let that fool you: you can embed audio as well.

Give it a click and you’ll be presented with options for specifying the media you wish to embed:

Choose from your library (if you got any embeds there) or specify a new one.

Choose from your library (if you have any embeds there) or specify a new one.

If you have any embeddable media within your Library Files you’ll be able to choose from there.  Otherwise you can specify some other embeddable media by pasting in the link or embed code, just like elsewhere in the system.

Note the “Caption” field here: this is so that CoachAccountable can give a fallback link to the media for when <iframe> embeds aren’t allowed (most email providers for example strip out HTML <iframes> entirely, so a link with the caption you specify is a nice way to make the Worksheet be more complete in that context).  If you’d rather the system NOT provide a link to the media file outside of CoachAccountable, just leave the caption blank.

Once inserted the embeddable media shows up in your Worksheet just like anything else, and you can build a Worksheet around it, like in this example:

Note the call out to a specific time in the video--the video being right there let's your clients easily go there to answer the question.

Note the call out to a specific time in the video–the video being right there let’s your clients easily go there to answer the question.

Your client’s experience of filling out a Worksheet with embedded media is just how you would expect it: the media is there and they can easily access it while answering the questions:

You should try filling out a worksheet with this song playing as you do, it's kinda nice!

You should try filling out a worksheet with this song playing as you do, it’s kinda nice!

Supported Media Embeds

From where can you embed media?  CoachAccountable recognizes and supports most of the major video and audio hosting sites, and even a few that are a little more niche:

  • YouTube
  • Vimeo
  • Wistia
  • Viddler
  • TED
  • educreations
  • Cubby
  • Sound Cloud
  • Audio Acrobat
  • LibSyn

Have your media hosted with some other service and you want CoachAccountable to support it?  Let me know!

Beyond Worksheets

Embedded media is a nice and natural fit for Worksheets, but you can add such media to other places as well.  Session Notes, Journal Entries and Whiteboards all support embedded media.  You can even add it to Messages sent through the system, but since those are primarily a conduit for email, that might be a bit futile due to the aforementioned tendency of email providers to strip out such content.

Enjoy!

Hi, I’m Paolo

I just spoke my peace to introduce the new Director of Customer Support and Hand Holding.  I’d like you to know and be acquainted with him well, so here now is Paolo to say a few words of hello himself!
– John


headshot

Hi there,

My name is Paolo and I’m the new Director of Customer Support and Hand Holding. I’ll be getting to know you all better as we work together, but I think it’d be good to share a bit about myself.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. For a few years I was at a job I didn’t like but tolerated because it was stable. After a pair of 80 hour weeks in the office I started asking myself some questions: What is my purpose? What do I actually like to do? How do I go about finding work I love?

After a period of introspection and learning I realized I didn’t have one specific thing I wanted to do. I did know that I wanted to make a life, not just a living. And to do that I endeavored to be a certain kind of person.

I want to be compassionate. I want to help people. I want the freedom to spend my time building things I care about. If whatever I’m doing aligns with the above, then I know I’m doing well. I’ve held a couple of different roles these past few years, each one a better fit than the last. Which leads me to CoachAccountable.

As part of the hiring process, John and I met at a park and spoke for an hour or so. We got to know each other a bit as people. It didn’t take long for me to tell him that this was the position for me. I knew that I had finally found a bonafide, all-around great fit.

Lucky for me, he thought so as well! I’m excited to be here, and to help John transform the coaching industry.

My goal is to help you use CoachAccountable to be a better coach. There’s two main parts to this. The first is reactive. I’ll assist in answering any questions or solving any issues that come up. I’ll be there if things aren’t working so well.

The second is proactive. I’d like to understand what you and your clients define as success. I’ll then use that knowledge to show you how to use the system in a manner that best sets you up for your success. This could mean showing you features of the software you didn’t know existed. Or it could mean showing you new ways of using features you’re already familiar with.

There’s a ton of collective wisdom amongst John and our CoachAccountable community. I’m ecstatic to help distill it all.

In the coming weeks I’ll continue what’s been a whirlwind learning process. I’ll be answering as many emails as I can, deferring to John when I’m unsure if I’m giving the best answer.

What’s most important is that I’ll start the process of getting to know you all. Please, please reach out! Don’t be shy. I’d love to do 1:1 trainings that focus on using the system to its full potential. Aside from that, we also have plans to make group webinars more of a regular thing. It’s a great way for CoachAccountable users to connect with John and I, and with each other.

That’s a bit about me and what I’ll be doing. Besides CoachAccountable, I like to write and read a good amount. I’m also a burgeoning photographer, specializing in weddings and families.

I’m looking forward to working with you all! If you need anything, just email me at paolo@coachaccountable.com.

Cheers,
Paolo

Introducing Paolo De Armas, Director of Customer Support and Hand Holding

I swear I didn’t pick Paolo because he’s in Denver.

When I posted the ad for this position on weworkremotely.com I had no need of my ideal candidate being in the same town as me.  Rather, I was totally down with the ethos of remote teams (as excellently described by 37 Signals Remote). and what that afforded by way of getting the very best candidate WITHOUT geography as a severely narrowing criteria.

I did want someone in or around the North American time zones so as to overlap with the majority of CoachAccountable users, but that was about it.

So the subject line of Paolo’s email applying for the job, “Director of Customer Support – I’m based in Denver as well” didn’t catch my eye that much, but his answers about how he would see to do the job did:

My primary focus is to help grow CoachAccountable through helping our customers succeed. …

Ideally, I’d be spending most of my time proactively reaching out to customers, showing them how to best use the platform to help their business and their clients.

I understand that there will always be a need to solve customer support issues. We’d continually strive to reduce the number of support issues through excellent customer support.

His answer to how he would ideally like to spend his time on the 3 Pillars of the role (customer support issues, building the knowledge base, and user outreach & teaching) nailed exactly what I had in mind that my ideal candidate would say:

The ideal would be something like 15% customer support issues, 45% development of the knowledge base, and 40% proactive outreach. Eventually the majority of our time would be spent on outreach.

Paolo insisted this was shot in bad lighting, but I dunno, I think it looks pretty good.

Paolo insisted this was shot in bad lighting, but I dunno, I think it looks pretty good.

This is Paolo De Armas.  Armed with a boatload of experience in helping customers be more successful in their own businesses, he’s ready to help CoachAccountable users new and old in getting ever more out of the platform, from setting up Worksheet Templates, to teaching how to wield Metrics to fit a given coaching style, to integrating CA into the whatever established setup in order to make coaching clients have a great experience.

For the last month Paolo has been easing in to the CoachAccountable world, learning the system inside out, listening in on calls and demos, and fielding an ever wider range of support issues.  Some of you have interacted with him already during this warmup phase, and I’ve been very pleased with the result.

As founder of CoachAccountable (and the one who has been fielding all support and training for the past 4 years) it is a big deal to me to entrust the support and care of the CA community to someone else.  Having quick and thorough responses to questions, resolving issues & bugs immediately, teaching better coaching with the tools at hand, and listening in earnest to feedback of how CA could be better or what new features would serve have all meant so much to the development of this platform in service to the coaching industry.

For me to sleep well at night I need to know that this standard of taking care of this community is upheld, and it is with great joy that I say with Paolo the CoachAccountable community is in very good hands.  In many ways in fact Paolo can be better than me: rather than have to juggle customer support against all other facets of running CoachAccountable, customer support gets to be his sole focus.

He’ll have way more time to go in depth helping you setup the nitty gritty bits of your coaching style and programs within CA, to train you on how to wield the system to the fullest, to devise solutions to problems and challenges.  To that end I hope you will all feel comfortable and welcome to reach out to him for that sort of help whether you’re just getting started or have been using the system for years now.

One of the common bits of feedback I get is to the tune of “I’m pretty sure I’m not using all that the system has to offer” (the recent survey revealed a lot of this!).  Let’s fix that.  If you feel like there’s probably some good stuff you’re missing and could use a 1-1 session to go over things, you should assume you’re right and drop us a support note saying as much.  Get your money’s worth from the platform by using it to the fullest: let Paolo show you around, learn about how you coach, and steer you to helpful parts of the system you never knew about.

If you’re worried that getting support from Paolo won’t be the same or as cool as getting it right from the creator of the system, that’s fair.  I’ve been at this and trafficking in the world of coaching & coaching software for years whereas Paolo is relatively new.  In some regards he doesn’t have the depth and perspective on the matter as I do.

Yet.

As he gets going in earnest I’ll be tagging along, lending whatever is missing as he grows in the role.  And I expect my input to be minimal and ever diminishing.  Why?  As part of our interview process I had Paolo teach me, pretending to be a new user, about how to use Metrics in my mock business, up to and including setting up a course to have regular check in worksheets pipe numbers right in.  This setup is the most complex, integrated piece of the whole system and he nailed it, and did so with only 24 hours notice to prepare.  He’s a quick study, so again I am rest well knowing that with Paolo the CA community is in good hands for support and training.

If you’d like to get acquainted with Paolo more, go check out the essays on his personal blog.  Seriously, there aren’t many but they’re a delightful read, and give a real insight into the person behind the @coachaccountable email address.  (Indeed they’re part of the reason why I was so impressed and quickly sold that “yes, THIS was the person I wanted to entrust my customers to for support”).

Adding Paolo to the mix is a big win for all of us: he’ll be available to help at a level which I simply can’t, and thanks to his presence I’ll be freed up to continue making improvements to the platform at a quicker pace.  Please join me in welcoming Paolo to the CoachAccountable team!

Happy Birthday, CA–It’s been 4 Years Now!

You know I can probably fit like 2 or 3 more on there.

You know I can probably fit like 2 or 3 more on there.  Re-gifting might be a sin, but re-caking?  Totally fine.

Oh jeez, someone ordered the wrong sash for Mr. CoachAccountable, it was supposed to say "Happy Birthday". Oddly he doesn't seem to mind.

Oh jeez, someone ordered the wrong sash for Mr. CoachAccountable, it was supposed to say “Happy Birthday”. Oddly he doesn’t seem to mind.

CoachAccountable’s fourth year of existence since the 2.0 release got off to a groovy start with the release of CA Mobile, the appy experience of CoachAccountable for coaches and clients but without the hassle of having to find and download anything from an app store.

Then in January CoachAccountable got a named shout out in the Acknowledgements section at the end of the New York Times best seller book Always Hungry, for which CoachAccountable served as the platform for the pilot program upon which the book is based.

Tambre Leighn and company chose CoachAccountable as the delivery and community platform for their cancer survivors program, Well Beyond This. That CA Groups serve as a support group medium for participants makes this a project for which I am deeply honored to be a part of.

Along the way there has been the usual bevvy of enhancements and expansions to the system, including Course Whiteboards, Unit-Based Courses, Worksheet Image Prompts, and Form-Based Session Notes.

Beyond that it’s been busy times as the platform continues to grow and evolve to serve ever larger organizations and programs, so much so that my days as a one-man shop have come to an end.  The need for assistance to keep up has prompted me to create the new Director of Customer Support and Hand Holding position.  I’ll be introducing him in this space very soon.

Year 5 promises to be the biggest leap forward for CoachAccountable yet.  As usual I have much more up my sleeve to better the platform in order to better forward and serve the industry and the many talented coaches working to produce great results.

My many heartfelt thanks to coaches and organizations who continue to try out CA and find it a win for their work, here’s to another year of great coaching!

Form-Based Worksheet Image Prompts

Form-Based Worksheets (and indeed now Sessions!) allow you to create a form for your clients to fill out, comprised of text boxes, radio buttons and so forth.  But sometimes in a Worksheet assignment it would be nice if your clients could provide an image or two as an answer to a question.

This is now possible with CoachAccountable Form-Based Worksheets, thanks to the newly added support for Image Prompts that are available when creating a form.  Let’s take a look at how this works.

Like when adding a form input of any other variety, an Image Prompt is added by clicking the “Add form item” button on the WYSIWYG toolbar:

That little guy, forth in from the right.

That little guy, forth in from the right.

Pick the new “Image prompt” option in the drop down menu and you’ll find a similar (but slightly different) set of options:

Just pick this type of input and you're off. Note you can allow your clients to provide more than 1 image as their answer to a given question.

Just pick this type of input and you’re off. Note you can allow your clients to provide more than 1 image as their answer to a given question through the “Max images” setting.

In the Worksheet, an Image prompt is rendered as a clickable button with whatever caption you set:

All other things being equal, it was probably a bad meal if you feel vengeful afterwards.

Wait, vengeful?

When working on a Worksheet with an Image prompt item, clicking the button brings up the gallery browser, allowing your client to upload an image as needed and then ultimately choose an image for their answer:

Whew, fancy breakfast!

Whew, fancy breakfast!

As your clients fill out the Worksheet their images are popped right in:

I wonder if he really ate that? Totally looks like stock photography to me.

I wonder if he really ate that? Totally looks like stock photography to me.

What’s really nice about this is how well it plays with filling out a Worksheet on a smartphone with CA Mobile: when uploading a new image to the gallery (for subsequent choosing for the Worksheet) most devices give you the option to snap a photo right then and there, and upload THAT with just a few taps.  As such, completing a photo journal-like Worksheet is really quick and easy.

Image Prompts in Form-Based Worksheets add a new dimension to the kinds of assignments you can setup for your clients, letting pictorial input join the usual keyboard and click-based input.  If that would make a fitting aspect to the assignments you give as part of your coaching, go give them a try!  It’s as simple as creating a Worksheet Template that includes one or more Image Prompts.