The CoachAccountable Blog

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

Archive for Messaging

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.

System Email Addresses

“I love having messages to my clients captured in CoachAccountable.  It would be nice if I could just send a regular email without having to log in, and have it show up in their file.”

– Like, a dozen coaches.

CoachAccountable messaging is nice, a quick way to fire off messages between coach and client, affording tidy, on-topic comment threads and becoming part of The Record of the coaching process.  But traditionally, messages sent via CA had to be send from within CA.  Wouldn’t it be lovely if you could post a message to your clients from right within your usual email?

» Continue reading “System Email Addresses”

Metric Progress Now Visible via Email

This is one I’m excited about.

One of the serious wins of Metrics is that they makes progress evident: they turn a set of numbers into a tangible experience of how things are going, with a satisfying visualization of results relative to a target.

One of the other serious wins of Metrics is that they make it dead simple for your clients to track that progress at regular intervals, thus eliminating much of the tendency to forget as well as keeping goals regularly within their awareness between coaching sessions.

Those two major wins have been combined: now when your client replies to a Metric reminder email with their number for the day, they’ll get back an email response which shows them their freshly-updated progress in graph form, like so:

Visual feedback comes right back to your client when they report progress via email.

Visual feedback comes right back to your client when they report progress via email.

It’s an effect that I’ve already enjoyed while testing, and one which I think many clients will benefit from.

Why?  Because it’s satisfying to get that feedback right away, and that satisfaction motivates further effort towards next data point.

Formatting Messages

There’s a new goodie for CoachAccountable client and group messaging today: the ability to add HTML formatting.

Previously messaging was constrained to just plain text.  This is generally sufficient and right in line with how most email messages are composed.  Starting today however coaches can opt to add rich text formatting to messages sent through the system:

Just on click turns a plain text area into...

Just one click turns a plain text area into…

...a WYSIWYG editor, ripe for making a formatted message.

…a WYSIWYG area, ripe for making a formatted message.

All told, this new ability applies to messaging a single client, bulk messaging some or all clients, group messages, and group private messages.

It’s nothing revolutionary, but kinda nice.

Bulk Messaging Your Clients

Hot of the heels of the release of in-system messaging within CoachAccountable, I’ve already had a number of requests that it be possible to send a message to some or all clients at once.

I never meant for CoachAccountable to serve as anything resembling a email broadcast platform, but when I see what a natural fit it is to build upon the in-system messaging (with all of it’s perks) I see this as a rather nice fit after all.

You can personalize your bulk message by inserting your client's name and a magic login link.

You can personalize your bulk message by inserting your client’s name and a magic login link.

In-System Messaging, a Nice Little Step Up From Email

Every now and again I’m asked if CoachAccountable can be used to send messages between coach and coachee.  My thought process in responding usually goes like “Well, sort of: journal entries, session notes, action alerts, reminders, file sharing notifications… all kinds of messaging!”  But the real essence of the question is of course concerning more fundamental messaging, like an email.

Until now my response has been to just use email.  Email is great, everyone gets it and is already setup to use it.  There’s no reason to reinvent that wheel within the context of coaching software, I figured.

It turns out there are a number of perks CoachAccountable can offer by way of a messaging system, perks that specifically support coaching relationships.

Let’s look at how it works.

» Continue reading “In-System Messaging, a Nice Little Step Up From Email”

New Goodies

A number of new goodies have been added to CoachAccountable, this time with an emphasis on making the system even easier and smoother to use.

» Continue reading “New Goodies”

Reminders just got better: mark Actions done and enter Metrics via email

One of the huge wins of coaching software is to keep a running record of actions and performance metrics.  It makes it easy for you to know at a glance how your client is doing (way better than burning through precious coaching session minutes getting the progress update), allows you to give insightful support based on what is and isn’t working, and gives both you and your client a tangible sense of progress and accomplishment as records accumulate.

The key to realizing these benefits is to make it super easy for a client to keep these records up to date.  Having them log in each day to record what’s new is a lot to ask, trust me.  Over the summer I built a way for my clients to update the system by responding to text reminders, for both actions and metrics.  “Just enter your cell and set up text reminders” I told them, and this worked/works swimmingly for me and my peeps.

» Continue reading “Reminders just got better: mark Actions done and enter Metrics via email”