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Be an Awesome Coach With CoachAccountable Appointments

Between a few hang outs and a lot of phone conversations I keep bumping up against CoachAccountable being more powerful than people are discovering on their own, even with a 30 day trial.

Clearly I can do a better job of tuning CA users into all that the system is capable of.

To that end I’m happy to unveil the first of a series of videos which, in detailed fashion, illustrate the many how-to’s of using the system to greatest benefit, distilled from the experiences of myself and many other users.

This first one is titled “How to be an awesome coach with CoachAccountable Appointments”.

Enjoy!

For reference, here’s the narration transcript:

CoachAccountable Appointments is your system for scheduling your regular coaching sessions. Let’s look at how to use them to their fullest, from start to finish.

We’re going to begin by setting up your Appointment Types. The place to do this is under My CA >> My System >> Appointment Scheduling.

Here you see a lot of settings, including the ability to disable Appointments entirely.

An “Appointment Type” is just a fancy way of specifying what sort of appointments you offer to your clients. Your account comes pre-loaded with two of these. In this example, you offer your clients a “Weekly Coaching Call” and a “Quick check in”.

And if you don’t offer your clients a 15-minute “Quick check in”, you just delete it, like so.

Let’s now take a close look at the “Weekly Coaching Call” appointment type which comes pre-loaded. You can see its set for a 1-hour duration, but perhaps your style is to have half hour calls. To do this we just pick “30”, “minutes”. Say you do 26 minute calls? No problem: just type it in. Here and everywhere else in the system, these little drop down options are only meant to save you keystrokes, they’re in no way a mandate of what you have to choose.

Now you see padding here: “Padding” allows us to ensure that CoachAccountable doesn’t let appointments be scheduled too close together: it puts in some breathing room between when one appointment ends and the earliest time that the next one can begin. The system follows strict rules about when your clients are allowed to schedule themselves into your calendar, and Padding is part of what is factored in when offering open time slots for them to choose.

For example I like to give myself 10 minutes before a weekly coaching call to get myself up to speed on whomever I’m about to coach, and then 10 minutes after to type up my notes from the session and send them off. Think about what’s best for your style and set padding accordingly.

Now let’s look at the reminders: this appointment type has these 4 reminders already set as an example. I like this style and recommend it: the email to my client 1 day before is sort of a warning, a heads up to look over their action plan from the last week and finish up whatever they should before we talk. Then a text to them 30 minutes before ensures that they’re prepared, that my call to start our session won’t take them by surprise.

10 minutes prior to the appointment I have CA send me a text, which is my cue to pop in and see what’s new with my client: a quick look at metrics and Actions tells me how they’ve progressed since we last spoke, and a review of last week’s session notes has me fully primed to dive right in.

The 1-minute-prior reminder tells me it’s time to wrap up my review and call my client. It’s a nice touch of professionalism to always call them right on time.

Some coaches prefer to have their clients call them, which is a sort of opportunity for a coachee to really be responsible for their coaching and opt into it. For my sake I think they’ve got enough already to work on, and that the impact of them forgetting to call or calling me 10 minutes late is too much a disruption to risk.

Both approaches have their merits, so pick whichever one feels most appropriate to you. Just be sure you never find yourself in the wasteland limbo of “oh, I thought you were gonna call me”. That sort of uncertainty is a coach fail.

To recap reminders: what we have here is just a template, a model for “what reminders should be sent to whom and when” for all appointments of THIS type that are scheduled.

Reminders by default are sent by email, but if you’re in the US or Canada, you can get the option to send via text by entering your cell phone number. Do this by visiting the My Account page if you haven’t already.

Moving on, you can either allow or disallow a given type of appointment to be scheduled by clients. If you allow it, there are a few settings that also govern what sort of availability options they are given.

Similarly, you can set cancellation rules.

The final piece of setting up an Appointment Type is the one I’m most interesting in teaching you about: CoachAccountable can assign your clients a worksheet prior to your appointments, and for your regular ones, like the weekly call, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this.

You pick a worksheet from your collection of templates. For now, your account comes pre-loaded with several, including this one here, the Pre-Session Check In. Set when it should be assigned to your client, and when it is due (these defaults are pretty good), and CA does the rest.

Let’s look at the Pre-Session Check in to see why this is cool. You can find your worksheet templates under My CA >> My Templates, and click on Worksheets. Here you see your templates and you can add new ones. Let’s look at this one.

Feel free to modify this to your own style, but the gist is you want your clients to think about how things are going and really become aware of what they want out of being coached. I used to think that some people were better at being coached, more motivated and so forth; while other people just weren’t as good.

So things are actually better than that: good coachees CAN be caused, and a well-crafted and well-timed pre-session worksheet is one of the ways to do that. They get your client thinking about what they’re getting coached for in the first place, and get them refocused on what they’re working on. You want your clients to be hungry for your coaching and expecting a lot from it, and answering questions like these gets them in that state.

So that by itself is useful, but better still is that YOU get to have their answers fresh on your mind going into your session, meaning overall it primes you both for a great conversation.

So that’s using worksheet assignments effectively with your appointments. For some types of appointments it’s not appropriate to have a worksheet, but for your regular ones I recommend it. Keep it short and sweet, because we don’t want to overburden the people we coach.

Let’s now wrap up with Appointment Types by setting up a new one from scratch. Back we go to My CA >> My System >> Appointment Scheduling.

Say your style calls for a typical “Getting started” type of appointment that you do with all of your clients when you first begin your coaching relationship. Let’s set that up now.

Like with the others, we give it the name: this is how it will appear in our listing of upcoming appointments, records of past appointments, and so on. (Don’t worry: the “with whom did we have the appointment” will show up as well when we schedule actual appointments. Again, here we’re just making templates which describe the “types” of appointments we’ll be having.)

Next we set up the duration: let’s say that we want to block out 2 hours for our Getting Started appointments. A little padding to decompress afterwards, perfect.

Set a few reminders, let’s say one for the client the day before and one for you an hour before.

This is probably something we should NOT let our clients schedule for themselves. Let’s also say no online cancellation, just by making a really big number here.

Maybe you have a worksheet they should complete prior to the session, maybe you don’t. Let’s assume none for now.

Click save and we’re done.

So that’s appointment types.

Let’s take a look at letting clients schedule themselves within your calendar. If you don’t allow it at all, you can just uncheck this box right here and be done with it: feel free to tune out or fast forward through the next 90 seconds.

If you do want to allow clients to schedule themselves, you just saw how to allow or dis-allow it for your various appointment types. Make sure that’s to your liking.

Next there is to let CA know when you’re open to taking appointments. Do that here: set up your typical weekly availability. Let’s say you do appointments on Monday afternoons, from 2pm to 5, and on Wednesdays, 10am through 4pm with an hour long break in there for lunch.

Your typical week might have exceptions to that availability, and you can set those here. Say you’ll be offline the entire second week of October for vacation, you can set that here under the Exceptions to your availability.

Let’s make sure we’ve got everything right: you can preview your availability as your clients will see it by clicking this link here. See our appointment types, only the ones we’ve made open to our clients for scheduling. See our time slots on Mondays and Wednesdays, and indeed there are no options during that second week in October. Perfect.

This brings up an important difference: your clients are the ones who are subject to these rules of availability, but you as coach can schedule whenever you like.

Let’s see the difference now by scheduling an appointment with a client. Click the “Add New” button here to get started. Pick a client to schedule with, then pick an Appointment Type. Unlike clients, you are able to directly pick the date and time. (If you’d like to know what your availability is just click this link here–quite handy to avoid double booking yourself.)

As with everywhere else in the system, times are in the timezone of the beholder. So if your client is in a different timezone, know that you’re picking the time in your own timezone, and this handy hint right here will let you know what time that is for your client.

Whatever reminders you setup for this appointment type are immediately suggested as a sensible starting point, but you can modify these however you like if the situation warrants it.

The worksheet assignment that we tied to this appointment type looks good, but we could skip it for this appointment if we wanted. Let’s say this is normal circumstances so we’ll keep it.

Finally you can send a notification of this appointment to your client or not. You can customize this default message however you like, and I’ll show you in just a minute how to change that default messaging.

Right, so that’s everything we need to set. If it’s all good we just click “Schedule appointment”. If you’re one to do a regular call with your clients, always at the same time of the same day, you can quickly schedule a sequence of appointment by clicking this link.

You can schedule up to twelve in a row, and at whatever interval you like. Say we want to do once a week at this usual time.

Let’s schedule 4 of them like this. And there they are. You can modify or cancel individual appointments as needed, either now or later.

Let’s take a quick look at how to customize your messages. Go to My CA >> My System >> System Email Messages. Here you can customize the verbiage for all sorts of emails that the system will send on your behalf.

For now, let’s focus on the Appointment message. “Appointment Notice” is verbiage we just saw for notifying a client of a new appointment we’ve scheduled them for. Change the pre-loaded messaging for that here.

“Appointment Reminder” is the verbiage for reminder emails that will be sent to clients. You’re free to change this to really make it your own. What you’re aiming for in both of these message templates is to give your clients a personal touch, something to have them look forward to their upcoming session with you.

Final stop on this tour of appointments: how to embed your schedule of appointments into your regular calendar. If you use a calendaring system like Microsoft Outlook, Apple iCal, or Google Calendars you probably like to have your full schedule all in one place.

Go back to My CA >> My System >> Appointment Scheduling and scroll to the bottom. Here you’ll find your Appointment Calendar Feed. This is a magic link that you can use to add your CA appointments right into your calendar.

A word of caution: these don’t always stay perfectly in sync. CA’s data feed is always up to date, but it’s up to your calendar software to fetch that latest data, and each system does it on its own schedule. Google Calendar, for example, refreshes about every 24 hours. So please don’t rely on this for mission-critical schedule planning.

To recap:

  • Set up appointment types to fit your style
  • Enjoy the timely reminders sent to both you and your clients
  • Employ pre-session worksheets to prime the conversation,
  • Embed your appointments into your calendaring software of choice.

Do this and CoachAccountable will be doing its part to make you an awesome coach through Appointments.

But Wait, There’s More!

Since we launched Version 3, we’ve made Appointments even better:

  • Appointment settings are now found in Settings >> Appointment Config.
  • You (and your clients!) can now sync directly with Google Calendar.
  • In addition to the pre-session Worksheets mentioned in this video, you can also send post-session Worksheets. This keeps the wins from your session fresh in the client’s mind.
  • You can set type-specific availability, for if, say, a certain type of call is only available on Fridays from 2-5PM.
  • Using your Offerings, even prospective clients can book an Appointment.
  • And more!

Bump up your level of awesome coaching today and sign up for a free CoachAccountable trial.

3 Comments »

  1. David W. McQuarrie said,

    September 8, 2014 @ 11:27 pm

    Very informative, John, thanks for this!

    :)

  2. Marney said,

    September 11, 2014 @ 11:33 am

    Love that you are creating videos, thank you!

  3. LynnSK said,

    February 1, 2015 @ 9:46 am

    I am really loving your video tutorials!

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