The CoachAccountable Blog

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

Archive for Managing Clients

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 over on the right in Settings >> 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 (Settings >> Appointment Config >> Appointment Types) 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…

Appointment Reminders

This should suffice to have ’em come prepared.

…and just plain annoying them, like this:

Too many reminders

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:

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.

Confidentiality and Privacy

A common concern with using a web-based system like CoachAccountable is one of privacy: the information that is captured and stored over the course of a coaching relationship is of course of a highly personal and often sensitive nature.  To use a system like CoachAccountable, wherein that information is stored and managed with a third party, requires confidence that such private matters will stay private.

This is a worthy and well-founded concern, and the expectation of confidentially is most reasonable and in fact should be present.

To address that concern I’d like to first contrast CoachAccountable against web-based companies like Google and Facebook, whose business model is to give away the platform for free and monetize customer relationships by owning and selling the customer data.  CoachAccountable on the other hand is a platform which charges for use of the product itself, and does not traffic in the sale or sharing of data in any way whatsoever.

» Continue reading “Confidentiality and Privacy”

What To Do if Your Client Can’t Log In

It happens: even with the login helper that CoachAccountable provides, sometimes your clients can’t get themselves logged into their account. As coach you always of course want to ensure your clients are having a great experience in all facets of working with you, so helping them get logged in is a natural thing to want to do.

First things first: make sure you haven’t deactivated their client account.  By design, a client you deactivate CAN’T log in, so be certain that’s not the reason for their issue OR advise them appropriately if it is.  (Assuming you deactivated them because your coaching relationship finished, this might be a good opportunity to invite them to start up work with you again.)

For security purposes the username and password of your clients are strictly their own, so you can’t let them know what they are or reset their password upon request.  There are a few things you can do, though.

» Continue reading “What To Do if Your Client Can’t Log In”

Quick Client Setup with Starter Kit Courses

Consider the following scenarios:

  • Nutrition and wellness coaches routinely have their clients track things like weight, exercise, and dietary intake.
  • Real estate office managers training their agents on performance will often be concerned with typical metrics like appointments, touch points, and showings.
  • Business development coaches commonly start their clients with a standard action plan which has owners taking stock of their operations and getting generally prepared for the process.

In these cases and so many more it is common for a coach to have a standard set of Metrics and/or assignments that applies to every new client they onboard.

Especially now that they’ve been freed up for everyone, CoachAccountable Courses provides a way to quickly set up new clients according to these standard templates using what I call “Starter Kit Courses”.

» Continue reading “Quick Client Setup with Starter Kit Courses”

The Ultimate Coaching Souvenir

It has been my experience (and I know I’m not the only one) that coaching is an overall transient experience.  You get coached, you get ideas, insights & motivation, hopefully you act on these in a difference-making way, and that’s it.

What remains afterwards is hard to define or quantify: hopefully some noticeable results persist when the coaching ends, but motivation and inspiration are eminently perishable, and ideas (unless captured) all too commonly fade from memory.

This isn’t a huge problem for coaching: again it’s ultimately about the real-world impact which gets made, and if the coaching is worthwhile this should be a given.  Still, to have some tangible souvenir of the process would be a nice perk at very least, and perhaps a substantial value-adding takeaway.

I’ve had numerous coaches ask me some variation of: “My client is wrapping up their program with me.  Is there any way I can get all of their data out of the system so that they can have it after we’re done?”

With CoachAccountable’s ability to export complete client records, the answer is yes.

» Continue reading “The Ultimate Coaching Souvenir”

Time Formatting Options

While it’s true that I’m not getting yet making any headway on translating CoachAccountable to other languages (Portuguese and German are leading the small pack in number of requests), today I’ve added support for 24-hour formatting of times throughout the system.

This is nice for folks not accustomed to seeing times with “am” and “pm” appended (which, much like seeing 7/3/2014 versus 3/7/2014, can be quite disorienting!).

Like dates this formatting option can be set by each user independently, allowing everyone may see times in the format they’re used to.  Coaches and clients alike can find this setting on their My Account page right with the other localization settings:

Internationalization Options

Client Engagement Reports

This week has been a deep dive into client engagement in coaching programs, from why it matters and is worth managing to how to cause more of it.  To round out the series I’m happy to unveil CoachAccountable’s brand new Client Engagement Reports.

The impetus to create these reports began 12 days ago during an inspired conversation with Michael Leahy, wherein he expressed the desire to see how his clients were engaging but in a manner more efficient than clicking through to each one and manually reviewing.  The vision was further brought into focus last week when Nicky Roberts shared how keeping up with clients who are falling off in their engagement has made a substantial difference in her client retention.

So now I get it.  Between action plans, marking things done, accessing shared files and more, CoachAccountable already maintains a seriously detailed record of how much clients are engaged in their coaching process.  Knowing that a client is falling behind is actionable information: a chance for coach to check in and offer whatever support might be appropriate.

All that’s needed to make an actionable gauge of client activity is to pull it all together and present it to coach in a way that’s super simple to understand.  Thus the new Client Engagement Reports:

How engaged each client is on a week to week basis.

Move your mouse over any band of activity to see the breakdown of what it entails.

» Continue reading “Client Engagement Reports”

3 ways to get clients more engaged with your coaching

As illustrated earlier, client engagement with your coaching is vital to their getting results, and is a major deciding factor in whether or not they stick around.

Here are some practices for causing greater and more regular engagement with your coaching that you can enact with the benefit of CoachAccountable.  And if you’re worried about how much work this is going to be to get your clients up to speed with these practices, included with each one is an estimate of how much time it takes per client to set in motion.

Engagement through Actions1. Get them in the habit of creating their own actions.  Do it for them perhaps the first time, a basic setup.  Include one action to “Mark this action complete”, and one action to “Create your own action”.  These two may seem trite, but are actually quite useful.  The pair gives them the excuse to play around with Actions, see how they work and get the satisfaction of building up a collection of completed actions.  Bear in mind: the typical client when just getting started will often feel like a guest in someone else’s house, and accordingly will want to tread lightly and not mess anything up.  So it makes a big difference to give them permission to feel right at home and experience this as a resource for them to fully use as well.

Encourage them to set reminders and make comments when they create their own actions.  Let them know that actions can be easily marked complete by replying to reminder emails and texts.  Reminder replies can include comments too, making the dialog super easy to keep going.  Explain how comments keep the communication channels open for more support, and serve as tangible records of both progress made and obstacles overcome.

Time to set in motion with a client: 3 minutes the first week to setup relevant actions + a 2-minute conversation to illustrate the how and why of doing it themselves.

» Continue reading “3 ways to get clients more engaged with your coaching”

On Client Engagement

I once presumed that, within coaching, client engagement could be taken for granted.  After all folks are paying good money for the experience, and it’s a way for them to grow and prosper in ways that are important to them.  So of course they’re going to keep up with the materials, heed coach’s advice, complete all assignments and follow through on action plans, right?

If you’ve been coaching a while you’ve probably had a handful of such A-students of the process: those who put in their work as though the quality of their life depended on it, and were accordingly rewarded for their diligence with the results they sought.

But not everyone who is coached has all of the will, the wherewithal, and the confidence in the process to follow your guidance with such high fidelity.  This is just as true for individuals who undertake being coached of their own volition as it is for individuals participating in some form of company-mandated training program.

We could say that the success of coaching is the product of how good the direction is (expertise, content, fit with the client) and how engaged the client is with that direction.  This probably makes intuitive sense: you can have the greatest coaching methodology in the world, and if the engagement is nil or negligible it won’t make a difference.

One way to look at client engagement is that it simply lies within clients themselves: some are sufficiently motivated and in a good place to take advantage of the process, and others just aren’t.

But building CoachAccountable and helping hundreds of coaches over the last two years has given me evidence that there’s more to the story.  The degree to which a client engages with a given coaching program is actually quite malleable, and is intimately tied to how the program is structured and the ways by which a client can participate.

» Continue reading “On Client Engagement”

Introducing Happenings Reports

Happenings Reports.

Or: “CoachAccountable’s system of emailing a summary of what’s new with your clients on a regular basis”.  It is perhaps an odd twist of a phrase, but this tool is one that I suspect will be quite powerful and useful for coaches.

So much customization!

Setup is as simple as indicating who to send to, which clients to report on, and when to send.  There are three types of recipients to serve three very distinct purposes.

» Continue reading “Introducing Happenings Reports”