The CoachAccountable Blog

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Course Pages

CoachAccountable Courses allow you to automate the delivery of coaching materials and assignments, either as a slow drip over a multitude of days, or as an interactive sequence wherein completing the current step leads you to the next (allowing clients to work through the course in self-paced fashion).

Courses are built from items of various types: Actions, Worksheets, Files and so on, and these types correspond to how the system is organized for clients: Actions live in a client’s Actions tab, files live in a client’s Files tab, and so on.

This siloed grouping of course items (by type) generally works fine for clients to work through a course: one’s attention is usually on just one item, and prompts to move on to the next one allow you to jump you right to it.  But then afterwards there’s not really a place for one to go view the course in its entirety: one can easily view the parts, but not see them as a sequential whole.

Here’s where Course Pages come in.

By designing your course to be broken into one or more sections, and adding in static content (content that augments the more interactive bits like Actions and Worksheets), Course Pages become an alternate way for your clients to elegantly view and work through your course material.

Let’s see how they work!

Enabling Course Pages for a given Course

To make a Course geared for Course Pages, the first step is to enable it.  Because a Course Page is ultimately a way for your clients to see the course they are in (rather than merely receive the course items in automated fashion), properly setting the Visibility of a Course is necessary.

If a client doesn’t even know they’re in a course, Course Pages are naturally moot.

When set to “Totally hidden from participants”, Course Pages necessarily can’t apply.  By setting Visibility to one of the other two options, you are then given the option to enable Course Pages.

Turn ’em on and you’re halfway there.

Building a Course that’s geared for Course Pages works just like the conventional way.  Like always, you have your complete timeline (of days or steps) onto which you drag your various items: Actions, Messages, Whiteboards, and so on.

However in addition to those usual items, when Course Pages is enabled you have two more that you can drag onto your timeline: “Course Section” and “Page Content”.

New additions to the usual Course building blocks allow you to define structure and add content.

Organizing Course Pages into Sections

Course Sections are the key element of organizing the content of your course into a Course Page display.

When you add a Course Section to your timeline (and give it a name), that’s your way of telling CA that “Everything that follows this item should appear within this section”.  When you add another Course Section item later in the timeline, that means you’re ending the previous section and starting a new one: again, everything that follows THAT item will appear under that section.

By adding several sections along the span of your timeline, you are essentially chopping up your Course into those sections.  To think of it the other way, adding items between those section items amounts to you building up the content of those sections.

If you don’t add any sections at all, that means the Course Page view of your Course will be completely empty.

Stemming from the same logic, any items of your Course that PRECEDE the very first Course Section will simply not appear anywhere in the Course Page view.  (This can actually be a handy and desirable thing… just make sure you actually mean to do it!)

Augmenting Course Pages with Content

By dragging Page Content items onto your timeline, you can add arbitrary content (complete with formatting, images, embeddable media, and so on) to be part of what displays when clients view your course.

Adding content in this way is an excellent way to intersperse instructions, lessons, and other discussion about the more interactive bits that Courses are comprised of.  For example you can present to descriptive preamble that tees up an action item, or a lesson upon which a client will be reflecting on in a subsequent Worksheet.

Unlike most other items, this content won’t appear anywhere for your clients except on the Course Page itself.

If you feel so inclined, you can have a Course that’s ONLY sections plus content, completely eschewing the usual interactive bits and thereby creating an experience that amounts to merely consuming content (like is more commonly offered in other course platforms).  Doing so, however, is generally a missed opportunity: prompting reflection and action on whatever content you’re sharing is your way of supporting meaningful application of what clients are learning.

Tips for Building Course Pages

The Course Builder has a few things to help you easily build, tinker with, and ultimately refine the course experience you’ll be creating.

Quickly view and navigate the section structure of your course, and give things a real test drive with a preview.

The left side Navigate menu gives you some visual feedback around how you’ve got your Course laid out.  As you add Course Sections, you’ll see a mini menu of the sections you have appear.  These mini links allow you to quickly scroll up and down the timeline to jump to a given section.

Furthermore, the navigate map of the numbered Days (or Steps) your course is comprised of will be augmented with a little top-left triangle piece, signifying the presence of a new Course Section start on that day (or step).  This visual allows you to get a sense of how your sections are spread out over your timeline, helping you design a nicely balanced breakdown of your course into those sections.

Finally the “Preview page display…” button gives just what you’d expect: you can quickly jump to and experience what the layout AND interactive flow will be like for your clients.  Jumping between the preview and builder mode will allow you to iterate quickly as you put the finishing touches to get your Course to perfection.  (Moreover, it’s a great way to get familiar with how what you design corresponds to what clients will see… super handy when you’re just getting started!)

Aside from that “Exit preview mode” button, this is pretty much exactly what your clients will see.

There’s one key way in which your preview experience is different from what you’re clients ultimately see, and that is you, as course designer, are allowed to freely jump ahead to future sections that are not yet opened up.  This allows you to quickly preview ALL sections of our course while under construction, and you can rest assured your clients WON’T be able to violate the sequential nature of the course.

Course Thumbnails

To give your Courses just a little more visual flourish you can now upload thumbnails for them.  These will appear in the listing of all courses, as well as for your clients in their Courses tab (i.e. where they see the courses they are currently participating in and have participated in in the past).

Can’t be bothered to find or make a pretty image?  To make it super easy the system will generate one for you.  Just pick a stock image, set any overlay text and any overlay color, and you’re set!

Make your course pop, just a little.

Course Pages for Clients

The whole point of Course Pages is for your clients to have an elegant experience of going through your Courses.  As you might expect, they’ll find the place to access the course (or courses) they are participating in in their Courses tab.

From there, clicking on the “To course page…” button (or the thumbnail, if you have one set) will take them right in to view and work on the course.

Clicking from the course listing isn’t the only way for clients to visit a Course Page.  If you set a notification message for a Course Section item, the [loginLink] magic tag will turn into a link that takes your client right to that section on that Course Page.

Like elsewhere, you can do the little double colon trick in the loginLink:: magic tag to explicitly set the clickable text you’d like the link to have.

This is super handy, and works when that notification message is delivered via email OR displayed in app (i.e. whenever a new section opens up in response to your client completing some preceding item).

Converting Existing Courses to Course Pages

If you already have a course for which you’d like to add the Course Pages experience, you can do so by making a few simple changes to your existing Course.  Simply enable Course Pages for it (done from the Course builder >> Basics area), and then add one or more Course Sections to it.  You may also optionally add Page Content items wherever fitting.

That’s all it takes: once “converted”, your clients will be able to view their courses in the Course Page display mode right away, even for Courses they’ve already been added to or even already completed.

When (and when not) to use Course Pages

A common use of Courses is to do quickly and easily dump a bunch of “standard” items into a client’s account.  This might be, for example, to quickly share an essential library of files, or setup a core set of Metrics that every client generally tracks.  This is one facet of what we call the Starter Kit Course, and while useful it’s a poor candidate for a Course Page experience (because all those items AREN’T meant to be perused in sequential fashion).

By contrast, another use for Starter Kit Courses is as a sort of orientation or sequence of first steps to get going.  THAT usage, marked by a client working through some materials and assignments in sequential fashion, is PERFECT for Course Pages.

What if you have a course that does both?  Two options.  You can split it up into to separate courses, one for dumping in items and the other for your client to work through.  This is probably the safest bet and easiest to manage and setup without making mistakes or encountering gotchas.

If, however, you’re feeling confident in your CoachAccountable course building kung fu, you can do a fancy hack which is to combine the two.  Remember that note about how items that precede the very first Course Section item never appear on a Course Page (because they don’t belong to any section)?  You can use that fact to your advantage by adding all the “dump in” items prior to the first section, and then make an elegant sequence of content and assignments in the sections that follow.

Another common use of Courses is to deliver a regular check in or tracking Worksheet on a routine basis, most often to have the numbers reported in that Worksheet pipe into Metrics.  This would be a POOR use for Course Pages, because perusing a Course that was little more than an lengthy sequence of the same Worksheet over and over probably wouldn’t be useful or satisfying.  (Especially because it’s might nicer to flip through past Worksheets in the Worksheets >> Past tab.)

Generally speaking, Course Pages are for when you have a genuine structure of lessons (or modules, or units, or participatory steps, or…) that progress in sequential fashion.

Tips for Designing Course Page Experiences

Because Course Pages really pull for interactive progression as you work through, Course Pages are perhaps best suited to Step-Based Courses.  In step-based courses, completion of items in one step move you then on to the next, and this makes for a really satisfying experience of making progress.

That said, you can make Course Pages for a course that is time-based, i.e. dispatching over a span of days.  A classic example of this would be a Course spanning several weeks, wherein each week contains its own lesson (for example, wherein new lessons are unlocked on Mondays).

To make that work elegantly as a Course Page, you would put everything for a given lesson on the same day of the timeline, dispatching at the same time of day.  To make the interactive “go through these steps to work through the lesson” experience, you can drag items onto timeline day items to have their dispatch follow the completion of those preceding items.

Any item that is “completable” (namely Actions, Worksheets and Files) can have one or more items following that completion.

By daisy-chaining you can make sequences as long as you like.  The net effect is everything is essentially “ready to go” for the weekly lesson on Monday, and your client can, in self-paced fashion, reveal all of it as they complete the sequence of items.  And then the next Monday rolls around, unlocking all items from the next lesson.

By putting a Course Section item at the top of the lessons items, you can send a timed notification email that contains a [loginLink] that magically brings them right to that section of the Course Page.  It’s a slick experience to give your clients.


In many ways Course Pages has been a feature that has been a long time coming.

CA Courses have always been content to be kind of their own thing, emphasizing the interactive bits that layer onto work typical to coaching relationships.  But with the release of Course Pages the gap between CA Courses and other course & LMS platforms is DRASTICALLY narrower, now that you can design and give course consuming experiences that much more resemble that of conventional platforms.

That, coupled with the emphasis on fomenting genuine active participation and getting results (as opposed to just sitting back and consuming content, hoping for the best… AKA what I call “The Master Class” effect1), means CA Courses are exceptionally well suited to help blend the best of your tried-and-true content and that irreplaceable personal attention that makes coaching so magic, and do so all in service of your clients getting it and having it make a difference.

Enjoy!

Note:

  1. Big fan of MasterClass, it’s just… holy moly with those production values is it easy to JUST KEEP WATCHING rather than take any meaningful action to apply what you’re learning.  I probably would have canceled by now had I not, through sheer force of will, gotten myself in gear to make those 3-day croissants from Dominque Ansel’s class.  Totes delicious, by the way.

Making a Welcome Screencast for New Clients

We want clients to feel comfortable in their new coaching portal: clear about where things are, and tuned into why they matter.  A brief video tour that introduces clients to the portal is a powerful way to achieve that.

But making such a video can be a lot of work, and we’re sometimes asked if there was a sort of “template” starting point that folks can use as a leg up in the whole process.  Now there is!

There are so many different styles of coaching that CA can accommodate, and there’s a lot of variation in terms of which features are part of a given coach’s style.  But there are a lot of common threads too, and this sample script and video should serve as a great starting point for most.

You could show this as is to your clients (here’s the direct link if you want to embed it somewhere, or add it as a Library File), but it’ll probably be a lot more meaningful if it’s in your voice (and with your branding!).  To make short work of this project we’ve got this handy guide.  It’s a Google doc, and you can save a copy to your own Drive to make your own edits.

Welcome Screencast Script

Here’s the narration script, ripe for editing (or using verbatim!):

Welcome to our coaching portal, let me show you around! As a companion to our conversations it will play a large role in you getting the results you came for, and this tour will help you see why.

The system is broken into sections, and you can get around to each of them from this menu on the left. (Here at the top you see me, and this little email button allows you to send me a message whenever.)

First is Overview: this shows the things that are upcoming in our relationship, soonest items first. Over here in the Appointments tab you can see our upcoming appointments. By clicking the gear for one you can set reminders, reschedule, or cancel. You can book with me by clicking this +Appointment button.

Next let’s jump to Metrics. Here we’ll set up tracking for whatever’s important to you. This one is a sample to give you the idea, and we’ll work together to define these as games worth playing over the coming weeks and months.

Next is Actions. We’ll create a game plan together each week. Having them here will help you take meaningful action that will move you forward. You’re also going to see a growing record of accomplishment in the “Past” area.

Next is Session Notes. I’ll generally email the notes from our sessions right to you, but this area will become a growing treasure trove of insights that you’ll want to revisit now and then.

Next is Worksheets. I’ll generally email you new Worksheet assignments which will put you one click away from working on them, but here you’ll be able to find any and all outstanding assignments. You’ll also be able to review completed ones here.

Next is Journal. Feel free to write up any journal entries about your experiences here; they’ll be emailed to me and I’ll be happy to comment. You can also mark your entries private, for your eyes only.

Next is Files. This is where you’ll find files that I’ve shared with you. You can also share files with me, either as an upload or a hyperlink.

Next is Whiteboards. These are good for long term goals, easy-access information, and a general place to store ideas to revisit later. Sometimes I’ll be sharing these with you, and feel free to create one to share with me.

Finally, back to the Stream area: this is a combined listing of ALL the other things I’ve just shown you, ordered with the newest up top. From here you can post comments on any particular item, making it easy for you and I to have mini-conversations about a given thing.

Next let me show you the My Account page: from your name here at the top right, you’ll find it. Here you can update your information. Little tip: if you enter your cell number the system will allow you to set reminders delivered by text, instead of email, which can be very handy.

Take a moment here to sync your calendar: with a few clicks, our appointments, current AND future, will automatically appear in your calendar of choice.

And that’s the gist–what everything is and where to find it. If you need more information about a particular thing, you can click the nearby lightbulb icon, and a help article will pop right up.

Looping back to what I said earlier about you getting what you came for: having me as your coach means getting MORE than just our sessions. This portal is how we’re going to capture the gems from the conversations we’ll be having, and turn them into an actionable plan. It’s how I’m going to be in touch and have your back between sessions. And you’re going to see the progress and results unfold right here as we go.

If you haven’t already, go schedule your next appointment with me. I’m excited to talk with you and get going in earnest.

Recording the Video

You’re of course welcome to record the video however you like. However, since we’ve gotten a handful of questions about the “how” of it, here are a few resources:

  • Zoom. CoachAccountable integrates with Zoom for your coaching meetings, so if you’re already a Zoom enthusiast this might be a great fit. Just start a new meeting (you can do this by yourself), share your screen, then record. We use Zoom for our webinars, so we’re fans.
  • Loom. We use Loom ourselves – if you’ve ever emailed support@coachaccountable.com and received a video in return, it’s likely from Loom. You can record your face, your screen, or both.
  • Your device’s built-in recording. Most devices now come with a way to capture video from your screen, and even edit it afterward.

And that’s it! May the welcome screencast serve you and your clients well in acclimating them to the system.

Offering Restrictions

Offerings are a terrific way for your new (and even established!) clients to book a session with you, purchase your course, join one of your groups, and more, and do so all in a COMPLETELY self-service way.

This generally works great, empowering your clients, new and old, to further engage with what you have to offer at their own initiative.

But sometimes it’s useful to put restrictions on when they can do so: perhaps you’ve got a group program that has a hard limit on the number of participants, or a deal that’s meant to expire at midnight next Friday.

For that sort of thing, you can now set Offering Restrictions.  Let’s see how they work!

You can set whichever restrictions should apply to each of your Offerings.  By bringing up the editor for an Offering (or when creating a new one), you’ll see the new Restrictions section in the left menu:

Offering Restrictions configuration

You can opt to enact all, some or none–all totally optional!

There are 3 flavors of restrictions that you can set:

  • Limit the number of sign ups for this Offering.  Great for any scenarios in which limiting enrollment is important (this also includes a discounted Offering which you might, for example, limit to the first 10 registrants!).
  • Begin Offering availability on a specific date.  Generally you’ll want your Offerings to be available immediately whenever you share the link to it, but this can be handy if you want to tee things up in advance, or have certain Offerings automatically appear (or become newly available) in your Offering Collections when the time is right.
  • End Offering availability on a specific date.  Handy to enact an expiration date for a given Offering, be it a standard program or a discounted one that’s available only for a limited time.

For each of these 3 flavors you can set what should happen when the restriction applies.  Should it be removed entirely, with CA outwardly pretending it never existed?  Or should it still show with a brief message about how it isn’t currently available?  The choice is yours.

For example, if you have an Offering in a collection, and it happens to be restricted per one of your rules, it will either be removed from the menu entirely, or show in the menu with your message as follows:

A restricted Offering showing in a Collection

It can be nice to have even a restricted Offering show up in the collection, giving your clients a more complete picture of what is (or can be!) on offer.

Another example: making an Offering Collection that consists of a single Offering can be a nice way to show a mini landing page for it, as the Offering’s description displays in full.  On such a page, the Offering’s restricted message will show in lieu of the “Proceed to purchase/sign up” button, like so:

A single-Offering Offering Collection when restriction applies

Kind of a tease, but at least nice to see a little more info about what might be open some other time.

And there you have it!  Most Offerings won’t need to have any restrictions placed on them, but given the entirely self-service nature of Offerings, sometimes it’s nice to be able to place certain restrictions that the system can automatically enforce for you.

Enjoy!

What’s the Difference Between Companies and Groups?

With the release of CoachAccountable Companies, you may be wondering when and why you’d use Companies versus Groups. Let’s discuss the differences!

Companies

Companies allow people you’re not coaching into the system for limited administrative purposes. Examples include:

  • HR folks who pay the bill for several coachees you’re working with
  • Stakeholders who want a quick view into what’s going on
  • Parents who pay invoices for their children’s coaching

Use Companies to set up these additional users, since Personnel do not count as active clients.

Just invoicing access? Select reports? Total client records? Your choice!

You may also want to use Companies to message everyone at a company.

Groups

CoachAccountable Groups are for, well, coaching groups of people. Examples include:

  • A mastermind Group that’s hybrid online and in-person learning
  • A completely virtual timebound challenge, say 30 days to a fitness goal (CoachAccountable replaces things like Facebook groups)
  • A team working on a goal together (Group Action Projects are great for this)
  • Accountability partners
  • Romantic partners/couples

One example of what a Group can do – Group Metrics!

You may also want to use Groups for a subset of your clients who are all working on similar goals, but who don’t know they’re in a Group within the system (i.e. more for your administrative purposes).

The Answer is Probably Both

Most coaches who work with companies tend to use both Companies AND Groups in CoachAccountable. In short, you’ll use Companies for billing & allowing access for non-coaching people, and you’ll use Groups to do the actual coaching. 

Use Groups to assign items to everyone (or just some people) at the company, share files with them, track Metrics together, and more. Doing more one-on-one work? You can always assign items to just one person at a time as usual, outside the Group.

Check out the recorded webinar on Groups for more on how to set up and use them – find it here.

As part of Companies, Company Groups became a thing, where you can ensure that when you add someone into a Company, they’re automatically put into the correct Group. Learn more about that interplay in the article on Companies.

Company Group

And that’s the gist of it! You might find that you need only one or the other, or that the interplay of both is exactly what you were looking for.

Alternate Availability for Appointment Scheduling

The standard approach for letting CA know when you’re open for clients to schedule with you works pretty well.  You define your “typical week” (for example, something like “Mondays from 9 to noon, Tuesdays and Thursdays 2 to 5pm”), sync with your calendar of choice (so CA knows to carve out those specific times when you’re otherwise busy), and you’re done!  That leaves you with a routine set of blocks in a typical week, minus whatever time you’ve got blocked off for vacations/the odd dental appointment/whatever else comes up.

It takes all of about 5 minutes to set up, and serves as a 90% solution year round.

But SOMETIMES temporary variations on this theme apply, wherein from week to week you might need to deviate from your typical availability.  Perhaps your schedule’s opened up a little, or you’re working remotely in a different timezone, or you just want to try out a new schedule to see how it works.

For this CoachAccountable now allows you to define alternate availability rules that temporarily override that of your typical week.

In Settings >> Appointment Config >> Typical Availability, where you set the times you’re generally available each week, you’ll see an additional button, + Alternate Availability. 

Add Alternate Availability

Set the time frame you’d like this to apply to – either one particular week, or over a specific date range.

Then, select your availability by day during this time frame. Note that you’ll start with an exact copy of your current Typical Availability; add or subtract from that as desired.

Alternate Availability Setup

Note that from here you can add another Alternate Availability – so if you’re someone whose schedule changes week to week, you may want to set several of these for the next few weeks.

Overlapping and Overriding

A couple things to keep in mind as you use the newly expanded appointment scheduling specificity:

  • Alternate Availabilities take precedence over Appointment Type-specific Availability, meaning if an Alternate Availability applies for a day in question, an Appointment Type-specific availability rule will be ignored.
  • If two Alternate Availabilities happen to overlap in time and apply to the same day, well… the system won’t stop you but to avoid confusion you’ll probably want to avoid doing that!  If you do it anyway, CA will use whichever one starts closer to that day (i.e. the one with the later start date).
  • If you define two or more Alternate Availabilities that start on the same day, you’re definitely asking for trouble and CA gets to choose. :)
  • If no Alternate Availability applies for a day in question, CA will use the Availability set for the given Appointment Type, if any.
  • If none of those apply, the Typical Weekly Availability will be applied.

And that’s it! We’ve heard that this addition was the one thing keeping some users of Acuity, Calendly, or ScheduleOnce from fully switching over to CoachAccountable for scheduling, so we’re delighted to now meet all those needs.

Nudge Clients When They Haven’t Scheduled an Appointment

Engagements are CA’s way of allowing you to track a clients progression through an allocation of appointments (e.g. 10 hours or 12 sessions), with the option to add recurring invoicing and timely notifications along the way.

When we first launched Engagements, Engagement notifications only came in one flavor: coaches could schedule a notification based on progress through the Engagement allocation (e.g. “Hi Morgan, you have 3 appointments left. Here are the ones you’ve had so far…”).  Later on, and by request, we added the option for time-based notification (“Hi Morgan, you’re now 30 days into your Engagement…”).

Based on the feedback you’ve given us we’ve now added a third flavor of Engagement notification: Schedule Nudge.

A Schedule Nudge will notify you or your client when it’s been a certain number of days since the last appointment, specifically when there’s still nothing else scheduled on the calendar. Setting these serves to alert you (or your client) when things are ostensibly stalled out in your coaching relationship and prompt scheduling of the next session, and you can use this to keep the momentum in the coaching relationship going. The automated nature of these nudges means the system can now step in so you don’t have to.

Let’s take a look.

Set Up a Nudge

From Settings >> Engagements >> Engagement Templates, open up a template and head to its Notifications tab.

Notice the spiffy new + Schedule Nudge button.

CoachAccountable Engagement Schedule Nudge

Three flavors, mix and match as you like!

When you you add a Schedule Nudge, you’ll see the typical option to choose between notifying coach or client.  Then, simply enter after how many days since the most recent appointment you’d like the nudge to go out:

When you hover over the word “appointment” you’ll get a bit more detail on what this means: these notifications go out ONLY when there’s some allocation remaining in the Engagement, AND there are no future appointments scheduled.

You can set several of these.  We recommend one for your clients, and then one for you as coach 1 to 3 days later, so that you’ll have a heads up with which to intervene if your client STILL hasn’t scheduled an appointment in response to the nudge.

How far out should you set these?  We recommend whatever would generally ensure the typical cadence of your sessions.  If you’re one to have your sessions every month, setting a nudge for your clients 21 days after the last one is apt to work well to keep that cadence (i.e. they’d have another week or so to get on your calendar).  Or you might, as a general rule, encourage them to keep generally on top of having their next session with you scheduled, meaning 1 or 2 days out could be more fitting.

Whichever way you do it, the system will always re-compute when the next nudge should go out per the ones you set.  When an upcoming appointment is scheduled, moved or cancelled, the send date for the nudges will recalculate accordingly.  Unlike the other two flavors of notifications, these nudges will reset themselves (and potentially be sent multiple times, as needed) over the life of the Engagement.  By bringing up the Engagement summary you can always review when these nudges are slated to send, based on what is (and isn’t!) scheduled on the calendar.

New Message Template

This sort of notification entails some verbiage that is distinct from the other Engagement notifications (which are more of a progress summary).  Accordingly, you’ll find a new message template ripe for customization. Go to Settings >> System >> Message Templates, and select “Engagement Schedule Nudge Notification.” It’s a simple one, to be sure, but includes a magic tag that is itself a schedule link that puts your clients one click away from scheduling with you. You can even change the text of the [scheduleLink] tag if desired (we’ve set it to “Click here to schedule.”, but feel free to get creative).

Engagement Nudge Email Template

Alternate text for that schedule link you might consider is “Get crackin’ already, I’m dyin’ to talk and hear what’s new!” According to our research here at CA Labs, personality-laden copy seems to be received even better than more standard, “professional” variants. :)

And that’s it! Here’s to continually improving CoachAccountable with your help; we hope you’ll enjoy this additional way to keep your clients’ coaching momentum going.

2020 Transform Coaching VSummit

Starting today is ICF Australasia’s 2020 Transform virtual summit, a 4-week long conference for coaches spanning 40 events, and we are proud to be a sponsor of it.

Spread out on the calendar as it is, it’s not too late to get tickets and there are plenty of great talks coming up (among others, Morgan and I are excited for tomorrow’s talk by Benjamin Harvey on effective ways to package your coaching services1).

As part of being a sponsor, we were invited to make a presentation to share with the attendees.  I had fun making a little on-camera riff introducing who we are and what we’re about with our ultimate end game goal, making coaching mainstream.

To date, it’s the most poignant survey of what CoachAccountable has to offer members of the ICF, and it’s nice to have finally put something together that directly talks to that community.

Enjoy!

Note:
  1. Update: Since the publishing of this post, Morgan and I have now very much enjoyed this presentation, the recording of which will be available to all attendees. :)

Interview on the Free Your Inner Guru Podcast

Leadership coach Laura Tucker is the host of the Free Your Inner Guru podcast.

What I love about Free Your Inner Guru is that the conversations are broad reaching and touch on so many areas of life: I always find the ideas talked about giving me fresh perspective or insight into whatever challenge I’m dealing with. Between refreshing nuggets of wisdom and the soothing ambiance of each episode (thanks to the music and voice of the host), it’s like a spa visit for your brain.

Laura herself has been a longtime user of CoachAccountable, and a savvy one at that.  (Indeed, how she weaves CA into her website with a client login and prospective client scheduling is a model specimen of doing it right!)

So I was deeply honored to be invited on to be a guest to talk about CoachAccountable, the entrepreneurial journey thereof, and the impact we’re looking to make on coaching through it.

Among other things, we riff on my initiation into the coaching world via programs with Landmark Education, the meandering path of getting CA from version 1 to something actually good, why Facebook is garbage (at least as a platform for coaching groups), and how staying oblivious to your “competitors” helps you do your best work.

Give it a listen!

Customize Client Access to Appointment Types

With CoachAccountable Engagements, you can allow only certain clients to book appointments within a package, and with Offerings you can let prospective clients book an Appointment Type that established clients can’t see (and vice-versa).

Emma, Chief Organizational Officer at Action Edge Business Coaching, asked about yet another level of appointment access customization:

Is it possible to restrict which clients are able to book a certain appointment type?

For example, we do 15-30 minute check in calls with employees of some of our clients. We don’t want all our clients to be able to access that. Is there a way to specify who can see this within the appointment types?

Introducing client-specific appointment access settings!

This is perfect if you, like Action Edge, have different types of coaching clients, where only some clients should have access to a particular type of appointment. Another great fit is coaches who have different levels of access (i.e. higher-paying clients get longer sessions), different areas of coaching, or even different locations (perhaps in-person meetings can happen, but only for certain individuals nearby).

Let’s take a look.

Within the Manage Client area for a given client, click on Settings and you’ll see a new tab: Appointments.

The first section, Self-Scheduling, looks familiar from Engagements, and allows you to make individualized exceptions to your general account settings for Engagements.  Learn more about those options here.

The second section, Appointment Types, allows a more granular breakdown of exactly which types of appointments this person can schedule. Select “only appointments of the following types”, and you’ll see a listing of all your available Appointment Types appear. Make your selections, then save.

Client-specific appointment booking settings

For Team Edition accounts, you’ll notice that the list includes Appointment Types available for all of the coaches the client is paired with. This allows further granularity: even if Mikayla has four coaches, perhaps she’s only allowed to schedule with three of them, and you can make those selections accordingly.

That’s all there is to it – a small but mighty way to further dial in your appointment settings!

Introducing Companies

If you only ever work with/are hired by individuals, you can probably ignore this.

But if organizations hire you to work with one or more individuals, CoachAccountable Companies are for you.

With CoachAccountable Companies, you can:

  • Organize your individual clients by company
  • Invite Company Personnel to have their own accounts within the the system
  • Invoice the organization, rather than the individuals you are coaching

Let’s see how this works!

Setting up Companies

As hinted at earlier, Companies aren’t relevant for all coaches.  So in the interest of not cluttering anyone’s coaching platform unnecessarily, these are by default turned off.  To get started visit the My Account page >> Add Ons and enable Companies:

Turning on Companies

Just flip the switch and you’re on your way.

Companies are available only in Version 4, so if you don’t see these you’ll need to switch over first!

Once enabled, you’ll have the new Companies tab, either on your home dashboard page (for single coach accounts) or on the team administration page (for team accounts):

Here is where you’ll eventually find the listing of your companies, and the individuals in each.

Creating a company is simple.  Just give it a name, and, on Team Edition, indicate which person on your team is the primary liaison (more on that below):

Once it’s created, you can enter an address for the company (for your records, and also to appear on invoices for that company) and upload the company logo.

Tying Clients to Companies

When you have one or more Companies, you’ll have the option to associate a new client with one as part of adding that person:

A simple relationship: a given client is either unaffiliated, company-wise, or belongs to one of the companies set up in your account.

This company affiliation can also be set from the Client Manager pop-up, under Basics.

From your Active Companies listing, clicking on a given company takes you to the respective Company Page:

Here you’ll find all things pertaining to a company.

Here’s where companies shine as a way to organize your clients: the client listing is pared down to those from that company, and appointments and reports are filtered along the same lines.

Other client lists, like for a given coach or for an entire Team Edition account, show company affiliations with the company’s logo.  Filter your client listing to only include a particular company by searching for the company’s name.

Inviting Company Personnel

To me the most exciting new possibility with Companies is your ability to create user accounts for personnel.  Personnel are members of a company you aren’t necessarily working with directly, yet who have a vested interest in the work you’re doing nonetheless.

Adding personnel is much like adding clients or other team members: only name and email address are required, and you can send an invite email immediately or later (you’ll find a new “Invite New Company Personnel” email template in Settings >> System >> Message Templates).

By carefully setting permissions, you can give each person the exact level of access they should have:

Just invoicing access? Select reports? Complete client records? Your choice!

The collection of permission settings allows for granular control of what a given individual is and isn’t allowed to see and do.  This makes it possible to grant only access to manage invoices for one, a window into reports for another, and total transparency into all work for yet another.

And in case you were wondering: personnel do not count toward your subscription plan, so you’re free to get everyone in the loop who should be!

Company Groups

Once you’ve got your Companies set up (including client affiliations with those companies), you can create Groups whose client membership is defined by company.

Just create a Group as usual, and then from the Membership area click the “Membership by Company…” button.

Company Group

Choose which Company should define the membership of your group and you’re done.

Setting Group membership by Company means that when you add a new client to that Company, that client is automatically added into the Group.  (Likewise, removing a client’s affiliation from a Company automatically removes them from the Company Group.)

There’s still flexibility, of course: you’re still free to manually add group clients who are not from the company, and remove select company clients as desired.  Controls to deactivate and reactivate individual Group memberships remain in effect as well.

Company Happenings Reports

Speaking of handy ways to segment your clients along company lines, you can also create Happenings Reports set to include the clients in one or more companies.  If you choose to report on clients from exactly 1 company, you’ll have the option to have the report sent to personnel from that company.

A delightful way to automate progress reports to interested parties.

For Team Edition accounts, note that proper visibility into clients is always maintained based on who a given team member is allowed to see.  If Acme Co. has clients A, B and C, and a team member is only allowed to see clients A and B, rest assured that a Happenings Reports created by that team member on the clients for Acme Co. will ONLY contain clients A and B.

Company Invoicing

You can issue invoices to Companies just as you would regular clients.  When you opt to send an invoice in the usual ways, personnel designated to receive company invoices will do so.  (And if there are no personnel set to receive invoices, the system will lovingly let you know as much when you try to send, and guide you to fix that!)

In the Client Invoicing >> Accounts listing you’ll see companies appear right alongside clients.  Those clients who are associated with companies will no longer appear in the Accounts listing – presumably, they will be billed via the company, rather than individually.

Company Primary Liaisons

The primary liaison for a company is the person who will appear as the contact for company personnel when those personnel log in. The primary liaison will also receive any notifications about company invoices. On single-coach accounts, this is of course you.

Layout-wise, company personnel will see the primary liaison at the top of the left sidebar. It’ll look much like how primary coaches appear for clients, at the top of the left sidebar. When personnel click on the avatar, they’ll see the primary liaison’s profile (if shared). They can also click to email the primary liaison.

In Summary

Generally speaking, CoachAccountable Companies are the solution for doing business with an entity that isn’t strictly the individual (or individuals) being coached.  Beyond conventional companies, this can include scenarios like being hired by parents to work with their children.

Beyond obvious wins of account organization and the ability to invoice third parties for your work (nice logistical conveniences, to be sure!), it is my hope that YOUR ability to offer a more direct window into the process will make your offering more attractive for those who’ve hired you.

Anyone who hires you, but especially in a more corporate environment, wants to demonstrate the value of working with you.  Giving them a regular accounting of the work being done and the results being gotten, either as self-service access or as a routine report that comes automatically, can go a long way towards building confidence that they made the right decision.

Enjoy!