Setting expectations with online appointment scheduling

Expectations are the hidden key to almost every business and social interaction we have in life.

Why? That’s easier to explain if we break things down a bit.

First, think of every interaction you have with another person as an “event” on your schedule. If this interaction is within a business setting, then you may have literally scheduled that interaction on your calendar. If this interaction is within a social setting, it may seem a bit rude to consider them events, but bear with me.

With each of these events, you have some sort of goal. You may not always be aware that you have a goal, but something is accomplished by the end of the interaction. Again, this is easier to understand in the professional world. In a business meeting with your client, you may have had a goal to get him to make future appointments with you to use your services.

This goal mindset also applies in the social sense, but not as straightforwardly. Maybe you were just meeting a friend for dinner, but by the end of the night your friend’s opinion of you has changed (even just slightly) because of how you behaved during dinner. You may not have been wanting to change his/her opinion of you, but we inadvertently do.

Now, what moves these interactions toward our benefit (the business deal going through, the friend thinking more highly of us) or toward our detriment (the client not selecting you, the friend thinking you’ve changed/grown annoying/become arrogant)? Enter: our expectations.

Before we even have the right to expect something of someone, we’ve typically already loaded a laundry list of expectations on them.

Let’s take an example of a time where we should have pretty minimal expectations: networking events.We go to networking events to meet new people, for the first time. Yet even though this is the first time meeting them, we already expect them to maintain eye contact, to enunciate when they speak, to have brushed their teeth before coming, to be able to carry on a conversation, to also be interested in meeting other people…the list could go on for a while.

When we get into settings where we know people better, our list of expectations only grows.

Before this starts to stress you out, let me tell you that there’s good news and bad news about this expectations stuff.

The bad news is, you can’t combat people’s expectations. If someone expects you to arrive on time to a meeting and you show up 5 minutes late, you can’t tell them that they should have expected you to arrive 5 minutes late. This will only make them more peeved at your tardiness.

The good news is, if you can understand and properly set people’s expectations, you can become everyone’s favorite person (or at least a person that everyone would enjoy getting a beer with).

Now that we know how properly set & met expectations influence your status in other people’s minds, let’s walk through how and where you can set these expectations when clients schedule through your free web scheduler.

Setting expectations when clients are booking online

When clients are setting their first appointment with you, they expect that if you have any appointment policies, you will tell them in the booking process. Clients may be wondering:

  • Can I cancel the appointment? How many hours before the appointment can I cancel it?

  • Will I get a reminder about the appointment? Will it be easy to add the appointment to my own calendar?

  • Am I required to pay a deposit for the appointment?

  • Is your office easy to find?

  • Do I need to fill out any forms before the appointment? Do I need to bring anything to the appointment?

Depending on what kind of business you have, your clients may be asking other questions as well. I’m betting that you know exactly what your clients worry about before coming to meet with you. So, before we move on to how you can go about setting expectations within the scheduling flow provided by TimeTap, take a second and write down the common questions your clients have before setting appointments.

Got your list of questions together? Good.

Now, let’s look at how you can provide information to clients in order to set their expectations before booking an appointment.

Using the web scheduler’s welcome text to explain the booking flow:

Edit Scheduler Rules & Logic

Edit Scheduler Rules & Logic

Before clients click through to select which service they’re coming in for and their appointment time, you can present them with some instructions on how to book the appointment as well as what to expect.

To do this, login to your TimeTap Web Scheduler (don’t have one? You can sign up here for free) and go to Settings > Scheduler Rules & Logic. You can tweak the welcome message to explain what kind of emails people will get about their appointment, tell them how much notice they have to give for cancellations, and whatever other information may satisfy the questions you’ve written down.

 

Place helpful links on the side panel on your mini website

Edit your mini website's sidebar

Edit your mini website's sidebar

Every TimeTap account comes with a mini website (like this one) which has a sidebar that you can edit to your heart’s desire. This is a great place to put helpful answers to clients’ common questions or links to forms they need to download before they come in for their appointment.

If you’ve chosen to embed the scheduler on your website or Facebook page, then there is likely a place on your website where you can add text, too. Just look around the page you’ve embedded your scheduler on to see where it would make the most sense.

 

Include directions to your office in your email templates

Provide directions to your clients

Provide directions to your clients

You can also add in location directions which will be pushed to the emails that are automatically sent out about appointments. If you have a physical location, these may be helpful driving directions or a link to a pre-filled Google map. If you offer appointments out of a virtual location (like Skype or a conference line) the directions may just be to send you a connection request at the following username.

You may also have appointments at a location that the client provides. If that’s the case, you may find it best to add in a note in the location directions field that explains that your time of arrival may vary depending on where your last appointment was.

 

Customize your confirmation message

After clients put in their information to reserve the appointment time, you can customize the message they see on the last screen of the scheduler to assuage any concerns they might have.

If you have a video that you want them to watch, a form that you want them to fill out, a waiver you need them to sign, etc. before the appointment, this is a great place to put in a link to any of those.


What other kinds of expectations do your clients have when they come for appointments with you? Have you been able to address & meet those expectations consistently? Or, on the other hand, have you ever failed to meet a client’s expectations? What was that like?

Scroll on down to the comments section below and tell us all about it!