An Adventure in Sharing my Calendar

This article was originally published on the FCR blog on June 28, 2017. Click here to read the original.

Does anyone actually enjoy doing the dance of going back and forth in an attempt to align schedules to have a meeting with someone? Meetings between two people are bad enough – and it’s only compounded the more people you add into the mix.

Within organizations, Google apps has made it immensely easier to schedule time with colleagues. One simply has to look at the calendars of all attendees and find a time that works for everyone. But that doesn’t make it any easier for scheduling meetings with folks outside of the organization.

In recent months, I’ve encountered more and more people using calendar tools like Calendly and to allow others to see their calendar and book appointments. I decided to dip my toe in the water and try it out for myself. I signed up for the free version of Calendly that allows me to offer one specific meeting length – I chose thirty-minute increments. With the paid version, you can allow people to select 15, 30, or 60-minute meetings. Calendly takes care of putting the meeting on everyone’s calendar and even does that awkward time zone conversion.

My Customer Service Conundrum

What transpired next was a negotiation until we found a time that worked for both of us. My two goals have always been to make myself available to others and minimize the effort required on their end. That’s great customer service, right?

Using Calendly, when someone wants to meet with me, I typically say something like:

Sure, I’d love to meet with you! Here’s a link to my calendar. Feel free to book some time with me.

My conundrum with doing it this way is that it feels like I’m putting the ball in the other person’s court to schedule time with me. As if I’m that important or that busy that I can tell someone else to look and see if they can find time on my calendar. And that’s really what my initial reaction was when someone sent me a Calendly link for the first time. For the record, my second reaction was “Oh, this is really cool.”

Putting my fears to rest

Before you leave a comment telling me to stop overthinking this, I’m proud to say that I got over my conundrum. Here’s why using a service like this IS better customer service:

  1. Reduces Email – Many people have an email problem and going back and forth to try to schedule a meeting isn’t helping anyone. By sending out the calendar link, you’re potentially preventing multiple emails back and forth.
  2. Saves Time – Email takes time, so by reducing email volume, you’re giving time back to your customers.
  3. Minimizes Effort – By giving others the ability to quickly compare your calendar to theirs and then having that meeting seamlessly appear on their calendar, you’re significantly reducing their effort.

Those three thoughts were enough to convince me that this method is much, much better than the alternative.

2 Tips

In closing, I have a couple tips for using these calendar tools better. Here they are:

  1. Don’t big time your customers – When you send your calendar to someone, don’t say something like, “Here’s my calendar. I’m incredibly busy so do your best to find some time.” Instead, it’s better to say something like, “I’d love to meet with you. I’m sending you a link so you can see my calendar and quickly book a time that’s most convenient for you.”
  2. Coordinate internal calendars before booking with externals – When scheduling time on someone else’s calendar outside of the organization where you need to invite others from your organization, first look at their calendars and then book a time on the external calendar that works for everyone. Coordinating meetings with multiple people and organizations is a challenge and this will help.

That’s it. Those are all my thoughts on sending my calendar to someone who wants to meet with me. If you position it the right way, you can highlight the fact that you are helping minimize the traffic in their inbox, saving them time and aggravation, and you stand to improve the experience for all. That being said, let me know if you want to meet and I’ll send you a link to my calendar.

Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience at FCR, the premiere provider of outsourced call center and business process solutions. He has more than 17 years of experience as a customer service and experience professional. He is co-founder of the Customer Service Life blog and a regular contributor. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

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