App Review: Calendly
If you're thinking about business automation, one of the very first (and easiest) items to check off your list is a system to help you book meetings. Here's our take on Calendly, one of the best tools out there.
What is Calendly?
In their own words, "Calendly helps you schedule meetings without the back-and-forth emails," - and it does. It takes the form of a web link (or embeddable code) and anyone with the link can schedule whatever kind of appointment you want them to schedule, without you having to lift a finger.
There are lots of similar programs on the market (Acuity is probably their biggest competition right now), but Calendly has a clean interface, is easy to use (both as an administrator and for your clients) and, most importantly (though not unique to Calendly), will save you heaps of time.
Really, the best reason to use any calendaring or meeting system is to save you time. No more emailing back and forth trying to pick a time and then manually put a person on your schedule. Set your available hours, send 'em your link and poof - you have a meeting on your calendar.
Calendly is what we use here at ScaleSpark, so if you've booked a meeting with us, you've used Calendly. What did you think?
Calendly's Best Features
While Calendly operates like a lot of the other meeting software available, some of the key differentiating features (and the reason we personally picked Calendly for our own business) are the team meeting features, automatic time zone recognition and how easy it is to use.
While this isn't necessarily a distinguishing feature (lots of the meeting software is easy to use), Calendly has a clean interface that makes it almost impossible for your clients to mess anything up or not give the right information when they're booking with you.
Want to see how easy it is? Check out this quick video of me actually booking an appointment. Can't mess it up and it takes me about 10 seconds.
The team meeting management capabilities are where Calendly really shines. Calendly has the capability to manage calendars for multiple teams (so you could have one set of meetings for your Marketing team and another one for your Sales team, etc.). You can also create team meetings or assign individual team members to team meetings based on their priority. So, for example, if you want your clients to book a sales call with your salesperson Becky normally, you could put Becky on the group meeting as the highest priority person, but include yourself as the backup if Becky isn't available.
Calendly will check each team member's calendar and make sure that everyone who needs to be available for a collective group meeting is available, or make sure that sales assignments are being doled out fairly with round robin.
Automatic Time Zone recognition
Unlike Acuity, which forces a user to select their timezone, Calendly automatically recognizes where they are and adjusts, so your users always see meeting times in their own time zone. For those of us in the online business world, there isn't a single one of us who hasn't messed up the mental time zone conversion at least once (and probably quite a few times) and the automatic time zone recognition means that your clients don't have to worry about doing that.
Room for Improvement
I love Calendly, but with any software, there's always room for improvement. Here are the top two features on my wishlist.
Terms & Conditions
Calendly can take payments (through Stripe or Paypal) - which is awesome - and a great feature. But it's a little weak in the terms and conditions area. So, if you're taking payment for a meeting type, you don't have very much room to discuss your terms - it's really more just payment terms/refund policy than actual terms and conditions. You can't create a checkbox to enforce those terms. This one is a small thing, but a very nice-to-have in the future.
Video Conferencing Software
This one is a little bit bigger. Currently, Calendly only has a native integration with GoToMeeting, there's no Zoom integration (or join.me if you're into that sort of thing). Which isn't to say that you can't make it integrate with Zoom, just that you have to do a little bit of a workaround to make it happen. You can do what I do, which is just use my personal Zoom room for all my meetings, so the link stays the same, and just include the information for that as your location for the meeting. That works well as a workaround, but it would be nice to see a native integration in the future.
Have you used Calendly? What other enhancements are on your wishlist?
Who is Calendly best for?
Calendly is great for pretty much everyone, but it really shines when you're using it with a team. The free version is great for solopreneurs with simple meeting needs and the paid version is perfect for teams or for people who want to process payments.
Calendly isn't great if you really need robust Terms & Conditions and affirmative signatures when people book appointments, or if you need to collect a ton of information from people when they book (though you could connect Calendly with a form software like Paperform to get around that).
If you really want to get maximum benefit out of using Calendly, here are a few ideas to use Calendly to drive efficiency throughout your business.
Payments are only available on the Pro plan ($12 per user/month), but taking payments through Calendly can save a ton of time chasing down and reminding folks to pay you for appointments. Calendly integrates with Stripe and Paypal to process your payments. If you're someone who has meetings or sessions that you charge people for, take advantage of the payments to close out the onboarding process up-front.
We do this with both our SaaS Ninja and our Unwind the Grind sessions. When you click on those "Get Started" links, it takes you to Calendly, collects your information, lets you schedule the appointment and then you pay right then and there, all without us ever having to do anything about it (other than maybe send the link).
Calendly integrates with Zapier (which is almost a mandatory requirement for any SaaS tool these days), so it plays nicely with others. The cool part about it, though, is that Calendly can be the beginning trigger for any number of required actions when you onboard a new client or prospect.
You can create a trigger for each type of appointment and kick off multiple workflows, based on that. So, for example, for us, when you book an Unwind the Grind session, we use Zapier to use that calendar appointment as a trigger to:
- Populate our sales pipeline software, Pipedrive
- Create a new folder to manage the project documents on Google Drive
- Update or create a record for you in Drift (and tag you as a current client)
- Send you a pre-interview questionnaire with Paperform
- Create an invoice and apply a payment to the invoice in Xero.
All that happens in less than 10 seconds, and again, we didn't have to do any of it.