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How To Schedule An Appointment - Step by Step

Updated: Oct 2, 2019



Key things to do when scheduling an appointment?


When scheduling an appointment, you want to make sure both you and your attendee(s) are on the same page. Any relevant information that you can provide (time, date, location, time zone, etc.) can make the scheduling process vastly more efficient. You can almost think of scheduling appointments like a checklist. While some parts may be more important than others, they all work together to achieve one final goal, and that's scheduling the appointment.


Confirm a Time That Works For The Both of You

To start, you'll want to find time for the appointment. Now, this may sound simple, but depending on how busy both of you are, it may get tricky. You need to find a time that works for both you and your attendee.


When aligning your availability with your attendee, you're looking for a large enough time slot that wouldn't be overlapping other appointments on their calendar. The last thing you want happening is for your attendees to realize that they can't make it because something was already scheduled for that time.


Because this step typically takes some time and thought, there are tools out there that can help expedite the process of scheduling appointments, especially when it comes to finding a time that works. All you'd need to do is find the one right for you.


Also, as an important note to the first step. If you and your attendees are scheduling this by hand, make sure to double-check that there are no typos. You'd be surprised how many scheduling mishaps happen just because somebody entered the wrong date into their calendar.


Know What Type of Appointment You'll Be Scheduling

The next thing you'll want to do is to ask yourself, "what type of appointment am I scheduling?" I mean, are you scheduling an in-person appointment or a virtual appointment? Depending on how you answer this question, you will need to collect different information about your appointment.


In-person Appointments

When scheduling in-person appointments, the main difference is that you need to decide on a location. Otherwise, neither you nor your attendee will know where to go. Though, this can be handled differently based on what you're scheduling.


1) If you run a local business where people come to your location, you need to make sure you provide your business's address.


2) If you run a business where you go to your customer, then during the scheduling process, you need to get their address so you know where to go.


3) If both you and your customer will meet at a location, then you will need to agree on a spot ahead of time. Be careful though, if you are scheduling your appointment at a place like Starbucks, be sure you are going to THE SAME Starbucks. Share the exact address of the Starbucks you'll be going to, that way there is no confusion.


Virtual Appointments

Virtual appointments may seem like the easier option from the surface, but if you're scheduling for a time in the future, it can get tricky (if your attendee is in a different time zone). Before I give an example of why virtual appointments can get so tricky, I want to clear up the term "virtual appointments." This may appear to be a bit vague, but all I mean by this is an appointment hosted over the phone, Skype, or something along those lines.


Anyway, here's the example: Say I'm in Central Time (CT) and my attendee is in Eastern Time (EDT)* Keep in mind Eastern Time is 1 hour ahead of Central Time.


Let's say my attendee and I agree that I'll call at 2:00 PM. But, if I called at 2:00 PM CT, it would be 3:00 PM EDT.


With that said, when scheduling virtual appointments with people in different time zones, it is incredibly important that you both have an understanding of what time zone you are truly scheduling in. Otherwise, you or your attendee can easily miss the appointment with just the slightest bit of miscommunication. Fortunately, this isn't an uncommon problem, so there are plenty of solutions to help simplify scheduling across time zones.


Discuss Appointment Specifics Beforehand

Before the appointment, you'll want to give your attendee(s) an idea of what will be going on. This makes getting the appointment started easier because everyone is already on the same page.


Depending on the subject of the appointment, this may change. If you were to be getting together with a group of people to discuss a certain topic, you may give them a few key points to be thinking about beforehand. This way, the appointment moves faster because everybody has already been thinking about the topic. For example: If you had scheduled a virtual appointment with a freelance marketer, you would give them some information beforehand (i.e. audience demographics), so they could start developing new marketing ideas ahead of time.


On the other hand, if you are providing a service to a customer, you would give them a summary of what you'll be doing. By doing this, you allow your customers to change things up without eating away at the scheduled appointment duration. For example: If you were a window cleaner, you would remind your customers about the services you had agreed upon. That way, there is no confusion moving forward.


The main takeaway here is that you are trying to make the process more efficient; if you aren't giving yourself or the attendee any time to plan, it'll slow the appointment down.


Give Your Attendee an Idea on How Long The Appointment Might Take

During the planning process of scheduling the appointment, be sure to give your attendee an idea of how long it will take.


Remember, the more information the better. By giving them a rough estimate of the appointment duration, they will have an easier time planning out their day. If you just threw a date and time at them but gave no estimation on how long the appointment might take, you're leaving your attendee in the dark and they'd have no way of planning things around your appointment.


Sending Appointment Reminders To Attendees

Finally, now that you've done everything you can to ensure that your attendee has everything they need. You need to remind them of the appointment.


Everybody has the best intentions to show up on time, and most of them do, but sometimes things come up. When they do, you need to be sure that you have systems in place to send them a friendly reminder about the upcoming appointment.


Nobody likes no shows, fortunately though, this isn't a difficult problem to solve. The majority of the time, you can prevent no shows by simply sending an appointment reminder beforehand. The problem becomes sending the reminders. Not only will you have to prepare before the appointment, but you'll have to remember to send the reminder as well.


Although sending appointment reminders sounds like a big ordeal, it really isn't difficult. If you have the right tools in place, the process becomes automated so you don't have to worry about it. We'll talk more about reminders later in the post.


Finally locking down a time and scheduling the appointment


Scheduling the appointment in Google Calendar


1) Go to your Google Calendar.

Before creating your appointment, go to Google Calendar and open the calendar you normally use.


2) Select "Create" near the top left corner to begin creating an appointment.


3) Click "More options" to the left of the blue "Save" button.


4) Begin filling out the appointment creator form


4.1) Name your appointment.

When it comes to naming an appointment, you want to make sure it is easily identifiable to both you and your attendee.


Here in a few steps, we'll be inviting your attendee, when we do, they'll see this exact appointment on their calendar. The best way to name your appointment is to call it something both you and your attendee will recognize.


One idea would be to name it the subject of the appointment. If you scheduled an appointment to get your windows cleaned, you could name it something like "Window Cleaning by {name of your business}."


When you are inviting other attendees to see this exact appointment, you never want to name it something only you would recognize. This would only cause more confusion in the future.


4.2) Add time to your new appointment.

Once you've confirmed a time with your attendee and double-checked that there are no conflicts, it's time you add it to your Google appointment. If you're scheduling an appointment out in the future, be sure to change the date and not only the time.


Each date/time field allows you to either use their dropdown selection tool or to manually enter in the time yourself. As you can see in the image, I am using their dropdown selection tool which jumps by 30-minute intervals. When you enter your start and end dates into Google, be sure to double-check that you've entered them correctly.


4.3) Select a time zone (if needed).

Now you'll want to edit your appointment time zone. Not everybody will need to mess with this, but if you're scheduling a virtual appointment, be sure to schedule this in the correct time zone. Though, from the looks of it, Google does a really good job of simplifying this process.


All you need to do is confirm that this time zone is the one you are based out of, then Google will do the conversions on its own.


* Important Note: When you are confirming times with your attendee, BE SURE that you specify what time zone you are talking about.


In the example I showed earlier (I'll put it here as well), if there is any form of time zone confusion, it can easily cause someone to miss the appointment. Here's the example I gave earlier:


Say I'm in Central Time (CT) and my attendee is in Eastern Time (EDT)* Keep in mind Eastern Time is 1 hour ahead of Central Time Let's say my attendee and I agree that I'll call at 2:00 PM. But, if I called at 2:00 PM CT, it would be 3:00 PM EDT.


Now that I've refreshed that example in your mind, it's imperative that you don't just say a date and time. You must specify the date, time, and time zone to ensure there is no confusion. For example, "I'll give you a call around 2:00 PM CT, is that ok?" This way they know what time zone you are talking about.


4.4) Select a location (if needed).

If you're scheduling a virtual appointment, you won't need this feature, but if you're scheduling an in-person appointment, you need to specify this upfront. To add a time zone to your Google appointment, just start typing the address or name of the location and Google will do it's best to provide valid options.


4.5) Set an appointment reminder.

This is an incredibly helpful feature for helping both you and your attendee remember future appointments. In the example below, I'm telling Google I want a reminder sent 45 minutes before the appointment. But, you could also tell Google that you want a reminder one hour before, two hours before, or any other time before the appointment.


It's completely up to you. Also, something I didn't show in the image below. Instead of having Google send a push notification to your device, you can tell them to send an email instead. That can be done by changing "Notification" to "Email."


4.6) Add an appointment description.

When adding a description to your Google appointment, you must keep your attendee in mind. You need to be providing details that will help you or your attendee remember what exactly this appointment is about.


For example, if you were scheduling a phone call, you would provide details like topics you may discuss, your phone number, etc.


Just remember, the description is there to freshen up the memories of both you and your attendee. You may even provide details on how they can contact you if they need to cancel or reschedule.


4.7) Invite your attendees.

It's finally time to include your attendees in your new appointment. To add them, under "Guests," start typing their email. If they don't already exist in your contact list, you will need to type their full email and send them an invite.


Once you've finalized and saved your appointment, your attendee(s) will receive a notification from Google Calendar letting them know that they were just invited to your new appointment.


4.8) Select your attendee preferences.

This is a quick and easy feature to set up. For most people, the settings may already be set to their liking, but you can change these settings to specify what privileges your attendee will get.


Just by reading the options, you can see that I have turned off the option for attendees to modify this appointment. But, they can still invite other people to the appointment and see the guest list. You can switch those toggles on and off to what best fits your needs.


5) Save your new appointment.


6) Would you like to send invitation emails to your attendees?

If you've added any attendees to your "Guest List" Google will display this prompt asking "Would you like to send invitation emails to Google Calendar guests." If you want your attendees to have any idea that you just included them in your appointment, then click "Send." Otherwise, if you've already been in talks with your attendee and they know that you've invited them, then you can click "Don't send."


One important thing to note is that even if you select "Don't Send," your attendee will still see the appointment on their calendar. Google just won't send them an email notifying them.


7) You've created an appointment on Google Calendar!

Awesome, That's all it takes to create an appointment on Google! From reading this post, it may seem like this is pretty complicated, but when you get going, you'll find it's incredibly simple. Well, now that you've created your appointment and invited the attendees, you should now see it on your calendar.


Scheduling the appointment in Outlook Calendar (Microsoft Calendar)


1) Go to Outlook Calendar.

Before creating your appointment, go to Outlook Calendar and open the calendar you normally use.


2) Click "new event" near the top left corner of the screen.


3) Click "more options" in the bottom right corner of the appointment creator popup.


4) Follow these steps to fill out the appointment creator form.


4.1) Add a title to your new appointment

When naming an appointment, you want to make sure that both you and your attendee can easily identify what's been scheduled. In the next step, you'll see that we'll be sending invites to attendees. When we do that, they'll see this exact appointment on their calendar, so you need to make sure that they'd understand the title of the appointment.


The best way to name your appointments is to call it something both of you will recognize. One idea would be to name it the subject of the appointment. If you scheduled a massage therapy appointment, you could name your appointment something like "Massage Therapy by {insert your business name}."


When you are inviting other attendees to see this exact appointment, you never want to name it something only you will understand. Keep it simple, but keep it understandable.


4.2) Invite your attendees

It's now time to send appointment invitations to your attendees. Start typing your attendee's email, if they exist in your contact list already, you'll see that Outlook will suggest options based on what you're typing. If they don't already exist, you'll need to type their full email. Your list of attendees will be saved and invitations will be sent when you save the appointment.


4.3) Add a start and end time to your appointment.

Once you've confirmed a time with your attendee and double-checked that there are no conflicts, it's time you add it to your Outlook appointment. All you need to do is use the dropdown selection tool to pick the time and date you had previously agreed upon.


If you're scheduling an appointment in the future, make sure you don't just change the time, you'll need to change the date as well.


Each date/time field allows you to either use their dropdown selection tool or to manually enter in the time. Using Outlook, you'll notice they have a very simple interface that is easy to use, so getting used to how everything works shouldn't be a problem.


4.4) Add a time zone (if needed).

Not everyone will need to mess with this feature, but if you're scheduling a virtual appointment, be sure to schedule this in the correct time zone. The main thing you need to do is to confirm that Outlook is using the correct time zone.


* Important Note: When you are confirming times with your attendee, YOU MUST BE SURE that you specify what time zone you are talking about.


In the earlier example (I'll put it down below), I showed that if there was any miscommunication when it comes to discussing time zones, it can easily lead to someone missing the appointment. Here's the example I gave earlier:


Say I'm in Central Time (CT) and my attendee is in Eastern Time (EDT)* Keep in mind Eastern Time is 1 hour ahead of Central Time Let's say my attendee and I agree that I'll call at 2:00 PM. But, if I called at 2:00 PM CT, it would be 3:00 PM EDT for my attendee.


Now that I've reintroduced that example, it's critical that you specify what time zone you are scheduling in. For example, when talking to your attendee, you would phrase the question something like this. "I'll call you at 2:00 PM CT, is that ok?" By specifying a time zone, your attendee will know they need to convert that time to best fit their local time zone.


4.5) Add an appointment location (if needed).

Not everyone will need to add a location, this is specifically made for people who plan on meeting somewhere in person. If you were to be scheduling a virtual appointment, you can skip this step.


When adding a location to your Outlook appointment, just start typing either the address or the name of the business. When you save this location in the appointment, your attendee(s) will be able to see it later when they are invited.


* As I said much earlier in the post, if you are scheduling your appointment at a place like Starbucks, be sure you are clear about which Starbucks you are going to. The last thing you want is for one of your attendees showing up at the wrong Starbucks.


4.6) Set a reminder.

I highly recommend adding reminders to your appointments. Not only does this help you, but it helps your attendees as well. Outlook does an especially good job of simplifying the setup process for reminders.


All you need to do is select one of their options. When you do, Outlook will send a reminder X amount of time before the appointment. For example, if you selected "30 minutes before," Outlook would send a reminder 30 minutes before the appointment.


On top of that, if you'd prefer that Outlook sends an email reminder versus a push notification, then you can change that as well. That can be done by selecting "Add email reminder" at the bottom of the dropdown menu.


4.7) Add an appointment description.

When adding a description to your Outlook appointment, you must keep your attendee in mind. When constructing a description, you need to be providing details that will help you or your attendee remember what exactly this appointment is about.


For example, if you were scheduling a phone call, you would provide details like topics you may discuss, your phone number, etc.


Just remember, the description is there to freshen up the memories of both you and your attendee. You may even provide details on how they can contact you if they need to cancel or reschedule the appointment.


5) When you're done, save your new appointment.

6) You've created an appointment on Outlook Calendar!

Great, you've just created a new Outlook appointment! Now that it's saved and ready to go, if you added any attendees, they should be receiving invitations to your newly created appointment. On top of that, your new appointment should be showing up in your Outlook calendar.


Scheduling the appointment in ScheduleTalk


Scheduling an appointment on ScheduleTalk works a little bit differently. Instead of scheduling the appointment yourself, ScheduleTalk allows your attendees to schedule appointments. You don't have to go through the long back-and-forth process of finding a time that works for both of you.


Like I was saying near the beginning of the post, tools like ScheduleTalk speed up the process of scheduling, so you're not wasting time on less important tasks. To give you a visual of how ScheduleTalk works, here's how we handle appointment scheduling.


1) Share your calendar link with attendees (You only need to do this once).

To make people aware of your ScheduleTalk calendar, you will need to share your personal online scheduling page link. You only need to do this step once, after that they'll know how to get to your page from then on.


2) After clicking your link, they pick the type of appointment they want to schedule.

After they've clicked on your link, now they can start the process of scheduling an appointment.


With ScheduleTalk, people can schedule any type of appointment with you (only appointment types that you've specified though). For example, down below you'll see that I have a "Phone Call," "Meeting," and "Lunch and Chat" appointment type. People coming to my scheduling page can only schedule an appointment using one of those appointment types.


3) Then, they pick their ideal date.

After they've chosen the appointment they want to schedule, in this case, "Phone Call," they can now begin picking a time and date.


As you see down below near the top right of the page, there is a time zone dropdown. ScheduleTalk is completely dynamic when it comes to handling time zones. If you were to pick a different time zone, ScheduleTalk would recalculate the current time so it's only showing relevant information.


4) Now they pick from a list of your available times.

Once they've picked a date, they can now choose a time that's been tested to make sure it wouldn't cause conflicts with other appointments on your calendar.


This is where the power of ScheduleTalk begins to show. Before any times are shown on this screen, they first are tested for relevance (meaning they aren't in the past). Then, ScheduleTalk evaluates your Google or Outlook calendar to see what times are truly available.


If you already had an appointment scheduled for, let's say, 6:00 PM - 6:30 PM, we would hide those times from your availability. ScheduleTalk does many more calculations when showing your availability, but those are the key features.


5) Then, they fill out a short form so you know who they are.

After they've found a time that works for both of you, it's time they fill out a short form so you know who they are. You'll have access to this information whenever you need it.


ScheduleTalk also implements a feature called Recaptcha to prevent bots from spamming your scheduling forms. Once they click "Schedule Appointment" down below the form (currently off-screen), we will automatically add the appointment to your Google or Outlook calendar, so you don't have to do it yourself.


6) BOOM, you just scheduled an appointment without doing anything!

That's it, the appointment was scheduled and you didn't have to go through the hassle of finding a time that worked for both you and your attendee. ScheduleTalk handled it all for you. But, ScheduleTalk isn't quite done yet. Now that the appointment is scheduled, it still has to send automatic reminders. That way you don't have to worry about anything. ScheduleTalk was built to handle the entire scheduling process, from start to finish.

Watch outs When Scheduling Appointments By Hand


Scheduling appointments in different time zones

I've already mentioned the concern for managing time zones by hand in this post, but it's worth mentioning briefly again. When you are scheduling appointments across time zones, make sure you both are crystal clear about what time zone you are talking about.


If you just tell your attendee "I'll call you at 2:00 PM," then you are asking for someone to miss the appointment. When you are talking dates and times, be sure to specify the time zone.


The best way to discuss dates and times is like this, "Can I give you a call on Wednesday at 3:00 PM CT?" That way you both are on the same page when it comes to what time-zone you're talking about.


Double and triple-checking potential appointment conflicts

When you are scheduling an appointment by hand, be sure, before confirming any times, that there are no conflicting dates. It's never fun when an attendee backs out of the appointment because they had something scheduled for that time already. Make sure that's not the case beforehand.


Make sure there are no date typos

Similar to the watch out above, make sure you added your dates correctly. It's incredibly easy to accidentally enter the wrong date into your calendar. If that happens, it's more likely than not going to end up with someone missing an appointment.


Always provide your attendee with some way to contact you

After the appointment is scheduled, you always want to give your attendee some way to ask questions if needed. Not doing this won't necessarily lead to someone missing the appointment, but if there's any confusion, this is a good way to clear it up.


What Todo When The Appointment is Getting Closer


Within 1 - 2 days of the appointment start date, you should start to consider sending your attendee a reminder. But, in some cases, it's more beneficial to send them a reminder sooner, maybe 1 or 2 hours from then. When it comes to sending reminders, the ideal times can vary.


When sending the reminder, it's always productive to ask your attendees if they have any questions. Nobody likes going into an appointment with unanswered questions, so do your best and try to answer as many as you can.


Also, at this time, it would be ideal to send the details of the appointment again (e.i. address, start time, duration, things like that.). By doing so, you freshen the details in your attendee's mind, making it less likely they forget completely.


What Todo When The Appointment is Complete


Depending on what type of appointment you've scheduled, it may make sense to summarize what was just talked about. This is especially useful for appointments when there is a ton of information being discussed in a short period of time.


On the flip side, if you run a business where you are providing services to customers. It may be extremely beneficial that you send some form of thank you message to your customers. After all, you want to show that you are appreciative of their business, this would be a great way to do that.


Of course, it all depends on your scenario. If you scheduled an appointment with your team, it may not make a ton of sense to send a thank you letter afterward. But, it would make sense to summarize the information discussed. So, be sure to evaluate your specific situation and find the best way to close off your appointment.

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