Advisors: Avoid “Email Battleship” with Scheduling Software

Sep 22, 2015

BattleShips-500x300

One of the banes of any advisor’s work life is scheduling meetings and calls with clients. The typical scenario is:

– Send email to client, saying it is time for a meeting, and providing available meeting times
– 2 weeks later, another email is sent, reminding the client about the meeting and updating available meeting times
– An e-mail comes back, saying these times are not convenient
– A call goes out to try and find a mutually convenient time…
– Etc., etc.

I think you get the picture.

Bill Winterberg equates this to the old game of Battleship® (now email battleship), where you are trying blindly to work out where your opponent’s fleet is hidden, whilst receiving incoming shells on your own fleet. It is a colossal waste of time and irritating for all parties.

Enter the Techno-Advisor
We have been focusing on how to bring technology tools to advisors that will help you engage your clients more effectively. The advisor technology spectrum looks like this:

151327-ADV-facebook-02

On the far left are advisors who follow the current way of interacting with their clients, focusing on meetings and passing documents back and forth. On the far right are robo-advisors, with no human interaction, but that allow investors to control the process. In the middle is the new virtual advisor; a human advisor who ONLY uses technology to reach their clients. Finally, there is the human advisor who marries up human interaction with the smart use of technology – the Techno-Advisor.

Working with Bill Winterberg, www.fppad.com, we created a white paper, “Finding Your Inner Techno-Advisor”. The paper describes what you look like as a Techno-Advisor and identifies some of the tools that get you there. In this post, I’m going to focus on scheduling software. (Consider this post is an amuse-bouche – you can get the entrée in the white paper.)

The scheduling landscape
Advisors using scheduling software is a new phenomenon that has only been around for about the last two years. I’ve been using the software for the last four months and can say that it has significantly simplified my way of setting up meetings and phone calls. The people I have been working with also feel it helps them, as they have a much better view of my availability, which is always up to date. It fundamentally puts them in control of the process.

Below is a landscape of the scheduling software market, specifically through the lens of advisors.

Landscape_Scheduling
*These companies and their respective trademarks are the property of third parties.

Let me walk you through this chart:
– The size of the bubble indicates the number of advisors who use the software
– This is a fledgling industry. Many of the companies are startups, and so you will see many new entrants, companies who will not make it, and those who may be acquired
– No company has a market share of more than 3% with advisors
– Doodle (www.doodle.com) has the largest market share, at 2.7%. Doodle is a retail application, used not only by businesses, but by families and their friends
– Timetrade (www.timetrade.com) at 2.4% and ScheduleOnce (www.scheduleonce.com) at 1% are more business oriented and are the two main contenders for advisors to work with their clients
– Other companies are carving out a niche by focusing on deep integrations or a wide range of features for broad markets

How to start scheduling
This is an easy one because there is freemium (free + premium) pricing to try it out, a minimal integration with your Outlook calendar, and a simple, do-it-yourself, installation. We suggest the following:
– Select a package and try it in-house with your team and a few select clients
– Work out the kinks – especially how it integrates with your Outlook and CRM
– Identify the tasks you want to use scheduling software for (for example, client review meetings)
– Build it into your process of client interaction
– Broaden it to other advisors, if applicable, and make your client interactions consistent

“Shedyouling” software
I have been in this country many, many years. However, I still have a number of English words and phrases that are stuck on my tongue (process, “aluminium,” teaching grandma to suck eggs). One of those words is scheduling, which those of us from the mother country pronounce” shedyouling.” You have no idea the amount of stick (another Brit phrase) that I’ve had to put up with during this research. Hopefully, my pain is your gain.

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Raef Lee

Raef Lee

Raef Lee is the technology contributor for Practically Speaking and also serves as a managing director for the SEI Advisor Network.

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