Has a sales rep ever asked you to just “click here” to sign up for a meeting time? Would you – or did you - do it? What if you clicked and noticed that they still have several slots available for the very next day? Would that make you more or less likely to want to take the time to meet?
There are a variety of automated scheduling apps out there, several of which are targeted at sales teams. They each approach automatic scheduling in slightly different ways. Time Trade adds a link into your email signature line, so that people can click to schedule a time slot directly from your email. Time Bridge lets the organizer propose up to five meeting times in an email to invitees and then sorts through the responses to set the meeting time. It all sounds efficient, but can these apps really replace a human being?
As we explained earlier this week, we think SaaS is a tool, but can only go so far without a human to direct it. This is where SwaS – Software with a Service – becomes key. SwaS describes any human element used to implement typical SaaS packages at the individual level.
Where scheduling is concerned, the simple fact is that the value of a meeting is directly proportional to how difficult it is to schedule. Automated apps assume that all parties have an equal interest in meeting. Most of the time, you won’t get the meetings you want by allowing a computer algorithm to populate your calendar for you. These democratized calendars tend to quickly fill up with meetings from the middle of your ideal curve.
Having a real person handling scheduling for you makes more sense than an automated app for a number of reasons.
1. Too many nuances: You have a list of contacts that you’d drop anything to meet with; and you may even have a list that you’d never want to get on a call with again. Then there are those that you’d prefer to meet under certain conditions, after a particular conference or whom you could just catch up with at your son’s next soccer game. A computer application can’t keep up with each of those preferences. An assistant who has context can understand and track your relationships and priorities while scheduling for you.
2. The balance of power is always shifting: Who’s paying? Who’s going to be the one to drive an hour through rush hour traffic to the other’s office? A scheduling application can’t understand how to prioritize these sensitive decisions.
3. Email Ping-Pong: It takes a minimum of three back and forth emails to set up even the briefest of meetings. Automated apps like Doodle attempt to minimize the ping-pong, but inevitably require an extra step on the attendees’ part. By breaking the email chain, they also take out the ability to track the attendees’ through CRM, thereby creating another extra step for you.
4. Last minute changes: Yes, your IPhone’s Siri might be able to find your meeting location as you’re getting into your car. But, who can take the call requesting a change of venue and then find an alternative spot while you have your hands on the wheel?
5. It gets awkward: It is really strange to tell someone else to “schedule with my automated service.” At times, social mores are too personally contextual for general software. And sometimes, such social mores change and adjust at a rate that is even faster than technology innovation. Automated scheduling messages are easier to ignore, mistake for Spam or just plain delete than an email from a real person.
That’s why scheduling software, like many other SaaS apps, requires some sort of SwaS - human service element - to be successful.
Want more tips on how to work with an assistant to offload scheduling? Read our post on Scheduling with Success.