It happens every six months, that unexpected call from my dentist telling me my cleaning appointment is tomorrow. And every time it takes me by surprise. Really? That's tomorrow? Sure they give me a little card after each cleaning letting me know when the next appointment is, but like a lot of younger people (oh, the lies we tell ourselves) I prefer things in a digital format. If I lose that card on the ride back from the dentist's office, which is pretty much inevitable, I'll forget when the next appointment is until that fateful call. By that point my schedule is already pretty full and many times I had have to cancel or postpone the appointment.
You can avoid your customers doing this to you by sending them a simple appointment confirmation when you schedule their service. ESC makes this whole process extremely easy by allowing you to create a status code that automates the entire process. So let's take a look at what you have to do to get this started.
Before You Begin
Before this procedure will work, please make sure that you have the following items installed and configured:
- ESC Connections Server must be installed and configured to connect to your database. If you have been using any mobile clients, Front Office, SageQuest or the American Home Shield integration this is already properly configured.
- Your SMTP information for emailing must be configured in Company → System Setup → Email. This should already be set if you are emailing invoices, purchase orders or dispatches to your technicians now.
- Your email address and display name must be configured in Company → System Setup → Email → Addresses. This is newer information that you will have to add if they are blank.
To setup the new code, go to the Dispatch pull-down menu and select Enter Status Codes. Click the Add New button and create a code called Scheduled with the following attributes:
Once you have completed that, click the Notification tab to create your email template. Be sure to give it a Subject and then use the Insert button in the body of the email to insert the Promised Date and Promised Time. If you are doing work for commercial customers you may also want to include the Location Name, Location Address,Dispatch Number and Called In By. When you're done it should look something like the image below. Click OK when you are happy with the template.
To make the list of status codes flow more naturally, select the Scheduled code at the bottom of the list and then click the up arrow icon on the toolbar until it is nestled between Pending and Traveling. Close the Status Code screen after doing that.
Now you are ready to use your new status. To ensure the customer will get the email it is a good idea to make sure that you have their email and that it is setup correctly. To do this, Qualify the customer normally. Before creating the dispatch, however, go to Activities → Edit Customer Information. Make sure you have the customer's email address and that the email task column is set to All or General. It is also worth checking to see if the Receives Email Notifications box is checked, although it should be in most cases.
From the Customer Entry screen, select Activities | Create a Dispatch and select Yes when prompted to save the customer. Create the dispatch normally and save it. When you are ready to assign the dispatch to a technician switch over to the EDB (F5) and drag the call where you want it. Right click the dispatch and change the status to Scheduled and your email reminder will be sent automatically.
We all know that schedules change, but be careful when reassigning a dispatch that is already in a scheduled status. If you drag it to another technician, date or time it will trigger another email to be sent notifying the customer of the change. Most of the time this is what you want it to do, but if you are unsure who will be doing the work, you might want to change the status back to Pending until you figure it out.
So there you have it. A quick simple way to make sure your customers remember the appointment you have made with them. Couple that with a phone call reminder the day before (see the sidebar on the home page for more details on making this happen) and you'll have fewer customers canceling on you. You'll also have a great excuse to get their email, which is beneficial on many levels.
Written by Eric Rausin
Featured in March 2014 Newsletter