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If you think coordinating meetings and calls in one timezone is complicated enough, imagine doing it across the world. We talk to Sara Hörberg about her business and how Appointedd has made it simple to navigate the summer time to winter time transition.

Sara has taught Swedish as a foreign language for 15 years. sara-e.pngSince 2009 she has taught solely via Skype through her company, The Swedish Teacher, which now has five teachers in four locations across three different timezones (California, Birmingham, Prague, and Gothenburg).

“The teachers are available for booking different days of the week and at different times of the day. Our customers, the students, are located all over the world. We currently have students in many different timezones, such as in different parts of USA, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, UK, Sweden, Turkey, Finland, Russia, India, and different parts of Australia!”

The trouble with timezones

We asked Sara to tell us a bit about the challenges of running a business across so many different timezones. “We faced a few timezone related problems before using Appointedd,” she said. “The biggest issue was in the autumn and spring when most countries change from summer time to winter time, and vice versa. That was something that didn’t change automatically in our previous booking system, so we either had to ask the students to update their timezone themselves, or do it for them manually. It was a mess for several weeks every spring and autumn, especially since different countries change at different times, and in some parts of the world, they don’t change at all. We had to tell students that they would have to wait to book their next appointment because I had to update their timezone settings in the booking system. We experienced a lot of double booking and other problems.

“Most of our students are located in North America and Europe, but also in Australia, Singapore, and New Zealand, so they are located on the other side of the International Date Line from our teachers in the US. That caused issues within our previous booking system: so, for example, when a student clicked on Saturday in the booking system, Sunday would actually show. Some students were able to work around this, but many of them accidentally booked a day early. It was very confusing and frustrating for everybody.”

Sara and her teachers also found that this complication added a lot of extra work for them: “We had to manually create all timezones within the booking system. We also had to create two timezones for all locations that switch between summer time and winter time. Customers then had to choose the correct one, for example CET or CEST in the summer, for the bookings to be correct. Plus, some states in USA, Brazil, and Australia never change between summer and winter time, and we had to manually create special timezones for those. We created “Arizona Time” for students located in Arizona, for example.

“Students didn’t get a suggested timezone from the old booking system, so it happened now and then that they picked the wrong timezone. Maybe they thought Sweden was Eastern European Time, or they picked GMT in the summer, and we ended up with a mess. Also, sometimes students didn’t notice that they had to pick a timezone and ended up with the default, which made the available hours look strange to them since they saw the schedule in a different timezone than they were actually located.”

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Happy teachers…

Since using Appointedd, the teachers have found coordinating with their students all over the world a whole lot easier: “Appointedd has helped with all of these issues! In particular, we are enjoying our first spring without sweating over the issue of summer/winter time change! That was a pain! Also, our students in Australia are very pleased with being able to make bookings just as easily as everyone else.”

When asked if she has noticed a change in how much time has been saved, Sara confirms that they have: “I can assure you that we are saving time when the students get their bookings right on their first try.”

Sara also told us about some of her favourite features of using Appointedd. “The teachers get all the information they need in the booking confirmation email. We ask for the student’s email address, Skype name and a note about what they want to learn. Previously I had to send a separate email to the teachers with that information. That was quite time-consuming.” Sara also mentioned that she finds it convenient to be able to email customers directly through the booking system, and ask for payment by just clicking a button.

…happy students

And how do Sara’s customers like the Appointedd booking system? “Our students in Australia say Appointedd works great for them! One of them booked ten sessions between February and May, and during that time we have to deal with the time change twice – and it looks like it’s working perfectly! He booked at 6am his time for all the sessions, and I got bookings for 11.30 in February, 12.30 after daylight savings starts in the USA, and 13.30 after daylight savings ends in Australia! Yay! This particular student has been a programmer himself since the 1980s and he’s quite impressed. We’ve had lots of trouble getting his bookings right every autumn and spring, so he was the ultimate test, so to speak. Other students have also spontaneously told us that they like our new booking system and that they like how user-friendly it is. Several of these students work with programming and web development, so they know how hard it is. The interface is very clean and easy for students to understand, and the booking process is simple.”

Thanks to Sara Horberg for this interview. You can learn more about The Swedish Teacher on their website.

Find out more about Appointedd’s first-of-its-kind multi-timezone functionality.

 

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Things are moving fast in the world of estate agency. From hybrid agencies to virtual viewings and selling houses on Snapchat, the modern estate agent has a lot to get to grips with. So we spoke to one forward-thinking agency, Maloco Associates, about how they are making the most of the new online scheduling tools at their disposal.

Michael Maloco started his Dunfermline-based estate agency and solicitors firm in 2006. For eight out of the last ten years, Maloco Associates has been the number one selling agency in the area and has won several industry awards in that time. We spoke to Michael about the business, challenges in the industry, and how Appointedd is helping them embrace new opportunities.

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With all his experience, Michael is well aware of all the ways the property industry is changing: “Estate agency is literally and metaphorically our shop window if you like, and we’re facing challenging times. With market disruptors such as Purplebricks, as well as the changing face of our estate agency clients, we need to be aware of the needs of our current audience.”

Maloco Associates is up for the challenge though, and keen to move with the times “In the past year we have done a number of things, like start our online bookstore, and set up our instant evaluation tool. And now we offer a ‘book your own pre-sale evaluation’ service through Appointedd.”

“With market disruptors such as Purplebricks, we need to be aware of the needs of our current audience.”

New opportunities

When I ask if Michael has noticed a difference after two months of using Appointedd, the answer is conclusive: “Absolutely. We’ve had a number of people use it; it’s looking like a useful addition. It frees up staff, but it does more than that: we’ve seen an increase in the number of evaluations we’re going to. It’s just the ease.”

Getting online has proven a valuable asset for the firm, that actively brings in new clients: “Some of the online disruptors – the new business models and hybrid models – there’s obviously something good in what they’re offering. They’re slick in certain regards. So we have this scenario: someone alights on your website and likes what they see but they need to phone someone in the morning to book their pre-sale evaluation. Then, as they’re surfing that night, they land on another site where they can book in pre-sale evaluations there and then. In that situation the chances are they might never phone you at all. So that’s the advantage of online booking from Appointedd: getting evaluation opportunities that we would otherwise not get.”

“Any time of the day, rather than having to call the office and wait for a phone call back – you know that ‘telephone tag’ thing that you so often have with people during their busy working day – people are able to go online and book their appointment. And it’s been well received. Quite a number have booked that way and I’m happy with how it’s going.”

“That’s the advantage of online booking from Appointedd: getting evaluation opportunities that we would otherwise not get.”

Team shot-1.jpgOpen all hours

The beauty of online booking is that it’s open 24/7, and coming into work to find a full diary has become “the norm” for Michael’s team. “They’re happy to come in and find their diary full up. When you thought you were in for a quiet day and then you come in and find your day full, it’s all a bit of a boost. That is what we see; people normally book between 9 and midnight, when we’re long gone from the office.”

Convenience… and comfort

I also ask what his clients have had to say about Appointedd: “Just that they’ve found it easy. One lady said that she’d been looking on the website, and she used the instant evaluation tool that we have. Then she got an automatic email offering her a tailored evaluation of her home, and she thought ‘Yeah, why not’; she clicked on the button to book, and it was all done. She did all that sitting up in bed in her PJs.”

Thank you to Michael Maloco for this interview. You can find out more about Maloco & Associates and the services they offer on their website, and also find them on Facebook.

 

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Aquarius is Scotland’s only homeworker call centre, with their operators working from their own homes, answering calls for more than 300 clients. Roddy Forfar, Managing Director of Aquarius, took the time to talk to me about what makes the business unique, and why they chose to partner up with Appointedd.

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Rev up your business with Appointedd and FreeAgent

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Set in an Edinburgh old town street like a bright blue gem of a business, Escape Spa offers beauty and relaxation treatments from manicures to Swedish massages. They also happen to be wonderful Appointedd customers: I set off on an uncharacteristically humid June afternoon to pay them a visit and chat about how the business uses Appointedd. (more…)

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