The Client Portal that comes with OfficeTools is built to to handle online scheduling and maximize your client services. Learn more from this Free Training webinar.

 

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All right welcome everyone. Free training Friday. We are going to be talking about online scheduling using the client portal today. So we're going to go over some of the ways where you can interact with your client without actually having to interact with them. So, that's always a plus.

Obviously this is a little bit of a dangerous tool because you are putting it in your client's hands to get on there and schedule their appointments. and not take advantage of that feature. But it's the way the industry is headed. It's how other industries are performing their scheduling. So we want to make sure that you are aware of the options that you have available to you, utilizing that client portal.

There's not very many points that we're going to be talking about today. It's just going to be going through the process from start to finish, on how scheduling using that client portal is going to work. So, I don't really have much of a slideshow for us today, so we're actually just going to jump right in.

So, the first piece, which is actually some of the portal side setup, if you guys aren't familiar. So, what we're going to do right now, is we're actually going to log in to the client portal. If you guys aren't sure where this should be accessed from, it's going to be officetoolsportal.com. Just make sure that you guys have that on hand.

So, I'm going to log in to our client portal here, as a staff member. So, if you guys aren't familiar, this is what your actual portal website looks like. There's some customization and things like that that you guys can perform. But this isn't really what today's session is about. So, what we're going to be focusing on at this point, is actually some of the options that have to do directly with scheduling.

So, if we hover over office tools here at the top, we're going to drop down to this option that says, "settings." Okay, so this should be your name here, when you guys are logged in as yourselves. So we're going to drop down to settings. And we're going to go over here to the option that says "Notifications."

One major part about this, that you guys want to make sure that you guys have on here, and this is not necessarily directly related to the actual scheduling part. But you want to make sure you have your templates turned on. Make sure that you've gone through and set up your staff for your new file uploads. Just some quick tips on that.

But what we're actually going to be doing over here, is we're going to be jumping to the customize option here. This is the major piece that you have to make sure you do. So, under customize, you want to make sure that your schedule tab option is turned on. If this is not turned on, then your clients won't be able to even see the tab where they go to schedule appointments. So you have to make sure that the schedule tab option is turned on. That's step number one.

The other options that you see here right beneath the schedule tab have to do with the duration, and the interval. And I get a lot of questions about that, because it isn't immediately apparent to a lot of people as to what the difference between those are. So, we're going to talk about that a little bit here. The schedule duration, that's going to be the length of the appointment that your clients are able to schedule. When your clients schedule an appointment, they do not get to choose an ending time, only the beginning time. And then this duration kicks in. So if they choose 9:00, the end time would be 9:45, and that would be grayed out for your client. They will not be able to change that. So this controls the length of appointment that your clients can schedule. So you want to make sure that you go ahead and put in the appropriate number here.

If you click on edit, you'll notice that it's just a field where you key in the duration, and it's going to be in minutes, so keep that in mind. Don't put one here, thinking it means one hour. Because then it'll only be a one minute appointment.

Now, the difference between the duration and the interval, is your schedule interval has to do with the way your calendar is actually broken out. So, some people prefer that the schedule is broken into one hour chunks, verses 30 minute chunks, verses 15 minute chunks. And that's going to be what you're choosing here, how you want your client to be able to see your schedule broken out while they're on the actual portal website. So if you're looking for hour chunks, then make sure that's at 60 minutes. If you want something a little bit more broken down, so they can choose a 9:15 appointment, then make sure you have 15 minute increments. So just like the schedule duration here, if you click edit, you'll notice if you drop this down you have basically 15 minute, 30 minute, and 60 minute increments to choose from.

Now, this does not affect you, or your calendar inside of office tools. This is only the calendar that your client will see when they log in on the portal. And, your calendar inside of office tools will remain exactly the same. Obviously, this is where you would go to turn on or off all the rest of the settings for your portal, including changing your color scheme, adding a logo, that type of thing. But again, that's not really what this session is about. So if you have questions on that, just let us know. We can walk you through those pieces.

Now, although it doesn't directly have to do with scheduling online, we want to tie it in. So there is also the ability for you to control what your client does when they check in, and this is something that we want to tie in to this process. Because, while your client should be scheduling appointments with you online, they also are going to be coming in to the office after they have scheduled that appointment, and checking in, hopefully, for that appointment. So, the check-in options that you have here also tie in to this process. When your client checks in for their appointment ... again, this is whether they've scheduled online or whether you've just put it on your calendar when they come in to check in, they get to go through three different tabs. They go through a contact tab, they go through an address tab, and they go through another tab. And you can kind of see where that information breaks down here. You control what's on each of those tabs by marking it visible and required.

So, in this section here, you can also put a little note that makes sure to draw their attention to something specific. So when they go through, let's just say you're linked up to your tax software, you can make sure to put in here, please put full names. Don't include nicknames. That way, it flows right through, into your tax software if something changes or updates. So these are just little notes that apply. When they actually go through those tabs, they can see those little notes there, that you've put in there.

So again, I understand that it's not directly associated with scheduling online, but it is going to be an imperative part to the scheduling process, is coming through the check-in options as well. So you can mark certain fields visible, and required. If they're marked as required, information will have to be input into those fields in order to work.

And that's going to be what you guys need to do to start this process off. You're going to want to go ahead and head to officetoolsportal.com, login as yourself, and go ahead and set up those options. Make sure that the scheduling piece is ready to go.

The next part of these setup process is actually going to happen inside of OfficeTools, directly. For the next piece, what we want to do ... I'm going to go ahead and log out here. We're going to head to the OfficeTools program. And there is a little bit of set up that needs to be done inside of here. The major thing, is under the schedule, if you guys are appropriately set up on the portal, which, if you aren't or you see some of these buttons grayed out, you'll need to go back to a different webinar and view the setting up of the portal itself. Or let us know at the training team, and we'll be happy to help you get that squared away. But under the schedule tab, you'll notice there's a portal button. And that portal button is going to allow you to actually manage your availability. Because we don't want your clients to just have a free for all at your calendar. We want you to be able to control the days and the times that your clients can actually schedule appointments.

So, under manage availability, you'll notice, this is the screen that pops up. And, although not directly apparent, you do have to make sure that you have the appropriate number of staff members selected, up here in the upper left hand corner. So, in this case we're going to be kind of focusing on this staff member called John Jacobsen. And the idea here, is that it's going to display to you what the portal availability for that staff member is current.

So, if you come in here for the first time, you're going to be utilizing the option that says "Create availability." And this is going to be where you set up kind of, what you want your clients to be able to see, and the times that you want them to be able to schedule appointments inside. So, you'll notice right here that you have a 8:00 to 12:00, and a 1:00 to 5:00pm availability slot that's been created. So your clients can schedule appointments anywhere within this block.

So, to create that availability, you're just going to hit this button that says, "Create availability." Now, this is going to be when you put in your start time, and your end time. So if you wanted to set up availability from 8:00 to 10:00, and then 11:00 to 12:00, whatever you guys are looking to schedule, however you want to break your calendar down to allow your clients to schedule appointments for, you want to go ahead and do that.

Now, as you can see over here, there's two examples. There's one from 8:00 to 12:00, and one from 1:00 to 5:00. You do have to build those separately. So you would build the 8:00 to 12:00 first, then go back to create availability, and create the 1:00 to 5:00 block second. You can't do that all in one shot. If you're just creating a block from 8:00 to 5:00, and that's all you want, then you can go ahead and do that in one time. But if you want to create a break for a lunch break, or if you have meetings on Wednesdays or something like that, something that interrupts your availability, then you have to create those blocks separately.

This is going to be kind of how it looks. So if we want to go ahead and put in an 8:00am slot here, to a 12:00pm slot, we can see that that sets a duration of four hours. On the right here, we're going to start it, and when it's going to end. So, if I go down here, and let's just say I choose the second of April, and I say, ends on the 30th of April. So you set your start time, you set your end time. Or you could just set it to run consistently and constantly, and not set an actual end date. And that's just by choosing never. That means it's just going to create into the ends of time.

But, we're going to set an end date here for April 30th. So we have it starting on the 2nd, ending on the 30th. We have a 8:00 to 12:00 slot. Next, is how you want that to reoccur. Because you can do this on a daily basis, you can do this on a weekly basis, monthly, annual, whatever you guys are looking for. But, you have to be very careful. A lot of people think daily, that way they can actually get Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. But daily will actually be all days. It's a daily availability. So most of the time you're going to be sticking with weekly. And when you choose weekly, you will choose Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, if you're looking for that availability every weekday. Right, if you're looking for a specific availability on weekdays, with maybe some availability on a Saturday, during tax season, you can set all of those different items by building an availability for each set. But you have to contain it to that set. So, if you are available during 8:00 to 12:00 on only Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, then you got to make sure that you choose those days.

So, in this example, we're going to just stick with Monday through Friday. We got 8:00 to 12:00, starting on the 2nd, ending on the 30th. And then we just go ahead and click okay. And when we do that, if we drop to April down here on the left, we can see that we have 8:00 to 12:00, every week, all the way up until April 30th. So, that's the option that we have there. And that's going to be how it sets that availability.

So now, if we wanted to build out the availability from 1:00 to 5:00, we can go ahead and create availability again. We're going to go ahead and set this to 1:00, we'll do 5:00 here in the end option. We're going to choose start, as of 2nd. Same thing. End on the 30th. We got Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday selected just like that. And we click okay. And it builds out that second option like that. Now, if you wanted to adjust a specific day, or you wanted to create breaks for a specific reason, you can always do that. This is just setting the basic availability.

Now, each staff member that's going to be allowed to have their calendar on the portal will need to set up their availability separate. If no availability is set, then they will not show up on the portal for your clients to schedule appointments for. So until you have availability set up for that staff member, they will not be accessible by your clients on the portal. So you got to make sure anybody that needs to have appointments on the portal, is set up with an availability.

Last piece of this as far as set up within OfficeTools, is going to be just touching on your email templates. So if you guys go under set up, and then under my company information and settings, access email templates here, there is some that tie directly in with this specific functionality. So we want to make sure that you guys are aware of these. There's a lot of different portal options inside of here. And obviously, we're going to be focusing our efforts on these ones right here, where it says portal appointment canceled, confirmed, created, and updated. These portal options right here, are going to be what goes out as you interact with that online scheduling.

So, most of the time here, appointment confirmed, this is going to be letting your client know that you've confirmed their appointment. As we're going to see in a few minutes here, part of the process when your client schedules online, it's not technically letting them know that they have an appointment with you. It's actually letting them know that they've requested an appointment with you. So there is a part that lies with you guys on confirming that appointment. And this email will be allowed to be sent to them, letting your client know that you've actually accepted that appointment. So you want to make sure that this verbiage and this wording includes anything that you want them to be aware of, anything by default that you want them to bring in for their appointment. All that kind of stuff should be in here.

Now, you do only get one template. You can't have one for individuals, one for businesses. But it does open when you're using outlook. It does open in Outlook, it will open in any email provider that you have set as your default. And you do have the availability to change it at that point. So you do only have one template here. So make it kind of generic. But make it specific enough to where it's going to be helpful for you when you send it out. And do that for your appointment confirmed, do that for your appointment created, so on and so forth down the line here.

Now, we're going to go ahead and jump into actually how your client's going to schedule an appointment so you guys can see this process. Basically, I'm going to log in right now as a client. And we're going to show you what your client's going to see when they log in. So your client logs in to the client portal. Here's our test subject right here. You notice that when they log in, there's a schedule tab right here. That's going to load up the schedule and the availability that we set in office tools. And they can choose the staff member up here at the top. Now, John is the only person that we've set availability for, so he's the only person that we're able to choose at this point.

Then, over here on the actual schedule, it's going to show the available time slots. Now, if I schedule an appointment in office tools, it'll adjust my availability. If another client schedules an appointment online, and I accept it, it will adjust my availability. So the availability that your client sees on this portal will be the available appointments. Not just what you've set as your availability. We're not going to allow any sort of double booking. So it's important to note that.

So if I go ahead inside of here, and I click on the plus sign, you'll notice that we have a request appointment option. It puts a contact name, even if it's a drop down. Can't really choose anybody else. It has a date, because that's the date we clicked into there. A start time, and then you'll notice that that end time is grayed out. Since we have a 45 minute duration, it's defaulting to that, and we don't have the capability as a client, to change that. Then I can put in a little subject in here. Let's just say I want to say tax appointment. And then send request.

So as far as your client is concerned, that's as simple as it is. It's going to let them know, thank you for submitting that request. Please await confirmation via email. And it kind of sits there, and they can see their appointment.

Now if we jump back to OfficeTools, and we're going to go to the right day over here, and we're going to go to John Jacobsen. Here's that appointment. So, it immediately transfers back in to the OfficeTools program. And you'll notice that it has a little question mark here. So it's letting you know that this appointment is a request. It has not been confirmed by your office yet. To confirm it, you just right click on it, and say confirm appointment. And when you do that, it will tell you that you have portal emails to send. Because you have to let your client know that it's been confirmed, its a real appointment. And that's going to pull from your template. So we're not actually going to pull that up. Because that looks probably needs to be configured on this test machine. But that's going to be the process. It goes through, grabs that template that we showed you earlier, shoots that to the client. And that's going to be how your client schedules actual appointments on their portal without having to call in and bug your admins staff, or even you guys. Whoever's listening, leave you guys alone, right, let you guys do work. And that's kind of the process that you guys go through.

So as far as scheduling online, some of the set up might be tricky, but as far as process goes, especially when it comes to your clients, made it very simple, very straightforward. The appointments pop up on your calendar, you confirm them, send out an email, and you guys can work from there.

Q&A

So what we're going to do at this point, because I think we have what, about 10 minutes left, we're going to take a look at the questions that we have from you guys right now and we can kind of get through these.

So we have one question that says, "If I understand correctly, if we want appointments on the hour, we would need to set these for 9:00, 10:00, and 11:00."

If you want appointments on the hour, what you need to do, is set your interval to an hour. That way, your client doesn't have access to a 9:30 appointment, or a 10:30 appointment. Because your calendar doesn't show that. So if you want a 9:00, a 10:00, an 11:00, you'll set your duration for however long you want that appointment for. So, if you want to give yourself a 15 minute buffer, set it for a 45 minute duration. But on your interval, you're going to set it as an hour. That way, they can't get in to the actual hour, like a 9:15 or a 10:15 or anything like that.

Next question that we have here says, "If we have a client that will need a longer appointment time, can we adjust that after the appointment has been requested?

Absolutely. Once the appointment gets to OfficeTools, you can do exactly what you've always done. This isn't any sort of different type of appointment that exists here. So if you need this to be an hour and a half, you can just take this down or whatever timeframe you want. And now it's blocked off. That will update your availability in the portal. That way, a client coming back through can't adjust it. If someone happened to schedule an appointment between the time you needed to change the length and the time where you're actually doing it, you'll see that appointment on your calendar already, and you'll be able to either say, well we can't move it. Maybe we need to move it up instead. Or you can deny the request for the other client, and then increase the duration of that appointment.

So while we wait for any additional questions, I do want you guys to see a little bit of the check in feature, just so you guys can see how it all ties all the way through. Just a quick little snapshot on this. If we go to the portal website here, we're going to log out as this client. We're going to log back in as a staff member. So if you guys don't know, to get to the check-in feature, you guys need to be logged in as a staff member. To get to the check-in option, we're going to hover over our name here at the top. We're going to go down to check-in form. So again, you have to be logged in as a staff here. So it's kind of tricky. Log in as you, go to check-in form. Then this is going to pull up in this little guy here. And your passphrase is either going to be the email, social security number, or FEIN of the client that is checking in. And it's going to be that, those pieces of information as they are inside of OfficeTools. And that's the key. If they have a social security number, but it's not in OfficeTools, then that's not going to work to check in.

So the information that they used to check in will be the information that exists inside of OfficeTools. So if we go ahead and do this, we'll say OfficeTools portal test. In the email address, and click okay. You'll notice that it pops up. So it recognizes that that email address, that contact with that email address, has an appointment coming up. So I have the capability at this point, of filling out my name, and home phone numbers, all that kind of stuff that I have, email addresses. Anything that I've allowed them to see here, I have the capability at this point that I'm checking in, to make sure that it's all updated and correct.

Here's that note, if you guys remember from the beginning. Please put those full names, don't include any nicknames. That's where they all flow through. Address goes through, anything starred is something they have to fill out. Make sure it's all filled out. Others, any other type of fields that you've allowed them to have access to, like their email address, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. Custom tools that you might've built within OfficeTools, all that kind of stuff. And then we go ahead and just click on finish here. And it says ready to check in, we click check in. And it says, "Successful. Your appointment time is at 11:00." And if we come back in to OfficeTools, we can see now that it’s been checked off, and it says that they've arrived. So inside of OfficeTools, the staff member is alerted to that fact, because it says arrived there, on their schedule.

All right, so we have a question here that says, "Can we change your add more fields, such as the social security number, or date of birth, to the check-in page?"

So, the check-in option has ... or the check-in process does have options that you can have. They just limit it, so if it's not in the actual checkbox options here, then you can't add ones that don't already exist. But if you go under your settings, so again, we're logged in to the portal right now as a staff member. If you go in to your settings here, and you go to check-in, all of these right here are the fields that you have the capability of showing when they're checking in. So, social security number, no. It doesn't look like date of birth is available either. But, those types of things can be set as custom if that's something you really need when they check in. And part of this process, which we can't get in to today, is actual questionnaires. And that is typically where a lot of that information goes. You can build custom questionnaires, that ask for social security number, ask for date of birth, ask for that type of pieces of information, that come attached to that appointment when they check in. So if it's not here, you do have other options. You can utilize your custom fields down here at the bottom. Or, build one of those custom questionnaires that go along with these appointments.

So make sure that you utilize those appropriately. We don't have enough time to go through them all the way through, but if you do want to know about questionnaires, you can access them under your global options, if you guys go to your integrations here. Under the portal, here's where you add, edit, and also link up your questionnaires. So if you want to kind of dive in to that on your own a little bit, take a look and see what it's all about, go ahead and take a look there under your global options. And then under integrations, under portal. That should be where you guys can see those questionnaires.

If you guys need any help or have questions on that, or want to know more about check in, want to know more about questionnaires, want to know more about that online scheduling, let us know here. Our email address that you can reach us at, for the training team and office tools, is going to be Training@OfficeTools.com. You can also email me directly any questions that you have. My email address is BrandonBonner@OfficeTools.com. Tune in next week, take a look at the topic. Join us if you guys have more questions. We'll be more than happy to help you out.

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