With You provide free and confidential support with alcohol, drugs or mental health. As part of their service With You hold assessments to understand a client’s needs and how they can best support them. Due to COVID-19, this service currently can’t be delivered face-to-face. Therefore all appointments need to be scheduled remotely.
Although With You is working towards a complete appointment booking system, they are currently using Calendly to enable people to self refer into services by booking their first appointment through the website. Staff can also book appointments through the system on behalf of clients who phone up or access web chat, ensuring all first appointments are triaged through the same system.
Previously With You has used Calendly in their mental health services. It has been in use for over a year and they built on their learning from this experience to implement it into their other services. This is why they decided to trial Calendly in their Scottish services. They were able to get up and running live within two weeks. Currently, it’s also live in 5 English services: Wigan and Leigh, Liverpool, North Somerset, Kent Young People's Service and Lincoln.
Calendly helps you schedule meetings without the back-and-forth of emails. We are With You has been trialling the use of Calendly in their mental health services, Scottish substance services and five of their English services, for booking an assessment
They have three different price plans ranging from basic which is free, premium which is $8 per user per month and pro which is $12 per user per month.
The difference in accounts affects how many calendars you can connect and the type of events you can schedule. With You use the $8 version and plug in one calendar per service. They then allocate appointments out to workers from there.
One of the reasons We are With You used Calendly is because they already had information governance approval for it within their organisation.
It’s an off the shelf software that is ready to use, so you don’t need to worry about development costs. This allowed We are With You to test and learn quickly with clients.
It integrates easily with Google calendar.
It’s easy to use. We are With You staff were already familiar with the software so they knew what to expect, as well as knowing the software’s limitations.
There is limited customisation you can do from a User Interaction perspective.
The software has mandated fields when people book (e.g. You have to ask for an email address). We are With You found these fields impacted their clients experience as not every client they meet has or uses an email address.
The monthly cost can grow quickly if you have to add multiple calendars.
This software doesn’t integrate with most case management systems at the back-end. We are With You found this increased the amount of administrative time spent on each case.
1. Understanding the needs of your users
Before implementing any sort of booking system you should investigate and understand the needs of your users and if they need appointment booking. This can help prevent investing into a system your clients won’t use. We are With You was investigating which of their client groups would not only look to book an appointment but benefit from having the option. However, they quickly found an escalated need for it across their client groups due to COVID-19.
2. Deciding on a platform to use
Select a platform that suits your user and business needs. Think about how you will use it including which features you require and what calendars need to be plugged in.
3. Setting up calendars to use with Calendly
Set up google accounts for each calendar that needs to be plugged in. With You trialled both plugging in staff calendars and plugging in a general calendar that a member of staff could access to allocate appointments.
When WithYou first implemented Calendly they plugged in multiple calendars. This means the software can assign appointments to any blank space left in calendars. This was a big culture change for staff as they had to ensure time for breaks and gaps between appointments were blocked out.
When they began using Calendly in their Scottish services, they adapted their use of the software based on their learnings. They integrated one calendar into the software, which a member of staff could view and then allocate colleagues to each appointment. They also set the parameters around when the system will book appointments. You can either set it to read free space in calendars or set timed slots available for booking. You should also set the length of time for the appointment. With You set their system to mainly book 1 hour slots. However, each service is different in terms of how many appointments they offer a week. Consider how many appointments you want to offer when you’re setting up Calendly, to prevent overbooking.
With You are learning from the services currently piloting appointment booking, to look at how it could be successfully scaled across further service locations.
4. Sharing the system live and promoting it with users
Once you’ve set up Calendly you can share it live with both staff and clients to use. We are With You have made it so clients can book online via their website. A button appears on the service page of the service they want to visit, which links to the calendar for appointment booking. If clients don't want to use the internet they can also phone up and a staff member can book them in using the same system.
It’s not enough to share a new tool live and hope clients will find it. With You focused on helping clients understand it's a method of self referral through social media and refining the journey through the website.
When it comes to using new technology, an organisation can be resistant. It’s worth considering how you introduce a new platform or ways of working to encourage as many people to want to use it as possible.
Do it gradually with a few local services first. Bring them together to learn how it's going and build on it gradually.
Start small, maybe just offering a few appointments a week (although balance this with the fact this will provide limited availability for users).
Consider the work that you need to do around the cultural change and introducing new terminology. This is effectively a method of self referral but people didn't understand it as this at the start.
If you plug in one calendar for each member of staff make sure they take breaks throughout the day. If you plug in a general calendar consider how you assign appointments. With You have a member of staff who then assigns appointments out to staff based on their availability.
Consider the data you need to collect. With You concluded that some of the data Calendly collects might provide a barrier into their service as it requires an email address, which not all of their clients have. It also has restrictions for the type of information you can collect during the booking of an appointment. With You are continuing to look for a more complete solution as Calendly doesn’t meet all their needs. They want to collect more logistical data by building it into the booking system, which Calendly doesn’t accommodate.
Working with geographical boundaries can be tricky. With You are finding people are sometimes booking in with a service they are not eligible for because they live outside of that local authority boundary. This is something we are working on.
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