To create efficiency within our business, we have begun looking at our administrative tasks and deciding which ones can be automated using XPLAN. One of the first tasks we looked at, was sending reminders and confirmations to clients of their upcoming appointment, using the XPLAN Diary.
While it’s not an overly large job, it requires either a task be set, be included as part of a thread, set reminders for themselves through outlook or XPLAN or simply "remember” to do it.
To begin, we had to look at any issues that might arise from setting the process. Luckily for us, there was only one real issue, which was ensuring that our clients had an “SMS Email” set within XPLAN. We made this a key step to this process, by checking the contact info was entered correctly before creating the diary event. This was relatively easy for a new client because when you’re inputting the client’s mobile number, you have the option of setting the client’s preferred SMS mobile also (see below).
Once we had set this initial process, we engaged an "SMS gateway provider", to send our text messages to clients. When contacted our administrator to associate our preferred SMS gateway provider with the users in our group within SMS Email System Settings. This meant the mobile number provided in XPLAN under the SMS Email option, would simply append our gateway address on the end of the clients SMS Email. If we didn’t do this, we would be required to append our gateway address on each SMS email number within XPLAN (No thanks!!).
Our next step was to set up 3 new templates:
- Diary Template - "1st appointment" and;
- Two email templates:
- SMS - Confirmation
- SMS - Reminder
|Confirmation SMS||Confirming your appointment with <:=$recipient.client_adviser.first_name:> <:=$recipient.client_adviser.last_name:>, on <:=$event.schedule.start.format('%A'):> <:=$event.schedule.start.format('%d %b').lstrip('0'):> <:=$event.schedule.start.format('%I:%M').lstrip('0'):><:=$event.schedule.start.format('%p').lower:>. Regards, Generations Personal & Professional Advice.|
|Reminder SMS||Reminder: Appointment with <:=$recipient.client_adviser.first_name:> <:=$recipient.client_adviser.last_name:>, on <:=$event.schedule.start.format('%A'):> <:=$event.schedule.start.format('%d %b').lstrip('0'):> <:=$event.schedule.start.format('%I:%M').lstrip('0'):><:=$event.schedule.start.format('%p').lower:>. Regards Generations Personal & Professional Advice.|
We place the above into the heading of the template, rather than the body. This is because a file note is created when you send the SMS and without the syntax being in the body, the file note subject when shown in XPLAN will be blank.
When setting up the diary event template, we navigate to the Email/SMS reminders tab. There, we select our two SMS templates.
- We adjust the "time to send" (this allows us to control how far away from the appointment we wish to send the reminder/s) and;
- Check the boxes "send as SMS" & "SMS only".
Once this was all done, the business and client had two main benefits:
- The client would receive an SMS upon the diary event creation & 1-day prior to the appointment as a reminder and;
- There is no need for the Client Services Team to set tasks, threads or reminders for themselves to send these reminders to the client/s. Any person in the office could set the diary appointment, knowing that the client would receive the automated messages at the specified times.
As mentioned earlier, the task isn't a huge time saving but it helped us change the way in which we use XPLAN for other processes. We now look at a task or process before setting it up and deciding "What can XPLAN do to automate this?" and so far, its been fun! We now strive to use XPLAN to complete the more menial tasks and adding greater efficiency to the business as a whole.