Some freelancers like to sit in their home offices or the local coffee shop and type away on the MacBooks all day without ever having to talk to a client. Days like that are essential for all business owners to crank through projects and get hyper-focused on results. Meeting with clients is also essential, however. And trying to find a time when you and your client are both available without sending ten emails back and forth is often difficult. Services like Tungle and TimeBridge have addressed this issue for a while by allowing you to establish blocks of time when other people can schedule an appointment with you.
Google released their Appointment Slots functionality back in June, but I just started seeing it show up in my Google Apps account yesterday when I switched to the week view. Who knows how long it’s been there, since I primarily use month view. When I clicked to add an event I saw the link within the popup window. As a long time Tungle user, I’d love to be able to take a third party app out of the picture and establish my client schedule directly in Google Calendar. Alas, it looks like I’ll be using Tungle for the foreseeable future.
Here’s my top 5 reasons why:
- Users need a Google Account – This requirement is so the appointment can be linked on both mine and my client’s calendars. I’m guessing the majority of my clients have a Google Account. But I don’t want to impose another requirement upon them. I’m already asking them to use a website for scheduling they may not be familiar with.
- Scheduling page is bland – On Tungle I can make the scheduling page an extension of my brand. I can also add additional contact information, links to my social profiles and the layout just looks cleaner.
- Variable time slots not allowed – Some of my clients might like to meet for an hour. Others for 15 minutes. If I setup a two hour block of time and allow it to be divided, each slot is the same duration. If each slot is 30 minutes and a client wants to meet for an hour, they can claim two slots without a problem. But it’s not as elegant as Tungle where a user can click a time on the calendar and drag to the desired length.
- All the slots have the same title – Not a deal-breaker, but if I don’t want each slot to have the same title, I have to establish different blocks of time with different titles. In Tungle the client can provide the meeting title or subject so with one look at my calendar I can see what we’re discussing without having to go into the details.
- Crazy URL – The URL Google creates to share with clients looks like this: https://www.google.com/calendar/selfsched?sstoken=UUNacUVqeHJJaWhffGRlZmF1bHR8MTNkN2QkdeTY1MDQ3MGEzNTE5NTk5MGNjNDFjMzk4ZjQ (not a valid link). I could create a shorter URL with a URL shortener like TinyURL, but being able to send a client a simple, branded URL like http://tungle.me/vekkin works better for me and is more memorable.
Tungle might be overkill for a lot of people looking to schedule identical slots of time for their clients or users. For something like a teacher’s office hours, Google’s Appointment Slots would be a good solution. As a free agent, however, I think we should give clients a little more flexibility, be able to brand our scheduling page and not require an account to schedule a meeting.
Is Tungle perfect? Not at all. We all have varying needs and any software that tries to meet them all is going to be bloated and confusing. Tungle does a great job of meeting my needs, however. Even though I still don’t get the name.
What do you use to schedule appointments with your clients? Tungle? Another service? Back and forth via email or phone? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, especially if you currently use Google Calendar’s Appointment Slots feature.