To Do Feature added

We have added a feature which we have been eager to add for a while- the to-do feature.

I think for any event-scheduling system, the ability to add a to do is essential. Sometimes we have a job we want to do for a client but we cannot schedule it. It becomes a to do. When we are able to schedule that to do, we want to be able to put it on our calendar. Then it becomes an appointment (in RS we simply call these events- more on why that is in another post).

For now we have a simple to do list, a way to add new to dos, and a way to convert a to do into a time-based event (an appointment).

Here’s how it works now.

1. When we log in to Real Scheduler, we are always directed to the calendar screen where we can review, edit and add our appointments for that week. We have added to the list of options on that screen, New to Do and Manage to Dos, to the right of Manage Events and Calendar links.

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 8.44.58 AM

2. To review the current To Dos, we click on the Manage To Dos link. This brings us to a screen very similar to the Manage Events screen, but with To Do rather than Event information listed.

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 8.45.48 AM

3. As expected, we can sort and filter this list as we can any other list in Real Scheduler. We also have the familiar Edit button next to each row.

4. When we click on the edit button we get a detailed view of this To Do. Like a simplified version of the Event Detail screen. Here we can edit it. We can also convert it to an event.

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 8.54.57 AM

5. Converting the To Do into an event is simple- we just click the “Convert to Event” button on the To Do detail screen. In this case we would get:

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 8.55.29 AM

Viola! We have added an event and can move on, right? Hold on. We have to make sure the date and time are what we want. A To Do that has been converted to an event defaults the data and time to today’s date and the next half hour. Usually we can to change this- unless we have just completed a To Do and we are using this as a way of marking that job done.

So we would normally change the date and time here just as we would any event, then save or go back to the calendar.

6. Creating a new To Do.

A new To Do is just as easy to create as a new event from the calendar page- just click the New To Do link and you are in the familiar-looking Quick event style pop up. Just enter the client (there does not have to be one, this can be a To Do without a client and be converted into an  Event without a client.

When you close that pop up the To Do it saved.

Our next improvement on this feature is to have a way- without annoying the user, to remind the user that they have some pending To Dos. This will have to mean we will add Due By fields to the To Dos, and perhaps have a message when the user logs in that they have upcoming or overdue To Dos.

 

 

 

Free Trial onboarding process completed

We have completed the customer sign up process for the free trial. I tried to keep the sign up process as simple as possible with just email, company name and password required. By clicking sign up the customer gets their own account for RealScheduler and limited time access to all the features. For now the free trial time period is yet to be determined but it will be at least 14 days.

Screen Shot 2015-12-25 at 10.52.41 AM

 

How to add an email template

One of the features offered by Real Scheduler is the ability to send reminder, follow up, and other emails to customers about upcoming or past appointments. These emails can be created using a template, and here I explain how to create an email template, and how to send emails using that template.

From any screen, click the Admin tab.

manageemail

Click on the Manage Email templates link (highlighted above).

You will then see all your email templates. By default, there are two basic email templates, Confirmation Email and Follow Up email.

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 8.18.04 PM

We will be editing the Confirmation email here. Click on the edit button next to Confirmation Email. You should see a screen like this:

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 8.22.04 PM

Here you can edit the way the email is formatted to your liking, inserting special fields like <first_name>, <last_name>, <date>, <client_name>, <time>, <technician_name>, <technician_email>, and <technician_phone>, where appropriate.

The default template includes some of these “merge” fields already, so you can leave them there, delete some, or add some, as needed. Remember always to leave the “<” and “>” intact, as without those the field will not be populated.

Whatever data is in the field referenced will be populated into the email that is sent. For example, the letter:

Hello <client_name>:

Thank you for making an appointment with us!

You are confirmed for <date> at <time>.

Regards

<technician_name>
<technician_phone>

Will translate to:

Hello Susan Smith:

Thank you for making an appointment with us!

You are confirmed for 12/2/2015 at 10:00 AM.

Regards

Phil Warton
(415) 555-5555

Note: <first_name> and<last_name> refer to the client’s primary contact first and last names. The <client_name> field refers to the company name.

So go ahead and edit the template as needed by changing any of the wording, removing and adding form fields, and then clicking “Update the letter template” at the bottom of the screen.

It is good practice to send a couple of test emails using the template you just created before using it “in the field”.

To send an email, we need to use an appointment (most emails are sent in relation to an appointment).

In the calendar view (http://yourcompanyname.realscheduler.com/index.php/events) click on the appointment or create a new one and click “Edit Details”.

event

 

Edit Details is highlighted here.

Then you will be in the event details screen.

In the Event Details screen, after Technician reminder and Customer reminder, you will see a drop down of the type of email to send, followed by an empty field in which you can type a number, followed by the type of time unit. In the following image I have set a reminder for the technician for 2 hours prior to the event and a reminder to the client for 24 hours prior to the event.

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 8.42.29 PM

Make sure for testing purposes that you have set the time increment appropriately so that you can see the emails are being sent on time. Once you have entered that information, click Update this Event. Note: if this is a test, do not use an actual event tied to one of your clients. It is best to set up a test client with an email address you can access to test.

Then look for the email reminder in the technician’s and the clients email.

You can add as many email templates as you need by going to Admin > Add Email Template.

 

New Filters in Company Grid and email feature for contacting old customers

We recently updated the existing list of filters for the company grid, to include filters for “last event”. This is particularly useful for looking up customers or clients who you have done service for in the past, but have not seen recently. Reconnecting with customers, even those without an immediate need for your services, is quite a valuable tool in generating more business.

There are two parts to the feature, and they work together. One is the filter itself, which lets you see a list of customers who you have not seen within a certain time frame, or have only last seen before a certain date. The other feature is a mail button that allows you to email each customer on the filtered list with an email indicating the last time you have seen them, and any other custom letter info you want to include.

The grid, showing the drop down of available filters:

event_dates

 

And the pre-populated email screen invoked by clicking the green mail icon:

email

 

In a later post I will explain the email template system in detail. This allows users to create their own custom email templates for various common emails like follow-up, introduction, service reminder, invoice reminder, etc.

 

Subtracting is Adding

As stated in an earlier post, we think subtracting rather than adding is preferable when it comes to user interface design. Today we added value by subtracting a feature. The feature was that the user had to click a check box next to the email reminders on the event detail screen in order to activate the reminders. Quite frankly I am not sure why we ever required this. It may have been as a precaution so that the user was not inadvertently spamming the customer, but that would only be the case if somehow hundreds of records were set with reminders.  In any case we are still testing this subtraction, and as long as the cron jobs function, it has been working. It should be released into the live version within a week.

reminder2                                                                             reminder1

 

Above is ye olde busy interface (a detail of the event screen, showing the reminders), and below that is the new, cleaner and less clicky version.

The email templates, which are created by the user, are accessible under the Admin tab. Using merge fields, a sample letter can be created. Once created, these email templates will show in the drop down selection next to each reminder, and different reminders can be selected depending on whether the email is going to the customer or the tech.

letter

 

Adding components

With Real Scheduler, there has always been the ability to add equipment, edit equipment or otherwise manage equipment at a client’s location. When a service job is entered, it can be associated with that equipment. Now we have added the ability to install, remove, edit and manage components installed on equipment. Examples of equipment might be PCs, engines, instruments and so on. Components installed might be RAM (on a PC), Supercharger (on an engine), Keyboard (on a piano); you get the picture. Just like equipment, component information is kept track of, including date installed, make, brand, capacity, condition, etc.

equipmentdetail

 

Here we have the equipment detail screen, with the event and components associated with the equipment in familiar grids.

When adding a component to equipment, a pop up opens, and allows the user to either add components that are already recorded, or to add a new component on the fly.

addcomponent

 

The drop down list that appears using auto-complete, shows only equipment that was marked for “use as component” when it was created. By default, components that are added on the fly using the Add Component pop up are marked as “use for component”.

Capture

 

A component can be added to a component which is installed on equipment. There is currently no limit to the number of layers of installations.