How university advisors resolved booking meetings “nightmare”
What could you do with an extra 5 hours a week? For every team member? Learn how Portland State University led with a student-first focus to save time, improve equity and live their values with a scheduling software for higher education.
6 min read
Portland State University's advising team uses the time they gain back from scheduling meetings online to deliver a consistently excellent student experience.
bookings per month
saved per week, per team member
of appointments made online
When we moved to YouCanBook.me, it was a breath of fresh air to be booking people within minutes.
How they use it:
Advising and Career Services Department creates equity for non-traditional students by enabling friction-free booking for busy people. They save 5 hours a week for every team member.
Integration with other systems
Customization of the booking form
Danny Ryel Executive Assistant at Portland State University
Portland State University is rightly proud of its history as an institution that caters to non-traditional students. About 40% of the student population is older, in full-time employment, or in a full-time career. 25% have children.
Just as with any business, the people who need to book a meeting with the university's Advising team have other things to do!
Danny Ryel works in PSU's Advising and Career Services Department. He says the team made a decision to lead with a student-first focus. Everything else flowed from there.
"The method before was people would call in, we would look over calendars and manually enter each event. The issue with that was it didn't give students a lot of agency to schedule in their own time. They had to schedule appointments during our business hours.
"We work with a huge non-traditional student population. These are people who are working full time, taking care of children, parents, or other family members. They can't just pop in, call, wait on hold and make an appointment over the phone.
"YouCanBook.me gave our students the agency to see our advisors' calendars. It's been a really useful equity tool."
But is it really freeing up an extra 5 hours per week, per team member? For Danny, that number boils down to 10 minutes saved per booking. YouCanBook.me delivers that - and a lot more!
"Having been one of the student employees who worked at the reception desk, took the phone call, tried to find a time that worked with the student, I know that it actually saves more than 10 minutes quite often."
"And that's just for each booking! On top of that, it also lets students reschedule within a timely manner, to cancel and let us know why they're canceling."
"And it updates everything immediately so our students are getting the continuous and correct information. They're getting a consistent response no matter what area of the division they're scheduling with. So really, I wonder if that 10 minutes isn't a bit small, just from my perspective."
Can an appointment scheduling software for education really deliver all that?
In this case study, you will learn:
How Portland State improved their student experienceandgained back time for Advisors.
The 5 features that PSU's Advising team can't live without.
Danny's top tips for getting the best out of YouCanBook.me.
"There are calendaring options that are already part of Student Information Systems but there are none that have the flexibility or customizability that YouCanBook.me has. We were able to integrate YouCanBook.me with our Student Information System and that was a huge factor in the decision to use it."
Danny Ryel Portland State University
The challenge: resolving a nightmare scheduling scenario
Danny was working in the department in 2015, finding times for students to meet their advisors. “My experience back then was it was all scheduled over the phone. First, I was digging around for the right calendar. Then I had to manually put all of their information in. Then I had to manually import that data into our student information system. It was a nightmare!”
On top of a potentially poor student experience, a time-consuming and inefficient process was hampering the work of the appointment scheduling staff.
The Advising department could see the difficulty with this kind of scheduling, but also that students were getting a different experience depending on their major.
“Prior to 2016, departments, majors, and colleges each controlled their own advising. Some majors had two or three advisors working with them and some majors had none.”
A complete overhaul of the department centralized all 55 members of the Advising team under one division to guarantee a consistent experience for all.
“YouCanBook.me really facilitated the equity for our students.”
“So we were already in a very transitional phase, looking for ways to improve the experience and to make a process that was equitable,“ says Danny. “When we pivoted to YouCanBook.me in 2016 it was a breath of fresh air to be booking people within minutes.”
Today, bookings come into the department in one of two ways. Every Advisor has an individual booking page. They use their YouCanBook.me booking link in their internal communications and as part of their email signature so students can book directly with them.
To accommodate those students who don’t have access to the website or would prefer to call, there are also team pages. These allow schedulers to easily access the whole team’s availability. “Our team pages are typically used for first available, and for our front desk reception to schedule with advisors,” says Danny. “Sometimes people don't realize that they need an appointment when they call. The team pages make it easy to make a booking really quickly.”
The Advising and Career Services Department sees more than 6,500 students every month and 99.98% of appointments are scheduled through YouCanBook.me. Danny estimates they save more than 1,100 hours per month with YouCanBook.me. Breaking that down, it means an extra 5 hours per week per team member.
And Danny notes that YouCanBook.me offers much more value for the advising team. For example, easy rescheduling and canceling for the students, confidence that their booking page availability is always up to date, and the ability to give every student a consistent, excellent experience.
“Between the webhooks, the reminder emails, and our ability to really craft the booking form questions . . . it was a sell.”
Flexibility & customization: features that make an impact
Each of the PSU teams has different needs, but the breadth of YouCanBook.me’s features gives Danny confidence it can meet everyone’s requirements. What are the features that make YouCanBook.me so valuable for this 55-strong team?
Advisors at Portland State work with a wide variety of students at different stages of their educational careers. They could be meeting with a first-year student about classes for their major, or with graduating students about future career plans. “Appointment types make a huge difference,” says Danny.
The team uses the Appointment Types feature to allow students to select the kind of appointment they’re looking for. It’s a bonus on all counts: the Advisor knows what kind of meeting it will be, the student has thought about what they need, and the correct amount of time is allocated for the meeting.
“No-shows dropped after integrating YouCanBook.me.”
Reminders and follow-up emails
Working with busy students, Portland State staff know things can fall through the cracks. By sending reminder emails, they’re able to prompt students about the appointment in plenty of time.
“And follow-up emails are one of the features that we’re really grateful for,” Danny says.
The teams send one follow-up email right after the appointment that asks for feedback. A second, which includes the Advisor’s link, go out 4-5 days later with information about how to get in touch in the future.
Booking form customization
With all the different types of appointments, it helps Advisors to have customized questions on the booking form of each booking page so team members can be fully prepared. “The types of questions you can ask and the ways that you can ask them - radio buttons or dropdowns or short-form answers, and having ones that are required. I really love the new feature where you can confirm the email addresses.“
Booking page customization
Danny can add Portland State branding to all the booking pages and email communications. “At the University, we’re required to have either our PSU logo or Portland State University spelled out on everything that is an external site. So just being able to easily upload that into everything is super, super useful.”
Danny uses webhooks to pass booking data from YouCanBook.me into the other systems the University uses so all the data is in one place. “If you can use webhooks, then it's a game-changer,” says Danny. “That was a big part of our decision to use YouCanBook.me.”
People are seeing how useful YouCanBook.me is, how they can integrate it, and they're jumping on."
Portland State University’s stated values include promoting access and equity, striving for innovation to solve problems, and treating everyone with integrity and respect. Using YouCanBook.me for their online scheduling aligns completely with those values and, with Danny’s help, the benefits are spreading throughout the university.
“Any time a person from another division wants to start using the paid version I help with the set-up. That's happened about three or four times this academic year already. People are seeing how useful YouCanBook.me is, how they can integrate it, and they're jumping on."
“First imagine the biggest possible win that you want. Outline the things you want to achieve and then have a conversation with someone from YouCanBook.me because you’ll find out that things are available that you might not have noticed. There are a number of ways to achieve different things and the YouCanBook.me Support team is amazing for that.”
“Front-load a lot of marketing to the people you want to make bookings with so they know it’s available and how to use it.”
“Finally, use YouCanBook.me to its full extent. If you’re relying on it fully, you’ll be able to see and demonstrate how successful it is. YCBM is a great platform, and we're really grateful for it.”
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Portland State University
Portland State University in Portland, Oregon on the US West Coast, has a reputation as one of America’s most innovative and diverse universities. It serves 26,000 students, and offers more than 200 degree programs.
Kate was an early YouCanBookMe employee and loved supporting our Customers for almost a decade. She's now focused on spreading the word about online scheduling, how to improve productivity, and the Oxford comma.
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