Clara Expert Review, Pricing, Alternatives - 2022
Unlike other virtual assistants, Clara neither requires an installation of an application nor requires you to repeatedly talk to it. You simply CC it on your mails and Clara takes care of all your scheduling woes.
- No software installation. Clara is completely cloud-based and lives inside your email. This makes it very quick to set up and easy to use.
- No new user interface to familiarize yourself with. Implementing Clara is as good as bringing a new person on your team who only interacts with you over email.
- Cuts down on back-and-forth emails. Clara removes you from the process of scheduling meetings and saves you time and mental energy caused by distraction.
- Limited features. Clara is great if you have straightforward scheduling needs. If you need advanced features like payment integration, meeting polls, routing forms etc., you’re better off using other scheduling tools.
- Clara's philosophy to never ask for more access than necessary can become a hindrance at times. For example, if you need to make last-minute changes, you will not be able to directly edit your meeting invites via Clara. You’ll have to use your calendar to make such changes.
- Although they’re constantly building new integrations and you could reach them out with a suggestion, at present Clara integrates with a very limited amount of third-party applications.
Clara is an AI-driven virtual assistant that schedules your meetings. The way it works is that when you initiate a conversation with someone for setting up a meeting, you CC Clara on the email. Clara would then eliminate you from the process of setting up a meeting and converse only with your recipient, saving you all the time and cognitive load that back-and-forth emails come with.
In case your recipient forgets to reply, Clara automatically sends them follow-ups. Although it’s driven by artificial intelligence, Clara interacts with everyone in a language that seems natural. It’s like having a personal assistant who lives in your email. Dillon Carter, an entrepreneur who uses Clara with Greenhouse says, “Most “AI-driven" tools that have recently come out feel too gimmicky or 70% of the way to the ideal outcome. Clara feels 100% of the way there. It consistently works and yields results.” You could even make Clara match your brand by changing its name to whatever matches with your company’s brand identity. After a meeting, Clara also automatically sends an email to the interviewers and candidates to get feedback and help everyone improve future interviews.
As much as it sounds enticing to steer clear of back-and-forth emails, be aware that sometimes you can be taken aback by unprecedented calls appearing on your calendar. You also probably won’t save enormous amounts of time by using Clara but even the little time you save in a day gets compounded. Clara’s real value lies in saving you from an ever-present distraction and cognitive load, much like a personal assistant would.
Compared to other vendors, Clara is on the pricier side, even if you go with their cheapest plan. Unless you deal with a high volume of emails for scheduling meetings or are considering hiring an assistant for booking meetings, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to use Clara when you have free alternatives at your disposal.
Clara serves both individuals and companies. Some of the top companies that use Clara are Pinterest, Mattermark, Experiment, InVision, Noom, Plaid, Rubrik, Whirlpool.
- Founded in 2014
- Backed 24/7 by experienced Executive Assistants
- 14-day free trial
- Customer base of 1000+
- Automated scheduling: All you have to do is CC Clara on your meeting emails and Clara would coordinate with your recipient on your behalf.
- Prompt response: The minute you send an email with Clara in CC, it would promptly send a mail to your recipient with scheduling options at the ready. It usually responds within a few minutes, with the median response time under 30 minutes.
- Natural language: Although Clara is driven by AI, it has a team of experienced Executive Assistants double-checking every mail that Clara drafts and categorizing conversations to teach Clara about etiquette and the nuance of conversation. In short, you can rest assured that Clara would not have a problem deciphering your messages and arranging meetings.
- Time zone detection: If Clara detects that the meeting guest is in a different time zone than you, it automatically shows them meeting times in their time zone, thereby saving everyone from confusion and needless time conversion. You must however know that there are only specific instances in which Clara can detect time zones. It can’t detect time zones simply on the basis of an email domain name or phone numbers.
- Automatic follow-ups: Whether it’s to remind your attendees about the upcoming meeting or for scheduling a meeting, Clara would automatically send your recipient follow-ups. In order to improve the overall experience of the meeting, Clara also sends a feedback email to both the interviewer and the interviewee after the meeting is over.
Clara integrates with a bunch of tools that are used for video conferencing, applicant tracking, and for setting up coding interviews. These include Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Office, Greenhouse, Lever, HackerRank, and CoderPad.
Clara has four pricing plans:
- Clara Essential: This plan costs $99 per user per month. It is hosted on Clara’s domain (@claralabs.com) and you get a branded email signature.
- Clara Professional: This plan costs $199 per user per month. It is hosted on your own domain (firstname.lastname@example.org) and you get a non-branded email signature.
- Clara Executive: This plan costs $99 per user per month. It is hosted on your domain(email@example.com), you get to name your Clara, and the option to customize Clara’s email signature.
- Clara for Teams: This is a customized plan for teams that require high-volume scheduling or have a growing business. You can contact sales to get custom pricing.
Apart from the broad differences mentioned above, there are more features available in the more expensive plans. Clara also offers a 20% discount on all pricing plans for NGOs. You can avail this by emailing them about your NGO.
The implementation process for Clara is very easy. It’s cloud-based, which means you don’t have to install a new app. All you have to do is sign up with your email address and start your 14-day free trial. Once Clara has access to your email account, you can set which calendars Clara should use to inform your free/busy time.
After setting up your initial preferences in your dashboard, you can update your preferences for different types of meetings by simply emailing Clara about it. For example, you could write “No coffee meetings after 2 pm” to Clara and it would implement that change across your calendar.
Clara has a support page with detailed articles and how-to guides to help customers configure the product by themselves. Do note that most of the how-to guides are not accompanied by screenshots or video walkthroughs. You can also reach out to their support team via email.
You can also book an optimization call with them, which is run by their team of specialists to help you make the most out of Clara.
Clara or Clara Labs was founded by best friends Maran Nelson and Michael Akilian, both of whom grew up with entrepreneurial parents. Maran mentioned how during their teenage years, she and Michael “were already pitching crappy startup ideas to Michael’s dad, who usually told us that reality did not work the way that we thought it did.”
The idea of Clara came to light when Maran had to deal with a high volume of emails while trying to sell a product for her previous startup. Upon reflection, she found out she could’ve done better had she properly managed calendar invitations, follow-ups, and time-zone conversion.
Clara was built with the vision that there is a humongous amount of value in being able to save somebody hours a week by doing tedious work for them and making them a better relationship manager. After five years of its conception, Clara was acquired by TopFunnel in 2019. However, it still goes by Clara and works in the same way it was intended to.