If you are a service-based business that relies on client appointments: beauty salon, spa, massage clinic, dentist, and even law office, among others, having a streamlined and reliable online appointment function can significantly help in growing your booking rate.
Today’s consumers in this digital post-COVID world simply expect the convenience of easy-to-use online booking on your website or right on your business’s Google Maps listing. It’s also worth noting that today, more than 40% of online bookings happen outside business hours.
Meaning, if you are not offering 24/7 online booking for your service business, technically you don’t exist for your clients and customers.
Fortunately, nowadays having a reliable 24/7 online appointment function is just a matter of choosing the right appointment scheduling software solution and integrating it with your website.
Yet, it’s still crucial to choose the right solution based on your needs and budget, and below we’ll share some actionable tips you can use in choosing the most ideal appointment scheduling software.
Let us begin, however, by discussing some key benefits of integrating an online appointment solution.
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How Appointment Scheduling Software Can Help Your Business Grow
Having a functional online booking system can help your business provide a better overall customer experience by :
1. Offering 24/7 cost-effective online booking
Even without an appointment scheduling solution, it’s technically possible to offer a 24/7 booking, but it can be very expensive as you’ll need to hire multiple receptionists and customer service agents.
With the right appointment scheduling solution, you can effectively take bookings anytime with relatively more affordable investments.
2. A better booking experience for your staff and your clients
Before online booking, the client must first pick up the phone, call the business’s phone number, and inquire about the available time slots before they can finally book the service. On the other side of the call, the business must ask for the client’s information over the phone and manually jot down the information (which can be very error-prone).
With an appointment scheduling software solution in place, the whole process is much easier and more accurate. The client can access an online interactive calendar showing the available time slots, and they can simply book the preferred time slot with a few simple clicks (or taps on a mobile device). The client’s details will be automatically captured by the software solution, and the schedule/calendar will be updated automatically in real-time.
3. Reducing no-shows
No-shows can be a serious issue for any appointment-based business. When not managed properly, no-shows could translate into a significant loss of revenue.
A proper appointment scheduling solution can send automatic notifications and reminders via email and SMS, which have been proven to be effective in reducing these no-shows.
4. Reducing double bookings
Another common issue in service businesses, double bookings often happen in a manual reservation process when your staff accidentally booked two different clients at the same time slot, which can cause a lot of potential problems. With an appointment scheduling software solution, we can totally eliminate the risks of double bookings.
Choosing Your Perfect Appointment Scheduling Software: Key Considerations
Attracting clients is already very challenging with all the competition today, and you wouldn’t want to lose prospective clients just because the online booking function on your website is too difficult to use.
With that being said, here are some key considerations you should have when choosing between different appointment scheduling software solutions:
1. Define Your Needs and Budget
When choosing your appointment scheduling solution (and any technology solution at all), it’s crucial to choose these solutions based on your needs and not the other way around.
A common mistake performed by many businesses is to invest in a technology solution first and mould their workflows around it, but this approach is often ineffective.
Instead, first, identify your purpose and objective in adding an online booking function to your website and/or application: just to get more bookings? Streamline the scheduling process?
Once you’ve identified your purpose and objectives, identify the minimum requirements of your appointment scheduling software in achieving these objectives. You should create a checklist listing what features are must-haves, nice-to-haves, and not important ones. Here are some key features you should consider from an appointment scheduling solution:
- How easy it is to customize the interface, for example, to add your logo and branding elements.
- Integration with Reserve with Google so your clients can book your service directly from your business’s Google Maps listing. Bookeo appointment scheduling software offers easy integration with Reserve with Google.
- Interactive online calendar where clients can easily view available time slots and book their preferred slots easily.
- Automated SMS and email notifications/reminders
- Real-time calendar sync to ensure your schedule always stays up to date
- Secure online payment integration. The solution should support popular payment options (bank transfer, credit card, PayPal, Venmo, etc.)
- Reliable and qualified customer service, preferably 24/7 customer support
2. Assess Ease of Use
No matter how advanced the software solution is, it won’t be of too much value if it’s too complex and difficult to use. Here are some key considerations to have regarding ease of use:
- How easy is it to customize the interface and booking forms?
- How easy is it for your staff to review and perform a manual check on booked appointments?
- Whether the solution allows you to easily contact clients after their visit (ie. to offer a survey about their experiences)?
3. Prioritize Customer Experience Above All Else
Ensuring optimal customer experience during their booking process is key in ensuring success and growth, and here are some key considerations to have in this area:
- Whether the solution can update the customer-facing calendar in real-time so potential clients can stay up-to-date regarding availability
- How easy is it for clients to choose their chosen service and time slot?
- Can clients easily choose their service types and duration to book the appropriate time/length of visit?
- Whether the solution allows patients to quickly book without registering first (without logins/passwords) to streamline the process. This can help improve your booking rate.
- Can clients easily cancel and reschedule their appointment from the appointment confirmation email?
It’s crucial to choose the right appointment scheduling software solution based on your business’s needs and your target client’s preferences. By using the tips we’ve shared above, you’ll have a clearer idea of what types of features you should look for in your perfect appointment scheduling software.
Chris Mcdonald has been the lead news writer at complete connection. His passion for helping people in all aspects of online marketing flows through in the expert industry coverage he provides. Chris is also an author of tech blog Area19delegate. He likes spending his time with family, studying martial arts and plucking fat bass guitar strings.