Whether you’re scheduling client bookings for a salon or scheduling a meeting with a colleague in a different time zone, manual appointment scheduling is time-consuming. It’s also a process that’s prone to human error. Double-bookings can be common, which can lead to a negative online review and impact search engine optimization (SEO) performance.
In this guide, we explore five reasons to use an automated booking software, allowing you to reduce the risk of scheduling errors while improving customer experience, employee productivity, and cash flow.
1. Generate bookings and leads 24/7
Did you know 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday is the most popular time to book an appointment?With most staff typically working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., responding to a backlog of appointment requests submitted over the weekend can take time and frustrate customers.
A survey by GetApp found 94 percent of customers are more likely to choose a new service provider if that provider offered an online booking option.
Automated scheduling software provides the benefit of allowing customers to:
- Book at a time convenient for them
- Select a particular person they want to receive the service from, and view their real-time availability
- Reschedule without needing to call
These features can help prevent you from being bombarded with back and forth messages or phone calls about booking an appointment. Plus, it can help prevent the loss of prospects who were keen to book outside work hours but lost interest because that business didn’t have online scheduling functionality.
This is supported by research from salon software as a service company Phorest, which shows nearly 50 percent of all bookings in the spa and beauty salon industry happen online when businesses are closed.
2. Impress new clients
Informing new clients and prospects about what to expect ahead of their first appointment can create a good impression and help boost productivity.
You may send the standard “thank you for booking” confirmation email, but when additional information about a customer is required, smart scheduling software allows you to:
- Add questions to meeting requests
- Collect key attendee details
- Process payments
This can help save you the headache and staffing time required for menial tasks like confirmation calls and chasing up invoices.
3. Deal with fewer phone calls
Given the popularity of platforms like Airbnb, Uber, and OpenTable, customers are increasingly expecting frictionless and digitized booking experiences for services they wish to access.
Consider the following data points from various surveys:
- 59 percent of the general population are frustrated with waiting times and the inconvenient office hours related to scheduling appointments by phone (GetApp, 2021)
- 75 percent of Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) avoid phone calls because they are “too time-consuming” (BankMyCell, 2020)
- 81 percent of Millennials feel anxious before making a call (BankMyCell, 2020)
These statistics are a clear indication that local businesses should be evolving their tech stack and aligning their customer journey to evolving preferences. Even better, less time spent on the phone dealing with appointment queries is better for businesses as owners and employees can spend time undertaking more valuable tasks.
4. Save costs and reduce “no-show” risk
Software consulting giant Accenture’s research found that the United States healthcare system would have saved $3.2 billion in 2019 alone if more people booked appointments online.
It takes under a minute to schedule medical appointments online, compared to 8.1 minutes on the phone, with staff transferring calls 63 percent of the time, resulting in more booking-related paperwork and less time on patient care.
“Just as consumers use online tools to book restaurant reservations or request a cab, patients want the same experience in self-booking a doctor’s appointment,” Accenture’s report noted.
Furthermore, appointment reminder functionality typically built into scheduling software more than halves the risk of a no-show, according to a separate analysis of customer behavior by 10to8.com.
5. Increased employee productivity
In a Udemy 2018 report, 60 percent of employees said that poorly scheduled and unorganized meetings distract them from working efficiently and productively.
That’s why meetings and how they are scheduled should not be taken for granted, especially for rapidly-growing SMBs with hybrid work environments and employees who reside across different states and countries.
Automated meeting scheduling can eliminate behaviours such as:
- Employees asking each other “when are you free?” to initiate a meeting
- The need to check calendars throughout the day
- Attaching video conferencing links to meeting events manually
- Manually working out time zone differences to hold meetings with colleagues across different jurisdictions
A suitable scheduling tool should handle most meeting-related logistics, including adding video conferencing links, finding a time to meet, and meeting preparation tasks.