Critical Features of Software for Scheduling Appointments in the Era of Remote Work

Critical Features of Software for Scheduling Appointments

If you don't have an assistant, you end up wasting time doing an assistant's chores. In the era of cloud technology, many repetitive tasks can be automated with affordable SaaS tools, like software for scheduling appointments, CRMs, and email marketing solutions.

This piece details how scheduling systems make time and money for their users by automating meeting-related tasks, adding to the image of a tech-savvy professional, and enabling the smooth scaling of the business meeting routine.

» Market Overview of Appointment Scheduling Software

Technavio estimates that the appointment scheduling software market will grow at a CAGR of 19% between 2020 and 2025, with over a third of that growth coming from North America [39%].

Market Data Forecast predicts that the market will grow from $298 million in 2021 to $704 million in 2027, citing as the major market drivers the proliferation of smartphones and an increase in internet penetration and its affordability.

According to Datanyze, there are at least a quarter of a million companies using some type of solution for creating appointments, with as many as 64 offerings. Zingfit is used by a third of all reported companies, followed by Calendly at 16%, and Acuity at 12%. It’s fair to note that Zinfit is a fitness industry appointment app that is used to book clients for workouts. When it comes to strictly corporate uses, other companies’ data is more valuable.

top 7 vendors of scheduling SaaS solutions and their market share

Datanyze: top 7 vendors of scheduling SaaS solutions and their market share

» What is Appointment Scheduling Software?

Software for booking appointments is a tool (often SaaS) that integrates with the client’s calendar, CRM, and email system and allows them to schedule, postpone, confirm, and cancel meetings automatically.

While most meeting booking systems are cloud-based and can be purchased on a monthly subscription basis as a SaaS tool, there are also custom systems that can be hosted on a private cloud or even deployed on-site.

Many marketing automation solutions will have scheduling capabilities integrated as part of their suite offering, as well as CRM tools.

» Benefits of Using an Appointment Management System

While precise ROI is hard to calculate, automating your meeting booking routine helps with these missions:

    • Save Time by Automating Scheduling Processes

Major appointment management tools allow users to program their calendars and set reminders to avoid back-and-forth time slot selection processes with the client. Users can apply convenient buffer times to avoid last-minute bookings.

    • Reduce No-Shows and Cancellations

A reminder feature can help your client organize their day better or freshen their memory just before the meeting. This boosts attendance in these meetings. WellApp is a healthcare app that offers scheduling as one of its major features. The introduction of a reminder system resulted in a 33% decrease in no-show appointments in one of their client clinics.

Even if a reminder prompts a client to cancel a meeting, a user has enough time to re-organize their day and possibly fill in the slot with another client.

    • Boost Loyalty With a Customer-Centered Approach

According to GetApp, 60% of American customers prefer to book their appointments online. This translates into reduced stress and higher loyalty to businesses that offer digital meeting scheduling.

    • Reduce Time Zone Miscalculations

Time zones are confusing, and an increasingly remote world means that teams now work all over the world. Dev.Pro is a software development partner that has a globally distributed team with 800+ tech professionals residing in over 50 countries. Our sales department uses Calendly’s integration with HubSpot, allowing software to figure out time zone differences and bring together associates on a call across 5-7 different time zones.

    • Drives Sales by Scaling Your Revenue-Making Activities

Professionals whose job description involves client meetings can devote their time to doing their direct responsibilities instead of making and rearranging calls and visits. This way, meeting booking systems drive ROI for these team members, making them more efficient and bringing in extra revenue.

» Types of Software for Scheduling Appointments

    • By Functionality: Single-Purpose vs HRIS Module

Calendly, one of the best appointment scheduling apps according to the major ranking engines, is a single-purpose solution. It was designed as such and kept the focus on its initial purpose. It expanded naturally, amassing $350 million in funding, 10 million users, and reaching $3 billion in its last valuation.

Acuity is another favorite for professionals looking to automate their meetings, though it is now integrated into Squarespace, a website development program. This acquisition has allowed the appointment-making module to expand further. It now integrates with websites created using Squarespace. The tool offers a wide range of proprietary and third-party software integrations.

    • By Developer: Vendor-Made and Custom-Made

The benefits of SaaS tools include cost efficiency [where users pay a monthly subscription fee], strong security, and mobile accessibility.

On the other hand, more privacy-focused organizations may prefer to develop a custom app for scheduling appointments. While it is rather expensive in terms of upfront investment, it also provides customizability, vendor independence, flexible feature control, and the potential to use it on site.

    • By Type: Web-Based, Mobile App, and SaaS

Mobile apps are on the rise due to the above-mentioned growth in smartphone use and increased internet penetration. At the same time, the purpose of any appointment management system is to make sure a person is on time for meetings and can book them seamlessly. As a result, any large vendor will have an advanced mobile app for their product.

Web-based scheduling applications are popular among corporate users who spend most of their time in the office or primarily use desktops for work.

SaaS solutions are increasing their share of the market as API integrations and tools like Zapier allow users to quickly and seamlessly connect to calendars, CRMs, and ERPs, adding new users to a subscription plan.

» Critical Features of Software for Scheduling Appointments

    •  Calendar Integration and Management

Integration with Google Calendar or Outlook calendar is a default feature in all major SaaS solutions. That’s because 40% of companies use Google Apps, and 54% employ some Microsoft Suite products, according to Enlyft.

Two-way synchronization is usually designed to occur in near-real time so that any cancellations or updates are instantaneously pushed to all connected tools.

    • Contacts and Client Database

The tool can be integrated with CRM, ERP, HRM, and email marketing platforms, as well as have its own database of clients, depending on whether it is used for client or internal meeting management.

Due to data protection regulations, synchronizing client PII and its flow between third-party databases requires a legal focus and needs to be compliant with major state frameworks like GDPR and CCPA. If you are based in California but have clients from Europe, chances are you still need to ensure compliance with your personal data storage according to both privacy policies.

    • Confirmation

Confirmations will ensure that clients get a personalized confirmation in their inboxes with all details that the inviting party wants them to have prior to the meeting, from videos and links to brand sales materials to timing and booking editing options.

Both email and calendar integrations are critical for the confirmation module to function seamlessly across all digital assets.

    • Reminders

Reminders can go out to a meeting organizer, attendees, clients, or a team. They can be scheduled as far in advance as needed or at specific time frames and contain different messages.

To increase the chances of a productive meeting and prepare a client for face-to-face communication, it is not uncommon for this feature to have an editable message field that allows you to embed educational videos or collect further marketing data via simple quizzes and polls.

workflow feature streamlines confirmation, reminder and thanks you letters in one

Calendly: workflow feature streamlines confirmation, reminder and thanks you letters in one.

    • Automated Scheduling

Manual work gets a significant trim by using appointment schedule software. Once programmed, a client just sends a link to another user with open slots in the calendar. All future negotiations, rescheduling, and cancellations are automatic.

The inviter usually needs to fill out fields with: 

    1. Days and hours of availability
    2. Name and description of the meeting
    3. Link to calendar
    4. Slot duration, interval, buffet time between meetings
    5. Maximum meetings per day
    6. Minimum scheduling notice period [your calendar will not allowbooking XX hours prior]
    7. Office hours and times frame periods open for meetings

 

    • Online Payments

If you use your app for booking appointments with clients in industries like tutoring or beauty, you may need to be able to charge for your time and accept payments. This is why many tools offer a feature that allows you to fill in your schedule with prepaid appointments.

Needless to say, while the integration with payment gateways is fairly straightforward at this stage, it does come with a number of regulations and credit card protection rules that companies must comply with.

    • Group Scheduling

Team booking is another feature that is particularly useful for corporate accounts. In this scenario, users may have different levels of access that grant them access to certain data fields.

    • Resource Booking

The best software for scheduling appointments often features the ability to assign specific resources used for a meeting, be it a meeting room inside a physical building or transportation with a chauffeur. This allows companies to better plan shared resources, creating an orderly and documentable process.

    • Meeting Polls

Getting a team of people together in one meeting is a bit of a challenge, as calendars may be booked with some shiftable slots that only the owner is aware of. Meeting polls address this issue, allowing the majority to decide in a democratic poll on the preferred option.

» Best Software for Scheduling Appointments

Below are some of the most popular solutions for SMBs, which can be easily integrated into your sales routine with a few clicks. The pricing of these SaaS scheduling solutions will start from as little as $10 a month per user, depending on the features included.

Some bigger players that make a conscious choice to develop their own enterprise-level solutions may opt for custom software development. While this requires a sizable up-front investment and at least a few months of development, users enjoy customizability, a clean interface without cookie-cutter clutter, and vendor independence.

Takeaways

Those clinging to the old manual ways of doing business may survive by some weird odds, but they will be few.

Digital transformation is there to serve sales professionals, saving time and money. Software for scheduling appointments is one of the universal tools that can be used across dozens of industries in millions of SMBs, helping drive your bottom line with a small investment.


Author - Kostiantyn Reshetniak

Kostiantyn ReshetniakKostiantyn Reshetniak is a Head of the Business Analysis Office at Dev.Pro. He oversees a team of business analysts who help engineer efficient business processes for Fortune 500 clients. Savvy expert in HealthTech, FinTech, retail, and social networking domains with 7+ years of BA experience.

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