Table of contents
» What is an online appointment scheduling system? Is it for me?
» What does an appointment booking software do?
» What are the types of appointment booking systems?
» What are the key benefits of using an appointment booking system for you or your business?
» What should you consider when buying an appointment booking system?
» What are the common myths surrounding the appointment booking systems?
In today’s hyperconnected world, convenience is the ultimate ingredient in generating customer delight. Our lives are becoming increasingly hectic and in this busy life, it’s becoming more and more difficult to keep all the information at our fingertips. Global consumers actively seek ways to stay up-to-date with their accelerated lifestyle and move towards an effortless yet efficient lifestyle. Adopting an online appointment booking system for yourself and for your business is just a small step towards increasing your day-to-day work efficiency. While the tool is still in the adoption stage of technology, it’s catching up fast to break into the esteemed inner circle of software that most businesses require like CRM, invoicing and point-of-sale systems.
Have you started using online appointment scheduling for your business yet? If not, there’s a good chance you might be considering it or have already researched about it. As more and more businesses become comfortable and you start researching the plethora of appointment scheduling options available it’s important to equip yourself with helpful information about online appointment scheduling system. In this blog post, we explore what exactly is online appointment scheduling and break the 10 common myths about these systems to help you make an informed decision.
What is an online appointment scheduling system? Is it for me?
An online appointment scheduling system is a tool which allows you to better manage your individual schedule or business appointments. The system can be used to book meetings, schedule service appointments like with a salon, book a yoga class online or simply reserve a boat from the boat rental business.
You may find the concept a little strange if you haven’t previously booked an appointment online. However, allow us to explain the concept a little further. The Online scheduling system is all about the convenience of booking. For example, if you’re an account manager who meets multiple clients daily, here’s how your scheduling will look like:
» Traditional Scheduling: In the traditional method, you call your customers or send them an email to find out the time when they’re available. When they suggest some dates, you realize that you’re already booked on those dates. To solve the problem, you send them alternate dates which may or may not work for them until you find a common date and time to set up the meeting. This is inconvenient and time-consuming for both you and your clients. Needless to say, it becomes frustrating to find a common time slot.
» Automated Scheduling: If you automate the task of scheduling, then your customers simply visit your online booking schedule at any time when it’s convenient. They can view your availability and empty time slots and book the one that’s convenient for them. In addition to that, they also receive an automated text/email reminder before the meeting to ensure they don’t forget about the meeting. It’s convenient and easy to use. No more phone calls, no more back-and-forth emails, simply a convenient system taking care of your bookings on your behalf.
Thanks to the online appointment booking revolution, individuals and businesses across the world have reduced their stress by adopting a booking system for their business.
You can adopt an appointment scheduling system to manage your day-to-day meetings, manage your time better, create a schedule for yourself, manage your business appointments, manage your resource bookings better (like meeting room booking) or offer appointments for any service you offer. We recommend trying out a free system to get a feel of the concept and experimenting with it to see how it can improve your day-to-day life or your business efficiency.
What does an appointment booking software do?
Depending on your requirements, you may require your appointment booking system to perform certain functions. However, on a general not most of the top appointment booking software will allow you to use the following functions:
» Set up your availability: You can add your availability and special off-days into the system so the system can accept bookings only during the available hours.
» Accept online payments: You can connect your appointment booking systems with the services that enable you to accept money directly in your account in multiple currencies. For example, accepting payments through major payment providers via PayPal, Mollie, Stripe, ePay or PayU and accepting payments in your currency.
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» Send customized automated text or email reminders: One of the biggest conveniences of having an online appointment booking system is the ability to send automated reminders, notifications, and follow-up messages. A smart system would allow you to customize these messages and personalize them with customer details like name, booking details, etc.
» Integrate the schedule in your website or use it as a standalone system: You can easily integrate the appointment booking system on your website or simply redirect users to your schedule from your website to create a booking.
» Sync multiple calendars: An appointment booking system allows you to sync multiple calendars with each other so you’re not frustrated by managing your appointments on multiple different platforms.
» Create your own promotions and sales offers: You can create your own promotional offers or sell product packages. For example, if you manage a salon business you can allow customers to buy a package to book more than one service at a time or even encourage them to book more with offers like “50% off on the first booking”, “Use MYNEWBOOKING code to avail 20% discount on your bookings”, “Buy 3 get 5” and so on.
» Speaks your language: A popular appointment booking system will allow you to use the system in your language. For example, the SuperSaaS appointment booking system is available in 35+ languages and offers support in 11 languages.
» Support: If you’re a small business or an individual, it’s probable that you don’t want to spend hefty sums to the support team to help you set up the system. Adopt a system which offers great tutorials and self-help material which you can use to set up the system. In addition, a support team which is quick to respond to your queries anytime you’re stuck (without any additional charge) is an important feature you should seek in your appointment booking system.
» Connect your favorite software with the system: In your day-to-day life, you work with multiple software. A smart booking system will allow you to integrate many software together and allow them to speak to each other to make your job easier. For example, every time a new appointment is added to your schedule it is also added automatically to your CRM system.
» Staff Scheduling: You can give access to your staff members for some specific schedules. In this way, you always stay in control but also achieve efficiency.
» Customer Access Control: Your schedule is available online but you don’t want to allow anyone and everyone to view your schedule and create false bookings. You can limit the access to certain users and allow only the eligible users to create a booking on your schedule. In addition, a smart system will also allow you to approve bookings on your schedule.
» Create your own pricing rules: You can create your own pricing rules for the services you offer on your appointment booking schedule. For example, when you want to encourage users to book during the weekdays, you can offer them 20% less prices on weekday bookings.
What are the types of appointment booking systems?
There are two different types of appointment booking systems on the market:
» Cloud-based systems: One of the most widely used and user-friendly systems which are completely based online and requires no installation. These types of systems can be easily accessed across multiple devices anytime anywhere and offer the convenience of logging in from any available device with internet. In addition, you don’t need an update each time the system fixes a bug or releases a new feature because it’s automatically updated on their website.
» Desktop/Web App: These are licensed softwares which need to be installed and continuously updated on the desktop/mobile. You can access these apps from certain devices and they require a significant installation time before you can start working on them. They’re not very convenient because it’s difficult to manage your schedule on-the-go.
Depending on your use-case you can choose the one which is most convenient for you and your customers to use. We recommend using a cloud-based system, which is easily accessible to customers and quicker to manage while on-the-go.
What are the key benefits of using an appointment booking system for you or your business?
Now, that we’ve explored what the appointment booking systems are, their types and features we deep-dive into what benefits will adopting an appointment booking system bring for you and your business:
» 24x7 convenience: You and your customers don’t always need to be available to find a common time to connect. Your schedule works for you 24x7 and your customers can create a booking with you at any time of the day.
» Business efficiency: Most service professionals are very busy with customers during peak hours. If they don’t use an appointment booking system they will end up in having more customers on some days and fewer customers on others. The customers also waste their time in waiting for their turn. The overall efficiency increases with an appointment booking system.
» Minimize no-show: It’s easy to forget an appointment in the midst of a busy life. A quick automated reminder to customers at a time and frequency of your choice can significantly reduce missed appointments and no-shows.
» Enhance revenue: Increase revenue by adjusting your pricing rules and charge more during peak hours and less during non-peak hours. Attract and retain more customers with promotional offers on your booking system.
What should you consider when buying an appointment booking system?
You will find a lot of different software available in the market, but which one suits you the best depends on your specific requirements. If you’re confused or not sure about which appointment booking system to consider, here are some questions you should ask yourself before selecting a system:
» Do I need to do one-on-one scheduling, group scheduling or resource scheduling?
» Do I need to connect multiple calendars with each other?
» Do I want to accept payments on my booking schedule?
» Who should be able to create a booking on my schedule? Do I want to limit access to certain users or do I want anyone who can view the schedule to be able to make a booking?
» Do I want to create promotional offers for my customers, now or in the future?
» Do I want to connect my schedule with other calendars?
» Do I want to connect my booking system with other software like CRM, live chat, etc? If yes, which software?
» Do I want the ability to control pricing on my schedule and modify it according to certain requirements?
» Do I want to send automated reminders via text or email?
» Do I want the ability to customize these reminders?
» Do I want to give preferential treatment to certain users? Will the system support the creation of user groups?
» Do you want the ability to add branding elements to the system like your logo?
» Do you want to add it to your website or use it as a standalone system?
And so on… First, get clarity on your requirements and experiment with a system which offers an unlimited free trial so you can test it out properly without wasting your money. Next, look for an affordable solution which fits your budget and can grow with you when your business expands.
What are the common myths surrounding the appointment booking systems?
1. Myth: All online schedulers are the same
One of the biggest mistakes made by customers is believing that all appointment booking systems are more or less similar to each other. When you’ve just started exploring appointment booking systems, at the outset all systems may appear the same. However, which system suits your requirements depends on your specific requirements. If you don’t select the right scheduler, you may end up wasting a lot of time, energy and resources on the wrong system only to regret at a later stage.
To ensure you choose the right scheduler, ask the following questions while comparing the systems:
» What are the most important features I need? What’s the lowest cost software that can provide me these features?
» Do I want to stay dependent on support teams to help me set up the system or do I want to stay in charge of my own system so I never have to depend on anyone (except, of course for technical issues)?
» If my business grows in the future, can I upgrade/downgrade my subscription at any time? Is the upgrade cost substantial?
» Does this system charge me more for the number of users or number of schedules? What if I want to add more staff members or other business locations on my schedule? Will I end up paying a fortune?
Select a system which doesn’t keep adding to your cost with every new location or every new staff member or requires a long-term commitment at one go. Instead, select software which works based on your usage and allows you to add new staff member & more schedules without any additional charges. In addition, always stay in control of your system, instead of depending on support. Choose a system which offers quick and helpful support. Read online customer reviews to find out customer feedback and last but not the least, choose software which doesn’t fool you into being low cost by charging you additional money or forcing you to upgrade for access to some important features which you require.
2. Myth: I need to spend a lot of money to use an online appointment scheduling software for my business
A lot of small businesses and individuals worry that they might have to spend a lot of money in adopting an online booking system and hence, they’re reluctant to switch from pen and paper scheduling (or excel scheduling these days) to an online appointment booking system. This is completely false because there are many appointment scheduling systems like SuperSaaS which allow you to use their free forever model up to a certain number of appointments.
We recommend testing out the system until you’re satisfied with the functionality before you make any commitments towards a paid subscription. Setup your basic system, try it out as a customer, adjust it until your system behaves exactly the way you want it to. Customize your system with your brand details like adding your logo, integrate into your website, customize email/text notifications and experiment with other small customizations. Once you’re confident about the system, upgrade to the paid subscription.
One of the lowest cost appointment booking systems on the market is SuperSaaS which offers packages starting from $8 for access to all key features, unlimited schedules, and unlimited users. This is significantly low cost to make your days more productive and your business more efficient. So, don’t worry about spending a fortune. Instead, compare the benefits vs. price.
3. Myth: My competitors will fill up my schedule
Many customers fear that competitors may end up filling the schedule which will lead to losses for their business. The reality is that this rarely happens. Online booking systems give you full control of who can access your schedule. You can limit access to pre-approved users, to certain email addresses, specific IP addresses, allow bookings to be approved before getting added to the schedule and much more.
If the thought of competitors filling up your schedule keeps you up at night, there’s a very simple solution. Use a good online booking system that allows you to control your bookings and add them on the schedule only after admin or staff approval.
4. Myth: I am not technically savvy to create my own schedule
You’ve never been an expert in performing technical tasks, so you’re worried that it might take a lot of effort to setup your own schedule. And you don’t want to spend a lot to hire a web developer to help you setup your online booking schedule. So, you decide you’re better off without one! Well, that’s a big mistake you’re making which can result in less efficient bookings and wasting away your productive time.
You don’t need a lot of technical expertise to setup your schedule. Most scheduling systems offer a quick setup wizard where you only need to fill in the basic details like adjusting the time availability, adding your services/resources or creating your classes and setting up basic access rights. Once the basic setup wizard is complete you can dive in to customize further details, which are as simple as clicking a few buttons and selecting a few settings from the drop-down menu.
In addition to that, integrating a schedule on your website just requires 2 minutes of efforts of copying 2 lines of code to your website editor. So, if your limited technical knowledge was stopping you from adopting a scheduling system, forget that right away.
5. Myth: My customers can see each other’s information
It’s natural to get worried about customer privacy-related issues when dealing with an online system. While some businesses prefer to share customer information about who’s booked which slot and when most other enterprises will prefer to hide sensitive information from the outside world. Online scheduling systems, by default, will show only open time slots and not the customer information for the booked slots.
While some industries like healthcare are heavily regulated in regards with patient data privacy, other industries which are not abided by government regulations are also worried about ensuring the safety of their customer’s data. With the new GDPR rules in EU and many more privacy rules coming up for online privacy, most of the popular online booking systems have adapted their systems to protect end user information from being misused. A smart booking system will allow you to hide customer sensitive information being visible to other users so your customer’s data only remains accessible to the admin users.
6. Myth: It’s insecure because it’s in the cloud
Once upon a time, users were worried about their data being stored on the cloud. Cloud security has improved a lot over the past few years and cloud-based scheduling systems are no exception. Only authorized users like the account admin and the staff members added by the admin can view the schedule, adjust the schedule settings and can access customer information from the dashboard.
When weighing the benefits of a cloud-based system v.s a desktop based system, remember that unwanted entities are more likely to steal data from your computer rather than from a server in the cloud. You’re better off adopting a booking system on the cloud because it offers the convenience of adjusting settings and viewing information across multiple devices even when you’re on the move. Another advantage of having a cloud-based appointment booking system is that you avoid being locked out of your system in case your device is misplaced or stolen. So, adopt a good cloud-based scheduling system which offers you both convenience as well as data privacy.
7. Myth: I can only use it for new customers
Undoubtedly, an appointment scheduling system is a great way to attract new customers to book a time with you/your business. When adopting a new system, it’s natural to be worried about moving your existing user records to the new system. Initially, it may feel like a little bit of work to import the existing user data into the digital format of the new system, but it’s totally worth the time for you as well as your end customers.
Most smart systems allow you to import existing data in a tabular form. You simply need to find out the format of data, adjust your existing data accordingly and import in a single click. Once you have imported all user information, booking becomes a cakewalk for them and for you. Once your end customers start booking online they would never want to go back to the old phone call appointment booking system or the back and forth email ping pong they used to play to find time with you. The whole process helps you reduce a lot of manual labor and also reduce the no-shows which you would have seen without the booking system.
8. Myth: Clients will book anytime on my schedule, I don’t want to be always available
An appointment booking system gives you the convenience of staying accessible to end customers 24x7 but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the clients can book a time slot on your schedule at any odd hour. An appointment booking system allows you to set your holidays and your time availability for each day of the week, including your closed days like Saturday and Sunday.
For example, if you’re an account manager who needs to attend a lot of meetings, it’s not necessary that you attend meetings each day. You can set apart some days or some hours each day where you want users to book a meeting with you. When the customers view your schedule, they only see the time slots where you want to allow them to create a meeting. This makes it easier for you to stay available when you want. In addition to that, most smart scheduling systems will allow you to sync your personal Google Calendar with your booking schedule. This ensures you’re not double booked for personal as well as professional commitments simultaneously.
9. Myth: Easy client access results in more no-shows
When clients have easy access to your schedule, they can easily cancel and reschedule anytime resulting in unproductive gaps in your schedule. However, here is precisely where a smart online booking system will help you in staying productive. Most smart appointment booking systems allow you to reduce no-shows with automated text/email reminders and avoid random cancellations on the schedule by allowing you to set your own cancelation policy.
Setting your own cancelation policy with a booking system will let you set the limit of time where the customers are allowed to cancel or reschedule a booking. As online booking systems also allow you to accept online payments, you can configure your booking system to charge the required fee from customers if they cancel an appointment. This will reduce any non-serious customers to pay penalty when they cancel the appointment and help you stay productive.
10. Myth: My staff will need a lot of training to operate the system and I don’t have time for that
As we discussed earlier, it’s easy to adopt an online scheduling system for you or your business. A smart appointment booking system also allows you to add additional staff members with special access to certain schedules. This means that your team members can also adjust certain settings of your schedule when required. Sharing your workload with your team reduces your stress and allows you to manage the system more effectively.
Although, initially it might take some time to explain the basic settings to your team members but once they understand the basics of managing appointments, it becomes simple to manage the bookings anytime. So, don’t worry about teaching your staff but focus on increasing your efficiency.
What’s the cost of an online appointment booking system?
Well, it depends on the system and the features you would like. We recommend using the free forever plan of SuperSaaS appointment booking system. When you’re sure you want to use the system you can select a subscription plan that best fits your requirements and upgrade/downgrade at any time.
We hope our online appointment booking guide helps you in increasing your business efficiency and attracting more customers. Please do share your feedback and comments in the comment section below.