Customers put a fair amount of thought into booking an appointment. They likely have several businesses to choose from, and each entails various parameters to weigh against each other. How far out is availability? What is the pricing like? What kinds of policies do they need to be aware of?
Each appointment-based business will operate in a slightly different way. While it’s important to stand out, there are a few things that most customers will always love. If your business can accomplish them, you’ll be in a good place.
1. Reduce wait times.
One of the biggest complaints people have regarding appointment-based businesses is the wait times. Showing up on schedule to your appointment only to be told to wait is admittedly disappointing. While sometimes this occurs due to unforeseen circumstances, customers love and notice when a business is making an effort to keep wait times short.
Think of strategies for reducing wait times for your appointments. Maybe you need to go as far as hiring more employees so you can help more customers. Perhaps booking fewer appointments in a single day will make schedules more manageable.
A lot of the changes you make might take place behind the scenes. Customers won’t immediately know what you’re accomplishing, but they will begin to notice when wait times are regularly reduced. They will then tell their friends they can breeze right in to appointments at your business, and you’ll have to expand your capacity once again!
2. Use reminders effectively.
Any good appointment-based business will implement a reminder system for their customers. No-show appointments are costly, and late arrivals are difficult to work with. As a result, sending reminders helps keep both situations to a minimum.
However, businesses need to be careful about how they use reminders. Too many notifications can feel overbearing or just plain annoying. Reminders sent either too early or at the last minute aren’t very helpful. You need to find a happy medium.
You’ll see a lot of success by letting customers set their own appointment reminders through your scheduling system. Let them choose the frequency at which they receive reminder messages, as well as the means by which those reminders are sent. They will create the most effective reminder system for themselves, and your appointment software will do the rest.
3. Enable self-service.
Even if you have the nicest employees in town, some customers just want to stay in their own lane. They want to book an appointment, get in, and get out with as little human interaction as possible. These customers love when appointment-based businesses enable self-service solutions.
An example of customer self-service is simply being able to book your own appointment online. You don’t have to speak with a representative, and you can take as much time as you need when choosing a time slot. You can even schedule an appointment outside of normal business hours with no employees on the clock.
Self-service isn’t just limited to the introverts. Being able to take matters into one’s own hands appeals to those who like to feel in control of their environment. They can customize their appointment experience by choosing the self-service features that fit their needs best.
4. Create a comfortable environment.
The more comfortable a person feels at an appointment, the better their experience tends to be. Think of a medical clinic as an example. If patients feel relaxed in waiting areas and in exam rooms, their doctor’s appointments will go a lot more smoothly.
This is an important aspect for every type of appointment-based business. Patients who feel comfortable are more likely to open up to their therapist. Likewise, kids will be more cooperative with the dentist if the waiting room helps them to feel welcome. Customers waiting for their oil change won’t mind longer wait times if they have snacks and reading material at their disposal.
There are a lot of different ways you can make your business space more comfortable. Update your furniture, play some light music, use bright colors when decorating. Anything from a hot chocolate machine to a TV in the waiting room can help make the entire appointment experience more enjoyable.
5. Show flexibility.
Appointments won’t always go as smoothly as you would like each day. Consequently, it’s important to remember that bumps in the road affect your customers just as much as they affect your business. If you work on being flexible and empathetic when handling unplanned situations, you’ll draw your customers in rather than push them away.
Let’s say you have a cancellation policy that prevents customers from canceling an appointment fee-free without 24 hours’ worth of notice. A customer calls you in the morning stating that their car isn’t starting, so they are unable to make it to their appointment that day. You could choose to stick to your policy and charge them, or you can be understanding of their plight.
Now, not every customer will be truthful when calling to cancel an appointment. However, by being flexible and willing to work with your clients, you’ll develop a greater trust with everyone. Loyal customers will continue to come back even if they once had to cancel a booking at the last minute.
Customers of appointment-based businesses want what they want. However, if you’re able to meet such expectations, you’ll see a lot of appointment bookings and a lot of success in your near future.
Featured Image Credit: by Max Vakhtbovych; Pexels; Thanks!