All posts by Gunjan Saini

How Social Media Can Land You More Appointments

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How Social Media Can Land You More Appointments

With social media, the world is, quite literally, at our fingertips. With just a few taps, we can connect with friends, plan our next meal, or get inspired. 

While social media is entertaining, it can also be a powerful tool for business. If used with intention, social media can help you foster client engagement and even increase the number of appointment clients book with your business. Here’s how you can use your social media channels to help you land more appointments.

Post Consistently 

Today, having a social media presence for your business is non-negotiable. It’s also one of the most cost-effective marketing tactics around. Creating content and posting it regularly gets you in front of potential customers and builds trust. You can create standard posts, host a livestream, and add posts to stories that will live for 24 hours.

The problem is, posting engaging content can be a challenge, especially if you don’t have anything planned prior to sitting down to update your pages. Fortunately, this last-minute stress can be eliminated through the use of a social media calendar. By leveraging a social media calendar, you can create relevant content ahead of time and schedule posts all year long, holidays included.

A social media calendar will enable you to post consistently and build credibility for your brand. Not only that, but you’ll make your own life easier and will have more time to focus on your clients.  

Engage With Your Clients 

Sharing photos on your social media stories can help boost engagement, and you can make those stories interactive. With many social media stories, you can include polls for your followers to participate in. Instagram, for example, allows you to include polls, quizzes, and Q&A forms. These features offer a great way to get feedback from clients or answer any questions they have about their appointments. 

Many social platforms want you to go beyond the regular photo posts, and you should use this to your advantage. Your social media content needs to be engaging and memorable. One way to achieve this is by posting video content on your social pages. Try a how-to video, an animation, or even an interview with a thought leader from your industry. And when potential clients see videos of the services your business offers, they will be more likely to book with you. 

With appointment-based businesses, cancellations are inevitable. If you have a last-minute opening, social media is good for that, too. Announce any available time slots on social media so they can still be used productively.

Brag About Your Business

Don’t be shy when it comes to sharing your successes on social media. People want to have confidence that they’re making the right choice when it comes to spending their money and precious hours. So that means it’s time to boast and be bragged on. 

Most consumers make their purchasing decisions based on the reviews they read and the recommendations they hear from people in their circle. Including reviews and testimonials from past clients on your social pages can help future ones feel more secure in their decision to choose you over competitors. 

You can also share photos and videos of your satisfied clients. This will help your future customers imagine themselves in your current fans’ shoes. Including real clients will bring a touch of humanity and emotion to your brand. This makes it easier for clients, old and new, to support your business. It will remind them that they’re interacting with real people and not a robot that posts every day at noon. 

Make Booking Appointments Easy for You and the Client

Let’s face it, with technology, we’ve been spoiled. With just a couple taps, we can have whatever we want (almost) whenever we want it. When clients are ready to book an appointment after scrolling through your pages, they want to schedule theirs quickly.

You can share links to your website to book appointments or include a booking button on your social media pages. Adding this button is a snap, and you can even connect it to an automated program that moves the request along to staff for approval. This functionality will help you strike while the iron is hot, turning audience interest in your social content into more appointments in your (digital) schedule book. 

When you plan your next campaign to bring in more appointment bookings, don’t forget about social media. You can interact with your clients and answer their burning questions. You can provide updates in real time. And you can share the stories of your current clients and bring your brand to life.

Social media is a powerful business tool, and it’s only growing. If you plan your content with intention, you can use social media as an inexpensive marketing tool to land your business even more appointments.

Not an April Fool’s Joke: These Are Real Appointment Statistics You Need to Know

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Not an April Fool’s Joke: These Are Real Appointment Statistics You Need to Know

The numbers don’t lie: online appointment software will do wonders for your business. In this article, we’ll outline some of the most attention-grabbing statistics about the use of online appointment software by businesses. 

As you’ll soon find out, online appointment software can boost customer retention, save your business money, and more. There’s really no reason to not use online booking for your appointment-based business. One of these statistics is bound to convince you of the need to get started.

Businesses With Online Booking Are Winning

Online booking is rapidly becoming a necessity. In an Accenture survey of healthcare consumers, 68% of respondents said they prefer a provider that allows appointments to be made, changed, and canceled online. That means if your business doesn’t utilize online appointment software, you’re probably losing customers to the competition. 

That number will only climb as online appointment software becomes the norm for businesses. So what are you waiting for? Being among the early implementers of online booking will build a loyal customer base before the competition knows what hit them. You’ll also have more time to perfect your online booking system so that, by the time the technology is omnipresent, you can rely on your smooth experience as a competitive advantage.

Nearly Half of Appointments Are Booked After Hours

If customers can only book appointments during business hours, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities. A social media survey of salon owners showed that 46% of their appointments were booked before salons were open or after they closed for the day. That’s nearly half of the customers these businesses have on their schedules!

If you’re looking to fill all your appointment slots, online booking software is the solution you need. Customers may not be thinking about the appointment they want or need to make during operating hours. Allowing them to book at their convenience opens the door for so many more individuals. 

No-Show Rates Freefall With Online Booking

Due to its many benefits and features, online appointment software is proven to slash your no-show rates immediately after implementation. Research on several medical centers and practices saw no-show rates drop by as much as 42% after adding web-based booking portals to their websites. No-shows are costly and inefficient, and getting rid of them is a high priority for all appointment-based businesses.

For many customers, the convenience of being able to book appointments online and change them as needed encourages them to hold true to their commitments. Many other customers make appointments in person or over the phone because they feel pressured to do so. That pressure is eliminated when customers can make appointments on their own terms at any time or in any place. 

Most Customers Book on Mobile Devices

Market research has found that 82% of clients schedule appointments on their mobile devices as opposed to other platforms. As beautiful as your website might look on a desktop, you need to optimize your online booking experience for mobile users. 

To improve your mobile experience, start with the customer journey. Booking an appointment on a mobile device should be easy; otherwise, customers will get discouraged and log off. Make selections easy to find and the booking process as straightforward as possible. Loading times for your website also need to be adequate to avoid high bounce rates resulting from impatient customers. 

Millennials Are the Customer Segment Most Likely to Book Online

Of all the nation’s demographics, Millennials are responsible for a quarter of appointments booked online. This isn’t surprising, given this generation’s combination of tech savviness and needs that can be filled by appointments. The quick acceptance of online booking software by the Millennial generation suggests the trend will likely be popular with younger customers, too. Expect Gen Zers to slide in right beside Millennials as they begin booking their own appointments. 

Even if Millennials aren’t your primary age segment, they’re a great place to start when implementing online appointment software initially. You’ll be able to work out the kinks of a new system with an eager subset of your customer base. As Millennials continue to book appointments online, other customers will join in until you’re able to make online scheduling your only — or at least foremost — method of booking. 

Companies That Use Data Get a Leg Up

One of the greatest benefits of online appointment software is the ability to automatically gather data for your business. Data is one of your greatest assets while doing business in the 21st century. It eliminates the guesswork that often forms a part of your everyday decision-making.

A study done by the McKinsey Global Institute found that businesses that leverage data are 23 times more successful at acquiring new customers. Customer acquisition is one of the most important, and daunting, aspects of running a business. Data gives you a clearer picture of customer demographics, successful marketing strategies, and popular appointment times. Without data, you’ll be taking shots in the dark. 

Ready to heed the math? There’s no doubt that online appointment software will benefit your business in more ways than one. Identify your goals and put online booking software to work. Before you know it, you’ll have exceeded your expectations and then some.

What Are Scheduling Links and How Do They Work?

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What Are Scheduling Links and How Do They Work?

Mastering your time is the key to becoming successful in any industry. It’s how professional athletes find time to train and recover, how top executives can seal so many deals, and how entrepreneurs can grow a startup while still raising a family. A lot of time management comes from self-mastery and dedication, but it never hurts to deploy a few tools to help you along the way.

One such tool is the scheduling link. Adding these links to your repertoire will save you tons of time when organizing your schedule; they will also improve the way you communicate. This guide will explain the ins and outs of scheduling links so you can reap the benefits for yourself.

What Is a Scheduling Link?

A scheduling link is a URL or web link that you can send to anyone online to share your availability. Recipients can click on the link to view your calendar and set up a meeting with you. You can create a link for one-time use or develop a template that you can use repeatedly.

After you send a scheduling link and the recipient selects a meeting time, you’ll receive a notification to confirm the time of the meeting. This allows you to quickly block out times on your calendar for meetings, interviews, and phone calls. 

Scheduling links can be attached to emails, sent via text message, or even embedded in your company website. This flexibility will enable you to use scheduling links in the way that best meets your needs. 

How Do You Set Up Scheduling Links?

To start, you need an online calendar that allows you to create scheduling links, which then use the contents of your calendar to create availability windows. Lest you think you’re throwing your entire life open to the world, rest assured that there are settings to hide information you don’t want others to see. You can keep your calendar entirely private or show teammates and customers the reasons you’re unavailable at various times.

To create the link itself, you only need to click. Each time you do, the link will analyze your calendar to create an accurate picture of your availability. Permanent scheduling links, which always stay up-to-date and never expire, can be sent to your closest connections. 

Some scheduling links give you even more control over your schedule. Even if you don’t have anything marked in your calendar for a certain time, you can close that span of time off in your scheduling link so no one books it. This will leave your lunch breaks uninterrupted when they’re not explicitly listed or guarantee some downtime during the day. 

What Are the Benefits of Scheduling Links?

First and foremost, you’ll save a lot of time with scheduling links and improve your overall communication. No one enjoys the back-and-forth emails required to coordinate times for meetings and phone calls. Life is so much easier when you can send a simple link and identify times where your two schedules line up.

Scheduling links will also help you with your time management. One simple distraction can derail your productivity by over 20 minutes. Don’t let an unnecessary phone call disrupt your flow when a scheduling link could prevent it.

Of course, as a leader, you might say that your door is always open to your employees. You can be true to your word and still maintain your productivity by making your scheduling link available to everyone on your team. At any point, they’ll be able to request a meeting at a time that works for you. 

Are Scheduling Links for Business or Personal Use?

The short answer is both. A scheduling link will go as far as you take it. Whether you want to use scheduling links to stay connected with a small team or all and sundry is up to you. Just take your goals into consideration.

For business purposes, scheduling links can be used in two ways. As mentioned, the first is for managers to make their availability accessible to employees. Team members from the top to the bottom of the corporate ladder will find this feature quite useful.

Scheduling links can also help businesses establish a relationship with customers. Account managers can create scheduling links for each of their clients to enable better communication. Small businesses can add scheduling links to their website for customers to book appointments more easily. 

For personal use, scheduling links can help you connect with all the groups in your life. If you volunteer at a charity, belong to a church group, or coach a Little League baseball team, you can use scheduling links to arrange work sessions, meetings, and practices with ease.

What Else Can Scheduling Links Do?

As basic as they are, scheduling links have a couple of additional tricks up their sleeve to help you master your calendar. Be sure to leverage the following capabilities to get the full benefit:

Meeting Buffer

Need a 15-minute breather after one meeting before tackling your next one? Add some buffer time to your scheduling link so no one will catch you off guard. 

Time Increments 

How long do you want your openings to be? You can make them as long as an hour or more or shorten them depending on how much time you think you’ll need. 

Notifications

What good is a meeting if you forget it? Get notifications hooked up to your links so both parties keep their end of the commitment. 

Double-Booking Prevention 

Having two people book the same time slot would lead to one big mess. Luckily, an updated scheduling link can prevent that from happening. 

Start using scheduling links today so you can get a feel for how they work. After a few test runs, you’ll be able to incorporate them into your daily routine and get so much more out of your time. 

How to Boost Appointment Numbers Without Increasing Your Marketing Budget

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How to Boost Appointment Numbers Without Increasing Your Marketing Budget

Want to increase the number of appointments you get each day without increasing your marketing budget? It sounds like a picture-perfect world for appointment-based businesses. However, this scenario is far from a fairy tale. There are definite ways your business can increase appointment numbers without adding a dime to your marketing spend. 

By using the following tips in conjunction with your existing marketing campaigns, you’ll fill your calendar with as many appointments as you can handle. Here’s how to get started:

Book Follow-Ups in Person

Each time a customer walks through your doors, it’s an opportunity to sign them up for another appointment. No marketing resources are required — just your best customer service skills and leveraging a great window of opportunity. 

Setting up a return appointment in person is quick and convenient. It also provides an opportunity for you to engage with customers and develop a relationship that will increase their attachment to your business. Use your online appointment software to send follow-up information and appointment alerts even when your customers are booking return visits in person.

Review Calls to Action

When your business relies on online appointment software to bring people in, your website will often be your first interaction with new customers. If you want to maximize the appointment conversions you get from website visitors, you need a good call to action. 

Your call to action ought to be short, sweet, and to the point. It should be just enough to hook a customer’s attention and draw them in to deeper content that will persuade them to book an appointment. Examples of a good CTA include the following:

  • Book today and get a free product
  • Sign up and start earning rewards now
  • Visit today and get 15% off your appointment
  • Download our free resource 

Using data analytics, you can experiment with a few different calls to action until you find what works the best. Changing just one sentence on your website can see a spike in engagement rates and increased bookings. 

Focus on Organic Reach

Social media is a powerful tool for businesses. What’s important to note is that you can create successful social media campaigns without pouring money into them. While a well-calibrated paid campaign can be very effective in bringing in new customers, you can have a lot of success by focusing on organic reach.

Organic reach refers to the views and engagements you receive without paid amplification. Organic posts can sometimes get lost in the sea of content that fills customers’ feeds. To beat out the other posts competing for your audience’s attention, use the additional tools at your disposal. Stories and live video, for example, have proven to yield high engagement rates and longer view times than other forms of media.

Now let’s talk about content creation. How can you improve your organic reach without increasing your marketing budget? The truth is, you don’t have to. Photos and live video can be taken right on site, providing an authentic feel to your social media content at little or no cost to you. 

Start a Rewards Program

A good rewards program will boost your customer retention rate and also attract new customers to your establishment. It incentivizes appointment bookings and will naturally raise their number even without a heavy marketing campaign behind it. 

The costs of establishing a rewards program are minimal. Most of the effort goes into setting it up, whether you put together a punch card or a points program online. Talk to customers at your business location about signing up for the rewards program, and word of mouth will do the rest.

Speaking of word of mouth, referrals are a business’s best friend. Customers who are referred by family and friends tend to be more loyal and make more return appointments. Sweeten the pot by treating both parties to a special deal when a friend is referred and books their first appointment. 

Improve Your Booking Process

A user-friendly booking process will keep your conversion rate high. Slow loading times on your website, on the other hand, will drive impatient customers away. Placing your online booking platform somewhere easily visible and accessible ensures that customers can easily find it on their own.

Look at your online appointment software from the perspective of a new customer. What changes would you make if you were in their shoes? Little things like using a bigger font or reducing the number of screens users have to click through will go a long way. 

Perfect the Customer Experience

A whopping 91% of young consumers trust the business reviews they read online. Yes, that includes both the good reviews and the bad ones. If you want to boost your appointment numbers, do everything you can to make those reviews positive.

That doesn’t mean you should try to entice your customers to leave positive reviews in exchange for discounts. Instead, encourage them to be honest when leaving a review for future customers. 

While positive reviews will ring true and bring more people in, negative reviews will point out the flaws in your business so you can make needed changes. Be sure to respond publicly to discontented customers and tell them how you’ll make things right. Showing customers that you value their input will increase brand loyalty and bring in new faces every day.  

Ready for this call to action? Start applying these techniques today to boost your appointment numbers. You’ll see an increase in bookings as well as higher retention rates without spending big bucks.

4 Covid-19 Changes to Keep for the Long Haul

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4 Covid-19 Changes to Keep for the Long Haul

Covid-19 has forever changed our work, our social interactions, and even how we view ourselves. We’ve come to understand our own limits better, even as we’ve learned the importance of self-care. That doesn’t mean, however, we’ve enjoyed the experience. 

Let’s be honest: Plenty of those changes we’ll be happy to discard once it’s safe to do so. Which of them, however, should we consider keeping for the long haul?

While you’re likely sick of social distancing, there are a few changes beyond more frequent handwashing that you should keep long after the pandemic has ended:

1. Setting Your Own Schedule

Covid-19 turned our world upside down and turned our days into a grey fog of sameness. We learned, intentionally or not, how to clear the haze by controlling our schedule. 

We need our work time, our quiet time, and our family time. As Calendar suggests, we thrive on routine, and losing it can leave us feeling lost and disoriented. 

Make a point, if you don’t already, to separate your work and play spaces. Set clear work and “office” hours. When it’s time to put one down, take the other up with a vengeance. 

To be clear, you don’t need to have every minute of the day rigidly scheduled out. But if there’s one thing you should hold on to once the pandemic is over, it’s the importance of making time for all aspects of your life. 

2. Embracing Mental and Emotional Care

You’ve likely heard the phrase “collective trauma” more than once over the past year. You may have even experienced its symptoms: chiefly irritability, frustration, and depression.  

For many of us, this has required making a conscious effort to cope. It’s meant figuring out what keeps us sane in a world that has, too often, seemed like it’s gone mad. 

Maybe you need to schedule in gym time, some counseling sessions, or even a Covid-safe spa day. Or, to the point above, it might just entail making sure you have uninterrupted family time on your calendar.

Do what you need to take care of yourself. Make your mental and emotional health your top priority this year.

3. Taking Being Sick Seriously

Too often, we treat common colds as annoyances we have to push aside and power through. It’s understandable: colds aren’t, generally speaking, serious illnesses. Covid-19 reminded us that some infections, however, are. 

According to LinkedIn, workers took an average of just 2.5 sick days in 2018. Sick employees aren’t only less productive, but they risk infecting others and affecting their productivity. 

The bottom line is, overextending yourself when you’re sick doesn’t help anyone. Focusing on what’s important and taking the time to recover, on the other hand, helps everyone.

That might involve staying in when you want to go out with friends. It might mean rescheduling a meeting or moving an in-person appointment to a virtual one. Realize that your being ill affects others. So stay home and focus on recovery. 

4. Telecommuting

This change should catch no one by surprise. Over the past year, “telecommute” has become almost as familiar a word as “pandemic.” 

To be sure, not every job or industry is suited for at-home work. Not everyone will have the option to work remotely once Covid-19 has passed. 

For those who can telecommute, however, the arrangement can be a godsend. Remote workers are as productive as, if not more productive than, their in-office team members. Leaders can leverage the perk to expand their talent pool and to save on office costs. 

Make no mistake: offices, gyms, and schools will reopen once the pandemic is over. But at the same time, telecommuting is here to stay. 

Although it can be difficult to see silver linings in something like a pandemic, Covid-19 has its share. The challenge, of course, is seizing them at the same time you steer your life back to “normal.” Fortunately, you have the entire world as company. 

How to Tell Challenging Customers the Truth

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How to Tell Challenging Customers the Truth

It goes against every professional instinct to disappoint the person signing the checks, but the truth is, the customer is not always right. 

If a client has you working around the clock, rearranging your online calendar around their needs, or scrambling to provide services you don’t usually offer, it’s time to have a conversation. Can you reasonably meet their expectations?

Perhaps not. Sometimes, you’ll need to push back on challenging customers without hurting your relationship or losing business. 

Threading that needle is not easy, much less enjoyable. Here are some tips to help you have constructive conversations that reinforce your boundaries and prevent client relationships from deteriorating:

1. Go Back to the Contract

A lot of client overreach is born not out of entitlement, but out of the fact that the client has simply forgotten the scope of work. This is why it’s so important to establish clear expectations at the beginning of a client relationship, and to put those expectations in writing. If you don’t, you will have a much more difficult time telling a pushy client why something can’t be done.

Moreover, pointing to a contract is a respectful way to turn down a request, and one few reasonable people will argue against. If the client still wants you to perform extra work, you can offer to renegotiate their contract — and find opportunities to upsell them in the process. 

2. Take Time to Listen

When a client makes a demand that sounds unreasonable, it’s easy to assume they’re disrespecting you and your time. But it’s possible that they’re facing extenuating circumstances you don’t know about: Perhaps they’re under immense pressure from their own boss, or perhaps they simply don’t understand how much time and effort their request would require. 

Before saying “no,” schedule a meeting to talk through their request. Ask clarifying questions, and practice active listening when they answer. Fully understanding their needs will help you brainstorm a solution that works for both of you. And if you do still need to turn them down, the respect and consideration you showed them will soften the blow. 

3. Pick Your Battles

Being flexible without becoming a pushover is a difficult balance to strike, but an important one to master. If a task is technically out of scope but wouldn’t significantly strain your resources, consider the pros and cons of taking it on. If your contract allows you five business days to complete your deliverables, but the client’s CEO wants it on their desk in four days, it’s likely in your best interest to make an exception. 

In these situations, it’s helpful to make sure your client is fully aware that you’re pushing the bounds of the contract. Tell them, “While we usually prefer five business days to complete this task, we’re happy to expedite the process in this particular circumstance.” This reminds them what the norm is while highlighting the fact that you’re going above and beyond for them.

4. Be Specific

This should go without saying, but just saying “no” without an explanation won’t do much for your customer retention. The more clarity you offer your client, the more likely you are to end the disagreement amicably.

When explaining why a request can’t be met, point to specific aspects of the client’s request that are misaligned with what’s in their contract. This gives the client more clarity into what you can and cannot do. Plus, it emphasizes the fact that your denial is due to business needs, not your personal feelings. 

5. Remove Emotion from the Equation

When dealing with pushy clients, it’s easy to feel frustrated, angry, or insulted. But it’s important to remember that the matter probably isn’t personal for your client; it doesn’t have to be personal for you, either.  

When speaking with the difficult client, take a mental step back. Think of yourselves not as two individuals having a disagreement, but as two business representatives trying to work out the most mutually beneficial business deal. Speak in a calm tone, explain the situation with professional precision, and avoid getting into arguments.

There’s little you can do if your client behaves rudely. But if you make an effort to avoid retaliating in kind, you can prevent the conflict from getting worse. 

6. Consider Matching Their Request 

In some situations, you may be able to get some concessions from the client that make their request a little fairer. Just be sure you don’t insult them in the process.

“If the client asks for something outrageous,” Shortpress’s Sam McKeith suggests, “it can sometimes pay off to deflect with something equally as impossible.” 

Say a client asks for a massive discount. You could say that discount is available if they lock into a two-year contract or if they refer you to their own clients. This way, you can turn an extreme request into an opportunity for new business. 

7. Keep the End Goal in Mind 

Clients can often have you running around in circles as you try to meet their every whim. What they forget is that their own actions are delaying completion of their project. 

It’s your responsibility to keep the end goal in focus. Avoid letting them sidetrack you with irrelevant requests. Remind your client what you’re there for, and emphasize that it’s in their best interest to focus your joint energies on that end goal. 

8. If All Else Fails, End the Partnership

“Firing” a client can and should be a last resort. After all, they’re the one who initially hired you. But a client relationship that isn’t mutually beneficial isn’t worth maintaining. 

Remember that your company is in the business of making money, not providing charity to your clients. If an overbearing client is costing more in terms of manpower and morale than what they pay you, it may be time to end the relationship. 

Keep opportunity costs in mind. Your team could better use its time serving the clients that value their relationship with you. Your efforts could improve retention, generate more upsells, and create a healthier business in the long run. 

In most cases, though, consulting your contract, listening to your client, and communicating openly is enough to ease client challenges. Either way, professionalism and honesty go a long way toward encouraging clients to better respect your time. 

How to Handle Appointment Scheduling When Schedules Change

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How to Handle Appointment Scheduling When Schedules Change

As Americans return to work, many are losing their 9-to-5 freedom. No longer can they book appointments whenever they please thanks to the flexibility of remote work prompted by COVID-19. Appointment-based businesses must know when and how to adjust their own schedules as work practices revert to the old norm. Here’s what you can do to handle your appointment schedule when schedules change:

Manage Walk-Ins Wisely

Walk-ins can be both a blessing and a curse for appointment-based businesses. On the one hand, walk-ins represent welcome revenue on slow days when appointments are hard to come by. On the other hand, turning prospective customers away due to high volume is always a bummer. The best approach is to allow a set number of walk-ins per day or per hour and to work everything else through appointments.

Some of your customers might not know their availability until after they clock out. This may prompt them to stop by in an attempt to squeeze into your schedule. Instead of playing the odds, use their desire to your advantage. Send out notifications to your customers informing them of available appointment slots throughout the day. This way they’ll know beforehand whether you’re full to the brim or whether there’s a slot they can book right then and there using their device. 

Adjust Your Business Hours

When your regular customer base returns to a 9-to-5 schedule, your own business hours might see a decline in appointment volume. To cater to changing needs, consider adjusting your business hours to accommodate schedule changes. This could involve opening up a little earlier and staying open a couple extra hours to give everyone an opportunity to stop by.

Before making any changes, gauge the interest customers would have in amended store hours. If you’ve been developing a personal relationship with them, you can ask directly. Otherwise, send a survey asking for input or do a week-long trial run to see whether the new hours are popular. 

Be sure to get your employee work schedules straightened out beforehand, though. You’ll need to know that you have people willing to fill the new time slots. 

Go Virtual

If the nature of your business allows it, try incorporating virtual appointments into your services. This allows customers to book appointments and phone in even while they’re at the office, filling your 9-to-5 slots when physical appointments are infeasible. The convenience of virtual appointments will also benefit stay-at-home parents who struggle with dragging the kids around for errands.

While we’re still a long way from virtual haircuts, plenty of appointment-based businesses can pull off virtual appointments. Healthcare providers can check in on patients’ treatment plans, for example, while counselors only need to speak with their clients to make an impact. 

When deciding to go virtual, make sure to do it right. Invest in proper sound equipment, solid internet service, and robust videoconferencing technology for a high-quality appointment experience. Ready yourself for virtual appointments by doing extra preparation in advance and brushing up on online etiquette

Take Advantage of Customers’ Availability

Even as your customers return to their desk jobs, you can still take advantage of certain times to lure them in. The most reliable is the lunch hour, when employees might grab a quicker-than-usual bite to eat so they can fit in an appointment before clocking back in. Capitalizing on these brief moments of availability will give your business a nice boost of revenue each day.

Take a page out of the restaurant industry’s book. To get workers to stop by for lunch, they offer specials available only during certain times of day. Any appointment-based business can use this tactic to give customers an incentive to book a lunchtime slot. For example, a car detailer can offer a free exterior wash for any customer who brings in their ride between noon and 2 p.m.

Bring Your Business to the Customers

Back in the olden days, doctors would travel to private homes to care for their patients. Bringing back this old trend mould allows busy professionals stuck at work until 5 p.m. to book more appointments with you. 

Remember our car detailer? They could travel to their customer’s place of business and clean out their car in the parking lot. This way the service is still being performed without the customer having to take time off work or sacrifice part of their evenings or weekends. Any appointment-based business with enough creativity can pull this off as long as there’s demand. 

Adjust Your Late and Cancellation Policies

What happens if a customer can’t make it to their appointment because their boss asked them to stay late? Take a look at your late and cancellation policies to determine how best to accommodate these types of scenarios. Some leniency on your part will encourage customers to try — and try again — to visit your business and develop loyalty to your brand.

Of course, there will always be times when your late and cancellation policies must be enforced. Repeat offenders shouldn’t be given the same benefit of the doubt as loyal customers who have to cancel last-minute due to unforeseen circumstances. 

As a business owner you’ll always have to make adjustments on the fly when circumstances change — and the workplace upheaval caused by COVID-19 is certainly one of those circumstances. As the 9-to-5 norm is re-established, work to give your customers the service they deserve, and you’ll always come out on top. 

The Right Appointment Reminders Will Get Your Customers Through the Door

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The Right Appointment Reminders Will Get Your Customers Through the Door

Any business that works with appointment bookings should be sending reminders to all of its customers. Even the simplest reminder can slash no-show rates and late appearances by customers who have a hard time keeping track of their schedule. Online appointment reminders can also be automated, so there’s no additional work for your team.

However, the best appointment reminders require a little more thought and effort. Carefully crafting your appointment reminders will improve their effectiveness in bringing customers through your doors. Here are a few tips to bear in mind when developing your own appointment reminders:

Provide Multiple Options

Not all forms of appointment reminders will be effective for all your customers. Some will prefer email reminders, while others are more likely to respond to a text message or automated phone call. Having a variety of options lets customers select the method that fits them best; multiple options will help ensure they never forget an appointment.

Also consider allowing customers to select the time of the reminder. Some individuals only need an hour’s notice to get ready for an appointment, while others will want a nudge 24 hours in advance. For clients who book appointments very far out, multiple reminders over a month or two will prevent you from falling off their radar.

In some cases, businesses are prohibited from sending direct messages to customers without their approval. Follow any opt-in requirements that may apply to your business to make sure your reminders don’t run afoul of the FCC. 

Include Appointment Information

You could have the loveliest copy and cleanest design, but your appointment reminder won’t be worth much if it doesn’t contain key information. Before you add bells and whistles to your reminders, start with the basic structure.

Be sure that the time, date, and location of the appointment are front and center. The purpose of a reminder, after all, is to call attention to the commitment a customer has made with your business. Your company name and logo should be immediately visible so customers know where the reminder is coming from.

Get (Reasonably) Personal

You probably can’t send a calligraphed note for each individual appointment reminder, but there are ways you can add a personal touch to each one. A little personalization helps customers feel important and valued, not just another face in the crowd. 

Automation allows you to easily give your appointment reminders some personal flair. It can add the customer’s name as well as other relevant information that makes the reminder theirs and theirs alone. Adding time, location, and — if possible — the name of the service provider will prevent appointment reminders from sounding too generic. 

Be wary of messages that are too personal, though. For instance, appointment reminders for a doctor’s office shouldn’t include sensitive patient information. Such information should be stored securely and accessed via an online patient portal with messaging that requires a username and password.

Keep It Concise

Don’t let a lot of copy defeat the purpose of your appointment reminder. A wall of text will swallow up the important information your customer will need in order to fulfill their appointment commitment. 

So keep it super simple. Address the customer by name, and notify them of their upcoming appointment. If you want to make more use of the reminder, you can include contact information. This way, should customers need to cancel an appointment or adjust their booking, they’ll know how to get in touch. 

Use the Right Tone

The tone of your writing should reflect your brand imaging in a way that resonates with customers. A high-profile lawyer wouldn’t use the same tone of voice as, say, a hair stylist. One is more serious, while the other allows for more flexibility and fun.

Think about your target audience and what sort of message would appeal to them. Customers of a more light-hearted business might appreciate a fun tagline with their appointment reminders or a quote fit for an Instagram post. Others, like our lawyer friend, will want to use official-sounding language that exemplifies their expertise in the legal field. 

Include a Call to Action

Use appointment reminders as a way to increase engagement by adding a call to action. This will prompt customers to act on your reminder instead of dismissing the notification and forgetting about it immediately. 

A simple click-to-confirm button will solidify bookings in your business calendar and get customers to take control of their appointments. Other calls to action can include taking advantage of deals or setting up a future booking from their device. 

Send Reminders From a Consistent Source

When sending out your appointment reminders, stick to the same phone number or email address. Customers will recognize the validity of your messages when they come from a consistent source. Otherwise, they might dismiss reminder messages as spam.

To remove all doubt, make it easy for customers to verify where you send messages from. Add this information to an easily accessible location on your website, such as a frequently asked questions page. You can also add your contact info to confirmation messages that come with the initial booking. 

The right appointment reminders will help customers keep their commitments and businesses maximize their time and revenue. Review your appointment reminders now — and often — so that they’re always optimized for the best results. 

How to Maximize Virtual Appointments

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How to Maximize Virtual Appointments

Every company has had to adapt in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Deliveries replaced in-store purchases. In-office employees went remote. Plexiglass dividers were erected between customers and service staff.

One change some companies have yet to master? Virtual appointments. Leaders are still figuring out what services they can offer and how best to connect with virtual customers.

The virtual appointment movement was started by medical professionals in order to reach patients from home. Now, everyone from counselors to tutors to accountants uses them to stay safe and save time. 

So, what’s the secret to virtual appointments? In fact, there are nine:

1. Digitize the Details

Virtual appointments require the customer and the company to get on the same page remotely. Online appointment software not only lets the customer choose a time that works for everyone, but it automatically sends out a reminder as the session nears. 

Online appointment software can also take care of payment ahead of time. That way, there’s no awkward credit card wrangling as soon as the call starts. 

2. Prepare in Advance

Virtual appointments can be held in a click, but that doesn’t mean they require no prep work. Whoever is handling them needs to show up prepared. 

The nature of that work will depend on your type of business. It might be as simple as pulling up a customer’s record, or as involved as putting together an entire business strategy to discuss on the call.

3. Upgrade Your Audio 

Nothing will lead to a rockier virtual appointment than audio problems. If you can’t hear the customer and they can’t hear you, literally nothing will get done. To prevent miscommunications or cancellations, invest in the proper equipment.

It shouldn’t take much to revamp your audio. A simple USB microphone can plug right into your computer. A quality headset will help you understand every word your customer says. 

This is particularly important in certain lines of work, such as counseling. A customer’s story may hold clues about how best to address their needs. 

4. Don’t Forget the Video

While audio is more important to most kids of virtual appointments, the visual experience shouldn’t be forgotten. Virtual appointments should replace in-person interactions as closely as possible. Without a solid webcam, they’re more like grainy phone calls.

Your computer or smart device may come with a built-in camera that makes the cut. If not, or if you simply want an upgrade, look into available webcam options. The clear video feed will help you and your customers better read each other’s body language. 

5. Use Screen-Sharing

Screen-sharing will add a new layer to your virtual appointment experience. You can display your own screen on that of your customers to share graphics, videos, or other rich media with them.

Most video conferencing tools allow for screen sharing. All it takes is the touch of a button to set it up. Having what you want to share ready in advance allows you to quickly flip through the resources you need.

6. Dress the Part

If your doctor logs on to your virtual appointment wearing a t-shirt at home, the experience won’t feel very authentic unless you know each other on a very personal level. To maximize your virtual appointments, be sure to dress the part. It will make a subtle yet tangible difference.

Even a company polo will be more impactful than casualwear. Also, be sure to check your surroundings to ensure there’s nothing distracting in the background. Remember, you’re still representing your company in virtual appointments.

7. Put a Premium on Engagement

Virtual appointments open up so many opportunities for businesses that wouldn’t work as well in person. Make it an experience all its own, rather than merely a substitute for an in-person visit. 

For example, a pediatric doctor can use graphics and game-like applications to engage youngsters. They may even start to look forward to their doctor visits if the experience is entertaining enough. 

8. Get Serious About Security

Imagine a stranger standing in the room during your doctor’s appointment. Unsettling, isn’t it?

Think of your virtual appointments the same way. Your customers put their trust in you. It’s incumbent on you to make your digital security efforts known to them.

Make sure that virtual appointment links are private and encrypted. Hold your appointments in a location where private information won’t be overheard. Set strict penalties for employees who mishandle customer data. 

While we might not see holograms for another decade or more, virtual appointments are no longer a thing of the future. Platforms like Zoom and Appointment make them possible; it’s up to you to make the most of them. 

7 Ways Appointment Software Supports Sales and Marketing

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7 Ways Appointment Software Supports Sales and Marketing

You know online appointment software can help customer service teams up their efficiency. But believe it or not, it can also make life easier for your sales and marketing teams. 

If you’re already licking your chops at the thought of squeezing in more sales meetings, then keep reading. This article will outline some of the ways appointment software can help you attract leads, close sales, and chisel your brand:

Online Booking Is Enticing

The simple perk of being able to book an appointment online is music to most customers’ ears. No longer will they have to wait on hold to ask about your availability and to hopefully get the slot they want. With appointment software, all they have to do is log onto your website and complete the booking process with a few clicks.

Ask your marketing team to come up with a campaign alerting new and existing companies of your new system. Social media and email marketing costs are minimal. Then, they can add small details to bring appointment software to the forefront of your branding, such as adding a “Book Now” button to your homepage.

Not only are buttons helpful for customers, but they also bring in new business. In other words, everyone wins. 

Customer Relationships Improve

A huge part of the sales process is building a relationship with the customer. The stronger the relationship, the more likely a customer is to commit to a purchase. 

Online appointment software starts the relationship-building process early. It incentivizes loyalty and makes it easy for customers to commit due to its sheer convenience. The software also tracks customer information for sales representatives to use when they reach out to clients.

Data Delivers New Insights

Speaking of tracking information, nothing helps a marketing team more than cold, hard data. Otherwise, marketers are forced to guess at what sorts of tactics and talking points lead to conversions.

There are a variety of data points appointment software can track for you. Some examples include:

  • No-show and late appointment rate
  • Age and gender demographics
  • Booking link clickthrough rate
  • Proportion of bookings per service line
  • Average amount spent per customer

This data can help your marketing team spot gaps in your audiences and services. If only a few women book appointments in a given month, for example, maybe it’s time for a campaign targeted specifically at them. If late appointments are common, maybe you need to institute buffer periods. 

Budgeting Becomes Easier

If you don’t know how many appointments to expect in a given month, it can be difficult to budget. How much you spend on office upgrades should depend on how much traffic your office gets, for example.

The more money you save, the more you can reinvest in your sales and marketing operations. Marketing might want to throw a live event as soon as the pandemic is over. Sales may need a new video conferencing tool, or perhaps a year-end reward to work their tails off.

Bookings Get Made 24/7

Your online appointment software doesn’t take breaks or expect weekends off. This means that your customers can continue to book appointments even when there’s no one around to answer the phone. 

This constant flow of customers also takes work off your sales team’s shoulders. They can focus on chasing down high-quality leads, rather than pursuing those that would have booked anyway.

SEO Gets a Boost

How your website ranks for relevant keywords has a lot to do with how much business it brings in. A higher position not only produces more traffic but also improves your brand’s credibility. 

Google puts a premium on the user experience. Making it easy for customers to book online improves your site’s UX, which should also help it appear higher in search engine results pages.

Knowing the Workload Dictates the Day

When customers book through online appointment software, your sales and marketing team members get a better sense of their workload for the day. Even if they aren’t directly serving customers, they probably get roped in regularly.

For example, on days projected to have few appointments, your sales team can make cold calls in an attempt to fill more slots. Your marketing team can also jump on board, perhaps by developing new ads or discount offers.

Online appointment software can make a night-and-day difference for every role on every team. Nowhere is that more true than sales and marketing. 

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