Category Archives: Appointment

12 Productivity Hacks You Probably Aren’t Using

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Sometimes the conventional wisdom and obvious advice that you’ve heard a million times doesn’t cut it when need a major productivity boost. During these times you might need to think outside the box and use the following 12 productivity hacks to get you back-on-track.

Sometimes the conventional wisdom and obvious advice that you’ve heard a million times doesn’t cut it when need a major productivity boost. During these times you might need to think outside the box and use the following 12 productivity hacks to get you back-on-track.

1. Work when you’re most effective.

“Everyone has times of the day when they are more efficient. They also have times of the day when they tend to drag their feet,” writes Max Palmer in a previous Calendar article. “If you want to maximize your effectiveness throughout the day you need to identify your peak hours.”

After you’ve identified when you’re more effective, “it’s time to optimize your schedule,” adds Max. “The tasks that require the most concentration need to be taken care of when you’re at your best.”

For example, if you’re at your peak between nine am to noon, and you’re a freelance writer, then that’s when you should writing your most important, challenging, and undesirable assignments.

Once you’ve eaten that frog, you can tackle those smaller, more enjoyable, and less important writing gigs.

2. Unsubscribe and unfollow.

Our tastes change frequently throughout life. For instance, if you got into Crossfit several years ago you probably started following trainers on social media, signed-up for newsletters and purchased the proper gear and Paleo cookbooks.

Today, however, your body can’t handle Crossfit. Now all of those newsletters and feeds aren’t relevant to you. But, they’re still filling-up your inbox and feed.

Take a couple of minutes to unsubscribe and unfollow newsletters and feeds that are no longer providing you with value. This way you won’t be spending as much time maintaining your email and social accounts since it’s lean and mean.

I would do this at least once a month so that your inbox and social feeds don’t become too cluttered.

3. Work from a communal space.

Most of us can’t focus when there’s a conversation right next to us. You can forget about getting any deep work done when that jackhammer is going to town on the sidewalk in front of your office. As a result, we tend to lock ourselves in a completely silent office.

The fact, however, is that ambient noise can actually make you more productive.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found ambient noise of 70 decibels increased productivity more than relative quiet.

So if you work from home relocate to a co-working space. Instead of shutting your office door spend a couple of hours at your favorite coffee shop. The white noise, vibe, and java will keep you going.

4. Use a treadmill desk.

I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of people raving about the benefits of standing desks. But, how about you take that to the next level with a treadmill desk?

Researchers at the University of Queensland found that standing up while you work and walking on a treadmill desk reduces stress and boosts productivity.

Lead researcher Nicholas Gilson, an associate professor with the university’s School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, said in a press release, “We found people who use activity-promoting desks were more able to focus on urgent tasks, avoid non-urgent tasks and manage stress better than people sitting at a desk all day.”

Dr. Gilson added, “The workers who used sit-stand or walking desks allocated attention most effectively and had lower levels of cortisol – known as the “stress hormone” – in their saliva.”

You can purchase a new treadmill desk, like the LifeSpan TR1200-DT5, on Amazon for just over $1,500. You could also purchase workstation to go with your existing treadmill or, if you’re creative, you can probably build your own for a couple of hundred bucks.

5. Create a mini-crisis.

I wouldn’t recommend doing this all-of-the-time, but there are moments when we work best under pressure. Let’s say that you’re heading out-of-town for a business trip or family vacation. I can guarantee that the week leading up to your departure you’re going to be hustling so that you don’t have to worry about work while you’re away.

You can recreate this sensation by blocking out less time than you think you’ll actually need to complete a task. Instead of blocking out three hours for writing, cut it down to two. Instead of an hour dedicated to emails, spend only 30-minutes. You’ll be surprised at how much more you’ll get accomplished when you have less time to spend on a specific task.

6. Sleepless.

This doesn’t mean that you should only get four hours of sleep per night. After all, quality sleep ensures that you’ll have enough energy to make it through the day.

This means that you don’t need to sleep for eight or more hours every night.

Clinical studies show that we only need 6 to 7 hours of sleep. Imagine what you can do with that extra hour or two of time instead of sleeping.

7. Optimize your workspace.

It’s no secret that maintaining a proper workspace boosts productivity, creativity, and energy. But, how many of us actually take the time to optimize our workspaces?

You can start today by making these quick workspace changes:

  • Invest in ergonomic furniture — particularly your office chair. It can be a bit pricey, but it’s worth it if you want to become more efficient while remaining comfortable.
  • Clean and organize your workspace. This means putting stacks of paper away, cleaning-up messy computer cables, and placing everything back where they belong so you can find them when needed.
  • Locate your workspace to a spot where you’re exposed to natural light. If there aren’t any sunny spots, purchase a full spectrum light.
  • Put some live plants in your workspace. They purify the air and come with psychological benefits that can boost productivity.
  • Face your workspace towards the door. Having your back to the door can make you feel insecure.

I’d also add that you set your workspace to the right temperature. Researchers at Cornell have found that offices, where temperatures were 68 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, made 44 percent more mistakes. Offices at optimal room temperature, which is around 77 degrees Fahrenheit, made fewer errors.

8. Listen to the right kind of music.

As mentioned above, white noise can increase your productivity. This also includes music. In fact, according to research from Dr. Teresa Lesiuk, those who listened to music while working not only completed their tasks faster, they also had better ideas.

The caveat here is that you have to listen to the right type of music. This includes classical, ambient soundtracks, video game music, epic music, and the sounds of nature.

[email protected] is a handy app that can boost your productivity by finding the right music to help you focus more.

9. Take a cold shower.

This may seem a little out there. But as noted by researchers at the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam, “Cold bathing is a common custom in many parts of the world.” In fact, humans have experimented with water temperature variation for centuries. “In ancient times, Roman bathing was based around the practice of moving through a series of heated rooms culminating in a cold plunge at the end.”

Modern research has found that taking a cold shower can strengthen your immunity and circulation, help you recover after exercise, and make you more alert and energized.

This doesn’t mean you have to take a 5-minute shower in freezing water either. You can start off with a warm shower and follow that by a 30, 60, or 90-second blast of cold water to get your day started.

10. Hydrate.

If you want to be at peak productivity, then you need to be fully hydrated.

It’s been found that even just a one percent drop in hydration can result in a 12 percent reduction in productivity! A three or four percent drop in hydration can lead to between 25 percent to 50 percent reduction in productivity.

To stay fully hydrated, make sure that you’re drinking at least two liters of water daily. Make sure to update this in your academic calendar as well!

11. Know exactly how long your breaks should be.

This may sound counter-intuitive, but we need to take breaks throughout the day. But, as As Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project, perfectly explains, “Without any downtime to refresh and recharge, we’re less efficient, make more mistakes, and get less engaged with what we’re doing.”

Studies have found that in the morning we can stay focused on a task for around 90 minutes before we start to lose focus. As such, we should then take a 20-minute break every 90 minutes. That makes sense it follows our natural body rhythms.

In the afternoon though, we should use the Pomodoro Technique where you work in 25-minute chunks and then take a five-minute break. When the fourth time comes around you take a 25-30 minute break. This works better in the afternoon since our biological rhythms have stabilized.

If that’s too much too figure out, break for 17 minutes every 52 minutes throughout the day. The idea is that we need frequent breaks throughout the day in order to stay focused and energized throughout the day.

12. Declutter your Calendar.

Do you wake-up in the morning, look at your calendar, and become instantly stressed? It’s probably because you’re calendar is too cluttered. And when you have too much planned in one day, it’s impossible to accomplish everything that needs to get done.

Take the time to clear the clutter from your calendar by:

  • Every night review your calendar and select only your top 3 priorities for tomorrow.
  • Review all of your recurring events and commitments. Some of these may no longer be valuable or fit into your schedule and may need to be removed.
  • Stop filling your calendar with tasks that only take a minute of your time.
  • Share your calendar with others so that everyone knows your availability.
  • Keep a separate calendar for work so that you’re calendar isn’t jam-packed with work and personal entries.
  • Stop saying “yes” to every request and invite.
  • Use a scheduling assistant, like Calendar, to eliminates those back-and-forth communications when scheduling appointments.

Online Appointment Software Says a Lot About Your Business

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Online Appointment Software Says a Lot About Your Business

Not every company uses online appointment software, at least not yet. Your business is sure to stand out — in a good way — if you choose to become an early adopter. Potential customers will take notice of your willingness to embrace newer technologies while simultaneously appreciating you for making their lives easier.

Your company may have chosen to transition to online appointment-making for the sake of convenience, financial incentives, or both. The good news for you is that your decision sends several positive signals. If you’re on the fence about diving in, it might help you to consider some of the positive, unspoken PR an online system brings with it:

You Respect People’s Time

Using online appointment software isn’t just about saving time and money, though it will definitely save you both. In addition to those benefits, online appointment-making saves your customers time and hassle. They’ll appreciate anything you can do to make their interactions with you as simple and pain-free as possible.

Few things frustrate a customer more than long wait times and unexpected delays. Online appointment software combats both of those problems by having customers choose from a predetermined list of options. Studies have shown that you are actually doing your customer a favor by limiting their options.

When implemented correctly, this feature helps to narrow the window of time customers spend on the front and back end of their appointment. Who doesn’t like freeing up some extra time?

You Embrace Newer Technologies

Companies that embrace any innovation that makes doing business easier are a welcome respite from those that provide poor customer service. However, it’s important that you not adopt anything just because it’s new. Instead, look for newer tech that demonstrably makes your business run more efficiently. As your company fine-tunes its practices, your customers stand to benefit.

Consider a few ways using an online appointment system will improve your business operations. When customers are able to set up their own appointments, it frees up at least a few of your employees to attend to more pressing issues. Perhaps the increased efficiency will allow you to add an extra appointment slot per hour, thereby serving more customers and increasing revenue.

You’re Willing to Make Investments

Free business software is typically worth every penny you paid for it. Jokes aside, you’re unlikely to come across enterprise-level software that’s free and trouble-free. Once you’ve accepted that your business must invest in the software tools it uses, you won’t be as tempted to sabotage your business using cheap solutions.

Online appointment software is no different. Reliable packages often run on a subscription basis, typically with a monthly recurring fee.

Moving into new tech shows customers that your company doesn’t pinch pennies when it comes to making their experience pleasant. They’ll appreciate that you’re willing to invest in the technologies needed to facilitate their interactions with you.

Play the long game. You are committed to upgrading when needed, with an eye fixed on how your business operations make life better for your customers. They, in turn, will appreciate your stability and be less likely to start window-shopping your competitors.

Your Employees Are Capable

Is there anything more comforting than arriving at an appointment to be greeted by an employee who clearly knows their stuff? Efficiently handling appointments both online and as customers enter your facility leaves a lasting impression. 

In case you feel any trepidation, rest assured that no one needs a degree in information technology to operate online appointment software. You won’t need to hire a computer engineer from MIT to install your system, either. 

You will, however, need to commit at least some time up front to make sure all of your employees know how to use the new system. No need to stress, though. Most will get the hang of it in no time.

You Place a High Priority on Data Security

Online appointment software moves a lot of information around on a daily basis. Customers expect you to keep their information safe, preventing credit card or identity theft stemming from vulnerabilities in your system. While online appointment software increases data capacity, it does so while holding data in an iron grip.

Savvy customers will recognize that moving their appointments to an online system is in fact more secure than traditional means. Data can be quickly compiled, archived, secured, and deleted on command. Software vendors, for their part, have a huge stake in keeping the information of your clients safe.

Using online appointment booking enables stronger confidentiality. The risk of someone overhearing your information is eliminated. Patients visiting the doctor’s office can type out notes regarding the nature of their illness instead of announcing potentially embarrassing symptoms in a waiting room.

You Cultivate Relationships

In addition to offering increased convenience, customers will see that you want to establish a relationship with them. Tracking appointment frequency with your new system makes it easier to remember individuals who enter your business regularly. This allows you to demonstrate that your company sees people as something more than dollar signs, but individuals with names and faces. 

Make it a point to use the personalized aspects of online appointment software to your advantage. Personal interactions give infrequent customers more reason to become regulars. When an employee sees a name pop up on the screen as a customer walks in — or even a photo, if allowed — they can make a point of addressing the visitor by name. The employee will also have access to important details about the customer’s most recent appointments.

You Encourage Flexibility

Making life easier for your customers is almost always the right thing to do. When it comes to appointments, this means greater ability to roll with the punches that come with daily life. Personal matters and unexpected circumstances will arise that cause customers to reschedule appointments. Online appointment software can help with that.

With access to the internet, or even a mobile app, your customers can make adjustments to their appointments when needed. By allowing them to feel a heightened sense of control whenever life throws them a curveball, you ease your customers’ tension and demonstrate a willingness to help them refocus on more pressing concerns.

Implementing online appointment software will help place your business in a positive light. Making life easier for your employees as well as your customers sure sounds like a win-win. Schedule some time to look at your options, remembering to assess costs through the lenses of increased productivity and customer loyalty.

8 Simple Steps to Protect Customer Appointment Data

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8 Simple Steps to Protect Customer Appointment Data

Identity theft and credit card fraud are pressing problems that continue to rise. Consumers and businesses alike need to be increasingly careful about how they share and store sensitive information. 

Even data that at first glance does not appear compromising could prove costly if it were to fall into the wrong hands. From a business perspective, your company is responsible not only for its own data, but for any data entrusted to you by paying customers.

Companies take in a sometimes-surprising amount of data every time an appointment is booked online. Thankfully, fulfilling your role to protect customer data doesn’t require a full team of data scientists armed with state-of-the-art equipment. Instead, making certain your employees follow a few simple steps can go a long way toward full data protection.

1. Develop a Security Plan

Start with a plan for keeping customer appointment data secure. What steps will every employee take to secure information? What rules will be put into place that customers must follow when interacting with your organization? A data security plan will address both sides of the equation to be most effective.

Your security plan should also outline what steps to take in the event of a data breach. Do you have backups available in case of an attack or, better yet, a firewall that can stop one in its tracks? Failing to plan in this case is indeed planning to fail. It’s probably just a matter of time until someone locates and exploits vulnerabilities.

2. Keep Customers Involved

Let your customers in on the efforts you take to protect their information. Provide them educational information encourages safety and security practices, such as how to identify a phishing email. Notify them of any changes to your security measures, especially when those changes affect how they do business with you.

Customers should also be given clear, easy-to-understand options for how their data can and will be shared. If they want to withhold information that’s not needed, they have every right to ask, especially if it helps them feel more secure when doing business with you.

3. Require Account Protection

While customers should have some say over security options, account protection should always be required. At the very least, customer accounts should be set up with a unique password to keep a customer’s information for their eyes only. Putting one barrier to entry in place is exponentially more effective than nothing at all.

To really up your data security game, consider adding some extra steps to ensure that data remains safe and secure. Two-factor authentication is a security method that requires customers to verify their identity anytime an attempt is made to access their account. This can be accomplished in a matter of seconds using their personal cell phone. As an added bonus, it also acts as a warning trigger if a would-be intruder is trying to access their information.

4. Collect Only What You Truly Need

Some companies record every piece of possible data even when they don’t need it for the task at hand. Unnecessary data hoarding puts customers at excessive risk and exposes the hoarder to increased legal liability. You do yourself a favor and better serve your customers by only taking the information that’s absolutely necessary.

Additionally, make it a practice to regularly erase data that’s no longer being used. Your company can’t be held liable for data that it no longer stores. Examples might include appointments made months ago or data from a customer that you’ve not done business with in years. 

If your company keeps physical backups of customer information, make sure you dispose of it in a controlled and secure manner. Additionally, make sure any hard copies of customer data you do keep on hand are securely locked away from prying eyes.

5. Stay Up-to-Date With Security Measures

It’s safe to assume that fraudulent online activity will never stop. Keep yourself in the loop! Stay vigilant by subscribing to security alerts online and making sure your staff doesn’t fall victim to social engineering.

Security technology is constantly evolving, with newer developments proving to be more reliable for protecting data. Install antivirus software and spam filters onto all of your digital systems as appropriate. Make sure any processing equipment you use for payments is up-to-date with the necessary security features. 

Set aside a regular time slot in your work week, or more than one, to digest the latest information from security companies and industry leaders. See what they say about the future of data security. If their guidance is applicable to the way your company does business, dig deeper. It’s better to spend time learning about preventive measures than have to apologize to customers after a breach.

6. Be Wary of Third-Party Companies

Assuming your company has tightened up its security measures, you cannot assume anyone else with whom you do business has done the same. Some of your suppliers or partnering organizations may even be part of the problem, selling your data to other companies as an added revenue stream. When doing business with others, it pays to ask up front how they plan to use your information. If necessary, require data privacy as a condition of entering into a contract.

Pay attention to any uneasy feeling you or your employees get when the topic of data security is raised. Be prepared to walk away from the table if need be. If you aren’t certain the other company is as serious about protecting your customers as you are, you’ll save yourself headaches by finding another supplier.

7. Train Your Employees … All of Them

Even the most fortified castle wall can be breached when those inside allow themselves to make simple mistakes. A firewall worthy of the Pentagon means nothing if your receptionist writes out passwords on a sticky note affixes them to his monitor.

To ensure that your seriousness about data protection does not slip through the cracks, provide security training to all your employees. There are a number of cybersecurity training resources available. Depending on the sensitivity level of the data you collect, prepare yourself to invest more as a hedge against misuse. There are free options available online, but be aware that you get what you pay for.

8. Run Tests

Not sure how your data protection system stacks up? Run tests to see whether it resists compromise. There are any number of companies that can help you run a basic security test. Hire one to see whether they can hack your system or find holes.

A controlled breach will let you know just how permeable your security software is and where it needs to be strengthened. Study test results carefully to find areas where you can improve. Paying for extra tech and tests is much better than paying for lawsuits due to a breach of privacy.

Avoiding a data mishap will foster loyalty from your customers. Whenever news of a security vulnerability grabs your customers’ attention, they will be relieved to learn your company was unaffected.

6 Ways to Smooth Your Transition to an Online Appointment System

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6 Ways to Smooth Your Transition to an Online Appointment System

Online appointment software is infinitely more efficient than taking bookings over the phone. Your employees won’t get interrupted by the lines ringing off the hook everyday, and customers can book appointments more quickly and whenever they want.

If you currently rely on a phone system for appointment bookings, you’ll need to undergo a transition process. To make life easier for everyone, use the following tips to make the switch from phone to online bookings seamlessly:

Start With the Setup

Before you start transitioning online, make sure your infrastructure is good to go before launch. Run some tests with your online appointment software to make sure it’s accurately tracking customer information and setting up appointments without errors. Also take note of any delays or double bookings that pop up so you can resolve these issues before they get out of hand. 

Once you’ve worked the kinks out of your online appointment software, you’ll be set up for a smooth transition experience. If you neglect this step, you may have to take your appointment system offline while it’s being repaired, adding further bumps to your transition. Be sure to check everything from confirmation emails to autofill selections when running a pre-launch audit. 

Change Voicemail Messages

Give customers a heads up by changing your voicemail message. In it, you can notify customers of your plan to switch from taking bookings over the phone to only accepting them through online appointment software. Those customers who are used to calling in to make their appointment will be quickly notified of the change.

You can set up your voicemail message to run a script describing the new system and how to access it before a call is put through. This allows customers to get most of the information they need before talking to one of your employees. If they can make the switch to your online platform on their own, your employees will be spared from explaining the details over a dozen times a day. 

Another potential option is having your voicemail messaging act as an extension to your online appointment software. An automated response system will set up appointments for your online system while using a call-in feature that some of your customers will continue to prefer using. 

Incentivize Online Booking

As you make the transition, incentivize the use of your online appointment software to lure customers over more quickly. Those resistant customers will feel more inclined to give the new system a go if you give them an offer they can’t refuse. 

While you don’t want to break the bank with incentives, even the smallest offer will carry some weight. Consider providing a discount code for customers using your online appointment software for the first time. This will give customers the chance to learn the new system in pursuit of a lower price.

Some incentives are built into the online appointment software itself. For example, being able to prepay for appointments is a huge plus for many customers. The ability to book an appointment outside of normal business hours is another great perk for customers with busier schedules. 

Provide a Transition Period

Even with good incentives, you shouldn’t expect your entire client base to switch approaches overnight. There are a lot of moving parts, and a transition period will allow for a smoother change for both your business and your customers. 

Make customers aware of the strict deadline by which they will have to start booking appointments exclusively through your online appointment software. This advance notice will indicate when they need to commit to the switch and provide enough time for them to acclimate to a new system of operations.

Leverage Marketing 

Old and new customers alike need to know when you decide to start implementing online appointment software. Leverage your marketing resources to inform everyone that they can now schedule appointments online and that phone bookings will be discontinued. Start by displaying this message clearly on your website’s homepage and your social media pages.

If you send out newsletters and messages to your customers, add information about the change to your next e-blast. Include links to relevant information or your new customer portal to help them get started. A robust social media strategy can also spread the word about your new system to followers, as well as net you some new customers. 

Walk Customers Through the Process

Each time a customer walks through your doors, take the time to walk them through the online appointment process and answer any questions they might have right then and there. This gives each customer a chance to voice concerns they might have over the change, which they otherwise might keep to themselves.

This also offers you a chance to encourage customers to set up a return appointment on the spot. This will give your retention rate a boost and fill up your online appointment calendar much faster. 

Look for ways to guide your customers through the process online as well. AI-driven tools such as chatbots can answer frequently asked questions or present a guided tour through the online booking process. 

The smoother your transition process, the sooner you can get to taking care of customers and booking appointments like there’s no tomorrow. Don’t rush the process — that can cause you to make mistakes that will set you back. Take the transition one step at a time to make sure your online appointment software takes its proper place from day one.

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. 

8 Industries That Need to Start Using Online Appointment Software

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8 Industries That Need to Start Using Online Appointment Software

There are some industries that have the appointment process down to a science. Healthcare providers and hairdressers are incredibly efficient at getting customers in and out. Others, however, have yet to tap into the benefits of appointment software

Just about every industry conducts customer service. Even product companies need to set up troubleshooting and feedback sessions with users. Here are a few others that should embrace appointment software: 

1. Education

Great teachers maintain office hours in case students, parents, or colleagues stop by with a question. The trouble is, these hours tend toward one of two extremes: either nobody shows up, or there’s a crowd waiting their turn. 

Appointment software can solve both issues. Teachers can even out the flow by encouraging people to book appointments. And if nobody has booked a slot, they can spend their office hours preparing for their next lesson. 

2. Car Dealers and Mechanics

Many car dealers continue to do it the old fashioned way: waiting for potential buyers to walk onto the lot. Appointment software can help them make more sales with less stress. Car shoppers expect their salesperson’s full and undivided attention. 

Garages and mechanics can also use online appointment software to help their customers, whether they work for a dealership or out of their home. Customers need their cars to get around; asking them to book an appointment ensures they are without their wheels for only as long as is necessary. 

3. Fitness Trainers

With the new year still fresh, fitness trainers have their hands full. Organizing workouts for multiple clients can be a balancing act, especially now with COVID-19 restricting building occupancy. Online appointment software can help trainers focus on the gym instead of their calendar.

Despite their best intentions, customers skip workouts. Online appointment software lets customers cancel or change their appointments at will. When that happens, trainers using booking software can readjust their schedule to squeeze in more clients.

4. Entertainers

No one is as excited for the COVID-19 pandemic to end as entertainers. Musicians, DJs, comedians, and more are anxious for public gatherings to resume. Until then, many are booking housecalls. Appointment software ensures they don’t double-book themselves or leave too little time between sessions.

Once the pandemic recedes, entertainers will use booking software to communicate with event planners. Entertainers need to stay in touch with venues before and up to each event. 

5. Mobile Services

Mobile services are increasingly popular, meaning they need tools like appointment software. The more organized they are, the more timely and productive they’ll be.

Handymen, lawn care professionals, house cleaners, and more can use online software to organize their schedules and share their availability to customers. Every time they finish a job, they can check to see if gaps in their schedule have been filled with last-minute appointments. More availability means more appointments, which means more revenue. 

6. Child Care

Babysitters and nannies have to work around the schedules of their client families. Online appointment software makes it easy to accommodate changing routines. If a family needs to change their plans, it can be done in just a few clicks. 

Many sitters are teenagers and students who have busy schedules. They can use online appointment software to juggle school commitments alongside their sitting work. Now if only they’d treat their homework with the same seriousness they do their clients. 

7. Recreation Centers

Only so many people can use the racquetball court or fit in a lap pool at once. To make sure everyone gets their fair share, recreation centers can use online appointment software. Making bookings public knowledge can help gym goers know when courts are in use and when they’re available for reservation. 

This software will be particularly valuable as fitness facilities navigate COVID-19. Appointment software can help ensure that occupancy doesn’t exceed safe limits, allowing centers to stay open while keeping everyone safe. Facilities can even reserve a time slot designated specifically for cleaning.

8. Real Estate

Some real estate agents work full time, while to others, it’s a side gig. Either way, most of their success comes from showing homes on the market to prospective buyers. 

Most showings are by appointment only. Agents can use software to book tours, schedule open houses, and give a heads up to occupants who may need to vacate the area for the showing. Not only does it make managing their own schedule easier, but it gives a positive impression to clients and potential buyers. 

Is your industry in need of an appointment overhaul? Don’t shy away from software. There’s a reason your doctor and dentist insist you book online. 

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. 

How to Optimize Your Appointments in 2021

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Struggling to think of a New Year’s resolution for your business? Focus on your customers and their appointment experience. The steps you take to meet your appointment goals will improve your operations from top to bottom.

What specific appointment goals should you set? Here are eight great ones to choose from:

1. Increase Total Appointments

One clear choice for your 2021 goal list is to increase your total appointment volume. Get a base measurement by looking at your totals from 2020. What kind of growth do you hope to see? This goal should be realistic, but still challenging enough to stretch your limits.

In order to up your total appointments in 2021, take a fresh look at your marketing strategy. Use content to push for more appointments, using deals and incentives to convince customers to book. 

2. Decrease Wait Times

After successfully increasing your appointment volume, start working on your customer experience. More customers means longer wait times, which can frustrate and turn away new visitors from your business. Lowering wait times will not only appease them, but increase the overall efficiency of your operations.

If you’re seeing a lot of growth, consider hiring some new employees to take on the extra load. Increased capacity will decrease wait times for customers. You can also implement a notification system that alerts customers of changing wait times to help walk-ins arrive at the right time.

3. Move All Bookings Online

Make life easier for everyone by moving appointment booking online. You might be comfortable with your current system because it’s familiar, but ditching the phone lines for software can make a night-and-day difference.

For starters, online appointment software is available 24/7, meaning customers can make bookings whenever they’re available. Software will also automatically keep track of scheduling, avoid double bookings, and send reminders to both customers and your team about each commitment. Last but not least, customers can pre-pay online, saving you even more headache.

4. Optimize Your Efficiency

Sluggish, drawn out appointments are tiresome and irritating for customers who want to get in and out as quickly as possible. They’re also costly for your business, which makes more money the more customers it serves.

How can you make appointments more efficient? With sub-goals. One might be to start at least 90% of appointments on time. Another might be to cross-train every member of the team on customer service. 

5. Boost Customer Retention

Once a customer books their first appointment, your goal should be to convince them to keep coming back. Customer retention is much less expensive than acquisition, and recurring revenue provides financial security. 

How do you increase customer retention? Using data. With appointment software, you can see how many repeat customers you have and choose a goal number to pursue. One example of a retention strategy is a punch card that rewards customers who make frequent appointments.

6. Raise Referral Rates

The best leads come from existing customers. Set a goal to raise the percentage of your new appointments that come from referrals. Referred customers are more likely to commit to your business and to refer you to even more people.

Incentivizing referrals is the best way to make this happen. Offer discounts or prizes to customers who bring a friend to their next appointment. Then, focus on making their experience with you unforgettable. Get it right, and you won’t even have to ask them to book a return visit.

7. Experiment With Virtual Appointments

If your business provides a service that can be delivered online, virtual appointments are a great way to reach customers who are still wary of COVID-19. Even a partial move to virtual appointments can put you ahead of the curve.

Virtual appointments are often used by doctors to treat patients without exposing themselves or others to illness. Personal trainers, nutritionists, counselors, marketing firms, and more can provide guidance through videoconferencing. 

8. Learn to Let Go

While you want as many customers as you can handle, some may just not be worth it. Toxic clients can upset your employees and even scare other customers away. It’s better to start fresh in 2021 by saying “no” to customers who are holding your company back.

Did you think of a particular client while reading that last paragraph? Look for ways to shift their business elsewhere, either by referring them to another company or gently confronting them about their behavior. The interaction might not be pleasant, but it will be worth it. 

Reach new heights in 2021 by setting one or more of these goals. Sit down with your team and talk through how, exactly, you’ll make this year your best one yet. 

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. 

Why Online Appointment Software Should Be on Your Christmas List

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Why Online Appointment Software Should Be on Your Christmas List

Most businesses probably have extensive Christmas lists after this tumultuous year: requests for more customers, better equipment, or even building renovations are likely stuffing Santa’s mailbox right now. Something that needs to be on every company’s list, though, is online appointment software. 

The benefits of online appointment software are plain to see and can make an instant impact on your business in 2021. Ready to learn more? Read through this article and then forward it on to Santa when you’re through:

Increases Appointment Volume

Want to get more appointment bookings? Look no further. Online appointment software makes it exponentially easier for customers to find and book appointment slots with your business. The increased convenience will draw in new customers and improve retention.

You can also insert your appointment software on your website and social media pages. This eliminates hurdles for clients looking to get in contact with your business, making it easy for customers to book an appointment with just the click of a button.

Something important to consider with any business implementation is return on investment, or ROI. With everything you do, you should strive for a positive ROI, meaning you make more money than you spent. Because online appointment software is relatively inexpensive and increases lead volume, the ROI is almost universally high. 

Balances Daily Schedules

An important aspect of setting appointments for your business is managing its daily schedule. Ensuring there are no overlaps and that enough staff will be available to handle the volume ensures every day is a smooth one for both business and customer. 

Online appointment software uses artificial intelligence to keep schedules balanced without supervision. It will monitor bookings to ensure there’s no overlap or that appointments aren’t attempted to be booked when there’s no availability.

Prevents Appointment Mishaps

One late customer can throw off the entire flow of your business. With busy schedules, sometimes an honest mistake will cause a customer to run late or miss an appointment entirely. Online appointment software will automatically send out reminders to customers to prevent this from happening as often.

On the other end, businesses can sometimes misplace customer appointment times or fail to confirm them, leaving them off the schedule entirely. Online appointment software will automatically update your bookings, so you won’t have to worry about mistakes being made at the expense of your customers. 

Provides Valuable Insight

Data metrics, when implemented correctly, can give your business a huge leg up. If you use online appointment technology to record all of your appointments, you’ll automatically be collecting relevant data that you can use.

For example, your software can tell you which one of your appointment packages is the most popular and which services might need some adjusting in order to sell better. You can also track customer data so you can see who your most loyal individuals are, as well as pinpoint key demographics for your marketing campaigns. 

Keep an eye on no-show rates, average duration of appointment, and any other metric you might find useful. This information can be of great use to the evolution of your company with proper access and implementation.

Increases Time Efficiency

Time is a valuable resource for both business and consumer. Online appointment software helps both sides to save time. For customers, appointment booking couldn’t be easier, taking no more than a few minutes to go through the process each time. 

For businesses, online software opens up time for employees who don’t have to man the phones and respond to emails throughout the day. They can spend more time focusing on customers, improving their appointment experience to encourage them to return again and again.

For both sides, payments can be made quickly and directly. Customers can see the change in their balance right away for budgeting and balancing. Businesses don’t have to worry about late payments or customers not covering their tab.

Improves Accessibility

Few customers want to call in and spend the time trying to relay the appointment information they hope to get into the system. In today’s world, people are simply more comfortable filling out a quick form online, and prefer to do it that way.

Online appointment software is available 24/7, meaning that your customers can book appointments at their convenience, regardless of their personal schedules. They can also make changes to their appointments without having to go through a hotline or a representative. 

Adds Online Value

If you’re trying to market your business online, as you very well should, then online appointment software is just the thing for you. Search results are becoming increasingly effective, with “near me” business searches growing at a rapid pace.

Online appointment software will improve your standing in online searches, making you visible to more customers searching for the services you provide. Once your name flashes by, the ability to book an appointment right away will lure in a lot of new clients. 

Helps Your Team

The benefits of online appointment software are not exclusive to helping your customers. The program will also be of great use for your team. You can use this tool to organize work schedules and time sheets so your employees know exactly when their shifts are in advance.

Online software also enables employees to more easily have shifts covered and swapped for greater flexibility of schedule. Changes can be approved right away, and the layout prevents too many employees from trying to ask off on the same day, leaving the company high and dry.

You better start writing to Mr. Claus so that your online appointment software will get here in time for the holidays. Transform your 2021 with programs like these, and your business will be thriving in no time. 

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