appointment Archives - Appointment - Online Appointment Scheduling Software

8 Easy Ways to Make Customers Comfortable While They Wait for Their Appointment

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There’s a lot that goes into fulfilling an appointment. In many ways, one person’s appointment depends on the execution of many previous appointments. And during busy times, every company falls on occasion. 

When that happens, customers end up having to wait longer than expected. That can be frustrating for those who showed up early as well as those on a tight schedule. If it happens too frequently, customers may start showing up late or not arriving at all. 

You may not always be able to shrink your customers’ waiting time, but you can enhance their waiting room experience. A good customer experience is what keeps people coming back, and the waiting experience is a big part of that.

It doesn’t have to be complicated or extravagant. Take a look at these simple ways to ease customers’ waiting anxieties:

1. Send reminders about waits.

Reminders should already be a meaningful part of your company’s scheduling practices. And if you monitor your appointments carefully, you can alert people when you start to fall behind. 

A reminder about wait times helps customers mentally prepare. That way, they won’t be disappointed when they have to wait once they arrive. They may even opt to reschedule their appointment if they are in a time crunch. 

The key is to be as accurate as possible with the reminders. Don’t underestimate the time they’ll have to wait. Instead, give yourself some room to exceed their expectations. Keeping a customer comfortable in the waiting room begins with making them comfortable with the idea of waiting. 

2. Check your seating layout.

Aside from having comfortable seating in your waiting room, the way it’s arranged can also affect customers. No one wants to be cramped together while waiting, especially during the pandemic or if there are a lot of people in the room. 

By moving some chairs and tables around, you can redesign your waiting area to be more comfortable. Simply declutter the area, space out your chairs, and make electrical outlets accessible.  

Be sure to reorient your room in a way that breaks up the traffic. Doing so will probably involve some trial and error. Pay attention to where people tend to walk, and keep those areas clear. Make sure exits and entrances are clearly marked. 

3. Let in some natural light.

Harsh or dim lighting can make a waiting room unbearable. Natural lighting can significantly reduce the fatigue that builds up from waiting. 

If you’re able to, open the blinds and let in some light. On nice days, open the windows and use the screen door. If windows are scarce in your office, experiment with lights that imitate natural light. 

4. Make Wi-Fi easy to access. 

People tend to spend time on their digital devices when they have to wait. You are bound to get asked about the Wi-Fi connection. 

Reduce the need for customers to ask by doing the following:

  • Name your Wi-Fi after your company. 
  • Make the password visible for customers.
  • Include a guest Wi-Fi option.
  • Train the receptionist on Wi-Fi troubleshooting.

Surfing on cellular data while they wait may cost your customers money. Don’t underestimate how much that can get under their skin. 

5. Provide refreshments.

Food and drinks can be a good way to ease a customer’s wait. You don’t need to break the bank, but do set out some light refreshments. 

Water and coffee are standard. Go above and beyond by setting out juice, lemonade, or soft drinks. Set out a container of tea bags and an electric kettle. 

Snacks are also a smart way to keep customers entertained. Fruit, nuts, and chips are great picks for an office environment. To satisfy your customers’ sweet tooth, you could set out donuts and other pastries.

Always make sure the display is tidy. Remove any food that’s gone bad promptly. Restock the display regularly. 

6. Add art to the room. 

While they wait, nobody wants to choose between staring at a blank wall or at other customers. Hang some art on the walls. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it can actually cut down on the stress of waiting. 

If you have a little money to spend, consider featuring art from local artists. Make sure whatever you choose represents your brand well. Switch up your art periodically to keep things interesting for your most loyal customers. 

7. Set out reading materials. 

Magazines are a staple of waiting rooms. But if you want to step it up, include books as well. To keep kids entertained, pepper in some comics and coloring books. Make sure all periodicals are recent so customers aren’t stuck reading through old news. 

Go broad in your selection so that every client can find something they’re interested in reading. Before they know it, their wait will be over. 

8. Take care of the kids.

Restless kids can be a burden to parents in a waiting room. Worse, they can disrupt the experience of other customers as well. 

If you commonly have kids in your waiting room, create a play area. Colorful toys are a surefire way to keep children’s attention. If you’re lucky enough to have a playground outside the office, let them get some fresh air while their parents watch them from the window. 

Patience is a virtue, but you shouldn’t test your customers’ limits. If you need to ask them to wait, do your part to help them out. 

Top Appointment Apps For Scheduling Your Business

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Schedule

Are appointment apps and calendar software a necessity? They are if you want to schedule and track appointments, accept online bookings from clients, and send appointment reminders automatically. The top appointment apps and calendar software programs are also useful in blocking off internal meeting times, organizing your schedule, and even accept deposits or prepayments. As a result you can save time while increasing revenue.

Here is our guide for what makes up an appointment app, why you should use an appointment app, and what to look for when you decide to add this tool to your business. We’ve also selected the top ten appointment app solutions for this year and into the future.

What is an Appointment App?

An appointment app is a convenient way for your clients or customers to schedule appointments. The application may also be referred to as online scheduling software or mobile booking software.

Many of today’s appointment apps go beyond just a basic scheduling portal. They now offer comprehensive business,  calendar, and time management capabilities that add efficiencies for your clients, team, and business as a whole.

Benefits of Using an Appointment App

There are many compelling reasons to add an appointment app to your business:

Around-the-Clock Scheduling

Rather than only be able to take appointments during business hours because you rely on staff to create the schedule, you can use an automated scheduling system that can make appointments at any hour and any hour. Customers may not always be able to reach you during business hours. Or, they may prefer to make an appointment without having to call and then be placed on hold.

With 24/7 scheduling through an appointment app, your customers and prospects can schedule their appointment when it’s convenient for them. Doing so can help you attract and retain more customers.

An Enhanced Experience

The traditional appointments process can take a lot of time, with multiple back and forth communications about the best day and time. Even then, the appointment may not be set and require more time to reschedule. It can start to feel like a real hassle for your customer.

With an appointment app, your customers have access to a simple scheduling process where they can see the available time slots and reserve a time that fits their needs. They can also get reminders or use the system again to easily reschedule the appointment.

Increased Search Visibility

As a service business, attracting local customers may be your top priority. It’s important to have a strong online presence and appear in front of prospects on their search queries. Appointment apps can help you do that by integrating with search engines through Google Search and Maps so you appear when those customers look for your service..

More Business Insights

Appointment apps often include data analytics tools so you can learn more about your audience, such as your most popular service or the busiest days and times each week for your business. You can then take this data and make better business decisions about when to schedule employees, types of promotions, and more. A physical appointment book will never be able to reveal such business insights.

Time and Cost Savings

Removing a legacy appointment system that uses paper processes and consumes significant amounts of time can be a real savings for a small business. An appointment app eliminates paper costs and reduces manual processes, saving both time and money. Those savings can be applied to other parts of your business, allowing you to focus more on service as well as use the extra money to grow your enterprise.

Less Risk of Human Error

Humans make mistakes. For example, when scheduling an appointment, one of your employees might have transposed the numbers in a phone number or they added the customer to the wrong time slot. Multiple people could be using the same appointment book and double-booked in a time slot. Those human errors create dissatisfied customers.

An appointment app reduces those human errors by automating the scheduling process. The customer puts their information in while the app sends reminders and only schedules open time slots. Fewer human errors mean happier customers.

What to Look For in an Appointment App

Those benefits all lead to greater business success. The only problem is that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of appointment apps and calendar software to choose from. Here are some factors to consider when you researching the ideal appointment app for your business:

Ease of Use

It’s important to have an appointment app that your customers can immediately feel comfortable using. It’s got to be simple and convenient, including a clear process for scheduling an appointment with the fewest amounts of clicks and screens to navigate.

Booking and Attendance Features

The appointment app solution should include features designed to ensure that customers compete the booking process and actually show up for their appointment. Look for features like rescheduling, appointment confirmations and reminders, and waitlists.

Marketing Tools

The appointment app should also be able to help you get the most out of your marketing efforts. Features that can help you do this include a shareable booking link, search engine booking tools, and social media booking buttons.

Staff Capabilities

Along with customer service and marketing, you also want an appointment app that can help oversee your team. It helps to have an appointment app that can support multiple users so other team members can see or change anything in the app as well as plan the employee schedule for the week or month.

Payments

Although it is not a must, being able to integrate payment processing with your appointment app adds a new level to your customer experience and further reduces the labor required for your service business. It is especially beneficial for those businesses that take deposits at the time of booking, often used for late fees, cancellations, and/or “no-shows.”

Overview of Best Appointment Apps

Although our list of appointment apps may not include all these factors in every solution, you can’t go wrong with the following 10 solutions for 2020 and beyond. Here are the top ten appointment apps we selected and why each one stands out as an ideal tool for your business.

  1. Appointment: Appointment app with longest track record of success
  2. Calendar: Appointment app with powerful technology like machine learning for intuitive assistance
  3. 10to8: Appointment app with integrated payment processing
  4. VueMinder: Appointment app made for Windows users
  5. Setmore: Appointment app with a live call answering service
  6. Grapple: Appointment app for scheduling meetings
  7. Calendarwiz: Appointment app for sharing schedules with groups, teams, and clients
  8. Evie: Appointment app that automates your entire meeting schedule and calendar management process
  9. Square Appointments: Appointment app that embeds social channels in your scheduling process
  10. Bookeo: Appointment app with text notifications

Now, dive in deeper to each of our top appointment apps for 2020 and beyond.

The Best Appointment Apps for 2020 and Beyond

1. Appointment

Appointment

Considering that Appointment.com has been providing online appointment scheduling since 1999, you’d be hard-pressed to find a company with more experience in this area. What makes Appointment.com continue to stand out among other leading online appointment scheduling software is that the company continually evolves to meet their modern user’s needs.

Appointment.com comes packed with features like allowing customers to book an appointment with you 24/7 — even if you don’t have a website. Customers can also cancel or reschedule an appointment on their own. If you have several locations, employees, or services that’s not a problem either since Appointment.com handles these multiple options for you.

Additional features include the customers ability to pay through PayPal, allowing them to create gift certificates, and send out reminders via email or SMS. It also syncs with leading cloud-based calendaring solutions like Outlook, Google, and iCal.

If none of these features are right for your business, Appointment.com’s powerful API allows you to customize it to fit your specific needs.

Following a 30 day free trial Appointment.com offers plans starting at $29/month.

2. Calendar

Calendar

If you want to meet with a client or your team, scheduling events can be a time-consuming process. Calendar can be a major time-saving assist for you.

With Calendar you simply share your existing cloud-based calendar, such as Google Calendar or Outlook, via email or an embedded link on your website. Those persons trying to schedule with you can then see your availability and pick a date and time when you are both free. After they’ve chosen a time, the event is automatically added to everyone’s calendar.

Even better, Calendar harnesses the power of machine learning. This means that it can analyze your previous meeting data to make smart suggestions on where, when, and what type of meetings to schedule.

You can currently sign-up for Calendar for free.

3. 10to8

10to8

If you’re tired of no-shows, then you may want to look into 10to8.

This online appointment software sends automated confirmation emails and SMS to clients. It also sends them reminders and gives them the ability change or cancel the appointment. Because it syncs with Google Calendar and Outlook all new appointments or changes are automatically updated in your calendar. If there are any questions or concerns, there’s a helpful two-way calendar-integrated chat so that you and your clients can address them in real-time.

10to8 also accepts online payments through PayPal, Stripe, SagePay without additional charges. You can also coordinate between multiple staff, calendars, rooms and locations seamlessly.

10to8 offers a free plan if you book fewer than 100 customers per month. If you book more than that, monthly plans start at $9.6.

4. VueMinder

VueMinder

VueMinder is a calendar program specifically designed for Windows users. Unlike some of the other apps and software you can view your schedule directly on the Windows desktop background. However, it does sync with Google Calendar and Apple Calendar. This means you don’t have to completely switch to Outlook.

That’s just scratching the surface. With VueMinder you can schedule daily, weekly, monthly, or annual events and appointments. You can also define tasks and break large tasks into smaller sub-tasks. Other useful features include the ability to store contact information, color-code your calendar, and create customized popup reminders. VueMinder will also send reminders through SMS and email.

While you can download a free version, access to more of the robust features require you to purchase the software starting $49.95.

5. Setmore

Setmore

Setmore is the only online appointment scheduling calendar software that provides a built-in live call answering service. To ensure that appointments are kept it will then send out alerts and reminders. If an appointment must be rescheduled you can easily do so by using the software’s drag and drop feature where you just move the appointment to a new time slot.

What makes Setmore unique is that it integrates with Facebook, Instagram, Slack, WordPress, and Weebly. This gives your clients more opportunities to share your calendar with clients and team members. Thanks to Setmore’s mobile app, you can book, manage, and sync your calendar while on the go.

For those of you have have under 20 staff logins and calendars, Setmore is free. For larger businesses, plans start $25/month.

6. Grapple

grapple

One of the newer meeting schedulers on the market is Grapple Meetings. Through the app you can select various meeting times and then create a poll. Once you do a page is created where clients and team members can select the availability that works best for them.

Participants can then view what selection other individuals made. That may not sound important, but it makes scheduling and rescheduling for groups much more easier and efficient.

You can sign up for Grapple for free. Doing so gives you access to both it’s collaborative software and in-built meeting scheduler.

7. CalendarWiz

Calendarwiz

CalendarWiz is a customizable calendar that can be shared with groups, teams, or clients. Just simply create a single or recurring event and share it with invitees through email, your website or social channels like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You can brand your calendar by changing the calendar colors to match your brand and adding your logo.

After an event has been created and shared, you can send an invite with a request to RSVP — you can also track who has accepted or declined the invite. Everyone will then receive automatic reminders and announcements to reduce no-shows.

CalendarWiz also lets you color code events, prevent double-booking with the self-service feature, and let your community suggest calendar events.

Following a 30 day free trial, plans start at $9/month.

8. Evie

Evie

Evie is an AI scheduling assistant that automates your entire meeting schedule and calendar management. How? Just Cc Evie whenever you mail attendees. Then ask Evie to help schedule a meeting or a call or to send out an invitation. That’s it. Evie handles the rest by finding an optimal time for everyone to meet based on everyone’s calendar.

Evie can then send out calendar invites and request meeting follow-ups automatically. More advanced features include the ability to include location information in emails, reschedule or cancel meetings, set meeting duration times based on your preferences.

If you schedule five meetings or less per month Evie is free. If you schedule more than five, you’ll have to choose a plan starting at $20/month.

9. Square Appointments

Square Appointments

With the free Square Appointments your customers can book an appointment with you 24/7 via a free online booking website. However, Square Appointments can also be embedded on your social channels like Facebook and Instagram. Because it syncs with your calendar, your availability will always be accurate and up-to-date.

You can also prevent no-shows by sending clients appointment reminders through email or SMS. You even have the option to charge a no-show fee. And, if the client must cancel or reschedule the client can do so on their own — meaning no more back-and-forth emails.

With Square, you can also accept payments remotely.

10. Bookeo

Bookeo

Bookeo can accept client bookings from your website and Facebook page anywhere, anytime. It then sends out automatic confirmation emails and email and text reminders. You can also receive email or text notifications when an appointment is cancelled or rescheduled.

Furthermore, Bookeo allows you to customize your calendar. You have the option to set business hours, appointment lengths, and color-code your various services.

Bookeo also lets you accept online payments and can be integrated with your existing marketing tools like Google Analytics and MailChimp.

You can try Bookeo for free for 30 days. After that, plans start at $14.95 per user/month.

6 Tips for Scheduling a Stellar Event

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The right event can change everything. Maybe it’s the conference that gives you a million dollar idea. Or the workshop that makes all your work goals fit together.

With that said, 18 million events are scheduled in the U.S. every year. How can you make sure yours is one to remember? 

Getting the small things right makes a big difference. Be sure to:

  •  Get the instructions right.

No one likes it when there are typos on the event invitation. Could you imagine showing up for an event and being told it’s actually another day? 

When you write out your invitations, make sure to do so plenty of days in advance. This gives you time to proofread your invitation draft. 

When you’re ready to review your work, begin by checking the basics: event location, address, time, and any instructions about parking. Then, proofread for spelling and grammar. Finally, have a second pair of eyes look it over to ensure everything is correct. That way, you can send it out with confidence. 

  •  Use the right tools.

If your event will have a lot of attendees, you’ll wind up with a lot of scheduling requests in your inbox. Those can take hours to sort through. Protect your company’s productivity by letting attendees RSVP themselves using scheduling software.

Think, too, about your event’s sessions. If you’ll be doing one-on-one consultations, ask attendees to book a specific time with you. That way, you don’t have dozens of attendees all trying to do their one-on-one with you at the same time. 

  •  Know your attendees.

Different types of events attract different types of people. It’s important to think through who’s going to be at yours. What level of knowledge will they have about the topics to be discussed? What pre-work might they need to do in order to get up to speed.

To understand your target audience, think about what type of business you are:

    • Caterers & event planners
      You can plan food tasting and event planning events with potential clients. Give them the white-glove experience. Get tablecloths, put together swag bags, and appoint an experience manager.
    • Nonprofit organizations
      Nonprofit events require a host of people for events: volunteers, paid employees, and external stakeholders. Scheduling software can help you spend less time on grunt work, and more time raising money for causes you love.
    • Salons & spas
      Salons and spas have all sorts of different clients, but they do have one thing in common: a focus on beauty and wellness. Put together sessions centered on self-care. Use scheduling software to seek input about what would make your event maximally relaxing.
  • Shipping & retail
    Shipping and retail stores are used to handling complex logistics. Be sure you invite product representatives, set up the space well for them, and give attending customers plenty of attention.
  •  Send out invitations early.

How can attendees plan for your event unless the invitation is sent out early? A good rule of thumb is to give people at least three weeks notice to plan for your event. If you are planning a nationwide event, like a corporate conference, give at least a year notice.

To determine how much notice you need to give, put yourself in the attendees’ shoes. If they need to travel, then booking and planning everything will take more time. Conference, hotel, travel, food, and entertainment arrangements add up. 

Smaller events, such as meetups, require less preplanning. Often, attendees just have to RSVP and show up. Small-scale events like meetups should still look professional, even if you don’t have to give attendees more than a few weeks’ notice.

  •  Make it easy for others to meet with you.

If you’re the point of contact for an event, it’s important that you’re available. Imagine the horror if you accidentally double book yourself with two vendors. The solution is to display your availability on your calendar. 

Here’s how you can do it:

  • Check your company’s availability
    Leave your calendar availability open only during your work hours. This prevents you from planning a meeting during your personal time.

 

  • Make some hours off-limits.
    You have a lot to do other than meeting with event staff. With your schedule in hand, pay close attention to when you’re busy, and block off hours when you want to focus on other tasks.

 

  • Set expectations

                        Whenever you meet with someone, you need to share:

  • An agenda
  • Meeting expectations
  • Who else might need to be in the meetings 
  • The number to call or videoconferencing site to visit (if applicable)
  •  Start and finish events on time 

When the big day finally arrives, you need to keep a strict eye on the clock. You don’t like it when other people disrespect your time; don’t do the same to them. 

Even if everyone hasn’t arrived at the designated start time, go ahead. If 90% of people are already there, it isn’t worth upsetting them for the 10% of latecomers. End either five minutes early or right on time. Don’t push the event beyond the time allotted, even if you aren’t quite finished.

Events are a lot of work to plan and put on. A little forethought can go a long way. Get the details right, and give your attendees an experience to remember. 

Appointment Recognized as Top Scheduling App For Small Business by ReadWrite

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More small business owners, startup founders, and enterprise executives recognize that scheduling and appointments are a critical element necessary for providing an exceptional customer experience. They seek proven tech solutions that can help them deliver on these expectations without killing an often limited available budget for software investment. 

 

Recognizing this need, ReadWrite, a top tech review and news site, recently tested and reviewed numerous appointment scheduling platforms and apps. In a recently published article, ReadWrite named Appointment to the top of its list of the 10 best appointment scheduling software for small businesses. 

 

Among the accolades listed, Appointment was praised for its robust platform and comprehensive set of features ideal for service-based businesses with high volumes of appointments. 

 

Other standout features noted in the article included the ability for Appointment to handle multiple departments, locations, and categories. SSL encryption, fine-grained access controls, reporting capability, and customization further set Appointment apart from other appointment scheduling apps. 

 

ReadWrite also highlighted integration with PayPal, powerful API capabilities, gift certifications and discount cards, reminders and waitlists, and calendar syncing with Outlook, Google, and iCal.

Appointment was in good company with many other notable appointment software solutions listed, including Square Appointments, Appointy, and Calendar.

Read the entire article here.

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