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4 Ways to Make Your Appointment-Based Business More Efficient

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more efficient

The best businesses in the world are always looking for ways to be more efficient. Efficiency saves both time and money for you and your customers. By making your appointment-based business more efficient, you can provide effective services to more customers while keeping your expense column at a manageable level. Even small adjustments to your business strategy can lead to massive improvements in your efficiency.

Try a few of these tips to make your appointment-based business more efficient:

1. Review Customer Info

For many appointment-based businesses, a lot of customer information needs to be recorded in order to provide the best service possible. At times it’s as simple as taking notes on a customer’s most recent service record, like for a haircut. Or it can be more complicated, like when a doctor’s office keeps track of local pharmacies, recent treatment plans, and medical history. Making sure customer info is accurate is essential for running a smooth operation.

You should be periodically reviewing customer information to confirm that it is up-to-date. You can do this by calling frequent customers to confirm that the basic information you have on file is still correct or by adding a prompt in your online booking program that asks customers to review their information with every visit.

If you need to send out a bill to a customer and don’t have the right address, that entire process can be slowed down by a matter of weeks. Complications can also arise from outdated payment methods, delayed name changes, or a simple clerical error that wasn’t caught immediately. Frequent review periods will keep such mishaps to a minimum.

2. Remove Duplicates

Another thing you should be reviewing routinely is your customer database. From time to time, you may accidentally find some duplicates in your system. This might occur when you add a new customer into your system and their second appointment comes several months or even a year down the road. They then register as a new customer even though they’ve made a previous visit.

Duplicate customer entries can bog down your system and software, especially if you let them pile up. If only one customer entry has the correct information, you could end up mixing up two entries, leading to a lot of complications when sending messages, checking in, or even providing service.

Consider making it part of your monthly checklist to skim through your customer list and look for duplicate entries to remove. When you discover a pair, be sure to keep the entry that is most recent with customer and appointment information. Verifying information with the customer is also a good idea — and a good opportunity to try and book them for a new appointment.

3. Digitize the Check-In Process

One of the most underrated aspects of your appointment-based business is its check-in process. Customers are expected to check in so that service providers can be ready for them. This is also how customers can confirm they’ve upheld their agreement by arriving at the predetermined time.

The check-in process should be as quick and as painless as possible for customers. A smooth check-in ensures that appointments can start on time or even early. Digitizing your check-in process will make everything easier for your customers as well as for yourself.

For starters, by checking in for an appointment through a mobile app or website, customers can look at current wait times to see if their appointment provider is running late. This information allows them to get something else done during their day rather than sitting in the waiting room for longer than anticipated. Online forms are also easier to fill out, and recurring customers can quickly verify their information without needing to wait in line at a desk.

4. Automate Messages and Reminders

If you’re experiencing a lot of late arrivals and no-show appointments, it might be because you’re not sending out effective reminder messages. Life can get crazy for everyone, and customers can easily forget an upcoming appointment as they juggle deadlines for work, errand lists, responsibilities at home, and more. A good reminder system will help them to uphold their commitment to your business, as well as make your appointments more efficient.

The beauty of an automated messaging system is that you don’t have to handcraft every single reminder you send to your customers. This will save your team a lot of time they would otherwise be spending on the phone or drafting tedious emails.

Customers will also be able to make their own adjustments to how they receive reminder messages. If they prefer to receive their reminders the day before an appointment, they can select that option through your online system. If they only need a reminder the week prior, this can be done with a single click rather than through a drawn-out process with a business associate.

When more efficient processes become a priority for your business, you’ll encounter fewer errors and roadblocks in your day-to-day operations. Start implementing some of these ideas right away, and soon you’ll see just how smoothly your business can run.

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4 Risks When Scheduling Appointments Online and How to Avoid Them

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Scheduling Appointments Online

Online appointment software is one of the easiest ways you can keep your life in check. Scheduling appointments online takes much less time than doing so over the phone, saving you more time and businesses more money. The system is still less than perfect, though.

As great as online appointment software can be, anything done over the internet entails a few risks to keep in mind. You may share personal information when booking appointments, and you’ll need to take a few precautions to keep yourself safe. To help you do so, this guide will outline some of the common risks associated with scheduling appointments online and what you can do to keep them to a minimum.

Here are 4 Risks When Scheduling Appointments Online

1. Answering Potentially Irrelevant Questions

When you’re scheduling an appointment, especially for the first time, you’ll be asked a series of questions. Most of these will be standard questions (such as asking for your name) so you can reserve your appointment slot and easily verify your identity. However, you should be wary of questions that might be irrelevant or unnecessary for the business to ask.

For example, there aren’t many businesses that should require your Social Security number. Financial institutions are an example of an organization that would need your Social Security number, as well as a pediatrician looking to verify your guardianship of a child. That being said, you shouldn’t have to share such private information with vendors like your hair stylist or mechanic.

Oversharing can put your personal information at risk for identity theft and fraud. Other questions that could pose a threat to your identity include your place of work or even your address if the information simply isn’t necessary.

Before booking an appointment with a business that’s asking some curious questions, ask the business whether or not they require you to share this information. If it is optional, declining to provide it is a safer option. If it’s required, consider looking elsewhere for your services before making that commitment.

2. Using Public Wi-Fi

When you’re scheduling appointments online, be careful about the network you’re using. Public Wi-Fi leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to security. While it might be convenient to opt for public Wi–Fi over cellular data, it’s always safer to wait until you’re on a secure network before booking an appointment.

Nefarious figures can easily hack into public networks and swipe your personal information and location while you’re in the appointment booking process. Some people can even create false Wi-Fi networks you can connect to in public places and hand over your information without even realizing it.

Using cellular data is typically safer than using a public Wi-Fi network. Using your phone as a hotspot for another device is not as secure, but it is not encrypting the information you are sharing. If you are on the road and need to book an appointment, try to do so on your mobile device. Businesses with online appointment software enabled should have websites or scheduling apps that are compatible with smartphones.

3. Unsafe Browsing

If you have to use a public network for some reason, make sure you can verify its security and take as many safety precautions as possible before connecting. Additionally, there are certain cybersecurity measures that you should take even on a secure private network.

For example, saving your card information online is dangerous even if your home network is secure. The longer that information stays on the internet, the more opportunities there are for fraud and theft to occur. Autosaving other information such as your home address can also pose the same risk.

Safe browsing starts by being careful and prepared. While autosaving information certainly is convenient, especially when scheduling appointments online, remember how much safer it is to take a few extra seconds to manually input your personal info each time. Another thing to look for is a lock icon next to web addresses, as this will indicate whether the website you are using is secure or not.

4. System Errors

While not as catastrophic as someone stealing your information, even the best automated systems can experience a few hiccups. A single system error can ruin your entire appointment booking if you’re not paying attention to catch the mistake.

For example, if the online appointment scheduling system fails to synchronize with your personal online calendar, you can end up missing your appointment entirely since it won’t appear in your schedule and won’t send you any reminders. Besides having to reschedule, you could also be subject to missed appointment fees that will be difficult to dispute.

Other possible errors include misentered information, double bookings, and internet outages preventing people to finalize their appointments. Make sure you have a reliable internet connection and double-check all of the information you submit to keep such errors to a minimum.

Don’t let this guide dissuade you from relying on online appointment software with your business interactions. This software has a lot to offer, as long as you use it wisely.

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5 Easy Ways to Be on Schedule for Your Appointments in the Winter

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Appointments in the Winter

Planning and scheduling your appointments in the winter can be a distinct challenge. It can be hard to stay motivated when all you want to do is curl up by the fire. Travel may also be difficult. Road conditions can certainly throw a wrench into your plans by extending travel time or even causing events to be canceled.

Some people live in areas that rarely see snow or even freezing temperatures. Life goes on as normal for this demographic. But if you’re among those who have to brave the cold each winter, there are a few extra things you’ll have to do to make your schedule work. To ensure you’re always on time for your planned appointments during the harshest of winters, use these five strategies:

1. Connect an Online Calendar

If you struggle with being tardy to appointments, you need to log onto an online calendar. You can use a simple app on your phone that will forever change how you look at time management. In many cases, you can even connect this online calendar with your appointment bookings for instant synchronization.

With your appointment booking in your calendar, you can plan more strategically to make it to your events on time. If you have a meeting or obligation that ends right before your appointment is supposed to start, you’re more likely to end up running late.

2. Opt for Appointment Reminders

If the business in question offers appointment reminders, you should seriously consider signing up for them. Rain, snow, or shine, appointment reminders are a great way to make sure you arrive at your appointments on schedule. Businesses using online appointment software can send you reminders in a variety of ways.

For starters, online appointment software enables automated reminders that can be sent at the most optimal times for every booking. You can receive these reminders in an email, over text, or even with a robocall. You can often select how to receive your reminders according to your personal preference.

3. Check the Weather

Staying on top of the weather forecast will help you stay on time for your winter appointments. By checking the weather for the upcoming week, you can plan short-range appointments for the sunniest days when the roads are most likely to be clear.

Sometimes all it takes is looking at the 24-hour forecast to pick the right appointment time. It might snow one night, but be warm and sunny the next day, which will melt all the snow and ice away by mid-afternoon. Plan ahead to account for possible weather delays, especially if you don’t want to drive in rain or snow. Booking on good-weather days can help you remain punctual for appointments in the winter.

4. Prepare Your Transportation in Advance

On a day when winter conditions aren’t in your favor, the best course of action is to prepare your method of transportation well in advance. Whether you’ll be taking a car or public transportation to your next appointment, you can plan for it ahead of time. If you are taking a bus, subway, or train, check the departure and arrival schedules beforehand, as they are subject to change. Additionally, if you’re using a rideshare, pay attention to times when surge pricing is in effect so you can avoid those times.

If you are driving, start your car early on the day of your appointment. Letting it run for five minutes or so will warm up the interior so you’re not miserable. It will also get the inner workings of your car running smoothly for safe travels. This is especially important if you park outdoors. The heat from a warmed car will help melt any snow and ice that might obscure your vision while driving, making it easier to scrape off.

You should engage in other forms of preparation even earlier. For example, shop early for good snow tires. They will help you travel safely to your appointments in the winter, even during moderate snowfall. If you wait until the peak of winter to make the switch, you run the risk of getting stuck in the snow at an inopportune time. You could even spend a bunch of additional money if winter tire prices increase due to heightened demand.

5. Call Ahead on Snow Days

If the snow piled up the night before your appointment, give the business a call as soon as they open. This gives you an opportunity to ask whether they still plan on being open and serving customers that day. If they’re closed due to weather, you can reschedule your appointment. If the business has confirmed that it will be open, you can take advantage of your early travel preparations to get there safely.

Another possible scenario is that the business has decided to remain open but will allow customers to reschedule their appointments free of charge. If you’re concerned about traveling in snowy conditions, you can change your own booking without incurring the normal cancellation fee.

Alternatively, you might brave the snow if the bookings before and after yours have been canceled or rescheduled. You’ll have the comfort of knowing you can take your time traveling to the appointment without causing your service provider to get off track.

If you stay on top of things, no winter can slow you down. You’ll be able to stay on schedule during one of the most challenging times of the year.

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Make Appointments More Enjoyable With These 5 Amenities

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Make Appointments More Enjoyable With These 5 Amenities

Making your appointments more enjoyable is crucial if you run an appointment-based business. You should always be looking for new ways to improve your customers’ experience, as well as your system operations, in order to boost retention. As you do so, don’t overlook the small adjustments that can have a great impact.

This list of appointment amenities contains some examples of small changes that can make your appointments much more enjoyable for customers. It doesn’t take much effort to implement them, but you’ll see a lot of improvement in appointment metrics such as customer retention and overall business reviews.

Let’s break down the amenities included in this list and explore how each one can benefit your business and its customer base:

1. Optional On-File Info

Few things are as tedious as inputting your information every time you arrive for an appointment, especially when visiting the same establishment. To help your customers avoid having to fill in their info with every visit, make it an option to save information for recurring visits.

Many companies make this possible through the use of customer profiles. All your customers have to do is create a username and password with which they’ll store their information. They can make updates to this information and even change privacy settings as often as they’d like.

Depending on the nature of your appointment-based business, you can use this information to improve both customer convenience and the quality of your services. If you run a medical clinic, notes on past patient illnesses and treatments will enable you to provide better health care. If you operate a hair salon, writing down details of a patron’s recent haircut will help you re-create the style (if they so choose) on their next visit.

2. Online Check-In Options

Convenience will make your appointment experience more enjoyable for everyone. That’s why having an online check-in option is one of the best features you can implement.

Online check-in is quick, painless, and efficient. A few button clicks will notify your business that the customer has arrived and is ready for service.

Online check-ins are also great during this up-and-down time of COVID-19. Checking in for an appointment online limits your customers’ interactions with your staff and other patrons, which will reduce the chances of viral spread while also saving them some time. They can even check in while waiting in their car until the last minute.

3. Wait-Time Updates

In addition to enabling online check-in, wait-time updates provided on your website or through an app will help your customers out tremendously. There are many variables that might cause an appointment to run late, so being able to know exactly how long their wait might be is very useful. Customers can use this information to run some additional errands in the area or leave the house later than initially planned.

On the other end of the spectrum, seeing that there’s no wait time for service might indicate a potential early appointment. This can save customers time by letting them know they can arrive at their appointment early and get ahead of schedule.

A wait-time counter is also helpful when customers book appointments. A last-minute appointment is feasible if your website or app shows that the waiting time is low or nonexistent. If it’s not, customers will know they’re better off booking an appointment for a future date.

4. Complimentary Refreshments

Ever get hungry while sitting in a waiting room? Individually packaged snacks and bottled water, juice, or soda are great ways to make appointments more enjoyable to your customers while they wait. No one wants to be hungry as they while away the minutes. And, offering complimentary refreshments won’t add too much to your expense column.

You can get creative with the refreshments you supply as well. A fully stocked coffee bar or seasonal hot chocolate set-up will provide beverage offerings as delicious as they are memorable. There’s no need to overdo it, but a nice touch like this will improve your overall appointment experience. This, in turn, will help boost your customer retention rates.

5. Free Entertainment

Let’s say you have a customer arrive early, or unexpected circumstances cause appointment times to start running later than planned. Whatever the cause of their wait, antsy and impatient customers are not going to have a good time. Some free entertainment will help keep customers occupied while you try to speed things along.

Start by offering guest Wi-Fi so that customers can use their devices in the lobby as they wait. Watching videos, playing a mobile game, or checking up on emails is a quick way to pass the time. A variety of interesting magazines, an unobtrusive TV, or even a kids play area can round things out nicely, depending on what would appeal to your customers.

You should easily be able to make appointments more enjoyable by adding these amenities and more to your appointment-based business in the new year. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you’re keeping your customers in mind. And, make sure you are working to improve the appointment experience for them. This will lead to a prosperous and successful 2022 for your business.

4 Ways to Send Appointment Reminders Without Annoying Customers

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Ways to Send Appointment Reminders Without Annoying Customers

A robust reminder system is an essential part of running an appointment-based business. Reminders help cut down on no-shows as well as promote on-time arrivals. When customers are present and punctual, you’re able to run a much smoother and more successful operation.

As vital as appointment reminders are, it’s important to keep in mind that not all customers are as gung ho about them as you might be. You need to be able to send effective reminders without annoying your customers. Even with the best intentions, your reminder messages can drive customers away.

Fret not, for there are ways to send appointment reminders that work without annoying your customer base. Here are a few tips to help you achieve just that:

1. Give Them an Appointment Card on Their Way Out

You should always give customers some kind of reminder about their upcoming appointment well in advance. Something as simple as an appointment card is an easy way to confirm future appointments and leave customers with a constant reminder.

An appointment card is a visual nudge to your customer that they have an upcoming appointment. This can be kept in a wallet, phone case, or even on the fridge. Your clients will have the opportunity to see that reminder every single day up until the day of their next appointment.

Appointment cards are most useful for reminding customers about return appointments. If a customer books their appointment online or over the phone, it won’t be feasible to mail them a card as a reminder. Instead, offer an appointment card as customers are leaving from an appointment and booking their next return visit.

2. Allow Them to Opt In for Automatic Reminders

If you don’t want to waste a bunch of cardstock by handing out dozens of appointment cards every day, go the digital route. Even if you do like physical appointment cards, allowing customers to opt in for automatic digital reminders is a great idea. This allows your patrons to get notified on their preferred device, wherever they are, without any extra effort on their part.

There are more options you should extend beyond just the ability to turn automated reminders on and off. Make sure you also give customers the choice to receive their appointment reminders via email, text, or even through an automated voice message. Getting reminders exactly how they want them is the best way to avoid annoying your customers.

Make it just as easy to opt out of appointment reminders as it is to opt in. Difficulties with adjusting reminder settings can be as infuriating as reminder spam can be.

3. Send Reminders at the Right Time

The best time to send a reminder is a day or two in advance of the appointment date. Sending a reminder a week in advance might seem like a good idea, but customers can easily forget about an appointment over the course of seven days. This bonus reminder then becomes more of a nuisance than a helpful notification.

Of course, you can allow customers to request more appointment reminders according to their preference, but sending a single reminder the day before an appointment date is a useful rule of thumb. This one reminder will do its job and be a helpful addition to the appointment process without bothering the customer in the slightest.

It’s also a good idea to send your appointment reminders within normal business hours or at other reasonable times of day. If a customer wakes up to an appointment reminder that was sent at midnight, they’re bound to be irritated. Unless a customer states otherwise, keep reminders to waking hours only.

4. Watch Your Wording

Take a moment to read your appointment reminder template. How does it come across? How your reminders are worded is just as important as sending them in the first place. Use the wrong tone or language, and your reminders might end up rubbing your customers the wrong way.

For example, reminders should be clear and concise. Put the focus on the appointment information, perhaps by putting it in bold lettering or a font that stands out from the rest of the message. That’s what the reminder is for anyway, so don’t waste your effort typing up a long notification that customers have to dig through.

Next, take a look at any wording that’s included besides the appointment information. Is there a way to personalize the message? Is there a call to action? Should you lighten the tone a little bit? You want to sound helpful, not hectoring. Ask these sorts of questions and put yourself in your customers’ shoes as you make adjustments to your reminder messages.

Happy customers will keep coming back, giving you a constant revenue stream upon which to grow your business. Appointment reminders will help you serve every customer with precision as long as you continue to use them wisely and effectively.

How to Encourage Appointment Scheduling in the Winter When No One Wants to Get Out

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How to Encourage Appointment Scheduling in the Winter When No One Wants to Get Out

Seasonal depression is nothing to scoff at. The freezing temperatures and lack of sunlight are enough to make anyone want to curl up at home in front of the fireplace. Unfortunately, this might mean that you’re filling fewer time slots in the wintertime as customers opt to stay indoors and schedule their appointments in the spring.

Encouraging appointment scheduling in the winter won’t be easy, but it’s a challenge worth facing head-on. Not only is getting your customers out of the house good for their mental and physical health, but it’s also good for your business. Here are some ideas to help you fill up your schedule even when the snow is falling:

Offer Incentives

People might not want to leave the comfort of their home for regular old appointments. Unless they absolutely have to, many customers are content with postponing them until temperatures start to rise again. To offset their desire to hibernate rather than book your services, you need to extend an offer that customers simply can’t refuse.

Incentives add an extra layer to appointments, making them more favorable even when weather conditions aren’t. For example, a customer might not normally book a winter appointment but be drawn toward your business by seasonal discounts and amped-up loyalty rewards.

Create Ambiance

The waiting room is an underrated aspect of appointment-based businesses. Even if you have the most streamlined booking system on planet Earth, every single one of your customers is going to spend some time in the lobby before or after an appointment. If you create an ambiance that’s comfortable and inviting, more customers will be willing to brave the cold and trek to your office.

How do you make your waiting room awesome? Look at aspects of your lobby that might go overlooked in normal circumstances. Warm lighting as opposed to blinding fluorescents can create a more inviting environment.

The music you play can also be quite influential. Replacing boring elevator music with modern, upbeat tunes or classic soul will make for a more pleasant waiting room experience. Even just keeping the common areas warm and cozy can bring out your chilly customers.

The exterior of your business shouldn’t be overlooked either. Clear sidewalks and parking lots will be a lot more welcoming to customers than icy pavement and snowy curbs.

Offer Online Check-In

If customers have an option to wait in their warm cars until their appointment, they might feel more inclined to venture out for it. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be taking care of your waiting room. Rather, offering online check-in will provide another option for customers to consider. More options for customers means the business will have a better sales funnel.

Checking in online can easily be enabled through a mobile app or online software. All a customer needs to do is confirm that they have arrived at the office on time. A phone call, email, or text message will let the customer know when their appointment is about to start so they can quickly run from their car to the building, staying as warm as possible from start to finish.

Stretch Out Your Schedule

One reason why customers are hesitant to book appointments in the winter is because of perilous road conditions. Driving in the snow and ice is not a fun experience no matter how accustomed to it they are. This means drivers have to travel extra slowly, which might put them at risk of missing their appointment.

You can eliminate this fear by stretching out your schedule. Add some extra buffer time in between appointments just in case someone is running late due to poor weather conditions. You can also add more availability for walk-in customers if business is slow enough to accommodate them. This will give customers more flexibility and peace of mind.

Reach Out

If you’re using online scheduling software, you should easily be able to see when a customer made their last booking. Using this information, you can contact your regular visitors whom you haven’t seen in some time. Sometimes just reaching out to a customer is enough to bring them back for a winter appointment.

When getting in touch with customers, try to make your messages as personal as possible. Phone calls are easy to make personable but are more time-consuming. If you use some sort of messaging system, just be sure to draft up a message that doesn’t sound copy-and-pasted to your entire email list. When customers can tell that you sincerely care about them and want to serve them, you’ll have more success with winter appointment-setting.

Winter only takes up a short portion of the year, but it can feel like an eternity sometimes. Taking measures to fill up your appointment slots and stay busy will pass the time much more quickly and help your business start the next calendar year off on the right foot.

How to Decide the Minimum Amount of Appointment Cancellation Notice to Require

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How to Decide the Minimum Amount of Appointment Cancellation Notice to Require

In a perfect world, every appointment your customers make with you would take place. But in a perfect world, ice cream would be a superfood and a staple of every diet. Alas, that just isn’t the case. Unfortunately, cancellations are a fact of life. Lots of things can happen that result in canceled customer appointments. 

How your business deals with appointment cancellations will play a big part in its ultimate success. Some organizations require a fee to be paid if an appointment is canceled or issue a no-refund policy for every booking. That allows them to recoup some of the money lost when an appointment slot goes unfilled. However, a certain amount of lenience can provide a much stronger relationship with your customers. Working with a customer’s changing schedules and accommodating their needs as a business can create loyalty that is more beneficial long-term.  

For that reason, many companies implement a grace period before charging fees. This is part of an appointment-cancellation policy that customers are expected to follow. 

The biggest question with any cancellation policy is how much notice is required. How far in advance will you require your customers to cancel before they incur a penalty? The following variables can help you craft the perfect appointment-cancellation policy for your business and its customers:

1. Hours of Operation

The first thing you should consider when formulating an appointment-cancellation policy is your hours of operation. Businesses that are open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. may want to specify that their cancellation deadline hits when business doors open for the day (or even by close of business the previous day). This can be done to make it easier for business owners to plan their daily schedules and not have to roll with the punches of multiple cancellations, no-shows, and late arrivals throughout the day. 

Businesses with longer hours of operation might have to attempt more of a balancing act. For example, a salon owner who books time slots until 9 p.m might allow patrons to cancel appointments up until noon. The extra hours they have at their disposal could allow them to fill those coveted after-work appointments with people on their waitlist, minimizing disruption and revenue loss.

2. Staff Availability

Appointment cancellations directly impact your staff. If you’re gearing up for a full day of appointments, you may plan to have your entire staff on hand to absorb the anticipated traffic. When last-minute cancellations occur, a busy day can get completely off-balance. All those employees you asked to come in that day may not have enough appointments to keep them busy anymore.

If the number of appointments you have on a given day directly impacts your staffing decisions, you might want to opt for a cancellation policy that requires advance notice. For example, 48 hours’ notice allows employee schedules to be adjusted without a last-minute scramble. This will be especially helpful for any on-call workers you might employ who have more flexible schedules but appreciate at least some certainty. 

3. Appointment Demand

How in demand are your appointment slots? This might fluctuate depending on the time of year, but it’s an important component of your cancellation policy. If you have a long waitlist for daily appointments, short cancellation notices might not affect your business at all. As soon as an appointment slot opens up, it can be filled instantly, and your schedule will be none the wiser. 

For example, a tax accounting service may be incredibly busy in the first four months of the year, but business may slow in the summer. During slower months, you might appreciate having a little more notice for appointment cancellations when fewer people are waiting in line for open slots. You might even consider changing your cancellation policy during this time to accommodate changing needs for your business. If that’s what you decide to do, just be sure to make the changes clear to your customers so there’s no unnecessary frustration. 

4. Reminder Practices

Appointment reminders are one of the greatest tools your business can implement. By running all your appointments through online appointment software, the system can automatically send reminder messages that keep no-shows and late arrivals to a minimum. They can also help you when it comes to cancellations.

Most businesses will send reminders 24 hours in advance so that appointment reminders are fresh in customers’ minds. However, this is too late to include a reminder about your cancellation policy. Try sending your appointment reminder messages 48 hours in advance if you want to implement a 24-hour cancellation policy. Include a link for canceling or rescheduling appointments in the reminders you send, and changes should be made smoothly.

Your goal will always be to keep appointment cancellations to a minimum, but you should also be prepared for when cancellations inevitably occur. Draft an initial cancellation policy and weigh it against the four variables mentioned in this article. Once you come up with a good balance, share it with customers and observe how it affects appointment bookings over the next few months. 

Why Syncing Your Work and Personal Calendars Simplifies Appointment Scheduling

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Why Syncing Your Work and Personal Calendars Simplifies Appointment Scheduling

If you’re a busy individual, you probably have a separate calendar for work and for your personal life. This helps you divide up your different commitments so that a single calendar doesn’t get overcrowded. However, managing two separate calendars comes with different challenges you need to take into account. 

No matter what kind of error you want to avoid when juggling dual calendars, syncing will be your best solution. This will make your appointment-scheduling process so much easier whether you’re planning activities with your family and friends or organizing a new entrepreneurial venture. Here’s how calendar syncing is going to help you:

Improves Planning

When your work and personal calendars are intertwined, both calendars can be reviewed simultaneously. This allows your online appointment scheduling software to show you all available time slots that work for you. Otherwise, you might book a meeting that fits into your work calendar while overlooking a family commitment you had made for the same time. You don’t want to miss your daughter’s soccer game because you arranged a simultaneous client coffee date. 

With both calendars linked together, you’ll have a better idea of what you have to plan for in the upcoming days. Improved planning leads to increased efficiency, fewer mixups, and ultimately better results as your schedule falls into place.

Helps Manage Your Life Balance

With both calendars synced up, you can also improve that much-needed work-life balance. If you’re noticing that your work calendar far outweighs your personal calendar, maybe it’s time to schedule some more activities with your family. This can also be done in reverse. You might realize you’ve been taking a lot of time off recently and recognize the need to get back to the old grindstone, refilling that work calendar once again. 

Syncing your work and personal calendars will also help you learn the difficult art of saying no. Some appointments you’re just going to have to decline in the name of life balance. Turning down a single work appointment won’t be the end of the world for your career, especially if it contributes to a better family life. 

Stops You From Overbooking

Appointment software will not allow you to schedule over other events, even if you try. You’ll get a nice, big alert warning you that the time slot you’ve selected has already been filled. This will help with tricky situations like the one mentioned previously, where you create a work event without realizing there’s been a personal event scheduled there already. 

This will also prevent others from trying to overbook your time. Many managers use appointment software to make their time available to employees needing to ask questions or report on a project in progress. You don’t have to list out any specifics, but having both of your calendars covered in your available time slots will stop an employee from trying to bother you while you’re at a family gathering. Emergencies are always an exception, of course. 

Automates Schedule Additions and Changes in Both Places

After any appointment is scheduled, it’s automatically added to both of your calendars. This is one less thing you have to do, saving you a little bit of time and hassle when scheduling. Manual syncing is tedious, and also leaves more room for human error than any of us would like. You could accidentally input the wrong time in one calendar or simply forget to include the commitment when taking your other calendar into consideration. 

Automatic syncing will also come in handy when you share your calendars with other people. For example, you might share a personal calendar with your significant other. If they plan an event in your shared calendar, you’ll want that to pop up automatically. This will enable greater communication between you two and prevent conflicts from arising because of a lack thereof. 

The syncing of calendars with appointment software is great if you use these tools to better coordinate with your team as well. Sending an appointment invitation for an upcoming meeting will give employees the time to arrange their personal schedules accordingly. 

Enables Easier Transitioning

It can be difficult to shift your thought process from your work life to your personal life. By syncing their two respective calendars together, you’ll be able to make easier transitions throughout the day. 

For example, a major perk of using appointment software is to send and receive reminders and notifications. This can help cut down on tardiness and no-shows. However, you can find yourself feeling flustered if your notifications seem to be competing instead of coming in a linear fashion. Synchronized calendars will reduce this effect. 

There’s no time like the present to begin syncing up your work and personal calendars. It will make your appointment scheduling so much easier and improve your time management as you head into 2022.

7 Ways Online Appointment Software Can Benefit Small Businesses This Year

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7 Ways Online Appointment Software Can Benefit Small Businesses This Year

Appointment-based businesses working on a smaller scale might not see the benefits of online appointment setting right away. After all, a single hairstylist doesn’t see as many clients each day as a fully staffed hair salon. Yet the truth is that a small business can get just as much value out of online appointment software as its larger competitors, if not more so. 

This article will outline seven of the most tangible and immediate benefits of online appointment software for small businesses. Each one can specifically help your startup to grow and flourish in 2021 and beyond:

1. It Snags More Customers

The biggest thing small businesses require is new customers! Startups need all the support they can get, especially as they work to make the kind of name for themselves that will keep retention rates high. Online appointment software will not only bring in new customers, but encourage them to stick around for the long haul. 

Online appointment booking is so easy for new customers to use — they don’t have to get on the phone and talk to a stranger. Such a simple and efficient booking method is sure to pique the interest of numerous prospects. Win them over with a stellar appointment experience, and they’ll be booking a return appointment the minute they walk out the door. 

2. It Speeds Up the Appointment Process

There are a number of variables that can slow the appointment process down. Long wait times can be especially bothersome for both customers and your employees trying to keep a consistent schedule. By enabling online appointment booking, much of the process is sped up, keeping everybody happy. 

For example, employees are no longer distracted by as many phone calls that can pull them away from in-house customers. Online appointment software also eliminates a lot of manual work, such as inputting customer information or selecting appointment slots manually.

3. It Enables Quicker Payments

Few things are as worrisome for small businesses as outstanding payments. While most transactions will be conducted in person, some organizations — such as a doctor’s office — will rely on invoices sent after calculating insurance coverage.

Where third parties aren’t an issue, though, online appointment software can facilitate the payment process. When customers book their appointments online, they can also make advance payments simultaneously. Even if they settle up after service is rendered, online payment methods such as PayPal will encourage timelier payment. And that means small businesses can balance their checkbooks more quickly. 

4. It Reduces Booking Mistakes

Booking errors are inconvenient at best and can lose you customers at worst. Incorrectly inputting appointment times, overbooking appointments, or even forgetting an appointment entirely is a bad look for your organization. Using online appointment software helps to reduce human error that leads to these mistakes. 

Since online software will track appointments for you, overbooking is nonexistent, and accuracy is practically ensured. After all, clients are signing up for your available slots themselves. All you need to do is briefly review your upcoming schedule, and you’re good to go. 

5. It Lowers No-Show Rates

No-shows are an appointment-based business’s worst nightmare. The healthcare industry alone loses billions of dollars annually due to no-shows. These inconveniences take away valuable time slots from other patrons who would be happy to show up, and they waste a good portion of your day. The only party who loses money from a no-show is the business, unless there are well-advertised no-show fees involved.

Using online appointment software, you can slash your no-show rate by sending direct and effective notifications prior to the appointment. Consumers aren’t as likely to answer reminder phone calls, but they are typically quick to check a notification on their smartphone. A good notification system will at least remind them to reschedule an appointment they can no longer make. 

6. It Provides Quality Data

As a small business owner, you should never underestimate the power of data. Any information you can collect will prove to be invaluable to your business when implemented into your strategy. Since online appointment software tracks everything about your customer’s interaction with your business, you can start gathering and analyzing data immediately. 

Data will offer you lots of valuable insights you can use to grow your business. You’ll be able to spot common demographics to target with marketing campaigns as well as which appointment slots are most popular. This concrete information will allow you to make informed decisions to improve your business for present and future customers.

7. It Increases Availability

When booking appointments the old-fashioned way, prospective customers have to call in to their business of choice and inquire about availability. This process can take a long time, especially if they’re put on hold. Other customers simply want to minimize interaction as much as possible and will avoid making such phone calls.

By enabling online booking, customers no longer have to call in to check availability and book an appointment. Online servers are also open 24/7, meaning appointments can be booked long after your business has closed its doors for the day. This allows customers to make appointments anytime, helping you to fill your schedule even more and increase your revenue. 

Loving what you’re reading? You need to see it for yourself. Get started on implementing online appointment software now, and you can expect great things for your small business. 

How to Use Appointment Software to Get More Customers This Fall

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How to Use Appointment Software to Get More Customers This Fall

The lazy days of summer may have come to an end, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve seen the wave of new customers you expected. If your fall has been less busy than you’d hoped, rest assured that you can put together numerous customer acquisition programs with great success.

All it takes is a little fall flair to get those new customer numbers high even as temperatures drop. This article offers solutions you can implement to keep your business growing through the changing season.

Spruce Up Your Platform for the Season

Start by giving your online appointment system a seasonal makeover. Add some fall colors and designs to your website and online appointment portal. Colorful leaves, pumpkins, and hot chocolate mugs are always appealing visuals.

In addition to adding a festive theme, this is a great time to make sure your appointment software is running smoothly. You can put together the best customer acquisition program and still put off newcomers with a poor user experience. Ensure your site loading times and mobile interface aren’t discouraging would-be visitors from patronizing your business.  

Hold Some Holiday Events

A lot of seasonal buzz will be focused on the two major holidays coming up this fall. Use these days to your advantage. Businesses have historically found a lot of success gaining and retaining customers by putting their own twist on annual holiday traditions. 

You can have a lot of fun with Halloween. Your business can put on a trunk-or-treat event where families in costume can get a discount on their next appointment. If you’re open during business hours on Halloween, you can provide a free service upgrade to anyone who shows up in costume. These festive events can attract new customers to your business who are excited about the season. 

Thanksgiving is up next, but most businesses will be gearing up for Black Friday. While the day after Thanksgiving is usually a monstrous day for retailers and e-commerce, you can take advantage of all the busy customers by putting on an event of your own. Perhaps first-time customers can get 50% off of their Black Friday appointments.

Set Up Fall Promotions for Appointment-Setters

Not every single event you hold during the fall has to be oriented around a holiday. There are plenty of other autumnal promotions you can put on for appointment-setters.

Leveraging your social media is always a great way to bring in new customers. For example, you can put together a fall-themed hashtag to share. Anyone who creates a post with the hashtag can receive a coupon code that can be used with your online appointment software. 

Another promotion that fits the fall theme is a food drive. Have customers bring in canned food that can be donated just in time for the holidays in exchange for appointment deals. 

Fire Up Social Media

Speaking of social media, maintaining a few pages of content helps your business be more discoverable. There are plenty of fun fall ideas you can use to create new posts for the season to capture the attention of new customers. 

A nail salon can use Instagram to post pictures of its new designs. Clever hashtags and audience targeting can get new people in the area interested in checking out your services. Include a link to your online appointment software in the post — or at the very least in your account bio — so prospective customers know where to find you. 

Jump on the Local Bandwagon

In many cities and towns, fall is a time for sports. There are communities that will go all-in on their support for local high school or college football teams. These are large bandwagons your business can jump on as you seek fall success.

Let’s say you operate a hair salon, one of the most popular businesses that rely on appointments to thrive. You could offer the local team discount haircuts as a way to show your support. Place a banner in your shop window, and you’ll have plenty of parents and fans flocking to your doors to reward your support for their team.

To go the extra mile, you could also put together a program that donates a portion of profits to the team you’re sponsoring. Your business will transform into a community pillar that supports one of your town’s most treasured fall pastimes. 

Update Your Blog

Written content is a great way to draw in new customers. Quality blog posts will boost your ranking in search engines such as the almighty Google. When consumers make searches regarding your industry, they’ll have an easier time finding you and being lured into making an appointment.

There are plenty of fall themes you can use to update your blog with some new posts. A dentist’s office can write about the most tooth-friendly Halloween candy and how to keep your teeth clean while still enjoying your treats. A nail salon could tout new polishes in autumn leaf hues.

With every blog post, add a link that will direct readers to your online appointment software. Add it to a call to action for the best results. You can also track your blog metrics to see which posts are successfully bringing in new customers so you can replicate that success in future articles. 

Autumn is a beautiful season, and it will be even more enjoyable when your waiting room is full of new customers to serve. Put together the right combination of these tips, and you’ll be raking in new customers like leaves. 

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