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How to Increase Your Appointment Bookings During the Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer

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Appointment Bookings

Are you a small business owner, an accountant, or a doctor? Regardless of what you do, your business probably relies on clients. Meaning, that for your company to thrive you need to continuously book appointments. Easier said than done, right?

Increasing your appointment bookings isn’t easy, especially in the summer when business typically slows down. But don’t worry. There are ways you can keep attracting customers. This article includes a few tips to help you increase your appointment bookings. From integrating appointment software to offering discounts, here’s everything you need to know:

1. Add Personal Touches

Whether you’re sending emails or using your website to target consumers, consider adding some personal touches. Sure, you don’t know everything about your prospective client, but you know enough to make a connection.

For example, let’s say you own a medical spa. Summer is around the corner, which as you know, is a popular time for people to vacation. With this information, you might want to consider integrating something about “looking your best this summer” into your email.

Finding small ways to connect with your audience and make your product relevant helps you stand out, and can increase your appointment bookings.

2. Improve Online Visibility

Sure, you have a website. That doesn’t mean Google is displaying your website. To help prospective clients find you, it’s important your site is considering search engine optimization (SEO) best practices. To do this, consider consulting with an SEO specialist. There are also small steps you can take yourself to help with SEO.

For instance, having a mobile-friendly website is important for SEO. So, consider re-working your website to ensure it’s easy to navigate on any device. Publishing blog posts and using images can also boost your SEO.

The higher you rank on SEO, the higher Google will rank you. And in turn, the more likely a customer will be directed to your website than your competitors.

3. Use Appointment Software

In today’s modern world, consumers want everything to be fast — even scheduling appointments. The traditional method of having a prospective client call or even email to schedule an appointment won’t cut it anymore. Because of this, you should consider integrating appointment scheduling software.

With this technology, clients can book an appointment from their phone with only a few clicks. They don’t have to spend time talking on the phone or going back and forth with someone at the company. All they have to do is find a time that works for them, based on your availability, and click. Not only does this create a better consumer experience, but it can also help your business stay organized.

4. Send Follow-Up Messages

According to research, missed appointments in the healthcare industry range from 10 to 50%. Even if you’re not in healthcare, missed appointments can be problematic. It can cause you to lose time and money. Instead of blocking off that time for someone who didn’t show up, you could’ve made money by working with a paying client.

To prevent no-shows, consider sending clients an automatic reminder after they’ve scheduled an appointment. Using appointment software can help with this and also let you pick and choose how to send the reminders. For instance, you might opt to send appointment reminders via text, email, or automatic phone call. You can even include an option where the client can cancel, giving you the opportunity to book with someone else.

5. Use Customer Referrals 

Word of mouth customer referrals is an easy and inexpensive way to increase appointment bookings. You simply ask your current customers to refer their friends or anyone they may know.

Keep in mind that you want to make sure your current customers are happy with your service before asking them to refer you. It’s also a good idea to ask for referrals immediately after interacting with your customer. Doing this, as opposed to waiting weeks, increases the likelihood the customer will actually tell their friends and family.

Some companies offer a referral discount. Meaning, that every time an existing customer refers someone and that person comes in for an appointment, the existing customer earns a discount. This is a great way to motivate existing customers and build loyalty.

6. Send a Post-Appointment Survey

Feedback is important for any business. Think about it. You can’t grow if you don’t know what you’re doing right and ways to improve. To keep this from happening, consider sending customers a post-appointment survey. You might be thinking, “No one will fit it out.” Turns out, that’s not true.

According to Survey Monkey, 85% of customers say they will give their feedback when the experience is good. Another 81% will give feedback when the experience is bad. Based on this information, there’s a good chance you’ll receive feedback regardless.

When it comes to a post-appointment survey, you should also make sure these post-appointment surveys are mobile-friendly and concise. While you might want a lot of feedback, it’s doubtful a customer will take hours filling out a survey. So, do your best to create pointed questions that will provide you with the best information.

Increasing your appointment bookings doesn’t have to be complicated. By making small changes, based on the tips above, you can help your business thrive this summer.

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!

You’ll Have the Most Impact by Prioritizing Your Appointments

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Prioritizing Appointments

When it comes to appointments, I adhere to one rule and one rule only. Always schedule your meetings with employees, customers, prospects, partners, and other business associates ahead of time.

The main reason? It gives you plenty of time to plan accordingly and the people you’re meeting. An appointment also ensures everyone has prevents hiccups like calendar conflicts and arriving on time. And it protects your most valuable resource; time.

Let me give you a recent example regarding that last point. I have a new client who needs to go over the project’s scope before we start. Since I typically schedule my priorities well in advance, I’m just not going to stop what I’m doing when he asks if he can call me in 10-minutes. Sorry, bro. I need more of a head’s up.

But, there’s another reason why you need to prioritize your appointments. You’re going to have a much more significant impact on everyone in your professional and personal lives.

You’ll Place Value on Your Schedule

A booked schedule can easily become ingrained into your routine. It’s one of the primary reasons we book appointments. But, sometimes, life just doesn’t go according to plan. Still, it’s essential that you respect your valuable time.

Never let anyone tell you otherwise either. Your time is valuable regardless of your profession, age, title, or how many years you’ve spent in school. Prioritizing your appointments shows you and others that you’re serious about your goals and calendar. In this way, you’re making it crystal clear that you’re not at the beck and call of others.

Whenever you receive an invitation that is not an emergency or voluntary, consider whether or not the appointment will add value to your immediate goals and needs. How will this appointment affect your progress? Will it hold you back, or worse, keep you in a holding pattern?

You can accept the appointment if it fits with your goals and needs. If it doesn’t, you may politely let it go. Or, if necessary, postpone it until you have availability.

Some Appointments Aren’t Worth Your Time

Not all appointments are created equal to build on what was said earlier. Determine which appointments in your calendar app are necessary by evaluating them.

A discovery meeting or an introductory call should it’s as important as a project wrap-up with a client you’ve worked with for years. However, putting that introductory call on hold if it interferes with keeping your client happy is more important.

You’ll Respect Other People’s Time

“Respect is a two-way street; if you want to get it, you’ve got to give it.” — R.G. Risch

While you should obviously be protective of your time, you also need to be respectful of others. After all, how frustrating is it when you have a meeting at 3 p.m. only for the other attendee to arrive 15-minutes? Of, even more infuriating, they ghost you?

With that said, here are some of the best ways to show others respect. And how appointments can help.

  • Distracting them when they’re busy. I don’t know about you. But, when I’m in the zone, I hate being interrupted. It’s why I put my phone on silent. You don’t want to bother others when they’re busy, off-the-clock, or even sleeping. Instead, you can share your calendar so that you can both see when you’re available.
  • Not responding. We all know someone who never responds to our calls, texts, emails, or other forms of communication. If you’re desperate to reach this person, you may feel frustrated. Don’t be that person. Lock in a specific date and time to communicate with them.
  • Constantly arriving late. Again, time is a precious resource. If you’re scheduled to meet at a specific time, be there promptly.
  • Not preparing. There’s no excuse for this. If you know that you have a meeting next Thursday at 3 pm, then you’ve had more than enough time to prepare.
  • Rescheduling every meeting. At some point, enough is enough. Don’t let others frequently adjust their schedules because you can’t commit.

You’ll Have Enough Time to Get Everything Done

The time it takes to prepare for an appointment is often neglected. When you don’t have time to prepare, having a series of back-to-back appointments can backfire. For example, the previous appointment goes later than planned, and now you’re late for your next appointment.

Prioritizing your appointments allows you to understand each appointment’s requirements better. Rather than simply winging it, your appointment will be a success due to your active involvement. Again, being respectful by arriving on time and being prepared.

What’s more, prioritizing appointments ensures that you can still get your other work done. For instance, if you’ve had an appointment booked a month ago, then you wouldn’t have the deadline for an assignment on the same day. On the flip side, if you’re swamped, then you won’t spread yourself too thin by accepting a last-minute invite.

Achieves Work-Life Balance

Having a work-life balance can help you lead a happy, fulfilling life.

If you prioritize your appointments, you will only block out time for your most important appointments, resulting in a better work-life balance. If you have met all these appointments, you will be able to focus on the things that matter most to you in life. While this varies, this means having time for your family, friends, hobbies, and side projects.

Tips on Prioritizing Your Appointments

Here are some ways to prioritize appointments to create a productive, respectful, and impactful schedule.

  • Schedule your priorities. Using something like the Eisenhower Matrix, identify your priorities and schedule them first. What’s left can be deferred, delegated, or deleted. It’s a simple way to be aware of your availability for the upcoming week, month, or even year.
  • Use online appointment scheduling software. Did you know that 40% of appointments are booked after business hours? Using tools like Calendar automates your appointments 24/7. In addition, it eliminates the need for back-and-forth emails and phone calls. The software can also send automated reminders and confirmations. And it can even make smart scheduling suggestions with the power of machine learning.
  • Identify the purpose. Ask the purpose of the appointment in the automated message you send when someone requests an appointment. This way, you know what the meeting is about before committing to it. You can wait until a later date if it isn’t essential or if you’re extremely busy.
  • Begin to say no. Don’t hesitate to politely decline a meeting request if the meeting does not meet a goal. Also, sharing your calendar makes this easier since you can block your availability.
  • Analyze your appointments. Finally, determine how much time you spent on each appointment. So, let’s say that a typical meeting is 30-minutes. You’ll want to block out 45-minutes, 30 for the meeting itself, and 15-minutes to prepare.

This will give you an idea of how many appointments you can reasonably schedule each day.

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!

You’ll Have the Most Impact by Prioritizing Your Appointments was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton

5 Tips for Using Appointment-Based Businesses in 2022

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Tips For Using Appointment Based Businesses 2022

New year, same bookings you’ll need to keep scheduling at your appointment-based business. Celebrating the turn of the calendar is always fun and exciting, but now it’s time to get back to the old grind. That includes scheduling any upcoming appointments for services you’re going to need in the coming days.

Whether it’s a check-up at the dentist’s office or getting an oil change for your car, there are a few things you should remember as you schedule your appointments. By following these five tips, you can be sure you’ll be well received — and well served — in 2022.

1. Be on Time

This should be a no-brainer, but try to be on time to your appointments whenever possible. Being punctual limits the number of variables that appointment-based businesses have to deal with. If you arrive late to your appointment, you end up pushing back everyone else’s appointment bookings as well. This makes it difficult for appointment-based businesses to keep up with their schedules and keep everybody happy, even though they didn’t do anything wrong.

If you have a problem making your appointments on time, elect to receive appointment reminders directly from the business. Through online appointment software, establishments can send you automated reminders specifically for your bookings. You can choose to receive them via text, email, or phone call.

If you’re not already using an online calendar, consider doing so. There’s already one installed in your smartphone, with dozens more available to download. Online calendars are perfect tools for the perennially tardy, helping to develop better time management habits — including getting to appointments on time.

2. Double-Check Everything

One thing that will really help you stay on time is to double-check the time of your appointment bookings. Even if you’re getting appointment reminders, a passing glance and a wrong idea could cause you to miss your appointment by as much as a day or as little as an hour. If you make it a habit to always double-check when you’re scheduling appointments, you’ll be able to fix the commitment in your head accurately.

You should also double-check the information you provide when scheduling an appointment. This ensures you can be contacted if something changes and that you’ll be getting the service you need when you arrive.

Say you’re looking to have your hair colored by your favorite stylist. If you accidentally select a bang trim when booking the appointment online, you might be able to fix the error when you show up. Chances are you’ll need to reschedule your appointment, though, as your stylist probably won’t be able to complete a full color treatment in the time she allotted for snipping a half-inch off your bangs. Even if she does have the time, it will be an inconvenient last-second switch.

3. Be Patient

We live in a world where convenience is no longer considered a luxury, but a requirement. Answers to questions can be Googled in an instant, entire meals prepared and purchased in minutes, and the latest movie streamed from any device the moment it comes out. Even with that expectation of instant gratification, you shouldn’t let a hiccup in your appointment experience cause you to lose patience with your service provider.

Try not to get upset with the person at the front desk when you have to wait, even if you were on time. They cannot help that your doctor is seeing another patient at the moment. Perhaps the person before you arrived late, or the examination revealed a significant problem that required immediate treatment.

Stay in good standing with those at appointment-based businesses because they are still working during uncertain times to serve you. Working through waves of a pandemic isn’t easy, especially if many of the staff are home sick or getting tested for COVID, leaving the rest of the workforce stretched thin.

4. Practice Good Hygiene

Whether or not you attend appointments regularly, maintaining good hygiene is always important. This will help minimize the spreading of germs, especially during the winter when the cold and flu are more common.

Be sure to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer when the opportunity presents itself. The point isn’t to engage in health-and-safety theater, but to help prevent any illness from spreading, which is the courteous thing to do. After all, wouldn’t you hate to attend your scheduled appointment only to get sick the next day?

5. Practice COVID (and Common Cold) Courtesy

If you yourself are feeling unwell, reschedule your appointment. During this unpredictable time, many businesses are more willing to accommodate clients who need to make last-minute adjustments to their bookings. Try to give a heads up at least 24 hours in advance if you can. Most businesses are likely to understand and be willing to work with you on a scheduling solution.

If you do end up having to go out, try to be courteous by wearing a mask when inside business property. COVID-19 is still a pressing concern for much of the nation, and nobody wants to get sick, even if it’s just a nasty 24-hour bug and not the latest coronavirus variant. Wearing a mask for an hour is such a small sacrifice when it can help your community stay healthy and strong.

Keep these tips in mind, and every appointment you make in 2022 will run smoothly. There are bound to be some challenges that you will face with appointment-setting, but after everything you’ve endured these past few years, it shouldn’t be anything that you can’t handle with ease.

Image Credit: Alex Green; Pexels; Thank you!

5 Ways to Customize Your Customer’s Experience When Making Appointments

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Customer Experience Making Appointments

Customers today like to have control over their interactions with businesses. Customizing their encounters helps them to ensure that they’re getting the exact experience they want. Businesses that are flexible in providing customization options to their customers are likely to draw in and retain new clients.

For appointment-based businesses, being customizable sometimes requires thinking outside of the box. There are certain aspects of appointment setting that are rigid and, to remain optimal, can’t be changed. However, there are a few ways you can customize the appointment experience for customers if you’re open to trying some new things:

1. Offer Plenty of Options

Appointment customization won’t be possible if customers don’t have options to choose from. This should be your starting point. Think of some ways you can make appointments special for your customers, from exclusive deals to surprise discounts.

Some industries have loads of options already at their disposal. For instance, hair salons have all sorts of different products, hairstyles, and stylists to choose from. For the adventurous customer, every appointment can be a new experience.

Other businesses might need to get a little more creative. A dentist might mix up regular checkups by offering different types of prizes for kids to choose from for good brushing skills. A mechanic’s shop can offer different drinks or entertainment options in the lobby while customers wait for an oil change. All of these will contribute to the customization of the customer experience.

2. Include a Survey

After every appointment, send customers home with an optional survey regarding their visit. In this survey, you can ask each customer about any individual preferences they would like to include for their next visit. For example, one survey response might state that a customer would like the same dental technician for their next visit because they had a great experience with them.

With this knowledge, you can help clients customize their future appointments. Not every request can be granted, but assure your customers that you’ll do your best to accommodate them. Keep notes within a customer portal so your team can remember these individual details and carry them over from appointment to appointment.

Survey responses will also be useful for finding out which areas of your business need the most improvement. Feedback might show that your check-in process runs slowly or that the guest bathroom isn’t cleaned as often as patrons would like. Now that you know what customers are noticing, you can make real changes to improve the appointment experience for them.

3. Implement Multiple Tools

If you have multiple tools at your disposal, you can offer different forms of service to your customers. Let’s use appointment reminders as an example. If you have the tools to send reminders via email, text message, phone call, or even a social media message, you can provide a unique appointment booking experience to each customer based on how they best receive such messages.

Offering multiple payment options is another tool you can use to provide more flexibility for clients. Some customers will prefer to pay with cash, while others will want to use a card. Others may prefer to pay with a mobile app or simply want to prepay for their appointment online. Have the tools for all of these options, and every appointment experience can be a different one.

4. Track Key Data Metrics

Customers won’t always know going into an appointment what sort of customization options they would like. Neither will you without getting to know them better. Keeping track of all of your customers and their personal tastes is a tall order, but it can be done in part by tracking some key data metrics.

Data can tell you a lot about your customers, their habits, and future trends they might follow. Take a look at your customer demographics, for starters. The customization options you provide can reflect your primary demographics. If most of your customers are students from a local college, they might like different options in the lobby for getting some studies done or accessing the internet from their personal devices.

You can also look at different behavioral statistics. Your morning customers might enjoy a fully customizable coffee bar to perk up their appointments, while customers who arrive late in the evening might prefer various entertainment options toward the end of their day.

5. Let Customers Take a Stance

You can enable your customers to take a stance for what they believe in without forcing ideals upon anyone who is uninterested. Take recycling, for example. Some of your customers might be into recycling and other renewable efforts. Having that option at your place of business will really speak to them without pushing away those customers who feel indifferent.

How about customizing a donation program? Allowing customers to round up their charges to the nearest dollar and putting that money toward a good cause can make for a gratifying end to an appointment. Support multiple charities and outreach programs, and your customers will be able to choose where they wish to donate should they feel inclined to do so. Once again, customers who don’t feel like donating at the moment won’t be required to.

Be careful not to provide too many customization options, or your customers and staff might get overwhelmed. However, including some personalization to each appointment will go a long way toward building firm relationships with your clientele and boosting those retention numbers for years to come.

Image Credit: Alex Green; Pexels; Thank you!

5 Issues Appointment-Based Businesses Sometimes Face — and How to Resolve Them

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Issues Appointment Businesses Face

The best outlook you can have as a business owner is to expect the best but prepare for the worst. A positive attitude will get you far, but you should always be aware that issues will arise — and you have to be ready to deal with them.

Part of your preparation will be to know what issues you will most likely confront when running an appointment-based business. This short list contains some of the top issues appointment-based businesses around the country face on a regular basis and what you can do to address them.

1. System Errors

Operating your appointment-based business is a cinch as long as all of your software is running smoothly. So what do you do when there’s a system error bogging down your business? You can’t expect your customers to sit around while you call your IT guy, so you’ll need a quick solution until repairs can be made.

Many dentist’s offices keep paper records of the day’s check-ins in case an outage causes them to lose internet access. This way they can still manually check in patients even if there’s an ongoing system error.

How quickly you can fix a system error will depend on the know-how of your personnel. Having IT staff on hand or on call ensures that there’s always someone who can take care of an unexpected system outage. Learning how to fix small and simple errors on your own is also a worthwhile investment, as you’ll be able to help take care of customers immediately.

2. Payment Method Problems

Since most transactions these days are processed digitally, there’s additional room for error that wasn’t there when all transactions were handled via check or cash. While computerized banking has made payment faster and easier than ever, problems with cards, apps, and systems are always potential roadblocks that can get in your customer’s way during an appointment visit.

Offering multiple payment methods can cover the gaps created by individual payment problems. If your debit card processor isn’t working, you can always accept cash or even a Paypal transfer. This might not be the ideal situation for you and your customer, but it will get the job done and send them on their way while you take the time to fix things.

Another way you can eliminate payment issues is to enable prepayment. If a customer is able to pay the full balance of their appointment charges before they even check in, they won’t have to worry about being slowed down by your card reader being on the fritz.

3. Customer Issues

Mistakes happen even to the best workers and businesses, but not all customers will handle unfortunate circumstances calmly. From time to time, you will have to deal with a disgruntled customer who is upset at their appointment wait time, the perceived inadequacy of customer service, or some other aspect of their appointment experience that rubbed them the wrong way. How you deal with these customers is extremely important for your business’s longevity.

The reason that “The customer is always right” is that no business can operate without paying patrons. That’s why you need to be as patient and understanding as possible with customers who are experiencing problems. Try to work through the issue with them without playing the blame game. The way you handle a customer complaint determines the outcome. The better their complaint is handled, the more likely they are to return. Additionally, they are more likely to praise your brand to their friends and family.

Of course, there are lines that customers should never cross. This means you may need to make some exceptions to the established dictum. Your employees and other guests should never have to endure bigotry or abuse of any kind. Customers who cross such lines can be refused service indefinitely.

4. Scheduling Hiccups

As hard as you may try to craft the perfect daily appointment schedule, there are bound to be some scheduling issues and hiccups. Customers might arrive late to their appointments or fail to show up at all. Or you could have a large number of walk-in customers trying to squeeze into an appointment slot at the last minute. Learning how to roll with the punches when maintaining an appointment schedule is something you’ll have to get accustomed to.

The secret to schedule management is to be proactive, not reactive. For example, adding buffer time in between appointments now will come in handy on a snowy day when many of your customers arrive late. Thanks to this proactive decision, you can still fit everyone into their bookings without having to turn anyone away.

5. Health and Safety

Something that has been extremely relevant for the past couple of years is the health and safety of your clientele and employees. COVID-19 is not going away without a fight, and appointment-based businesses should remain vigilant while continuing to operate.

Keep your waiting room clean and sanitized, well-ventilated, and spread out. No matter how people feel about the current state of the pandemic, customers will always appreciate a tidy space when attending appointments. Your cleanliness should also extend to areas for employees only. It should be a high priority to keep them safe and healthy as well.

You’ll also need to be prepared for a workday with minimal staff in the event that some of your employees need to get tested for the virus or stay at home to recover after a positive diagnosis. Craft a plan for dealing with days that feature many appointments but fewer employees. You should allow clients to reschedule last-minute without penalty or have on-call staff members ready to help when needed.

The greatest businesses didn’t rise to the top due to luck. They learned how to deal with the common problems in their industry and used that experience to become better organizations. Your business can do the same by anticipating the roadblocks you might encounter. And from there, you could develop a plan to overcome every single one.

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thanks!

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.

Image Credit: Marcus Aurelius; Pexels; Thanks!

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.

Image Credit: SHVETS Production; Pexels; Thanks!

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.

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