There are appointment booking obstacles in the way of every business and new customers. Identifying these obstacles and breaking them down is how companies are able to promote growth and deliver quality products and services to consumers.
Appointment-based businesses have their own unique struggles when it comes to getting new customers to book their first appointment. Below are some of the most common obstacles for customers when it comes to appointment booking.
Committing to an appointment time is a struggle for some people. Maybe they have an unpredictable schedule, so making a commitment seems impossible.
It could also be that your available openings do not fit their schedule. Perhaps you need to specify one night a week that you’ll accept evening appointments or open at 8 a.m. each day to catch customers before they start their workday. Figuring out how to accommodate customers’ varying schedules will help you fill up your bookings and keep everybody happy.
Committing to your business is also a factor that may give customers pause. Booking an appointment isn’t like entering a grocery store or eating at a restaurant. The appointment process requires more information to be given out and a relationship to be established. If a customer isn’t ready to make that commitment to your business, they won’t be booking an appointment any time soon.
How do you help customers get over their commitment issues? Maybe you need to improve your online rating or focus on getting more referrals. Word-of-mouth advertising is a powerful tool when it comes to convincing customers to give your business a try. Trust is already established through a friend or family member who speaks well of your services.
If you’re not using online appointment software yet, you’re missing out. A big deterrent for new customers is an obstacle-strewn path to booking an appointment. If customers have to find a time to call in — risking an unanswered phone or being put on hold for an indefinite period of time — they’re more likely to try their luck as a walk-in (if that).
Online appointment software resolves that issue easily. Online bookings are open 24/7, meaning a customer can book an appointment on their own at their convenience. They can even look at daily availability on the off chance they find an extra hour in their day when they can sneak in an appointment.
Of course, you should also continue to accept phone bookings for those who prefer to call in. It may be that a portion of your customer base doesn’t have reliable internet access, or your online system could go down temporarily. The more appointment-booking options you offer, the more accessible your business will be.
No Perceived Need
If you’re being super accommodating with those walk-ins, chances are you’re hurting your appointment rates. Many customers won’t bother booking an appointment if they know they can just show up and get in during the next opening. However, too many walk-ins create a lot of variables that can slow down your operations and cause unneeded chaos.
If you want your customers to book appointments — and thus make your operations run more smoothly — limit the number of walk-ins you accept each day. Set clear guidelines so customers understand why they need to book an appointment.
Your no-show policy will also impact appointment bookings for your business. If you have a lax no-show policy, you might get more bookings, but cancellations will frequently ruin your day. In addition, a high no-show rate might encourage even more walk-ins hoping to land a spot left behind by a last-minute cancellation.
This obstacle is put up by businesses themselves. If you have a poor appointment strategy, you’re just making life more difficult for yourself. To encourage more appointment bookings, you’ll need to revamp your approach to meet customers where they are.
Start with your online presence. Do your website and social media pages clearly state information about appointment booking? Using technology in this way makes it clear to customers where they can book an appointment and how easy the process is.
Next, take a look at your customer acquisition plan. Are you targeting the right audience? Is your marketing reaching them in the right place? Find the sweet spot with your acquisition strategy, and you’ll find more customers who are ready to book appointments with you.
Faulty People Skills
The common denominator with appointment bookings across industries is human interaction. Even if a customer books their appointment online, they’ll come into contact with a receptionist or other employee at some point. If they’re treated poorly, you’ll never hear from them again.
Make sure your entire team is well-trained in customer service skills and habits. This is just as important for your mechanics and hair stylists as it is for representatives that handle phone calls. Answering one question the wrong way may cost your business an appointment booking.
If you don’t know where to start with your customer service training, add a survey to the messages customers receive upon completion of their appointment. Their feedback will highlight exactly where your team members excel and where they need to improve. This will help you better train for customer service skills as well as gauge customer needs in other areas.
Analyze your business and look for cracks in its foundation. What needs to be improved to make appointment booking easier and more desirable for customers? Once you’ve pinpointed those needs and resolved glaring issues, there will be fewer hurdles for customers to jump on their way to your waiting room.