customer experience Archives - Appointment - Online Appointment Scheduling Software

5 Ways to Customize Your Client Experience

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Client Experience

From start to finish, there’s a lot that needs to be done to take care of your customers. You want them to have a flawless check-in experience, an ideal appointment, and a clean exit. Satisfied customers will leave positive reviews and refer your business to their friends.

One way you can set yourself apart from competitors, while simultaneously enhancing the client experience, is by offering customization options. This way, each client can have a unique experience that fits their needs and preferences. Customization isn’t always easy in the brainstorming phase, so here are some ideas you can use to get started:

1. Provide Onsite Child Care 

Many clients have children, but they won’t always have access to childcare when they have time for appointments. Additionally, few businesses allocate resources toward onsite child care services. This monumental gesture could be huge for your local community, if implemented correctly.

Just think of how many parents will appreciate being able to go to the salon on a Saturday because they can take their child along. Parents with working partners also don’t have to postpone dentist appointments or doctor’s visits simply because they’re too busy with kids during business hours.

Onsite child care should have at least one designated employee to take care of any children present. Some sanitized toys and a TV are enough to keep them entertained for a half-hour appointment. Your clients will be extremely grateful and may return frequently due to this service.

2. Send Personalized Gifts

Who says you should only take care of your clients while they are inside your building? A lot of what can make a client experience unique occurs before and after their appointments. For example, you can go the extra mile by sending some personalized gifts to your regulars.

In your customer portals, you can keep track of birthdays or other special events worth recognizing. An email saying happy birthday with a gift certificate or coupon attached is a nice gesture that isn’t required. Going out of your way to send little messages and gifts like that can really set your organization apart.

To make this strategy work you really have to be sincere. Get to know your clients and remember key details about them. This way you can congratulate them when they grow their family, graduate from school, or accomplish other things outside of regular holidays.

3. Offer Loyalty Discounts

Appointment-based businesses are no strangers to loyalty and rewards programs. What you might not have considered is offering a variety of loyalty programs for customers to choose from. This way each client will receive bonuses and incentives that actually matter to them rather than a one-size-fits-all solution.

Let’s say you set a benchmark of 10 appointments for the first loyalty bonus to kick in. Customers can have the option to accept a discount on their next appointment or receive an Amazon gift card, among other options. You’re offering them a simple choice to make, but the freedom to choose is a powerful gift.

Loyalty points are perhaps the most flexible way to incentivize and reward your clients. Points can be redeemed for discounts, gift cards, or even stockpiled for larger rewards such as electronic devices or even hotel stays. Some customers might strive to unlock the highest reward possible, while others will be content to receive a voucher for a free meal.

4. Keep Preferences on File 

If you get your haircut at the same salon, they likely remember exactly how you like it. This shows they put forth effort to customize each client’s experience and keep it consistent. Your business might fall under a different sector, but the principle is still the same. Keeping customer preferences on file can add a lot to their experience, especially when repeated.

A few examples would be recording a client’s favorite massage therapist or the nail tech who knows their preferred style. You can also keep track of details such as appointment times, so you can suggest the best date and time for a follow-up appointment. This information is best tracked in a customer portal that can be created and maintained through a CRM or customer relationship management tool.

5. Provide Snacks and Refreshments 

You should do everything you can to keep waiting times low. Unfortunately, due to circumstances that are out of your control, wait times might run longer than you’d expect. Additionally, some industries can’t help but have wait times, such as a mechanic’s shop providing an oil change.

If you have a lot of early morning appointments, a fully stocked coffee bar should be a big hit. You can provide all sorts of flavors and fixings to keep guests comfortable in your waiting room. A soda fountain machine or individually packaged snacks are other treats you can leave out for your clients while they wait.

After going through this list, stop and think about what your clients would appreciate the most. Be creative with the ideas you choose to implement. As long as you have their best interests in mind, you will find success in customizing their individual experiences.

Image Credit: Fauxels; Pexels; Thank you!

Your Customers Want Self-Service — Here’s How to Give It to Them

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Self Service

Customers today are craving more self-service options from businesses. What exactly does this mean? Self-service means that customers are able to access products, services, and solutions on their own without heavy interaction. This saves time, money, and human resources while meeting their needs more efficiently.

Now that you know that customers want self-service options, how do you make that happen? For small businesses this can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t know where to begin. Look no further; these five starting points will put you in a great place to make self-service a reality for your customer base:

Enable Online Booking

The first thing you need to do is enable self-service options for regular business interactions. For appointment-based businesses, the initial step will be to enable online booking. You’ll need to set up a website or a mobile app that allows customers to book appointments on their own devices.

Customers can browse through time slots and make their own bookings without needing to call an in-house employee. Appointments can be booked, canceled, and rescheduled more quickly. This option also creates more flexibility for customers because they could make their appointment outside of regular business hours. The business will save time, and customers have more autonomy with their booking experience.

If you want to make sure customers are able to navigate through your online booking program, you can set up a chatbot. This automated tool will be able to answer basic questions and guide your customers through the booking process while still feeling like they’re doing it all themselves.

Upgrade Your UI and UX

If you’re unaware, UI and UX stand for user interface and user experience respectively. Both of these categories are absolutely vital when implementing self-service solutions for your customers.

Your user interface involves how customers interact with your online platforms. Chatbots, as mentioned previously, are an example of UI. They make it easier for your customers to navigate and use your website.

User experience is a little more self-explanatory. This simply describes how satisfied a customer feels after working with your company. A website with quick loading speeds, a simple navigation system, and an attractive design includes examples of aspects that would ultimately improve your company’s user experience.

Make Resources Available

When customers attempt self-service, they may encounter some obstacles. These types of customers may want to try and overcome obstacles on their own. After all, independence and control are big reasons why individuals prefer self-service in the first place.

To empower these customers, make your best resources available for their use. Start with a frequently asked questions page that provides quick solutions to common problems. You can follow this up with more detailed tutorials and guides through short videos. These videos can cover a wide range of topics and even double as a marketing campaign.

A maintained blog can be used for the same purpose. Not only will the content help drive more people to your business, blog posts can provide valuable insight and information to help your customers through their journey with your business. Last but not least, make contact information readily available in the case that a customer truly needs a helping hand.

Automate What You Can

Online booking is a major integration that you can add to your business, but why stop there? So many other aspects of your business can be automated as well. Picking the right automated solutions will give more power and flexibility to customers who engage with your business.

Take payment, for example. Offering secure, online payment methods will make appointment times shorter by cutting out the middleman or a front desk agent. Customers can even save their preferred payment methods to automatically cover future appointments.

Your entire check-in process can be automated as well. A mobile app can update wait times and allow customers to note their arrivals in real-time. These small automations offer a lot of convenience to customers, especially by notifying them of delays before they pack up to leave the house.

Give Your Customers Control

At the end of the day, self-service comes down to control. Customers feel like they’re able to dictate how their experience pans out, and that makes them happy. Some companies don’t like giving up control to consumers, but sometimes a small sacrifice leads to great rewards.

A small and simple way you can give customers some control is by allowing them to adjust certain settings and personalize their experiences. For example, you can allow customers to choose how they receive appointment reminders or make it possible to opt out of them entirely. This doesn’t change much on your end, but it’s a small gesture that makes the customer feel considered and valued.

Customer profiles also allow customization and are helpful for both parties. You can give your customers some control by allowing them to choose which information they share with your company. They can also use a notes section to save certain preferences, such as a regular order modification or their preferred massage therapist.

Self-service is the future of business. Other companies are already implementing solutions, so now is the time to make sure you’re keeping up with the competition and keeping your customers happy.

Image Credit: Norma Mortenson; 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!

4 Customer Complaints About Scheduling Software; And How to Navigate Them

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Customer Complaints About Scheduling Software; And How To Navigate Them

Trying to please every single customer who walks through your doors is next to impossible. There will always be some difficult person to deal with who has expectations that even the largest of corporations can’t fulfill. That said, trying to cater to as many customers as possible allows you to bring in more business. 

One way to go about this is not by looking at what customers like, but by analyzing their most sincere complaints. Doing highlight the flaws of your business so that you can make meaningful changes to your operations. Add targeted changes to a solid business foundation, and your customer complaints will be few and far between. 

The following is a list of four customer complaints that you might hear specifically regarding scheduling software. To thrive, appointment-based businesses will need to navigate them appropriately.

1. Limited Payment Options 

The world of fintech has been evolving rapidly. Along with it has come a variety of new payment options that customers have fallen in love with. Consequently, you might hear the occasional customer complaint about limited payment options at your business. 

For example, enabling digital payments through apps such as PayPal and Venmo will help numerous customers who don’t rely on debit cards as often. This will especially come in handy for mobile payments where customers might find entering their credit card information a cumbersome process. Even accepting different varieties of credit cards will expand your desktop payment options and avoid excluding certain consumers.

Cryptocurrency is starting to explode, and many people are looking at DeFi networks to make their daily transactions. Including a couple of the major cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, isn’t a bad idea. It might even demonstrate that your business is on the cutting edge. However, don’t worry about accepting payments for the week’s hot new coin. The hype will be impossible to keep up with. 

2. Questionable Security 

One complaint you never want to hear regards your scheduling software’s security. Data privacy/security is a hot topic nowadays, with customers feeling a stronger desire to protect their data on the internet. Taking care of your customer’s information is absolutely vital for any modern-day business. 

Start by ensuring that all your transactions are secured through SSL encryption. Once you’ve got that protection in place, you can add a note to your scheduling software pages that notify customers of the security steps you’re taking. This will help them feel more comfortable booking appointments and paying for them online. 

The next step is making certain that all other customer data is locked up tight. Names, addresses, and any other personal information you might record should only be accessed by those with a need for that information. Additionally, your stored data should be safeguarded by firewalls, password protection, and any other cyber protections you might need to keep it out of dubious hands. 

3. No Rewards or Benefits 

If your business were an ice cream sundae, a rewards program would be the cherry on top. Some customers really like cherries, though, and they may get disgruntled if there’s not one in sight. While a rewards program isn’t essential to managing a good appointment-based business, it certainly makes the experience all the more delicious.

Dig in a little deeper, and you’ll see just how much value you can get out of an incentives program. Customers who book multiple appointments will be rewarded, which will increase your retention rates and help you to fill more appointment slots. Customers who receive benefits from rewards programs will also feel more valued and appreciated, another step in the right direction toward customer retention. 

The easiest way to implement a loyalty program is to reward customers who book multiple appointments. For example, a customer might get their tenth appointment for free after their first nine visits. Or, they might receive a free add-on service when they reach that threshold. Other small benefits will become hits as well, such as offering a discount to first-time visitors or customers who refer you to their friends. 

4. Restricted Platform Availability

Making scheduling software available on your customers’ desktops is a good start, but it won’t be a long-term solution. In fact, most consumers these days are making purchases and booking appointments on their phones. If your scheduling software cannot be accessed via mobile phone, you’re bound to hear several complaints.

You don’t need to develop an app to make this possible. You just need to ensure your web pages are as optimized for mobile as they are for the desktop. Specifically those pertaining to appointment setting. A few changes need to occur, but the extra effort will mean your customers can book appointments just as easily on their smartphone as they would on another device. 

Any appointment scheduling software worth the hype should be able to address these concerns and many more. When you treat consumer complaints as an opportunity to improve, your business can provide a better appointment experience to every customer. 

Using Wi-Fi Analytics to Improve Your Customer Experience

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Using Wi-Fi Analytics to Improve Your Customer Experience

Offering your customers free Wi-Fi is one way to make your customers’ experiences more comfortable and convenient. It’s also a gateway to a data goldmine you can use to drive repeat visits and improve your location’s offerings. With Wi-Fi analytics, your business can create highly targeted email campaigns, optimize staff scheduling, and gather in-store behavioral insights.

Capturing customer behaviors through your guest Wi-Fi allows you to see real-time data, something that many businesses are already doing. A Harvard Business Review study found that 58% of businesses used customer analytics to increase retention and loyalty. Real-time analytics were viewed as extremely important to improving the customer experience by 60% of companies.

Real-time data can reveal how much time customers are spending in your location(s) and how long they’re lingering in various areas. You can track who’s visiting your storefront for the first time and what percentage of first-time visitors come back. Wi-Fi analytics has the power to show heavy and slow traffic times and which customers are churn risks. As highlighted below, this type of data can pivot your customer experience from average to exemplary.  

Adjust Your Staffing Levels

It’s happened to just about everyone. You go to a restaurant with the expectation you’ll be in and out within an hour or so. But when you arrive, it’s obvious the staff is overwhelmed and can’t keep up. You can either deal with the long wait times and poor experience or leave and find another place to eat.

Wi-Fi analytics can help your business avoid these types of scenarios by syncing foot traffic data with your scheduling software. By seeing how many customers log into your guest network during different times, you can adjust your employees’ schedules accordingly. If the data shows peak traffic times are between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., more staff can be scheduled then to meet demand. Your clients will be less likely to experience substandard service and delays.

If you operate more than one location, real-time data can reveal similarities and differences between them. Say your hair salon on the west side of town is constantly busy in the evenings. Your east side location tapers off during this time, but both locations experience high volume in the mornings. To help improve customers’ experiences, you could shift some employees from the east to the west location in the evenings.

Segment Customer Personas

Public Wi-Fi portal agreements are an opportunity to learn more about your customers’ demographics. These agreements are also an effective way to gather email addresses and build databases for digital marketing campaigns. Although some businesses simply let visitors accept terms and conditions to sign in, they’re missing out on valuable information.

By asking for some personal information during the sign-in process, you can learn about your clients’ characteristics. Data points like gender, age range, and zip code will allow you to start segmenting your customer base into various personas. You’ll also see whether the majority of your visitors fall into certain demographic categories, such as male or female. This kind of information could change the way you offer services or the types of products you carry.

Asking customers for their email addresses and permission to communicate with them enhances your personalization efforts. You can combine their purchase and on-premise behaviors with their demographics to deliver tailored messages. These touchpoints can encourage them to come back by suggesting complementary services and products. You can also use these messages to nurture the relationship with personalized offers and rewards for feedback about their visits.

Track Conversion Rates

Businesses that track conversions effectively send targeted promotions to customer segments via text message and email. People can look at the details through an online link and redeem offers at the physical location using a barcode. Once staff scan the barcode on a customer’s mobile device, the business can log which individuals converted.

Conversion rates for individualized or segmented offers tell a business a few things. They let the company know whether those customers found value in the promotion and whether it led to purchases. Conversion rates also reveal whether the messaging about the promotion did its job. This information gives the business the opportunity to target those who didn’t convert with different messaging or offers.

Wi-Fi analytics help you personalize offers after customers’ visits based on some key behaviors. This includes how long they browse in certain areas, how often they visit, and what times they come in. Your business has a greater chance of increasing conversion rates with offers that match those behaviors. A nail bar, for instance, can send a discount mini-pedicure offer to individuals who tend to stop by on their lunch break.

Identify Churn Risk

When customers stop purchasing from you, it can be because they no longer need what you offer. It can also be due to a bad experience or frustration with your processes. While customer surveys can identify some of these problems, their reach is often limited. McKinsey & Company reports that the typical customer experience survey captures only 7% of an organization’s customers.

As the report outlines, combining real-time data with other information can pinpoint customers who are at high risk of churn. For example, customers might browse your website for items to pick up later at your location. The website indicates the products they want are available, but when customers arrive at your location, they learn they’re out of stock.

Some clients might overlook this error on the first or second visit. Others won’t and will start looking for alternatives. By identifying individuals in the latter category, you can seize opportunities to implement recovery methods, such as reaching out to offer a discount on their next purchase. You could also offer to order the out-of-stock item(s) with express shipping to their home.

The power of using Wi-Fi analytics to improve your service processes lies in its real-time data. This information provides insights into how clients are responding to your business as they interact with it. When combined with other data, customers’ immediate and often unspoken feedback can lead to the creation of a superior customer experience.

Self-Service Your Customers Will Actually Appreciate

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Self-Service Your Customers Will Actually Appreciate

Reliable customer service is at the center of your business’s client retention strategy. When your team is available for real-time support, customer satisfaction will follow. 

However, 24/7 customer support requires significant resources and isn’t always sustainable. The solution? A comprehensive self-service platform. 

Recent data shows that 67% of customers prefer to self-serve rather than talk to a customer service representative, so now is the time to implement this strategy. 

Self-service allows customers to book appointments and find answers on their own, which in turn saves your business time and money. A robust self-service framework paired with traditional customer service features can help businesses streamline client support, boost customer satisfaction, and allocate resources more effectively. 

The real challenge, though, is getting your customers to use these tools. This guide will cover the basics of self-service and offer some tried-and-true methods for bringing your customers on board. 

Prioritizing Efficiency: The Basics of Self-Service 

Before diving into the how-tos of customer self-service, it’s important to break down this popular approach. In a self-service framework, the client is able to find the answer to their question without contacting customer support. Self-service also applies when customers quickly make online appointments rather than calling or emailing your business directly. 

The benefits of self-service are twofold: clients find the answers they’re looking for without picking up the phone, and your business saves money on customer support personnel. This cuts down on wait times and boosts customer happiness, while allowing your business to focus on everyday operations. 

There are a few self-service options that businesses should keep in mind when building out their framework. 

Online Booking Systems 

In traditional customer support models, clients call or email a business to make an appointment. However, this method can lead to phone tag, long wait times, and simply too many calls for the business to manage. Online booking platforms are a highly effective way to streamline appointments and provide accessible scheduling to a diverse customer base. 

Knowledge Bases 

If your customer service lines are routinely flooded with the same types of questions, a knowledge base can be a useful tool to implement. This page on your website will include answers to your most frequently asked questions, as well as multimedia features like video tutorials and graphics. You can organize the questions by topic and use this page to point customers toward other self-service features, including your online appointments platform. 

Automation 

One of the most common ways that businesses automate customer service is through chatbots — an industry that’s projected to be worth $9.4 billion by 2024. AI-powered chat features can answer questions automatically and point customers to the tools they’re looking for. You can also set up the chatbot to funnel customers to service representatives when necessary. 

Self-service will look different for every business. Appointment-based businesses will benefit greatly from online booking systems, while businesses that sell products might focus more on bolstering their knowledge base. Pinpointing the services that will best serve your customers will set you up for success. 

Leading Your Customers to Self-Service: 5 Key Steps 

When it comes to creating useful self-service tools for your customer base, developing the platform is only half the battle. You also need to get your customers to use it. 

The reality is that many of your clients will tend to stick to what they’re used to. With a bit of persuasion, though, you can change that. Here are a few key ways to show your client base the value of self-service. 

1. Promote Your Self-Service Features 

Customers won’t use self-service tools if they don’t know they exist. So be sure to market your self-service features just as you’d market your product or service. 

Email marketing, onsite pop-ups, and social media posts can be effective ways to highlight the service. Remember that it can take time for customers to adapt to these changes, so plan to keep marketing your new platform long after its launch.

2. Incorporate Multimedia 

New online services can be intimidating. However, you can make these platforms as accessible as possible through multimedia promotion, incorporating videos and graphics when marketing your self-service tools. 

For example, you might create a pop-up video that guides customers through the online booking process. This technique brings the self-service feature to the client’s attention, while showing them exactly how to use it. 

3. Create Clear Navigation 

Ask yourself these questions: Are our self-service tools easy to find on our website? Is our platform easy to use? Can customers easily jump between services? 

Keeping your customer on the site and encouraging them to self-serve starts with clear website navigation. Be sure that your self-service tools are in your header and footer menus. It can also be helpful to route customers to these tools through onsite buttons. 

4. Make It Social 

With over 1 billion Facebook Messenger messages flowing between brands and consumers every month, it’s clear that social strategy and customer support are often one and the same. 

Consider how your business can use your social platforms to guide customers to self-serve. This can involve setting up automated message responses that include a link to a self-service tool. You can also link directly to your online appointments system through your social media pages. Your messaging should promote the idea that your new services are available 24/7 for your customers’ benefit, not yours.

5. Gather Feedback 

Self-service should truly serve your customers’ needs, so it’s important to collect feedback from them and assess whether these tools are effective. You also need to watch your data. 

Keep track of how much traffic these tools are generating, how long customers are staying on the self-service pages, and how your sales numbers change after implementing these platforms. This information will help you adjust your self-service tools to better support your clients. 

Self-service is a user-friendly and scalable solution for customer support. As more consumers flock online, your investment in a self-service platform is likely to reap fast dividends. Once you direct your customers to these tools, your business can renew its focus on providing a better product or service.

How to Share the Holiday Spirit With Your Customers

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How to Share the Holiday Spirit With Your Customers

It’s the season of giving, and no one has given more to your business than your faithful customers. Why not start a new holiday tradition of giving them thanks?

Determine who your long-term customers are so they can have first dibs on the perks and benefits you plan to give out. Then, use your remaining resources to bring as many other customers into the fold as you can.

Here are some holiday sharing ideas you can implement to give back to your customers this Christmas:

Offer Holiday Discounts

Deck the halls with savings to show gratitude and to bring in new business. Nothing gets customers more excited than holiday savings, especially when they were already planning on visiting your office.

If you don’t want to hand out discounts to anyone who walks through the door, you can add a simple requirement for customers to cash in. Consider asking customers to show they follow your social media pages or to refer their friends in order to qualify for a discount. 

Send Gift Baskets

When new customers sign up for their first appointment, you likely record their personal information, including their residential address. You can use this information to your benefit by putting together a surprise gift basket to send to their doorstep.

This will be especially effective for your customers who still have concerns over COVID-19. Despite the safety precautions you’re taking, they will feel more comfortable in their homes. Sending them a small gift basket shows that you miss them and look forward to their return once the pandemic blows over.

Cash in on Loyalty

Your online appointment software should track your most frequent customers and the number of visits they’ve made throughout the year. Using this data, you can set benchmarks for loyalty rewards.

For example, you might decide to give customers who’ve made monthly appointments, or visited 12 times in the year, a $10 gift card. Perhaps you send customers who’ve 25 appointments a $25 gift card. Doing so shows new customers that you reward loyalty while giving thanks to your regulars.

Donate 

The holidays are the perfect time for companies to give back through charitable donations. While businesses don’t have pockets as deep as they would like due to the tumult of 2020, remember that other communities were hit just as hard.

Add a twist to your donations this year: When a customer does business with you, invite them to select a charity or cause to which you’ll donate. This makes their visit, as well as the associated donation, more personal to them.

Throw a Holiday Party

As long as you’re following social distancing guidelines, a holiday party is a fun way to give back to your faithful customers. Games, food, and prizes for customers and employees make for a fun year-end event.

Send out a holiday email to all of your customers inviting them to the event. Do this with enough time in advance for them to be able to commit, and to get a headcount to ensure yours is a COVID-safe gathering

Still uncertain about public gatherings? You can also hold an outdoor event, like a Christmas fun run. Donate entry fees to local charities, or to fund a food drive. 

Do a Customer Spotlight

Use your social media to showcase your favorite and most loyal customers. Not only does this demonstrate your appreciation for them, but it makes them feel proud to do business with you.

Want to go above and beyond? With each customer spotlight, you can offer another reward, like a free checkup. This will incentivize the customer to take part in the spotlight and come back for another appointment.

Social media is a natural ally of word-of-mouth marketing. Post about your holiday events, and encourage customers to spread the word.

Form a Partnership

Is there another brand like yours that your customers just can’t live without? Form a partnership to add value for your and your potential partner’s customers.

For example, let’s say you operate a massage therapy practice. Your regular customers love to go to you to relax, especially after getting in a hard workout at the gym. If so, partner with local fitness facilities. Perhaps membership holders can get a discounted price on appointments with you and vice versa. 

Orchestrate a Contest

If your resources are spread thin thanks to COVID-19, concentrate your efforts to give back in a single activity. A holiday contest can boost customer engagement while showing your intentions to give back, all while limiting the dollar cost of your campaign.

Entries can be taken either online or through physical appointments. Contest prizes can be purchased, but you should also see if a sponsor of yours would provide an in-kind donation or two. Regardless, make sure it’s something that your customers will actually want. 

Giving back is what the holidays are all about. Do your part. Support your customers this season, and you both will feel the joy of Christmas.

9 Gadgets to Warm Up Your Waiting Room

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How to Handle Appointment Scheduling When Schedules Change

While some people love winter, no one enjoys being cold. Customers who are freezing in your waiting room won’t be very happy during their visit. And if they’re not happy with their visit, they aren’t likely to come back. 

Although it might sound like a small consideration, it means a lot to your customers: Keep your waiting room warm and toasty. If your HVAC system isn’t up to the task, these gadgets can go the distance:

1. Smart Thermostat

The No.1 problem with keeping a waiting room warm is the constant opening and closing of doors. Each new customer brings with them a chilly breeze, preventing those already in the room from getting comfortable. You can solve this dilemma with a smart thermostat. 

A smart thermostat sense uses predictive technology to crank up or down the heat. Yours might signal to your HVAC unit that it should preheat the office at 9 a.m. to account for how frequently your front door opens. To save money, you can lower the office temperature when people aren’t there, perhaps from 5 p.m. until the next morning. 

2. Space Heater

Remember how your family kept that back bedroom warm in the winter? A small space heater can make even the chilliest of offices comfortable.

Space heaters come in many shapes, sizes, and price ranges. Do your research to find the right one for your waiting room. Smaller waiting rooms can get away with smaller heaters. Rooms that are larger or draftier, or have doors that are constantly opening and closing, may need a larger model. 

3. Electric Fireplace

Why not take the power of a space heater and add some holiday flair? An electric fireplace provides a cozy atmosphere that creates psychological comfort as well as actual heat. 

The one drawback to an electric fireplace is that it requires more setup than a standard space heater. You can’t just plug a fireplace into the nearest outlet and call it good. 

Look for a place where a fireplace would be appealing. If you buy a wall-mounted unit, pay for professional installation. Not only will doing so save you a lot of work, but it will reduce the risk of fire. 

4. Hot Chocolate Machine

Some days are so cold you need to warm yourself from the inside out. When layers of clothes and space heaters just won’t cut it, a mug of hot chocolate will do the trick. This delicious solution can liven up any waiting room. 

When installing a hot chocolate machine in your lobby, be sure to keep COVID-19 in mind. Use disposable cups. Clean the area as frequently as possible to prevent the spread of the virus. 

5. Draft Stoppers

Even when your company’s doors are closed, chilly air can still slip through the cracks. Stopping those winter winds will keep everything inside warm while cutting your heating bills down to size.

Best of all, draft stoppers are easy to install. A simple door skirt takes only five nails and five minutes to attach. A crack-sealing foam takes all of 30 seconds to spray. Give stoppers and filled cracks a fresh coat of paint to improve their visual appeal. 

6. Heating Pads

Many businesses provide little treats for their customers, like a doctor’s office with a jar full of lollipops. Who’s stopping you from doing the same with hand and feet warmers? Little personal heating pads would make a great addition to your waiting room for those customers who just can’t seem to warm up.

One difference between heating pads and treats is that the latter doesn’t need a warning sign. Encourage customers to be cautious with heating pads, especially on direct skin. Provide towels for them to wrap heating pads in. 

As with any shared office item, be sure to clean heating pads and towels after use. Look for ones that are machine washable to make this easy. 

7. Heated Massagers

A waiting room with a massage chair is an instant winner. Plus, back and feet massagers often come with a heating setting to melt away stress and sore muscles. 

Providing enough massage equipment for a full waiting room can be a tough bill to foot. Consider providing a few and placing a time limit on how long each customer is allowed to use it. That way, every customer gets a chance to de-stress and warm up. 

8. Drying Rack

Snow, hail, and freezing rain leave customers not just cold, but wet as well. Don’t make customers sit in their wet clothes. Provide a rack near the door so they can hang coats and gloves up to dry.

Unlike the massage chair, this is an inexpensive upgrade. If you want to do something unique, offer a shoe-drying station where customers can put their cold, wet feet until their name is called.  

9. Face Masks

This two-for-one solution might already be in place. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, many businesses are requiring all customers to wear masks. While their goal is to reduce viral transmission, face masks also provide warmth.

To feed two birds with one scone, provide masks at the entrance of your business for all visitors. Doing so will keep everyone healthy and warm up noses that have been nipped by Jack Frost.

A warm customer is a happy one. Be careful not to bake them, but do make them as comfortable as you can. That way, as soon as they leave your business, they’ll want to go back. 

Why Some Customers Are Hesitant to Book Appointments

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As you fill up your bookings each day, you might be puzzled that some customers are reluctant to commit to appointments. Why, given that scheduling appointments benefits both sides, won’t they play along?

It’s a perplexing, frustrating problem. But understanding why these customers hesitate to book appointments will help you serve them better. By providing clarity and comfort, you’ll be able to address the eight reasons customers balk at booking appointments with you:

1. Their schedules are unpredictable.

Some customers shy away from set-in-stone appointments because they simply can’t commit to a day or time. The nature of either their job or their lifestyle makes every day unpredictable. They’re afraid to book an appointment on the off chance that something will come up, causing them to cancel (and potentially incur a cancellation fee).

A busy schedule can be just as problematic as an unpredictable one. Customers who aren’t sure they can find time for an appointment in their schedule won’t even bother. They might stop by if they happen to free up the time, but nothing is guaranteed. 

Consider leaving some cushion in your schedule for walk-ins so you can accommodate these free spirits. They will be grateful for your flexibility and feel more inclined to schedule appointments when they know they’re able. 

2. Your scheduling system is confusing.

Businesses that rely on an online scheduling system should make it as user-friendly as possible. Otherwise, potential customers might bail when the going gets tough. 

Streamlining your scheduling process as much as you can. How many steps does your scheduling process take from beginning to end? Just the sight of numerous hoops to jump through would cause anyone to hesitate.

Do bookers need to create a user account? Think up — and remember — yet another password? Look at your online appointment software through the eyes of a visitor and make note of anything that might cause them to turn away.

3. They’re wary of your cancellation policy.

What if you were to book an appointment only to have something urgent come up and need to cancel? This is a very real fear for many customers, especially when a service provider has a daunting cancellation policy. If they book an appointment, that cancellation fee will be hanging over their heads until the appointment is completed.

Take a moment to review your cancellation policy. Is it perhaps a little too harsh? Consider lowering your cancellation fee or being more flexible about advance notice (e.g., 12 hours versus 24 hours).

Excusing a client’s first violation — but only the first — will demonstrate that you’re accommodating but not a pushover. While a cancellation policy is important for keeping customers accountable, being too strict can stop people from committing at all. 

4. You haven’t convinced them to commit to your business.

If you haven’t completely sold your services to the customer, they might not feel inclined to book an appointment. They may think there are better or more affordable options elsewhere. Consequently, they won’t want to lock into an appointment with you before searching for superior options.

What about your business is causing this hesitation? Perhaps your prices are too steep, or the quality of your service is no better than your competitors’. Look for ways to stand out, and customers will be more likely to commit to appointments with you.

5. They don’t see the need.

If there’s no need to book an appointment, why bother? Customers who don’t see a clear requirement to reserve a time slot will likely skip it altogether. In their mind, an appointment is more of an inconvenience than a necessity.

Explain to your customers why booking an appointment is important. Your time is limited, so they need to make an appointment to guarantee their place in line. You can get this point across on well-worded signs, your business card, and your social media feeds. The clearer you make this argument, the more likely customers will get it and act accordingly.

Besides not seeing a need, customers might also lack incentives for booking an appointment — so it’s up to you to provide them. Point out that making an appointment will result in shorter wait times. You might even offer discounted rates for scheduling appointments or incentives for booking several of them in advance. This is a great way to secure a steady flow of customers. 

6. They don’t want to — or can’t — prepay.

If you require a deposit or full payment in order to book an appointment, some customers will start looking for other businesses that offer walk-ins or make fewer demands. The inability to prepay is a more common problem than you might think.

Some customers simply prefer to pay in cash, making it impossible for them to prepay online. Others may need their next paycheck to arrive before they can fit an appointment with you into their budget. The need to prepay will cause them to hesitate before pulling the trigger.

7. They decided to drop in at the last minute.

An unexpected walk-in might be just as surprising to the customer as it is to you. Some people aren’t planning to stop by your business until the last minute. They had extra time in their lunch hour and decided to drop in, or a situation arose that prompted them to stop by that day.

Understanding that some customers show up without planning to beforehand should help you be more patient with them. After all, if you make a good impression when they walk in, you could convert them to repeat customers who set their appointments in advance. 

8. They have safety concerns.

In normal times, safety concerns wouldn’t be a reason to forgo appointments. But these aren’t normal times. The risk of exposure to COVID-19 is a real one, and businesses should take this concern seriously. 

Start by providing masks and rearranging your waiting room to enable social distancing. Then inform customers of these changes via your website, through social media, and at the front door.

Making customers aware of the safety precautions you’ve implemented will put them at ease and encourage them to book appointments in your facility.

When you understand why some customers are hesitant to make appointments, you can work to overcome those objections and serve your customers better. By displaying empathy and addressing their concerns, you can encourage them to show up on schedule and develop a lasting relationship with your business.

10 Simple Ways to Make Appointments Memorable

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Offices across the country are slowly opening up again, and clients are making appointments that the Covid-19 pandemic had long delayed. Getting your customers to book return appointments will be easy if you make their visits memorable for the right reasons.

The better the customer experience, the more likely they are to become regulars. How you take care of your customers is just as important as the service you offer.

There are a number of different ways you can make each appointment unforgettable. Doing so will improve customer retention, garner positive reviews, and increase your company’s revenue. Time to get started!

1. Make Appointment Booking Easy

If booking an appointment with you is unnecessarily difficult, your customers will definitely remember it—and not in a good way. Endless back-and-forths or unanswered phone calls will turn into a consumer horror story that your patrons will share with their friends.

Make your appointment-booking process as simple and painless as possible. When you do, the thing your customers will remember is its user-friendly nature. Customers will tell their friends how getting in to see you was a breeze, instead of warning others to stay away.

2. Greet Customers at the Door

Start off each appointment on the right foot. Expressing appreciation for each customer as soon as they cross the threshold of your business lets them know how important they are. If, on the other hand, you ignore them or treat them curtly, that rocky start will be difficult to recover from.

Even if you’re busy with something or someone else, make sure that you or an associate acknowledges every guest who walks through the door. Let them know you’ll take care of them as soon as possible. 

3. Deliver on Promises

You’re doubtless using some sort of marketing to reel in customers. Now you need to make sure you back up all your claims come appointment time. Are you boasting the best haircut in town or the fastest service in the area? Prove it.

A memorable appointment must include delivering on these promises. Customers who come in hoping these claims are true will be pleased to see that they are—and they’ll remember that satisfaction when they book their next appointment. 

4. Give Little Gifts

You can thank customers who make appointments by giving them a gift. You might recall the excitement you experienced as a kid when you received a lollipop at the doctor’s office. That small present turned an otherwise dreaded appointment into a joyful experience.

If a candy isn’t your style, you can offer discount coupons or referral cards to customers. This will encourage them to return and bring a friend. While the individual proceeds of each appointment will be reduced, the increased business will make it worth the effort. 

5. Make Your Waiting Room an Inviting Place to Be

Reducing wait times is important for all businesses that rely on appointments, especially during the pandemic. However, there will always be variables out of your control that will cause waiting times to increase now and then. 

How you handle long wait times says a lot about your business. Make your waiting room experience the best it can possibly be. Consider providing reading material, a television, a frequently sanitized place for kids to play, or individually packaged snacks (at least until your coffee bar can make a return). Customers will remember and be grateful to businesses that make them feel comfortable during inconvenient situations.

6. Look for Ways to Educate

Customers make appointments in order to receive services. While you most certainly will deliver, you can make appointments memorable by adding a teaching element on top of that.  

For example, let’s say you run a chiropractic office. Instead of just aligning your patient’s back, you can explain your methods and the benefits they provide. Customers will leave feeling better physically while being soothed by their increased understanding. 

7. Focus on Convenience

The less your customer has to do at the time of their appointment, the better. Streamlining their appointment experience and doing any necessary work for them allows them to sit back and relax instead of stressing about details. 

Look for ways to make appointments convenient for customers. You might allow them to complete any necessary paperwork online or let them check in through an app to reduce wait times. An easy appointment is a memorable one.

8. Get to Know Each Guest

Developing relationships helps businesses retain customers, but it also makes appointments memorable. When customers can feel a bond growing between them and their service providers, the experience will stay with them longer.

Think of ways you can develop relationships with customers while they’re within the walls of your business. Focus on communicating well and getting to know their backstory. These efforts to reach out will make a long-term impact from day one. 

9. Ask for Feedback

In your efforts to improve your business experience, ask your customers for feedback after their appointments. This will prompt them to focus on the details of their appointment, helping them remember it more fully. 

Feedback helps you fine-tune your business approach so you can make appointments more memorable for returning and prospective customers. Proactive improvement will enable you to provide the best services and edge out the competition. 

10. Go the Extra Mile

Ultimately, you should strive to go above and beyond with everything you do. Customers will note the attention to detail, and the extra effort you put into your business will resonate with them.

Be careful, however, not to overdo things. Attention that borders on officiousness can be off-putting, creating a negative experience for customers despite your best intentions. Strike a comfortable balance. 

Making your customers’ appointments worthwhile will increase your client base and draw new patrons to you with ease. With these 10 tips, you can make your appointment experience memorable—in a good way.

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