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4 Methods to Improve Client Retention

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Methods to Improve Client Retention

There are two great battles being waged by businesses every single day: the fight to get new customers and the fight to get them to stay. Customer acquisition and client retention are a never-ending cycle for companies, one that requires a lot of time and effort to manage.

While it’s important for a business to always be looking for new customers, once a good clientele is established, retention is debatably a higher priority. Not only is it less expensive than acquisition, but having loyal customers will ensure that you’re continuously pulling in revenue to keep your company running smoothly.

Once you recognize the need to pay more attention to boosting customer retention, it’s time to take action. Here are a few ways you can make a more concentrated effort to keep your clientele around for the long haul:

1. Reminders When They Schedule

When a person books an appointment with your business, it’s their responsibility to remember the date and time they’ve selected and uphold their commitment. However, that doesn’t mean you should sit back and hope that every customer fulfills their end of the deal. A person’s plans might change, or details may simply be forgotten while navigating a busy schedule.

Providing your customers with appointment reminders adds extra security to each booking. This will make sure patrons get through the door on their first visit and ensure they can enjoy a high-quality experience that leads them to book future appointments with your business.

Appointment reminders can be provided in a variety of ways. You could write up appointment cards at the front desk, give a call the day before, or send texts, emails, or even app notifications. Customers should be able to choose how they receive their reminders, ensuring that they’re helpful and effective rather than pointless or irritating.

2. Periodic Complimentary Services

When you periodically reward your faithful customers, you’re more likely to see new ones stick around in the hope of getting those same deals. Incentives have long been a powerful tool for client retention. That’s why rewards programs that use recurring visits to accrue redeemable points are so commonplace today. If you reward loyalty, you’ll see it more often.

You don’t have to put together an entire rewards program to improve your customer retention. Get started by including one complimentary service that any repeat customer can take advantage of. For example, many car dealerships offer free oil changes to any person who purchases a new car from their lot. The sale of a new car is worth a lot more than a few oil changes, and this deal will keep the customer coming back, opening the door for more potential sales.

Some of the complimentary services you provide can be permanent. For instance, providing in-house Wi-Fi for guests is a relatively small gesture, but it will add to the overall appointment experience and promote retention at the same time.

3. Check In When It’s Been Awhile

If you haven’t seen a customer for an extended period of time, reach out to them. Let them know that they’re more than just a successfully closed sale. You want to be of service to them for a long time, not just take their money for one transaction and send them on their way.

When checking in with customers, be sure to make your interactions as personal as possible. Consumers can easily tell whether or not a company is being sincere. They will notice when a message is crafted from a template as opposed to one that is customized just for them. Send them an email that references past visits, or give them a call to check in and offer your services. This, in turn, can help your business improve its client retention.

4. Ask for Feedback

Sometimes in order to improve retention, you have to make a few adjustments. Instead of making changes blindly and hoping they work, ask your clientele for their honest feedback. Soliciting feedback from customers who only visited once is especially valuable because they can often share a specific reason they did not return.

The easiest way to receive feedback is through survey responses. After a customer has completed their appointment, send a thank-you email with a link to your survey. Ask specific questions about their experience and be sure to provide an opportunity for them to speak their mind on issues you might have overlooked.

Perhaps you are struggling to get feedback from your customers. Or, you just want to reward those who complete your survey. If either of these are the case, attach a little incentive. This should be something general, like a coupon code for Amazon, for example. This way, it also appeals to customers who only visited your business once and aren’t likely to return; At least not until changes are made.

Image Credit: Life of Pix; Pexels; Thanks!

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.

7 Things to Have in Your Waiting Room This Winter

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Things to Have in Your Waiting Room This Winter

No one enjoys waiting. But the reality is, everyone has to wait from time to time. This is especially true when visiting an appointment-based business like the doctor’s office or hair salon.

Even if an individual made an appointment and arrived on time, they’ll probably end up spending a few minutes in the waiting room filling out paperwork or waiting to be seen. This can be frustrating and might even cause anxiety.

While integrating some type of appointment software to reduce their wait times and streamline productivity is important, it shouldn’t be your only priority. Making the waiting room as comfortable as possible is a great way to make customers and clients feel at ease. In this article, we share what appointment-based businesses can provide to improve their waiting rooms and the customer experience:

1. Clean Facilities

Now more than ever, people want to feel safe while out in public. This is especially true when patients visit a healthcare or service provider. If your waiting room looks dirty, it’s going to deter patients and customers. On the other hand, if the waiting room is clean, people will probably feel less anxious. Make sure you’re regularly cleaning your waiting room throughout the day.

You should also have cleaning products and PPE in place like hand sanitizer, masks, and gloves. Due to COVID-19, masks are mandated in many localities. It’s a good idea to have them available for patients or customers in case they forget.

Your waiting room shouldn’t be the only area you keep spic and span. Make sure your entire office is clean and sanitized, from the interior offices to the bathrooms. If you own a salon, encourage stylists to keep their areas tidy and free of excess tools and equipment. Do you run an oil-change service center? Keeping the garage bays organized will make a good impression on guests.

2. Entertainment

While people don’t go to doctor’s offices or service businesses to watch movies or play games, having entertainment options available can improve their experience. With that said, you don’t want to go overboard or over budget. You also want to make sure the entertainment is calming and not distracting. A few options include:

  • Soft music/nature sounds
  • TV turned to an arts and craft channel
  • Magazines and self-help books

3. Comfortable Furniture

Have you ever visited an office, only to spend what seemed like an hour sitting in a hard, plastic chair? After being uncomfortable for so long, you probably weren’t in a good mood for your appointment.

Comfortable seating can significantly improve the waiting experience. That doesn’t mean you need to spend a great deal of money on your seating, but keep patients and guests in mind. After all, some people might suffer from back pain or another condition that could be made worse with uncomfortable seating. Look for furnishings with soft but supportive cushions and fabrics that are easy to keep clean.

4. Personal Amenities

Waiting room amenities are a great way to improve the patient or customer experience. Think about it. When you go to a hotel, the first thing you probably look for are amenities like access to a gym, fancy shampoo and lotion, a fluffy robe, etc. While you wouldn’t be miserable without these things, they definitely add a nice touch.

Consider bringing personal amenities to your waiting room like snacks, coffee or tea, hand lotion, wrapped candy, etc. Many appointment-based businesses also provide small items like pens or sticky notes with their logo for customers to take home.

5. Wi-Fi

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine categorized Wi-Fi in hospitals and waiting rooms as a “developmental” standard. And while Wi-Fi in waiting rooms might not be mandatory, it’s something you should consider adding if you haven’t already.

If you decide to offer patients or customers Wi-Fi, opt for a public network (for security reasons) as opposed to giving people access to what your office uses. Display the Wi-Fi name and password somewhere they can be easily seen by guests, like by the sign-in sheet at the front desk.

Having access to the internet ensures visitors are able to go about their day as normal, even while waiting for an appointment. They can email their colleagues, work on cloud-based documents, scroll social media, and text with family or friends.

6. Food and Water

You might be hesitant to offer refreshments in the waiting room. And while there’s always the possibility something will spill, providing food and water can be helpful. This is especially true for healthcare provider waiting rooms, where patients may have to spend hours in the office between procedures or tests.

Keep in mind, we’re not suggesting you cater food every day. Instead, you could have a coffee station, a vending machine with snacks, or a refrigerator filled with water.

7. Real-Time Mobile Alerts

There are plenty of ways you can enhance the waiting room experience. But maybe one of the best ways is to integrate more technology.

For instance, you could have a digital board in the waiting room that shows the order of when people will be seen. This way, if there are four people in the waiting room, each person can clearly see their position without having to ask the receptionist.

Another option is to use real-time mobile alerts that tell patients when they’ll be seen. This is similar to the digital board, but it’ll be automatically sent to the patient’s phone. Some online appointment software offers this feature, so you don’t have to do it manually. This also allows people to wait outside or in their cars.

Providing excellent care should be the No. 1 priority for appointment-based businesses and service providers. That said, they should also consider the patient or customer experience. After all, if a patient or client doesn’t feel comfortable, they might not return for their next appointment. The tips above can help improve the waiting room experience so guests feel cared for and welcomed, no matter what kind of business they visit.

3 Reasons Scheduling Software Can Help Businesses Build Camaraderie With Customers

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3 Reasons Scheduling Software Can Help Businesses Build Camaraderie With Customers

There isn’t a single business on earth that can survive without customers. Even business-to-business companies need a reliable client base in order to stay afloat. While your products and services are extremely important, your highest priority should always be to take care of your customers.

One of the best ways to develop a strong relationship with your customer base is to value and respect their time. Each interaction with a customer is a chance for your brand to express that respect for customer time and attention. This will in turn foster camaraderie and loyalty over an extended period. 

To provide more value to your customers and honor their time, scheduling software is your go-to solution. Here are three reasons why implementing a scheduling software solution is the right choice for your business:

1. Customers Appreciate a Straightforward Experience

Clients will appreciate that you’ve prioritized making scheduling easy for them. It’s a simple gesture that shows that you care about their experience and want to make it better. Improving appointment scheduling doesn’t have to be difficult, either. All you need to do is enable online appointment software, and you’ll have already made a dramatic improvement. 

Being able to book appointments online opens up so many doors for customers. They no longer have to stay on hold to inquire about availability or wait until 9 a.m. to book the next available slot. Online appointment software is functional 24/7, meaning customers can always check or adjust appointment times based on their personal schedules. 

Scheduling software also speeds up the check-in process at the beginning of an appointment. When all of their appointment information is already booted up online, customers can show up mere minutes before their appointment starts and be welcomed in promptly. 

Leaving an appointment is also more straightforward. Customers can pay in advance through the scheduling software itself and book a return visit on their own time. Clients will never have a quicker or more painless appointment experience. 

2. Customers Will Know They Can Rely on You

Online appointment software makes your business seem reliable. When customers feel like they can depend on your system of operations, they’ll be more inclined to stick around for the long haul. Customer retention is one of the most valuable metrics your business will ever track, and the improvements you’ll make in that area alone make scheduling software worth every penny.  

If your company is constantly messing up appointment times and leaving callers on hold for lengthy stretches, you aren’t developing a reputation as a very reliable brand. Customers will view your business as a last resort rather than a superior option.

When you build in buffer time, scheduling software can also help your business prevent appointments from running long. Its automated notifications will likewise discourage late arrivals. These two actions will lead to a more fluid appointment experience for everyone. Customers will be more willing to book multiple appointments if they’re confident that your business will work with their schedule and make sure they get in and out on time. 

3. Analytics Enables Loyalty Programs

Membership programs that offer special benefits and rewards are a surefire way to build camaraderie between your business and its customers. Rewards foster a desire to book multiple appointments over an extended period, boosting your retention rates and yielding more revenue. A good rewards program can also set you apart from your competitors, even if they offer similar services (as is inevitable in every industry).

With online appointment software enabled, businesses can look at past scheduling analytics to put together a proper rewards program and follow through with it. For example, one of your promotions might be that members get a free day of service on their tenth visit. Thanks to scheduling software, you’ll know exactly when that tenth visit is for each customer even if they happen to forget. Discounts can be automatically applied online as a welcome surprise for your loyal patrons. 

Since scheduling software is accessed online, you can attach any deals or promotions you have going on to the booking area of the software. New customers can enjoy an ongoing sale even if they weren’t aware of it previously, and they will be thankful that your business included them in the deal instead of making them pay full price. 

Remember to be transparent when collecting data. Many consumers have grown wary of companies using their information for financial gain. Be open about what data you collect and exactly how it’s being used. Make it easy for customers to change data settings if they don’t want to share certain information. This transparency alone will build a strong bond between your customers and your business. 

Online appointment software is useful for so many other things. The only mistake you can make is taking any longer to implement scheduling software into your business. Your customers will be even more grateful than you will be for the changes you make with this technology. 

6 Reasons Why People Love Appointment Software

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How to Use Appointment Software to Get More Customers This Fall

Whether you’re a small business owner or you manage a large group of people, you could probably benefit from appointment software. Not only does this software provide your customers with 24/7 service, but it can also make your life much easier. Instead of having to manage your own calendar, it can be managed for you. The best part is because appointment software offers mobile-friendly features, you can keep track of your schedule wherever you are. 

In this article, we highlight six reasons why people love appointment software: 

1. Schedules Appointments for You

You might not realize it, but scheduling appointments can be very time-consuming. Checking your personal calendar against your client’s availability, sending out appointment invitations, and setting up reminders takes time. Even just 10 minutes a day can add up, especially when you’re scheduling meetings with multiple clients throughout the week.

With appointment software, you don’t have to spend that time. The software will update your schedule for you and even tweak appointments so they fit better within your schedule. Some appointment-scheduling solutions can color-coordinate your calendar, identify first-time clients, schedule recurring calls, and more. 

2. Offers a Mobile-Friendly Interface

Let’s face it, having the capability to schedule appointments on the go is a game-changer. Luckily, several types of appointment software come with their own apps, some of which users can download and use on their mobile devices. This makes it easy for business owners to navigate their schedules regardless of where they’re located. 

Alternatively, some appointment software features a mobile-friendly interface. Users don’t have to download the app to schedule a meeting or make a payment. Instead, they can take advantage of the website’s mobile design and do everything from there.  

3. Offers Enhanced Security Features

Security is another benefit of online appointment software. These days, systems of all kinds have become more advanced in their efforts to deter potential security breaches. The same is true with appointment software. Most appointment systems you can use today include features to help keep both you and your guests safe. 

A majority of these solutions use cloud storage, which prioritizes cybersecurity. Instead of putting pen to paper (and risking your clients’ information being seen by untrustworthy eyes), appointment software keeps everything in a central, safe place. 

You can also set up most appointment software systems to default to your chosen virtual meeting platform and corresponding phone number to facilitate virtual appointments. Whether you prefer Zoom, Google Meet, Webex, or another meeting space, you can connect without giving away your personal phone number. 

4. Schedules Your Breaks for You 

Chances are, you’ve heard how important it is to take breaks while you’re working. But do you? Probably not. If you have a demanding job, stepping away from your computer might seem more like a luxury than a necessity. Well, according to a University of Illinois study, taking breaks in the workplace is critical.

The study discovered that the human brain’s attention decreases when working on a single task for a long period of time. While you might want to keep going until a project is finished, doing so could negatively impact your work. To ensure you’re performing at your best, schedule breaks during the workday. Luckily, appointment software can help you with that. 

All you have to do is schedule breaks the same way you’d schedule recurring calls with clients. Just make sure you follow through with your breaks, instead of ignoring them. 

5. Helps You Stay on Top of Your Finances

Appointment software doesn’t just keep your calendar organized. It can also help manage your company’s finances. By integrating appointment software into your business, you avoid the chance of missing important financial deadlines that could negatively impact your company.

For instance, you can schedule reminders for bill payments to vendors. Expecting an important payment? You can set up notifications for when invoices are at their 30-, 60-, or 90-day due dates. And of course you can use appointment software to schedule important tax filing deadlines. 

6. Creates a Better Customer Experience

As a business owner, you know the importance of providing your customers with a great experience. With so much competition out there, you need the ultimate booking software to make your life and your customers’ lives easier. An online appointment solution means you’re always available whenever your clients need you. 

This is important, especially when you consider the statistics. According to research, 25% of clients under the age of 35 will only book appointments online. Believe it or not, 35% of clients would rather schedule appointments after hours than during the workday. So consider integrating 24/7 appointment software so your clients can reach your business at the time that works best for them. 

Your business might be doing well. But chances are, it could be doing even better by integrating the right kind of software. Given all the reasons to love it, online appointment software could be your best choice.

How to Use Appointment Software to Get More Customers This Fall

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How to Use Appointment Software to Get More Customers This Fall

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

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

Spruce Up Your Platform for the Season

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

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

Hold Some Holiday Events

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

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

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

Set Up Fall Promotions for Appointment-Setters

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

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

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

Fire Up Social Media

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

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

Jump on the Local Bandwagon

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

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

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

Update Your Blog

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

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

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

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

‘Where Did We Lose You?’ Detecting Breaks in the Appointment-Making Chain

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‘Where Did We Lose You?’ Detecting Breaks in the Appointment-Making Chain

As great as it is in every way, online appointment software isn’t a cure-all for all of your customer experience issues. If you fail to look beyond the software, you’ll overlook the unseen frustration customers experience, which eventually will force them away.

Check out these tips for detecting and fixing some of the invisible breaks in the customer experience your clients may be having. Catching and resolving them in the early stages will keep your retention rates high and make sure every review your company gets is a positive one.

Waiting on Hold

This one is for all the businesses that still aren’t using appointment-scheduling software. Phone conversations can be some of the most important interactions your business has with customers — and the most likely to get messed up. 

Hold times are typically the first offender, with customers getting frustrated by being put on the back burner. In fact, 40% of consumers in a customer service survey stated that waiting on hold for more than five minutes irritated them more than anything else. 

In addition to long hold times, few things are more frustrating than getting routed from agent to agent trying to find the right person to help you. Nearly all of this can be avoided by using online appointment software. Many questions can be answered instantly, and a smooth booking process is practically guaranteed. This eliminates the need to even contact a customer service agent. 

Long Page Loading Times

Another test of customer patience is your website. Online appointment software won’t do you much good if your website takes forever to load each page. If a customer is stuck on a loading screen for too long, they’ll ditch your company entirely.

A key point to look at is mobile optimization. Your appointment system might run flawlessly on a desktop computer but not scale down to mobile use as well. A growing number of consumers will book appointments on their smartphones, so you need to make sure that loading speeds (and the resulting displays) are viable for them.

Spammy Marketing Tactics

It’s perfectly understandable to get antsy waiting for customers to book appointments. This is no excuse to let your marketing tactics get out of hand. If your marketing and messaging seem spammy and annoying, you’ll push customers away rather than draw them in. 

The thing is, sending messages to clients is important, so you need to find a balance. The best-case scenario is that customers opt into messaging, but many will miss the fine print. Try to limit yourself to one message per week max if it doesn’t pertain to an active appointment booking. 

You have a little more leeway with messages sent as appointment reminders. Your customers will appreciate a few nudges leading up to their appointment so that it doesn’t slip their minds. Daily reminders, however, would likely be a bit much. 

Restrictive Communication

Let’s say you’ve got your online appointment system up and running. While this should do most of the heavy lifting for you, it can’t be your only method of communication with customers. Restricting communication in this way will potentially alienate them from your company and prompt them to move on to others.

Keep multiple lines of communication open, each with a specific purpose. Phone lines will still be useful for customer problems or to discuss small details that might get missed by a program. Sometimes it’s nice to speak with another human being about the questions and concerns you might have. Social media can be used to answer quick, informal questions about your service. 

The best part about online appointment software is that it’s open 24/7 for customers to use. You can expand on that by including a chatbot on your website that answers simple questions for customers booking appointments outside of business hours. While this doesn’t provide the human touch, it helps you communicate with customers at all hours of the day. 

Hidden Fees

The second a hidden fee shows up in a bill, the customer receiving it will be gone. Transparency is crucial for businesses in 2021, where a host of global and societal issues have made consumers ever vigilant. Don’t be the company that tries to sneak in hidden fees to take advantage of unsuspecting customers.

If you do need to attach a fee to something, just be open about it. Explaining why credit card processing fees exist is much better than sneakily adding them to a bill. This goes for any fee that is involved in your appointment booking process or the services you provide.

Lack of Accessibility

Online appointment software is incredibly easy to use. However, there are people who will need some extra assistance to work through the booking process. In fact, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 states that it’s your duty as a business to make sure your services are available to all.

So look for ways to make your website and booking process accessible to everyone. Text-to-speech, voice commands, and different visual settings are just a few things you can do to make your online system accessible to people of all abilities

It’s easier to move obstacles than to coach your customers over them. Identify the snags in your own system so that every customer feels comfortable and cared for. That way, they won’t take their business elsewhere, and both sides can stay happy. 

Avoiding the ‘Black Hole’ of Customer Engagement

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Avoiding the ‘Black Hole’ of Customer Engagement

Automated appointment systems make life so much easier for both businesses and their customers. Booking and executing an appointment have never been more efficient. However, you need to be careful about falling into the “black hole” of customer engagement that can form around automation. 

Too many automated appointment systems facilitate client interaction during the booking process but end there. There are no response mechanisms or continuing interaction throughout the rest of the customer journey. Make sure you don’t lose people after they click the “Submit” button by following these tips:

Keep an Agent Within Reach

While online appointment software and other digitized features have nearly endless benefits, sometimes customers just need to talk to someone. It gets frustrating when you’re stuck with a chatbot and need to ask a more complicated question that only a human can answer. 

One of your employees doesn’t have to be available to help customers 24/7, as chatbots are able to do. Still, make sure your customers know they can speak with a customer service agent during business hours for more complex problems and concerns. 

When solving customer problems, your CS representatives have an excellent opportunity to further engage with customers. They can ask leading questions to get customers to provide feedback that, in ordinary situations, they might just keep to themselves. Have your reps record any comments customers make so you can take action on the issues they think need to be addressed. 

Send Out Customer Surveys

Customer engagement after the appointment is just as important as engagement before and throughout. The feedback you receive from customers provides valuable information on ways you can improve or practices you should continue using. 

After an appointment, send out a short email thanking customers for their business. Include a survey link in each email and ask customers to respond to questions about their experience. Make sure the survey link is easy to locate within your message. 

Use Social Media Regularly

If you want to engage with your customers when they’re not at your business, turn to social media. Roughly 70% of Americans have a social media account, most of which are used regularly. There are plenty of opportunities for customer engagement here.

Social media can spur customer engagement in several ways. An ad campaign will gather clicks that can lead to more appointment bookings. Inviting comments on posts provides another platform for customers to voice their comments and mention concerns the company can address.

Track Key Data Metrics

When customer engagement gets placed on the back burner, you have to find new ways to bring it back to the forefront. Set goals to track key metrics using customer data. In order to accomplish these goals, you’ll have to monitor customer engagement via online interactions. 

Set up your website to track customer engagement online. You’ll be able to see how long customers spend on your website, what pages they visit, and your landing page bounce rate. This information will help you adjust the layout to place forms and resources where they’ll best be seen. 

Data metrics can be drawn from your in-house team as well. Tracking the percentage of customers who accept an upsell will show you how customers are responding to this sales tactic. If percentages are low, you’ll know you need to change your strategy.

Incentivize Engagement

Some customers will purposely place themselves in the black hole of customer engagement because they simply don’t want additional interaction. If something goes wrong, they’ll either grin and bear it or take their business elsewhere without a word. 

Customers have the right to keep their thoughts to themselves, but your business benefits from their feedback and engagement. To draw them out of the woodwork, incentivize engagement to get the highest engagement rates possible.

A common business strategy is to take survey responses and use them as raffle tickets. Customers who leave feedback are entered into a drawing to win free services or other perks that are valuable to them. Using this tactic, you’ll receive more feedback than just the occasional review from those with strong opinions. 

Be Transparent

Nowadays, customers might associate surveys and unprovoked emails with marketing schemes intended to make a sale. Be transparent about the real reason you’re looking to boost customer engagement so they don’t shy away from your overtures.

For example, you might be reaching out to customers to inquire about a service package your company provides. Make it known from the get-go that you’re sending the survey to gauge whether you should continue to offer the package (or whatever your reason is). Customers won’t feel like you’re only trying to sell them something and will be more likely to provide honest feedback. 

Make Engagement Count

Finally, when you gather feedback, do something about it! Customers will fail to see the need for interaction and engagement if your company isn’t listening or reciprocating. 

Let’s say customers consistently mention the long wait times they experience before each appointment with your business. Instead of just nodding in sad agreement, come up with a solution. Do you need to install self-check-in kiosks in the lobby or take measures to stop appointments from running long? Your actions will inspire customers to continue to provide feedback, as they’ll know it is being used to improve their experience. 

Learn to spot the signs of a customer engagement black hole so you can steer clear of it. As soon as you feel your business being drawn in, take the necessary steps to adjust your course. By doing so, you will retain more customers and keep your operations running smoothly.

Leveling Up Your Respect for Your Customers’ Time

By | Time Management | No Comments
Leveling Up Your Respect for Your Customers’ Time

They say that time is money. The problem is that while you can make back your money, you can’t regain lost time. That’s one reason respecting your customers’ time is one of the most important things your business should strive for. 

Customers who feel that they and their time are respected will more likely remain loyal to your business. Loyal customers increase revenue, reduce turnover, and provide referrals that will further grow your business. Here’s how you can make sure you’re respecting the time of every customer who walks through your doors:

Always Start Appointments on Schedule

When your customers commit to an appointment, they’re offering up their precious time to your business. Starting every appointment on time shows them that you respect the time commitment they make. 

There are many reasons why an appointment might start late. An employee might get stuck in traffic, or the previous customer might be tardy, pushing subsequent appointments back a few minutes. You can avoid delaying the next appointment’s start time by scheduling some wiggle room between appointment slots. Alternatively, you might have one of your employees begin serving the customer — bringing them a beverage or handling their paperwork — until their scheduled service provider is available.

Send Reminders in Advance

Reminders are one of the most effective tools businesses can use to prevent no-shows and late arrivals from happening. However, when you send the reminder is also important. Reminding customers about their appointment only an hour beforehand isn’t likely to be the most effective approach. 

The best reminders are the ones customers can set themselves. Some will prefer those last-minute reminders, but many others will want their reminders a day or even a week in advance. Provide reminder flexibility through your online appointment software so each reminder notification can be customized for maximum effectiveness. 

Prioritize the Customer

Running a business involves a lot of moving parts. Responsibilities may include back-office roles like payroll, HR, and more. As important as these aspects of a business are, customer needs should always be the priority unless there’s an emergency in another department.

For example, let’s say you’re in charge of running a dentist’s office. There are supplies to be ordered and hygienists’ schedules to be arranged, but you have a customer waiting at the front desk. How will they feel if you put them on the back burner? From their perspective, they’re being neglected, which will not result in good reviews of your business or recommendations to their friends. 

Make it a point to help out every customer before turning to other tasks or dealing with co-workers. If you have issues balancing back-office tasks with customer interactions, consider increasing your workforce to close the gap. 

Constantly Seek Efficiency

Respecting your customers’ time goes behind assisting them on a daily basis. You should constantly seek to improve your business’s efficiency to help future customers save even more time. 

Online appointment software is an excellent example of increasing efficiency to respect your customers’ time. Using online software, booking and managing appointments is faster and easier than ever. Customers don’t need to call in to schedule each of their appointments and can even book them after business hours. 

Optimizing your business operations will also show you value the time customers lend to you. Perhaps the paperwork you have patients fill out before their appointments causes bookings to run longer than expected. Look for ways to digitize these forms so they can be completed faster — and preferably only once — for the benefit of everyone interacting with your business. 

Focus on Communication

Ask any team leader, teacher, or couple, and they’ll all tell you the same thing: Communication is key to success. There are two ways communication will help you respect your customers’ time. 

First, ask your customers how they think you can better respect their time. Simple surveys sent after appointments will give you the answers you need. Customer feedback regarding a specific aspect of your business, perhaps the check-in process, will direct you to the exact area that needs improvement.

Second, focus on team communication. A hair salon is a great example of how good team communication ensures a pleasant booking. Let’s say a guest arrives and shares some special requests at the front desk. If those aren’t passed along to the stylist, guests will waste time repeating the same things over again. 

Resolve Problems Quickly

Even when you’re trying your best, mistakes will happen. Appointments will run late, details will get misplaced, and your internet might even go down. How quickly and effectively you resolve problems is another way you show your customers that their time and satisfaction are important to you.

Here’s a scenario that you may have encountered before. At the end of an appointment, a customer comes up to the front desk with a problem — perhaps their parking didn’t get validated at their last appointment, or they’re not receiving appointment reminders. By the time your team has come up with a solution, the customer has become frustrated with their entire experience, even though everything prior to that point ran smoothly. 

Focus on teaching your employees problem-solving and critical thinking skills. While you can’t expect every problem to have an immediate solution, employees will be prepared to handle most potential holdups that cost your customers valuable time. 

When you show respect to your customers, they will reciprocate. This is vital for appointment-based businesses that require timeliness and cooperation to function efficiently. By embracing these tips, you’ll be on your way to better respecting your customers’ time — and they’ll know it.

6 Tips for Scheduling Appointments with Reluctant Customers

By | Scheduling | No Comments
6 Tips for Scheduling Appointments with Reluctant Customers

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought upon us a long, grueling, utterly unprecedented year. Everyone — from individuals to communities to entire countries — faced their own unique and strenuous challenges. 

Luckily, the pandemic appears to be on the wane at last. While case numbers continue to fluctuate, people across the country are receiving doses of highly effective vaccines. As the vaccine rollout accelerates, getting back to normal seems increasingly likely.

And yet, for owners of appointment-based businesses, the challenges of COVID-19 are still ongoing.

On the bright side, many companies have opened their doors and resumed in-person work. However, even if employees are happy to return, many customers don’t feel the same way. Thus, persuading these customers to return for face-to-face appointments remains a hurdle.

If you’re facing this issue, don’t stress out — you’re not alone. Read on for six tips on scheduling appointments with reluctant customers.

1. Follow your state and local COVID-19 guidelines.

Official COVID-19 guidelines were implemented for a reason: to keep us all safe. Adhering to these guidelines will benefit your customers and your employees alike. So before your grand office reopening, be sure to brush up on these essential rules. 

Every state is different, so you’ll have to do a bit of research on your own here. Fortunately, there are convenient tools that can help you keep track of state-by-state guidelines, restrictions, and more.

Not only does following applicable laws protect your business, but it also helps put your customers at ease. If they know that officials have deemed it safe to conduct in-person business, they’ll be more likely to book a face-to-face appointment with you.

2. Continue to adhere to social distancing policies.

Social distancing has been the name of the game for over a year now. Remaining six feet apart and wearing masks feels like second nature these days.

As a result, even though restrictions are easing up, lots of customers don’t feel ready to return to mask-free, shoulder-to-shoulder life. This is why staying socially distant for a while longer is the right move.

Basically, you should continue to take precautions to handle your appointments safely. Ensure that everyone in your office wears a face covering, stays six feet apart, and avoids eating or drinking in common spaces. To take it one step further, you could even require daily temperature checks or rapid COVID tests.

By continuing to follow strict health guidelines, you’ll show your clients that you’re still taking this pandemic seriously. Customers will feel safe, protected, and ready to show up for an appointment.

3. Communicate with your customers.

Communication is more important now than ever. It seems as if the world is constantly changing, especially as COVID-19 restrictions can loosen or tighten every day. Right now, it’s vital to respond accordingly and keep your customers in the loop. 

If clients are uncertain about your current mode of operation, they may be reluctant to reach out and schedule an appointment. That’s exactly why you should make an effort to keep them informed about all the details of your office reopening. 

In other words, be sure to let them know that you’re following tips 1 and 2 above. If you consistently maintain communication with your customers, you’ll be well on your way to a rush of new appointments.

4. Use social media to your advantage.

Social media is an indispensable business and marketing tool that’s only grown more popular during this pandemic. There’s no doubt it will remain just as important post-COVID.

As you and your business readjust to normalcy, don’t forget to leverage your social media channels. It’s an effective way to interact with customers, provide real-time updates about the business, and promote your company. 

Whenever COVID-19 guidelines change in your area, make sure to post about your business’s response to the changes. This will help ease any lingering concerns your customers may have about COVID dangers.

5. Give customers an at-home option.

Although we’re moving closer to normalcy each day, the pandemic is still not over. Yes, cases have gone down in most areas, and vaccinations are well underway. Despite this progress, however, many people are still uncomfortable with the idea of returning to in-person work and social events. 

Unfortunately, some customers won’t feel ready to return to your business just yet — it’s that simple. If this is the case, convincing them otherwise may be impossible.

The good news is that we live in the 21st century, and we have modern technology at our disposal. If the nature of your services makes it possible, allow your customers to opt for a virtual appointment if they desire. It may not be ideal, but it’s better than missing out on the opportunity entirely.

If you give customers the choice to stay home, they’ll certainly feel safer returning to your business in the future. Even better, they will greatly appreciate your effort to be accommodating. 

6. Be open to adaptation.

If we can offer one final tip, it’s this: don’t be afraid to adapt. After the year we’ve had, perhaps this goes without saying. 

When you discover that one of your normal practices isn’t working, it may be time to try something new. For example, a hairstylist whose customers are still hesitant to return for in-salon appointments could make house calls. Or, weather permitting, they could move one salon chair outside for alfresco haircuts. 

Much has changed in the past year, and there’s no doubt that things will continue to change throughout 2021. So as your business transitions from virtual to in-person, it’s important to remain flexible. 

The pandemic has forced all of us to reevaluate and rearrange our priorities, both business-related and otherwise. Just remember: you’ve made it this far. Stay adaptable, and you’ll be fine.

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