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How to Handle Internet Outages When You Schedule Appointments Online

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How to Handle Internet Outages When You Schedule Appointments Online

Appointments make customer service so much easier. Not only do they cut down on wait times, but they reduce staff members’ stress levels. 

Online scheduling apps let you manage bookings in real time. But what happens when your internet crashes? Without a connection, you can’t see what appointments are coming up — much less adjust them.  

Don’t panic — you’ve got this. Here’s what to do:

1. Call Your Internet Provider Immediately

First things first: Reach out to your internet service provider. They’ll be able to provide information on the outage and give an estimated time when your connection will be restored. If the outage is unique to your location, they can send a specialist to come fix it.

With any luck, you won’t have to go the rest of the day without the internet. Until then, use the remaining tips below to continue serving your customers. 

2. Change Your Voicemail

When your system goes down due to an internet outage, you’re likely to get a bunch of concerned calls. While serving customers already at your store, it can be tough to field these calls.

To limit the flow, change your voicemail message. In your new message, explain the situation. If possible, include an estimated time the system will be back up. Include any other details customers might need, such as a special number to call for bookings. 

3. Take Appointments Over the Phone

As a temporary alternative, take appointments over the phone. Record these carefully to avoid overlap with existing bookings. 

If you don’t typically take appointments over the phone, remind callers of this. Otherwise, those who didn’t hear your voicemail may assume it’s the norm.

4. Open Walk-In Hours

One advantage of appointment-based scheduling is that it lets you prohibit or restrict walk-ins. Consider allowing walk-ins until the internet outage is over.

Beware that this can get chaotic. Ask your staff to be patient and to engage upset customers in calming conversations. 

This option works best when combined with phone- and paper-based scheduling. Encourage customers who don’t want to wait to make an appointment. 

5. Keep Paper Copies

Digital scheduling cuts down on paper waste. But if you experience internet outages once a month or more, printing out the next day’s appointment schedule is a smart idea. 

Make sure your printout doesn’t just show your schedule. To confirm or adjust appointments, you’ll also need customers’ names and phone numbers. If you offer multiple service lines, include which one each appointment entails. 

6. Ask Customers for Verification

When they book an appointment online, customers will receive a message confirming their upcoming visit. If they walk in claiming to have an appointment while your internet is down, ask them to show it to you.

While you want customers to feel trusted, you can’t risk someone stealing another customer’s time slot. Even if it’s an honest mistake, the customer who’d booked it is sure to be upset. 

7. Call in Backup

If the combination of walk-ins and anxious callers is more than you can handle, call in some extra hands. Another employee or two in the office can make a world of difference when your system is down. 

Keep at least one employee on call for emergency situations like this. On most teams, at least one person is always looking for extra hours. 

8. Send Some Referrals

You never want to lose out on business, but you also want to maintain your reputation. If the internet outage is more than you can handle, send referrals to similar local businesses. 

Trying to balance appointments made without software with a rush of walk-ins is challenging. Long wait times can frustrate and drive away customers. This short-term solution will help you out in the long run.

9. Use a Personal Device

Chances are, you carry a smartphone. Keep your appointment platform’s login details handy so you can pull it up on your phone in a pinch. 

What if your booking system isn’t mobile-friendly? Use your device as a hotspot for your internet computer. Beware that you may incur extra charges from your phone provider for doing this. 

An internet outage is nothing you can’t handle. Follow these steps, and you won’t just make it through; you’ll be even more prepared if it ever happens again.

9 Easy Ways to Encourage More Appointments

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Entrepreneurship has never been easy. But during Covid-19, small business owners have struggled more than ever to drum up appointments. Even as shops open again, consumers are hesitant to take the risk. 

While you can’t make the pandemic go away, you can implement some creative methods to encourage consumers to stop by. Use these 9 easy ways to encourage more customers to make appointments and venture out:

1. Enable Online Booking

The easier it is to make appointments, the more likely it is that customers will make them. Making an appointment online is much easier than making one over the phone or in person. In fact, some customers might actively avoid those interactions and prefer to do everything digitally.

It’s one thing to have online booking available; it’s another to make it user-friendly. Start with a functional, visually appealing website. Choose a booking platform that lets customers change appointment times, cancel appointments, and reach out with any questions. The easier it is to use, the better.

2. Start a Rewards Program

Customers might not immediately see a need to make appointments, so give them a reason to. A rewards program provides an incentive that can get customers on the fence to book. 

Research backs up the success of rewards programs. One study showed that businesses that used successful loyalty programs enjoyed two and a half times more growth than their competitors. Not only does it help retain customers, but it can draw in new ones.

3. Offer Recurring Appointments

Once you get a customer to book an appointment, ask them if they’d like to make another appointment as they’re checking out. In this short window they’ll remember their experience and, assuming it was positive, they are more likely to commit to another one.

You can also add incentives for booking multiple appointments up front. For example, you can offer a 10% discount to customers who book two or more appointments at a time. They’ll save a bit of cash, and you’ll get more certainty around your future revenue. As a bonus, customers who pay for their appointments upfront are less likely to become no-shows.

4. Send a Newsletter

All you need to send a digital newsletter to your clients is their email address and a bit of creativity. Newsletters can contain coupons and seasonal deals, and encourage them to make a visit if they haven’t for some time. 

In your digital newsletter, make sure to include a link that takes customers directly to your booking platform. Make sure this link is prominent enough for them to see in every newsletter. 

Be tasteful with your email newsletters. Obnoxiously frequent ones will be deleted before they’re read. Send them rarely, and customers may be confused as to their purpose. If newsletters are too wordy, customers likely won’t bother reading them. Too short, and what’s the point? 

5. Leverage Social Media

People spend a lot of time on social media these days. By posting regular updates and fun seasonal tidbits, you’ll keep your business top of mind. 

Some social media platforms let businesses add booking information directly on their pages. Get the right message out at the right time, and your bookings will fill up fast.

6. Update Your Voicemail

What do customers hear when they call your business? If the information is old, or the recording poor-quality, consumers may think twice about booking an appointment. 

Update your voicemail frequently. Make sure it includes instructions for online booking, your hours of operation, and the physical address of your business. These details help callers solve their own problems, while you focus on serving customers.

7. Minimize Wait Times

One of the main reasons people opt for appointments over walk-ins is to make their wait time as short as possible. If customers still have to wait a half an hour even with an appointment, then they aren’t likely to bother booking an appointment next time. 

Some days will inevitably be busier than others, but there are still variables you can control. Perhaps you need to schedule an extra hand on days that are packed with appointments. Or perhaps giving consumers the option to book further out can smooth out the up-and-down nature of appointments. 

8. Nurture Relationships

Nothing keeps a customer coming back more than feeling like they belong. When business leaders take the time to connect with their clients, they build relationships that keep customers around. 

Find ways to interact with each customer who walks through your doors. Get to know them beyond their business needs. Ask how their day is going. Small, caring questions and comments can make all the difference.

9. Plan Special Events

Want to really get people out of the house? Plan a special event they just can’t miss. Offer prizes and discounts, and you’re sure to draw a crowd. Use this opportunity to schedule future and recurring bookings.

With that said, special events shouldn’t be common. They’ll lose their power if they become a weekly or even monthly occurrence. 

Select a date and time carefully: When is the biggest subset of your customers likely to be free? After 5 p.m. on weekdays? On weekends?

Encouraging appointments requires effort, but don’t be discouraged. Your customers want your business to succeed just as much as you do. 

When to Say “No” to an Appointment Request

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Businesses are built on loyal customer relationships. But what if even the most loyal customer is asking for too much?

You might feel that way with some customers’ appointment requests. Maybe they insist on a slot that’s unavailable, or perhaps they want to skip a critical part of the process. And while you don’t want to deny them, it’s sometimes necessary. 

Saying “no” is about establishing and maintaining boundaries. Declining appointment requests protects your time and gives customers clarity about what you can and can’t do. At the end of the day, you don’t need to feel guilty saying “no” to a customer if their request would harm your business.

With that said, you must be careful about when you say “no” to appointments. In these situations, it’s perfectly reasonable to reject a customer’s appointment request:

1. When there isn’t space

If you don’t have room in your schedule, you simply can’t accept a new appointment. And with the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses are required to by law their operating capacity. Making exceptions puts your employees and customers’ health at risk.

The good news is, this issue can be addressed with self-service scheduling software. Customers can see all your available appointments and choose one that works for both of you.

Beware, though, that some will call anyway asking for a spot. If you let one person bypass the scheduling system, others may follow suit. Don’t let that become part of your reputation.

Remember, you can always put a customer on a waiting list in case there’s a cancellation. Otherwise, say “no” to appointments when there’s no space. Most customers will respect your decision if you explain the circumstances. 

2. When a drop-in would be better

Not every customer needs a full-blown appointment. If someone has a quick question, don’t bother scheduling a time slot. In this case, a drop-in works best.

Drop-ins can be difficult to manage if that’s not the way your business runs. But if you can accept the occasional walk-in, you can save appointment space for those who really need it.

Your solution might involve directing people to drop in on a case by case basis. Another option is to post guidelines on your website. Perhaps you use an interstitial page to share your drop-in guidelines with customers before they book. Empower customers to make choices that benefit everyone.

3. When they want to schedule too far out

A customer may want an appointment slot that is too far in advance. Perhaps they want to save a slot during a particularly busy time, or maybe they assume you’re booked far into the future.

It’s good for customers to be proactive. Unfortunately, a lot can happen in a few months, and you may be planning a major transition.

Avoid booking appointments when you don’t know what to expect. It’s better to simply turn down an early-bird appointment request than to call back months later to cancel on a customer. 

4. When they want to schedule too close

Say a customer wants an appointment within an hour. You might have an open slot, but can you prepare in time? 

Organizations like law firms and doctor offices need time to review case notes. They may simply not be able to provide a professional level of service with such short notice. 

If that’s the boat your business is in, don’t be afraid to say so. Protecting your company’s reputation requires you to turn down requests that would result in sub-par work. Cutting it too close doesn’t result in a good outcome for anyone. 

Instead of denying these customers outright, give them an alternative. If they won’t accept a later appointment, you might suggest a DIY solution or refer them to a partner. 

5. When their request isn’t fair to other customers

If you have a customer that feels they should get their way at any cost, be polite but firm. It’s not just a matter of protecting your schedule; it’s also about treating your other customers well. 

Think about how you’d feel if someone else scooped an appointment from you at the last minute. You’d probably think twice about scheduling another one at that business. 

What about loyalty programs? They’re a way to reward customers. The special treatment in this case is unmerited and out of the ordinary. You may not satisfy this one customer, but your “no” does make a difference even if no one else acknowledges it.  

Saying “no” to customers seems like the opposite of what a business should do. But sometimes it is necessary to do so with appointments. The “no” you say to one customer is actually a “yes” to another one. 

5 Scheduling Conversations to Have With Employees This Fall

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With each new season comes an opportunity to rally your team. Whereas business often slows down in the summer, fall is a time to pick things up.  

There are a number of tasks to accomplish before the new season arrives. Much of them are back-burner tasks, such as cleaning and reorganizing the office. However, conversations around scheduling should be at the top of your fall agenda. 

Getting everyone’s schedules together before fall is crucial for planning. Not only can it give you a better sense of your team’s capacity, but it helps you plan for the next fiscal year and finish up annual initiatives. 

While every business is different, certain scheduling conversations apply across the board. Take a look at the following topics to broach with your employees this fall and ensure that everyone is ready for what’s ahead:

1. Team Meeting Days

Like them or not, meetings are part of working on a team. Decide whether your current cadence makes sense, and if not, when and how often the team should meet. 

Maybe you don’t necessarily need a full team meeting every week. Perhaps every other week is enough. Or maybe you simply need to settle on a different day and time than before. 

See how your team members feel about your current all-staff meetings. Figure out what tweaks could boost productivity and efficiency. Simply shaving 15 minutes off the meeting time could jog conversation along and give attendees time back. 

2. Vacation Plans

One great thing about fall is the reduction in vacation requests. Most people are back from the summer, so there’s less maneuvering around those who aren’t present. But that doesn’t mean you should neglect this aspect of scheduling. 

There may be people who did not take time off in the summer. Ask whether they have a fall trip in the works. Encourage them to put time off on the calendar sooner rather than later. 

While planning for the season, take a moment to review your PTO policy. Talk through hiccups from recent vacations to ensure everyone is able to take time off work without a hitch. 

Discussing vacation plans also helps you and your employees identify loose threads that need to be addressed before they head out. That way, nobody is left high and dry when someone didn’t complete their tasks prior to takeoff. 

3. Summer Hours Assessment

Your company may have changed its business hours in the summer. If so, fall is the time to bring everyone together to reassess those changes. 

In terms of worker productivity, there are pros and cons to having summer hours. Reducing hours in the summer encourages better work-life balance. It can also boost productivity during business hours because people are more rested. 

With that said, summer hours can be stressful. Employees may scramble to get the same amount of work done in less time. And because there are fewer windows for scheduling meetings, collaboration can be tough. 

When evaluating summer hours, ask your team:

  • Who prefers summer hours and who doesn’t?
  • Does the data show summer hours cause an increase or decrease in productivity?
  • Did customer volume change during the summer?  
  • Is there more to accomplish in the fall than summer?

If there’s not a significant change and workers prefer the summer hours, you may opt to keep them. If not, summer hours might not make much sense. 

4. Schedule Flexibility

The new season might be a good time to give employees more autonomy with their schedules. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on workers’ routines, so go ahead and experiment. 

Flexibility doesn’t mean that everyone makes their own schedule without considering others. That would be chaotic. Perhaps people can work from home most days, but on designated days they can head into the office for a team lunch meeting. Different departments could even build their schedules together. 

Flexible scheduling is about doing what makes sense for your team and your company. If everyone is doing good work with a flexible schedule, there’s no need to force a more rigid one on people.

5. Performance Reviews

As you plan through the end of the year, performance reviews will probably happen in the late fall. You should always be preparing for these by giving feedback to workers consistently, but you still need to set a hard date for the conversation.

Getting these evaluations on people’s schedules is a good first step this fall. At least a few weeks in advance, give employees an idea of when they will occur and what they will be focused on. 

When team members are involved in scheduling conversations, they feel more empowered in their work. In a culture of flexibility and empowerment, everyone wins.  

How to Simplify Scheduling for Working Parents

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Having a quality product or service isn’t enough to attract more customers. Getting more business is a matter of minimizing the obstacles preventing people from engaging. And a key demographic with significant obstacles is working parents. 

Working parents are constantly struggling to balance their careers, families, and personal lives. And that job is even harder in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the school year begins, many parents will have to homeschool on top of their other parenting and professional duties. 

Because they have to prioritize, many of them let their appointments fall by the wayside. Therefore, anything your business can do to make scheduling and attending appointments easier on working parents benefits you both.

Working parents have their work cut out for them. Use these simple strategies to tap this valuable, time-crunched audience:

1. Normalize self-service scheduling.

Allowing customers to schedule their own appointments can be a gamechanger. Working parents, in particular, want this ability. They simply don’t have time to hop on the phone for every appointment they make. 

It only takes a handful of scheduling calls to disrupt your daily flow. But with self-service scheduling, you can book appointments at any time of day and on any day of the week. 

Letting clients schedule their appointments makes things simpler for them and your employees. Working parents need this kind of flexibility; if you can deliver, you’ll bring more of them in your door. 

2. Create special times for working parents.

A way to demonstrate your awareness of working parents’ circumstances is to offer special hours for them. This could double as a promotional opportunity for your company. 

Think about this strategy like parking lot spaces for expectant mothers: It’s easy to offer, and people will respect it because they understand the plight of working parents.

For an added layer of protection, give working parents special access codes for your scheduling software. Not only does that support them, but it helps you collect data on a key customer demographic: What proportion of your client base is working parents, and how often do they visit?

3. Initiate contact.

Working parents are a lot more likely to make an appointment if you initiate the process. Don’t think of it as bugging them; treat it like an additional service you provide your most loyal customers. 

The good news is, there are a number of ways to get the ball rolling:

  • Ask them about scheduling their next appointment after their current one.
  • Send an email reminder about scheduling after a predetermined amount of time.
  • Call them with their permission.
  • Set up recurring appointments.

All of these methods can help get your clients into a routine. The more they interact with your company, the more important you become to them. The result is fewer cancellations, no-shows, and difficult clients.

4. Bring your business to them.

There’s nothing wrong with bringing more customers in your door. But if you can, why not offer house calls? Parents who need to stay home in order to watch their kids will appreciate it. 

A big part of making an appointment is getting there. Remember, not every client lives right next to your business. Designate a radius you’ll drive to for house calls, and make this public on your website. Blast it out on social media, and see how many working parents sign up. 

If house calls aren’t a fit for your business model, consider delivery. While you can’t deliver a service, it would certainly help working parents if their eye doctor would drop off contacts to try on, for instance. 

5. Make your office kid-friendly. 

Parents often worry that bringing their children to an appointment will disturb others. In a kid-friendly office environment, it’s not nearly as much of a concern. 

Setting up a play area in your office could solve this problem easily. Provide kids with toys and space, and they’ll stay out of other customers’ hair. Include a water cooler and some snacks in case kids — or their parents — get hungry or thirsty while they wait.

Working parents aren’t a rare breed. There are bound to be working parents at your company who can attest to that. Accommodating their — and their kids’ — needs isn’t always easy, but it can make a night-and-day difference to your company’s bottom line. 

How to Plan Your Perfect Eating Schedule

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As wonderful as eating is, it takes a lot of time. Planning your meals can give you more time to enjoy your food, as well as more time to get things done. 

Meal-planning is not just about figuring what to eat. Eating at the right time can boost your energy, keep you feeling full throughout the workday, and cut down on your snack intake. 

We’re wired to think about eating in terms of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The trouble is, the same eating schedule doesn’t work for everyone. What if you work the night shift? What if you need to spend your lunch break running errands?

The solution is to find eating times that work for you. Here’s how to do it: 

1. Keep tabs on your productivity.

Everyone has their own daily rhythm. Some people are most productive in the morning, while others crank out their best work in the afternoon or at night.

To figure out when you should eat, think through your peaks and troughs. If you usually take lunch at noon but always feel groggy afterward, try a different time. Eating earlier in the day could keep you from crashing as hard. 

2. Monitor your hunger.

Hunger is your body telling you to feed it. Even if you’re in your groove at work, don’t ignore it. 

Try not to think of hunger as a binary. Are you hungry enough for a full meal, or would a granola bar be enough? There’s nothing wrong with putting a 3 p.m. snack on your schedule, as long as it’s truly a snack. 

Realize, too, that our body isn’t great at distinguishing hunger from thirst. Practice mindful eating: Sometimes, a drink of water is what we really need. At other times, our body might be responding to a nutrient deficiency rather than a lack of raw calories. 

3. Snack responsibly. 

Snacks can be part of a healthy diet, but they should not be arbitrary. Plan out your snack times so you don’t overeat, and so that you can focus on your work. 

Try to combine snacks with other break-time activities. Maybe you bring a bag of trail mix along with you on a walk. That way, your sole focus isn’t shoveling food into your mouth.

If you struggle with snacking, get an accountability partner. At home, encourage your spouse to say something if you grab the bag of chips right after dinner. 

In the office, social norms can keep people from speaking up. A good alternative is to ask your office manager to choose healthier snacks, which are both less tempting and less harmful if you do decide to binge. 

4. Consider when you exercise.

Planning meals around your workout schedule can be tough. If you prefer to exercise first thing, then you need to think through your morning routine: How are you going to wake up, work out, shower, eat breakfast, and still get out the door in time for work?

If you want to exercise after work, be sure you get a bite to eat 2-3 hours in advance. Depending on when you get off work, this might mean taking a later lunch than people typically do. And because making dinner takes time, it might also mean eating supper later in the evening. 

As important as exercise is, don’t let it dictate your meal schedule. Find a balance: Perhaps you work out earlier than you otherwise would so that you have time for a filling breakfast before heading to the office. 

5. Factor in your sleep schedule.

Most people have trouble falling asleep on a full stomach. Especially if you exercise after work, avoid eating dinner so late that it gets in the way of your sleep. Popping into the kitchen for a midnight meal is almost never a good idea.  

One exception? If you’re so hungry that you can’t sleep because of it, feel free to grab a late-night snack. Just be sure to practice portion control: Especially when you’re tired, it’s easy to overeat. 

6. Keep it consistent. 

Eating at regular times in the day keeps your metabolism stable. That, in turn, prevents swings in your mood and energy levels.

Be proactive: If you worry that you’ll be so busy tomorrow that you won’t have time for lunch, then it might be best to work a little more before you leave the office today. If you need to wake up early one day, postpone breakfast until your normal time. 

What about special occasions? Events like office parties and birthdays may require you to eat at odd times. That’s OK, as long as you get back to your routine afterward. 

Don’t let eating be a haphazard activity. Prepare healthy meals, choose the right time to eat them, and listen to your body afterward. For finding your ideal eating schedule, self-awareness is key.

Top Appointment Apps For Scheduling Your Business

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Are appointment apps and calendar software a necessity? They are if you want to schedule and track appointments, accept online bookings from clients, and send appointment reminders automatically. The top appointment apps and calendar software programs are also useful in blocking off internal meeting times, organizing your schedule, and even accept deposits or prepayments. As a result you can save time while increasing revenue.

Here is our guide for what makes up an appointment app, why you should use an appointment app, and what to look for when you decide to add this tool to your business. We’ve also selected the top ten appointment app solutions for this year and into the future.

What is an Appointment App?

An appointment app is a convenient way for your clients or customers to schedule appointments. The application may also be referred to as online scheduling software or mobile booking software.

Many of today’s appointment apps go beyond just a basic scheduling portal. They now offer comprehensive business,  calendar, and time management capabilities that add efficiencies for your clients, team, and business as a whole.

Benefits of Using an Appointment App

There are many compelling reasons to add an appointment app to your business:

Around-the-Clock Scheduling

Rather than only be able to take appointments during business hours because you rely on staff to create the schedule, you can use an automated scheduling system that can make appointments at any hour and any hour. Customers may not always be able to reach you during business hours. Or, they may prefer to make an appointment without having to call and then be placed on hold.

With 24/7 scheduling through an appointment app, your customers and prospects can schedule their appointment when it’s convenient for them. Doing so can help you attract and retain more customers.

An Enhanced Experience

The traditional appointments process can take a lot of time, with multiple back and forth communications about the best day and time. Even then, the appointment may not be set and require more time to reschedule. It can start to feel like a real hassle for your customer.

With an appointment app, your customers have access to a simple scheduling process where they can see the available time slots and reserve a time that fits their needs. They can also get reminders or use the system again to easily reschedule the appointment.

Increased Search Visibility

As a service business, attracting local customers may be your top priority. It’s important to have a strong online presence and appear in front of prospects on their search queries. Appointment apps can help you do that by integrating with search engines through Google Search and Maps so you appear when those customers look for your service..

More Business Insights

Appointment apps often include data analytics tools so you can learn more about your audience, such as your most popular service or the busiest days and times each week for your business. You can then take this data and make better business decisions about when to schedule employees, types of promotions, and more. A physical appointment book will never be able to reveal such business insights.

Time and Cost Savings

Removing a legacy appointment system that uses paper processes and consumes significant amounts of time can be a real savings for a small business. An appointment app eliminates paper costs and reduces manual processes, saving both time and money. Those savings can be applied to other parts of your business, allowing you to focus more on service as well as use the extra money to grow your enterprise.

Less Risk of Human Error

Humans make mistakes. For example, when scheduling an appointment, one of your employees might have transposed the numbers in a phone number or they added the customer to the wrong time slot. Multiple people could be using the same appointment book and double-booked in a time slot. Those human errors create dissatisfied customers.

An appointment app reduces those human errors by automating the scheduling process. The customer puts their information in while the app sends reminders and only schedules open time slots. Fewer human errors mean happier customers.

What to Look For in an Appointment App

Those benefits all lead to greater business success. The only problem is that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of appointment apps and calendar software to choose from. Here are some factors to consider when you researching the ideal appointment app for your business:

Ease of Use

It’s important to have an appointment app that your customers can immediately feel comfortable using. It’s got to be simple and convenient, including a clear process for scheduling an appointment with the fewest amounts of clicks and screens to navigate.

Booking and Attendance Features

The appointment app solution should include features designed to ensure that customers compete the booking process and actually show up for their appointment. Look for features like rescheduling, appointment confirmations and reminders, and waitlists.

Marketing Tools

The appointment app should also be able to help you get the most out of your marketing efforts. Features that can help you do this include a shareable booking link, search engine booking tools, and social media booking buttons.

Staff Capabilities

Along with customer service and marketing, you also want an appointment app that can help oversee your team. It helps to have an appointment app that can support multiple users so other team members can see or change anything in the app as well as plan the employee schedule for the week or month.

Payments

Although it is not a must, being able to integrate payment processing with your appointment app adds a new level to your customer experience and further reduces the labor required for your service business. It is especially beneficial for those businesses that take deposits at the time of booking, often used for late fees, cancellations, and/or “no-shows.”

Overview of Best Appointment Apps

Although our list of appointment apps may not include all these factors in every solution, you can’t go wrong with the following 10 solutions for 2020 and beyond. Here are the top ten appointment apps we selected and why each one stands out as an ideal tool for your business.

  1. Appointment: Appointment app with longest track record of success
  2. Calendar: Appointment app with powerful technology like machine learning for intuitive assistance
  3. 10to8: Appointment app with integrated payment processing
  4. VueMinder: Appointment app made for Windows users
  5. Setmore: Appointment app with a live call answering service
  6. Grapple: Appointment app for scheduling meetings
  7. Calendarwiz: Appointment app for sharing schedules with groups, teams, and clients
  8. Evie: Appointment app that automates your entire meeting schedule and calendar management process
  9. Square Appointments: Appointment app that embeds social channels in your scheduling process
  10. Bookeo: Appointment app with text notifications

Now, dive in deeper to each of our top appointment apps for 2020 and beyond.

The Best Appointment Apps for 2020 and Beyond

1. Appointment

Appointment

Considering that Appointment.com has been providing online appointment scheduling since 1999, you’d be hard-pressed to find a company with more experience in this area. What makes Appointment.com continue to stand out among other leading online appointment scheduling software is that the company continually evolves to meet their modern user’s needs.

Appointment.com comes packed with features like allowing customers to book an appointment with you 24/7 — even if you don’t have a website. Customers can also cancel or reschedule an appointment on their own. If you have several locations, employees, or services that’s not a problem either since Appointment.com handles these multiple options for you.

Additional features include the customers ability to pay through PayPal, allowing them to create gift certificates, and send out reminders via email or SMS. It also syncs with leading cloud-based calendaring solutions like Outlook, Google, and iCal.

If none of these features are right for your business, Appointment.com’s powerful API allows you to customize it to fit your specific needs.

Following a 30 day free trial Appointment.com offers plans starting at $29/month.

2. Calendar

Calendar

If you want to meet with a client or your team, scheduling events can be a time-consuming process. Calendar can be a major time-saving assist for you.

With Calendar you simply share your existing cloud-based calendar, such as Google Calendar or Outlook, via email or an embedded link on your website. Those persons trying to schedule with you can then see your availability and pick a date and time when you are both free. After they’ve chosen a time, the event is automatically added to everyone’s calendar.

Even better, Calendar harnesses the power of machine learning. This means that it can analyze your previous meeting data to make smart suggestions on where, when, and what type of meetings to schedule.

You can currently sign-up for Calendar for free.

3. 10to8

10to8

If you’re tired of no-shows, then you may want to look into 10to8.

This online appointment software sends automated confirmation emails and SMS to clients. It also sends them reminders and gives them the ability change or cancel the appointment. Because it syncs with Google Calendar and Outlook all new appointments or changes are automatically updated in your calendar. If there are any questions or concerns, there’s a helpful two-way calendar-integrated chat so that you and your clients can address them in real-time.

10to8 also accepts online payments through PayPal, Stripe, SagePay without additional charges. You can also coordinate between multiple staff, calendars, rooms and locations seamlessly.

10to8 offers a free plan if you book fewer than 100 customers per month. If you book more than that, monthly plans start at $9.6.

4. VueMinder

VueMinder

VueMinder is a calendar program specifically designed for Windows users. Unlike some of the other apps and software you can view your schedule directly on the Windows desktop background. However, it does sync with Google Calendar and Apple Calendar. This means you don’t have to completely switch to Outlook.

That’s just scratching the surface. With VueMinder you can schedule daily, weekly, monthly, or annual events and appointments. You can also define tasks and break large tasks into smaller sub-tasks. Other useful features include the ability to store contact information, color-code your calendar, and create customized popup reminders. VueMinder will also send reminders through SMS and email.

While you can download a free version, access to more of the robust features require you to purchase the software starting $49.95.

5. Setmore

Setmore

Setmore is the only online appointment scheduling calendar software that provides a built-in live call answering service. To ensure that appointments are kept it will then send out alerts and reminders. If an appointment must be rescheduled you can easily do so by using the software’s drag and drop feature where you just move the appointment to a new time slot.

What makes Setmore unique is that it integrates with Facebook, Instagram, Slack, WordPress, and Weebly. This gives your clients more opportunities to share your calendar with clients and team members. Thanks to Setmore’s mobile app, you can book, manage, and sync your calendar while on the go.

For those of you have have under 20 staff logins and calendars, Setmore is free. For larger businesses, plans start $25/month.

6. Grapple

grapple

One of the newer meeting schedulers on the market is Grapple Meetings. Through the app you can select various meeting times and then create a poll. Once you do a page is created where clients and team members can select the availability that works best for them.

Participants can then view what selection other individuals made. That may not sound important, but it makes scheduling and rescheduling for groups much more easier and efficient.

You can sign up for Grapple for free. Doing so gives you access to both it’s collaborative software and in-built meeting scheduler.

7. CalendarWiz

Calendarwiz

CalendarWiz is a customizable calendar that can be shared with groups, teams, or clients. Just simply create a single or recurring event and share it with invitees through email, your website or social channels like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You can brand your calendar by changing the calendar colors to match your brand and adding your logo.

After an event has been created and shared, you can send an invite with a request to RSVP — you can also track who has accepted or declined the invite. Everyone will then receive automatic reminders and announcements to reduce no-shows.

CalendarWiz also lets you color code events, prevent double-booking with the self-service feature, and let your community suggest calendar events.

Following a 30 day free trial, plans start at $9/month.

8. Evie

Evie

Evie is an AI scheduling assistant that automates your entire meeting schedule and calendar management. How? Just Cc Evie whenever you mail attendees. Then ask Evie to help schedule a meeting or a call or to send out an invitation. That’s it. Evie handles the rest by finding an optimal time for everyone to meet based on everyone’s calendar.

Evie can then send out calendar invites and request meeting follow-ups automatically. More advanced features include the ability to include location information in emails, reschedule or cancel meetings, set meeting duration times based on your preferences.

If you schedule five meetings or less per month Evie is free. If you schedule more than five, you’ll have to choose a plan starting at $20/month.

9. Square Appointments

Square Appointments

With the free Square Appointments your customers can book an appointment with you 24/7 via a free online booking website. However, Square Appointments can also be embedded on your social channels like Facebook and Instagram. Because it syncs with your calendar, your availability will always be accurate and up-to-date.

You can also prevent no-shows by sending clients appointment reminders through email or SMS. You even have the option to charge a no-show fee. And, if the client must cancel or reschedule the client can do so on their own — meaning no more back-and-forth emails.

With Square, you can also accept payments remotely.

10. Bookeo

Bookeo

Bookeo can accept client bookings from your website and Facebook page anywhere, anytime. It then sends out automatic confirmation emails and email and text reminders. You can also receive email or text notifications when an appointment is cancelled or rescheduled.

Furthermore, Bookeo allows you to customize your calendar. You have the option to set business hours, appointment lengths, and color-code your various services.

Bookeo also lets you accept online payments and can be integrated with your existing marketing tools like Google Analytics and MailChimp.

You can try Bookeo for free for 30 days. After that, plans start at $14.95 per user/month.

For Better Customer Feedback, Use Scheduling Software

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You leave comment cards by the door. You send email surveys. And yet, you never seem to get the customer feedback you need.

What’s the secret to getting better customer feedback more often, and from more customers? Believe it or not, scheduling software.

It all starts by letting customers schedule their own appointments. Not only can you ask for comments in the interface itself, but you can also set up feedback appointments. Both help you problem-solve and innovate your customer experience.

Don’t want for customers to complain about the experience. Reach out for feedback. Here’s how to do it through scheduling software:

1. Let them choose the channel.

Not everyone likes to give feedback in writing. Customers could schedule a phone call with someone at your company, they could engage through video chat, or they could join you in person.

Each forum comes with its pros and cons. An in-person feedback session is going to be more involved than one that happens over the phone. However, it might be better for establishing connections with customers.

It’s important to accept what your customers are comfortable with. Don’t force them to come to your office if they ask for a call. Offer as many channel options as you can. 

2. Promote feedback sessions.

Beyond offering multiple times and modes of communication, you need to find ways to excite your customers about giving feedback. Increase engagement with a promotion strategy. 4

To promote customer feedback sessions, you can:

  • Inform customers about feedback opportunities after regular appointments.
  • Announce a special week dedicated to feedback, such as a customer appreciation week.
  • Leverage social media to encourage customers to schedule.

Even if they just want to stop by for a ten-minute chat, get customers in the habit of using your scheduling tool to give feedback. Make it as convenient as possible, and they’ll be more likely to do it. 

3. Offer rewards for feedback.

When a customer takes time out of their day to give you feedback, make it worth their while. Rewarding them is common courtesy. There are plenty of ways to do it:

  • Provide a discount on your product or service when the customer schedules a feedback session.
  • Surprise customers who give feedback with gift cards to area restaurants.
  • Give shoutouts on social media to customers whose feedback helps you improve.

For repeat feedback-providers, go above and beyond. Follow up with a gift that is tailor-made for them. These are the kinds of actions that win customer loyalty. 

4. Never underestimate the power of food.

One way to liven up a feedback meeting is to provide free food. You can put special lunch meetings on your schedule and allow customers to book on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

A meal makes the conversation more casual. Eating during the conversation communicates that you aren’t in a rush, and that you enjoy your customers’ company. 

Meals also create an opportunity for group meetings. Getting a few extra servings delivered is worth it for a wider perspective. Treat it like a focus group, letting your customers have a conversation with one another while you mediate the session. 

5. Always be professional.

Just as you would with any other appointment, practice professional behavior at your feedback sessions. To respect your customers time and protect your brand:

  • Show up early to in-person meetings.
  • Dress in professional attire.
  • Make sure necessary materials are printed off and organized.
  • Let the customer set the agenda.
  • Don’t do all the talking.
  • Ask meaningful questions to encourage conversation.

6. Respond to criticism with compassion.

Not all feedback you receive will be positive. That isn’t a bad thing: Criticism is often more helpful than praise.

Don’t make customers feel guilty for giving you the good, the bad, and the ugly. If you get defensive, customers will shut down rather than say what’s really on their mind. 

Use questions to flesh out criticisms. If a customer says your wait times are too long, for example, ask what amount of time they consider to be unacceptable. If they are having trouble using your scheduling program, encourage them to pull up the program to show you their issue. Be honest if there are things you can’t change. 

Honesty and empathy are key. Try to put yourself in your customers’ shoes, and acknowledge your shortcomings. 

7. Actually make improvements. 

It should go without saying, but customers need to know it: Their feedback has to result in real changes. Otherwise, they will feel like their feedback was not taken seriously. 

Send them updates about how you’re integrating their suggestions. Either send it out via email, or set up a session for all feedback-givers to walk through the changes they inspired.

If you truly care about your customers, prove that to them by asking for improvement ideas. With scheduling software, you can always keep your door open. Your customers, as well as your bottom line, will appreciate that. 

The 10 Best Productivity Scheduling Apps

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There have always been plenty of ways to increase your productivity. The key here, is that the information about productivity is always changing. You can’t pick one productive way that fits you — and then never read another article or study about productivity. There will always be another app.

You can use hacks like the Pomodoro Technique, create a daily routine, and plan your entire day. You can even ditch bad habits, such as multitasking and having too many meetings. Just remember to always have eyes and ears to newer and faster processes and tools that will help you on your way.

How fast will you become — for now — a lot faster. Later, who knows –but, you will become more and more amazing.

Another effective way to be more productive is by “embracing” new things — including scheduling apps. These handy apps eliminate those back-and-forth communications when scheduling appointments, events, and even tasks. A quick app entry will make every part of your life quicker.

The problem — you may be thinking is that there are too many scheduling apps available on the market. This means that you may end-up spending too much time searching for a scheduling app that best suits your needs. To help narrow down your decision, here are the best productivity scheduling apps out there.

1. Calendar

Instead of playing phone tag or exchanging lengthy email threads, Calendar uses a smart scheduling link to essentially automate your scheduling. Simply send your availability via email or through an embedded link. The other party then picks the best date and time for them. After that — the event is added to everyone’s calendar. Literally three or four clicks. Boom! Done.

Even more promising is that Calendar uses machine learning to make suggestions for when, where and how your meetings can take place. Calendar also sends follow-ups to ensure that every attendee confirms the meeting.

You can even use the free Calendar app to help manage your team. This because the apps intelligently categorizes project meetings in order to determine the relationship between your plans and the people attending the meeting.

2. Plan

Plan is best described as a “one commander center” for all of your tools. That’s because it syncs with the tools that you and your team use on a daily basis. This includes your email, calendar, Salesforce, Zendesk, JIRA, and Github. Now you don’t have to toggle between tabs since all of this information can be viewed in one dashboard.

Additionally, with Plan you can see who’s exactly working on what and when it’s expected to be completed in real-time. As a result you and your team will never miss a meeting or deadline for a task or project.

Plan is free for one to two users — but you’ll have to select the $9/month plan if you have more than three users.

3. Any.do

Any.do stores all of your todos, lists, and reminders in one convenient location. The app also comes with a calendar so that you can plan out your day, week, or month. There’s also location based reminders and how you can share your tasks and calendar with others.

As if that weren’t enough Any.do also comes with Assistant. This feature automatically analyzes all of your tasks so that it can automatically do it for you. This means if you have recurring tasks, events, or meetings Any.do Assistant will take care of it for you on it’s on.

The app syncs across all devices and plans start at just $2.09/month.

4. Notion

Notion is another app that places all of your work in dashboard. This includes everything from your calendar, lists, todos, notes, Kanban board, and spreadsheets. Like Plan, this means you and your have team have everything needed to stay on the same page without switching between applications.

Notion integrates with Google apps, Slack, Twitter, Figma, and around 50 other popular apps. However, one of the coolest features is that the interface will fade away when you start typing. That means you won’t get distracted by notifications while working.

You can try Notion for free and it works across most devices. Later you can pick the plan you want, after trying it out.

5. Doodle

Doodle has been a favorite scheduling app for years. And there’s a good reason why. It’s one of the simplest ways to find the best availability for everyone to meet — it’s also kind of fun.

Simply suggest a date and location and then invite participants to vote in a poll. When the votes are in you can then select the most popular option. Since Doodle integrates with your Google or Facebook account events are automatically synced to everyone’s calendar — even if the don’t have Doodle account.

For individual users Doodle is free. However, for teams and more robust features like reminders, you’ll have to go with a Premium account starting at $39/year.

6. Accompany

You just scheduled an appointment with a high-profile individual. You obviously want to be prepared when meeting them. This involves beefing up your knowledge regarding their company or the latest news involving them, their organization, or industry.

Instead of searching for this information yourself you can let Accompany do the legwork for you.

Containing the profiles for over 250 million people, Accompany provides a rich calendar, executive briefings, and a curated news feed. This allows you to quickly view information like quarterly reviews and professional history so that you’re completely prepared for the meeting.

While Accompany is free, it’s only available through the App Store.

7. IFTTT

IFTTT is one of the best productivity tools around. That’s because you can essentially automate everything from controlling your smart devices to scheduling social media posts to muting your phone at bedtime. For example, whenever you publish a blog post on WordPress IFTTT will automatically post it to Facebook.

There are a ton of date and time triggers that can make you productive. This includes reminding your team to submit expense reports at the end of the month through Slack, receive SMS and calendar reminders, and saying when you’re busy/available with blink (1). The possibilities are endless.

8. Acuity Scheduling

If you’re in the service industry then you definitely want to check out Acuity Scheduling. It allows clients to book appointments online so that you no longer have to deal with those back-and-forth communications. Acuity also lets clients reschedule events on their own and even pay for your services through PayPal, Square, and Stripe.

When an appointment is booked Acuity will automatically add the appointment to your Google, Outlook, iCloud or Office 365 calendar.

If you’re working solo, Acuity is free. Plans start at $15/month. Acuity is also part of our top calendar apps for business owners.

9. Setmore

Setmore is another tool that lets customers book an self-book appointments with you in real-time. Because Setmore integrates with WordPress, Wix, Weebly, and Facebook there are a variety of ways for customers to book your services. Once an booked, you, your team, and the customers will receive SMS and email reminders to help lessen no-shows.

You can also use the Android or iOS app to create recurring events, book classes, and accept online payments. For larger businesses there’s even a live call answering service — but you’ll need the $89/month plan.

10. Sling

Finally, if you have team then you’ll want to use Sling. This app will schedule your team in a matter of minutes while also eliminating conflicts by receiving real-time updates on double-booking and time off request.

You can also use Sling track your team’s hours and export these timesheets for payroll. And, you can keep communicate more effectively with your team through group messages or creating a unique newsfeed for your team.

Sling is free if you’re just looking for a tool to schedule your team, for additional features you’ll have to select a paid plan which starts at $1.75 per user.

The 10 Best Calendar Apps (What You Should Look For)

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How to Handle Internet Outages When You Schedule Appointments Online

Perhaps the number one reason why we’re addicted to smartphones is that they contain our entire lives in the device. You can check-in with friends, family, and clients, while booking a flight, running your business, and listening to a podcast. Here’s what you should look for in the ten best calendar apps.

But, they’re always useful in organizing our lives. Especially when you have the following ten calendar apps.

1. Calendar

Tired of those back-and-forth emails when scheduling a meeting or appointment? If so, then Calendar has got you covered.

This handy app lets you share your availability with others through an embedded link or email. This way, they can find a date and time that works for them. Once they do, the event is added to everyone’s online calendars.

Calendar can also harness the power of machine learning. Machine learning means that it uses previous data to make smart scheduling suggestions, such as when, where, and what types of meetings you should schedule.

You can also easily create an event using natural language, while the map view gives you a glance at your upcoming schedule.

2. Fantastical 2

This iPhone app has often be cited as the best calendar app for the iPhone. That’s because it’s packed with features, such as:

  • Multiple views including a list view in portrait mode by either week or month or a landscape mode for a week “block” view.
  • Supports multiple languages, like English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese.
  • Ability to create event using natural language.
  • Also, it works with the iPad and Apple Watch.
  • The addition of the view widget — replaces the stock iOS Calendar widget. With this extension, you get a snapshot of your day without opening the app.

You will have to purchase Fantastical 2 for $4.99.

3. Google Calendar

While this stock calendar comes preinstalled in every Android device, Apple users can download it as well. They probably should go ahead and do that.

With a free account, this powerful app will events and schedules from your Google account. If you used your Gmail address to book a flight, hotel room, or doctor’s appointment, the date and time would be added to the calendar. You’ll then receive a reminder through a push notification on your phone when the event approaches.

When creating events, you can color-code your calendar so that you can quickly identify the various types of activities you have scheduled.

4. Calendars 5

If you’re curious, this is the fifth version of Readdle’s Calendars app. That explains why it’s called Calendars 5. It also means that the developers had plenty of opportunities to make this iPhone app as high as possible.

Calendars 5 comes with features like several view options; list view, day view, week view, and month view, as well as an integrated task manager and ability to enter events using natural language. Additional features include being able to create custom alerts, recurring events, and sharing your tasks and activities with others.

5. Microsoft Calendar

For business owners, it’s tough to find a better suite of tools than Microsoft Office 365 — although Google is pretty much right at the top as well. That’s because this app combines your emails, calendar, and much more into one convenient location.

The calendar itself is loaded with functions like being able to import or export to other calendars and share your calendar with others. You can also personalize your calendar using add-ons, like getting a weather report, automating responses to invites, receiving reminders, and receiving an agenda in your email every morning.

6. Tiny Calendar

If you want a simple calendar app that’s available for either Android or iOS, then look no further. Tiny Calendar is a straightforward calendar app where you can view multiple layouts. You can create emails or push notification reminders, and make edits offline. You can even use your device’s GPS to add specific locations to events, and it syncs with other calendars, such as Google Calendar.

The free version should be enough if you need the basics. The paid version — which is $7 — comes with additional features like accepting and sending invites. It also exports other calendars and can create recurring events.

7. Jorte Calendar

Jorte isn’t just another calendar app. It’s also an organizer where you can take notes and manage tasks. It also integrates with Google Calendar, Evernote, and Microsoft Office to make your life run a bit smoother. And, it works for Android and iOS.

As for the calendar itself, it’s pretty solid. There are daily, weekly, or monthly views, the ability to create recurring events, and there are even countdown features that let you know how much time is remaining for a specific event.

For the more robust features, you’ll have to select the Jorte Premium option at $3 per month or $30 for the year.

8. SolCalendar

SolCalendar is known for being one of the most well-designed calendar apps on the market. Some people claim that it’s more of a life management tool than just your standard calendar app.

This app comes with a widget so that you receive a summary of your most important activities. There are stickers and emojis for marking select dates. You can also receive weather reports, share your calendar with others, and integrates with Google Tasks.

Best of all? It’s free for Android users to download.

9. TimeTree

Do you need an app to keep your family or team on the same page? Then download this free app for both Android and Apple users.

With TimeTree, you can share everything from work schedules to tasks to notes. This way, your team knows when you away on travel while your family knows when your flight arrives. It also ensures that every family or team member stays on-top of assigned tasks. You can also send reminders to others.

10. 24me

Finally, there’s this handy personal assistant that comes equipped with a calendar, to-do list, and notes. This way, you can automate everything from paying bills to wishing a happy friend’s birthday. It has reminders — like calling a client or scheduling appointments — by linking to your contacts. You can link to Facebook, TaskRabbit, and your bank account.

Put, if you want to stay on top of your bills, remember birthdays, schedule events, and manage your to-do list, this is the app for you.

The free app is available for Android and iOS.

Criteria for an Amazing Calendar App

What makes these apps considered the best? It’s because they fit the following criteria:

  • Can easily and quickly view appointments — preferably in a click or two.
  • Can easily add, edit, or search for appointments, like being able to use natural language.
  • Integrates with the apps you use daily, such as Calendar or Google Calendar.
  • It is compatible with all of the devices you use. For example, if you have all Apple products, then go with Fantastical 2. If you have a Samsung phone and iPad, then you’ll want an app that works on both Android and iOS.
  • Comes with a clean and contemporary design.
  • Integrates with your email — not a problem if using Calendar, Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook.
  • Allows you to schedule an unlimited amount of appointments.
  • Has the features you need. If you work with a team, for example, then you need to be able to share your calendar with others. If not pre-installed, then look for an app that can be customized to meet your needs.

What criteria do you look for when choosing a calendar app?

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