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5 Software Tools to Ease Communication Hurdles on Your Team

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Communication is an important part of teamwork. Miscommunications have lost Super Bowl trophies, Olympic medals, and sunk Fortune 500 businesses. Strong communication has lifted up teams past their competitors even if they lack the star power and resources of their opponents.

While you might not be in an intense competition, you are responsible for overseeing a team and leading them to success. As is the case for any other team, communication is essential. There are resources at your disposal that will help teams of all shapes and sizes to communicate more effectively. Here are five resources to consider:

1. Appointment

One of the most classic lines of communication starts with a receptionist. They’ll field a call or see an online request for an appointment. It doesn’t matter if it’s to see a doctor, dentist, massage therapist, or vehicle mechanic. The responsibility of the receptionist is to pass on necessary information to the service provider. One of the best ways to avoid communication mishaps in this scenario is to use a scheduling app like Appointment.

Appointment can be synced up with nearly every major online calendar application. As appointments are created they can be automatically sent to the calendars of everyone involved. Appointment can also be integrated into other applications for easier accessibility.

In addition to helping appointment-based businesses manage their schedules, there are some other helpful features to keep in mind. Quality security, data reporting, and appointment reminders will come in handy every single day.

2. Slack

A surefire way to ease communication hurdles on your team is to make it easier for team members to connect. Many organizations have found success through software tools such as Slack. This is a platform that allows you to create custom chatrooms for your team, enabling a constant flow of communication between teammates.

The best part about Slack is that it can be used in an office, hybrid, or remote capacity. Managers can quickly send messages to a group of individuals regardless of where they’re located at the time. Instant messaging is also faster and cleaner than using email and much easier to keep track of.

Slack is also great for team bonding. Not every message has to sound like a formal email written by a robot. Team members can send GIFs and funny images to each other or even share stories from the weekend. As long as it doesn’t derail work entirely, this can help form strong bonds that increase overall teamwork capabilities.

3. ClickUp

What’s a business without a number of due dates to monitor? There are deadlines for utility bills, employee paychecks, product releases, marketing pitches, and so much more. That many deadlines can be overwhelming for your team, especially if it’s unorganized.

Insert ClickUp. This is an example of a project management software tool. You can lay out projects and tasks with due dates for each step needed to complete them. Each task can be shared with those who are involved, so anyone who needs an update can receive one on command.

ClickUp’s calendar view is especially helpful for team planning. Teams can look at upcoming schedules to divert time and resources toward upcoming deadlines. Everyone will know their role as it will be specifically designated within the software itself.

4. Google Drive

Businesses go through a lot of data and information on a daily basis. This normally uses up a lot of paper, but most organizations have made the transition to digital filing systems. This saves a lot of money, helps the environment, and can be a more effective way to organize files. However, you have to build a system that your team can easily work with.

That’s why so many individuals and businesses rely on Google Drive for file storage and sharing. With Google you can create slideshows, documents, forms, and spreadsheets and group them in designated folders. You have complete control over the names and even the colors of the files you create.

You can set permissions for individual files or for entire folders to share with members of your team. Most of your team members won’t need access to every single document. They likely don’t want to sift through every file either. Of course, a search bar within Google Drive makes it easy to find what you’re looking for.

5. Microsoft Teams

Some things just have to be explained face to face. In those times, sometimes the best you can do is hop on a video call. This is one of the features available through Microsoft Teams. It allows you to organize and execute meetings within a single platform.

Start by using a chat room to coordinate times for an upcoming video chat. This could be a one-on-one call with a new hire or banding together your army of contracted workers from around the country. You can use team chats to share any necessary files for the meeting, like an itinerary or marketing outline.

Now it’s time for the meeting. You don’t have to go to a different software tool for this. Microsoft Teams provides an optimal video conferencing experience with features such as live captioning and real-time polls.

Take advantage of free trials to give each of these software tools a spin. Eventually, you’ll find a solution that fits your team and its needs perfectly. Communication will quickly become a strength with the help of technology.

Image Credit: Anete Lusina; Pixels; Thank you!

Why You Should Use Scheduling Software

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Why Should Use Scheduling Software

Using scheduling software improves time management. But not everyone is making use of this new technology. When you don’t utilize your time management software — it’s similar to having a new Ferrari, but driving it barely five miles under the speed limit.

To unlock a sports car’s ultimate speed, you must understand its engine. You must learn software advantages and how to leverage the power it has to boost your productivity. You’re only getting surface value for your software if you’ve looked at it solely like the Ferrari above — and only been interested in the paint and leather seats. Change how you think about your scheduling software.

Anticipate What Your Software Can Do for Productivity

Living in the moment is exciting but not very productive when you’re thinking about software. So you need to plan if you want to maximize your time using the software. Ask any industry leader or successful entrepreneur how much planning goes into their daily lives — and the same goes with using a piece of software.

You should plan daily, weekly, and monthly by changing your schedule program’s perspective. Above all, with daily planning, you may schedule challenging tasks at times when you know you are more productive. For example, plan all meetings and deadlines weekly. Monthly planning allows you to review your own KPIs and prepare for a more productive month. Meanwhile, your scheduling software lets you and others cooperate and plan together when you all have open times.

Leaders must juggle several jobs, duties, and deadlines. Your scheduling software will also assist in decreasing manager-team misunderstanding and miscommunication. For example, X’s new blog post is due tomorrow morning, with editing by an in-house editor at the end of the day — is that on the editing schedule? You need to have a spot to manage your team’s metrics for your scheduling software. He says the metrics help team leads and managers plan their time for each development cycle.

Personal-Professional Balance

Even if your profession is vital to your lifestyle, your family and yourself should always come first. According to a Deloitte study,  organizations that promote work-life balance see double the employee productivity. Therefore, the most excellent scheduling software encourages work-life balance.

Set aside time for family. Schedule dates with your spouse and your children’s athletic events and recitals. These events should be non-negotiable, and you may arrange them using the same tools you use for your business.

The balance between work and life is much easier to accomplish. Use scheduling strategies that help you maximize your productivity while on the clock. For example, the Pomodoro technique divides work into little blocks with brief pauses in between. Using this scheduling strategy will help you focus better during the day, do more things in less time, and take less work home.

Color Coding for Geeks — Great at-a-Glance Scheduling

A unique color-coding system helps you to comprehend your itinerary quickly. Each item on your timetable can be assigned a different color. Red can be used to highlight important client meetings. For example, yellow can represent longer-term tasks like planning or reporting. Blue may stand for family time, personal obligations, etc. To complete activities faster, you’ll want to establish your schedule’s priority. There are many ways to accomplish this.

Visual cues can help people understand information faster, so go ahead and be colorful. Once you learn your color code, your daily schedule will inform you where and when you need to be. For example, a red light indicates a board meeting that you must prepare for. Consequently, no matter what the event is, a sliver of blue at the end of your schedule will remind you that you can’t work late tonight because you have a family event.

Set Alerts on Scheduling Software

Scheduling an event isn’t always enough — you’re not using scheduling software to its full potential if you don’t set reminders for important events. Therefore, setting up reminders for each meeting or appointment will help you keep track of your schedule. Remember to set an alarm for your travel time as well.

Your reminders will serve as a backup if you forget something or misplace your paper notes. There’s nothing worse than missing a critical meeting or giving the incorrect impression — these types of things damage careers. Use your scheduling program to avoid this.

Reminders can also help you prepare for upcoming occasions. Consequently, a half-hour notice before a big presentation provides you time to gather your thoughts and organize your materials. You should know yourself well enough to see if you need more time than a half hour. That’s all you will need if you have prepared the night before and have everything ready to go for that meeting.

Others to Contact in Scheduling Software

Preparing and attending a meeting where the other party does not show is counterproductive. Both parties must agree on a schedule. Even if you do everything perfectly —  there are times when someone may be late or not show up for a meeting. All your planning and organizing will be for naught.

To avoid this, send reminders to folks with whom you have made plans. Most scheduling software allows you to set up reminder messages.

Leaders can create the perfect reminder once and use it for all future engagements for everyone on their team.

People won’t have to worry about colleagues or clients skipping meetings or writing personalized emails every time. They may also share a meeting agenda or a scheduling link to improve collaboration — and the same process and work while managing your hybrid teams’ hybrid work schedules.

We need to cease utilizing our scheduling software for only the basics. Instead, leaders should use this software tool’s array of valuable features to boost productivity companywide.

Start today to make the most of your time. Remember that using your scheduling software — “now” — spelled backward means you’ve “won.”

Why You Should Use Scheduling Software was originally published on Calendar by Choncé Maddox.

Image Credit: Vlada Karpovich; Pexels; Thank you!

7 Ways Online Appointment Software Can Benefit Small Businesses This Year

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7 Ways Online Appointment Software Can Benefit Small Businesses This Year

Appointment-based businesses working on a smaller scale might not see the benefits of online appointment setting right away. After all, a single hairstylist doesn’t see as many clients each day as a fully staffed hair salon. Yet the truth is that a small business can get just as much value out of online appointment software as its larger competitors, if not more so. 

This article will outline seven of the most tangible and immediate benefits of online appointment software for small businesses. Each one can specifically help your startup to grow and flourish in 2021 and beyond:

1. It Snags More Customers

The biggest thing small businesses require is new customers! Startups need all the support they can get, especially as they work to make the kind of name for themselves that will keep retention rates high. Online appointment software will not only bring in new customers, but encourage them to stick around for the long haul. 

Online appointment booking is so easy for new customers to use — they don’t have to get on the phone and talk to a stranger. Such a simple and efficient booking method is sure to pique the interest of numerous prospects. Win them over with a stellar appointment experience, and they’ll be booking a return appointment the minute they walk out the door. 

2. It Speeds Up the Appointment Process

There are a number of variables that can slow the appointment process down. Long wait times can be especially bothersome for both customers and your employees trying to keep a consistent schedule. By enabling online appointment booking, much of the process is sped up, keeping everybody happy. 

For example, employees are no longer distracted by as many phone calls that can pull them away from in-house customers. Online appointment software also eliminates a lot of manual work, such as inputting customer information or selecting appointment slots manually.

3. It Enables Quicker Payments

Few things are as worrisome for small businesses as outstanding payments. While most transactions will be conducted in person, some organizations — such as a doctor’s office — will rely on invoices sent after calculating insurance coverage.

Where third parties aren’t an issue, though, online appointment software can facilitate the payment process. When customers book their appointments online, they can also make advance payments simultaneously. Even if they settle up after service is rendered, online payment methods such as PayPal will encourage timelier payment. And that means small businesses can balance their checkbooks more quickly. 

4. It Reduces Booking Mistakes

Booking errors are inconvenient at best and can lose you customers at worst. Incorrectly inputting appointment times, overbooking appointments, or even forgetting an appointment entirely is a bad look for your organization. Using online appointment software helps to reduce human error that leads to these mistakes. 

Since online software will track appointments for you, overbooking is nonexistent, and accuracy is practically ensured. After all, clients are signing up for your available slots themselves. All you need to do is briefly review your upcoming schedule, and you’re good to go. 

5. It Lowers No-Show Rates

No-shows are an appointment-based business’s worst nightmare. The healthcare industry alone loses billions of dollars annually due to no-shows. These inconveniences take away valuable time slots from other patrons who would be happy to show up, and they waste a good portion of your day. The only party who loses money from a no-show is the business, unless there are well-advertised no-show fees involved.

Using online appointment software, you can slash your no-show rate by sending direct and effective notifications prior to the appointment. Consumers aren’t as likely to answer reminder phone calls, but they are typically quick to check a notification on their smartphone. A good notification system will at least remind them to reschedule an appointment they can no longer make. 

6. It Provides Quality Data

As a small business owner, you should never underestimate the power of data. Any information you can collect will prove to be invaluable to your business when implemented into your strategy. Since online appointment software tracks everything about your customer’s interaction with your business, you can start gathering and analyzing data immediately. 

Data will offer you lots of valuable insights you can use to grow your business. You’ll be able to spot common demographics to target with marketing campaigns as well as which appointment slots are most popular. This concrete information will allow you to make informed decisions to improve your business for present and future customers.

7. It Increases Availability

When booking appointments the old-fashioned way, prospective customers have to call in to their business of choice and inquire about availability. This process can take a long time, especially if they’re put on hold. Other customers simply want to minimize interaction as much as possible and will avoid making such phone calls.

By enabling online booking, customers no longer have to call in to check availability and book an appointment. Online servers are also open 24/7, meaning appointments can be booked long after your business has closed its doors for the day. This allows customers to make appointments anytime, helping you to fill your schedule even more and increase your revenue. 

Loving what you’re reading? You need to see it for yourself. Get started on implementing online appointment software now, and you can expect great things for your small business. 

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. 

5 Tech Solutions to Help Your Hybrid Team Work Together More Smoothly

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Tech Solutions to Help Your Hybrid Team Work Together More Smoothly

Working from home has kept individuals and families safe from the spread of the COVID-19 virus and has opened a door to hybrid teams. At the same time, it allowed employees to make an income and contribute to the companies they work for. Home offices were set up in record time, and we discovered a whole new meaning to the term “business casual.” 

Since then, numerous workers have decided to continue working remotely at least some of the time. Shelter-at-home orders caused many to come to an important realization. Being closer to family, having more flexibility, and leaving their morning commute behind made them happier and more productive. According to McKinsey, more than 50% of employees would prefer to work from home three or more days per week. 

Demand for solutions that allow teams to collaborate across long distances in real time was high, and tech companies were happy to provide them. Now there are hundreds of team collaboration tools that span multiple uses and purposes. For those in leadership positions, learning how to leverage productivity software can make every workday more efficient than the last. 

In this article, we’ll talk about managing hybrid teams and what tech solutions are available to make every project run more smoothly. 

Managing Hybrid Teams in 2021

The pandemic undoubtedly forced companies to experiment with new ways of operating. Bosses got used to not seeing their subordinates at their desks, and employees became increasingly accustomed to working from home. 

When pandemic restrictions began to lift, it brought further change. The transition back to the workplace from all-remote work gave birth to an in-office and remote work experience. Leaders were faced with organizing hybrid teams with no definitive guidance to direct them. 

Feeling their way toward the optimal hybrid workplace, managers have had to balance the requirements of two groups of employees. Fortunately, there are many tech solutions that make collaboration across hybrid teams both effective and efficient. 

Hybrid Team Tech Solutions

Hybrid teams need specialized tools that cater to both in-office and remote team members’ needs without compromising productivity. Here are some of the ways that technology can help leaders manage their hybrid teams:

1. Hybrid Team Communication

Effective communication is key to a successful hybrid working environment. Instant messaging platforms allow teams to communicate in real time. Answering questions instantly prevents project bottlenecks from arising. When team brainstorming is required, video conferencing tools enable both remote and in-office workers to participate equally. 

Popular apps like Slack and Zoom also offer integrations, making them easy to use in conjunction with your other collaboration tools. Other examples of team communication tools include Flowdock for messaging and file sharing and GoToMeeting for video conferencing.

2. Scheduling

Working remotely has some perks, but it’s easy to lose track of time and blur the lines between work and home. Keeping everyone organized and in step although working in separate spaces can be quite tricky. 

That’s where appointment scheduling software can come in handy, while also helping remote workers instill more structure in their workdays. Scheduling tools like Google Calendar, Calendar.com, and Appointment.com all provide digital calendars that sync across several devices, allowing teams to plan together. 

3. Project Management

Managing projects and tasks when your team members are separated by distance is difficult. Project management tools help leaders coordinate, monitor progress, and keep track of objectives no matter where team members are located. Managers can clearly communicate action items by incorporating tools such as Asana, Monday.com, ProofHub, and Trello into their hybrid workflows. 

4. Task Collaboration

Employees are often required to work together to complete certain tasks and create the best outcomes. Collaboration tools allow multiple people to create together. Tools like CodingTeam that encourage visibility are perfect for collective code building. 

Services such as Google Docs and Quip enable both in-office and remote employees to edit spreadsheets and documents in real time. They also allow you to transfer and share files with vendors or clients outside the hybrid office.

5. Team Learning

Collaborative learning solutions help teams overcome obstacles by ensuring that everyone is up-to-date on the latest policies, practices, and procedures. Additionally, platforms like Gong allow teams to leverage best practices from high-achieving performers so that everyone can increase their productivity and overall success. 

Transparency and teamwork are imperative in a hybrid workspace. Collaborative learning platforms help managers consistently enforce new policies and employees learn new processes, keeping everyone on the same page.

Conclusion

The pandemic caused a dramatic shift in how we do almost everything, including the way that we work. We learned that productivity is possible outside of the office. We also learned how much we crave human connection. Lucky for us, the increase in collaboration tools means it has never been easier for employees to work together, separately. 

In these unprecedented times, it is likely that hybrid offices are here to stay. Some employees prefer to work from home, while others thrive in the office. Still others enjoy the flexibility of being able to do both. Fortunately, these tech tools can help you work out the kinks as you navigate the new normal in the workplace. 

Approaching Walk-Ins as an Appointment-Based Business

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Approaching Walk-Ins as an Appointment-Based Business

How does your appointment-based business work to meet the needs of your customers? Do you have an appointment-only policy, or do you handle a mixture of walk-ins and appointments daily?

Many businesses operate by scheduling appointments, such as healthcare providers, spas, salons, and veterinary clinics, to name a few. Having an appointment serves both the client and the business in several ways. First, the client knows when they come into the business, they have a specific time to be seen. It can also make several things within the business structure easier to manage. Understanding things such as staffing, planning out your day, and revenue expectations are just a few examples. 

The problem with an appointment-only approach is that it does not account for late customers and no-shows. That last one is no small matter: one study found that up to 42% of customers skip their appointments.

By allowing for walk-ins, your business can fill the gaps in your schedule that those missed appointments leave behind. You can also add revenue, gain new customers, and create future brand loyalty. 

Although walk-ins can offer great benefits, they can also interrupt what your business had planned for the day. If you don’t manage them properly, walk-ins can result in longer wait times and poor customer service. So how do you manage time slots for walk-ins within your appointment-based business?

The following six tips can help you approach walk-ins in the best possible way:

1. Use Online Appointment Software

Walk-ins wouldn’t be a problem if you accepted all clients on a first-come, first-served basis. But you’re an appointment-based business. By and large, you want to know when people intend to arrive and when you’ll be serving them.

To determine how to work in walk-ins among existing appointments, you need to know when those appointments are scheduled. When you utilize online appointment software, you’ll be able to see all your appointments at a glance. You can also update your appointment calendar in real time so that if a spot opens up, you’ll know right away. That will enable you to give a walk-in the “Sure, I can fit you in at ___ p.m.” response they want to hear.

2. Leverage Social Media

When you get a last-minute appointment cancellation, that empty slot on your calendar could mean lost revenue. That is, unless you hop on your social channels and let your followers know, pronto, that there’s an opening they can take advantage of.

Social media lets you reach your customers in real time at no cost to you. You can also include booking buttons on your social media pages to encourage your fans to book an appointment via your online scheduling software. Maybe a customer can’t capitalize on the opening you just posted on Facebook, but seeing that post — and having ready access to your scheduling system — could prompt them to book an appointment at a time that works for you both.

3.  Track Your Walk-ins

One way to begin formulating a plan for handling your walk-ins is to keep tabs on them. Taking note of how many clients arrive late or are no-shows is helpful in scheduling, as is tracking walk-ins. Recording the average number of walk-ins and their timing over the last week or month lets you see patterns you can plan for. 

To account for these walk-ins, you might leave a few extra spots in your schedule. And don’t just track these numbers once. Continuing to audit your schedule for various appointment types will also reveal patterns at different times of year.

4. Set Off Some Time for Appointment Walk-ins

Depending on your type of business, having a dedicated block of time for walk-ins can be key. Take what you’ve learned from tracking your appointment types to look for trends. Are there days or hours where there are often gaps in appointments? If so, try to promote walk-ins during these times to boost your business during slower periods

You might add “Walk-ins welcome: Tuesdays, 2-4 p.m.” to your sidewalk sign. Or you could use your website and social media channels to advertise times when you accept walk-ins. As noted, social media is a great place to promote open time slots. It’s free to post, and those who follow you tend to be customers already.

5. Account for Staffing

Depending on your business, the walk-ins you see will vary. A nail salon or quick haircut salon will likely see more walk-ins than, say, a dentist or attorney. Relatively low-cost services in areas with high foot traffic tend to bring more walk-ins. 

Because you’ve tracked your walk-ins, you’ll have an idea of how many time slots to hold open for impromptu customers. Knowing the number of slots will, in turn, let you know how many employees you will need to accommodate them. 

Some salons might dedicate newer employees for walk-ins while established employees take the clients with appointments. This can help accommodate walk-ins while retaining loyal customers. It also gives a new stylist the chance to meet potential repeat customers who will request them in the future.

6. Disclose Wait Times to Walk-ins

It’s important to treat walk-ins the same as you would customers with appointments. If you want them to have a positive experience and return, don’t treat them like an inconvenience. Encourage them to stay, but be honest about potential wait times. 

If you are currently booked solid, let them down gently. Apologize that you can’t take them right away and show them the next available times in your calendar. If they would like to make an appointment for one of those time slots, help them do that.

Following these tips can help your business begin to manage tricky walk-ins. As with any aspect of business, results tend to flow in the areas you spend time focusing on. By tracking your walk-in customers and leveraging technology to help integrate walk-ins and appointments, you’ll soon have a better handle on your scheduling logistics. And that will let you get back to what you love to do — serving your customers.

Not an April Fool’s Joke: These Are Real Appointment Statistics You Need to Know

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Not an April Fool’s Joke: These Are Real Appointment Statistics You Need to Know

The numbers don’t lie: online appointment software will do wonders for your business. In this article, we’ll outline some of the most attention-grabbing statistics about the use of online appointment software by businesses. 

As you’ll soon find out, online appointment software can boost customer retention, save your business money, and more. There’s really no reason to not use online booking for your appointment-based business. One of these statistics is bound to convince you of the need to get started.

Businesses With Online Booking Are Winning

Online booking is rapidly becoming a necessity. In an Accenture survey of healthcare consumers, 68% of respondents said they prefer a provider that allows appointments to be made, changed, and canceled online. That means if your business doesn’t utilize online appointment software, you’re probably losing customers to the competition. 

That number will only climb as online appointment software becomes the norm for businesses. So what are you waiting for? Being among the early implementers of online booking will build a loyal customer base before the competition knows what hit them. You’ll also have more time to perfect your online booking system so that, by the time the technology is omnipresent, you can rely on your smooth experience as a competitive advantage.

Nearly Half of Appointments Are Booked After Hours

If customers can only book appointments during business hours, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities. A social media survey of salon owners showed that 46% of their appointments were booked before salons were open or after they closed for the day. That’s nearly half of the customers these businesses have on their schedules!

If you’re looking to fill all your appointment slots, online booking software is the solution you need. Customers may not be thinking about the appointment they want or need to make during operating hours. Allowing them to book at their convenience opens the door for so many more individuals. 

No-Show Rates Freefall With Online Booking

Online appointment software is proven to slash your no-show rates immediately after implementation. Research on several medical centers and practices saw no-show rates drop by as much as 42% after adding web-based booking portals to their websites. No-shows are costly and inefficient, and getting rid of them is a high priority for all appointment-based businesses.

For many customers, the convenience of being able to book appointments online and change them as needed encourages them to hold true to their commitments. Many other customers make appointments in person or over the phone because they feel pressured to do so. That pressure is eliminated when customers can make appointments on their own terms at any time or in any place. 

Most Customers Book on Mobile Devices

Market research has found that 82% of clients schedule appointments on their mobile devices as opposed to other platforms. As beautiful as your website might look on a desktop, you need to optimize your online booking experience for mobile users. 

To improve your mobile experience, start with the customer journey. Booking an appointment on a mobile device should be easy; otherwise, customers will get discouraged and log off. Make selections easy to find and the booking process as straightforward as possible. Loading times for your website also need to be adequate to avoid high bounce rates resulting from impatient customers. 

Millennials Are the Customer Segment Most Likely to Book Online

Of all the nation’s demographics, Millennials are responsible for a quarter of appointments booked online. Given this generation’s combination of tech savviness and needs that can be filled by appointments, this isn’t surprising. The quick acceptance of online booking software by the Millennial generation suggests the trend will likely be popular with younger customers, too. Expect Gen Zers to slide in right beside Millennials as they begin booking their own appointments. 

Even if Millennials aren’t your primary age segment, they’re a great place to start when implementing online appointment software initially. You’ll be able to work out the kinks of a new system with an eager subset of your customer base. As Millennials continue to book appointments online, other customers will join in until you’re able to make online scheduling your only — or at least foremost — method of booking. 

Companies That Use Data Get a Leg Up

One of the greatest benefits of online appointment software is the ability to automatically gather data for your business. Data is one of your greatest assets while doing business in the 21st century. It eliminates the guesswork that often forms a part of your everyday decision-making.

A study done by the McKinsey Global Institute found that businesses that leverage data are 23 times more successful at acquiring new customers. Customer acquisition is one of the most important, and daunting, aspects of running a business. Data gives you a clearer picture of customer demographics, successful marketing strategies, and popular appointment times. Without data, you’ll be taking shots in the dark. 

Ready to heed the math? There’s no doubt that online appointment software will benefit your business in more ways than one. Identify your goals and put online booking software to work. Before you know it, you’ll have exceeded your expectations and then some.

How to Get More Referrals Leveraging Your Online Appointment Software

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How to Get More Referrals Leveraging Your Online Appointment Software

Referrals are a business’s best friend. People are four times more likely to make a purchase or book an appointment when referred by a pal, and they often become more devoted customers than those brought in through other methods. Appointment-based businesses in particular love returning customers and should be doing everything they can to gain new customers who promise high retention rates

Using your online appointment software and other resources, you can increase the number of referrals you get. This will grow your customer base and, in turn, your profits. Here’s how you can do it:

Create Program Awareness

To get things moving, you need to make customers aware that you have a referral program in place. Otherwise, they might not feel as inclined to bring your business to the attention of their friends. Begin with your website, where customers go to set up their appointments. 

Create a page about your referral program that they will see as they move through the booking process. Even a checkpoint asking whether someone referred them to the business will place the idea in their mind. Later on, it will be their name in that box as they refer family members and friends. 

Track Referral Counts

Keep track of how many referrals you receive from each customer. For starters, you’ll be able to see which customers make the most referrals. You can offer them special rewards for their efforts or even talk with them about becoming a brand ambassador for your company.

In addition, you can hold a sort of competition by making referral numbers public. Plan to award a prize at the end of the year to the customer with the most successful referrals. This will incentivize your clients to make an effort to get people to your business. 

Provide the Right Rewards

An effective referral program is only as good as the rewards it offers. A $5 discount is nice, but it doesn’t move the needle enough to make customers feel super motivated to provide referrals. Calculate the return on investment you would get by offering a larger incentive in exchange for a larger customer base.

For example, a free addition to a scheduled service — such as a tire rotation with an oil change — will have a much higher value and may bring new and old customers in more frequently. Extend the benefits to both the referrer and the referral, and people will be begging members of their circle to come in. You can also create tiers of rewards in which customers get larger prizes the more referrals they bring in.

Let’s talk about that customer contest. What sort of prize will be big enough, and within your budget, to offer at the end of the year? An evening at the best restaurant in town or free weekly service for a year can be a much stronger motivator to dedicated customers than the smaller perks they already enjoy.

Add a Newsletter

As part of your online booking process, add an option to sign up for your company newsletter. Let customers know that special deals will be available through the newsletter, as well as other useful news and information on a regular basis. 

Talk about your referral program in each issue of the newsletter. Consistent reminders will keep the program top of mind. Add in a link to your online appointment software; soon enough the timing will be right, and you’ll land some new customers. 

Blog posts are also easily viewed and shared by customers. Link your online appointment system to the bottom of each article, and every new reader brought in by a friend will be able to book a slot in seconds. 

Link to Social Media

Marketing through social media is a trend that keeps on growing and growing. Seventy-one percent of people are more likely to make a purchase (or, in this case, book an appointment) when they are referred to your business over social media. Consumers spend a lot of time on social media channels and can be heavily influenced by the content they see or their friends share with them.

Include links to your online booking software on your social media pages. Social media is a great place to spread information about your referral program and the rewards that come with it. The content you publish is easily shared to personal pages, where customers’ friends and family members will be able to get a glimpse of your brand and be directed to your booking platform in just a few clicks.

Ask for Feedback

At the end of each appointment, ask customers about their experience. Invite them to leave a review on your website detailing their experience for future customers. If their appointment was everything they were expecting and more, ask them to refer a friend. Simply asking for referrals will bring surprising results. Sometimes all it takes is a direct invitation to incite action. 

Even if a customer declines your invitation at first, the act of leaving a review will keep your business at the forefront of their mind for a while. If they strike up a conversation with a friend or family member, they might think about their appointment experience and take the opportunity to make a referral. Planting these seeds will allow you to reap results in the near future. 

As your focus shifts to referrals, your customer base will grow larger and stronger. Referrals have a domino effect, as your customers spur company growth forward. 

Online Appointment Software Says a Lot About Your Business

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Online Appointment Software Says a Lot About Your Business

Not every company uses online appointment software, at least not yet. Your business is sure to stand out — in a good way — if you choose to become an early adopter. Potential customers will take notice of your willingness to embrace newer technologies while simultaneously appreciating you for making their lives easier.

Your company may have chosen to transition to online appointment-making for the sake of convenience, financial incentives, or both. The good news for you is that your decision sends several positive signals. If you’re on the fence about diving in, it might help you to consider some of the positive, unspoken PR an online system brings with it:

You Respect People’s Time

Using online appointment software isn’t just about saving time and money, though it will definitely save you both. In addition to those benefits, online appointment-making saves your customers time and hassle. They’ll appreciate anything you can do to make their interactions with you as simple and pain-free as possible.

Few things frustrate a customer more than long wait times and unexpected delays. Online appointment software combats both of those problems by having customers choose from a predetermined list of options. Studies have shown that you are actually doing your customer a favor by limiting their options.

When implemented correctly, this feature helps to narrow the window of time customers spend on the front and back end of their appointment. Who doesn’t like freeing up some extra time?

You Embrace Newer Technologies

Companies that embrace any innovation that makes doing business easier are a welcome respite from those that provide poor customer service. However, it’s important that you not adopt anything just because it’s new. Instead, look for newer tech that demonstrably makes your business run more efficiently. As your company fine-tunes its practices, your customers stand to benefit.

Consider a few ways using an online appointment system will improve your business operations. When customers are able to set up their own appointments, it frees up at least a few of your employees to attend to more pressing issues. Perhaps the increased efficiency will allow you to add an extra appointment slot per hour, thereby serving more customers and increasing revenue.

You’re Willing to Make Investments

Free business software is typically worth every penny you paid for it. Jokes aside, you’re unlikely to come across enterprise-level software that’s free and trouble-free. Once you’ve accepted that your business must invest in the software tools it uses, you won’t be as tempted to sabotage your business using cheap solutions.

Online appointment software is no different. Reliable packages often run on a subscription basis, typically with a monthly recurring fee.

Moving into new tech shows customers that your company doesn’t pinch pennies when it comes to making their experience pleasant. They’ll appreciate that you’re willing to invest in the technologies needed to facilitate their interactions with you.

Play the long game. You are committed to upgrading when needed, with an eye fixed on how your business operations make life better for your customers. They, in turn, will appreciate your stability and be less likely to start window-shopping your competitors.

Your Employees Are Capable

Is there anything more comforting than arriving at an appointment to be greeted by an employee who clearly knows their stuff? Efficiently handling appointments both online and as customers enter your facility leaves a lasting impression. 

In case you feel any trepidation, rest assured that no one needs a degree in information technology to operate online appointment software. You won’t need to hire a computer engineer from MIT to install your system, either. 

You will, however, need to commit at least some time up front to make sure all of your employees know how to use the new system. No need to stress, though. Most will get the hang of it in no time.

You Place a High Priority on Data Security

Online appointment software moves a lot of information around on a daily basis. Customers expect you to keep their information safe, preventing credit card or identity theft stemming from vulnerabilities in your system. While online appointment software increases data capacity, it does so while holding data in an iron grip.

Savvy customers will recognize that moving their appointments to an online system is in fact more secure than traditional means. Data can be quickly compiled, archived, secured, and deleted on command. Software vendors, for their part, have a huge stake in keeping the information of your clients safe.

Using online appointment booking enables stronger confidentiality. The risk of someone overhearing your information is eliminated. Patients visiting the doctor’s office can type out notes regarding the nature of their illness instead of announcing potentially embarrassing symptoms in a waiting room.

You Cultivate Relationships

In addition to offering increased convenience, customers will see that you want to establish a relationship with them. Tracking appointment frequency with your new system makes it easier to remember individuals who enter your business regularly. This allows you to demonstrate that your company sees people as something more than dollar signs, but individuals with names and faces. 

Make it a point to use the personalized aspects of online appointment software to your advantage. Personal interactions give infrequent customers more reason to become regulars. When an employee sees a name pop up on the screen as a customer walks in — or even a photo, if allowed — they can make a point of addressing the visitor by name. The employee will also have access to important details about the customer’s most recent appointments.

You Encourage Flexibility

Making life easier for your customers is almost always the right thing to do. When it comes to appointments, this means greater ability to roll with the punches that come with daily life. Personal matters and unexpected circumstances will arise that cause customers to reschedule appointments. Online appointment software can help with that.

With access to the internet, or even a mobile app, your customers can make adjustments to their appointments when needed. By allowing them to feel a heightened sense of control whenever life throws them a curveball, you ease your customers’ tension and demonstrate a willingness to help them refocus on more pressing concerns.

Implementing online appointment software will help place your business in a positive light. Making life easier for your employees as well as your customers sure sounds like a win-win. Schedule some time to look at your options, remembering to assess costs through the lenses of increased productivity and customer loyalty.

6 Ways to Smooth Your Transition to an Online Appointment System

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6 Ways to Smooth Your Transition to an Online Appointment System

Online appointment software is infinitely more efficient than taking bookings over the phone. Your employees won’t get interrupted by the lines ringing off the hook everyday. Additionally, customers can book appointments more quickly and whenever they want.

If you currently rely on a phone system for appointment bookings, you’ll need to undergo a transition process. To make life easier for everyone, use the following tips to make the switch from phone to online bookings seamlessly:

Start With the Setup

Before you start transitioning online, make sure your infrastructure is good to go before launch. Run some tests with your online appointment software to make sure it’s accurately tracking customer information and setting up appointments without errors. Also take note of any delays or double bookings that pop up so you can resolve these issues before they get out of hand. 

Once you’ve worked the kinks out of your online appointment software, you’ll be set up for a smooth transition experience. If you neglect this step, you may have to take your appointment system offline while it’s being repaired, adding further bumps to your transition. Be sure to check everything from confirmation emails to autofill selections when running a pre-launch audit. 

Change Voicemail Messages

Give customers a heads up by changing your voicemail message. In it, you can notify customers of your plan to switch from taking bookings over the phone to only accepting them through online appointment software. Those customers who are used to calling in to make their appointment will be quickly notified of the change.

You can set up your voicemail message to run a script describing the new system and how to access it before a call is put through. This allows customers to get most of the information they need before talking to one of your employees. If they can make the switch to your online platform on their own, your employees will be spared from explaining the details over a dozen times a day. 

Another potential option is having your voicemail messaging act as an extension to your online appointment software. An automated response system will set up appointments for your online system while using a call-in feature that some of your customers will continue to prefer using. 

Incentivize Online Booking

As you make the transition, incentivize the use of your online appointment software to lure customers over more quickly. Those resistant customers will feel more inclined to give the new system a go if you give them an offer they can’t refuse. 

While you don’t want to break the bank with incentives, even the smallest offer will carry some weight. Consider providing a discount code for customers using your online appointment software for the first time. This will give customers the chance to learn the new system in pursuit of a lower price.

Some incentives are built into the online appointment software itself. For example, being able to prepay for appointments is a huge plus for many customers. The ability to book an appointment outside of normal business hours is another great perk for customers with busier schedules. 

Provide a Transition Period

Even with good incentives, you shouldn’t expect your entire client base to switch approaches overnight. There are a lot of moving parts. However, a transition period will allow for a smoother change for both your business and your customers. 

Make customers aware of the strict deadline by which they will have to start booking appointments exclusively through your online appointment software. This advance notice will indicate when they need to commit to the switch and provide enough time for them to acclimate to a new system of operations.

Leverage Marketing 

Old and new customers alike need to know when you decide to start implementing online appointment software. Leverage your marketing resources to inform everyone that they can now schedule appointments online and that phone bookings will be discontinued. Start by displaying this message clearly on your website’s homepage and your social media pages.

If you send out newsletters and messages to your customers, add information about the change to your next e-blast. Include links to relevant information or your new customer portal to help them get started. A robust social media strategy can also spread the word about your new system to followers, as well as net you some new customers. 

Walk Customers Through the Process

Each time a customer walks through your doors, take the time to walk them through the online appointment process. Additionally, answer any questions they might have. This gives each customer a chance to voice concerns they might have over the change, which they otherwise might keep to themselves.

This also offers you a chance to encourage customers to set up a return appointment on the spot. This will give your retention rate a boost and fill up your online appointment calendar much faster. 

Look for ways to guide your customers through the process online as well. AI-driven tools such as chatbots can answer frequently asked questions or present a guided tour through the online booking process. 

The smoother your transition process, the sooner you can get to taking care of customers and booking appointments like there’s no tomorrow. Don’t rush the process — that can cause you to make mistakes that will set you back. Take the transition one step at a time to make sure your online appointment software takes its proper place from day one.

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