In recent years, partly due to the global pandemic forcing more people to adopt online technologies, there has been an increased demand for digital tools to support many businesses.
Online appointment booking software is a major example of these tools, offering significant benefits for service-based businesses like salons, hair spas, clinics, and even law firms that rely on client appointments.
By providing a comprehensive online appointment booking function, these tools can significantly enhance the business’s day-to-day operations by streamlining the client booking process, reducing the number of necessary phone calls, improving the client’s experience, and improving the business’s overall efficiency.
However, there are so many different appointment booking solutions available in the market, that choosing the right technology solution for your business (and your clients) can be extremely challenging.
With that being said, here we will share a quick guide on how to evaluate between different appointment booking solutions so you can make a better-informed decision for your business.
Why Do You Need Appointment Booking Software?
Why do you need online appointment booking in the first place? By understanding your purpose as well as the key benefits of the online appointment booking function, you’ll have a better idea of which appointment booking solution you should choose.
Here are some key benefits of an online appointment system to consider:
1. Meeting your client’s modern expectation
According to a pretty recent study by GetApp, 94% of surveyed consumers admitted that they are more likely to choose a provider that offers online booking over another vendor that doesn’t.
So, using appointment booking software alone can be a major competitive advantage for your business.
2. Reduces the amount of administrative work
The manual client appointment system using phone calls and pen-and-paper is very inefficient to manage.
On the other hand, an online booking system can significantly reduce the number of administrative tasks for yourself, your receptionist, and other staff, freeing up your valuable time so you can focus your attention on tasks that will contribute more to growing your business.
3. Easily and accurately capture customer information
One of the key challenges in a manual, phone-based client appointment process is recording client’s information. Typically your receptionist must note or input the client’s personal information manually, which is time-consuming, error-prone, and disorganized.
An advanced online appointment booking solution like Bookeo offers the ability to accurately capture the client’s information to a CRM database. The client can quickly fill out a simple form, then the information is quickly captured into your CRM. This offers your business an easier time to convert potential clients and has their data accurately stored every time.
4. Automatic calendar sync
With an online booking system, you can improve efficiency and reduce the risk of errors by automatically syncing your online appointment system to your calendar.
This way, once a client books their appointment, the system will automatically update your calendar (as well as your office staff as you see fit), which can reduce the risks of double bookings and give your receptionist/staff more time to focus on other areas.
Choosing Your Appointment Booking Solution: Key Features To Consider
Below we’ll share a quick checklist of features to consider when choosing an appointment booking solution.
We’ll divide these features into three major categories: Ease of Use (for yourself/your staff), User Experience (for your clients), and Customizability (including policies and procedures).
Let us start with Ease of Use features to consider.
Ease of Use Features
- Does the appointment booking solution let you set up and store customers’ details and intake forms?
- Can you or your staff easily review appointments booked online to manually check for inappropriate appointments when necessary?
- Whether the solution can sync and update your calendar in real-time.
- How easy is it to customize booking forms?
- How easy it is to access analytics and reports features (if any?)
- Does the solution allow you to easily contact clients after their appointment? (i.e. to provide information and offer a survey about their experiences with online booking)
User Experience Features
- Whether the solution can update itself in real-time (at least, near real-time) so potential clients can stay up-to-date with current availability.
- How easy is it for clients to select an appointment for a specific day and time?
- Can clients easily switch between online appointments, phone-based appointments, and onsite appointments as they see fit?
- Whether the solution allows patients to book without registering first (without logins/passwords) to streamline the process and improve conversion.
- Can clients easily choose their appointment types and duration to automatically book the appropriate time/length of visit?
- Will clients receive a confirmation of a successfully booked appointment?
- Does the solution offer the options for customizable appointment reminders, including offering appointment-specific instructions?
- Can clients easily cancel and re-book their appointment from the appointment confirmation email?
- Does the solution allow the option to limit bookings to registered clients only? (for some services)
- Does the solution allow you to restrict appointment bookings by age and other filters?
- How easy is it to customize the online booking policies to screen for certain requirements and what types of information to collect at booking?
- Can you customize the booking flow to collect consent (when necessary) and update the client’s information accordingly?
While having an online appointment booking solution can definitely streamline the client booking experience, improve your business’s efficiency, and ensure client satisfaction, it’s still crucial to choose the right solution based on your business’s needs and your target client’s preferences.
By following the guide we’ve shared above, you’ll have a clearer idea of what types of features you should look for in your ideal client appointment booking software. The basic approach is to choose the most cost-effective solution that offers all the features you need, and by following our checklist above, you can make a better decision for your business.