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For businesses that provide appointment-based services to customers, the ability to track the status of those appointments is very important. Doing so can help curb no-shows, optimize operations and even attract or retain clients.
Appointment scheduling software can help your business achieve these goals by enabling users to manage reservations, take bookings and schedule appointments.
After reading this guide, potential buyers will know how to find the best solution for their needs. Here’s what we’ll cover:
What Is Appointment Scheduling Software?
At a certain point, paper-based datebooks, agendas, calendars and planners just aren’t effective for appointment tracking. They’re hard for teams to access simultaneously, not equipped for large-scale scheduling and more vulnerable to getting lost or stolen than digital appointment-setting tools.
Appointment scheduling software is increasingly becoming a must-have technology for service-based businesses. These systems help you automate scheduling processes by enabling both customers and employees to book appointments and organize meetings.
Among other things, the software facilitates appointment cancellations, rescheduling and online payment processing. It can also be used to send out automated reminders and capture customer information that can be used to run effective marketing campaigns.
These systems can help schedule many different kinds of appointments, including classes, workshops, special events and tours. They’re valuable in a variety of industries, such as:
- Health and beauty (e.g., medical practices, spas and salons)
- Fitness and recreation (e.g., gyms, yoga studios and personal trainers)
- Financial services (e.g., tax consultants and accountants)
- Auto maintenance (e.g., mechanics and car washes)
- Food service (e.g., restaurants and caterers)
- Field service (e.g., pest control and housecleaning)
- Education (e.g., tutors and universities)
Common Functionality of Appointment Scheduling Software
Most appointment scheduling software solutions come with some or all of the following capabilities:
|Online booking||Enables customers to book, reschedule or follow up on appointments online by using an intuitive drag-and-drop interface. Certain systems allow users to create online bookings that automatically synchronize across multiple devices, including desktops, tablets and mobile devices.|
|Real-time automated scheduling||The software can confirm or deny an appointment instantly when a booking request is made, based on availability. It can also manage a waiting list of appointments that can be substituted if an existing booking is cancelled or rescheduled.|
|Calendar management||Users can create appointments or meetings on their calendars and share them with participants at multiple locations. This feature may also include synchronization with third-party calendar management applications used by the participants (e.g., Google Calendar).|
|Automatic reminders||Allows users to send reminders to customers about upcoming appointments via email notifications or SMS text messaging.|
|Customer scheduling||Enables customers to view the calendars of all professionals in an organization so they can book an appointment with whomever they prefer.|
|Staff scheduling||Allows business owners to effectively manage employee work hours by tracking their calendars in real time.|
|Online payment acceptance||Some solutions offer integration with electronic payment gateways to allow users to collect payments whenever appointments are booked.|
|Promotions and deal management||Allows users to create deals and promotions that can be applied across a certain timespan on employee calendars to incentivize bookings.|
Benefits of Appointment Scheduling Software
Professionals and business owners can realize multiple benefits as a result of adopting appointment scheduling software, including:
Reducing no-shows. Automated scheduling keeps track of upcoming appointments and automatically sends call, email or text notifications to customers to remind them of upcoming appointments. Certain solutions go a step further by letting customers confirm appointments via these reminders. This helps reduce no-shows and allows businesses to better utilize their staff.
Improving staff efficiency. Service professionals often find it challenging to manage customer appointments during peak hours. Without the right software in place, they can risk double-booking appointments, which can lead to lost customers. Appointment scheduling software enables easy scheduling, single-touch rescheduling and the ability to confirm appointments with customers so time isn't wasted.
Driving revenue. With software automating the scheduling process, employees have more time to focus on revenue-generating activities, such as seeing more customers per day. Integration with electronic payment gateways can help expedite the billing process so businesses are paid more quickly.
Attract and retain clients. The easier you make it for customers to schedule time for your services, the better experience they’re likely to have. With 24/7 online appointment scheduling, your clients don’t have to abide by normal business hours to make a booking. This is both a valuable asset for marketing your services and a convenience to convince current customers to stay loyal to your business. In fact, a Software Advice survey of chiropractic patients found 25 percent would be interested in scheduling appointments through an online portal.
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Choosing the right appointment scheduling software depends on the size of the business. Consider the following buyer types:
Individual professionals. Professionals in the service industry typically operate individually, which means their earnings depend on the number of appointments they are able to manage efficiently. For these individuals, providing an online booking interface to customers and enabling web-based appointment scheduling is crucial. Both of these features are now fairly commoditized, and most appointment scheduling solutions offer them.
Small and midsize businesses. These businesses typically operate as establishments with up to 100 employees. It is essential for these businesses to reduce no-shows and improve revenue by freeing up employee bandwidth. An ideal software solution for these types of businesses should offer reminders, notifications and employee scheduling features in addition to online booking and appointment scheduling.
Large enterprises. These companies focus on customer engagement and retention by allowing customers to perform multiple tasks from the same interface. This can include offering an integrated payment interface that allows users to book an online appointment with their desired professional and then pay for the booking without leaving the company’s website. Large enterprises also promote customer engagement by offering discounted deals, which can be attached to certain dates on employee calendars.
Your Guide to Top Appointment Scheduling Software, October 2020
Software Advice uses reviews from real software users to highlight the top-rated Appointment Scheduling Software products in North America.
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