People hate to wait.
On average, people will overestimate time spent waiting in line by 36%. Technology has made everything so quick and easy that having to slow down your whole day for a single task feels borderline torturous.
Fortunately, even the age-old industry of queueing up is getting a makeover with booking apps that let you schedule your customers without forcing them to wait in place.
Booking an appointment is never a glamorous process. But with a quality booking app, you can take control of your customer’s scheduling experience and leave them with a positive impression.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
At best, a scheduling app has the potential to improve your business, making everything from employee management to customer service easier than ever before.
What is An Appointment System in Business?
Everyone knows how old-fashioned appointments work. You pick up your phone or laptop, call or email back and forth until you can agree on a date and time, and then show up at the scheduled time.
Businesses waste hours each day on scheduling. Thankfully now there’s a far easier way to note down appointments, without having to waste an employee or customer’s time in the process.
An appointments system removes the back and forth process of communication and eliminates the waiting, letting customers queue up through a virtual system. Scheduling services like this are notable for their flexibility.
A business is only as good as its customer service, and the right appointment system will only boost the customer experience.
With that in mind, let’s break down why it’s best to let your customers manage their own appointments through an automated booking service.
Benefits of Allowing Customer to Schedule Their Own Appointments
You might think that letting clients schedule their own appointments might feel like a copout in terms of customer service. But what you’re actually allowing them to do is manage their own time instead of leaving it in the hands of another company.
A lot of people’s frustration with scheduling appointments stems from not having control over their waiting experience. The benefits of letting them booking their own time with you include:
- Not having to wait. Instead of waiting on responses from your customer service team, your clients can take matters into their own hands, booking time on your calendar without any lag. This only decreases the friction in customer service, improving their impression of your business.
- Easy booking and cancellation. Calling to cancel an appointment is another headache in itself. When a customer can easily book or cancel, they’ll be much more willing to spend the time they saved from using your booking services with your actual business.
- Less uncertainty. Although scheduling services make customers find their own appointments, they’re actually less stressful with features like automatic additions to calendars, email notifications, and more. It’s a far more streamlined service that removes the guesswork from the situation.
Now that we have a basic understanding of why booking services are attractive to your customers, let’s dive into a more detailed look at the types of appointment systems available for your business.
What Types of Booking Services or Booking Apps Exist?
With the wide availability of technology out there these days, it’s probably not surprising that there’s more than one technical solution for helping your customers make appointments. If you’re interested in breaking them down, there are three major types:
- Appointment Scheduling Apps. These apps let clients click through a calendar or list of your business’s availability and find a good time for both of you. They’re usually available through a web interface or mobile app, although the best ones allow for integration across multiple platforms.
- Queue Management Systems. This type of system was built to allow better queueing. They let customers secure a spot in a virtual line instead of having to wait in a physical line, allowing them to line up without wasting extra time. It’s all the systematic organization of waiting in a line without any of the tedium.
- Virtual Appointment Schedulers. Best for highly personalized services like consulting or therapy, but great for anything that requires personal appointments, a virtual appointment booker lets your customer book virtual tickets with your business, delivering distanced service to them with no need for face-to-face conferencing. These usually let your customers fill out forms and payout as well.
Of course, there are plenty of apps or sites that offer all three of these scheduling categories under a single product, which lets you manage your resources in an even more centralized, efficient manner.
Why Are Booking Apps and Appointments Systems Good For Business?
Even after all this, you still might be scratching your head. Are booking apps really the way of the future? Even if they provide your customers a better experience, do they serve your business? And most importantly, are they easy enough to pick up that you don’t need to spend any extra time training employees when you could be scheduling appointments with clients?
Absolutely. Here are six major reasons why you should be using a booking service in your business today.
Reason 1: Your Employees Can Finally Focus
Running a business is hard. You’ve got to worry about:
- Paying salaries
- Making a profit
- Customer service
- Team management
- And so much more
Even if you have dedicated customer service reps, they, and other employees, can easily get sidetracked in the constant conversations that both old and new customers require. When you’re trying to maintain a business calendar manually, it’s difficult for them to even keep up with each demand.
With the distractions of emails and calls gone, they’ll finally be able to focus on doing their job.
A good booking app can redirect basic appointment making to an automated system, saving your customer service agents and other employees the time and effort of scheduling every single meeting to answer a client’s questions.
Reason 2: Devote More Energy to Clients
No one has unlimited energy. When your sales reps or customer service agents are running around responding to emails or calls every single day, they aren’t delivering the right kind of service to clients.
Customer service burnout is a real issue. If you’re running a team, you need to keep in mind ways to conserve the time and energy of your employees. Improved employee experience will also contribute to a better customer experience.
Don’t believe it? Let’s compare the two experiences to see which is better.
Modern Booking Appointments Systems
Employees experience burnout, inadvertently deliver worse customer experience, less passionate about their work.
Booking is automated, letting customer service employees cut down energy spent on menial tasks and deliver better service.
Customers get worse service and have to spend more energy scheduling. This affects their perception of the business and they’re less likely to return.
Booking appointments are easy and don’t involve constant communication with another person. Less time spent with customer service reps means less stress for them if they’re resolving an issue, leading to a better business experience altogether.
Cutting down on the amount of energy your team spends on back and forths will boost the quality of service they can deliver to customers when they’re actually craving a personal touch. Sometimes, that’s enough to turn a casual customer into a loyal advocate for your brand.
Reason 3: Save Everyone’s Time
We all know the cliche saying: Time is money. But for a business trying to stay profitable, it’s a hard-earned lesson.
No business owner wants to spend hours on issues that could be handled within minutes. But when you hesitate to invest in a good scheduling service, that’s exactly what happens to your business. You end up losing time and money, just because you weren’t willing to take a good hard look at the inefficiencies in your business.
Booking services reduce downtime on both ends, so that no one is just passively waiting for things to happen. Your customer is able to book an appointment in no time, and your employees spend no more than a few seconds adding the appointment to their calendar. Even if someone ends up no-showing, there’s far less frustration if the appointment wasn’t manually scheduled over fourteen different emails.
Saving time is just as important to your clients as it is for you. 73% of customers say that the most important aspect of customer service a company can provide is saving them time. When you save time with a booking service, you also save money and good will.
Reason 4: Convenient, On-The-Go Access for Customers
Did you know that over 65% of consumers under the age of 44 actively seek out mobile services at least once a month?
Life is getting faster, and people aren’t willing to slow down and wait for anything if they don’t have to.
While more traditional forms of customer service require people to make time in their days to call or email for appointments, having a booking app ready through your website, app or social media presence lets people access your services with little to no friction.
Online booking software is usually pretty easy to integrate however you like to do business. With the right app, your customers won’t need to do much more than tap or click to schedule an appointment. It’ll make them far more likely to do business with you if you can meet them on the platforms where they are most comfortable.
With a scheduling app, setting up appointments only takes seconds, and waiting in line is a thing of the past. Instead of worrying about how you might need to occupy your customer’s attention while they’re waiting, you can let them distract themselves. There won’t be any such thing as downtime when they’re busy occupying their own time.
Reason 5: Track Your Performance
The best businesses improve upon themselves with each new iteration of their work. But without understanding how well you’re doing right now, it’s impossible to map out a trajectory for the future.
Most appointment systems track information that you can analyze to help improve your performance. Four important categories include:
- Customer retention rate
- Platform (e.g. mobile, website, etc.)
- Time spent on platform
- Agent performance
Normally your customer service staff might not have the time or wherewithal to track this information, especially if they’re already busy manually planning out their calendars. An appointments system will let you track this information, sometimes even breaking it down into easy-to-understand graphics so you can analyze for a better understanding on what to improve upon for the future.
Reason 6: No More Accidents
Everyone makes mistakes. We’re only humans, and an occasional slip-up is bound to happen.
Unfortunately, customers can be unforgiving when it comes to scheduling errors. When you’ve already spent twenty minutes on the phone trying to find the right calendar time slot, people are less patient about being dialed again just because someone logged their appointment on Thursday instead of Wednesday, or because the customer service rep needs to cancel a badly scheduled booking.
Thankfully, administrative mix-ups can be eliminated easily through an automated scheduling system. When a customer clicks into your appointment system, they’ll be able to see your availability with complete clarity.
By eliminating the time your agents spend scheduling appointments, you’re also removing the chance that they’ll mess up.
Your customer will wind up having a more positive, streamlined experience, with nothing to complain about and only good things to say about the quick, easy scheduling process.
Assuming you’re human, mistakes and mix-ups are inevitable. But with a smart system, you’ll be able to cut down on them and improve your overall service.
The Best Booking Apps
We’ve discussed several big reasons why booking apps are a life-saver for businesses. But it’s easy to get overwhelmed when there are so many great options for schedulers to wade through. How do you pick the best one for you and your team?
Thankfully, we’ve picked out a few of the best ones for you.
- Calendly. Available on over six different online calendars and for meetings of various configurations, Calendly is a classic scheduling app that lets you own your scheduling experience.
- Setmore. This service lets you automate bookings and payments, making it a good option if you’re running a service where you might need to charge by the hour. There are several different plans depending on how much functionality you’re interested in.
- Doodle. An interesting variation on the basic scheduling app, Doodle lets you invite participants to vote on the best dates for a meeting, with the host having final deciding power over which date the meeting gets scheduled for.
- Skiplino. You really thought we were going to make it through without a little self-promotion? At the end of the day, Skiplino is designed for businesses who value versatility. We offer queue management, appointment booking, and retail-focused scheduling services through mobile and website alike. You can even host your virtual appointment over video. It’s a premium scheduling app that starts at $79 a month.
Take a look at the table below for a more comprehensive overview of each service and its functionalities.
Starter (1 user): $4.99/month
Pro (1 user): $5.99/month
Team (5 users): $360/year
Enterprise: Custom pricing
7-day free trial available
*Pricing and information above accurate as of October 13th, 2020
Each booking service may have its own functions, but at the end of the day what matters most is what you can get out of it. Hopefully this overview has given you an idea of what to look for in your next business booking service, and a direction to start looking in if you’re trying to improve your productivity.
Automated scheduling services have the potential to supercharge your business productivity, helping you and your employees do everything better with far less effort.
Finding the right appointment system for your business isn’t always easy. Keep in mind what matters most for you and your staff while you’re looking for the best option.Need help nailing down your appointments? Try out Skiplino today to up your scheduling game. Click here to start your 7-day free trial and start scheduling the easy way.