Wondering why your company isn’t nailing those 5-star reviews? Are you stuck on 4-stars even though your reviewers aren’t giving you any specific reasons why or suggestions for improvement?
You’re not alone.
Chances are your customer experience isn’t as streamlined as it needs to be.
When US businesses lose $62 billion every year due to poor customer experience, it’s clearly an area you need to be paying attention to.
The biggest improvements in customer experience tend to come from fairly small tweaks, those little 1% adjustments that, over time, create a seamless experience that your customers will know and love you for.
One of those changes you can implement instantly and easily is taking advantage of an online appointment scheduler.
Appointment Schedulers - A Brief History
Of course, scheduling appointments is nothing new, and is an activity potentially as old as time itself.
God knows what they were using back then, probably some hieroglyphs in the sand next to the 11 AM mark on their sundial.
As life got busier and business began to boom (and our tech got a little more sophisticated), we moved up the ranks through diaries, personal planners, personal digital assistants (PDAs), to our current reality: a handful of calendars in our phones from the likes of Google, Apple, and Samsung.
These handy little apps make sharing your schedule and booking appointments for a coffee date fairly easy, but let’s be honest: they really aren’t up to the demands of modern businesses.
Whether you’re a customer-facing retail store, a B2B sales rep, or a licensed psychologist seeing patients virtually, you need a flexible and versatile online scheduler.
Because they are invaluable in improving your customer experience. Let’s take a look at how you can lift the experience your customers receive with a convenient and easy to use scheduler app.
11 Ways Online Appointment Schedulers Make for a Better Customer Experience
If you aren’t using an online appointment scheduler in your business right now, you’re missing out. Web schedulers not only make life easier for you, but they also make life easier for your customers.
1. It Saves Your Customers Time
Compared to other methods of appointment booking, online schedulers are infinitely faster.
Time is money for both you and your customers, and if you can make things simple for them, then they’re sure to keep coming back.
Take a look at some of the tactics big retailers use to woo customers, and you’ll see why time is important. Things like:
- Overnight delivery
- Fast food and takeout
- Free shipping
It’s clear that when consumers want something, they want it now.
If your company is still stuck in the past and booking appointments manually, then you’re actually making the customer experience worse by being more drawn out than it needs to be.
2. It Saves Them From Picking Up The Phone
We all know that millennials hate speaking on the phone.
It’s become a bit of a joke, yes, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
Think about it like this: imagine it's a Friday night, and you can’t be bothered cooking, so you decide to order a pizza from that new chain your friend told you about. You jump on their website, and what? You can’t order online?
That’s a bit of a shock to the system in 2020, as you’re kind of expecting to be able to order online. The same goes for your appointment scheduling processes, and that’s what millennials (as well as other neighboring generations) are expecting from you.
If you aren’t up with the play, your company is going to seem archaic, and there’s a fair chance your customer isn’t going to be coming back, or worse, they might not come to you in the first place!
3. Customers Can Book Appointments 24/7
Being able to book appointments 24/7 is not only a massive boost to customer experience, but it’s also highly profitable for your business!
Let’s say you’re open from 9 am to 5 pm.
If you don’t have an online scheduler, customers have a window of 8 hours to book an appointment with you. Adding a scheduler app triples that window.
Of course, that doesn’t exactly mean triple bookings, as a big chunk of that is going to be in the middle of the night! But hey, there are a few night owls out there, and if you’re a multinational company, then people could be booking in with you from a completely different timezone!
Plus, it’s not unusual to spend your evenings after work doing life admin, so you could well have appointments being booked quite regularly after 7 pm, and you’re probably not so keen to take a call at that time.
The bottom line? A 24/7 appointment setting is a win-win situation!
4. Online Appointment Schedulers Are Accessible
Being able to schedule appointments from whatever device you prefer is incredibly conducive to a seamless customer experience.
With mobile devices such as tablets and iPhones so popular today, many don’t even have a laptop or computer anymore.
Ownership Rates (UK)
A flexible online scheduler will have mobile apps as well as desktop or web-based accessibility, making it simple and streamlined for users to be able to book appointments wherever they are browsing from.
And with the majority of Google searches being performed on a mobile device, it’s likely that that’s how you’re going to be found.
So, the question is this: Is your company ready to take bookings from any device?
5. It Empowers Your Customers
Giving your customers access to your scheduling app puts the power of appointment scheduling back in their hands.
Customer empowerment has been a big part of the shift in marketing and sales in the last decade or so, with many businesses opting for inbound marketing approaches as opposed to the interruptive methods of the past.
A flexible online scheduling app takes this a step further, as it allows customers to easily see your availability and book a time that suits them.
Plus, because they can make their own bookings with your web scheduler, they can also go back in and:
- Make a cancellation
- Edit or shift their appointment
- Add notes to their booking
There’s also a dual benefit here for your company: an online scheduler shows when you’re busy.
Obviously that’s helpful for customers to be able to find an available slot, but it also shows that you have several clients, boosting your social proof and reinforcing their decision to work with you.
Making this process simple and seamless means your customers are more likely to let you know when they can’t make it and gives them a strong sense of ownership over the process, which is a marked improvement in customer satisfaction and experience.
6. Web Schedulers Allow Automation
There’s nothing less exciting than having to craft a new email every time you need to send a client a reminder. It’s also a huge drain on productivity - you could be spending that time much better elsewhere.
By implementing a quality online scheduler, you’re able to automate:
- Email confirmations
- Email and SMS and reminders
- Adding the appointment to your customer’s calendar
All of this not only alleviates the burden on your end but, most importantly, it makes for a seamless customer experience with short wait times. No waiting for an email confirmation, no manual calendar management, just simple, straightforward scheduling.
7. Consistent Branding and Experience
When a customer can schedule an appointment with you online, they get the same experience every single time. And so does everybody else.
Consistency in your branding is massively important in strengthening customer relationships, and that doesn’t just mean having your logo plastered on every piece of collateral. Your brand is also represented by your colors, the tone of voice in your copywriting, and the overall “feel” of the customer experience.
This becomes even more crucial as your company grows, and you open more and more branches and hire more team members.
Inconsistency looks like every representative writing their own emails, in their own tone of voice, and sending reminders whenever they feel is right and via whatever channel they feel is best, not what is based on the best response rates.
Being able to automate things like reminders means consistency. That means every customer gets the same experience every time, and everything from your copy to your use of font is on-brand every time. Plus, it can boost your revenue by up to 23%!
8. Streamline Your Marketing With An Online Scheduler
Whatever line of business you’re in, you’re probably engaging in some form of marketing activity.
Whether you’re posting a blog every week or so, or going deep with Google Ads and social media advertising campaigns, you can further streamline your marketing activities by integrating an online scheduler.
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes for a second. You’re scrolling through Facebook and you see an ad for a service you know you need. You click through and you’re presented with a well-designed landing page with all the information you need to make a decision about working with this company.
It’s time to book an appointment to speak to a sales rep, but you can’t book an appointment online.
You have to call in to book, but it's 8 PM now and they are closed. So you make a mental note to ring tomorrow. Tomorrow comes, and guess what? You totally forget, and you never call.
This is what’s happening to your company if you’re running digital ad campaigns and not making it simple for your customers to book an appointment with you.
9. Minimize Human Error
If there’s one thing that can totally derail a seamless customer experience, it’s when someone makes a mistake.
Look, we all make mistakes, we’re all human. But unfortunately, consumers tend to be less forgiving with businesses than they are with people on a one to one basis.
In any case, if you mess up a client’s appointment and double book them or book them incorrectly, you’re on the fast track to an unhappy customer.
You might think you’re immune to this, after all, you have some really strong internal processes, right? Well, even companies with the best processes see human error rates of 5-10%.
Web schedulers minimize this risk (and take it out of your hands) by ensuring that any information with regard to contact details or appointment times are inputted by the customer themselves.
Sure, there’s still a human involved, but there’s at least one less with an online scheduler in place.
10. Reporting and Analytics to Drive Improvements
If you don’t know where you’re going wrong, how can you improve?
More advanced web schedulers (like Skiplino) allow you to dive deep into analytics and uncover information like:
- No-show rates
- Customer satisfaction scores
- Customer behavior analytics
- Branch and employee performance
With this crucial information at hand, you can understand, for example, common booking times at your hair salon, which might feed staff roster changes to ensure you can keep up with the demand.
Or, you might compare customer satisfaction scores across retail branches, and provide further training to branches that are dragging the chain. This is especially crucial for large companies with several branches across different cities, states, and countries.
Consistency in branding is controllable to a degree through your marketing collateral, but the biggest impression that is left on your customers is their in-store experience. Getting this right takes time, and the biggest focus point needs to be wherever and whenever you’re getting let down.
Reporting and analytics in scheduling apps mean you can see exactly where things might be going astray, and jump in before your company is seriously impacted.
Using customer behavior analytics to drive business changes offers three core benefits:
- Enhanced customer satisfaction
- Improved product or service design
- Increased customer loyalty
None of this is possible without a robust method for uncovering branch performance and customer behavior, like a scheduling app.
11. Track Your Company Growth With A Scheduler App
How do you know when it’s time to onboard new team members?
If you’re not working directly in your practice and store yourself, or if you have multiple locations, it can be really difficult to understand where you might be under-resourced.
Of course, your team members will always let you know when things are getting too much for them to handle, but by then it’s too late.
And from there it’s a slippery slope down to customer dissatisfaction via:
- Long wait times
- Inability to book new appointments
- Stressed and inattentive representatives
But you can get ahead of the trend and prevent all of this, simply by monitoring your company growth using a scheduler app.
The reporting and analytics offered by professional online schedulers allow you to see trends in customer booking patterns and see where you’re growing and when. It’s not always a case of needing more staff, as you know, it’s often simply a case of making roster amendments.
Using a web scheduling app gives you some foresight into the future and means you can prevent poor customer experiences by ensuring you have the right staff on, at the right time.
Best Appointment Schedulers
So, you’re convinced that you need to lift your appointment scheduling game and implement an online appointment scheduler. But where to start?
Here are eight of the best appointment schedulers available right now.
Best Scheduler Apps
Why It’s Awesome
Oh hey, that’s us! You didn’t think we’d let an opportunity slip for a little shameless self-promotion, did you?
Here’s why our customers love Skiplino’s appointment scheduler:
*Features above accurate as of September 15th, 2020.
Now that you’re armed with these 11 ways online schedulers can improve your customer experience, you’ve got no excuse for not having one.
It’s almost an expectation from your customers’ perspective, and there is a wide range of affordable, flexible, and versatile web schedulers to suit your company’s specific needs.
Here’s a quick summary of the 11 key ways online schedulers can lift your customer experience ratings:
- They save your customers time
- They save your customers from picking up the phone
- Customers can book 24/7
- Customers can book from any device
- They put the power back in the customers’ hands
- You can automate reminders and calendar integration
- They allow for consistent branding
- You can streamline your marketing campaigns
- They minimize human error
- You can use reporting and analytics to identify trends and fix problem areas
- You can track company growth and make informed decisions around resourcing
If you’re ready to take the plunge and implement an appointment scheduler to boost your customer experience, let’s talk. Skiplino has a number of options to suit businesses in any industry, from start-ups to enterprise companies.