Choosing The Best Scheduling App [Key Considerations]

March 04, 2021

Table of Contents

Scheduling is a lot of work. Whether you’re an administrative assistant or CEO, working in retail or banking, everyone spends time booking meetings.

If you’re reading this article, you’re probably sick of the sluggishness of regular scheduling. There are better ways to book appointments and schedule meetings. For example, a scheduling app.

Easier said than done, of course. With the thousands of options for scheduling apps, how can you hope to pick the right appointment booking app for your company?

You need expert tips on how to judge different scheduling apps and, most importantly, to pick the best scheduling app. Thankfully, this article has you covered with several key evaluation criteria and options for a retail business.

scheduling-app

Evaluation Criteria

You can’t judge an online booking app by its cover. Reading a few online reviews or glancing through the website might seem like the path of least resistance, but it can come back to bite you in the long term when you don’t do sufficient homework on your appointment booking app.

Don’t count on the best scheduling app for your needs to be the cheapest (or the most expensive). Evaluate which of the below criteria matter most to you and make your decision accordingly.

  • Pricing
  • Ease of Use
  • Schedule/Calendar Management
  • Client-Facing Features
  • Payment Processing
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Features
  • Customer Support

Pricing

Price isn’t everything. That being said, you can’t outpace your budget when considering a scheduler app.

Above all, it’s about knowing what is a necessity and what is a luxury for your business. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How much is your budget? Determine a reasonable range for your appointment scheduler app. Ideally, you want to provide yourself flexibility with a budget, not nail yourself down to a specific price point.
  • What are the necessary functions in a scheduling app? What’s just nice to have? You can find almost anything for free, but the general rule of life applies here: quality demands a price. Knowing what you’re not willing to compromise on is how you can find the best bang for your buck in terms of functionality.
  • What’s the best pricing plan for your needs (e.g. subscription-based, one-time payment)? Depending on your company’s revenue model, different types of pricing plans might appeal to you. Perhaps you want to buy an appointment scheduling app once and be done with it, or maybe you have plans to start with a cheap plan and then upgrade. Plan for current and future expenditures before you break the bank.
  • Will you need to spend on training employees to use this product? No, companies will not charge you to receive training on their scheduler app. What you will have to expend, however, is time and energy on getting employees up to speed on new technology. Take into account that complexity is part of the price tag as well.

With pricing as a consideration, it’s best to make a list of the options you can afford and then go from there. It shouldn’t be the final deciding factor, since a great scheduling app is more of an investment than an expenditure, but knowing what you’re willing to spend can definitely help narrow down your options.

With so many scheduling apps in the market, finding one that fits your budget and needs shouldn’t be a challenge.

Ease of Use

scheduling app key considerations

Let’s be real. One of the most important aspects of picking a great scheduling app is your ease of use.

Have you ever used a website or an app that was so poorly made that you soon abandoned it and never went back? That’s how your customers and employees will feel if you pick a difficult-to-use scheduling app.

Never settle for a scheduling app with poor design or interface. Although this may seem like a surface-level complaint, using an appointment app you’re not comfortable with on a day-to-day basis will reduce productivity, defeating the point of implementing an appointment application in the first place.

What elements make an appointment scheduling app easy to use?

  • Intuitive design. You want to look at an interface and immediately have a sense of where to click and what to do. Every appointment application has a learning curve, but bad design should not be part of that adjustment period.
  • Clean interface. Having multiple options may seem appealing because it suggests robust functionality, but it’s really more of a sign that you’ll have trouble finding the actual useful parts in the future.
  • Integration with other tools/apps. These days everyone is using multiple tools in the workplace. Make sure whatever calendar scheduling app you pick will integrate well with the applications you use on a day-to-day basis.
  • Cross-platform flexibility. Appointments should be bookable through any device, any browser, and any platform. An appointment scheduling app without flexibility isn’t one that will serve your customers’ needs.
  • Queue management. For businesses operating in an on-site location, online scheduling may not be enough. Queue management functionality allows you to manage customers wherever they are, providing a smooth service experience with less wait time and more time spent receiving stellar customer service.

This list is just a start. Your company may have specific requirements for an easy-to-use appointment scheduling app. Brainstorm for a while with your employees to find out what they want to see in a tool like this.

Schedule/Calendar Management

Speaking of integration, you need any appointment booking app you pick to integrate with the pre-existing calendars of your clients and employees. Managing appointments is impossible without managing the schedules of everyone involved.

Did you know that 70% of adults rely on digital calendars to keep them organized? At that rate, you can’t craft a great user experience without accounting for the fact that people will want to add your appointments to their calendars.

When you let them tap through your scheduling app to add your meeting to their calendar, they are far more likely to actually show up than if you force them to add it manually. Every extra minute they spend manually typing the details into their online calendar is another moment of customer experience friction.

You need to account for not only the tools your employees are using, but also what most people in the market are using. No worries if you aren’t well-versed on which calendars are most common. You can find a quick cheat sheet below.

Scheduling Tool

Prevalence (User #)

Google Calendar

500 million

Outlook Calendar

400 million

Phone-Based Calendars (Apple, Android, etc.)

100 million+

Built-in integration for the above scheduling calendars should come standard with any online scheduling app worth its salt.

And if they don’t use online calendars at all? Maybe you want to pick a scheduling app that lets you text or email reminders straight to people’s phones. Schedule management that cuts to the chase is how you can schedule.

Client-Facing Features

Whatever your industry happens to be, you have to schedule client meetings, whether they’re in the form of demos, retail pick-ups, or appointments.

Client-facing features are at the core of customer experience. Features for an ideal scheduler app may include:

  • Live calendar display
  • Drop-down availability selection
  • One-click online calendar booking
  • Web application/social media integration

Enabling customers to book their own appointments puts the power in their hands, giving them more freedom in how they interface with your business. When your clients can book meetings from the comfort of their homes, they save the time and effort they would’ve spent on scheduling a meeting manually.

The easier it is to schedule an appointment, the more your customers will actually go through and book one. 54% of appointments made during working hours happen when your clients are on the go. Letting them check an item off their list within a few taps makes their life easier, and they’ll appreciate your customer service for that alone.

Calling or emailing for appointments is tedious, and should be relegated to tasks of the past given the current state of appointment application technology. Your calendar scheduling app needs to deliver on the promises of self-scheduled appointments for clients, or it won’t make the cut.

Payment Processingpayment processing

Nobody likes to wait anymore. The speed of the internet has delivered information, packages, and more straight into our laps. Why make prospective customers wait to seal the deal?

Traditional payment means on-site payment. Clients book an appointment to visit your location, finish the appointment, then pay as they leave. There are a few problems with that setup.

  1. Lack of accountability. Not everyone shows up to their appointments when there’s no payment involved. Allowing people to pay online encourages them to actually show up.
  2. Inconvenience. In a digitized world, not everyone is inclined to pay with cash or a card. Providing the option to pay online is more convenient for everyone.
  3. Unnecessary waiting. Paying online isn’t just faster for the customers doing it, it can also reduce storefront traffic if you’re running a queue-based business such as retail stores.

Of course, not every company needs payment processing functionality in their appointment scheduler app. Non-customer facing companies will probably do fine with a more traditional kind of scheduling portal. If you’re charging for goods or services in a more direct fashion, however, online payment processing through a scheduler web app can be a lifesaver.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Features

Keeping tabs on customers isn’t easy. When your business is about servicing clients, however, you need more than just old-fashioned paper documents to safeguard client information.

Enter the customer relationship management (CRM) calendar scheduling app. Unlike traditional handwritten notes, CRMs:

  1. Catalog every interaction with clients. No need to worry about forgetting the details on your past client outreach. CRM software in your calendar scheduling app keeps a record attached to each individual client.
  2. Document client preferences. Easy-to-build surveys help you track each customer’s unique preferences so you can deliver tailored service.
  3. Protect customer information. Cloud-based databases mean high-grade security for your clients’ information. No more losing notebooks or loose pages.
  4. Deliver smart customization. Smart CRMs can give recommendations for what services to suggest and how to follow up.

Customer relationship management can be the key to unlocking your customer service potential. If customer service matters to your business, stay on the lookout for an online booking app with CRM functionality.

Customer Support

customer support

Everyone’s been there. You’re excited to finally get your hands on the newest phone/software/product. Except...something isn’t working. You need help, and you don’t know where to find it.

Even for the most tech-savvy, figuring out how to work a new online scheduling app can be confusing. Great customer support backs you up when you’re in the trenches trying to familiarize yourself with a new platform.

You want a product that’s got a passionate team supporting the user experience. Great customer support will assist you in:

  • Troubleshooting
  • Upgrades
  • Learning new functions
  • Finding community resources

Great customer support is at once responsive and proactive, helping you with problems when they arise and checking in to ensure you still feel supported throughout your user experience. Look for scheduling apps with great customer support. It’ll save you tons of trouble figuring out functionality and user experience down the line.

Best Scheduling Apps for Retail Businesses

Now that you’ve gone through the key criteria for the best scheduling app, it’s time to take a look at what appointment book apps are out there. Here are the three best scheduling apps for retail businesses, each with a breakdown explaining exactly what they do and how good they are at it.

  • Skiplino
  • Humanity
  • Acuity

Skiplino

skiplino best scheduling app for retail

Skiplino is a smart queue management system and appointment scheduling book app enabling businesses to manage customers quickly through an intelligent, cloud-based system. Its greatest claim to fame is a robust analytical framework, allowing you to select for location, service, agent performance, and time frame. The Skiplino Retail Plan allows you to check-in and check-out customers by scanning their QR code and monitor activity status inside your stores. Customers can book their appointments from the available time slots to visit your stores using the Skiplino Mobile app and receive their QR codes on their personal mobile device.skiplino technologies

Customer booking is quick and accessible through any device, automating ticketing to anyone who is queued or has scheduled an upcoming appointment.

Also, your customers can enable automated alerts through phone and email reminding them when and where they need to show up through an online scheduling app.

Skiplino is very mobile-friendly, boasting a well-designed app with a colorful, intuitive interface that’s vivid and straightforward without being reductive.

Performance Criteria

How does Skiplino match up within specific criteria for scheduling apps?

  • Pricing: $79/month - $149/month
  • Ease of Use: Easy. Skiplino provides a simple interface that’s available across any device.
  • Schedule/Calendar Management: Yes. Calendar booking is available for customers and employee scheduling, allowing managers to optimize their performance.
  • Client-Facing Features: Yes. Since it’s designed for queueing clients, the customer-facing features are robust, even taking into account customer service performance.
  • Payment Processing: It depends. Skiplino’s Retail software is primarily used to monitor customer presence in retail stores, making online payment less crucial. That said, their Virtual Branch software includes the option to request payments from customers online.
  • Customer Relationship Management Features: Yes. Skiplino’s greatest strength is smart analytics designed to improve future customer experience. It analyzes customer feedback to deliver intelligent recommendations for better service.
  • Customer Support: Yes. Skiplino provides customer support through online resources and live support.

Compared to its competitors, Skiplino is very well-rounded. It’s an appointment scheduler app that provides the functionality of employee management software while functioning as a capable appointment scheduling app for customers.

Skiplino is highly accessible and offers incredible reporting and analytics tools, meaning it’s well-suited both for on-site service and virtual branch location appointments.

As the most versatile scheduling app of the bunch, Skiplino can adapt to suit the goals of many businesses in different industries – from retail to government to eateries.

Humanity

Employee scheduling at the tap of your fingers is what Humanity promises. Shift-based employees can trade shifts and request days off in real-time, and data-driven, skill-based scheduling makes sure the right employee is present for each shift.humanity scheduling

Managers maintain a direct line of communication to employees through in-platform updates. They can view employees/shifts at a glance, making adjustments to the work schedule through a few simple clicks.

Humanity is available on any device, since it’s available through app and website formats. Simply log in through your device and you’ll be able to access your work schedule on-the-go.

Performance Criteria

So, how does Humanity do according to the key criteria for a scheduling app?

  • Pricing: $3 each user/month ($80/month minimum) - Custom Enterprise Pricing
  • Ease of Use: Simple interface.
  • Schedule/Calendar Management: No outside integration, includes drop-down calendar display for employees.
  • Client-Facing Features: No. Humanity is designed mostly for shift management.
  • Payment Processing: No.
  • Customer Relationship Management Features: No. “Smart staffing” is based on key metrics and performance, not direct customer relationship management.
  • Customer Support: Yes. Webinars, live training, and other resources are available.

Humanity is a good employee shift schedule app, but its functionalities are limited in the customer service area. While it can do much for streamlining employee to manager communications and vice versa, it may not be the right tool for companies seeking to actively improve their customer experience.

Acuity Scheduling

Acuity is a customized scheduling page that lets customers view real-time availability and self-schedule their own appointments. On the customer side, it’s laid out with a simplistic calendar display where they can book specific services online, straight through a website portal. Acuity Scheduling is part of Squarespace, the website building service, which likely accounts for its emphasis on browser-based experiences.acuity scheduling

Acuity says they’re a one-stop-shop for managers to manage locations and employees. Through a single interface, you can control your availability, organize your schedule, provide simple rescheduling/cancellation, and keep track of clients through client information portals.

You can view analytics on appointments through a reports section, displayed in a clear visualization for you to review. Although it’s nice to see, the analytics are relatively basic, only covering basic appointment information like cancellations, no-shows, and appearance rates.

acuity report

Performance Criteria

Let’s see how well Acuity performs on the criteria scale for a web scheduling app.

  • Pricing: $14/month - $45/month
  • Ease of Use: The interface is highly streamlined, albeit a little monochrome and pared down. It is definitely simple, although lacking in complexity in terms of analytics.
  • Schedule/Calendar Management: Yes. Drop-down calendar-booking is available for clients. Employee management is also possible for managers.
  • Client-Facing Features: Yes. Easy self-scheduling, rescheduling, cancellation for customers.
  • Payment Processing: Yes. Integrates with popular payment processors like Stripe, PayPal, Zapier, and more.
  • Customer Relationship Management Features: Yes, but incomplete. Acuity provides client intake forms collecting customer information, but there’s no intelligent recommendations.
  • Customer Support: No live support. All available support is through webinars and other forms of pre-prepared online resources.

Unlike Humanity, Acuity is a scheduling app designed for client-facing responsibilities. It’s simplified and far more versatile as an integration into websites (since it’s part of Squarespace’s platform), but becomes lackluster when it comes to more sophisticated customer relationship management features.

Final Comparison

Want to see how the best scheduling apps compare to each other? Check out this table that will help you compare them across the categories of criteria discussed earlier.

 

Pricing

Ease of Use

Schedule/Calendar Management

Client-Facing Features

Payment Processing

CRM Features

Customer Support

Humanity

$3 user/month


($80/month minimum)

Easy

X

X

X

Acuity

$14/month - $45/month

Easy

X

X

Skiplino

$79/month - $149/month

Easy

✓ *


* Depends on the software chosen.


Summary

At the end of the day, picking the best scheduling app for your needs is a highly personalized experience. Different businesses require different functionalities, and your needs for an appointment app will likely vary based on anything from your company size to your design sensibilities.

Take the key criteria listed above into account when you’re picking out an online booking app and do your research. As with everything in life, it’s better safe than sorry when it comes to picking out a scheduling app. The right tool has the potential to help you skyrocket your booking and scheduling efficiency.

Do you want to get started booking with one of the most intelligent appointment book apps on the market? Skiplino’s got you covered. Start your 7-day free trial here.

×
Enjoying this article? Subscribe now and never miss out on future content.

Subscribe now and never miss out on future content!

Master Customer Experience. Improve Your Business.

Our articles will help you learn all of the best tips, tricks, and proven business strategies to keep your waiting areas clear, your appointment calendar full, and your customers happy. Subscribe today to get all of the latest straight to your inbox. No spam. Unsubscribe any time.