Small businesses have to make important decisions in order for their businesses to be successful. Rent or buy office space? Buying new or used office furniture? Do you hire a receptionist or do you use an automatic answering machine?
Another decision small businesses may need to make is whether to implement a cloud-based or traditional scheduling system. Given the many differences between the two technologies, it’s important for small business owners to analyze their specific needs and do thorough research into which software packages will work best for them.
OVERVIEW OF APPOINTMENT SYSTEMS
Appointment scheduling systems are software programs that allow small business and organization owners—along with their employees—to more easily book and manage their scheduled appointments. Without scheduling software, most owners rely on the more traditional way of scheduling their appointments: a paper diary, a pen, and a receptionist or staff member to take appointments by phone or email. Some may also use basic computer software, such as B. a database to keep track of their scheduled appointments. In addition to accepting appointments, some businesses and organizations also notify their customers, clients, students, and patients of their scheduled appointments with some form of reminder, such as a phone call, email, or a mailed card. In most cases, this process is inefficient and requires a lot of staff time to properly manage.
Additionally, a company’s office hours usually dictate when a person can make an appointment. Given the number of people completing their personal tasks online, the above scheduling process is inflexible and does not allow a person to schedule their appointments when it is most convenient, such as at work. B. outside business hours.
With proper appointment scheduling software, these important but often time-consuming tasks are managed automatically and with little user effort. However, as with many software platforms, there can be many differences between providers. Case in point: cloud-based appointment scheduling software offers features not found in traditional appointment scheduling software packages.
Before discussing the differences between the two, let’s first describe the general characteristics of the two. Cloud-based programs are a type of Software as a Service (SaaS) where users access the software online as a service on demand. As with most SaaS programs, online appointment scheduling services are typically hosted online on a secure server. In addition, many do not require any program installation or downloads. Only an internet connection is required to access the software.
The more traditional scheduling software programs are just that: the in-store and online purchasable packages that need to be installed on every computer where employees access them. Consider a word processor or accounting program that you buy and install for your home computer. They can also be software purchased and downloaded online, but without direct access to online databases, functions and services. It’s basically the packaged software that’s bought over the internet rather than in a retail store.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TWO
Although both types of appointment software offer similar scheduling features, it’s important to note the differences found in both. Not only could this have a dramatic impact on your business operations, but also on your expectations of the product.
• Accessibility. This is probably the most important difference between the two. An online appointment scheduling system gives you the ability to access your account anywhere, anytime. All you need is an internet connection. Traditional software that you install on a single computer is usually limited to that device. Although you may have a program that allows you to access it from outside the office, it involves extra steps and isn’t an efficient way to manage your appointments.
• Self-planning. More and more companies and organizations are enabling their customers, clients, patients and students to conveniently book their appointments online. In fact, those who don’t offer this service may be left behind, as some people simply won’t choose a service provider that doesn’t allow online transactions. Many cloud-based companies offer this feature, which naturally lends itself to a SaaS program. People easily schedule their appointments in the same way as other online services, e.g. B. buying trips or managing a bank account. It’s efficient, easy and individuals can schedule their appointments outside of normal business hours. Traditional scheduling software can provide this, but would most likely be an expensive alternative to web-based technology given the extensive programming and setup procedures required to enable this functionality on existing computer networks and systems.
• Costs. Since budget constraints are a major factor in most business decisions, the cost of a new online appointment scheduling system is another consideration. Prices vary widely, from free to tens of thousands of dollars (for custom programming). As a rule, web-based software is the cheaper choice and offers the best value for money. Additionally, some SaaS scheduling providers offer monthly service contracts without the need for a long-term commitment. This can often be the best option, especially for businesses and organizations with limited budgets or changing future needs.
In the world of online appointment scheduling systems, two options usually matter: web-based or non-web-based. Make sure your company or organization researches the specific requirements before making a decision.