Ask a service provider what is one of the most important considerations in running a successful business and he or she will most likely provide specific dates. From massage therapists and chiropractors to auto service centers and pet groomers, these small business owners rely on effective and efficient appointment scheduling methods to ensure a good customer experience, the best use of staff time and resources, and ultimately a full calendar that fills every available time slot.
The appointment booking process seems easy enough, but in many cases it is a tedious and time-consuming task that requires a significant amount of staff hours and resources to handle properly. This is especially true for service providers who continue to rely on traditional and outdated scheduling methods, such as B. Booking appointments and reservations primarily over the phone and recording the details and customer contact information in a paper diary, file or spreadsheet.
In today’s tough economy, few businesses have the opportunity to devote one or more employees solely to answering phone calls and jotting down appointment information. For this reason, more and more service providers are turning to web-based scheduling systems to improve this important process.
INTERNET CONNECTION IS REQUIRED ONLY
Many small business owners and operators balk at the mere mention of computers, software and technology when thinking of expensive installations, hardware and ongoing maintenance. Cloud technology has eliminated the need to spend a small fortune on most software programs, and many are now as easy to access and use as online banking, social media sites, or email. They work just like any other website. Users simply go to the website or online portal, log in and access their software. This is the case with most web-based scheduling software applications that only require an internet connection to implement.
The web accessibility aspect also makes the online scheduling software ideal for multi-site businesses and owners, administrators and employees who routinely conduct business away from the office and need access to their scheduling from home or on the go. It also differs from the more traditional “packaged” software installed on individual computers. These software programs usually restrict the appointment book or schedule to a local computer, making it difficult to access unless the person is working on that specific computer.
The science behind cloud-based scheduling applications also enables some really beneficial features for both the service provider and its customers. Standard features of online appointment scheduling services include:
• Online self-planning by the customer. This gives individuals the ability to book their own appointments and reservations as they please. The Internet is always open for business, as are service providers offering online customer self-termination. As well as benefiting customers who are increasingly completing tasks online, this feature can also drastically reduce the number of phone calls, which in turn frees staff for more urgent tasks.
• Automated email and SMS reminders. Memories are valued by customers. You can also reduce the number of “no-shows” that don’t show up at their scheduled times. They can also require a significant amount of staff time, resources, and money. Some online appointment scheduling programs automatically send email and SMS reminders to customers ahead of their scheduled appointments and reservation times.
• Record keeping and reporting. Proper records are important to most business transactions. However, for many service providers, managing appointment details and contact information means managing separate calendars, appointment books, and spreadsheets. This information then needs to be sorted and organized for inclusion in operational reports. Online appointment scheduling software helps simplify this important task by centralizing all the information entered in one easy-to-access place. Some programs even provide standard reports that can be generated with just a click or two.
• E-Marketing Skills. It goes without saying that correct email addresses are a key component of a successful e-marketing campaign. But maintaining and constantly updating customer emails can be a task in itself. Just as online appointment scheduling software makes record keeping and reporting a breeze by centralizing and managing information, this concept also makes e-marketing a simple process. In some cases, a service provider can send the marketing message directly through the schedule without any additional steps. And because customers have the ability to update their contact information, there’s a much greater chance that the emails they retrieve are up-to-date.
Regardless of the type of service a business offers, chances are they can benefit from online appointment scheduling software. Users of this technology include spas, salons, massage therapists, acupuncturists, chiropractors, home service providers, remodelers, pest control technicians, auto repair shops, and many others. For most establishments there is no more efficient or effective approach to managing, automating and improving their appointment scheduling and reservation booking processes. And since most appointment booking providers offer a free trial of their service, there’s nothing to lose. Except of course the old and tedious way of making appointments beforehand!