Appointment scheduling and booking software can be incredibly beneficial for clients. It provides unfettered access so customers can make appointments quickly and easily, without ever picking up the phone and speaking with your team. They can schedule any time, day or night, and find an appointment time that works well with their schedule.
As companies continue to utilize technology to serve clients, online scheduling will continue to be a feature that customers seek. If you are a business owner or a manager, you may be wondering how you can take advantage of this technology for your company—what are the best appointment scheduler and booking software options? Some of the top contenders include:
- Ombori Grid
- Acuity Scheduling
Each of these apps offers different features and benefits, so the one that is the "best" for you might not work as well for another type of business.
What is Scheduling and Booking Software?
Appointment or booking scheduling software allows clients to set appointments using a web interface. They can often also reschedule or cancel appointments using the same application as well. They simply choose an available time right through the software—without ever involving your team directly.
Behind the scenes, you set the requirements and restrictions about when clients can book, how many clients can book, and how long specific appointments should be. You can also block off specific times so that no appointments are made during that time.
All of this information is updated in real-time so that both clients and employees know which appointment slots are available at any time.
The Benefits of Appointment Scheduling and Booking Software Applications
Ease of access is perhaps the most important benefit for clients who want to book appointments with your company. However, there is a wide range of additional benefits from utilizing this type of technology as well.
- Always open for business. When you use an online scheduling tool, your company is available around the clock. Customers do not have to wait until your regular business hours to make an appointment.
- Maximize reservations. Those who make their own reservations or appointments are much more likely to show up for them. Even if the customer needs to cancel, they can cancel online, and that spot automatically opens up for another customer to take.
- Get payments quicker. Some scheduling and booking software also allows customers to pay for their sessions or appointments right away when they make a reservation. When you pair an easy-pay function with scheduling, it puts money in your pocket much faster.
- Save time. Your team does not have to field phone calls to set appointments. Instead, they are free to do other, often more productive things.
- Manage calendars easier. When you allow self-booking, you can easily check current appointments, arrange for employment coverage, and just generally organize better—knowing what to expert helps you prepare better.
- More data and information. Scheduling and booking software will track data that you can use to get to know your customers better. For example, you will generally see which time slots fill up the fastest and when your slower times might be. You can use this information to help service your clients better and increase business growth. For example, if you notice that your half-day of Saturday appointments fills up very quickly, but your Monday mornings are always slow, you might be able to work longer hours on Saturday and cut back on Monday to fit client needs.
What are the Qualities of a Good Appointment Scheduling or Booking App?
Not all appointment scheduling and booking apps are created equal. Each option that you review will have benefits and drawbacks. In addition, every business has unique needs as well. That means that something that works well for pet groomers might not be a good option for a health care facility.
Flexibility and Customization
Great appointment scheduling apps are both flexible and customizable to meet your business's needs. They should make your life easier and be convenient and user-friendly for your clients.
For example, do you need to allow clients to choose from a menu of services? Do you have more than one location that you need to consider? Are appointments dependent on the availability of specific individuals? Some of the best appointment scheduling apps allow this level of customization, and a lot more.
Calendar Syncing and Access
When a client schedules an appointment, your team should be notified. Ideally, the appointment will automatically be entered on the calendar for the team member that should handle the appointment. The booking should also include vital information about the appointment, including who the customer is and what services they expect.
Having multiple points of access for clients is a great way to increase the convenience factor. When clients can use an app, your website, or even social media to make appointments or changes to those appointments, they are more likely to use the feature. Therefore, integrations generally are a great feature that you may want to consider.
You may also want to consider whether the appointment scheduling app allows you to communicate easily with clients. For example, once they schedule an appointment, sending a confirmation email automatically can be very helpful.
Apps that allow you to let customers know you are running behind or might need to reschedule are valuable as well—no one likes to arrive for their appointment only to be told they will have to wait for another 20 minutes.
Integrated Payment Methods
Having a payment method built into the scheduler can be extremely helpful for some businesses. While pre-payment certainly will not work for every business, it can be a good resource for some companies. For example, when customers pay ahead of time for an appointment, they are more likely to show up for their scheduled appointment.
Having various payment method options increases the level of convenience for customers—which they often really enjoy.
Case Studies: Using Scheduling Apps Across Industries
The individual industry in which your business operates will affect what a scheduling app or booking resource looks like for your company. For example, a boat rental business that needs to make reservations may not look the same as scheduling an appointment with a doctor.
Scheduling Apps for Healthcare
Scheduling appointments for healthcare facilities can be a full-time job in some situations. Each individual doctor, physician assistant, and a nurse may have their own schedule to address patient needs. As a result, health care facilities need a way to account for all of these individual schedules but also bring these individuals together as necessary as well.
Creating blocked times for specific medical procedures, setting time limits for certain types of care, and using "free days" where appointments are off-limits are all likely vital parts of any scheduling app used in the health care setting.
Booking Apps for Retail
COVID-19 has changed how retail operations need to function. With decreased numbers of people permitted in a single location, scheduling an appointment to shop is becoming the new normal in many areas. In some cases, continuing this practice may be a good way to help customers become more comfortable returning to in-person shopping.
Setting an appointment to pick up goods or use retail facilities is generally not as complicated as coordinating healthcare professionals' schedules. Instead, you may need to just be sure that you have enough staff to assist retail customers. You also need to stop bookings once a certain limit is reached.
Scheduling Apps for Service Assistance with Retail Stores
In many cases, retail stores require a certain level of customer service, especially when clients are reviewing and considering higher-priced products. A bicycle shop, for example, may need in-person, tailored information to help a client choose the right bike for their needs. In that type of situation, scheduling a virtual appointment may be necessary.
If you need a combination of virtual and in-person appointments to meet your business's needs, that should be a consideration when you are thinking about which scheduling apps will work best for you.
Let Ombori Help with Appointment Scheduling and Booking
Ombori prides itself on creating customized, tailored solutions for businesses, including appointment scheduling and booking technologies. Appointment-based shopping and services are only increasing, and Ombori can work with you to create a solution for your needs to address these changing times. Pre-booking appointments can be a great solution for many types of businesses—from ski resorts to restaurants.
Learn more about how the Ombori team can help you create a solution to fit your business's unique needs by contacting us.
Björn is Chief Experience Officer of Ombori Grid. He spent the early part of his career in the music business before moving into retail design and video production. His passion is for creating unique and memorable retail experiences that excite and delight customers. He spent 6 years at Visual Art in Stockholm before joining Ombori in 2018.