Business moves fast, and customers prefer to work with companies that are dependable and accessible. Their time—and the company’s—is an invaluable asset, so making the most of each interaction or meeting is a must.
By contrast, no one appreciates having their time wasted—and that includes having one or more parties no-show to an expected meeting. Without a modern and reliable system for appointment scheduling, though, enterprise businesses put their prospect and customer relationships at risk.
In this article, we’re going to explore how the right appointment scheduling software can streamline operations, build trust with customers, and help businesses thrive.
What Is an Online Appointment Booking System Used For?
Generally speaking, businesses use online booking systems to set and manage client appointments in a streamlined and intuitive way.
A comprehensive online booking system goes beyond simply putting meetings on the calendar. For example, Engageware offers a well-rounded platform that includes appointment scheduling, a queue/lobby management system, and analytics and reporting for management.
Engageware’s appointment scheduling application empowers companies to engage with customers and provide efficient and personalized experiences. After all, this process doesn’t need to be—and shouldn’t be—cumbersome. When a customer needs assistance or answers, they shouldn’t have to jump through hoops. It should be easy. With the right online booking system in place, customers can initiate contact, identify when they’re available, and even self-schedule an in-person, phone, or virtual appointment.
By offering customer self-service appointment scheduling, companies can help their customers to help themselves. Not only does that improve their experience through virtually friction- and frustration-free booking, it also reduces call volumes, which helps to ensure employees are available when other customers reach out for scheduling assistance.
As a component of online booking, lobby and queue management consists of a few key value drivers, including the ability to:
- Provide “We’ve been expecting you” service that demonstrates to customers how much you value and understand them.
- Improve the customer experience by offering real-time information like estimated wait times with the ability to join the queue as a walk-in appointment.
- Integrate with customer relationship management (CRM) platforms to deliver more personalized experiences based on customers’ past purchases and communication history.
- Gather timely and valuable post-appointment feedback to better understand the customer experience and where improvements might be possible.
- Empower customers to connect with your business on their terms—offering, for example, the flexibility to join virtual queues, take advantage of online scheduling options, or speak directly with a staff member.
- Optimize operations in order to meet or exceed high-priority key performance indicators (KPIs).
When a booking platform offers robust analytics and reporting capabilities, companies can better-understand the efficiency and effectiveness of their scheduling system—which can lead to further refinement. With the right online scheduling solution in place, companies are able to:
- Analyze appointment and event effectiveness by tracking things like the appointment types customers prefer (and what factors impact their preferences) and how well appointments ultimately deliver on customer expectations. The more thoroughly a company is able to track and understand these factors, the easier it is for them to deliver even better experiences moving forward.
- Tie marketing spending to revenue, including pinpointing the marketing campaigns and channels that influence sales the most and deliver the greatest return on investment (ROI). With advanced analytics, companies gain vital insight into the factors that impact customer conversions and satisfaction the most. Based on this information, they can also improve and optimize their online scheduling options to better-serve their customers’ real-time preferences.
- Align staffing with customer demand. By identifying trends in customers’ scheduling preferences and understanding how demand should influence staffing, businesses can more effectively allocate their personnel.
What Are the Benefits of Using an Online Appointment Booking System?
An online appointment booking system provides countless benefits to businesses, including the following:
Customer appointment scheduling should be easy and efficient. Online booking systems (like Engageware) not only provide straightforward scheduling tools, but further improve the customer experience through features like smart-matching customers with the best-qualified employee to serve them. This saves the customer time and helps them feel like the company understands their needs and is ready and willing to support them.
Accessibility is important, and companies that leverage online appointment booking systems are able to meet customers where they’re at. This means offering omnichannel coverage, so customers can communicate (and schedule appointments) the way they prefer to, removing potential friction from the customer experience and increasing the company’s accessibility. Whether a customer prefers to schedule via their mobile device, company website, or even via an emailed link, platforms like Engageware help drive constructive conversations and turn interest into action.
This might not be the most obvious benefit of online appointment scheduling systems, but they also improve the employee experience. With an intelligent booking system in place, employees can better understand their customers’ most pressing needs in advance of their appointment, so they can better serve them. This includes routing appointments to the right personnel, so customers are always matched with someone who is qualified and prepared to help them.
Additionally, companies that use online booking systems can enable customers to schedule their own appointments on their own time. The best scheduling systems even offer process automation for more efficient bookings.
Online booking systems’ analytics and reporting capabilities help business leaders understand their customers’ needs and preferences better—and improve their experiences wherever opportunities exist to do so.
Engageware Analytics offers preconfigured dashboards designed to reveal valuable insights from in-person as well as virtual customer interactions. Key benefits that help uncover next best actions include:
- Dynamic Report Generation: Build reports based on user configurations, data filters, and drill-down interactions, in an intuitive and flexible environment.
- Role-Based Management and Reporting: Determine who in the organization needs visibility into different types of role-based reporting. Build accessible dashboards for company-wide information, and enact policies to ensure that sensitive or proprietary data is limited to those who need to access it.
- Appointment Analytics: Better understand online as well as in-person interactions and their effectiveness through trending dashboards and detailed breakdowns of analytic information such as appointment volume and growth.
- Marketing Analytics: Learn more about the impact of specific marketing activities and how well your investments are paying off in terms of appointment volume and success. Measure revenue and outcomes as they relate to distinct marketing campaigns and channels.
- Resource Analytics: How well are specific locations, teams, and employees meeting customer demand? By studying activity and historical data, companies can measure—and optimize—service quality and staffing processes.
- Data Export: While integrated dashboards and reports put a wealth of data at your fingertips and enable actionable insights, there are cases when it makes sense to export the data and dig into it a little more deeply.
when customers can self-schedule, an online booking system effectively reduces appointment no-shows. Companies can also utilize customer-centric features like automated text and email reminders to increase the chances that scheduled appointments are kept—while also providing user-friendly tools for simple rescheduling, should the need arise.
An online booking system enables better appointment scheduling through personalized interactions that connect prospects and customers with the right person at the right time. Further, an online scheduling system helps convert more user searches into productive appointment bookings.
What Are Some Examples of Online Booking Systems?
There are countless examples of online booking systems, but they’re not all equal. On many software review sites, you can compare online appointment scheduling software for enterprise businesses.
Among the best-ranked platforms and industry leaders is Engageware, a platform that “provides industry-leading technology and expert know-how to help organizations better engage their customers.” Engageware also received positive reviews for its self-service, appointment scheduling, and knowledge management solutions.
Learn more about Scheduler for Enterprise, Engageware’s standalone, enterprise Intelligent Appointment Scheduling software platform, and how it enables customizable workflows to deliver high-quality customer engagement across multiple channels.
Yes, there are… But you should expect limitations, even with the best free appointment scheduling app, so you would want to do your research before committing to a free tool that may or may not actually meet your needs. While these types of tools can schedule appointments, they typically lack the insights and reporting capabilities that could help you optimize processes and deliver a better customer experience.
Some of the drawbacks you will encounter with free booking systems include limitations related to:
- Security and scalability
- Users and permissions settings
- Support for multi-person appointments
- Advanced appointment scheduling and configuration options
- Customer engagement/communication channels
- Multi-location support
- Lack of calendar and web conferencing Integrations
- Options for sending meeting reminders
When you consider the potential limitations, it becomes clear that these “free” tools actually cost a great deal—in employee time and effort.
Yes, like so many types of business software applications, there are a number of free options you can access through the Google Workspace Marketplace.
You might also be wondering, especially if you’re a small business with relatively low appointment volume, “Can I use Google Calendar as a booking system?” And that answer is also yes, though again you should expect a fairly bare-bones experience if you primarily rely on a free scheduling tool—not much more than literally adding meetings to a shared calendar.
What Is the Best Online Booking System for My Business?
The best booking software for your business is the one that meets your needs and provides the optimal customer experience. Here’s a quick guide to the top 10 appointment scheduling software questions you should ask in order to narrow your options and identify the best online booking system for your business, its employees, and its customers:
- How sophisticated of a solution do you need?
- How easy is it to use?
- How does the system handle roles, permissions, and employee profiles?
- How are appointment types defined?
- How does the solution help with customer flow and queue management?
- How much monitoring and reporting is built in?
- How can customers interact with the system?
- How are customers supported throughout the appointment process?
- How will this solution integrate with your existing tech stack?
- How secure is the appointment scheduling system?
When it comes to building a business case for investing in an online booking system, you’ll want to think about your big-picture strategy and ideal customer experience by moving beyond mere features and benefits. Building a business case means identifying short- and long-term benefits and aligning them with what your customers expect of the appointment scheduling process.
In other words, you can emphasize how a platform—like Engageware—will help the company to:
- Enable customers to interact with you when, how, and where they prefer.
- Deliver a seamless, consistent experience across channels and touchpoints.
- Make critical resources available and easily-accessible for employees and customers alike—through a self-service knowledge base, for example. This way, customers can efficiently solve their own problems when possible, and employees can quickly access the information they need to support customers who aren’t able to self-serve.
- Tailor unique engagement and experiences that demonstrate the extent to which you care about your customers, their pain points, and the outcomes they desire.
You can learn more about how to build a compelling business case for Engageware’s online booking system here.
Ready to Engage? Let’s Talk!
Engageware provides a highly-effective, user-friendly online booking system that businesses rely on to schedule more appointments, more efficiently, and to get the most out of scheduled appointments. When you partner with Engageware, you take an all-important step toward more thoroughly understanding (and then elevating) your customer engagement.
To learn more about why great customer engagement matters, and how we’ve gained the trust of more than 500 organizations, visit our intelligent appointment scheduling page or schedule a meeting with us to get started.