On July 20, Microsoft introduced a new feature of its Office 365 suite called Bookings. It’s a scheduling application designed for small business and is slated to ship later this year for Office 365 Business premium customers. The key features for small business owners include the ability track their customers, add appointments, set rules for cancellation policies, and enable reminder emails for customers.

Engageware welcomes Microsoft’s entry into the online appointment scheduling industry, which was signaled by their acquisition of Acompli and Sunrise Atelier. Microsoft’s investment in adding scheduling capabilities to extend “basic calendar” within Office 365 is yet another milestone in the ongoing evolution of our appointment-driven economy.

We wish them well in this new endeavor, and believe that it will be a great introduction to many small businesses on the value of “appointment driven” engagements. But, for those who aren’t running dog grooming shops or similar-sized businesses—specifically teams at organizations of all types and sizes—Microsoft Bookings may not be for you.

Fortunately, that’s where Engageware comes in. We built Business Edition – our business scheduling software — to serve the diverse needs of business teams who want to provide appointment-driven personalization for exceptional customer experience. Business Edition delivers:

  • Fast, easy online appointment scheduling from a website, email, mobile devices or social media channels, including an online click-to-schedule link so customers and prospects can easily book appointments.
  • Automatic integration with popular calendar applications, including Google Calendar, Salesforce Calendar, iCal, as well as Outlook and Office 365.
  • integration, which maximizes an organization’s CRM investment by managing appointments with Salesforce and leveraging its reporting and management functions.
  • Appointment routing and pooled resources, which automatically routes meetings to the right team member based on skills, location and availability.
  • Email tracking, which provides data on which email campaigns delivered the best campaign results in terms of appointments scheduled.
  • Powerful reporting capabilities, which make generating detailed activity reports fast and easy.
  • An intuitive user interface that makes it fast and easy to find appointment information and connect with customers and prospects.
  • Integration with web meeting platforms enabling users to include online meeting details right in their Engageware appointments for WebEx, GoToMeeting, Join.Me, Skype, Lync, Zoom, and other services. This information is included in the confirmation emails and calendar invitations sent to clients, as well as in the user’s Engageware-connected calendar.
  • Centralized administration and multiuser accounts, which streamline management of the solution for teams of any size and scale seamlessly as an organization grows.

I know, I know, that’s a lot of stuff. But that’s the point. For all but the very smallest businesses, there is a lot more to successfully running an appointment-driven business than just scheduling appointments in a calendar.

Microsoft has just cast a sizeable shadow on the segment of the appointment scheduling industry that specializes in serving the specific needs of very small businesses. Meanwhile, Engageware continues to drive innovation for business teams of all types and sizes who know that making the appointment is just the first step in providing “we’ve been expecting you” service to their prospects and customers.

Click here for a free trial of Business Edition and see the difference for yourself.

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