Without an intuitive and effective solution for appointment scheduling, you might not be providing the best possible customer experience. It’s a simple enough concept—making it easy for your customers to do business with you—but not every online booking system for business is created equally.

What makes an online booking system effective? Can you set up your own appointment scheduling system and call it a day? Is there a free online scheduling tool worth using? What are the must-have features and capabilities your customers expect? In this blog, we’ll be answering these exact questions.

What Is an Online Appointment Booking System, and What Are Its Must-Have Features?

The central purpose of an online booking system is to provide a user-friendly platform where customers can make and manage appointments with your company. Providing your customers with an intuitive online booking system is one way to show them that you value their time and their business. It can also:

  • Improve the overall customer experience.
  • Increase customer satisfaction as it relates to bookings and availability.
  • Provide continuous, 24/7 omnichannel coverage for customer inquiries.
  • Improve employee productivity.
  • Reduce customer no-shows.
  • Provide actionable insights into how your booking system meets customer needs and/or what logistical or technical improvements might increase customer satisfaction.

“Must-Have” Features

Setting up an online appointment booking system for your business shouldn’t have to be complicated. For the best experience, your booking system should consist of at least three “must-have” features:

  • Appointment Scheduling: Intuitive self-service appointment scheduling has quickly evolved over the last few years from the proliferation of mobile, tablets and laptops to a core customer engagement tool for businesses. The modern consumer has come to expect more opportunities to set and manage their own bookings. It should be easy for customers to access your booking system, and they should be able to contact you when they need your assistance. Not only do customers prefer self-service options, but providing this basic functionality tends to increase customer satisfaction and retention. Companies that are able to offer their customers a seamless experience through well-designed online appointment scheduling tend to establish more loyal customer relationships. 
  • Queue and Lobby Management: As much as customers appreciate self-service options for accessing information and setting their appointments, they can feel left in the dark without effective queue and lobby management. Even seemingly minor amenities like an estimated wait time or the number of customers ahead of them help put customers at ease.
  • Analytics and Reporting: The more you can learn about how customers are using your online booking system, the better-positioned you’ll be to make improvements based on their feedback. You can also gain insight into how and when they prefer to schedule appointments and if they feel like their appointments meet or exceed expectations.

How Do I Set Up an Appointment Booking System?

There are really two approaches to setting up an appointment booking system that will work for your customers:

  1. Use free online appointment scheduling tools.
  2. Use a comprehensive, enterprise ready platform (like Engageware).

The “Free Tools” Approach

You might be thinking, “Isn’t There a free Google Calendar booking system I can use?” The simple answer is “yes…sort of.” You could use a shared Google calendar to keep track of appointments, but if you want it to do much else, you’ll quickly encounter the drawbacks and limitations of its “free” tier. It won’t offer nearly the level of security or scalability you can expect from an enterprise ready platform.

If you want to configure different user permissions, support multi-person appointments, or integrate the booking system with other software you use, free or low-cost tools won’t be enough. Here are just a few examples of features you won’t find in free tools:

  • Advanced appointment routing
  • Configurable business rules
  • CRM compatibility and connectivity
  • Personal calendar sync
  • Pooled resource management
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Scalability
  • Security
  • Smart resource matching
  • Support for 1:1 and team meetings
  • Third-party integrations, like web/video conferencing

The Engageware Approach

Engageware provides an innovative and industry-leading platform for appointment scheduling (including self-service) and related features like knowledge management. Our standalone, full-stack Intelligent Appointment Scheduling software platform, Scheduler for Enterprise, delivers a comprehensive and highly-customizable solution for businesses looking to provide a better customer experience.

With Engageware Analytics, you can use preconfigured dashboards to reveal timely, actionable insights into efficiency, effectiveness, and the overall customer experience. This empowers companies to:

  • Increase their marketing ROI
  • Optimize staffing and efficiency
  • Plan resources and strategies effectively
  • Improve customer satisfaction

Learn more about our appointment scheduling solution, or reach out to us directly if you’d like to chat.

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