You may have heard about online scheduling software and are starting to wonder what all the fuss is about. What is it? Why would I use it for my business?
Online scheduling software is the freedom to schedule appointments from any internet-connected device, anywhere. Like other internet-based services, it allows for tremendous flexibility that can make your business more appealing and accessible to your customers.
Traditionally, appointment scheduling required a phone call, during business hours, to speak with an employee who managed the printed calendar. In recent years, many businesses have switched to desktop calendar systems that employees can access, but customers still had to call during business hours and negotiate for a mutually agreeable time. Online booking systems create an entirely new, amazing possibility: that customers can schedule their own appointments.
Here are three reasons to consider online scheduling:
1. It’s What Your Customers Want
Increasingly, people are carrying smartphones and accessing the internet all day long. Booking appointments online is a natural extension of what people already do online: shop, connect with friends, and plan trips.
Also, appointment scheduling software allows for greater privacy. Open office plans and coffee shops do not allow for private phone calls, so scheduling appointments via phone can mean exposing personal information. Scheduling appointments online allows privacy even in public settings.
2. It Will Make Your Business Run More Smoothly
One concern some businesses have about an online booking system is that it feels like surrendering control of your calendar. Not to worry! You set the parameters on how appointments are scheduled. You can even give different access to employees and customers. For example, you might limit customers to scheduling a few months into the future, but allow employees to schedule up to a year or more ahead. You might also limit or disallow same-day scheduling if you require advance notice for appointments.
Because online scheduling software makes the calendar accessible from any place, field reps can access the system while they are with customers to schedule future appointments, deliveries, or anything else. The immediacy can promote good service and fewer errors.
3. It’s Easy to Get Started
Desktop scheduling software usually requires up-front costs and maintenance costs. Online scheduling software, however, is cloud-based and does not require upkeep on the business end. It is a sofware-as-service model, meaning that you rent the service and do not have to maintain it yourself. Fees are usually subscription-based or per-use. Subscriptions often come with a discount for longer term plans, such as an annual contract vs. a monthly contract.
To get started, choose a software system that fits the needs of your business. Consider the number of appointments that are scheduled each month, how many users there will be, and whether your business needs to meet certain privacy requirements such as HIPAA.
Online booking is becoming the norm in customer-friendly service. Customers are comfortable with online services from shopping to connecting with friends, and your business can be part of this lifestyle change. Online booking can help keep your schedule humming smoothly. Just define the needs of your business and get started.