Educate customers to schedule appointments online

Does your business offer online appointment scheduling? If not, you are probably missing out on lots of business from existing customers as well as new customers. The simple fact is that people, and in particular the younger demographic, prefer to do almost anything using the Internet or mobile apps. It should come as no surprise that this includes scheduling appointments – whether it’s their next hair-cut, beautician appointment, personal-training session, car service or trades quote.

Setting up online appointment scheduling and educating your customers to book online whenever possible has countless benefits for your business – it will simplify your business operations, save on administration costs, reduce no-shows and increase your visibility to new customers. However, there are also heaps of benefits for your customers, so let’s get them on board!

What are the benefits of online scheduling for my customers?

  • Convenience – you can’t beat the convenience of online appointment scheduling. Your customers can search for and schedule their next appointment from literally anywhere! Waiting for a friend at a café, school pick-up, at the bus-stop… the list goes on.

  • More choice – viewing all available appointment times visually on your screen gives your customers far greater choice of appointment times than speaking on the phone with a scheduler. Your customers will love having greater control over their busy daily schedules.

  • Privacy – have you ever been that person on the crowded bus or train (or at work) that everyone looks at while you are on a call to book your next bikini wax? Switch your customers to online scheduling and they can stop feeling self-conscious in public. Your customer’s personal life is really no-one else’s business!

  • Save time – using online scheduling is much faster speaking with an administrative assistant who may be dealing with several customers at once. And no more annoying on-hold music!

  • Easy and intuitive – online scheduling is so simple and easy to use. Once your customers start using it, they won’t look back.

  • Greater flexibility – if something crops up unexpectedly and your customer needs to modify their appointment date or time, they can use the online scheduling app to change or cancel their appointment with just a tap of the screen.

  • Reminders – life admin can be a touch overwhelming. Online appointment scheduling will send your customers automated reminders and some will even automatically update their personal calendars with their appointment details.

  • Available 24-7 – Remember how annoying it is when you realise at 6.01pm that you forgot to call to reschedule your appointment and now they’re closed? Online scheduling does not constrain your customers to contacting you during your business hours, so they can book 24-7.

  • Saves customer details – your regular customers won’t have to provide their details over and over. And over. The app will retain their key information for future visits (securely of course).

  • Instant confirmation – have you ever been caught without a pen and paper, put down the phone and instantly forgotten the date or time of the appointment you just made? We’re only human after all. Online scheduling provides instant confirmation of your customer’s appointment details, helping to reduce missed appointments. Hooray!

How do I switch customers from booking over the phone to scheduling online?

Now that you understand the benefits of online scheduling for both your business and your customers, it should be easy to encourage your customers to book online. Everyone wins!

However, there will always be some people that are creatures of habit. Here are some tips to bring all your customers on board:

  1. Empower your customers by choosing an online scheduling software that is reliable and simple to use with an intuitive interface, like Scheduly. When your customers realise it’s easier to book online than to make a phone call, most will be happy to make the switch.

  2. Include lots of links to your online scheduling software from multiple locations across your website making it as easy as possible for customers to book online.

  3. Consider offering discounts or promotions that are valid only for bookings made online. This will entice new customers to schedule online for the first time and make the switch from booking via the phone.

  4. Tell your customers you prefer online bookings. Once people understand this is your preferred method of scheduling appointments, they are much more likely to get on board with online scheduling.

  5. When you or your staff interact with customers, casually ask them if they booked online. If they did, ask for their feedback. If they didn’t, ask why not and mention some of the benefits as listed above.

Emma Sanchez is a freelance writer and small business owner based in Perth, Western Australia.

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