If you own a small business, you likely understand that offering quality products or services isn’t necessarily enough to guarantee a successful and lasting relationship with customers. You also need to offer reliable customer service.
One way to do so is to make appointment booking as easy as possible. Along with boosting your reputation among customers, this will also allow you to schedule business meetings more efficiently.
You have a few options to consider when determining how to improve the appointment scheduling experience within your business. As a small business owner, you might not have the resources or space to dedicate an employee or department devoted to this element of customer service.
Luckily, you can instead partner with a business that provides live answering services. This may be more cost-effective than managing it in-house, or indeed, in comparison with the missed opportunity of not offering 24/7 appointment booking.
Live answering services are powered by virtual receptionists who help answer calls and book appointments for your customers.
Of course, you may prefer to manage your own booking process in-house, but still need trusted appointment scheduling software to power the process. Simple, intuitive appointment setting software will allow both you and your customers to set and keep track of appointments with ease.
Keep reading to learn more. Get answers to some of the most common questions small business owners ask about appointment scheduling software. Here, you’ll learn what these services and products are, and how to choose from different service providers.
Discover the benefits of appointment booking, and how it can add more bottom line to your business.
FAQs: Appointment setting software and support
What is it?
Appointment booking software comes in many forms. In general, it’s meant to simplify the process of booking appointments not only for your customers, but for yourself and your employees as well.
It can serve this purpose in a variety of ways. High-quality appointment scheduling software should offer an intuitive platform through which users can schedule appointments conveniently and easily. It should also help users keep track of appointments, which may be necessary if you’re a busy entrepreneur with a packed schedule.
Again, some appointment-booking software can be paired with live answering services in which virtual receptionists are on hand 24 hours a day to respond to customers who wish to schedule appointments. However, you may not currently need this service. If not, the ideal appointment-booking solution for you would be one that allows you to manage appointment scheduling on your own, with the option to add live answering services later.
What are the benefits?
Your customers have busy lives. When they reach out to your business to schedule appointments, they expect prompt responses. If your booking system doesn’t live up to those expectations, visitors will almost certainly contact another business.
Being available to customers and responding quickly when they contact you will naturally help you make the right impression.
This is among the chief benefits of appointment scheduling software. When customers see that you’re attentive to their needs by offering a convenient means of scheduling appointments, they’ll be more likely to continue giving you their business in the future.
An ideal appointment setting service can also help you make a better impression on all customers who reach out, regardless of how they choose to do so. For example, if you respond promptly, but only to customers who call you on the phone to schedule an appointment, you may not be instilling loyalty among customers who would prefer to schedule appointments via live chat or web forms.
Your goal is to ensure every customer has a positive experience when setting appointments. However, setting up multiple ways for customers to easily reach out can be difficult on your own. With help from an appointment setting service or software, the process becomes much easier.
Appointment-booking software can potentially allow customers to schedule appointments 24 hours a day. This offers flexible scheduling options that many small businesses can’t compete with. Quite often, the customer service department of a small business may only be available during business hours.
Being available 24 hours is also ideal if your customers are likely to require your services any time of the day or night. We all know, for example, that a plumbing emergency can arise at the most inconvenient times. That’s why a 24/7 call answering and appointment booking service for plumbers and other home services is so essential!
In virtually any industry, you can also serve more customers by offering appointments over video chat instead of on location or in an office. You might therefore have appointments with customers in different time zones. This is another reason giving customers the option to book appointments at any time of day is ideal.
How does appointment scheduling software make your job easier?
Helping you maintain positive relationships with your customers isn’t the only benefit appointment scheduling software and services can offer. They can also simplify your job.
Running a business involves handling many tasks throughout the day. This can be mentally taxing, making it difficult to stay on top of appointments.
Appointment scheduling software can help tremendously. The right tool will sync with such apps as Google Calendar, Outlook, and Office 365. This ensures you’ll be far less likely to forget about appointments. It also eliminates the need to add them to a calendar yourself. Additionally, helpful appointment-setting software will notify you of appointments via an app or similar means.
An appointment-setting service may even offer outbound appointment booking. This helps your business grow by scheduling appointments with warm leads, a task you otherwise might not have time for.
What should you look for in an appointment-booking solution?
This overview has only covered some of the most important benefits an appointment-booking solution can offer small businesses. Here’s what to look for when choosing preferred appointment booking software.
Overall availability is key. Remember, one of the key reasons to use this type of software or service is the fact that you may not be available yourself to handle appointment booking requests all hours of the day. Thus, you need to look for a service that offers 24-hour availability.
Being able to choose from multiple products and services when using an appointment-setting solution is critical for two reasons. One, you want to ensure you have access to all the services and products you genuinely need. That said, you don’t want to pay for anything you don’t need. Your solution should give you the option to pick and choose the services you’re paying for via multiple plans.
You also naturally want the option to change your plan. After all, along with the benefits already listed here, another benefit of an appointment-booking software involves helping you more easily scale your business. Maybe right now, your business is small enough that you can handle appointment-booking tasks on your own. All you need is the software and tools.
That will change as your business grows. When your calendar gets busier, you’ll probably have more appointments that need to be scheduled, while also having less time to handle customer appointment requests. That’s not an issue when you use an appointment-scheduling solution.
However, the plan you opt for initially may only serve your needs for so long. If your business continues to grow, which it ideally will, it might be necessary to upgrade to a new plan. You want to be certain you’ll be able to do so.
Choose a solution that allows you to tailor services to your specific needs and brand. For example, you may want to ensure your customers have a familiar experience when contacting your business. That means you should be able to customize your script if you decide to add live answering services to your plan.
You should also be able to exercise a certain degree of control over how customers can book appointments. For instance, it might be necessary to put a limit on how far ahead customers can set appointments in order to prevent your calendar from filling up too quickly.
Also, consider the types of customers you serve when choosing a solution. If you serve customers who live in multiple time zones or have schedules that don’t always align with your business hours, 24-hour availability will be a must.
You might also serve customers who don’t speak English. Or, they may prefer another language. In many communities, there’s a good chance you’ll be serving Spanish-speaking customers. Thus, it’s very helpful when a service also offers bilingual answering.
Bilingual answering won’t merely help you better serve any current customers who prefer to use Spanish. It will also help you attract potential customers who learn you can serve their needs in their language.
Choose a provider that’s clearly staffed by professionals. If you have questions or concerns, they should address your needs thoroughly and efficiently.
Buying appointment-booking software from a provider with reliable employees is also critical if you upgrade your plan with live answering services in the future. True, availability is important, but if the person responding to your customers is rude or inefficient, it won’t necessarily matter that they were available. You want the peace of mind that comes from knowing all those who represent your business do so in a positive manner.
Is it an appointment setting solution genuinely worth the cost?
A responsible business owner must consider their budget when deciding whether to pay for a given service. Even after learning about all the benefits of appointment scheduling software and services, you might understandably still wonder whether they’re worth your money.
If you run a growing small business and your services involve meeting with customers for any type of appointment, an appointment setting solution is almost certainly a wise business investment. Here’s why:
It’s important to remember that the right service will offer a variety of plans. Appointment-setting solutions may not be nearly as costly as you may imagine.
Maintaining customer relationships
Your business doesn’t need to even be that large for your schedule to prevent you from being able to personally respond to customers reaching out to book appointments. Thus, if your business is growing at all, there will likely come a day sooner rather than later (if that day hasn’t come already) when you will definitely need some form of additional support to ensure your customers receive consistent and reliable service. Remember, customer loyalty has direct financial benefits.
Giving customers the option to book appointments with your business 24 hours a day (and in more than one language, if you include that service in your chosen plan) will also allow you to serve more customers than you could if you were only available during business hours. This also boosts revenue.
It’s worth considering how much money (and time) you might spend if you tried to handle appointment-setting 100 percent in-house. You’ll need to post job listings and thoroughly interview applicants to confirm they’re professionals who’ll respond to customers courteously and appropriately. You’ll also need to spend money on the technology that essentially forms the infrastructure of a customer service call center.
That’s much more costly than working with a provider that already has the infrastructure in place and is staffed with qualified professionals. When others are handling your appointment booking and saving you additional time you might otherwise have to spend hiring new employees, you can devote more of your time to work that helps your business bring in more revenue.
That’s how you maximize growth!
These points indicate how an appointment-setting solution will pay for itself. Regardless of your industry, as long as your work at all involves meeting with customers (or clients, or coworkers, or suppliers, etc.) for appointments, you can potentially take advantage of massive benefits by leveraging appointment scheduling software and/or live answering services. The recommendations here will help you do so.