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Technology Tip

Technology Tip
Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. Dave's editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.

Small Business Scheduling Tools

Small Business Scheduling Tools

As more people expect self-service convenience, a growing number of mobile scheduling tools are allowing customers to book their own appointments and reduce the amount of time small business owners and employees devote to scheduling-related tasks.

Allowing customers to book their own appointments, either through scheduling apps or websites, offers a number of benefits for service providers and their customers.

From the company’s standpoint, these tools reduce the cost and effort of having people answer phones to schedule appointments manually. And because getting an appointment is a critical early step in the sales process, allowing customers and prospects to book meetings at their convenience can be a powerful way to stand out from your competitors while increasing your opportunities.

Customer Convenience

Even something as simple as scheduling a haircut can take five minutes before the service provider answers the phone and looks for available appointments while the customer checks his or her calendar before the appointment is booked.

With a mobile app, the customer can look for available slots and make a reservation. They’re able to look for an appointment when they want, instead of waiting for a business to open. In addition, they won’t have to wait to speak to sometime to book that appointment, saving them time and potential frustration.

The customer’s new appointment is then integrated into the company’s calendar, reducing the risk of double-booking. Appointments appear automatically on a master calendar, as well as the individual calendars of team members who will be taking part in the appointment.

To help reduce the risk of no-shows, customers can request reminder texts or emails at customized intervals as their appointment nears. These messages typically contain a link for customers to reschedule appointments they can’t meet.

Customers tend to appreciate this convenience and flexibility, especially since many people would rather use an app than make a phone call.

Depending on the service that’s being booked, some scheduling tools allow customers to pre-pay for their service. This feature offers additional convenience for the service provider and the customer.

Company Benefits

For companies offering these tools, self-service scheduling can provide a number of benefits. In addition to reducing friction in the traditional booking process, self-scheduling can make a smaller service provider appear larger or more sophisticated than its rivals.

As another benefit, self-scheduling reduces the amount of time that team members have to devote to relatively low-value tasks such as looking for available openings. This can free them to devote more time to selling or customer service.

Calendar Integrations

Most scheduling tools offer integrations with your existing company website or social media pages to offer a seamless experience for your customers. If your site is built on WordPress, you can add scheduling functionality easily with a dedicated tool that offers WordPress integration, or with a plug-in that may offer more basic features.

Some will also offer integrations with your email marketing and CRM tools so you can stay in touch with your customer after the appointment.

Depending on your service or product, scheduling tools an automate recurring appointments, or send a reminder message when it’s almost time for a customer to come back. This can help increase profitable recurring business without the need to contact customers manually.

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