Whether working remotely, attending a virtual town hall meeting, or having a telehealth appointment, our day-to-day lives are more virtual than ever. While necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic, the benefits of remote services are clear: convenient, efficient, and safe.
Globally, consumers are now using video calls to communicate with businesses and service providers 67% more than 1 year ago (Vonage 2021). Consumers are finding value in remote options, including the convenience and efficiency. A recent study found that there was a 20.1% decrease in the average length of meetings when conducted as virtual video meetings. This is true of virtual video appointments across industries as well. Reduced appointment length means consumers are getting what they need faster, without wasting a minute of their time. These are the types of experiences consumers will continue to want moving forward.
So it’s no surprise that consumers are requesting - and expect - ways to get personalized, exceptional experiences virtually. In fact, video calls are now in the top 10 of omnichannel customer engagement channels. Remote appointments provide the level of personalization consumers are looking for - and give them the control and flexibility to have a scheduled virtual visit that best suits their schedule and lifestyle.
While many of the important things remain in a virtual setting, such as the human-to-human connection, remote appointments do need to be run differently to provide the best experience possible. Providing customers and employees an easy way to connect and be productive via a robust, intelligent appointment scheduling solution is going to ensure your team is set up for success. So here are the best practices for remote appointments to nail your strategy!
Best platforms for scheduling remote customer appointments
To start, your business should look for an online appointment solution that will provide all the necessary features for scheduling remote customer appointments. The best solutions have flexible booking rules, allowing you the freedom to customize the appointment types that you want to offer your customers.
Automation for managing remote appointments
Having a system that focuses on automating processes is essential for a successful virtual appointments strategy. An automated reminder feature helps ensure there is a steady stream of communication between customers and employees. It doesn’t benefit employees or customers if appointment details need to be changed manually, or if an employee needs to send reminders manually.
Your online scheduling solution should include automated messaging and appointment reminders that keeps customers up to date on everything they need to know. This automation is crucial for increasing attendance and decreasing no-shows and cancellations!
Powerful appointment integrations
When discussing remote appointment scheduling, one of the most important considerations is how to integrate with your current tech stack to ensure you’re getting the proper insights across your business. Finding a solution that can integrate with your customer relationship management (CRM) software is a vital tool to ensure data is properly piped into the customer’s profile.
Aside from a CRM integration, your online appointment solution should be able to integrate across your workforce management, online payment, and other mission-critical tools.
Another major consideration when evaluating an online appointment setting solution is security. Does the provider offer a native video solution that helps reduce security risks? Or do they offer an integration with a leading video conferencing service that your team is comfortable with?
It’s important to find a technology partner that takes the security of you and your teams, as well as your customers, seriously.
Promote remote appointment availability
So once you’ve found the right appointment scheduling solution to help you scale your virtual appointment strategy, the next step is launching and letting your customers know about the new service.
To get the word out, here are three suggestions to start promoting remote appointments:
Email: Personalize email communication based on customer segments and create an email campaign that shares this new offering. Adding this into a footer of additional upcoming email campaigns is also a great way to continuously get the word out!
Social media: Social media is one of the best ways to reach your audience where they are actively spending time! Promote your remote appointments across your social media channels, and be sure to point your audience directly to where they can book a remote appointment. Also consider paid social ads as a way to increase appointment volume.
Prominent website placement: Give your new remote appointment options visibility by placing it prominently on your website. Maybe it’s a main menu option leading to an appointment landing page, or a pop-up message across your pages. Test and see what pages and areas of the website work best, and continue to drive traffic to your remote appointments solution.
LEARN MORE: Looking for more ways to promote appointments? Don’t miss our industry-specific guides! Each has promotion ideas, industry examples, and tips to help supercharge your campaigns:
How to personalize remote customer appointments
One of the most important considerations for remote appointments is how to personalize the service. While there is still a high level of face-to-face, personal connection in a video appointment, it requires proper preparation and should be consistent with any in-person appointment experiences you offer. With the right appointment scheduling software tool in place, your customers can easily book a time for the preferred appointment type. Before your employees confirm an appointment with a customer, make sure the right person is taking them on. An appointment scheduling solution with multi-mode appointments should make it simple to switch employees and ensure the right people are available.
Remote appointment preparation
By being properly prepared, your employees can provide the type of experience that keeps customers coming back for more! Here’s how to prepare:
- Dive into the data
To provide a unique - and one-of-a-kind - experience, your employees need to dig into the data to review things like conversation history, past purchase history, preferences, and more.
As a retail associate, you’ll want to utilize customer data to tailor unique looks and make customized product recommendations. As a bank employee, you can dive into your analytics to more precisely target and tailor products for customers and utilize this information for cross-sell opportunities.
Pre-booking questions should also give your employees a way to customize the remote appointment. This information will give them insight into why the customer booked the appointment and what they want to accomplish during their visit.
- Run a test before the scheduled time
Before the appointment, you need to ensure that your technology is set up and ready to go to make a connection virtually! As your employees prepare to meet with a customer, they should take the time to test:
Do they have a strong internet connection?
Is there enough lighting?
Are they able to share their screen?
Are they able to share the products and services they want to review?
Are they able to easily pull up additional products and services on screen?
Testing this will ensure that things go as smoothly as possible during the remote appointment.
- Create a visual experience
On a remote consultation, visuals will be vital to make up for the fact that employees can’t physically put something in front of customers. Make sure to prepare any useful supplemental materials that can be sent over in advance of the customers’ appointment if they’re choosing a remote option.
Additionally, using visual tools to put together a lookbook for a personal shopping video consultation or sharing a visually-appealing presentation about your financial service options is a great way to keep customers engaged during the virtual visit.
When your employees have the tools to properly prepare for a client meeting, they have the opportunity to connect with customers on a deeper level and be more successful in their roles. All of this leads to increased employee engagement and higher customer satisfaction.
Along with preparing for the remote appointment, another best practice is to have an established post-appointment follow up strategy in place. After the appointment, employees should immediately follow up with a thank you - whether via email or SMS - to make your customers feel like a true VIP. Additionally, other options for engaging customers post-appointment outreach include:
Sending a personalized follow-up communication reviewing what was discussed and any additional product or service recommendations
Making the ask for the next appointment with a recommended agenda
Reaching out to follow up on any product purchase or new service - make sure they don’t have any questions or need help
Asking for feedback on the remote appointment and if they had a great experience, asking for a review where they specifically mention the virtual visit
The way you follow up after a remote appointment matters just as much as how you prepare! By giving just as much attention to personalization after the meeting, your customers will feel that you truly listened and cared, and this will lead to more loyalty long-term.
Taking the time to find the right appointment booking solution, promote your remote appointment options, and personalize the experience all the way through will ensure you’re providing the best remote appointments for your customers.
At JRNI, we have the tools to make remote appointments a simple, intuitive process for both your customers and your employees - and can help you personalize at scale! Watch the video below to learn more:
Interested in learning more about JRNI can help you level up your customer engagement strategy with remote appointments? Then schedule a time to speak with an expert!
About the author
The JRNI team is made up of product, customer, and technical experts who are focused on driving personalized experiences - for our customers, and for theirs. The JRNI blog enables us to dive into how retail and financial organizations can use personalized experiences to grow profitability, build stronger customer relationships, and drive customer loyalty.
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