Appointment scheduling software has been around for a long time, but in just the past year, it has become a key tool for many businesses. With the challenges of the past year, some businesses found themselves unprepared to maintain and grow contact with key customers, and are revisiting their customer engagement initiatives. If this rings true for your business, and you’re strategizing ways to make a huge impact on the customer and staff experience, as well as increase your bottom line, then you’re certainly in the right place to be asking “does my business need appointment scheduling software?”
Perhaps your organization is in the midst of a digital transformation, and there are many “hot” items as a part of this initiative. How do you prioritize these items? And should an appointment scheduling solution be a priority? With the fact that many customers are now accustomed to virtual and in-person appointment offerings, and the fact that appointments are driving significant ROI for companies, there has never been a better time to prioritize appointments.
So how do you know if your business needs appointment scheduling software? Let’s take a deeper look into what you need to know. We’re going to dive into the benefits of appointment scheduling, what to consider when evaluating appointment scheduling software tools, and why enterprise companies should invest in an appointment scheduling solution.
What is appointment scheduling software
When you think of appointment scheduling software, one of the first things that comes to mind is a calendar. While scheduling at its most simple is calendaring, when it comes to running your business, you need so much more than a calendar.
Appointment scheduling software automates and manages appointments by allowing consumers to schedule an in-person, voice-based, or video-based appointment with a service provider through an app, a website, or a kiosk. This is all done without the need for a staff member to manually create or book appointments for the customer. Enterprise scheduling solutions also help teams manage this at scale - across multiple time zones, staff members, locations, languages, and more.
You might also be wondering, what is an appointment type or use case that enterprises are seeing success from? There are many use cases across industries, and leading retailers and banks are implementing multiple appointment types (both virtual and in-person) to drive revenue.
Retailers are offering appointments such as personal shopping, in-store services, and in-store consultations to exceed customer expectations. Banks and credit unions are finding success with a variety of appointments, such as opening or closing an account, mortgage consultations, transaction disputes, mobile/digital banking assistance, wealth management, and much more.
How your business can benefit from using appointment scheduling software
With online appointment scheduling, your customers will have more control over their own experiences, and your teams will have more insight into a customer’s needs and wants - enabling your staff to deliver higher impact, higher value customer engagements. Appointments benefit businesses in multiple ways from building deeper customer relationships to increasing revenue.
Appointment scheduling builds stronger relationships
When your staff has the ability to get to know your customers on a deeper level, there is so much opportunity to build stronger, more personalized customer relationships. The right solution empowers a consumer to manage his/her own journey, while enabling the service provider to get to know the customer’s preferences and needs through in-depth insights. Your staff will be able to showcase their expertise, ask engaging questions, and drive additional revenue by recommending relevant products and services during the customer appointment. By personalizing each appointment, your staff can make every customer feel like a VIP, which translates into stronger customer relationships.
Appointment scheduling improves customer loyalty
Loyalty comes down to customer satisfaction. Happy customers will always keep coming back for more, and will likely spread the word about how much they love your business. Appointments provide the opportunity for organizations to secure valuable one-on-one time with customers and establish real relationships that lead to long-term loyalty.
Appointment scheduling increases conversions and revenue
When customers book appointments, they are more likely to be more educated on the products and services, and more likely to transact. As your staff builds rapport with customers during the appointment, they will be able to suggest additional products or services based on personalized needs and wants, ultimately increasing sales. After the appointment, staff can also follow up with customers to make additional product or service recommendations.
All the way around, from improving staff productivity to increasing sales - booking software is driving conversions and revenue for businesses across industries.
When is it worth paying for appointment scheduling software
There are hundreds of appointment scheduling software solutions available on the market. So how are you supposed to choose? What’s best for your organization? And what’s the difference between free and paid versions?
Free appointment scheduling software
While it might seem enticing, there are several things to consider if you’re looking at free scheduling software, namely technical considerations that should not be overlooked. Free solutions often require a paid plan for the best features. Additionally, they often have limited functionality for integrations, no in-depth analytics, and very little customer support.
Not to mention, many free solutions focus on the calendar functionality, without considering how to make scheduling work at scale. Free appointment solutions might work in some smaller use cases, but the lack of flexibility and scalability will limit what enterprise businesses can do with the software.
Low-cost appointment scheduling software
So aside from free solutions, what about some of the lower-cost appointment scheduling solutions? Unfortunately, these solutions have many of the same limitations for enterprise businesses. Low-cost online booking solutions are built off of basic calendaring functionality, and the use cases extend to smaller, low-volume businesses such as local gyms, salons, dog groomers, etc.
They are usually used to manage simple, repetitive tasks and built for a single channel - not designed to be used by high-volume, growing businesses. Again, while low-cost solutions might fit some smaller business needs, they are not built for enterprise use cases, and are certainly not built to manage enterprise scale.
Powerful enterprise appointment scheduling software
True enterprise appointment scheduling solutions focus on a great front-end user experience for customers and a seamless back-end experience for your staff and business. These solutions are built to scale with businesses as they grow or their use case needs change.
The top enterprise appointment booking solutions have a complex scheduling engine with an easy-to-use interface that can handle appointments across the business - including multiple locations, staff members, and time zones. Additionally, top enterprise solutions focus on the importance of integrations, information security, accessibility, analytics, branding, and more.
While it may be tempting to test out free solutions, the truth is that if your enterprise organization is considering appointment scheduling as a way to drive revenue, the investment in a powerful enterprise solution is worth it. With the ability to scale, the usability for customers and staff, the technical support, and the continuous improvements that come with a SaaS-based scheduling platform, your team should take the time to evaluate and invest in the right technology built purposefully for enterprise use cases.
Why enterprise companies need intelligent appointment scheduling software
Now that you know an enterprise booking solution is worth it, let’s bring a little more context to the complexity of scheduling - and why finding the RIGHT enterprise solution matters. Let’s imagine a common problem in the workplace: scheduling meetings. Consider the difficulty of scheduling meetings internally within your own company. We’ve all had the back and forth even with the option to see everyone’s availability on their calendars.
Then consider how difficult that is when you are trying to coordinate schedules between your team and an external vendor, partner, or customer. While you can easily see the schedules of your team, you have to go back and forth several times with the external vendor before settling on a date. And what if one key person can’t make that time anymore? Then you’re starting the whole process over. Even with the calendar tools available, this can be extremely challenging, not to mention time consuming.
Now imagine doing this at scale...imagine as a bank, your business has to coordinate across hundreds of branches and staff members, as well as several time zones. Giving a customer the control to easily book an appointment at a place and time that’s convenient for them while also ensuring it’s with the right staff member who has the right expertise every single time. Seems pretty hard to envision how it’s possible, right?
BUT IT IS possible. The right enterprise appointment scheduling tool can solve this complexity for you, making it a piece of cake for all parties involved: your customers, your staff, and your executive team. Giving your customers the ability to control their experience, empowering staff members with crucial customer insights, and providing stakeholders insights into key metrics like appointment conversions and revenue. That’s why it’s critical to find online appointment scheduling software that doesn’t only meet your needs now, but scales with you as your organization grows or changes. The best enterprise appointment scheduling solutions are taking the following into consideration (and you should too):
- Security: Is the software vendor GDPR compliant? Does the software meet industry compliance standards?
- Accessibility: Is the software fully inclusive for all users? Does the vendor prioritize accessibility and ensure compliance with WCAG 2.1 AA guidelines?
- Integrations: Can the appointment scheduling software integrate with various email systems, CRM software, calendars, call centers, video conferencing, and more?
- Robust analytics: Is there in-depth data to review performance on key metrics like conversions and revenue, lead and wait times, no-shows, cancellations, and more?
- Personalized branding: Does the appointment scheduling software allow you to white-label the booking experience to ensure your brand is reflected throughout the entire customer journey?
- Multiple appointment modes: Are customers able to set up different appointment types for all of your services? Can they choose voice-based and video-based remote appointments or in-person appointments?
- Self-serve customer features: Can customers schedule appointments and reschedule or cancel as needed on their own? Can they set up recurring appointments?
- Staff management and insights: Does your staff get access to critical customer insights before, during, and after each appointment to ensure the ultimate personalized experience?
There are many things to consider when selecting an enterprise appointment solution that can accommodate all of your use case needs.
The case for prioritizing appointments
Right now, the global online appointment scheduling market is expected to reach $360 million by the end of 2023. When appointment scheduling is done right, you can exceed your customers’ expectations and improve customer loyalty across the board. In today’s world, where customers not only expect omnichannel experiences, but also unique, personalized experiences, appointments have become a crucial strategy to transform the way businesses connect with their customers. And the truth is, if you aren’t offering appointments, it’s likely your competitors are. So it shouldn’t only be a priority, it should be about differentiating your service offerings and giving your customers the unique experiences they want. When you consider all of the benefits, there’s no denying appointments should be a top priority.
In fact, customers who schedule appointments:
- Are more educated on the products and services you provide
- Are more likely to transact because of the research they do pre-appointment
- Can be more easily nurtured by your staff, who can build deeper relationships with them by knowing their preferences, wants, and needs
And recent studies back this up:
- Customers who pre-book appointments spend 7 - 8X more than walk-ins (Forrester Consulting)
- 90% of financial institutions using online appointment solutions saw new accounts opened and new balances gained (The Financial Brand)
- 64% of customers will invest more in a service after an in-person interaction (PwC)
- Customers are 110% more likely to add items to their baskets, and spend 40% more than planned when a shopping experience is highly personalized (Boston Consulting Group)
Innovative retailers, banks, and other businesses are leading the way by offering immersive experiences through appointment scheduling. At JRNI, we’re proud to be partnering with the best in the industry to help manage and schedule personalized experiences at scale. Want to know how we can help benefit your organization? Well, we recently commissioned Forrester Consulting to measure the ROI of JRNI’s experiential relationship management platform at a $3B revenue company with over 200 locations. The results include 143% ROI, $4M in benefits, 1,676 staff hours saved per year, and so much more. See the results for yourself!
Interested in learning more about how we can help? Then speak with one of our experts!
March 16, 2021
5 minute read