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What is appointment scheduling software?
Appointment scheduling software lets businesses and professionals streamline their booking process and helps them schedule appointments with staff, clients, patients, and others. This software lets businesses send pre-visit reminders to minimize no-shows and last minute cancellations. It also helps businesses address issues such as double-booking and overbooking by providing a real-time view of daily appointment schedules.
The benefits of appointment scheduling software
- Reduced no-shows and unfilled slots: Appointment scheduling software keeps track of upcoming appointments and sends advance reminders to clients and service providers. This reminds attendees about their visits, and minimizes no-shows. Using built-in communication features, clients can even reschedule their appointment and inform the service provider beforehand (via text message or email) if they're unable to keep the original slot.
- Convenience of booking via multiple channels: Unlike traditional appointment scheduling methods where clients book appointments over the phone or in person, appointment scheduling software provides flexibility in terms of choosing the booking mode. Clients can book appointments over the phone, via mobile apps, through online portals, and third-party agencies. This helps attract clients/patients from multiple channels, and provides a better user experience.
- Efficient staff scheduling: Most appointment scheduling software lets businesses monitor staff schedules as well, allowing the organization and assignment of shifts, daily attendance tracking, and daily activity capturing at no additional cost.
Typical features of appointment scheduling software
- Appointment reminders: Set automated reminders for clients and service providers to remind them of upcoming schedules, payments, and/or scheduling changes prior to a visit.
- Online booking: Book appointments for clients through online booking portals, mobile apps, kiosks, and more. Clients can also view available slots and book on their own.
- Automated scheduling: Check staff availability in real time, and schedule shifts based on role, seniority, shift preference, and more.
- Calendar sync: Sync client booking details and appointment schedules with cloud-based systems such as Google Calendar, Outlook, and iCal.
- Recurring appointments: Schedule appointments that repeat at a regular interval over a set period of time, saving clients from having to re-book a periodic event over and over again.
Considerations when purchasing appointment scheduling software
- Look for features that meet your unique business needs: Appointment scheduling software caters to businesses of all sizes, and the software's utility differs for each user segment. While individuals are often looking to simply schedule and track appointments, small and midsize businesses need to manage appointment bookings and schedule staff efficiently. Enterprises often need a feature-packed system with appointment and staff scheduling, time tracking, meeting reminders, recurring appointments, customer retention, and multitasking functionality. As a buyer, you should identify your business' key requirements and choose appointment scheduling software based on those specific needs.
- Market-specific solutions: Most appointment scheduling software can be used by all sorts of businesses, but a few solutions cater to particular sectors such as healthcare, hospitality, and wellness. As a buyer, give preference to business-specific solutions over generic software (if applicable to your software needs). This will give you ready-to-use templates and custom fields optimized for your business type, and often facilitates compliance with industry regulations.
Relevant appointment scheduling software trends
- Increase in appointment-booking bots: Vendors like SoBo Bot and botsplash are now offering conversation chatbots that integrate into a business' website, Facebook Messenger, or messaging apps like WhatsApp. These chatbots-combined with artificial intelligence-are changing the face of technological communication in the scheduling space, interacting with clients through text and voice messages and receiving/approving booking requests without staff involvement. Capterra found that around 68% of SMBs are using or plan to use some sort of conversational user interface technology within the next two years.
- Multichannel appointment scheduling solutions are the gateway to an exceptional customer experience: Booking an initial appointment is, in many cases, the first interaction between a business and its clients. Offering a multichannel booking strategy can enhance customer experience and increase the chance that interested parties actually schedule an appointment. More and more businesses are realizing these benefits and focusing on providing a better customer experience from the outset.
- Rise in mobile app-based appointment scheduling: According to the research published by eMarketer in 2018, adults in the U.S. spend an average of three hours and 35 minutes each day on their mobile phone. Of that, 90% of their time is spent using mobile apps. This means that more and more of your potential clients are exhibiting a clear preference for businesses and vendors that offer mobile app-based appointment scheduling options.