Estimated read time: 4 minutes
Barriers in customer engagement are never good and can damage the experience for the consumers. So, it’s great to see when companies make the experience easy and one way to do that is by using online scheduling tools and allowing customers to book an appointment easily.
I certainly use online scheduling when it comes to booking podcast guests, business people use the Calendly plugin and many sales teams use online scheduling tools for meetings as well. But how about other businesses? Why can’t I book appointments online for these categories:
I mean I can use Open Table to make a restaurant reservation, order pickup from my grocery store and can even schedule an Uber or Lyft ride – all without talking to a person. But in some industries, the businesses want you to call. Or if they have a form on their website nobody checks those entries.
The types of online scheduling available
When I had to hire a company to clean my dryer vent, I could simply book the appointment on their website. Super easy. They showed me the openings available, I could match them against my own calendar and found a time. There was no back and forth about it and I received an immediate confirmation email.
This local Marion, Iowa, duct cleaning company has the book online button right there on its homepage and even tells me the cost before I book. Super easy.
Request an appointment
Another type of online scheduling includes requesting an appointment.
In this setup, customers enter the time they would like to be seen, but it’s not guaranteed and may or may not work for the company. It could lead to back and forth to find a time.
Why online scheduling is a differentiator
Some of the best sales people I’ve worked with over the years usually ask for a next step on any call they are on.
- When should I check back in with you?
- Do you want me to send you xyz and we can talk next week about any questions you may have?
I see online scheduling as an easy way to lock in that next step – the service appointment. When it’s hard to schedule, customers might just move on to something else or even a competitor.
For example, when I was looking for bids to make some improvements on my house, people emailed me that they had a proposal ready and I could call them to discuss it.
But then when you call them, they are busy and have to call you back anyway.
Why not instead send a link to book a meeting that will actually work for everyone involved and that everyone involved will actually show up for? Seems much easier.
When I was looking for somebody clean my vents, there were a number of companies to consider. They all had good reviews online. Some had name recognition. And at least one allowed me to book an appointment for the next business day. That company got my business in this case.
Things to consider when offering online scheduling
Like any technology solution, there are things to consider.
It all has to be set-up correctly. In a way that ensures the right people at the company know that an appointment was booked and it gets added to the right calendars. Follow-through certainly matters here.
This also includes making sure the calendar or calendars that it’s pulling open times from is updated. The whole point is to make scheduling easier. And if you have to call or email to let them know that a booked time won’t actually work won’t accomplish that.
Make sure everything works on all devices, including mobile.
Protect from spam
Make sure your calendar is protected from easily-preventable spamming attempts. You can add one of those “I’m human” checks, for example.
Consider how online scheduling might work for you
Some businesses quickly say they don’t need online scheduling because their customers just call. But maybe they just call because they don’t have the option to book online.
There are also some workflow consideration to think about. For example, if your business currently uses a paper calendar, implementing online scheduling across the board might not be as easy. After all, you’ll have to somehow sync the two up. And online scheduling is really meant to sync with a digital calendar.
Overall, online scheduling is something probably more businesses can and should consider. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t answer the phone or respond to texts and emails. But it’s another option to be customer-focused and make the customer experience more seamless.