If you’re a small business owner or operator that takes appointments or books reservations for your services, chances are you’ve incorporated standard procedures to handle this important, yet tedious, task. Perhaps you utilize an online calendar app, such as the one offered by Google. Or maybe you still take and manage appointments in the more traditional manner, whereby a customer or client calls and you or your staff write down the appointment or reservation details in a paper appointment book.
The aforementioned methods of scheduling services may seem adequate enough. However, there is another option available to all small business operators that can have an immediate, positive effect and help streamline and automate the entire appointment and reservation-scheduling processes: online scheduling software.
Commonly referred to as Software as a Service (SaaS), these applications let business owners, operators and staff members focus less time on their appointment-scheduling and more time with their customers.
Here are 10 reasons why online scheduling software benefits small businesses:
1. It saves time. Think of how many times you must stop what you’re doing to answer the phone and schedule an appointment or book a reservation. And think of the tasks your receptionist or staff member could be doing instead of managing appointments. Online scheduling software gives you the ability to offer online self-scheduling to your customers. As more of them schedule online, fewer will call in to schedule, change or cancel their appointments and reservations.
2. It saves money. For most business operators, time is money. And time not well-spent can eat into your operating revenue.
3. It’s easy to access. Got an Internet connection? If so, than online scheduling software is right for you. It’s all you need to set-up and administer online scheduling software. And it’s all your customers need to access your scheduler and book their appointments and reservations.
4. It offers online payment options. Customers may wish to pay for your service at the same time they schedule an appointment or book a reservation. Some scheduling software providers give you the option of incorporating payment modules into your online scheduler.
5. Your customers will appreciate it. If they’re like many of us, your customers conduct daily activities and tasks online. This includes booking and scheduling appointments. Offering this benefit can really put your business in the spotlight.
6. You and your staff members will appreciate it. Your customers won’t be the only ones impressed with your new scheduler. Turning in your paper appointment book or electronic calendar will put a smile on your staff members’ faces!
7. It makes e-marketing easy. Do you send e-newsletters or promotional pieces to customers? If so, how do you collect and manage e-mail addresses? On a spreadsheet or on multiple documents? Online scheduling software collects and securely stores customer e-mail addresses in one centralized spot, making it easy to gather these for your e-marketing campaigns. You can also add a scheduler button or banner in your newsletter that directs customers right to your scheduling application.
8. It lets you easily create reports. In some schedulers, it’s as easy as selecting the criteria and clicking your mouse. You no longer need to shuffle between folders or files to gather your appointment and customer information.
9. It can automatically send customers reminder e-mails and text messages prior to their appointment. Reminders can significantly reduce the number of “no-shows” that fail to make it to their appointment. But making reminder phone calls or sending reminder postcards can be both time-consuming and expensive. online payment software Scheduling software makes it easy to communicate with your customers by automatically sending e-mail and text message reminders.
10. It’s affordable. Online appointment-scheduling software is typically affordable and can fit into any operating budget. Some also offer flexible month-to-month payment options without any long-term contracts.
Online scheduling software is versatile technology that most small businesses and organizations can utilize to improve their appointment and reservation procedures. The above list is just a snapshot of the many reasons why small business owners and operations should consider it. If you haven’t yet incorporated an online scheduling application into your operations, give it a try. And find out why a growing number of businesses and organizations large and small depend on it to run more smoothly, efficiently and more profitably.
Eric Richard is the public relations specialist for Appointment-Plus, an online scheduling system that has booked over 45 million appointments and reservations since its launch in 2001. Over 3,500 businesses throughout the United States, Canada and 10 other countries rely on the software for such tasks as scheduling customer reservation and appointment times, booking rooms, facilities and equipment, accepting online payments, sending reminders, and e-marketing. Its developer is StormSource Software, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based technology firm specializing in the development of online appointment software for a wide variety of applications and industries.