Whenever you want to avail yourself of some facility, you need to wait until your turn. When you go to a grocery shop, you shop for things and then wait in a queue to make payments. This phenomenon is not just limited to grocery shopping! Even at the dentist's, the dentist doesn't start treating you straight away when you step into the establishment; you need to wait until those, who were there before you came, obtain treatment.
It is a universal concept; wait until it is your turn, known as appointments. But with the advent of the global pandemic, it once didn't seem easy to maintain this order while obtaining facilities. Appointment booking apps solved this problem. It made grocery shopping, consulting doctors, getting beauty treatment, etc., easier during the lockdowns, when there was a restriction on the number of people at any public center. Such facilities were delivered to people's doorsteps, with the concept of appointments kept in order. Let us now see what appointment booking apps are in detail!
What are appointment booking apps?
Appointment booking apps or appointment schedulers are business tools that let clients book, reschedule, and cancel appointments through a web interface. It means when someone wants to avail of your services, they go to your website and schedule an appointment, choosing from the available dates and times.
Appointment booking apps prove beneficial when you have a shortage of staff; you need to change your available dates and time on the app and let clients choose from it. Suppose you have a hair salon and two of your hairdressers leave for a week.
These two hairdressers were in the re-bonding department. You need to change your availability and let clients know that you are not taking such appointments for a week; by not showing this week's availability on your calendar.
What is the importance of appointment booking apps?
If you run group or 1-1 bookings, you need to ensure that you give quality time to your clients; thus, delivering remarkable service. Appointments provide you know when and up to when you need to entertain a specific client.
During the appointment and the session, you can create the ideal atmosphere for your clients. It leads to building vital customer relationships, which increase repeat business, the ultimate goal of any business.
Allied Market Research proves this increasing use of appointment booking apps (2019), where it was estimated that the growth rate of the appointment scheduling market in 2026 would be 13.1%.
The Seven types of appointment scheduling
The primary aim of appointment booking apps is to ensure that a free flow of activities takes place in the organization. It ensures the organization gets some spare time to expand and provide clients with an enhanced experience.
There are seven types of appointment scheduling that various organizations usually use.
Time Slot Scheduling
Time slot scheduling is the most practiced scheduling technique as it is direct and simple. Despite the simplicity it offers, it is a bit rigid and strict, something that scares customers at times.
Time slot scheduling offers customers a range of available time slots to pick from; besides, they are required to reply with some basic information on their demanded services and usually get a reply via SMS.
The time chosen by customers, according to their preferences, falls within standard business hours and the time range the organization offers to them.
The only trouble here is that if time slots get filled quickly, there may not be available slots to go around for all the customers. Though, this method exhibits greater visibility of available time slots.
Wave scheduling is suitable for organizations that attend to a steady flow of customers as it avoids queues. It offers customers a time range to pick their preferred time slot from, which is within standard business hours.
This scheduling method is very simple to practice on an online scheduling system only if the software permits multi-booking for a single time slot. Wave scheduling demands the user to limit the number of slots according to the business' capabilities to avoid customers showing up and waiting at the business premises.
Open-book scheduling means that a business does not set firm appointments instead accepts walk-ins on a first-come, first-served basis. This type of scheduling is also known as open-access or same-day scheduling.
There are numerous ways in which open-book scheduling can work. Some businesses accept walk-ins, while others require you to call to book the same day. Open-book scheduling aims to reduce no-shows, which often happen when clients are required to book months in advance. Besides dealing with no show-ups, it ensures every patient or client who needs an appointment can receive service the same day.
Wave Plus Walk-in
This booking style combines the walk-in method and the wave method; it serves as a perfect option for businesses that offer remote services and limited office space. Wave Plus Walk-in type of scheduling requires an online booking system that supports multi-customer booking. Here customers book slots while in the wave window. The walk-in aspect is then made unavailable to make customers turn up on their terms.
Priority scheduling lets customers with an urgent need for appointments reserve appointments for themselves. There are two ways of implementing priority scheduling. The first type allows customers to queue appointments online, and then everyone has to wait for their turn. Meanwhile, the second type emphasizes
PRIORITY; the online booking system offers priority time slots to predesignated groups. This type of priority scheduling requires human judgment in selecting which customers require immediate attention and should be attended to before others. This method can be helpful in hospitals.
This method lets every client attend in due time without requiring human influence. Round-robin scheduling offers a quantified set of fixed time-slots to clients, assigning staff for each. If one staff member is absent, the next gets booked. It is a great way of ensuring that no staff is overstressed.
The only requirement here is that every staff member can perform the same task. The user decides the number of slots to be offered and other important details, and the automated online booking provider will select the next client in turn for an appointment.
Double scheduling involves setting two appointments and is practiced in service-based businesses where multitasking can be applied for both appointments.
It is done by offering a one-time slot to two clients who can attend at the same time. The only thing to take care of is that services should require equipment in the same facility to avoid wasting time traveling between the two locations.
Which Features Do the Best Appointment Booking Apps Have?
Appointment booking apps to stand out require certain features to make it possible. Numerous such features of appointment booking apps are listed below.
It is an obvious but the most important feature that appointment booking apps should have. Your scheduling software should allow customers to have multiple options for booking appointments, workshops, or classes.
Business owners need to use scheduling software because it allows them to automate time-consuming tasks; otherwise performed manually. Doing so relieves staff members from doing such tasks, and they can better focus on other important things to be done. Therefore, appointment booking apps should have automated functions like booking reminders and billing.
Numerous best appointment booking apps also have the provision for paying bills. It lets businesses easily collect payments and deposits from their clients. Apart from this, the security of customers’ credit cards and other information is taken care of. It builds a vital relationship with clients and leads to repeat business. The payment procedure should be user-friendly and easy, promoting more appointment scheduling and visits.
Calendar syncing capabilities
It is important to sync your scheduling software with your calendar to inform customers of your availability. The best appointment booking apps can calendar sync, allowing you and your clients to have greater visibility over your business’s availability.
Feedback and Rating Section
Appointment booking apps also mean on-demand booking apps, and therefore any app that needs scheduling appointments should have a ‘feedback and rating’ section. 98% of users read the reviews and ratings before using any app/ services, as stated by eMarketer and Bizrates. It also provides the business with clear insights into areas that need improvements
Managers and business owners should know every activity in your organization or business. It is so as they need to make decisions to flourish their business, and dashboards allow them to do so by providing them with reports. Dashboards also allow them to view and handle every feature and offer on the app.
Map API integration
Google Map Integration is a must as it allows the app users to travel to their destination with convenience. It encourages customers to use your services and book appointments.
Quick Signup/Guest Login
This feature is essential as it ensures speedy services. Customers prefer quick and easy login where they don’t have to spend much time filling in their details. One way of speeding up the login process is by integrating signup via social media profiles.
Core benefits of appointment booking apps for businesses
It benefits all types of business by letting employees easily track their shifts, vacation days, sick leave, etc. If any employee wants to go on holiday, they can indicate days when they will be absent.
24/7 customer access
Appointment booking apps can free managers from customer calls regarding queries and booking. Instead, clients reserve what they need on their own whenever they want.
Timely informing clients of their appointments saves staff members time and energy. When notified of a canceled appointment beforehand, staff members can focus on other tasks. Also, this makes clients trust you more since you thought of reminding them of their appointments by taking some time out from your schedule.
Convenient payment options
Appointment booking apps ease the payment process by accepting payments via PayPal, Stripe, Square, Braintree, and other payment gateways. It encourages users to opt for your services since people prefer cashless modes of payment nowadays.
It helps businesses by monitoring the number of bookings and website visits, most popular services, and other details.
Modern technology allows businesses to safely store and back up employee and client data to enhance online payment security. It also leads to secure communication among employees and between customers and companies. Customers are very conscious of where they share their personal information, and giving them a sense of security does boost your business.
Core benefits of appointment booking apps for customers
It allows clients to book goods or services anytime and anywhere without making phone calls to anyone.
Notifications and reminders
These are useful for reminding clients about upcoming appointments, thus preventing any changes to your schedule for the day.
Cancellations and rescheduling
In cases where clients face some other commitments and can’t show up, they can notify you of the same and easily cancel or reschedule their bookings.
Customers find it easy to pay for goods or services with an in-app payment system; also this offers them an opportunity to receive bonuses and special offers.
Steps to creating appointment booking apps
Feed-in your business details
Your app should contain all the details regarding your business. These details include business name, business description, contact details, and social media handles. Doing so creates a sense of trust among your customers.
Set up availability and services
Defining your working hours and adding blocked-out slots for scheduled breaks are must-haves in every appointment booking app.
List the services your business offers and make sure to add their descriptions, durations, and prices against them. Besides this, you need to specify which staff members can provide those services and whether they are publicly available or only via initiation.
Do you know that automated reminders can reduce no-shows by up to 90%?
It prevents chaos from last moment changes. To remind your clients of their appointments use SMS reminders as they have higher open rates than emails.
Customize your booking page
Your online booking page is a brand differentiator apart from your virtual shop front or digital front door. It means you need to make sure that your logo is shown properly on your appointment booking page. Make sure only to use high-resolution images as poor-quality pictures make your booking page appear untrustworthy.
Set up calendar sync
It allows you to see all your appointments in one place and prevent double bookings from happening. It also shows your clients the dates and times you are available for them. It even lets you manage your appointments by assigning small chunks of work to your staff members.
Before launching your appointment booking app, make sure that it is bug-free by checking every feature that your app offers. Make sure you can place a booking. And check whether the appointment came through your calendar system. Besides these features, make sure features like reminders, and virtual appointments are also working properly.
Share your online booking system
It is the last step to creating your appointment booking apps. Here it would help increase visibility online by sharing the online booking option with your existing and potential customers. For this, you can use your website, email campaigns, social media, etc.
Appointment booking apps make our business work smoothly and efficiently. It has become an integral part of every business currently in operation. If you are interested in getting an appointment booking app for your business, contact AppsRhino today! AppsRhino caters to its clients’ needs by providing apps as per their needs and desires.