Online appointment schedulers are hugely popular. And there are many from which to choose, all with their particular “menu” of features. Of the 6 features your scheduler should have, there is one that may not be top of mind for you: your customers. What your customers want in an online appointment scheduler is just as important as what you want—perhaps even more important.
Consumer Research on Appointment Schedulers
Studies show that online appointment scheduling leads to higher rates of customer satisfaction as well as a reduced risk of no-shows. Moreover, it reduces lateness, so clients get more out of their appointments with your organization.
But clients don’t want to communicate their needs as much as they want them to be anticipated by the companies with which they do business. In an October 2018 blog post, Medium stressed, “Think of it this way: Gone are the days when you could meet your customers halfway. Now, it is important to meet customers at their doorstep.”
Getting to the doorstep is one thing. Convince clients to actually open the door is a whole other matter. One of the best ways to do that is to do business with them on their terms. That begins with giving them the ability to self-schedule appointments with you. Perhaps due to work schedules, they aren’t able to book appointment until their work day ends. As such, you need to enable them to use their after-work hours to self-schedule their appointments with you. Or perhaps they want to self-schedule during weekends and holidays. Or at 2:00am when they get off the night shift.
One thing is clear: customers want to be in control. The ability to self-schedule appointments delivers a measure of that control to them.
6 Features Your Scheduler Should Have
You’ll find a literal sea of options out there, too. Which one should you choose? Well, for starters, don’t make this decision about you. Make it about them—your customers. Their expectations and your fulfillment of those expectations will set the stage for their loyalty to your company.
There are a number of aspects of online appointment scheduling you probably don’t realize are important to your customers:
EZNet Scheduler®, the cloud-based, SaaS online appointment scheduling software developed by EZnet Services, Inc.®, offers appointment self-scheduling. This feature enables your customers to schedule their own appointments 24/7/365 via your website or via EZnet’s URL. It provides an efficient, automated way of doing what people, paper and pens have traditionally done.
With an online appointment scheduler, customers typically access a calendar that shows available appointment time slots. Then, all they need to do is select the time that works best for them. The self-service aspect provides a convenience for customers that just can’t be matched by old-fashioned telephone appointment scheduling.
And this convenience is demanded by almost 70% of today’s consumers.
This is especially true for those who work many hours and don’t have the time or patience to make phone calls to schedule their appointments. Online appointment scheduling gives the customer the freedom to schedule the appointment when they have a minute to do so. And a scheduler like EZnet Scheduler can automate appointment reminders and confirmations. The scheduler does the work so you don’t have to.
The keyword here is EASY.
2. Integration with Client’s Calendar
Social media integrations give your customers the convenience of scheduling appointments using any social accounts your business may have. These integrations can also automatically add an appointment to your calendar. Through social media, your calendar is right smack dab in the middle of everyone’s daily online activity. And when you stop to consider Statista’s findings that over 60% of people access social media sites on their smartphones, it’s essential for you to be where those consumers “live.”
3. Reminders and Confirmations
According to Forbes, research has proven that email reminders (standard fare for online scheduling software) are effective at reducing no-shows as well as decreasing staff labor, waiting times and improving overall satisfaction. But EZnet Scheduler goes a step further, providing unlimited text message appointment notifications and confirmations.
Why not just use email if its been effective in the past?
Simply put, text messaging is a much more direct route to the customer. They don’t have to log into their email account to see your appointment reminder or confirmation. According to a September 2, 2020 article published on PCmag.com, if your business wants to communicate with customers, understand that emails are out. 85% of smartphone users prefer mobile messages over emails or phone calls. Moreover, 55% of consumers flat out ignore emails because they get so many of them.
The key to the heart of today’s consumers, especially Millennials, is convenience. The fewer steps required to retrieve information and respond to it, the better. In keeping with this, EZnet Scheduler offers unlimited text message appointment notifications and confirmations. We aren’t kidding when we say that EZnet Scheduler powers competitiveness!
4. A Customizable Experience
Like it or not, we live in the age of customization. Just about everything is personalized. The hardest part of being a new client (or patient) is that the service provider doesn’t always know what a new client needs or is looking for. This is true of everything from doctor’s offices to hair salons to real estate agencies. Giving clients the ability to select what’s needed while scheduling appointments saves time when the client arrives. The result is that you’ll be better able to focus on providing the service that was requested.
But even more compelling is the fact that, according to PwC, if you prioritize customer experience, you can expect customers to pay 16% more for your products and services. In addition, you’ll gain increased customer loyalty. What’s more, customers will share their good experiences with six other people, according to Brandwatch.
What truly makes for a good experience? According to PwC, speed, convenience, consistency, friendliness and human touch. That is, creating real connections with customers and giving employees and customers what they need: a better experience with your product or service.
When you implement an online appointment scheduler, customers should be able to access it via the Internet-connected device they prefer, whether that be smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop PC. According to Statista, mobile internet access accounts for 54.8% of web traffic worldwide.
Think about that for a moment. They’re already on their phone, but they don’t want to use their phone make phone calls to book appointments!
Really, then, the phone has become an internet communications hub. More than half of consumers worldwide have made it their device of preference for gathering information, reading reviews, and conducting professional and personal business—and, of course, scheduling appointments.
More than half!
6. Hyper Personalization
In their 2017 State of Personalization Report, Segment says that 71% of customers find impersonal customer service to be “frustrating.” On the other hand, personalizing the customer experience makes customers feel special and valued. As such, one of the best ways to deliver that experience is through online appointment scheduling. This is especially true if the scheduler you’ve implemented enables customers to choose how they would like to be notified and reminded of an appointment and asked to confirm it. In just one tap, their appointment is confirmed.
What this all boils down to is enhancing the customer experience. You’re not just implementing a convenient way of scheduling appointments. By implementing online appointment scheduling software and making it readily available to customers, you’re investing in the experience your organization delivers to those customers.
Indeed, with online appointment scheduling, you’re just one tap away from significantly ramping up your competitiveness.