73 percent of folks want online booking.* But to this day, only a handful of service businesses offer it. Does that make any sense to you? An online booking system gives you a leg up on the competition in so many ways: happy customers, lots of time saved, increased customer loyalty, more appointments, and less running around trying to coordinate your business day. This is something you’re not going to want to let slip away.
Why do customers want online booking?
- 88% like how they can easily see what time slots are available
- 82% want to be able to book an appointment 24 hours a day
- 78% save time they would otherwise have needed to book an appointment on the phone
- 75% appreciate the confirmation and reminder they get with online booking
- 37% enjoy how the appointment is automatically entered into their e-calendar
On the books
So if you don’t have an online booking system, customers are probably making appointments over the phone or stopping by in person. Put a little differently: You’re not always there for your customers. It’s doubtful you’re sitting next to the phone at 11 PM to set them up with an appointment. And that’s the real issue here, which we can best illustrate with an example. Gina’s got her hands full all day with the kids, her job, and taking care of stuff around the house. She’s been wanting to book a hair appointment for the last few days. But the first time of day she even has a chance to get around to it, her salon’s already closed. So two days later she gets a moment to call, but then there’s the next problem with actually finding an appointment. She’s only got time in the morning on Mondays. Afternoons are all she can do on Tuesdays. Wednesday, sure, but only between noon and 2 PM. This goes on for what feels like a half an hour before she finds an appointment that works. The next day Gina’s boss tells her she’s got an important meeting she needs to attend at the exact time she made her appointment for. So here we go again: Call back, and search again for a doable appointment.
Online booking saves the day
A lot of your customers are like Gina. If you offer online booking, you’ll be making their lives that much easier. They can book their appointments 24 hours a day, no matter where they are. They’ll instantly see which appointments are still available and find the one that’s best for them. Let them book not just the appointment time, but the service they want and even the person they want to have do it. No more “Friday morning? Nope, won’t work.
FormWednesday afternoon? Yeah, I think so…no wait, that doesn’t work either.” Just imagine all the time and aggravation you’ll be saving yourself and your customers. And also take a second to think about how many times you’ve been taken away from your work by a ringing phone. An online booking system minimizes this distraction, letting you get back to your customers. You’re going to like the way this service puts you ahead of your competition. And so getting back to Gina: Which service business do you think she’s going to go to? You got it, the one where she can simply and easily book her appointment online.
Getting things down
Like we said in the last chapter, an online booking system is fantastic together with an online calendar and a digital customer database. These functions operate hand-in-hand and make your workday easier. Online bookings should sync with your calendar automatically, so your customers can only book slots that are actually available. You should also be able to add blockers in your schedule to make time for a lunch break or other errands you might need to run from time to time. Less time spent for more appointments. That’s what you’ve always wanted. And make sure your booking tool also has an automated appointment reminder that sends a text message or email to your customer a day or so ahead of time. That can help cut your no-shows in half.
Online booking software can do even more these days, because booking buttons can be used on more than just the own website. Book your appointments on Google, Facebook or Instagram to open up all kinds of new opportunities. Maybe you’re not ranking the way you want on Google, but you’ve got lots of Instagram followers? Use that to profit from your reach and turn followers into customers. Or how about if somebody finds your service business on Google Maps and then books an appointment with you right then? That’s service that your customers are going to like, and that’s going to bring you more and more business.