As consumers increase their reliance on mobile and online browsing, businesses have adjusted accordingly by creating websites that are responsive and allow the consumer to easily reach the information that they seek. While this first step is critical in meeting consumer needs, businesses usually fail to take extra steps that will convert them into customers. Online appointment booking is an often-overlooked feature that can, ultimately, lead to a loss of income for businesses, especially SMBs.
The majority of online browsing is performed either after work hours or during short breaks throughout the day. As such, when consumers find the business they need, they need the availability to purchase or book on the spot. When choosing between two or more businesses, the majority will select the business which allows them to save time by booking online instead of having to remember to call back during regular business hours or fill out a contact form that doesn’t guarantee a call-back.
Recent surveys reveal that 59% of millennials are likely to book appointments online, a staggering number that will continue to rise and spread to other demographics. Additionally, by 2019, a staggering 64% of patients in the US alone will be booking doctors’ appointments online and through their phones, with overall revenue from these booking estimated at over $3 billion. Online scheduling enables businesses to be available 24/7 for bookings, reducing the chances of someone going elsewhere.
The online availability of appointment scheduling reduces the time employees and business owners spend on the phone accepting appointments, checking vacancies, and logging bookings. As calendars are web-based, they sync in real-time with bookings made over the phone, and businesses can create multiple calendars: a hair salon can have a calendar for each hairdresser, a spa can have a calendar for each masseuse, and clinics can have separate calendars for each specialization. Online scheduling can, effectively, eliminate the need for extra staff for booking purposes, and free up staff members to perform other tasks.
Additionally, booking software automatically sends SMS and email reminders before appointments, curtailing no-shows that also cost the business money. These programs also enable businesses to charge upfront for booking appointments, which dramatically reduces the chance of no-shows as well. Customers are also able to cancel appointments online and recently-vacated appointments are immediately made available for new customers, increasing the chance of a new booking instead of the lost one. These benefits all combine to provide businesses with efficiency that was previously unavailable to them when they were manually logging appointments.
Ideally, customers that enter their information through online booking forms will be automatically added to the business’s customer relationship management (CRM) system. Information for existing customers will be added to the system, and all appointments will be tracked - even if they are canceling. This information can later help the business retarget customers who canceled their appointments to receive information about the reason of cancellation to better serve customers in the future. Moreover, businesses will be able to view who their frequent customers are - and who showed interest - and retarget them with special offers that will increase the chance of them booking future appointments. A recent study of e-commerce trends revealed that, while only 8% of online consumers were repeat visitors, they accounted for 41% of overall revenue. Businesses should, therefore, utilize the booking-to-CRM connection to broaden their repeat-customer base.
Finally, online booking allows businesses to increase their distribution across other online channels, such as their Facebook page , and their listing page on local search directories . Online booking software provides businesses with efficient channel management that enables them to easily manage bookings across multiple platforms.
Service oriented SMBs whose livelihood heavily relies on appointment booking, such as hair stylists, alternative medicine and home services, must implement online booking software to increase the chances of an onlinevisitor converting into a paying customer. Round-the-clock availability, automated notifications and comprehensive and cohesive channel management all contribute to increase bookings and reduce no-shows for SMBs. As consumers shift more of their decision-making online, businesses must evolve to meet the needs of their customers or they risk losing business to their competitors.
Find out how Camilyo’s platform can help SMBs offer online booking as part of a comprehensive sales and marketing package by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.