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Business Advice

Booking online: Client’s convenience or entrepreneur’s headache?

In the big cities weird-looking pink ATMs with LED-lights and crowds of people queueing in front of them are not a surprise anymore. Instead of delivering money those machines serve their customers with delicious cakes and muffins. Together with self-checkout stands at the supermarkets they are just another proof that self-service is gaining popularity. It gets us to the main question of our article: is it a good idea to give your customers the possibility to book appointments online without your involvement?

Enabling your clients to self-book is definitely a right thing to do. No doubt that it will be profitable for your business.  In the following paragraphs we will discuss all the benefits of this decision.

Win-win situation

The main function of online scheduling system is to give your clients the possibility to book an appointment with you at any time of day and night. The calls and messages with requests from your clients start usually at 8 in the morning, when most of people get up. The lunch hour can be considered as a peak of activity, when a person has a chance to get a little pause at work and schedule the next visit to a dentist or a dance lesson for a child. The number of people willing to call and set up an appointment gradually gets lower towards the evening.

We’ve just described the regular scenario. But now let’s think about the other situation that is very likely to happen. Quite often at the end of the day, when most of the salons and offices are closed, we suddenly remember about the things we had to take care of during the day. When we start planning the next day, we will think about everything we will need including some services that had to be booked, which is impossible to do in the late evening. Can you imagine the number of times this situation happened to your customers? You lose so many appointments just because your clients can’t book 24/7. One thing can easily solve this problem – online booking system.

New problem – telephone phobia

hands texting with mobile phones in cafe

One more reason to start thinking about booking online is the newly discovered phobia, that is bugging lots of people nowadays. It’s not a joke – the new generation is very reluctant to communicate by the phone and some people go even further and get a real fear of it. We are using our smartphones for dozens of things. We enjoy sending messages and emails, tweeting, sharing information, commenting posts, but we spend less and less time making calls. Why is this happening?

The answer lays in the psychology. People often talk about the sense of being judged or disapproved by the person on the other end of the line. Because of that “pressure” it’s getting harder to express all the thoughts properly and clearly. The ordinary sentence turns into some kind of mumbling and fumbling with words. Things are completely different with text messages. In case of misunderstanding you can blame mistakes made by accident or autocorrect. When you’re communicating in real time by the phone it’s much more difficult to do so and when you’re getting nervous about that – the things can get even worse.

When you get an understanding of this problem you start looking for some additional ways of communication with your clients. It’s possible to get more appointments for your business simply offering your customers the possibility to book online. In such a way you will definitely make the lives of phone-phobic people much easier and the number of those people is constantly growing.

You don’t have to choose only one thing

Sometimes you can’t rely only on one booking method and you need a combination of different variants. For example, if you work in medical sphere, you need to know a great quantity of information about your patient and you can’t get in all online. Or when your business is auto repair shop, the kind of service required can change drastically depending on the information given by the owner of the car. In such situations booking online turns into the “first contact” with your customer, when the basic information is collected (name, phone number, email). The follow up call or personal meeting with the client will allow you to get all the additional details and fine-tune the service to his needs.

As an alternative, you can decide not to make your online scheduling page public and save it for your loyal customers only. You can offer an access to booking online to your privileged clients as a bonus. In this way your online scheduling system will not replace the regular phone calls, but complement them.

To be or not to be – that is the question

At this point, you’re probably asking yourself “how can this online booking system be useful for MY business?”

Actually, there is a number of different ways to use it with the maximum benefit and you can choose the one which fits exactly your specific business needs:

– You can give the possibility to self-book to all your customers, posting links to your scheduling page on your business web-site and in social media profiles, printing the information about it on your business cards, flyers etc. and reminding your clients during their visits about this new way to contact you.

– You can choose the variant of limited access to your online scheduling page, offering it only to your trusted clients and thus minimizing the possibility of “unreliable” bookings.

– Another option is using your online booking page as the first contact with the customer before the phone consultation.

No matter what method you choose as the most suitable for your business, online booking system will still become your reliable tool in increasing the number of your future appointments with clients. How can I be so sure about it? The thing is that the person, who couldn’t reach you over the phone and left a voice message with contact information, is still waiting for your response and can change his mind any time. While the potential client, who underwent the procedure of self-booking, is fully confident about his intention to visit you at the chosen time. Thanks to online-booking service from now on you shouldn’t put any effort to get more REAL customers for your business.  

Author

Irene Brovarnyk

Irene Brovarnyk

marketer, blogger, copywriter

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