How to choose the best scheduling software: Everything you need to know
How many times did you have to answer the phone mid-session to schedule an appointment for your customer? Or had a customer call multiple times to reschedule their appointment and finally, they didn’t even show up? Or worse, had two customers show up in a single time slot because you accidentally double booked?
Being in a service-based business, you probably have been in the above situations, maybe multiple times too! If you haven’t, then consider yourself lucky!
So how are you supposed to gracefully handle all such scheduling conflicts and move on from manual appointment booking?
The answer is simple – by using an online scheduling software.
But you probably already knew that, and that’s why you’re here. So allow us to assist you in taking the next step: Choosing the right scheduling software for your business.
With hundreds of options available, how do you ensure that you’re not making the wrong choice? Because, just in case you make a wrong decision (I sincerely wish you don’t, though!), you might end up losing a lot of time and effort (the two things that matter the most in your business), and maybe some money too!
In fact, the decision can be so hard to make that people hire professional technology consultants to make the right choice (YES, it is a profession!).
If making the right choice is so tough, how to choose a scheduling software that’s perfect for your business and save the money to hire a professional?
That’s exactly what we’re going to help you with!
We’ll look at the absolute must-haves for you to even consider a scheduler, followed by some key considerations towards the end that can help you make an informed decision.
What to look for in a scheduling software?
Whether you’re just starting out your small business, or you’ve been in business for quite some time, the core factors to consider while choosing the perfect scheduling tool remain the same.
So let’s dig in…
1. Value for money
Your budget constraints might differ based on the stage of business you’re in.
For example, you might not be ready yet to allocate a part of your funds to a scheduling software, and that’s completely fine. You should be looking out for a free option, with the best features and functionality.
However, even if you have enough budget to spare, but your scheduling needs are pretty simple, there’s no need to put in all your money. Look out for an online scheduler that offers the best set of features (the ones you really need), at an affordable price.
However, if you have complex scheduling needs and need a lot of customization to the software, you might have to spend a little more money and look for enterprise scheduling software, again at the best possible pricing.
2. No-show protection
How many times have your clients simply forgotten that they had an appointment with you?
I’m sure you’ve lost count!
But your scheduling software must be able to handle this situation for you. You might ask how.
There are two ways in which your scheduler can do it:
- Appointment alerts and reminders: Many appointment software send appointment confirmation emails or texts. They also let you send automated appointment reminders through email or SMS, at preset times before the appointment, so that the customer ensures that they show up for the appointment, or cancel/reschedule if they can’t make it.
- Online prepayments: You can request customers to pay a partial or full amount when they book an appointment with you online so that there are fewer chances of casual bookings and customers take the appointments seriously.
So ensure that the software you choose has both these features so that you can minimize no-shows.
3. Website booking
Your website is the online version of your physical store/shop/office. And people, especially potential customers, turn to it for genuine information related to your business.
So when they come across your website, see pictures of you in action, your happy customers, read testimonials, go through your service menu and prices, they might feel interested to try your services.
But how will they know what to do?
You can point them in the right direction with a booking widget on your website!
In order to do that, your scheduling software should allow you to easily add a booking widget or booking button to your website. Or if you happen to use the most popular CMS – WordPress – for your website, then ensure that it offers a scheduling plugin there.
Note: Don’t have a website? Don’t worry, online schedulers can still give you a business branded booking page (sometimes for free too!). You can jump to this section to know more.
4. Reserve with Google integration
Most people turn to Google when they want to find more about a business online.
And when they look for your business, they should find you there. It starts with a Google My Business listing. Get your business registered to appear in the search results.
But is that enough? NO!
That’s just the beginning. People can see your business when they search for it. But what action to take when they feel interested? That’s where a Book Now button comes to the rescue.
In order to get a Book Now button in your Google search results, you should be listed on Reserve with Google (RwG), and your scheduling software should help you do it for free!
Don’t forget to check if your chosen scheduling tool is an official RwG partner or not before you subscribe for it!
5. Social media bookings
Another very important channel to have a strong presence on is social media. Whatever business you are in, it is essential to have a complete profile that you use regularly to engage with your audience.
Especially on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, which are the most popular today, your business should not only have a professional presence, but you should also encourage your users to take action.
This makes it one more box to check when choosing a scheduling software.
If you’re wondering why it is so important to have a Book Now button instead of just adding the booking page URL to your profile description, let me explain how it can be useful:
Say you paste your booking link to your Instagram bio, people may click on that. But then, they’ll be taken outside Instagram to make a booking and will have to manually fill in their information every time they do it.
But if your profile has a Book Now button, there will be 2 major advantages:
- It will be very easy to spot and interested people won’t have to search for it
- On clicking the button, the user won’t be taken outside the Instagram app. The booking page will open in the app, and they can autofill information from their Instagram account details as well!
I hope you now understand why it is crucial to check for social media integrations.
6. Quick booking link
For every other marketing channel where you cannot add a booking button, your scheduling software should help you share your booking link.
It should provide a quick booking link which you can use on every place where your business is and should be present like online directories, communities, social media platforms other than Facebook and Instagram, etc.
But that’s not all. You should be able to share your booking page URL in all your communications with potential customers and existing clients – SMS, emails, flyers, etc.
7. Custom branded booking page
Whether or not you have a business website, you must have a professional-looking booking page for your customers to schedule appointments. It should also reflect your brand by allowing you to customize the theme, add your brand logo, and display some business pictures.
This will ensure that your customers have a consistent experience with your brand across channels and connect better with your business in the long run.
Take an example of the booking page of P.E.R.K. Consulting. They’ve added their business name and logo, and there’s more information about their business – pictures, reviews, website, contact – in the ‘About’ section.
8. Ability to offer deals and discounts
It might seem like a small requirement in the beginning but it’ll take the load off your shoulders in the long run.
Let me explain.
Promotional discounts offered occasionally for limited periods of time form an essential part of a good marketing strategy. If your scheduling software doesn’t help you manage your discounts, you’ll have to manually apply the discount to each payment and reduce the required amount to calculate the payment needed. FOR EACH AND EVERY CUSTOMER!
Now if the scheduling software offers payment integrations, along with the ability to provide discounts, things become much easier.
Customers can just add their coupon codes and the booking software automatically applies the discount and accepts online payment! No effort or calculation required on your part.
9. Necessary integrations
You already use some of the apps at work to make things easier and ensure smooth functioning. Shifting from those software can be a nightmare!
So ensure that your appointment scheduling software has integrations with all the necessary software – calendar apps, payment software, video conferencing apps, etc. It’ll ensure that your existing data is reflected on your new software.
If your software has an integration with Zapier, it is much better because then you’ll have access to multiple web applications!
Most appointment schedulers claim to help your business grow, and they really do! But then, the appointment scheduling software you choose should grow with your business.
It is supposed to help you increase the number of appointments you get, expand to more locations, and hire more people. So ideally, it should also be able to manage all of that growing work and data.
It’s possible that you might have to upgrade your plan for accessing certain functionality, but the higher range plans shouldn’t burn a hole in your pocket either.
11. Ease of use
Ultimately, when you’re going to use a tool daily, it should be easy to use. Moreover, it is supposed to make things simple for you, so it shouldn’t be complicated otherwise you’ll be spending more time trying to understand how to use the software instead of using it.
Ensure that you choose a scheduling software that has an easy and quick onboarding process, and has a simple and responsive interface.
Some important considerations
Apart from all the points mentioned above, there are a few more things that should be involved while you make a decision on which scheduling software to choose. Because these can impact the working and the overall experience you have with the tool.
Here are the key considerations:
A) Data security
With data breaches becoming increasingly common, security should be one of the top priorities for a business.
Your booking software will deal with highly sensitive and confidential information like client data and payment details. You should ensure that your scheduling software will keep all the data safe.
So you should be looking for software that offers fully encrypted cloud base storage on secure and safe servers so that you know your data is in safe hands.
B) Technical support
While we recommended that you should choose software that is easy to use, there might be some occasions when you might not be able to figure something out. Or your staff may not be able to easily understand the working of the scheduler.
In such a case, you’ll have to reach out to the support team. Just imagine if they aren’t supportive and helpful, and take too long to respond to your query. That would not only affect your experience, but it might also affect your business processes.
Therefore, it is crucial that you look up what users are saying about the technical support that the software offers. Make sure you choose the one which has an extremely responsive support team.
For example, Appointy is known for its excellent technical support team who ensures that all the customer issues are resolved in a timely manner. Here’s how one of our customers feels about our support services.
Whether you use Windows or Mac, whether you use Android or iOS, your scheduling tool should be compatible with them. Because you wouldn’t want to change your scheduling software when you switch your phone/laptop/tablet.
Also, it should be obvious that your software should offer a scheduling mobile app so that you can keep track of your business schedule even when you’re away from your office/desk.
D) Customer experience
Ultimately, the customer is the boss!
And they’re the ones going to use your business branded booking page to book appointments with you on their own, at their convenience. So ensure that your booking tool offers an overall convenient and good experience for your end customers.
Before you actually choose a scheduling software, you should verify all the claims made by the software company, and ensure that everything is true.
But how can you do that?
It’s simple – customer reviews!
Look out for the software reviews online on credible websites like Capterra, Google, or WordPress (if you’re going to use a scheduling plugin for your website). Genuine business owners like you post honest reviews about scheduling software on these sites.
While you might find some negative reviews, which is only natural, just make sure that the positive reviews are much more than the negative ones, and watch out for how the company has responded to each review (especially the negative ones).
This will definitely help you make a well-informed decision.
Where can you find the best scheduling software for your business?
Whether you own a small business or a large-scale business with multiple locations, Appointy can be the right choice for you. We offer everything that you’d want in your ideal scheduling software.
Plus, we offer affordable pricing plans fit for your business.
Choosing the right scheduling software for your business can be a tough decision, but we are here to help you. You can find out how Appointy can help your business by scheduling a free demo with our team:
Or, if you want to get started with Appointy and begin effective scheduling for your business, sign up and try it now:
Do let us know if you found the tips helpful in making a decision in the comments section below.
We at Appointy, help business owners grow and run their businesses with our online scheduling software. This blog was a part of our ‘Manage your Business’ category, where we provide expert tips, resources, or simply talk about the challenges that small and medium businesses face every day.
If you have any thoughts on this blog, or would like to chat about your business struggles and achievements, let us know in the comments below.
We love a good talk!