Published on September 7th, 2021
One of the most common mistakes new business owners make is choosing the wrong appointment scheduling software to manage their admin and customers. With hundreds of software solutions marketing themselves as the best system, it’s easy to fall into the trap of not knowing which to choose.
New owners will often select a low-cost or free system to save on early expenses, however, those systems too can end up causing more hassle and stress than productivity and assistance.
The last thing you want to worry about when getting your business off the ground is getting stuck in a long-term contract with a product that doesn’t help you achieve your goals.
Fortunately, there are dozens of systems that not only succeed at getting the job of providing you with an easy way to schedule appointments and meetings done but also allows your clients to manage their own bookings.
The right software will make it so clients can arrive at your website, find your calendar or timetable, and make their booking.
It should be that simple, and if your current software or the systems you are investigating don’t give you the customer experience you deserve, it’s time to look elsewhere.
In this guide, TeamUp fitness management software shares the top features found in the best appointment scheduling software and how to select the best option for your business.
If you want to provide your own customers with a seamless booking experience, save time on your admin, and grow your business right from the start, choosing a system with the following features will guide you to success.
What Is Appointment Scheduling Software?
In case you are unfamiliar with this type of system, appointment scheduling software, also known as online booking software, is a type of system that allows your customers to book appointments or meetings with you online.
It is used across dozens of industries including fitness, health and wellness, beauty, mobile services, health care, home services, and more, and serves to provide businesses with a seamless way to manage their customers and appointment times with the same system
Scheduling and booking software allows you to see what’s coming up, who you are meeting with, and prepare ahead of every appointment.
Without a system that performs these functionalities, businesses are left to scramble and manage their meetings with customers via spreadsheets, manual agendas, and personal calendars.
Why Use Appointment Scheduling Software?
Managing your business with appointment scheduling software has enormous benefits that you can begin experiencing from the moment you get your system up and running.
Along with the features that will be discussed later in this guide, appointment software serves the purpose of:
- Providing you with an easy way to set, schedule, and share your availability online
- Give your customers access to your timetable and schedule
- Allow your customers to book a time to meet with you that is most convenient to them based on the availability you set
- Use reporting features to monitor and track the success of your appointments
- Offer membership packages and subscriptions to customers with an unlimited or certain number of appointments included.
- Eliminate the need for back and forth with customers over what time to meet and where
- Prevent communicating via phone calls, emails, texts, where important messages can be easily lost or forgotten about
- Allow you to accept payments for appointments online in advance to prevent no-shows and last-minute cancellations
- Schedule recurring appointments in advance so that both you and your customers can plan ahead
- Stay on top of your customer activity with monitoring tools that notify you when a customer has booked, with which employee or member of your staff, and send confirmations and pre-appointment reminders.
Having a tool that will allow your customers to select a time slot from the availability you set can eliminate tons of extra admin off your workload and allow you to focus on delivering an incredible customer experience.
The ability to rely and depend on a system you know is built to help you succeed will not only change the way you operate your business but will also encourage you to explore ways to grow. Something you might not have had time to even consider had you not selected the best software solution.
The Top Features Your Appointment Scheduling Software Should Include
Robust software systems include dozens of helpful and intuitive features you will use to run your business. But when looking for the right system, these are the features you need to make sure the software you want to use has.
Online Booking System
Undoubtedly the most important function for appointment scheduling software is the online booking system.
Online bookings are the best way to allow your customers to book their appointments online, pay for those appointments, purchase memberships, and manage their subscriptions.
An online booking system completely eliminates the need for you as a business owner to handle cash payments manually with customers, schedule their appointments yourself, and let your customers know of your availability via email, text or over the phone.
Most if not all management software will include this feature, but it’s an added bonus when it allows you to schedule group appointments and class and one on one appointments with customers side by side in an organised fashion.
Customer Relationship Management
Having a customer relationship management that neatly organises and stores customer information is an absolute necessity when running a business big or small.
Personalisation and attention to detail with your customers goes a long way in retaining their business. With the help of a system that can give you access to your customers’ information at all times, you can ensure that you always put them first, remain on a first-name basis, and provide them with the best experience knowing the information you have on hand is accurate and supplied directly by your customer.
Forms And Waivers
Functioning side by side with your CRM, a forms and waivers feature allows you to collect important customer details online at the time of purchasing a membership or signing up for an appointment.
The functionality of collecting this customer information that is then stored in your CRM allows you to get to know your customers before they even arrive at their first appointment with you.
Perhaps you are a therapist that wants to inquire if your patient has participated in therapy before and if so where and when. Or you are a personal trainer who wants to know what your new client’s level of fitness is before you create their dedicated program.
The details and information you gather allows you to customise their experience from the moment they book and build along the way.
Not to mention it also allows you to inform new customers of your protocols and policies and requires new customers to accept your terms before becoming a client.
When the software you’re interested in partners with the most secure and reliable payment processors in the market, you know you’re in the right place.
Online payments don’t only allow you to automate and collect payments, the feature should also tell you when it’s coming, when it’s due, the status, and how it was paid.
Having this complete transparency will save you so much hassle and be a relief to your customers as well.
Paired with a membership feature that allows you to automate recurring payments, you can forecast your income for months to come and use that knowledge to make important decisions for your business.
Another feature that will aid you in making the best decisions for your business are your reports. From attendances to most popular appointment times to customers who regularly attend to customers who might be slipping away, reports are the bread and butter of any software system.
While the types of reports will vary across systems, be able to monitor and track payments, attendances, and scheduling should be included in the data set within each software’s reporting system.
Enabling your customers to be more accountable for their appointments helps when you have a notifications feature that allows you to automate confirmation and pre-class notifications.
Alerting your customer that their appointment is confirmed, reminding them to bring certain items to a meeting, and letting them know exactly where you are meeting and when can prevent confusion and ensure your customers know where they are supposed to be and where.
Integrations have become a very important part of scheduling software and business’s marketing efforts.
Connecting your marketing channels with your software through apps such as Zapier, offering online appointments via Zoom, and sending marketing news to your customers via the best email marketing platforms that are able to pull customer contact details from your software, all contribute to a well-rounded customer experience.
If providing your customers with an unbeatable, complete offering is important to your business model, checking to see which integrations your software includes or partners with is very important.
A Native Member App
Another important feature that can make the process of booking and managing their memberships even smoother for your customers is a member app.
Using an app that is directly connected to your software, customers can book an appointment online, purchase a new membership pack, share a referral code with other customers, and pay online.
Perfect for customers on the go and to schedule when last-minute availability opens up and your customers want to take advantage of the opportunity to schedule a workout, haircut, massage, consultation, and so on.
Additional Items To Look For In The Right Appointment Scheduling Software
Along with the right features, there are a few other key areas to consider before making the final decision on which system to use. When investigating platforms, check if they include the following:
A Free Trial
Many software systems provide their potential customers with the opportunity to trial their product for free before purchasing or provide a number of demonstrations before moving forward.
While demonstrations are helpful to see how the systems work, they don’t compare with the ability to trial and to see if you can manage the system or features on your own.
No matter whether you are a new or existing business, if you have customer information, payments, or memberships you want to be transferred to your new software, you’ll want to ensure that doesn’t come with a hefty price.
Some software will charge an additional fee to import your data for you, so be sure to look and see how much it costs before you commit.
While this may seem surprising, unlimited customer support is not always included in the full package for some software.
Either a certain number of calls can be scheduled or there are limited ways to get in touch, not having unlimited customer support to take advantage of in situations when you are in need can be a detriment to your business.
Make sure the system you choose includes unlimited, if not very accessible, customer support that you can easily get in contact with whenever you need it.
Having software is only useful when you are able to use it to the best of your abilities and it enables you to run the best version of your business.
Rigid platforms that don’t leave form to organise, tailor, and customise to your liking don’t encourage growth, rather want you to adapt to do things their way. Keep an eye out for systems that boast flexibility and build it into their design and functionalities.
Customer support is a fantastic resource when you have a problem you need to fix or want to learn how to use a tool, but software systems can avoid their customer support teams feeling bombarded by providing their customers with additional blogs, guides, videos, and webinars that offer further instruction and guidance.
Having the support of these resources can help you learn how to best take advantage of the tools and features in your arsenal and how to make the most of your time, managing your admin, and organising your customers.
No one enjoys being upsold or told they need to constantly upgrade in order to use the features and tools they need.
Several software systems will try and hide some of their most needed and valuable features behind a paywall in order for their customers to access them.
Not only does this make for an unenjoyable customer experience, but it leaves customers to stress over the amount they are spending on their systems rather than focusing on the benefits it provides them.
Make sure you know how much you will need to pay for your software and that the features above are included in that price.
Now that you know the top features to look for in your appointment scheduling software it’s time to find the right solution for you and your business requirements.