One of the greatest challenges facing small businesses is meeting the rising expectations of their customers. When you look at “serial switchers,” people who jump from brand to brand, it shows that poor customer service cost businesses $75 billion in 2018, a huge increase from the $13 billion that businesses lost to poor customer service in 2016. Consumers increasingly consider customer service just as important to them as product quality and price. That’s why appointment booking software can help your business.
The serial switcher trend impacts small businesses just as much as it does their larger counterparts, and as every business owner knows, once you’ve lost a customer’s loyalty, regaining it is nearly impossible. That’s why more and more small businesses of all types are taking advantage of new tools such as appointment booking software that allow them to offer customers the same quality experience they receive from the highest of high-end retailers.
One customer service area that is critical for many professionals who operate their own business is appointment scheduling. Broken, canceled, and missed appointments can take a big bite out of their earnings potential, yet many automated online scheduling systems are either too complicated or too expensive (or both) for most small merchants. What they need is a retail point-of-sale (POS) system that lets them view upcoming appointments with staff members at a glance while also being portable and easy for customers and employees to use.
How Appointment Schedulers Automate Booking and Improve Staff Efficiency
Creating a positive customer experience begins with the initial contact, which is often when clients go online to make their first appointment. For these businesses, the equivalent of an abandoned shopping cart is an unsuccessful attempt by a customer to schedule the exact service they want, with the exact person they want to work with, at the exact right time and place. Retailers need POS systems that provide their customers with one-click online booking from their home or mobile device.
Making a good first impression starts by anticipating what customers expect when scheduling an appointment. For example, some clients prefer working with specific staff members, while others want the choice to be made for them. That’s why appointment booking software must be able to assign a staff member automatically or allow customers to choose one.
One of the most important features of an appointment scheduler is its ability to generate reminders automatically that can be received via SMS or email at a preset time prior to the appointment. Booking confirmations and reminders need to be sent automatically while also allowing businesses to confirm appointments manually. This feature helps minimize having to pay workers for idle times, as well as losing clients due to longer-than-expected wait times.
Small and Midsize Businesses That Benefit Most from Appointment Schedulers
Among the five major benefits of POS appointment scheduling systems are two that are key to a company’s ability to attract and retain customers: tracking employee performance, including time management and productivity; and managing your relationship with your customers to encourage return business.
Features to look for in a POS system for a small or midsize business include the ability of the software to run on a variety of devices, including PCs, Macs, and mobile phones; integration with a variety of platforms and third-party services; and the provision of a clear, intuitive interface that puts all required features at users’ fingertips.
Perhaps the most important capability of appointment booking software for business owners is the insight they can gain from collecting and analyzing data about the ways customers interact with their businesses. In addition to learning which employees are busiest at specific times, businesses are able to determine when no-shows and cancellations are most likely to occur, which customers are most loyal, and which services are generating the most revenue.
How to Determine the Best Appointment Booking Software for Your Business
Small and midsize businesses have a range of appointment-scheduling options to choose from, which can make it a challenge to find the best system for your business’s unique needs. Some key features, scenarios, and business-specific functions to look for in an appointment scheduling and booking system include:
- Whether the business has a single location or multiple locations
- Whether appointments require a prepayment or deposit
- Whether to automatically buffer time between appointments
- Whether it can record and save a customer’s appointment preferences
- Whether it supports making group appointments and repeat appointments
- Whether it supports multiple appointment types (such as consultations) and flexible time intervals
- Whether it allows the business to sell package deals and other special offers
- Whether new booking requests will have to be confirmed manually
Other important features in appointment booking software are the ability to sync automatically with the cloud or other third-party apps, how easy it is for customers to find and operate the booking app, and whether it allows time slots to be reserved for walk-ins or other purposes.
Customers enjoy the familiarity that comes with being a regular at their favorite businesses. Your company’s appointment scheduler provides you with a tremendous opportunity to make your clients feel at home by allowing them to get to know you and your employees while also helping them to do their appointment scheduling whenever and wherever they prefer.
Customer relationship management begins long before the customer steps into your establishment for the first time. Flexible and full-function POS systems ensure that your customers have a positive impression of your business from the first moment they “meet” you via your appointment scheduling system.
As a valued partner, talech ensures that your POS system will provide the exact functions and features your business requires. We work with you to determine the best ways to meet the needs of your customers and employees so your business can thrive. We do this by learning your business and balancing your specific needs with your budget and comfort level in a custom POS system implementation, giving you a valued investment that will pay for itself in short order. Reach out to us today to sign up for a free demo and learn more about how talech can be your valued partner in the POS world.