Top 7 Features to Look for in Online Scheduling Software

Scheduling an appointment over the phone or through back and forth emails, whether with customers or prospects, is far more time-consuming and frustrating than it should be. That’s why organizations are turning to online appointment scheduling to help drive growth and customer loyalty. Fueled by consumer demand for live interactions when and where they want it, and the need to provide seamless experiences, the global appointment scheduling software market is expected to reach $360 million by the end of 2023, growing at a CAGR of 15.1% between 2017 and 2023, according to Orbis research.

Additionally, online appointment scheduling matters because people find it difficult to connect with brands and knowledgeable employees when it matters. Intelligent Online Appointment Scheduling will help erase this gap while also providing more personalized interactions. But not all booking software is created equal. Here’s what to consider when evaluating an intelligent scheduling solution.

Ease of Customer Use
Consumers want convenience, but they want it on their own terms. And they often want to solve simple problems or complete basic tasks themselves. That number jumps when it comes to Millennials and Gen Z. Providing self-service web applications like appointment scheduling is critical to help consumers feel like they are in the driver’s seat, but the application needs to be intuitive and offer a seamless experience for those making the appointment. Furthermore, in today’s “human2human” approach, your online scheduling solution needs to be available in the channels your customers engage in.
Integration
Just as important as ease-of-use for consumers, online scheduling software needs to easily integrate with existing software. For companies to benefit from unified customer views, it’s critical that appointment records sync to CRM software like Salesforce or other customer records. After all, it’s this 360-degree view that empowers digital transformations that drive customer-centric initiatives.

And don’t just ask if it will sync, but ask how. The last thing your IT team wants is a difficult manual configuration that will take weeks to align.

Context-Aware
How much will your scheduling system understand without needing to prompt the customer for answers? Context-aware appointments allow you to capture as much information about the customer as possible while reducing the number of questions asked during the scheduling process.

This means your system will understand everything from time zones (easy) to which point the customer falls in the journey (more advanced) ensuring that appointments are made with the right person (or people) and is the right appointment type. For example, if customers are on a product or service page on your website, then you understand what they are interested in and can pass those details into the scheduling process. This allows you to skip redundant questions and increase conversion.

Intelligent Matching
Part of being context-aware is knowing what a customer needs and being able to proactively act. Software that combines AI and machine learning elements will understand customer intent and deliver desirable outcomes.

After taking in information from the customer whether through customer input or following their browsing behaviours, intelligent matching will step in, connecting customers to the right team member at the closest location with the right skills to meet their needs.

Seamless Onsite Customer Experiences
When evaluating appointment booking solutions, it’s important to understand its ability to provide a seamless experience regardless of where the appointment is taking place. For organizations like retailers who offer onsite classes or events, there needs to be a focus on ensuring onsite experiences mimic online personalization. In addition, employees need to manage customer flow.

For example, will your scheduling software ensure that required data fields are auto-filled from existing information so a customer doesn’t need to re-enter information that exists in the CRM when they walk into a store? And because customers now expect websites to understand their intent, they expect the same from in-store employees, which is possible if teams have access to the right customer data at the time they need it.

Capabilities for Automated Follow-Up
The experience doesn’t end when the appointment is over. Use intelligent systems to leverage rich customer information that happens online and offline. Make sure you can configure your system to send out automated follow-ups based on behavior. For sales or customer success teams, that might be additional appointments following milestones, or for retail brands that could be invitations to classes or new product previews based on demonstrated preferences.

Regardless of the specific follow-up, personalized outreach drives repeat engagement and brand loyalty.

Analytics to Assess Performance
Finally, don’t forget about metrics. Online activity is easy to trace and actions can be tied to specific triggers. Understand how you’ll be able to track omnichannel activity and attribute in-person appointments with bookings or sales. The right data will also provide teams with a window into what’s working and what needs improvement, enabling you to make small changes on the fly or larger, institutional adjustments over the long-term.

Want more smart scheduling insight? Download Choosing the Right Appointment Scheduling Solution to help get you started on your customer-centric transformation.

Written by Tom O'Brien

As the director of digital marketing at TimeTrade, Tom is responsible for making sure that business users who would benefit from online appointment scheduling find our website—and stay engaged with it once they do.

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