Save The Date – How Scheduling Software Helps Business Stay On Top Of Restrictions
After months of uncertainty with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, summer 2021 is showing us a glimpse of life in the ‘before days’, as doors re-open and employees return to their offices, stores and salons. While this is undoubtedly good news for businesses, most remain mindful of the need to adapt in order to keep their customers – and staff – safe. One of the biggest challenges for businesses is remaining productive while adhering to local social distancing guidelines. Many are tapping into a simple but effective solution to help them do just that – scheduling software.
What Is Scheduling Software?
Online scheduling software (or appointment booking software), is a clever bit of tech which helps businesses to keep on top of meetings, appointments and bookings. Platforms like Booksy include an app which allows customers to book appointments themselves, at any time. As well as online.
Who Is Scheduling Software For?
This software is used by a wide range of service providers and businesses, including;
- GPs and healthcare providers
- Hair and beauty salons
- Gyms and leisure centers
- Recruitment agencies
…and so on. Essentially, this type of software is ideal for any business which relies on the need for efficient scheduling of meetings or appointments.
How Does Scheduling Software Work?
This can differ slightly from business to business. As a general rule of thumb, the process goes something like this;
- The customer goes clickety clicking onto a website or app where he or she will be presented with a number of options regarding services
- The customer chooses a service and their required time and date
- The system will process the request and send the customer a confirmation
- The system will send the customer a reminder with a check in link
- After the customer checks in, he or she will receive a mobile ticket with which they can monitor their place in the queue
- Following the appointment, the customer will receive promotions, feedback requests and upsell opportunities
Not only does this software save a business valuable time, it allows customers to book an appointment even when the business is closed. (Saving them from dreaded hold music as they wait on the telephone) says Dima Suponau, CEO of Number of Live Person.
How Can Scheduling Software Help With Social Distancing?
In a few ways. Scheduling software is fast becoming the first defence for businesses which, by their very nature, rely on an amount of foot traffic during business hours. Scheduling software can help by;
The waiting game: When getting ready to re-open, a major sticking point for salons was the fact that having several customers sitting together in a small waiting area was no longer viable. Even with the best staff in the world, appointments will occasionally run over allotted time. Salons were faced with the conundrum of what to do with customers who were waiting. Scheduling software provided an answer, by offering a check in and ticketing system whereby customers can monitor their place in the queue. This has been hugely effective as it means that clients can wait safely in their cars until their stylist or beauty professional is ready for them. This means that salons have been able to do away with their waiting areas completely. Therefore, optimizing on space while adhering to distancing guidelines.
More intuitive bookings: Scheduling software uses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) which means that, when it comes to booking and managing appointments, it’s a little bit smarter than you and I, says Jack Zmudzinski a senior associate at Future Processing.
This clever technology is able to examine customer history, including the duration of a customer’s appointment. Then manage a salon’s bookings in a more effective way than us mere mortals might manage. Not only does this save salon owners and employees a huge amount of time but, it also helps to optimize the business’s space and time.
The lowdown on the upsell: In the ‘olden days’, a salon would usually feature shelves full of shiny, enticing products which the customer could browse and purchase, thereby, increasing revenue for the business. This is no longer the case as (a) salons need to actively discourage customers remaining on the premises longer than necessary and, (b) multiple customers handling products can be a health risk. Savvy salon staff have managed to get around this by using their scheduling software to upsell products which can be purchased through the app and either delivered to the customer, or collected during their appointment.
Hand to hand contact: Although salons have a number of measures in place, including the wearing of masks and increased cleaning, the handling of cash and / or credit cards can still pose a significant risk to both employees and customers. Scheduling software can combat the contact by allowing customers to pay for their appointment via an app. This also allows the salon to maximize the efficiency of its staff – which is particularly important for those who have had to downsize during the pandemic.
What Else Can Scheduling Software Do?
This technology is not just great for making and managing appointments, it has a lot more tricks up its sleeve;
Customer segmentation: Scheduling software is able to effectively segment your customers by a number of factors and to then stream them into different queues, to increase efficiency and save time.
Improve performance: Scheduling software features some powerful analytics tools. These tools can improve business performance by examining data such as waiting times and customer satisfaction feedback.
Super staffing: While it’s managing your customer bookings, scheduling software can also tackle your staffing. It can assist figure out the optimum number of employees needed to keep the wheels turning on any given day.
Effective customer management: The software not only allows customers to make their own bookings but also lets them change or cancel the appointments quickly and easily. This is incredibly important for salons as it helps them to keep on top of their space and time. It’s a simple fact that, today, a lot of people aren’t keen on picking up the phone – and will often just not show up to an appointment rather than call to cancel. Offering customers a quick and easy way to do this can significantly improve a salon’s management.
Sales and marketing: “Scheduling software solutions are a great way of keeping customers updated with new products and services and any special offers which might be available” says Neal Taparia, co-founder of SOTA Partners, current founder of spider-solitaire-challenge.com
The software is also able to be used as a marketing tool, to entice new customers. It can often be integrated with a salon or businesses social media platforms.
Beating the back office blues: There are no two ways about it – tasks like admin, book-keeping and juggling appointments all take up a huge (and unnecessary) amount of time and manpower. Scheduling software can help to take some of the strain out of these necessary but mundane tasks – doing it more efficiently too. Many scheduling platforms include bonus features such as inventory management. This can save a lot of time as well as cutting down on purchasing errors.
Which Software Should I Choose?
There are a few platforms and apps out there and, options can be baffling. To find the right software for your needs, start by checking to see whether a platform offers the following vital features;
- Online calendar and appointment module
- Virtual / Self check in options
- Integration with your CRM or customer management system
- Automatic confirmation and reminders
- The ability to manage bookings and walk-ins at the same time
Getting started with scheduling software is absolutely an investment. Choosing a platform like Booksy, which has all of these features and more, will allow you to get up and running quickly. It can help you to save time and money long-term, for the continued success of your business.
For salons in 2021, safety and reassurance are keys to success. Often, a customer will choose a salon based on these factors. The use of this software can be a great tool in making these assurances – then putting your money where your mouth is in terms of delivery. This results in more revenue and more satisfied customers.