7 tips for booking more customer appointments for your small business

Understand the customers' need and make the appointment process painless for your business.

Mukul Chaware
Mukul Chaware

As a business service provider, whether it is salon services, medical services, lawyer services, mechanical services, custom art commissioning, or any other service, most of your time is divided among two priority tasks - one is the service itself while the other is customer appointment scheduling. It is important for every business to ensure that the customers have a flawless experience right from scheduling appointments to receiving the service itself. Here are some tips to help you improve your customer appointment numbers:

Tip #1: Omnichannel approach:

As a business, it is imperative for the customer to find your service and book an appointment with utmost ease. Considering customers have different preferences when it comes to devices and software, a multi-touchpoint or an omnichannel approach for appointment booking is the best bet. Make sure your business allows appointment scheduling via phone calls, SMS's, emails, website, or your business application.

Apart from multiple options to schedule an appointment from, the customers need a reminder regarding the same across multiple devices. A synced calendar invite in the preferred calendar application of the customer allows the business to tag the appointment across all their devices. This unified view of their appointments makes it easier for them to remember and plan their days well in advance.

A multi-platform approach, thus, requires appointment scheduling software to be able to accept bookings from multiple touchpoints as well as confirm the booking across multiple devices via a synced calendar invitation. Appointo, the appointment scheduling application makes it possible for the business admin to embed the software appointment scheduling application across your e-commerce or no-code platform - no coding required! Its ability to integrate with most major calendar applications gives your customers the ability to access their appointment from across all their synced devices.

Tip #2: Incentivize pre-booking

Most service businesses face major challenges managing resources due to demand fluctuations. Some businesses such as salons have a higher demand on weekends or certain times of the day depending on their locations while some such as wedding planners and interior decorators may see higher seasonal customers rolling in. Improving pre-scheduled appointments and decreasing walk-ins is the best way to manage this challenge. Incentivizing pre-bookings ensures customers opt to schedule their appointments well in advance. A simple reward point program, a priority treatment, or even simple discounts help motivate pre-booking behavior among customers. For non-monetary incentives, a business may opt for personalizing the customer's experience. This can be done by offering the customer their favored drinks as they enjoy their services, sharing real-time updates for longer duration services, appointing a single point of contact dedicated for the customer's queries, etc.

Tip #3: Promotional communication

While most service providers hit the right spot with communicating their services, they do not realize their ability to influence customer behavior through these communications. Most customers tend to remember brands through their advertisements and their communication. Taking a leaf out of FMCG advertisement practices such as Surf Excel's famous pour-rub-pour advertisement in India, breaking down the customer journey for your services in 3-4 simple steps will help communicate how easy it is to avail them. A simple 3 step process such as 1. Schedule an appointment 2. Get that gorgeous hair colored 3. Slay! - for a hair salon would urge people to schedule their appointments every time they thought of coloring their hair. As a small-scale growing business, setting your communication right from the start helps build long-term systems that customers tend to adjust to over time.

Tip #4: Automated reminders

Set and schedule automated reminders one day and one hour before the customer's appointment to reduce no-shows. No-shows always lead to loss of potential, take dentists, for example, a no-show for a root canal treatment would have otherwise given a chance to multiple regular check-up patients. A poll by the MGMA, a leading association of healthcare leaders in the U.S.A., showed that 88% of healthcare businesses used automated reminder systems for their appointments and confirmed that they saw higher ROI's and efficiencies post the same. This helps most service industries as they fight to overcome inefficiencies in their systems.

Automated reminders synced with calendar invites that include the geographic locations of the appointment are sent to the customer's personal IDs. This helps sync the reminders across devices. Coupled with the calendar application's ability to compute time to travel for the appointment from the customer's current location, the customer gets timely updates and guidance throughout their day's plan.

Tip #5: Default re-booking

Most services, such as haircuts, car maintenance, regular dental checkups, skin treatments, etc. all require follow-ups or appointments at certain frequencies. For such services, it is advisable that businesses take proactive measures and pre-book the customer's appointment at the specified future date and request for their confirmation on the same. Once the customer accepts the calendar invite or confirms the appointment closer to the date, it helps build loyalty, improves customer engagement, and ultimately boosts the bottom line. It is necessary that we reiterate the common knowledge that new customer acquisition always costs higher than customer retention - and little changes in the system, such as default re-booking is highly effective towards this goal.

Appointo's booking system enables multiple team members to access the company calendar and book on behalf of their customers. As specific service providers that the customer interacts with throughout their journey personally send across a calendar invite with a short follow-up message, the chances of the booking conversion increase monumentally. A touch of personalization and attention always helps boost the customer experience.

Tip #6: Easy appointment modifications

As a small-scale business, every canceled or no-show appointment is lost potential. Managing these requires complete visibility into overall bookings, history, forecasted no-shows and cancellations as well as available resources. Customers usually find it easier to book an appointment via available sources but find it cumbersome to reschedule or modify their booking details. Simple systems in place - such as booking modification links on websites and applications, modification SMS's or dedicated on-call personnel to help edit bookings ease the process for the customer empowering them to raise their requests in time.

Appointo not only enables booking modifications, every rescheduled appointment can also be set up to be confirmed with an automated email detailing the final appointment schedule. This allows businesses to plan and execute resource allocation accordingly.

Tip #7: Feedback and improvement

Improved appointments and optimized calendar schedules are the main goals every service provider hopes to achieve. As most businesses in this world, a feedback loop inquiring the customer about their end-to-end experience through a short and comprehensive questionnaire helps achieve these goals. Automated feedback forms and thank you mailers with a personal element ensure that each customer feels appreciated and valued. The feedback form can be designed to include an appointment scheduling experience that helps capture customer pain points and work on them. Improved customer experience ultimately leads to higher customer loyalty and engagement.

Appointo's features allow businesses to set up automated feedback and thank you emailers that can be addressed personally to the customers.  

Wrapping Up

All in all, it is imperative that scheduled appointments be encouraged and incentivized to ensure system efficiencies and optimized resource consumption. Appointo's appointment scheduling software with an easy-to-embed no-code appointment booking system, robust integrations with Microsoft and Google calendars, automated email scheduling, easy rescheduling, and automated thank you and feedback communications is a must-try. Book a FREE demo with us here.

Small Businesses