Are you hesitant to let your clients book with you online?
Maybe you’re the type of professional who has always handled her own appointments. Giving clients access to book their own feels like you’re giving away too much control.
I can understand that, but it seems to me that the benefits of having a web scheduler far outweigh the costs.
So what is really behind your hesitation? Perhaps it’s a fear that you may get it “wrong”. Like somehow you’ll set up your schedule online and clients will have a hard time navigating it and then they’ll think you’re incompetent. (Highly unlikely, dear brainiac reader, but everyone has irrational fears :-)
Today we’ve put together a quick-hit list of the Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to setting up your web scheduler. So long as you follow at least a few of these then you’ll see that fear turned to hesitation fade away:
Do: Test the changes made to your net scheduler
When you make changes that seem hugely impactful, run through your web scheduler to test them out from your client’s perspective.
If you update your hours of availability or shift around when you offer services, go to the site where you’ve embedded your scheduling system and test to make sure everything looks alright.
This is a best practice for whatever software systems you use, but especially for something with which your clients interact. Go through the same steps that your clients would take and watch for the automated appointment emails that come through. Make sure the language and display is all correct.
Testing your changes shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes and will let you rest easy that your clients are seeing exactly what you want them to.
Don’t: Ask for too much upfront
With the custom fields you can attach to services on your net scheduler, you can go crazy getting super-specific about what your clients want when they come in for their appointment.
But don’t get too crazy.
The easiest way to get clients to bail on confirming their appointment (or at least make them say “I’ll just book this later”) is to ask for too many questions before they can confirm their timeslot.
You definitely want to capture your clients name, email address, and phone number, but think carefully about the other fields you require they put in. Don’t ask for address or company name if you don’t really need it.
Rule of thumb is to keep the number of required fields under 5 and the total number of fields under 10. If you’re adding more than 10 fields, go back to the drawing board and ask yourself if you really need this info upfront.
Do: Make sure it’s accessible from a mobile device
It’s 2014 and you can’t walk down the street without seeing a person doing the text-walk: head down, slow footsteps, fingers moving quickly.
Test out your scheduler on a mobile device so that you know what it feels like to book with you on the go. If your current online scheduling system isn’t mobile friendly, try switching to one that is.
The things that will make it accessible from a mobile device are: the size of the buttons, how much any one page of the scheduler is asking from the client, and the amount of information you require from the client.
So long as you make sure the buttons are accessible, the scheduling flow is simplified, and that you are only asking clients to fill out 5-8 fields, you should be good to go on the mobile front.
Don’t: Send appointment times in your timezone if your client’s in another
Do you have clients that live in different timezones? If so, it doesn’t make sense to send them the confirmation for your appointment together in just your timezone.
By managing your scheduling settings, you can allow your web scheduler to detect clients’ timezones based on their browser settings. This way, your client’s profile is automatically assigned the proper timezone and all future email communications go out with the right time reflected.
One of the biggest trip ups I have in my daily emails to schedule support calls (before, of course, using my web scheduler :) was just typing “Let’s plan on 10:30 for the call”, without any indication to timezone.
Since we’re an international online scheduling software provider, this could seriously confuse a situation. Instead, scheduling my support calls through checkAppointments’ web scheduler has kept me from tripping up and confusing our user base.
Do: Have a 1-on-1 onboarding call
If the online appointment scheduling provider you use offers 1-on-1 onboarding calls, take them up on it. Even if you’re an IT director, the logic of a scheduling system can be complex and going through all of your settings to make sure they’re all displaying what you want them to can’t be described as anything less than cumbersome.
Take advantage of the support resources you’re given and ask about all the concerns that give you cause to worry about clients booking themselves.
When you’re on the phone with a support specialist who is helping you set up your online net scheduler, here are a few really good questions to ask him/her:
Can you take me through exactly what my clients will see as they’re booking and let me know what I have the ability to customize?
Will you show me what emails my clients will receive throughout the appointment process and where I can customize the language that’s on those emails?
When should my clients expect to receive email communication about their appointment and can I change that setting?
How do I manage my and my staff’s schedule of availability?
What features do you think I could use to help my business?
With all the knowhow that support specialists have about their particular software product, you can really dive deep with them about best practices that other people in your industry might be using.
A brief word of warning: going into that may be biting off more than you want to chew for the first phone call. I suggest scheduling an onboarding call, then playing around with the software a bit, and finally scheduling a follow up call so you go through all the best practices that the support specialist has seen implemented.
Are you still feeling nervous? That’s natural when you’re making big changes.
All new things come with a bit of a learning curve, but by following some of these do’s and don’ts, you’ll be sure to avoid the pitfalls that have tripped others up in the past.
What are your biggest concerns in moving to online scheduling? Have you heard any horror stories that have made you hesitant to make the switch? Let us know in the comments below!