Common Pitfalls of Online Appointment Scheduling

Kelly Clarkson might have said in her song "Never Again" that “ignorance is bliss”, but is ignorance really a good thing? Getting to know your web scheduler, you start feeling confident with clients booking appointments with no problems, but about five months into this new implementation for your business and the numbers start to drop. Standing in your office one morning and forgetting that coworkers are within earshot, you stop thinking about it and ask aloud “What’s the matter here”?

And the truth of the matter is that you’ve likely fallen into one of the common pitfalls of online appointment scheduling by neglecting to customize your email templates, improve your scheduler's flow, and test your web scheduler from a client's perspective. Ignorance can’t be bliss when you’re losing clients and having too many calls come in with questions. My job today is to help you out of this pit and stop those en route from ever reaching it. Here's 3 ways to avoid those common pitfalls in addition to questions that you might have received from your clients:


1) Customize Your Email Templates & Email Instructions

Q:  What is the floor and suite number for where your office is located?

Fix:  Show clients the floor and room number for your office by customizing the “New Appointment Email Sent to CLIENT” email template. You can specify the floor and suite number for clients who might be coming in for interviews, consultations, and other services that your business offers.

Show clients your suite and floor number by customizing an email template

Show clients your suite and floor number by customizing an email template

 
Q:  What’s your Skype handle? (e.g. for a online interviews, appointments, walkthroughs, classes, tutoring & more)

Fix:  Show clients your Skype handle or any specific information needed for their appointments by editing the “New Appointment Email Sent to CLIENT” email template again and adding the %STAFF_SKYPE_ID% tag to this template. If your business schedules online interviews with clients, product or software walkthroughs, tutoring, and more then this would be handy to provide to them in their confirmation emails.

Show clients your Skype ID by adding and inserting the email tag in an email template

Show clients your Skype ID by adding and inserting the email tag in an email template

 
Q:  What email address should I forward my documents to?

Fix:  If clients, candidates, employees, students, or need to forward documents to you for a service, show them the appropriate email address to send their documents to by editing the Email Instructions for a service which has the tag %REASON_INSTRUCTIONS%.The photo below shows an example with brief steps on how to tell clients which email address to send their paperwork to.

Provide pertinent information to clients by editing the email instructions for a service

Provide pertinent information to clients by editing the email instructions for a service


2) Improve Your Appointment Scheduler's Flow

Q:  It took me a little while to get through the screens so that I could enter my information and confirm the appointment. Is this normal?

Fix:  Shorten the amount of time it takes for clients to schedule appointments with you by editing your scheduler's flow. This can be done by choosing to automatically advance through panels on your scheduler that might have only one available option. For example, if your business only has one location then it would be helpful to bypass this panels so that clients can quickly and easily set up an appointment with you.

Allow clients to advance through your scheduler with the "Auto Advance" feature

Allow clients to advance through your scheduler with the "Auto Advance" feature

 
Q:  I thought Susan would be offering the Health & Wellness course next month. I didn’t see any staff members to choose from.

Fix:  On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you're clients are looking for a specific instructor for a course then it would be helpful to show your clients the instructor even if she is the only instructor offering the course for a particular time period.

This would be more helpful instead of using Auto Advance to bypass the Staff Panel because your clients will be able to see the instructor they're desiring to schedule with before confirming the appointment at the end. Build your client relationships by meeting their expectations and encourage them to continue booking classes online with you.

Show class instructors in the Staff Panel to meet clients' expectations

Show class instructors in the Staff Panel to meet clients' expectations


3) Test Your Scheduler From the Client’s Perspective

Q:  I read on your website that supplying my date of birth was mandatory for an appointment, but on your scheduler I didn’t see a place to fill it in.

Fix:  It's good practice to test your scheduler from a client's perspective so that you're better able to understand any questions or concerns they're having. Create a custom field for clients to enter in their date of birth by first creating a new custom fields form for "Date of Birth", make it "Mandatory, and then click "Save". Next, add this form to your scheduler by choosing it in the "Form for Custom Fields" drop-down for a particular service or class.

Create a custom field for your clients

Create a custom field for your clients

Now you'll want to test and make sure that clients can see the Date of Birth field show up as mandatory for setting their appointment by going to your scheduling website. And ta-da! Once you reach the "Your Information" panel, you'll see that this field is just as expected. 

Test your appointment scheduler as a client

Test your appointment scheduler as a client


And there you have it--three ways to avoid common pitfalls of online appointment scheduling. Now you're a little more acquainted with your appointment management system. Once you've put these tips into practice, you'll probably start hearing good news "through the grapevine" and there won't be any reason for you to "lose [your] mind" (Marvin Gaye). 

If you've been struggling with getting more appointments recently, we encourage you to try our free online appointment scheduling system for 30 days without payment. What other scheduling pitfalls have you encountered and how did you manage to re-surface from them? Let us know in the comment box below.

Lyric References

Clarkson, Kelly. Never Again. AZlyrics.com. N.p. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.

Gaye, Marvin. I Heard It Through the Grapevine. AZlyrics.com. N.p. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.