How to Choose the Best Scheduling Software for Your BusinessCharlie Bedell
There is a lot to consider when choosing a scheduling software for your business — and that’s an understatement! If you’re on the hunt for an online scheduler, that most likely means your business already relies on clients booking appointments with you, and it’s vital that you make the right choice for your business's new online scheduler.
Use this article to make sure you keep everything in mind as you search for the right scheduling tool for your business. We hope it helps make the process a little easier for you!
Consider the cost
There are plenty of simple, low-cost, and even free booking tools available online. They offer simple schedulers that are easy to build and easy for your customers to use, but they also often lack important features that your business needs. If your business relies on booking appointments or classes, simple, low-cost software probably won’t give you the functionality you really need — and could ultimately hurt your business. It might be smart to consider more advanced scheduling softwares that are just as easy for your customers to use but offer your business practical, robust functionality.
For many businesses, booking appointments works in tandem with processes for attracting, onboarding, and managing clients. More complex, feature-rich scheduling softwares like TimeTap offer built-in client management tools and advanced customization capabilities for features such as booking forms, waitlists, and messaging. In a more advanced, complex scheduling software, you can get functionality that would end up costing you more in the long term – due to time-wasting manual processes or separate software purchases.
Online scheduling is easier for your clients, but it should also be easier and cost-effective for what your business needs. When choosing an online scheduling software, make sure you’re considering the cost incurred by not having the tools you need to automate appointment related tasks.
Ease of use
The thought of implementing a new, automated scheduling software for your business can be overwhelming. You want to make sure customers have no trouble using it and that your staff can easily manage it among their other tasks. While it’s important for a tool to be relatively intuitive, business owners should be wary of deciding that the simplest tool to implement is the best option.
Simple isn’t always best. By choosing the easiest tool for your business to start using, you can miss out on advanced features offered by more complex softwares. These kinds of features end up saving your business time and money in the long run. With more complexity comes more of a learning curve, but you also gain greater control of your schedule and business.
Look for scheduling softwares that offer the best of both worlds — an easy customer interface and a number of powerful features that help streamline your scheduling processes. TimeTap, for example, allows you to create simple-to-use schedules and booking sites for your clients to make an appointment. Meanwhile, in the background, TimeTap is automatically communicating between schedules, saving appointment information, building client profiles, syncing with your personal calendar, and sending messages.
Don’t overlook a feature-rich scheduling tool just because it has a higher learning curve. Find a tool that offers all the functionality you need while still being manageable for your staff to use after initial learning. Finding the balance between a tool that comes with more features while being manageable to use will give you the most satisfaction in the long term. While clients will certainly appreciate the right booking tool, your staff will appreciate a software that automates a number of scheduling tasks and makes their jobs easier. In the end, considering a software with a steeper learning curve is worthwhile – if it provides long term savings on time and money.
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Features beyond simple appointment booking
You need an online scheduling tool, but what about all the other softwares, like a CRM or automated email service, that you need to keep your business running and growing? It’s much easier — and more cost effective — to have all of these tools in one program. More advanced tools like TimeTap offer additional functionality that further automate tasks in your business.
When clients book an appointment, they provide information that you need to better serve them and your business. Why not use this information to automatically build a client database? Look for scheduling softwares that offer a built-in, lightweight CRM that automate the process of creating client profiles and storing client data.
This means you never have to take time to upload or enter client data into a separate CRM. And you’re not spending further money on a CRM that goes beyond the needs of your business.
Most scheduling tools include automated appointment confirmation and reminder messages, but not all provide messaging functionality beyond that.
If your business relies on customers booking regular appointments with you, it’s important that you look for a tool that can automate all of your client communications. These campaigns can be used for a variety of purposes, from providing follow-up emails after an appointment to communicating next steps to a client. You’ll also want a tool to generate notifications to clients when it’s time for them to schedule their next appointment with you, such as an annual service appointment. This prevents having to set up annual reminders to call or email customers.
Automated scheduling features
Good scheduling softwares should allow you to sync your online schedule with other calendars, making sure you never miss an appointment. Additionally, seek out a scheduling software that can automatically schedule buffer between appointments. If you travel between appointment locations, it’s also helpful to have a tool that can estimate travel time and automatically adjust your schedule’s availability. TimeTap’s travel time calculator uses Google Maps to automatically adjust your availability to accommodate for travel time.
For businesses that rely on appointment booking, a scheduling tool should come with features that make your schedule and business run more smoothly. Use a tool that does it all for you rather than trying to make separate softwares work or completely going without.
Level of support provided
You and your staff should be able to easily manage your scheduling software without the need for frequent, extensive technical support. Even still, there might be occasions when you’re not able to figure something out, or you want an expert’s advice on the best way to go about using a feature. In these cases, you’ll want a scheduling tool that provides you with quick, robust technical support that is accessible across multiple channels, including self-service, phone, chat, or email.
While researching the software, make sure to check out the self-service resources, including FAQs, how-to guides, and video tutorials. These are great for instances when you need a fast, step-by-step walkthrough of a feature or functionality. It should be easy for you to search the resource knowledge base, and resources should be detailed and easy to understand.
Also, see if you would be able to contact the software’s technical support team via email, chat, or phone. Most good scheduling softwares offer email support at the minimum — test out their support by sending a quick email asking for more information about their software and see how long it takes them to respond.
It is crucial that you look into the quality of support a software offers. You want to have responsive, helpful technical support available when you need it.
Your feature requirements
You’ll want to pay attention to the details of features that really matter to you in a scheduling software. Make sure to ask:
1. Can the software combine multiple staff members’ schedules into one?
Do you have more than one person booking appointments? Many scheduling softwares allow you to build individual schedules for each staff member. But if your business has more than one employee accepting appointments, keeping everyone’s schedule separate can quickly get confusing. When choosing an appointment scheduling software, you need to look for one that can tackle the complexity of combining multiple schedules into one site.
If your employees offer appointments for different locations or services, your scheduling software should automatically block off their appointment availability on other schedules when an appointment on one gets booked. Similarly, your scheduling software should be smart enough to make sure that locations your staff shares for appointments never get overbooked.
While many scheduling softwares advertise the large number of employee schedules you can create, this doesn’t always mean those different schedules will automatically communicate with each other. So, be sure to investigate and choose an appointment booking software that can consolidate all your staff schedules into a single appointment scheduling site.
2. Can you build, customize, and assign different forms for appointment bookings and agreements?
You need an online scheduler that can tackle paperwork, too. Look for a scheduling software that offers customizeable forms clients fill out during the booking process. This streamlines the booking process so clients have completed intake form information prior to the appointment.
Many softwares don’t allow you to customize fields included in your appointment booking form. Make sure booking forms have customizable fields so that you can gather any kind of client information your business needs for different schedules.
If your business uses waivers, disclaimers, or other agreements, also look for a tool that can house the forms and automatically send them to clients as a part of the booking process.
3. What kind of security do you need?
Every business needs security but some organizations have higher requirements than others. Be sure to select a tool that can provide the level of security that you need.
For example, you probably want staff to access and use your scheduling software, but not everyone has to have the same access to information in your account. If your organization handles sensitive client information like medical records, you’ll want to be able to easily manage security settings.
An advanced scheduling tool like TimeTap will offer customizable security roles that can be assigned to staff accessing your schedule and account.
4. Is there an automated, hands-off waitlist feature?
Appointment cancellations happen, but don’t let it cause you to lose revenue. If you are booking classes or other events, a good scheduling software should include an automated waitlist feature. Once there is a cancellation in a fully booked class, the system should automatically generate notifications of an open seat to those who are on the waitlist.
It's important to make sure a tool's waitlist feature is automated — you want the tool to automatically send a message letting clients know there is an opening and allow clients to book the appointment in your schedule themselves. Your waitlist should be as hands-off as possible!
Dig into the details of each feature in the online schedulers you find to make sure they offer the complexity your schedules and business need. You don’t want to find yourself committed to a software and then discover it doesn’t quite accomplish what you need it to!
Get an inside look at TimeTap's powerful features. Book a Demo
Is your business growing? It probably is if you’re looking for a better online scheduler! It's crucial to make sure that the scheduler you choose will be able to scale with your business. While a simple scheduler could work right now, it might not work in the next few months or years as you grow.
More advanced, feature-rich scheduling tools may seem like a little more than you need presently. You don't have to use all of them immediately, though! In fact, a scheduling software that meets all your present needs and provdes nothing more is most likely one your business will quickly outgrow. And, as you add clients, locations, and employees, it’ll get even more difficult to implement a new scheduling software. Seek out scheduling tools that would allow you to grow either by offering a few more features than you need now or higher-level subscription tiers to move into in the future.
Do you and your team a favor - choose an appointment scheduling tool that can grow with your business. In the future, you don’t want to have to start the search process for a new appointment booking software all over again and risk the difficulty of integrating with a new system once your business has grown.
Business branding features
An online scheduler should be another way you show your professionalism to your clients. That’s why you need to look for features in a scheduling tool that allow you to customize to match your business’s branding.
One feature that can support your business’s brand is a custom booking site that clients will use to access your schedule and book an appointment. TimeTap offers flexible customization for booking sites that lets you upload your business’s logo, edit the text and colors, and even adjust the flow of pages clients see when they go through the booking process.
Additionally, you might consider a scheduling tool that allows you to embed your schedule into your business’s website. Embedded schedules make it extremely easy for your clients to find your schedule. Instead of going to a separate site, clients can easily access your business’s website to book an appointment. This means clients never leave your website and simply see your schedule as an extension of your business’s website.
A good scheduler should offer easily customizable features that can blend with your business’s branding. Choosing a scheduling tool that reinforces your brand to your customers is just as important as a scheduler that offers every feature you and your team need.
Hopefully this article provided you with some groundwork for the scheduling software search process. In your search, consider the powerful and yet easy to use functionality in our appointment scheduling tool. If you have any questions along the way, feel free to reach out to TimeTap’s helpful support team or explore TimeTap’s scheduling resources!