Whether you’re a dentist, fitness trainer, or photographer, you probably agree that one of the most annoying aspects of your job is dealing with administrative tasks like scheduling. Your skills and talents are better suited for helping your clients, so you need a way to let others easily book time with you.
This is where online booking systems come in. These systems save time for both you and your clients, as there’s no need for back-and-forth emails and calls. Instead, you can simply share your schedule, and they can book appointments at their convenience.
But how do you create an effective online booking system? We’ll answer that below, but first, let’s look at a few features and capabilities to consider when choosing an online booking system.
4 online booking system capabilities to consider
1. Around-the-clock booking access
“Your online booking system should be able to capture as many leads as possible,” says Julia Douglas at scheduling software provider Setmore. Just because your business is closed for the day doesn’t mean your scheduler should be too.
“Your customers should be able to select their own booking time from a preset range of times,” she says, “without needing to call your business and leave a voicemail.”
2. Appointment reminders
Douglas says appointment reminders are another important feature to consider, as they reduce the number of no-shows and unnecessary administrative time for follow-up contacts with those customers. “It’s beneficial if the booking solution offers email or even SMS appointment reminders,” she says. “It will save customers time and you money.”
3. Multiple bookings
Talha Waseem, a tech content editor at software development outsourcing company InvoZone, says a useful feature is the ability to do multiple bookings at the same time.
“This is a key feature in healthcare, as patients may need to book with multiple doctors or departments around the same time,” he says. “The complexity of this feature may knock a lot of solutions out of the running, but it’s something to consider if it makes sense for your business.”
4. Payment processing
If your business model requires clients to pay before they can secure a time slot, payment processing is an essential feature to look for in an online booking system. For example, you may be a fitness instructor who doesn’t block out time on your schedule unless you receive full payment or at least a 50 percent deposit.
Whatever online booking system you choose will of course depend on your unique needs. Tim Green, head of partnerships and marketing at the fitness business management service TeamUp, explains that the most important consideration is how your clients and potential clients will interact with the solution.
“There are hundreds of solutions available on the market,” he says. “But the solution offering the best value will be the one that fits as many of your needs as possible for the lowest price.”
For example, Green notes that if you offer one-on-one appointments, you’ll likely benefit most from reminders and calendar links. If you offer group sessions, such as fitness classes at a gym, then integrated prepayments and easy rescheduling features might top your list of must-haves. “In any case, thoroughly review your options to ensure you make the right choice,” he says.
How to create an online booking system
Here are a few simple steps you can follow to create an online booking system that works for your business:
- Identify your needs. What goals are you trying to accomplish with an online booking system? Are you trying to get patients into your clinic? Do you want customers to have an easy way to sign up and pay for fitness classes?
- Search the market. Let the answers to the preceding questions guide your search. You need to find products with features that help you accomplish your goals.
- Implement the solution. Purchase and configure the online booking system you choose. Some solutions may require more time for setup and staff training.
- Test the solution. Be sure to verify the booking system works as intended, especially if you’ve done some custom configurations. Put it into service only after you confirm it’s working correctly.
- Reassess the system periodically. As you use the system, assess whether it’s meeting your goals. If it isn’t, you may need to restart your search. Assuming it is, you should still periodically reassess the system’s feature set as your goals and needs evolve.
Jotform, an easy-to-use form builder, addresses your booking needs through its appointment feature. You can enable bookings for your dentist office, fitness business, photography studio, or other business by starting with one of our many form templates, then adding the appointment field. Here’s how to do that. Try a booking form today.