Appointment scheduling software is a digital software that allows organizations such as retailers and banks to let customers make appointments for in-store or online services with store associates in advance. Customers can book an appointment through your website, app or over the phone, and receive regular notifications and reminder messages before their appointment takes place.
Appointment booking software not only helps retail brands and other organizations to create a faster and more enjoyable customer experience, it also increases store footfall and customer conversion rates, and improves staff productivity.
We have pulled together a comprehensive guide retailers and other organizations can use to select the best online appointment software for their business needs.
How appointment booking software can help during Covid-19
As a result of Covid-19, many retailers and other organizations are using booking software to manage customers coming into stores, and to reduce the time customers spend in-store. Instead of asking customers to line up in queues or take appointments over the phone, retailers and other organizations can use a booking app to allow customers to make appointments in advance.
This means customers can make an appointment through your website, app or over the phone, and arrive at your store at the time-slot they selected without waiting to enter.
Many retailers are currently using appointment scheduling software alongside queue management systems to manage walk-in customers wanting to enter the store or to sign up for in-store services.
Key benefits of appointment scheduling software
There are a number of benefits to incorporating a booking system into your store or business, including:
- Increased foot traffic.
- Increased sales.
- Increased advocacy.
- Increased loyalty.
- Improved resource allocation.
- Improved shop floor productivity.
- Improved brand perception and awareness.
- Better commercial decisions.
- Improved partner sales.
- Improved staff retention.
- Improved competitive advantage.
- Increased compliance.
- Simple to embed.
- Low cost of ownership.
- Improved ROI.
And, during Covid-19, additional benefits include:
- A safe, contactless customer journey.
- Limit the number of customers in-store.
- Efficient and engaging customer experience.
5 things to consider before choosing an appointment booking software provider
1) Understand your customer journey
When implementing a booking system, a high-quality software provider will take the time to understand your business needs and your customer needs, and will take a consultative approach towards finding a solution. However, it’s a good idea to have a firm understanding of the customer journey you are trying to achieve first.
Here are some of the most common use cases for appointment scheduling software:
- Appointments for in-person services: stop customers from having to wait in queues to receive in-person services such as make-up and beauty treatments or tutorials, styling advice, or technical servicing, by allowing customers to book an appointment in advance. This is a great way to stagger customers throughout the day, allowing store associates to pre-plan their schedules and have more consistent work throughout their shifts.
- Time-slots to enter stores: instead of asking customers to queue outside your store during Covid-19, many are allowing customers to choose a time-slot to enter your store. Some retailers are using appointment scheduling software alongside queue management software to allow walk-in customers to also enter stores by virtually queuing.
- Virtual service via phone or video: allow customers requiring a service to digitally queue for phone or video calls instead of waiting on hold.
- Virtual event bookings: many retailers are hosting virtual events, and they’re using appointment apps to allow customers to book places.
- Click and collect/BOPIS: allowing customers to preselect a time to pickup an item in-store allows retailers to preplan customer orders, and it enables customers to significantly reduce waiting time.
2) Identify what functionalities are important to your brand
Modern appointment booking systems come with a range of innovative functionalities. Here are some of the basic requirements:
- Easy customer sign up for appointments: customers should be able to schedule appointments through a variety of channels, including your website, mobile app, search engine profile and ads, social media pages, individual staff profile pages, QR codes, self-service kiosks, customer service teams, store hosts and store associates, with options for store finder tools, staff profile pages and tailored customer questions.
- Integrates with website and app interfaces: the appointment scheduling functionality should be integratable with your existing website and app.
- Flexible appointment slot availability: time-slot scheduling should be easily adaptable and visible based on staff availability, fixed weekly slots or other tasks.
- Timely notifications: customers should receive timely notifications via SMS and email throughout the customer journey, such as a confirmation message letting them know they have signed up for an appointment, and reminder messages to keep them engaged and informed.
- ‘Reply-to’ functionality: customers should be able to seamlessly cancel or reschedule appointments.
- Check-in customers as they arrive: store associates should be able to check-in customers as they arrive for an appointment, or customers should be able to check-in from their own device.
- Customizable to your brand: the appointment booking interface should be customizable to your brand guidelines and messaging.
- Connects with calendars: integrates with iCal/Google/Outlook calendar links as well as maps and other information.
- Multiple languages: a queuing system should be able to serve customers in multiple languages and on a global scale.
- Data privacy: it should abide by data privacy laws, such as ISO27001 and GDPR, allowing staff to safely manage and store customer details.
- CRM integration: the ability to pair customers in your upcoming appointments with preexisting customer profile records in your CRM database is an important requirement.
- Accessible on any device: customers and employees should be able to access the appointment scheduling system on their desktop, tablet or smartphone devices.
- Shop floor management: store managers or team leaders should be able to manage appointments across the shop floor from a single device.
- Staff notifications: store associates should receive regular notifications and reminder messages keeping them updated on their upcoming appointments.
- Outcome reporting: your head office and store management teams should be able to create reports to measure performance.
- Post visit follow up: allow employees to follow up after customer visits by sending follow up messages or scheduling future appointments.
- Subscribe for updates: enable customers to register for information updates about a particular service or product, and update them individually or all at once.
3) Prioritize security and experience
When choosing the best appointment scheduling software for your business, finding a partner with a proven track-record working with organizations on the same scale and industry as your own is vital.
As a result of Covid-19, there are a number of new booking apps appearing on the market that have been built within a matter of weeks – and these solutions are lacking the level of flexibility and durability businesses need. These solutions can also come with a number of security risks, often lacking effective network design, vulnerability scanning penetration testing, ISO27001 and GDPR compliance processes and the accreditation necessary to manage customers’ personal data.
You can read more on how Qudini ensure maximum security, high availability and prioritization of privacy at our security page here.
4) Look for flexibility and adaptability
While the solution you’re looking for might sound simple – the ability to allow your customers to book appointments – things can quickly get complex. For instance, does it need to be branded? Are there multiple customer journeys you need to cater to? What other systems do you need to integrate with?
It’s important you find a partner that not only understands your needs, but is willing to be flexible when working with you to find an approach that suits your business – and do so quickly.
Another useful point to bear in mind is that it’s worth finding a SaaS provider with a range of solutions as well as appointment booking software. Alongside appointment scheduling software, Qudini offers queue management software, event management software and task management software to a range of retail and retail banking enterprises, and as a result, we have been able to quickly step in and help our clients in a multitude of ways during Covid-19, such as creating virtual queues outside of stores, allowing customers to book time-slot appointments to visit stores, and eliminating in-store queues by enabling customers to virtually queue or book appointments for in-person or online services.
5) Manage walk-in customers alongside those with fixed appointments
Allowing your customers to book appointments for in-store services has proven to be very popular with consumers, but it’s important that you have the resources to be able to intelligently manage walk-in customers alongside fixed appointments. Your store teams should have full visibility of all scheduled appointments in order of their booked time within a single intuitive list, and as customers walk in to your venue requesting the next available appointment, you can then seamlessly add the walk-in customers into the queue.
Qudini will intelligently calculate customer wait times based on your advisors’ availability and upcoming bookings. Upon calculating a walk-in customer’s wait time, Qudini will display customers in the queue before and after your upcoming appointments in the order that they are likely to be seen based on their requirements.
Why use Qudini’s appointment scheduling software?
Qudini is the market leading appointment booking system – it’s highly centralized, flexible, customizable, robust and secure, and it works on any device. The system is used by retailers such as Samsung, Brown Thomas and NatWest.
Having operated in the queue management and appointment booking space for eight years, Qudini has developed highly intelligent and complex algorithms presented in perfectly refined interfaces that are simple for your teams to use and manage.
- Most extensive data offering on the market with options for custom dashboards.
- Integrated with queue management software, allowing brands to balance fixed appointments alongside walk-in customers.
- Enterprise grade.
- Cloud-based and centralized.
- ISO27001 and GDPR compliant.
- Flexible and customizable.
- Intelligently calculated send times for SMS notifications.
- One platform, multiple solutions, rich functionality.
- Stand alone, yet easy to integrate.
- Simple to deploy and use.
- Fully hardware compatible with: desktop, IOS and Android app for store associates and web-based consumer interfaces that integrate with your website and mobile apps.
- And, best of all all, this is supported by an agile, consultative and impact-oriented team.
- Find out more about our platform
During Covid-19, this also means you can:
- Provide a safe and engaging service by allowing customers to book appointments and join queues on mobile interfaces with customizable weblinks.
- Better manage staff and your shop floor thanks to appointment calendars.
- See how many customers are in-store at any one given time with our new occupancy tracking feature that supports brands during Covid-19.
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