Summary: Your online scheduling tool or booking widget is like your virtual receptionist. The wrong one can lose you thousands of dollars every year.
A great booking experience (made possible by your booking widget) offers an easy, seamless experience.
It also offers a tailored fit by allowing customers to apply a variety of filters to their appointments (do they prefer Wendy or John or your downtown or uptown location?).
Plus, business owners get a 360-degree view of the digital side of their business.
And that’s only the beginning.
Do you want to generate more revenue this year? How about improve customer experience?
If you answered a resounding “yes,” we have the secret.
For appointment-based businesses, it’s all about choosing the right virtual receptionist for your digital storefront: i.e. the right online booking tool or booking widget as we call it here at Yocale.
Here’s an example of a bad booking tool. It’s not actually online booking!
And here’s what actual online booking looks like. As you can see in the example below, you’re providing clients with a list of services to choose from and the option to actually “book” those services. That’s true online booking and a much preferred booking experience for your clients as it allows them to find the most perfect appointment for them.
Here’s the thing: your online booking tool is like your receptionist. That means it’s either offering a fantastic customer experience or costing you customers without even knowing it.
Whether you’re looking to implement online booking for the first time or you’re looking for alternatives to your current solution, our co-founder, Arash, would like to discuss why a good booking experience is so critical to business success and what to look for in a great booking widget.
The Wrong Appointment Booking Experience is Hurting Your Business
Think about it this way: how far would you get with a subpar receptionist?
We’ve all been there: we’ve encountered those absolutely fantastic receptionists. You know the ones – the receptionists that make the booking experience an easy, seamless experience. The ones that knew exactly what we needed so that when they upsold us, they got a resounding “yes.”
The same thing applies to your booking experience – i.e. your online booking tool or booking widget. It needs to be optimized around usability but also designed to do more.
How to Provide the Best Booking Experience (What to Look for in Your Booking Widget)
An online booking tool or booking widget should offer up exactly what a great receptionist does. In other words, the best booking experiences on the market today should provide the following:
- A Seamless, Easy Booking Experience. Think: a very easy sign up (asking for anything other than a name and email address is going to introduce barriers). Similarly, effortless rescheduling and cancellation should be no more than the click of a button.
Research from Nielsen Norman Group shows that users will leave web pages in 10 to 20 seconds if you don’t clearly tell them what you’re offering. If you make things complicated, they will leave.
Further, it should present information in a clear, logical manner. Instead of having a long list of services, for instance, it should group them into “like” services for enhanced usability – i.e. skin services or body services or hair services, etc.
- Give Customers Exactly What They Want. Allow customers to find the best appointment date, time, and so on through the use of smart filters. Make their lives easier by allowing them to book from everywhere – even their mobile phone.
Similarly, allow clients to find the best provider for them (for instance, apply filters based on reviews, gender, location, and type of service) while at the same time having the ability to disable these filters behind the scenes.
Here’s an example. Let’s say a massage client only feels comfortable with treatments by someone of a certain gender. Because it’s such a sensitive topic, she feels uncomfortable making this request over the phone. If your booking widget is unable to accommodate this request from the privacy of her own home, that client is likely to look elsewhere.
A great booking widget provides a custom fit, however that might look for that particular customer. That’s what a premier customer experience is all about.
Indeed, research shows that consumers are 80% more likely to do business with companies that offer personalized customer experiences.
Allow clients to book at the location that’s best for them. And provide them with a map!
- Have Everything Covered. Offer a booking experience that factors in the individual behind the booking, recording everything from notes to special requests, just like the best receptionists.
- Think of Everything. Provide a booking experience that makes it easy for clients to actually remember their appointment! Even better, try offering information on the distance and average trip time between client and business, print appointment details or add the appointment directly to the client’s calendar.
- Powered to Do More. A good booking experience provides the ability to schedule multiple services at once, accommodating the client’s request to have the same provider or a different one, all while finding the best time! The art of upselling.
- Dig Into the Analytics. A great online booking tool or booking widget is one that gives you a 360 degree view of what’s happening with your online bookings in general.
Think of it this way: your online scheduling tool is like your digital storefront. In the same way that businesses manage their foot traffic, your booking widget should also monitor your digital foot traffic.
Additionally, a great booking widget is one that’s integrated with Google Analytics, allowing you to analyze behaviour and capitalize on services that are highest in demand.
- Lead with Brand Values. A great receptionist lives and breathes your brand values. And your online booking tool should, too. Customize just about everything with a good booking widget to align with your brand.
- Multilingual. And if all the above wasn’t enough, your receptionist (er, widget!) is ideally multilingual, too!
Wrapping It Up
A good booking experience (and a good booking widget) can mean the difference between a seamless, successful customer experience and potential losses of thousands of dollars of revenue every year.