Online booking has become an industry standard. In fact, it’s now estimated that 70% of people expect a company’s website to include the option for self-service.
It’s no real surprise as to why customer demand for self-service is so high, either. Online booking offers clients an impressive degree of convenience and flexibility, allowing them to book after hours, get notifications regarding their appointments – and much more!
That said, many businesses already understand the value of online booking – they’re just not sure how to go about implementing it. Some may fear that the transition from paper booking to online booking may not go smoothly and that they’ll alienate customers in the process.
Other business owners consider themselves “tech illiterate” and don’t have enough confidence in the idea of integrating a digital system into their paper-based business.
And while it’s true that uprooting your existing business infrastructure can be jarring to both staff and clients alike, bring your business online is now easier than ever. In fact, with intuitive online booking software like Yocale, it can be done in a matter of minutes!
Across all industries – new and old – here’s how to make your business’s transition to online booking hassle-free!
Offer A “Transitionary Period” For Client Adjustment
One of the largest hurdles that businesses face when transitioning to online booking is ensuring that the process isn’t jarring to their customers.
After all, once clients become accustomed to how a business operates, a sudden “overhaul” in what they’ve come to expect can make them uncomfortable. This is unfortunate because after all, strong client relationships are built on principles like comfort and security!
That said, successful businesses are constantly striving for change, and stagnation is definitely not the way to go. The trick is to transition into online booking slowly and smoothly, which will allow your clients ample time to adapt.
One way to do this is to continue offering your traditional booking process alongside online bookings for a set window of time – say, a few months depending on your goals. During this time, you could continue taking appointments via the phone, but you might instruct your receptionists to gently remind clients of your online booking option.
Here are some examples of what this might sound like:
“You’re all set – thank you for booking with us today! I’d just like to remind you that we now offer easy online booking via our website, so definitely keep that in mind for next time!”
“Your appointment has been confirmed! Don’t forget that you can always book with us online – even after office hours – on our website!”
“Thanks for calling! Just a reminder that you can now easily book online with us in seconds on our website and our Facebook page.”
Another way to gently advocate for online booking would be to include your online booking information on your appointment reminder cards (if you offer them). When a client rebooks in-person after their service, try adding a visible link to your booking page on the reminder card or slip itself.
Start Your Online Booking Journey With Appointment Requests
For businesses that want to bridge the gap between traditional booking and online booking, appointment requests might be ideal!
There are a variety of reasons why many businesses swear by appointment requests. For starters, many businesses may want to offer online booking, but they might be uncomfortable with allowing clients full access to their schedule.
Other businesses might want to shy away from offering confirmed online bookings – perhaps due to the risk of scheduling conflicts or other concerns.
Either way, skipping out on online booking entirely means losing out on a big chunk of potential revenue. Thankfully, allowing your customers to make appointment requests is a prudent way to get the best of both worlds without any obvious downsides.
With appointment requests, your clients can still book online at their convenience. Instead of their appointments being automatically confirmed, though, you’ll have the ability to accept, decline, or arrange for an alternate time – all through email or SMS.
Simply put – if your business is new to online booking, bringing your business online with appointment requests is a fantastic way to ease into the transition without alienating staff or clients.
Prominently Feature Online Booking Across Your Sites
As you begin your transition into online booking, many clients may be unaware of the change in service. This unawareness isn’t ideal, as it may lead to a delayed adoption process.
After all, most of us lead busy lives and can’t be expected to keep up with the infrastructural changes of the businesses we patronize.
Creating awareness is key – and chances are, most of your clients will be ecstatic to know they can book online! So why wait?
Thankfully, bridging this gap of non-communication and creating awareness about your online booking portal takes minimal effort.
For starters, prominently featuring a “book now” button on your website is a must. Not only will it cut down on the number of phone calls you receive, but it will serve as built-in marketing for your online booking option.
Now, when customers – new and old – arrive at your website, they’ll recognize that they can book online. Even if they don’t end up booking an appointment, the chances are that they’ll be able to recall how easy the process seemed, which dramatically improves the chances of them booking with you in the future!
Aside from this, you can also familiarize your customers with your online booking through a video walkthrough or blog post. Just ensure that you effectively convey the degree of convenience and ease-of-use that online booking offers!
You can draw attention to your online booking on a Facebook business page too, so your Facebook visitors will also get the memo. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to do this with Yocale’s online booking:
- Copy your Yocale Booking Page link from your Yocale profile.
- Go to your Facebook page and click “Add a ”
- Select the “Book Now” button and paste your Yocale booking link into the field.
- Click “Create” to finalize the process.
- You’re done!
Offer Your Services Directly To Clients With On-Site Visits
Many online booking systems are flexible enough to suit a variety of businesses – mobile businesses included.
That means that if you offer on-site service – meaning that you visit your clients, wherever they are – you can still provide online booking to your customers! As a bonus, on-site online booking is actually superior to traditional booking for a number of reasons.
For one, your clients will be able to identify whether or not your services are available to them directly from your online booking page. That’s right – you don’t have to investigate a client’s location yourself or relay information to them over the phone.
Once a customer plugs their address into your online booking page, they’ll be able to see what services are available – where and when. If a client’s location is outside of your pre-set boundaries, they won’t be able to book that service.
Once a booking is confirmed, however, you’ll be the first to know via SMS text reminders. The appointment will then show up in your online scheduler, along with the client’s exact location.
From here, if you have a smartphone, you can input the address into a GPS system like Google Maps and be on your way – it’s as simple as that!
If you’re looking to incorporate online booking into your business, on-site visits can serve as a great way to incentivize booking online without altering the practices of your existing brick-and-mortar location.
You might try dedicating some staff members to providing clients with on-site visits to broaden the scope of your business. Or, if you work alone, that’s no problem either – online booking software can be your helpful, detail-oriented digital assistant!
While there are dozens of online booking platforms out there, the best ones won’t demand that you drastically restructure your business to begin taking appointments their way. Instead, they’ll allow you to bring your business online with little effort and supply you with the real-world flexibility needed to meets the needs of both you and your clients!
Remember – integrating online booking with your business is easier than it’s ever been. And it’s never too late to get started!
Thanks for reading!
For more business strategy – online and off – keep up with us here at the Yocale blog, five days a week.