What are the benefits of online check-in? What are the advantages of reservation?
Today’s customers typically encounter your digital storefront before they ever step into your physical one.
Just as you invest resources into your physical storefront (with receptionists, etc.), your digital entrance also has to be optimized in the same way.
That’s exactly why more and more businesses are offering online booking.
Indeed, there is an increasing demand for online booking across various industries. In fact, the global appointment scheduling market is poised to grow by $633.47 million between 2021 and 2025.
Because online booking allows customers to book after hours while providing customers with self-service options. Ultimately, though, online booking provides customers with choices (i.e. true customer service).
Read on to find out what online booking automation can do for your business and why your digital storefront is so important.
Benefits of Online Check-In: 9 Things Online Booking Automation Can Do for Your Business (And the Importance of Your Digital Storefront!)
1. Book After Hours (Keep Your Business Open 24/7)
This is one of the biggest benefits of online check-in.
Online booking software acts as your 24/7 receptionist, taking appointments around the clock.
A boost in bookings because you’ve given your customers the flexibility to make appointments when it’s best for them.
2. Cater to Customers that Prefer Self-Service
Many business owners think they’re providing great customer service because they talk to their customers.
They say, “I want to talk to my customers.”
In reality, many customers today actually prefer self-service options instead of speaking to someone on the phone.
According to Zendesk’s Customer Experience Trends Report, 69% of consumers try to find the answer they’re looking for on their own.
At the end of the day, though, great customer service is about catering to everyone; put another way, it’s about providing choices (more on this below).
3. Provide Customers with Choices (True Customer Service)
Some customers will prefer to pick up a phone to make an appointment.
Another segment will prefer to book online.
The idea here is that while your in-person receptionist is still important, one of the benefits of online check-in (and the advantages of reservation) is that you cater to the segment of your customers that prefer to not pick up the phone.
You also cater to customers looking to book after business hours.
On the topic of being phone adverse, remember: we know just how much millennials don’t like the telephone!
Considering that millennials have officially become America’s largest generation, now surpassing Baby Boomers, it’s critical that today’s businesses account for this growing generation and their personal preferences.
In the case of millennial communication preferences, the Center for Generational Kinetics’ has shown that millennials prefer to communicate via text, email and social media.
In contrast, they prefer to communicate via the telephone and in-person the least.
Interestingly, the same center found that Gen X and even Baby Boomers are beginning to follow millennials. Thus, they conclude that those who successfully reach millennials will also reach other generations as well.
Moral of the story?
Great customer service is about providing choices.
And a great booking experience provides customers with exactly that. With online booking, customers can choose what day and time they prefer to book their appointment, which provider they like best and so on.
Here’s what a good online booking experience looks like here.
4. Minimize Uncomfortable Situations
Online booking offers clients a tailored-fit type of booking experience.
Part of the benefit of this is that it means customers can make personal preferences privately, which results in a much more comfortable experience.
Let’s say that a female client is more comfortable having a massage performed by a woman. It can be uncomfortable for her to have to make this request over the telephone.
She may get frustrated or decide not to get a massage after all.
Either way, the environment is an uncomfortable one.
Instead, one of the benefits of online check-in (and the advantages of reservation) is that clients can make personal selections privately, resulting in a much more positive experience overall.
5. Provide Confirmations for a “Feel Good” Type of Experience
Online booking software sends clients automated reminders at different points of the booking process.
This includes reminders of upcoming appointments (reducing no-shows by 86%) as well as rebooking reminders, which remind clients to rebook if they haven’t visited in a while.
However, online booking software also sends booking confirmations as soon as a client books online.
Immediately, this creates a “feel good” type of experience.
Instead of being unsure about whether or not the booking was made, an automated reminder provides confirmation.
(An online booking software also sends reminders to staff. This is an important distinction, especially for new business owners. It’s not entirely uncommon for customers to make an appointment only to show up and find that the business is closed).
At the end of the day, online booking software keeps everyone organized and in the loop.
The result is a positive, seamless experience every step of the way.
6. Give Clients What They Want Before They Know It Themselves (Become the Four Seasons)
Have you ever visited a Four Seasons hotel (or any sort of upscale hotel)?
One of the things that stands out about the experience that you get there (besides things like great amenities or a great dining experience) is that somehow, someway, they seem to know exactly what you need – before you know it yourself.
And there they are with a glass of cucumber-infused water – exactly what you needed.
The right kind of online booking experience provides exactly this Four Seasons type of experience. Not only does it provide customers with choices, it also suggests other services the client may be interested in – services they might not have otherwise thought of.
Let’s say a customer just booked a facial online. The system would then suggest a list of other services she or he might be interested in, like a body wrap treatment.
In this way, online booking software acts as a built-in sales tool while also creating a more personalized experience at the same time.
7. Get Paid Faster
When it comes to the benefits of online check-in, one of the advantages of reservation is that you can get paid faster (in the event that the online booking software has an integrated point-of-sale).
Whether you want to charge 100% upfront or charge a deposit (or even nothing at all), you have the option to immediately improve your cash flow.
Online scheduling software has evolved to become much more than online booking. Today, the best scheduling software solutions also function as points-of-sale, client relationship management tools (CRMs) and even form-builders to name a few.
8. Present Digital Forms at the Time of Booking (Eliminate Admin Time)
Imagine if you could reduce administrative tasks involved with standard paperwork.
Think of all the time you’d get back.
Online booking software allows you to replace paper-based forms with an automated, digital version that gets tagged and stored in one single platform automatically.
Here are a couple of examples as to how digital forms can help your business:
- Salons – Provide a more personalized experience by collecting information prior to appointments, such as musical tastes or beverage preferences. The result is a five-star salon experience.
- Notaries – Notaries involved in the sale of a property spend a lot of manual time on paperwork, and this process could be entirely eliminated with online scheduling software that has an integrated form-builder.
- Therapists – Digitize your intake process by having clients complete forms in advance of their appointment. They then get tagged and stored within the cloud. No more filing!
9. Get Valuable Insights Into Your Business
A final benefit of online booking software is that you get valuable insights into your business.
Online booking software can tell you your most popular services and products as well as your top spenders or most visited clients to name a few.
A scheduling software solution like Yocale, for instance, can even allow you to segment your data even further.
This means you could assess locations that had the most sales, as one example.
The Importance of Your Digital Storefront
All of this goes to show why your digital storefront is so important in today’s world.
If businesses today fail to account for changing communication preferences, they fall behind. It’s exactly this type of dangerous thinking that made BlockBuster entirely obsolete.
The good news, though, is that a simple change like online booking software can help.
Wrapping it Up
What are the benefits of online check-in and the advantages of reservation?
First, online booking keeps your business open 24/7.
Secondly, online booking caters to the changing generational communication preferences and ultimately turns you into a premier customer service provider.
Remember: a large percentage of your customers communicate with you online first before they ever step into your physical business.
This means it’s imperative that your digital storefront creates a strong first impression.