Booking appointments to see a doctor or a beautician can be a painstaking job especially if the client/patient has to go in person to book. With everything available online, this booking system has also become an online facility to which many service providers are subscribing. This ensures easier booking and increase in customer satisfaction. The interesting part of an appointment scheduling software is its ease of adjustability to adapt with a physician, dentist, beautician or a legal advisor according to their requirements. All service providers can make use of this software which is a one-stop-shop for the clients to book and retrieve their booking history. Automated alerts like emails and SMS regarding the booking details and online payment facilities make these online booking software very popular. It can keep both parties happy and satisfied as far as the appointments are concerned. A cloud implementation will make it easier on the service provider’s pockets and also enable them to access the data and analytics from anywhere. This makes it convenient for the service provider to keep track of the appointments even when they are traveling.
Mechanism of the online appointment scheduling software
The basic options which should be available in an appointment/booking software are:
The enquiry system is the basic option through which prospective clients can post their enquiries on the services provided, the service provider’s details and any other details such as the rates, convenient time, location etc. This can be part of a portal of the service provider, for example, a beautician, who can be contacted through the enquiry posted. The beautician receives an email / SMS regarding the enquiry posted along with the contact details of the prospective client. This data can be stored in the CRM module if it is also subscribed as a part of the ERP.
The service provider or the beautician, in this case, can set his or her time slots here for which they will be charging the client. It is up to the service provider to set the pattern of the timeslot. Timeslots can be set hourly, daily, fortnightly or in any manner depending on the profession and the service provided. Some consultants may charge hourly or every 2 hours also. So if the client feels that they require 2 hours and the timeslot is hourly, they can book 2 consecutive timeslots available.
A booking system is where confirmed bookings are set by the client or automatically upon payment. The booking system will send automated confirmation and email / SMS to both the parties involved so that the booked timeslots can be managed by the service provider. Even if the service provider is not available in town while the booking is made, he or she will be alerted and reminded of the upcoming appointments on a timely basis. Similarly, the alerts and reminders go to the booked client also who can keep their timing. If the clients and the service provider keep their time, all the appointments will go as per schedule smoothly. This improves customer satisfaction and they will keep coming back to the same service provider as long as the service is also of good quality.
Online payment gateways
This is an important aspect of online appointment scheduling software. Many booking systems fail because the clients are unable to confirm the booking by making the payment online. Once the payment is made, the client and the service provider are bound to keep their appointments. Some service providers also allow rescheduling if requested in advance and may charge a nominal fee for the same. This ensures a smooth flow of the actual appointments.
Alerts and Reminders
The service provider, as well as the client, may be allowed to set reminders for themselves at specified intervals. This ensures that both the parties do not miss the pre-booked appointment.
Integration with calendar
Since Google calendars are highly reliable and can be integrated and accessed everywhere, the booked appointments with Google Calendar will make the reminders easily visible.
Integration with Other modules of ERP
The Booking system can be integrated with CRM, Accounting and Payroll or HRM in the case of chain of service centres. This automates the entire process of the service provider and the entire data analytics will be available in the touch of a couple of buttons.
User management is important in the case of multiple user roles accessing the software. For example, the associated staff need not get the personal details of the clients such as case history or the treatments opted (as the case may be). But all the details should be made accessible to the actual service provider. In case of a group of consultants, each consultant can hide the details of his or her clients from the fellow consultants but the entire data will be accessible to the management or the main consultant who manages the consulting firm.
Customization is a very important aspect of any software. Customization in terms of the user interface, as well as functionality, will be expected by the clients. Due to high competition, most of the solution providers offer customizable user interface which will match the existing brand of the service provider.
This is a very important factor, especially when it comes to high-profile clients who are very particular about their privacy. Data security is important for the service provider also as the unsecured data can be accessed by competitors who can misuse it.
Adopting the cloud appointment system ensures that the software and the data can be accessed in remote areas also. This keeps the service provider and services mobile which is very important for surviving the high competition. The cloud-based software keeps the initial investment minimal. The cloud-based software allows the user to adopt Software sharing (SaaS), Infrastructure sharing (IaaS) or Platform sharing (PaaS). The service provider can choose the most feasible solution depending on the nature of service provided and the budget set aside for the subscription of the cloud-based booking system.