I really don’t like to talk on the phone. It’s been that way since I’ve been a little kid. I used to get so anxious that I had to write down what I would say before I would order a pizza. If the pizza guy asked me any questions outside of my script, I would freeze up and start to sob into the phone. My therapist tells me I’m repressing some negative memories, but what does he know about summer camp anyway?
For people like me, scheduling software programs have been a Godsend. Nowadays, you can make a reservation for a restaurant, register for a yoga class and place an order from your computer. It doesn’t matter if it’s past business hours, it doesn’t matter if it’s on a weekend, and it doesn’t matter if you’re on a boat in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle. As long as you have an internet connection, you can sign up for anything!
Here are 8 reasons why your small business should consider using an online scheduling solution:
- It’s Easy & Easily Integrated: Online scheduling services are designed to be simple and convenient for both the company, the consumer, and the answering service company if you are outsourcing. These days, many people are conducting business via smartphones and laptops and outsourcing their calls so that they can maximize the number of hours in the day while they are on the road or involved in other projects. Web based appointments allow the user to navigate the appointment setting application whenever they have a moment to spare. In addition, if you are using a telephone answering service like SAS and receiving phone bookings 24/7, call center agents are able to navigate a simple UI to book on the customers behalf or be there if customers have some trouble or questions. Because most software is intuitive, having call center agents handle booking is cost effective.
- 24-Hour Availability: We’ve all been there. The day gets away from you and then you realize that you needed to make a dentist appointment, but it’s too late. The office is closed. With online scheduling, there is no such thing as too late. Whether it’s 1 o’clock in the afternoon or 3 o’clock in the morning, you can surf the web, book an appointment online, and check off another item on your to do list. The internet never sleeps.
- It Eliminates Frustration: Oftentimes when clients call to schedule appointments, they haven’t really checked their availability. So when the receptionist throws out a few available time slots, they just go with the first one that sounds reasonable. Then once they get that reminder call the day before, low and behold, there’s a conflict. Nothing is more frustrating for the consumer or the office staff than last minute cancellations, scheduling and rescheduling because of poor planning. With an online option, clients can take all the time in the world to review their availability, and then make the appointment that best suits their needs. Online scheduling unburdens your in-house team and makes life simpler for employees and consumers alike.
- It Saves Money: Utilizing web based appointment scheduling software is especially convenient if you are a one-man office or don’t have the funds to hire an assistant. Some scheduling services are free, while most have affordable plans that can fit any budget. Booking appointments online allows both you and your clients to have all of your ducks in a row. There’s less likelihood of missed appointments or spur of the moment cancellations and that means stronger sales and increased revenue.
- It Saves Time: Reminder calls are a pain. Your in-house team has better things to do than to waste time phoning everyone on the week’s agenda. The beauty of online applications is that text and email reminders can be automatically sent out to clients ahead of time, eliminating the need for your employees to do it themselves. This efficient scheduling management software aspect gives your staff more hours in the day to complete their work. It also gives you the freedom to focus on the clients in front of you without having to juggle answering phones while taking appointments, thereby increasing productivity across the board. It’s a win-win.
- It’s Reliable: It’s all too easy to misunderstand speech on a phone call, especially if that call is taking place on a mobile phone with a bad connection. It’s hard to distinguish F from S, B from D, C from Z, and so on. When clients have the advantage of scheduling their own appointments, they can spell their names and input their contact information accurately. It eliminates confusion regarding appointment dates and times, and eliminates the possibility of the receptionist typing Ham instead of Sam. For the hearing impaired, online tools are also a convenient and stress-free way to take care of business.
- It’s Technologically Efficient: Don’t you just love it when you can synchronize all of your devices so that they display the same information? That way, whether you pick up your smartphone or iPad, your calendar will know exactly where you need to be and when you need to be there. Using an online scheduling app such as Google Calendar means that the business owner and client will both have the same information, wherever and whenever they choose to access it.
- Great for Fast-Paced Industries: For seasonal businesses that see an uptick in appointments during specific months, busy professionals that are always on the go, such as real estate agents, and even medical offices that carry a high patient load on a daily basis, employing an online scheduler keeps things running smoothly. Giving consumers the power to set their own appointments on their on time is easier on them, and easier on you.
By now, you are wondering how you ever lived without online scheduling software. Before you go searching for one, here is a list of 29 to start with:
Totally 100% free.
There’s no such thing as free appointment scheduling software for small business. Actually there is. These two companies. Though ‘When to Help’ is only free for certain charities.
- Google Calendar: free shared calendar, email and SMS reminders
- When to Help: online volunteer scheduling; customizable; email and text alerts; free 30-day trial; service is free for certain charities, other plans range from $15 to $660 depending on the number of volunteers
Basic stuff for free.
These companies offer free business scheduling software with very limited features. The freeware model gives customers a good opportunity to try before they buy. If you want anything non-basic, which could be what you are looking for, you’ll need to pay.
- Acuity Scheduling: customizable, email and SMS reminders, online payment processing, recurring appointments, unlimited users, iPhone app; free basic plan, paid plans are $10 or $19 per month
- Click Book: multiple staff and locations, email and SMS reminders, PayPal integration, customizable, reporting, mobile self-service; free basic plan for 1 staff member, paid plans range from $19.95 to $84.95 per month
- Super SaaS: customizable, email and SMS reminders, online payment processing, calendar sync, website and Facebook integration, reporting feature; free version for up to 50 appointments per month, paid plans range from $8 to $46 per month
- Appointy: schedule appointments, accept pre-payments, send reminder alerts, update social networks, update personal calendars, create promotions, create discount coupons; free plan includes unlimited staff and bookings, personalization and SMS reminders; advanced plans include email and live chat, starting at $9.99 per month
- Full Slate: custom booking form, unlimited appointments, email and SMS reminders, payment processing, calendar sync; free trial, plans range from $29.95 to $79.95 per month
- Simply Book.me: start free; select from user-friendly templates; personalized landing page; SMS and email reminders; select from multiple interface languages; mobile booking app; option to pair with call center service
- Reservio: basic plan is free, including 40 bookings per month and 100 total clients; paid plans range from $9.95 to $39.95 and include unlimited clients, calendar sync, email reminders and premium support
- Check Appointments: free basic plan includes unlimited appointments and clients, automated email reminders and personal mini website; paid plans range from $19.95 to $59.95 including calendar sync, multiple users, SMS reminders, online payment processing
Everything for free for a limited time.
These companies offer powerful appointment scheduling software for small business. Everything you need…but only for a limited time!
- Book Fresh: multiple staff calendars, mobile self-service, email and SMS reminders, online payment processing, calendar sync; 30-day free trial, then $19.95 per month
- Gen Book: calendar sync, email and SMS confirmations, customer reporting, mobile app; 30-day free trial, paid plans are $20, $40 or $70 per month
- Simplify This: flexible calendar, reminders and alerts, mobile apps, online payment processing, client portal; 30-day free trial, plans for 2 to 10 personnel are $18, $29 or $39 per month
- Schedule Once: free 14 day trial, basic scheduling is free; paid plans range from $5 to $49 per month, including features such as advanced booking, reporting, reminders, multi-user and personalization
- Appointment Quest: features offered such as unlimited customers, advance scheduling, reminders, recurring appointments, personalization and credit card payments; plans range from $6.59 to $159.99
- Time Center: appointment scheduler and event registration, email and SMS reminders, personalized landing page; free 30-day trial on all accounts, plans range from $29 to $99 per month
- Appointment Plus: customer scheduling, payment processing, reporting, mini CRM, multiple calendars, email reminders, customizable; 15-day free trial, paid plans start at $38 per month
- EZ Net Scheduler: multiple offices and staff, customizable, client log-ins, comprehensive reporting, voice reminders; 15-day free trial, paid plans range from $17.95 to $69.95 per month
- Booking Bug: calendar sync, mobile apps, customizable, email and SMS reminders, process online payments; 14-day free trial, paid plans range from $19.95 to $350+ per month
- Schedulista: customizable public scheduling page, SMS reminders, online payment processing, calendar sync, reporting; 15-day free trial, paid plans are $19 or $39 per month
- Octomize: 30-day free trial; appointment scheduler embedded into your current website; email and SMS reminders, post-appointment follow up, automatic thank yous, PayPal integration; pricing from $14.95 to $99.95+ per month
- Flash Appointments: easy scheduling, email confirmations and reminders, calendar sync, daily or weekly reporting, Facebook app; 30-day free trial, paid plans range from $10 to $125 per month
- Agendize: flexible configuration, mobile booking apps, customizable, email and SMS reminders, online payment processing; 30-day free trial, plans from $20 per month
No trial for you. Right to paid.
These companies offer a professional scheduling software with no freebies. You can see a demo, but you’ll need to pay to get them started.
- Day Clips: automated reminders, calendar sync, online payments, mobile apps, SEO service, multiple calendars; pricing not listed
- Skedge.me: scalable to any size industry; book via website, social media and mobile apps; customizable; automated reminders and confirmations; free demo available
For doctors, physicians, and medical offices.
The following companies offer medical appointment scheduling software. All are HIPAA compliant, perfect for medical patient scheduling, and a great companion to our medical answering.
- Jituzu: HIPAA compliant physician appointment scheduling for multiple users, appointment reminders, client portal, personalized landing page, iPhone app; free plan includes scheduling, secure messaging, billing and payments; appointment reminder, practice webpage and client portal plans range from $7.95 to $14.95 per month
- Eppointments: multiple locations/practitioners, email and SMS reminders, patients can input their personal and insurance information prior to appointment and book doctors appointments online; pricing not listed
- Snap Appointments: HIPAA compliant; secure scheduling for multiple users; from small business to enterprise level; personalized landing page; sync with mobile devices; advanced reporting; client file storage; free basic plan includes one calendar, unlimited appointments and basic support; professional and enterprise level plans start at $25 per month
- Doc Me In free online service with charges for SMS and phone reminders; unlimited patients, unlimited appointments, unlimited reminders, unlimited recalls, unlimited patients self-service
Because of the complexity of many of the above listed software, SAS may not be able to work with them outside of our virtual office assistant program. If you have any questions regarding our ability to handle your scheduling software in our shared operator pool, please contact us.