What to Look for in an Online Scheduling Program
Appointment scheduling plays a crucial role in all organizations of any size. Because of this, it’s important to conduct thorough research into the specific scheduling needs of customers and staff, as well as the multitude of online scheduling software available on the market today. Like all SaaS (Software as a Service) products, there are a number that may be better for particular businesses than for others. For instance, a medical office may need a more flexible and detailed software than a hairdresser or tattoo artist. It’s important to consider various options and features when choosing between scheduling software. Here are the top qualities that you should look for when choosing an online scheduling program for your business.
Features & Functionality
This is going to form the basis for your ultimate decision in which scheduling software is right for your business. It’s important for your company to have a general feel for what you need your software to accomplish and which tasks you hope to streamline. Some organizations only need the bare bones of a scheduling program – online self-scheduling and automated reminders, for instance – while others will require additional features to improve their booking process. In some cases, you may come up with additional requirements as you begin the process of selecting a booking software, or as your business continues to grow. Many online booking programs allow you to try the program for free, which can help you determine some of the additional features you may need.
This is what sets the top scheduling programs apart from the rest. If your company has any plans to grow and expand beyond the initial booking services of an online scheduling program, this is a must. Some examples of professional level services you can expect from a top scheduling software are integration into your current website or Facebook Page, support for multiple calendars and multiple users, and two-way calendar sync with personal calendars (Outlook, Google, iCloud, Microsoft Exchange and Office365). Most of the general scheduling softwares on the market don’t come with these features, which is why it is extremely important, particularly for larger businesses, to consider opting for a highly configurable and scalable system.
Without a doubt, security is going to be a key piece in deciding on your online scheduling software. Online scheduling programs can often be customized to collect additional information from clients via specially designed intake forms from your company. This can include names, email addresses, phone numbers, mailing addresses, and even payment info. With so much personal information in the mix, you’re going to want to do your best to protect your client’s information as well as your own. A few security points you should consider when choosing an online booking software include:
- General Security Practices
- Server Database, Data Storage, and Backup Procedures
Always be sure to ask these security questions when choosing an online booking provider. Any reputable site will gladly share this information with prospective clients. You should always be wary of services that do not provide an address or are located in a developing country, as they may not need to adhere to the same security practices as domestic providers.
It’s always important to keep your budget in mind. While there are a number of free online booking programs, they do not offer the same level of personalization and functionality that higher end applications offer. Pricing for online booking software is generally done on a monthly basis, and can vary greatly from program to program. When it comes to online booking, you truly get what you pay for, which is not entirely a bad thing. For instance, smaller companies and startups are generally happy with cheaper or free software, while medium-sized companies, corporations, and enterprise-level companies will require a more robust software than smaller companies. It’s all about what features you need for your business. The good news is, most SaaS applications are highly affordable for companies of all sizes, and operate on a month to month basis.
Implementing an online booking software eliminates the need for IT support where the software is concerned. You won’t need to spend your time and money on having your personal IT team fix any issues or answer questions about your online booking software, as good programs come with support teams. As with any business, the level of support will vary per company. Some companies will offer live phone support, while others may only give you an email to contact, which they will respond to in a certain amount of time. Given how important online scheduling and appointment booking in general are for a business, it’s paramount that you receive an adequate amount of support. In addition to general support, you’ll want to use a program that offers system training. Some booking software can be a little tricky to set up, particularly for a company who is switching over from manual appointment scheduling. A reputable online scheduling program will provide its clients with system training when they sign on, helping them to determine the configurations that work best for their business.
Dependability & Credibility
Because online booking has become such a hit, almost overnight, there are any number of software programs available to help local businesses with their scheduling needs. Many of these lack the experience, dependability, and credibility needed to take on the daunting scheduling of even small organizations. It’s crucial that you research each online scheduling provider before making a decision.
No matter what your online booking needs, it’s important to select a program that works with your business and helps you to grow, rather than causing headaches. Many scheduling programs available on the market today allow you to choose from customizable options like multiple users, multiple calendars, client booking, embedding into a website, and more. Make sure that you choose an appointment scheduler that matches your company’s needs.