Online scheduling software is quickly becoming a necessary tool for businesses. Customers expect to be able to book online, and they have already begun communicating this expectation with their wallets. For most service-related businesses, implementing an online scheduling system is not an “if,” it’s a “when.” So, when you are ready to embark on implementing scheduling software, it’s important that you execute properly.
To help ensure your success, we’ve assembled these ten key tenets for successfully implementing an online scheduler. Follow these guidelines, and you’ll be among the top players who have taken their companies to new heights through online scheduling.
1. PLANNING MAKES PERFECT
When it comes to implementing any type of new software system, you have to have a clear plan in place. If you don’t, your chances of success drop considerably. But don’t fret. You don’t need to take two years and create a 1000-page business plan. Just put a basic project plan in place and follow it. Make sure you have clear objectives, ensure you know who will own each task, set specific deadlines, and make it a priority.
2. COMMIT TO THE CAUSE
Guess what? Your implementation will not go perfectly. You’ll have issues to overcome. It’s the nature of change. Because of this, it’s important to commit to seeing it through. If you don’t commit, those little bumps in the road could steer you off course and cause you to throw in the towel.
3. ALLOW TIME FOR TRAINING
When implementing online appointment scheduling software, it’s imperative that you and your team receive live training. Booking software can be complex. And, every business does their scheduling a little differently. So talking it through with an expert will save you a lot of time and ensure your system is configured properly.
4. PROMOTE, PROMOTE, PROMOTE
Build it and they will come. Uh, no. That may apply to a baseball diamond in a corn field, but it doesn’t apply to online scheduling. One of the most common reasons that companies fail when implementing web-based appointment software is that they never promote it to their clients.
Hand out a flyer, send out a mass email, post it on your Facebook page, put the “book now” button on your website and in your email signature line. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to let your clients know you now offer online booking, but it can make the difference between it working or not working for you.
5. KEEP IT SIMPLE
When it comes to online appointment scheduling software, keep it simple. A good scheduler can sufficiently meet most of your needs right out of the box. Leave the creativity to performers on America’s Got Talent.
6. LET THE DATA DRIVE
Appointment software systems allow you to dive into the details of your scheduling activities through accessible data analysis. You can assess the number of appointments per staff member per day or week, the number of appointments for each of your services, what time of day customers are logging in to book, and who your most loyal customers are. And, that’s just the start. To neglect this information is to miss out on a great opportunity to analyze and implement internal data to shape the choices you make as you grow your business.
7. GET DISCIPLINED
To be able to successfully implement scheduling software, you must apply discipline. For example, every staff member should have a separate login and password. It’s easy to get sloppy about this when the office is busy. But, for liability reasons, you must hold the line on this rule. Another example is that you should not print out customer information unless absolutely necessary. It’s too easy for printed documents to end up in the wrong hands. Scheduling software is a great tool, but be sure to not invite unnecessary confidentiality concerns through careless implementation practices.
8. GET SERIOUS ABOUT SECURITY
Human discipline can only go so far, so a supportive security system is critical in today’s digital landscape. Security measures can feel tedious at times, or even like a barrier to getting work done, but, as anyone who has lived through a security mishap can tell you, it’s clear that securing your system and data are worth the added time or inconvenience.
9. MAKE BEST PRACTICES YOUR FRIENDS
When moving to online scheduling, seek out best practices and research. Find out what’s working and what’s not working within your specific industry. For example, are you going to use email or text message reminders? Well, if the research shows that text message reminders are more effective at reducing no-shows, then you should consider using them.
10. CREATE CALMING COTINGENCY PLANS
Implementing a new tool can be exciting, but avoid a quick slide into crisis mode by always preparing for the worst case scenario. There are numerous points of potential failure in the seemingly simple work of accessing your scheduler. Your electricity or battery need to work, you need Internet access, your computer has to be operational, and the software system has to be up. And that doesn’t even cover the possibility of a staff member making a mistake.
Have a daily process whereby you back up a week’s worth of upcoming appointments. Export them to Excel and save them on your hard drive. You may also want to back up some of your customer data. Problems will occur and mistakes will happen. Always be prepared.
Online schedulers have helped many, many businesses to grow. But there are also a good number of businesses that couldn’t effectively make the change. Let’s make sure this doesn’t happen to you. When you begin the process of implementing online appointment software, be sure to follow these 10 guidelines. We’re confident that if you do, you’ll be much more likely to be successful. Good luck!