It’s easy to imagine an entire day planned and purchased on a smartphone– without ever having to make a phone call. Leave the house, head to a salon you discovered through Groupon for a haircut, use your phone to read a book you purchased on Amazon during the appointment, take an Uber to a restaurant you found on Yelp and booked on OpenTable. The options are endless – and they are in your customers hands at all times.
The more that consumers can do online, the more they expect to be able to do online. As Forbes recently wrote, “many consumers don’t want to pick up the phone to make an appointment anymore—or pay for a service in-person they have booked online. They expect small service businesses to let them do these tasks online—with the same ease with which they buy things on Amazon.”
For small businesses without the budgets or IT departments of Amazon, the process of creating the online technology can seem daunting but it doesn’t need to. In many industries there is an umbrella reservation platform you can join – for instance Open Table for restaurants or ZocDoc for medical practices.
There are also services like Full Slate which is a full-service online appointment software that allows your consumers to book appointments and you to send them automatic reminders and follow-ups, as well as collect payments. You can also use the scheduler for classes attended by multiple clients and for collecting reviews from customers.
And Full Slate is just one of many options – no matter who your customers are or what they are looking for, there is an online booking and payment option available that will appeal to them.
It’s easier to turn a website visitor into a customer if it only takes one click instead of a phone call. By making appointment scheduling and payment part of the online experience your customer is already having it becomes an effortless transaction.
As Forbes noted, big online players have taken notice like Angie’s List and Yelp. “They both added widgets to their profiles that let visitors book appointments with the businesses that appear on their sites.” In an e-commerce world where dinners can be ordered from Seamless with the touch of a screen your company needs to make itself just as well, seamless, to interact with.
You can easily tie your online booking into your existing marketing campaigns. Instead of directing ads to your homepage, imagine the business you could bring in if an ad sent potential customers to a booking page. You’ve now found your customer where they are online and brought them to you in just two clicks.
Online booking is a more efficient and often a more realistic option for busy customers who may not have the time to get on the phone and make a reservation in the middle of the workday, but could easily schedule an appointment online.
These are often the same types of clients who want to pay in advance through the scheduler or put their card information on file with the reservation so they don’t have to bring anything but their phone with them when they leave the house. With the advent of ApplePay, loyalty apps, and smart wallets, these customers are bound to become more and more common – so appealing to their tastes will be good for your bottom line.
If you would like assistance with setting up an online booking system for your small business, please contact us at www.BuddinghAssociates.com.
Jeanne M. Buddingh is founder and partner in Buddingh & Associates, Inc., an award-winning strategic marketing consulting firm in Naperville, IL. Contact her at (630) 961-4504 or visit www.BuddinghAssociates.com