Depending on the type of business you run, you may have more or fewer meetings and/or appointments with your customers and clients. To schedule meetings and appointments, you probably use a few of the available ways and techniques, such as booking at your location, through a phone call, or through email.
All these methods require time and effort to ensure that your customers are well taken care of, everything is scheduled at the right time and place and the business can run smoothly. But what if we told you that booking your meetings and appointments could become much easier and faster than this? Or that your bookings don’t have to require that much of your or your employees’ time and you could focus on the more important aspects of your business?
It’s about time you heard about online booking platforms. In this article, we will explain a bit further how they can help your business, as well as how to pick the best online booking platform. Read our ultimate guide to know all the do’s and don’ts when picking the best solution that will benefit you. Ready, set, go… you’ll thank us later! 😉
What’s an online booking platform and do you need one?
In a nutshell, an online booking platform is usually a piece of software that enables you and your customers to schedule and manage bookings. With such software, everything takes place online, allowing you and your customers to use your services wherever they are – as long as they have an Internet connection. With a reliable online booking system, your customers can self-book and schedule bookings with you through your website, or using a mobile app, and even pay directly through them using various payment methods like a credit card for example. It’s a new and highly effective way of managing and scheduling your online meetings in one place, just like people like to do things today: fast, easily and in an organized manner.
The real question is whether or not your business needs an online booking platform. First of all, if your business heavily relies on meetings and appointments, that’s one of the very first premises to get an online booking platform fulfilled. Getting to know some of the benefits a good online booking platform provider can grant you should further answer your question. Do you really need a booking platform? Well, read these benefits and ask the same question again:
- you can maximize your reservations
- you get paid faster
- you’re not required to be near a phone all the time, because online booking platforms work 24/7
- your business can be open around the clock – people can book meetings with you anytime and anywhere
- you get interesting and valuable statistics concerning your business
- all your bookings can be kept in one place, keeping things in order and organized
What’s your answer then? We hope the previously asked question has just changed from ‘do I need an online booking platform?’ to ‘WHICH online booking platform do I need?’. Keep reading if you want to find out our tricks and tips when choosing the best of the best!
What should you pay close attention to when picking the best online platform for your business?
Making decisions when running a business can be a difficult nut to crack sometimes. After all, there are so many options out there. The market is becoming much more competitive and finding the one and only diamond among other, less attractive and valuable minerals can really be a challenge – whether you’re experienced or not. Don’t worry though, what are we here for after all? We’re here to help you with this tricky decision – to make things easier!
Ready? Let’s go!
Consider what’s important to you
One of the first things you should do when choosing any tool or service for your business should be defining your goals that you wish to achieve with it. Having no specified benefits or goals that you want to reach won’t get you far. When you pick a tool and start paying for it (which often isn’t just a couple dollars every now and then), you need to have clear objectives associated with it. Otherwise, you may find yourself wasting your time and money on something that just doesn’t deliver any satisfactory results. This is exactly what needs to be done before you commit to that one, perfectly tailored to your needs booking platform: you need objectives.
Do you want your online booking platform to integrate smoothly with your calendar, or would you rather not share your availability publicly with anyone that can find it? Do you care about having the option to customize a design that fits your brand’s personality and approach to customer service? Other things to consider include aspects like how many employees will be using your chosen online booking system to book appointments and manage their schedules, as well as whether or not you could potentially require ongoing technical support and other premium perks to meet the demands of your clients. Once you have identified your main wishes regarding your perfect online booking platform, you can continue your hunt.
Check the reviews
Not caring about other people’s opinions is usually a good strategy when it comes to avoiding stress and unnecessary confusion. Not in business and not when it comes to choosing software tools, though. This space is not the place and time to be turning your back on what others have to say about certain things. When you start looking for your perfect online booking platform, take advantage of the fact some people have already tested your potential choices and can provide you with valuable and insightful reviews.
Look for them among your fellow companies and network, as well as on websites like Capterra. Various software review and selection platforms can actually help you to quickly eliminate picks that definitely won’t meet your demands and narrow down your search to a few options that have a higher potential of delivering top quality service to you. Not only is it time and energy-saving, but it can also save you lots of problems along the way in the future. Don’t underestimate the power of reviews and do look out for them when you can!
Check out the competition
Sometimes the answer to your question is closer than you think – you just need to know where to look for it. When running a business, companies often look at their competitors and try as much as they can to be better than them. Because of this, they often copy each other’s strategies, ideas, plans and, of course, tools.
While having an original approach to your business and its growth is probably the most safe and beneficial approach, checking your competition out from time to time and seeing what they’re up to can be a nice way to improve your business. If you want your business to be better than that of your competitors, make sure you monitor their activities regularly (which isn’t particularly difficult in the times of sharing everything on social media) and look out for any potential germs among tools you may be able to find.
Sometimes software companies promote themselves in places like the bottom of a website, bottom of an email or other, not so obvious places. Be watchful and if you see a competitor using a great tool, do your best and find out what it’s called!
Decide on your preferred payment method
One of the most important aspects of an online booking platform, both for you and your customers, is how you’re going to manage payments. First of all, think about how you want them to be sorted out: whether you want to accept cash at your location, or upfront online payments done through your website. The possibilities are endless in this term, but the possibility that every tool will have a wide range of payment methods available is rather very low. For this reason, you should first think about your preferred payment methods and then look for tools that will offer those methods.
It’s very important that you do it before committing to one tool. Otherwise, you may find yourself ending up with a tool that simply won’t be suitable for your business’ needs. Try to remember about it!
Think about attractive add-ons
Deciding on whether you want an app for your designated online booking platform so that customers can book from their phone while they’re waiting in line for their coffee at Starbucks is also an important factor to consider. In fact, there are many more attractive, so-called add-ons, that you may wish to consider implementing to make your business even more interesting and easier to engage with.
What’s important however, is to make sure that your potential choice does offer those services in the first place. Adding more functionality down the line shouldn’t be difficult for you and with a reliable online booking system provider everything will go smoothly!
Think about the cost
We can’t forget about the pricing aspect. The bottom line of businesses is very important and therefore looking out for opportunities to save money from the budget is sometimes a great strategy. Before picking your only and only online booking platform, determine the cost of each service based on monthly or yearly fees, as well as the setup costs (if any).
You can’t also forget about transaction fees when clients pay through the site instead of cash or credit card directly with staff members at your location. You need to be thoughtful of the costs you will be exposed to and determine how much you’re willing to spend. Again, take a broader look and check out pricing plans of at least a few providers.
Get to try before you buy
Last but not least, always protect yourself as much as you can! If possible, test-drive a few systems before making your decision! You may find one is much more intuitive than others. Always check if there is a possibility to get a free trial so you can test out all these features before signing up for anything. Going through free trials should be one of the last steps you take before saying ‘yes’ to one tool. Be watchful during that time. Ask any questions you may have, compare, observe, calculate and boom – you should have your choice made.
Which online booking platform should I choose?
We’ve reached the end of this article. We deeply hope you now have a sufficient understanding of how complex and challenging choosing an online booking platform can be. There certainly are numerous factors contributing to finding the one and only. Luckily for you, though, we’ve come to rescue you and now you don’t have to worry about not knowing where to start your search.
If you’re looking for suggestions, we recommend Calendesk. It is a complete booking system at your fingerprints. Thanks to Calendesk, you will be able to accept bookings from your customers, handle their payments, contact them and generate a landing page for them. For our full list of features, please go to this website. With Calendesk, you won’t have to worry about anything – trust us!
If you enjoyed this article, you may like our other publications that can be found here. And remember – online booking doesn’t have to be complicated!