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Grow Your Business Technology

Microsoft Bookings Wants to Help Customers Schedule Meetings

image for Syda Productions / Shutterstock
Syda Productions / Shutterstock
  • Microsoft Bookings helps your customers schedule appointments.
  • Scheduling can be a major pain point for businesses in all industries. Application scheduling software can cut through the noise.
  • Microsoft Bookings looks like high-end software, but it's affordable, especially if your firm already uses other Microsoft products.

A business thrives when customers can connect with your staff easily. For a service shop, consultancy, accounting firm or any business that relies on set meetings with customers, your scheduling process can make or break your revenues. Customers want an easy way to schedule time with a consultant, technician or other expert, because they are also busy most of the time.

Because everyone is inundated with emails, social media notifications and meeting requests at work, Microsoft created an app that helps customers schedule meetings directly with your employees. Microsoft Bookings is a smart app because it cuts through the noise. You might not know all of the benefits of Bookings and how it can help your company the most, especially since there are a few other options for scheduling. Here's what sets Microsoft Bookings apart and where it may be less full-featured than some of its competitors.

Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft representatives told Business News Daily that many small and midsize companies still use a whiteboard in an office to communicate about schedules, mostly because it tends to work. A few other tools are available, but smaller companies sometimes use Microsoft Excel for scheduling as well.

Microsoft Bookings provides a specialized alternative. The biggest benefit of Microsoft Bookings is clarity. Customers see a simple website that allows them to book a meeting, reschedule an appointment and receive email reminders. Internally, there is one place that shows every employee all scheduled meetings. In fact, you might find it easier to schedule the Bookings appointments on behalf of customers because the main benefit is that all employees can check the same calendar.

You can run Bookings as a stand-alone site or embed the app in your company website, making it look as though you coded the scheduler yourself. Microsoft lets you add custom branding to create a consistent look and feel. You can add custom fields, such as an alternate email for the customer or whether a down payment is required. Microsoft Bookings is fast and simple to use, and it's appropriate for all careers and industries.

The biggest decision you have to make when it comes to Bookings is whether you want to stop using an existing spreadsheet or whiteboard. Some companies have a hard time embracing anything new if the current system works, so that's part of your evaluation process.

Here's the good news: If you are already using Microsoft 365 Business or Office 365 Business Premium, you already have access to Bookings. If you are not using one of those plans, basic pricing plans start at around $12.50 per month per user for a la carte access.

Another decision to make is whether to consider a more elaborate tool. Bookings doesn't provide many extras – just the custom fields you can add to the scheduler. A far more advanced tool, Square Appointments, costs $30 per month for one user, but if you add more seats, it can increase to $50 per user or more per month. MindBody is another more advanced option, but pricing tends to be even higher as the feature set increases.

With Bookings, there are iOS and Android apps, and the interface is clear and user-friendly, but it's not a high-end app. Square Appointments and MindBody, by contrast, let you add an e-commerce component to sell products as part of the scheduling process.

You can get Microsoft Bookings on the official Microsoft website, including a potential one-month free trial. On Microsoft's website, you can view samples of websites that have integrated Bookings, see the current pricing and purchase the software. You can get Bookings as a stand-alone module or as part of your Office 365 package. If you are already licensed for Office 365 Business Premium, you should already have access to Bookings. Depending on your setup and licensing, Bookings can work on your laptop, phone or tablet.

You can sync staff members' Outlook calendars with their Bookings appointments automatically. For offices that already use Outlook, Bookings provides an easy scheduling solution.

Bookings might be a great fit for a company that needs simple scheduling without a lot of extras, and customers won't have to figure out advanced features. Although Microsoft's tool isn't as flexible as some other application-based scheduling options, it's an easy and affordable solution for many businesses.

Business News Daily Editor

Business News Daily was founded in 2010 as a resource for small business owners at all stages of their entrepreneurial journey. Our site is focused exclusively on giving small business advice, tutorials and insider insights. Business News Daily is owned by Business.com.