A business thrives when customers can easily connect with company representatives. 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 revenue. Customers want an easy way to schedule time with a consultant, technician or other expert because their time is valuable.
Microsoft Bookings is a scheduling tool that can improve communication with your customers by facilitating their connections with employees who can help them. Here’s a look at how Microsoft Bookings works and what you need to know to get started.
Microsoft Bookings is an app that helps customers schedule meetings directly with companies.
According to Statista, approximately 319.6 billion emails are sent and received daily. Experts predict the number will be closer to 376.4 billion by 2025. Microsoft created Bookings to cut through the noise and red tape of all these messages; it aims to help businesses better serve their customers and improve customer retention.
Microsoft representatives told us that many small and midsize companies still use a whiteboard in an office to communicate about schedules, mainly because it tends to work. A few other tools are available, and smaller companies sometimes use Microsoft Excel.
Microsoft Bookings provides a specialized alternative that can boost customer engagement while providing an essential service. Here’s a look at what sets Microsoft Bookings apart from other scheduling tools.
Microsoft Bookings is fast and straightforward to use, and it’s a proactive customer service tool for all careers and industries. Customers can set appointments, cancel meetings or make other adjustments without you lifting a finger.
All scheduling software has some similarities. To understand how easy MS Bookings is to use, sign up for a free trial of Microsoft 365 Business Premium or Business Standard so you can check out the scheduling tool. If it isn’t for you, cancel before the month is up to avoid being charged. Of course, if you already have Microsoft 365 Business Premium, Business Standard, or Office 365, the program is readily available.
Here’s what some of the platform’s best features will allow you to do:
Microsoft Bookings does have a few limitations; it can be difficult to reschedule, for example. The Business Premium version of 365 offers the most flexibility. This software works well for salons and spas.
You can use Microsoft Bookings to schedule appointments and manage teams via web-based calendar. Set specific office hours, available times, appointment durations and information on cancellation terms. You can integrate with Outlook to create automated emails or use with Facebook to add a Book Now button to your page.
When you first access Bookings, the home page pops up, and the WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) environment walks you through how to use the software.
If you like, customize by adding a logo or profile picture. You can see at a glance if there are any bookings, as well as the estimated revenue. Manually add appointments or integrate Bookings with your website or social media page. Microsoft offers tutorials on how to use its products, so if you get confused, pull up the help button and ask a question or seek out an online video showing you how to complete the task.
The biggest decision to make about 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 should be part of your evaluation process.
Here’s the good news: If you’re already using Microsoft’s 365 Business Premium, Business Standard, or Office 365, you already have access to Bookings. All Microsoft 365 plans renew annually and are set up on an auto-renewal program. You can no longer purchase Microsoft Bookings separately.
Microsoft 365 Business Standard costs $12.50 per user per month; the Business Premium plan starts at $20 per user per month.
Bookings doesn’t provide many extras – just the custom fields you can add to the scheduler – so you may want a more comprehensive tool.
Square Appointments is a more advanced tool. There’s no monthly fee for a single user. However, you will pay 2.6% plus a 10-cent processing fee for in-person transactions.
Mindbody is another advanced option, but pricing tends to rise even higher as the feature set increases. A basic setup runs around $139 per month.
Square Appointments and Mindbody let you add an e-commerce component to sell products as part of the scheduling process. Bookings includes a mobile (iOS and Android) app with a clear, user-friendly interface, but it’s not as high-end.
These are some other well-known scheduling programs similar to Microsoft Bookings:
You can get Microsoft Bookings as part of an Office 365 or Microsoft 365 Business Standard or Business Premium package on the official Microsoft website. (It offers a free one-month trial.) If you already have a subscription to Office 365 or a qualifying Microsoft 365 tier, check to see if you already have Bookings.
On Microsoft’s website, you can view samples of websites that have integrated Bookings. 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.
You can set up each slot so more than one person can book that session. For example, group advising sessions might have any number of spots available.
Yes. Go to the Bookings home page and choose Export. Save the file with the name of your choice.
In Teams, go to the bottom left of the window; under All Apps, search for Bookings. Click on the icon and then click Add. You can either add a new booking calendar or tie into an existing one. Your entire team can now access the calendar and make changes.
Bookings might be a great fit for a company that needs simple scheduling without many extras. It means customers won’t have to figure out advanced features, either. Although Microsoft’s tool isn’t as flexible as other application-based scheduling options, it’s an easy and affordable solution for many businesses.
John Brandon contributed to the writing and research in this article.