- Appointment scheduling apps can reduce last-minute cancellations and no-shows, which cost businesses money.
- Scheduling apps also include features like online payment processing and e-signatures for waivers; consider which additional features would be useful for your business.
- Consider selecting an appointment scheduling app with good customer reviews, like the three top solutions we've listed below.
- This article is for entrepreneurs and professionals who want to use an appointment scheduling app to better manage their time and schedule meetings.
Businesses that rely on client appointments know that last-minute cancellations, no-shows and miscommunication can be a serious drag on the bottom line. For every appointment that doesn't materialize, your team has wasted time and money that could have been directed toward a customer who keeps their appointment. One way to reduce cancellations and no-shows is to employ an easy-to-use appointment scheduling app that both customers and employees can access.
What is an appointment scheduling app?
An appointment scheduling app is software with the functionality to schedule, reschedule and manage meetings. These apps work by integrating with your existing calendars. When scheduling an appointment, you provide a unique link to participants that will direct them to a calendar showing your availability, and they can select a meeting date and time.
Generally, once a date and time is selected, all participants will receive an email confirmation.
FYI: Appointment scheduling apps make it easy for people to set meetings based on your current availability.
Benefits of appointment scheduling apps
Managing calendars and coordinating meetings can be time-consuming tasks. Even more frustrating is when someone cancels at the last minute. Appointment scheduling apps can reduce these issues, and they offer other benefits as well. Here are the three main things you can do with an appointment app:
1. Quickly schedule meetings.
Appointment apps eliminate the back-and-forth that's usually necessary to schedule a meeting. Because your appointment scheduling app will already be synced up with your calendar, the person who wants to schedule the meeting can simply look at your calendar and choose a time and date when you are available and that easily fits in with their schedule.
2. Enable appointment self-service.
Appointment scheduling apps offer your clients the ability to book meetings anytime without speaking to someone at your company. For example, say a family medical practice is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and it uses a scheduling app. The office might be closed when a patient realizes they need to visit soon. Instead of waiting until the next morning to call the office, they could simply use the scheduling app to set an appointment while it is top of mind.
Another common type of business that could benefit from a scheduling app is a salon or similar service. Through an appointment scheduling app, customers can book their next nail or hair appointment at their convenience. This could even increase how often customers visit the salon, especially if the app is easy to use.
3. Send automated appointment reminders.
Appointment scheduling apps often automatically send email or text message reminders. With text message reminders, you can set up a template that requires meeting attendees to confirm their appointment with Y for yes or N for no. You can also choose when you'd like these reminders to go out. With automatic reminders, you can expect a decrease in cancellations along with time slots available for rebooking purposes.
Key takeaway: Appointment scheduling apps make it simple for you or your client to set a meeting. They also include appointment reminders for all participants.
What should you look for in an appointment scheduling app?
What you'll want to look for in an appointment scheduling app depends on your business. There are many features and functions to choose from. Consider the following:
To help your company make the most of every dollar, an appointment scheduling app that offers waitlists is a helpful feature for keeping your schedule full. Dentists, how many times have your patients called your office to try to make a teeth-cleaning appointment, only to be told that you are booked for weeks out? Gym managers, how many times have clients tried to get into your yoga classes or personal training sessions and found that the time slot they wanted was full? A waitlist feature can automatically notify clients who are next in line when there are cancellations.
Automated reminders can help prevent no-shows and last-minute cancellations, which are often a result of customers forgetting about their appointments. Reminders can help ensure customers keep their schedules clear and don't forget they set an appointment with you – this feature alone can make an immediate difference to your bottom line.
If your business requires the use of liability waivers for any reason, some appointment scheduling apps allow your clients to e-sign waivers and for you to store them digitally. For example, visitors to a mountain resort might make an appointment for ski lessons – a liability waiver for skiing on the mountain could also be included at this step. In addition, with digital waivers, there's no worry of losing them or storing them in filing cabinets that take up a lot of space.
To save you and your customers the extra step of manually accepting payments, look for an app that has built-in payment integration. With this feature, your customers can pay for their service at the time of booking, improving the customer experience and streamlining their visit when they arrive.
Because your customers will be entering personal information when they set appointments, make sure the app you choose is secure. Data security is increasingly important; a single data breach could cost a small business significant money, and some never recover. Whatever solution you choose, verify that it encrypts data in transit and in storage.
If cost is a concern, look for an app with flexible pricing. Some apps have different pricing tiers that vary by the size of your team and other factors. Consider trying out a free plan to begin; their features are usually limited, but you can upgrade if you like the app and need more functionality later. If a free plan is not available for your preferred app, opt for the starter plan, test it out, and upgrade as needed.
Key takeaway: Consider and review all of the additional features available in an appointment scheduling app and whether they apply to your business. Some of the most useful are waitlists, digital waivers and payment integrations.
3 top appointment scheduling apps
These three appointment scheduling apps are popular options for small businesses.
Doodle is a platform-agnostic scheduling tool that works with Google Calendar, Office 365, iCalendar and more. Whether you're scheduling one-on-one appointments or group meetings, the scheduling is collaborative when you send out proposed meeting times. Doodle shows who is free, as well as who could make time if they had to with "if need be" votes.
A 14-day free trial is available for Doodle. You can choose from three packages: The Pro plan costs $6.95 per month for one user, paid annually; the Team plan costs $44.75 a month for five users, paid annually; the cost of the Enterprise plan is customized, so you'd need to contact the Doodle team.
This Squarespace-owned service functions as an online personal assistant that works 24/7 to fill its users' schedules. Similar to its competitors, Acuity Scheduling can auto-adjust scheduling for time zones, let clients cancel and reschedule their meetings, and send automated meeting reminders.
When your clients schedule their appointments through Acuity, it will ask them to fill out intake forms to help you prepare for their appointments. Prices differ slightly depending on if you pay monthly or annually. By paying annually, you'll save up to 10%. A free seven-day trial is available.
The Emerging plan is priced at $14 per month for one user; the Growing plan is $23 per month for six users; and the Powerhouse plan is $45 per month for 36 users. As plans increase in size and cost, access to features also increases.
Founded in 2017, BookingKoala takes appointment scheduling to the next level. With its built-in marketing features, you get access to high-converting booking forms, a referral program that automatically tracks balances, and coupons. This service scales with your business and offers access to your own private community. You can try it out free for 14 days and move forward with one of three plans if you like it.
Feature offerings increase as the price goes up. The Starter plan costs $27 a month for five providers; the Growing plan costs $57 a month for 15 providers; and the Premium plan costs $197 a month and allows 50 providers. Providers are classified as team members who perform a service that takes appointments, such as walking dogs or cutting hair.
As you do further research, you may find that many features overlap and pricing is similar. At the end of the day, we suggest testing multiple free trials to determine which app would be best for your needs.