Appointment-based businesses are a different ballgame than their product-driven counterparts. Since you’re selling time instead of physical products, customer experience plays a huge part in how successful you are in getting clients to come to you — and ultimately getting the sale.
For example, when a customer shops for physical goods, they expect to pay at purchase, directly on the site. The customer has agency over what and when they buy, often without needing any back-and-forth between the seller. This streamlines the buying process, and encourages more sales.
For your appointment-based business, your potential clients and customers should have that same self-agency and ability to purchase directly from you. The best way to do that is to use a self-scheduling software, integrated directly into your website. Read on to see the exact steps that stand between business as usual, and booking more clients than ever before.
Choose the right self-scheduler
Every single time you don’t have to manually send an email, field the same set of questions, or remind clients about their appointment times, you’re banking physical and mental resources to invest elsewhere. This is why choosing a self-scheduling platform for your business is essential. It empowers the consumer to learn about your different services and book on their own, so your business gains momentum even when you’re away from your desk.
When you take a few hours upfront to set up the details of your automated scheduling software in support of your appointment-based business, you’re saving yourself a notable number of administrative hours and headaches down the line.
While there are dozens of different scheduling platforms with different benefits, the key to choosing the right scheduling software for your business comes down to the functionality you need for growth.
Make scheduling self-explanatory
When it comes to letting clients book their own appointments, ensure you’re giving them the clear, direct information they need to feel confident booking with you. Just like a physical product would list its dimensions, pricing, and return policy, appointment-based businesses should communicate their concrete logistics upfront. Those foundational logistics are listed below.
Establish business identity
As you customize your scheduler, take a little time to update it with your logo, background or background image, and text colors. It’s a simple and powerful way to help clients immediately identify who they’re doing business with.
While you can embed your scheduler directly onto your website, it’s still useful for every touchpoint of your brand to perfectly match. This visual recognition across platforms and webpages helps to encourage client trust, since they know your business stays consistent from one click to the next.
List offered services
Build out your unique appointment types, so each service is plainly listed and clients can self-select the booking that serves them best. It’s common to see three or more services offered at once, since creating a wider variety of offerings can attract new clients with differing needs.
Show appointment pricing
Show service prices directly on your booking page to allow clients to self-qualify which services align with both their goals and budget.
Clarify appointment duration
Set expectations for the appointment by plainly listing how long each service is expected to last.
Communicate your refund and cancellation policy
Just like storefronts often have their refund policies printed at the bottom of the receipt or displayed by the register, clearly communicating your cancellation and refund policy is crucial. If you’re not sure where to set those boundaries with your clients, check out these cancellation policy best practices.
Automate administrative tasks
Let your scheduling software take over the bulk of repetitive administrative tasks, and free up space that would otherwise be spent manually communicating logistics with clients. This creates the peace of mind that your clients are well-cared for, even when you’re not physically at the computer.
As you’re setting up your scheduler, enable the ability to do the following:
Accept automatic payments and deposits
When you accept payments and deposits with an integrated payment processor, you’re erasing an entire subset of tasks off your to-do list. Payment processors are companies like Stripe, Paypal, and Square, and you’re likely already using one.
Beyond freeing up physical time and mental resources, 84% of our users told us in our user 2020 survey that accepting deposits through Squarespace Scheduling with an integrated platform dramatically reduced their no-shows and cancellations. Not only do you get paid, but your clients are more likely to keep their appointments.
Automatically send your intake form
Usually, it’s crucial for your company to gather client information before the first appointment. With the right scheduler, that initial client intake is simplified. For each appointment type you’ve set up, you can create custom intake questionnaires that get sent on automatically to your clients once they book their session.
This works well for two reasons — it saves you time, and may increase the quality of responses you receive back from new bookings.
Rather than a back-and-forth phone call that can put pressure on clients in the moment, automatic questionnaires give them the ability to give thoughtful, thorough answers in their own time — within the deadline you’ve set for them. This means you’re honoring their schedules and showing compassion, while setting up your session with a strong groundwork.
Customize your emails by appointment type
Nothing builds credibility, authority, and trust quite like having consistent brand touchpoints. Your automatic emails should be no different. Stock email templates within scheduling platforms are designed to cover all the necessary details efficiently, but customizing your automated emails with a bit of personality helps you stand out from the crowd while reminding your clients why they chose you — and you specifically — to work with.
This customization may seem like a small piece of the overarching picture, but it helps you connect with clients and deliver that personal touch, even when you’ve taken yourself directly out of the equation.
Send an automatic text reminder
No-shows are unfortunately inevitable on occasion, which is why text reminders mitigate the risk that a client might miss their appointment. With automated text appointment reminders, your clients are 89% more likely to keep their session with you, according to our 2020 user survey. Rather than worrying if your customers will show up, employ a reminder text to take it off your mind — and keep it on your calendar.
Promote your scheduling link
The easier it is for people to schedule appointments and classes with you, the more likely they are to do it. By making your schedule accessible from everywhere you have a professional presence, you’re helping new clients find you, while making it easier for them to book your services.
Here are a few places to start promoting your scheduler:
Embed the scheduler on your site
Ecommerce stores that sell physical products online are set up for customers to buy directly from their website, and your appointment-based business is no different. Rather than making clients dig for your contact form or booking link, embed your scheduler directly onto your website, on every page you offer a service. The embedded scheduler serves as your “Buy Now” button at the bottom of each sales page.
Promote on social channels
Depending on your industry, different social channels may work better than others for promoting your services. For example, photographers may choose platforms that are more visual-centric, while wellness experts may opt for an avenue that focuses more on community groups.
Regardless of which social platform is most popular with your clients, link to your scheduling page. This way, the new potential clients who find you through social media can figure out how to pay you. With Squarespace Scheduling, you can even integrate directly with some social platforms, making it simpler for clients to schedule while they scroll.
Add it to your mailing list
Newsletter and mailing lists that come from your business email are an effective way to directly connect with your audience, and pitch your services to potential clients. Consider linking to your scheduler or specific services in each and every marketing email you send.
Since emails are one of the most high-converting marketing avenues available to small businesses, adding the link to your scheduler into the footer of your email signature helps you stay top-of-mind and encourage bookings.
Include the scheduler on business cards
Get online traffic, even when you meet in person. When you put your scheduling page link directly on your card alongside your professional logo, clients have the necessary information on-hand, the second they’re ready to schedule their session with you.
Optimize your voicemail greeting
When you add your scheduling link into your outgoing voicemail greeting, clients can find a way to work with you, even when you’re not available at that moment for a call. Some schedulers, like Squarespace Scheduling, even allow you to customize your scheduling link. If this is the case, opt for a link that’s easy to say, easy to understand, and easy to spell. Since clients will be typing this into their search bars, clear is better than clever.
It can be as simple as recording your voice memo greeting to say: “If you’re calling to schedule a session with me, you can do so easily at [Your Customized Link].”
Post a sign about scheduling
Physical reminders of your services are excellent promotional tools, so don’t hesitate to put out a sign that encourages online scheduling, along with your customized scheduling link. If your brick-and-mortar offices are currently closed, keep clients informed with a note on the door that leads them to your booking link.
As an entrepreneur, you can do it all — but you shouldn’t have to.