Have you ever found yourself juggling multiple phone calls, sticky notes, and appointment calendars...
The Top Nine Online Booking System Features
In today’s digital world of working from home, next-day delivery, buying, selling, and booking everything online as a business owner – it can be easy to fall behind. With so many customers, staff, and even admin tasks to deal with, do you ever worry about something slipping through the cracks? Well, that’s where an online booking system (like 10to8) can come in handy.
What is the best online booking system like?
The best online booking system is innovative and designed with you in mind. Such tools must allow you to set up an online booking page, create 1-to-1 and group services, automate customer and staff messages, and provide a simple calendar view with external calendar-sync options. Free trials and even Free Forever plans are fairly common too. If the online scheduling software offers integrations with other tools, that’s just the cherry on top – although it’s a very important “cherry”.
10to8 has been helping businesses blossom for almost a decade. We’re proud to have helped over 100,000 companies to stay afloat and flourish, instead of feeling like they need to bury their heads in the sand – everything from international conglomerates to independent boutiques.
But, why should you invest in online scheduling software?
What are the advantages of an online booking system?
Think about how much time you and your staff currently spend sending emails and taking bookings over the phone. How many customers have forgotten their appointments and, either by mistake or knowingly, just didn’t show up?
A tool like 10to8 can not only save you countless hours of menial tasks but can also help reduce no-shows by up to 90%, meaning that you’ll get the maximum return for your efforts. This means you’ll have more free time to take care of your customers and yourself. Put your feet up with a cup of tea and a donut after all that hard work!
What are some of the best features of an online booking system?
If you’re tired of phone bookings and ready to nip no-shows in the bud, then here are the top nine features of 10to8’s online booking system that will help your business flourish.
Even if you’re considering other online booking software solutions, this list will help you minimize your options and find the absolute best choice for you.
1. Customizable online booking page
A well-designed online booking page can be a business’s bread and butter; this will be your virtual shop-front. This is where customers can see your information, all of your services, and prices. The best part is that they can click through and pick a time that works best for them, avoiding aggravating hold queues altogether, and saving them and you, time going back and forth over the phone.
Did you know that over 50% of people are frustrated with being placed on hold? Not to mention the wonderful music that often comes with it waiting on the phone. Are the inconvenient office hours associated with booking appointments over the phone actually damaging your business rather than helping it grow?
Your booking page will give your clients the freedom to book instantly, and at a time that works for them. Plus, you can tailor it to your brand; you can use your own logo, and header image, and customize the link that you send to your customers. You can also include staff photos on your booking page which add a tad more personality and a human touch to your digital shop window.
2. Booking widgets to add to your website (and more)
So, you might love the idea of the online booking page, but be wondering: ‘How am I going to incorporate this into my business’s website?’ Well, booking widgets make this super easy.
There is a range of widgets to choose from: HTML code, a Weebly App, and a free WordPress plugin. You can even add ‘Book Now’ buttons to your email signature, and website pages, or link your booking page to your business’s Facebook or other social media profiles. This means that customers will be able to easily book with you through your means.
Both the booking page and the widgets increase the likelihood of people booking with you in the first place, as well as increase the ease and speed of customer bookings.
According to GetApp’s research cited earlier in the article, over 70% of consumers have said that they would prefer to book an appointment online, while 31% would be more likely to choose a new service provider if they offered online booking.
Ultimately, if you were trying to book an appointment over the phone and were made to wait on hold for ages, would you not hang up and go elsewhere? The shorter the booking process is the better. This is why embedded widgets can be even more effective than sending your visitors to another page to place a booking.
3. Video conferencing integrations
Of course, another key part of online scheduling software is digital meetings. In these trying times, so many businesses have adopted virtual appointments to keep going; with everything from dog training to doctors’ appointments now being offered online.
So, with direct integrations with many popular video conferencing tools, it’s simple to coordinate your bookings and your meeting links. Gone are the days when you would have to book an appointment and then manually re-enter everything again in Zoom. Gone are the days when clients would have the time and the date of their meeting but not the Microsoft Teams link as someone had forgotten to send it.
Sometimes it really is the small things in life that make all the difference. Simply by being able to automatically send out your online meeting links when a customer books, you’ll be saving yourself a lot of additional work.
With 10to8, you can integrate directly with the most popular video conferencing tools — Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet. You can configure both Zoom and Microsoft Teams on the integrations section of your account, whereas Google Meet is directly linked to your calendar sync.
Watch the video below to learn how to set up Google Meet:
4. Customer messaging – SMS, email, and more
How many times have you booked a dentist appointment or a haircut months in advance and then completely forgot about it? Or worse still, made other plans and accidentally double-booked yourself.
Trust me, even at 10to8, we’re guilty of this – we’re only human! But this is exactly why our customer messaging and reminders feature helps ensure that your customers won’t forget their appointments. If they need to reschedule, they can do so quickly and easily giving you plenty of time to re-allocate their slot.
The first message you’ll typically send your customers is a personalized confirmation by either SMS or email – or both. You’ll have the meeting link if it’s an online meeting, or other meeting details if it’s not a virtual appointment. You’ll also send the date, time, and the ability to add this to their personal diary.
Next, they’ll get a series of customized reminders, once again by either text or email. It’s at your discretion as to how many of these you send. Both the reminders and the confirmation messages will contain the option to reply, change, or cancel the appointment.
5. Internal communication – and who can do what!
Of course, communicating with your customers is only one side of the coin – you also need to make sure all your staff members are on the same page – especially when you’re operating a fully remote business. 10to8’s online booking system has some super handy staff communication features, perfect for making sure your employees stay organized and in control.
Similar to customer messages, staff will also get a confirmation of booking requests – be it an internal meeting or client appointment. You can also set reminders, so staff will never again miss an important meeting.
Lastly, don’t forget to set your staff’s permission levels. You can set some staff to be able to view and edit everyone’s appointments and others just to be able to view their own. Let’s be honest, the last thing you’ll want is staff deleting each other’s appointments by mistake!
6. Advanced availability settings
As well as communicating your appointments to your customers, you also need to be able to let them know when your staff members are available. This is where the ability to set your working hours comes in.
From the typical 9 to 5 to complicated shift patterns, you can pick the hours that work best for you and your business. Our availability feature can handle the most complex of staff working hours. From some staff working full time, and others working part-time, to different hours, different days, and different locations – an advanced online booking system must be able to deal with it all. With 10to8, this is super simple to set up!
Then, your customers will only see the hours you want them to see. And they won’t be able to book you in the dead of night or in the middle of your Sunday roast (unless you want them to, of course).
7. Calendar sync
10to8 wouldn’t be such a popular online booking system if it didn’t offer calendar sync – or maybe it would be popular, but we love to put the icing on the cake! It’s quick and straightforward to connect your Google Calendar, Outlook, iCalendar, or any other provider you might have.
You’ll have the option for…
- One-way sync: to just display your 10to8 appointments in your personal calendar,
- Or two-way sync: which syncs both ways. So you end up with a completely virtual schedule – instant updates, instant notifications of cancellations, and changes.
Not to mention, it’s accessible from anywhere, on any device. Pretty handy, right?
8. Satisfaction surveys
Here at 10to8, we thrive on customer feedback. Most of the tweaks and updates we make to the app are based on customer requests. We understand that you might want to build your business in a way that resonates with your audience and so can drive more business in the future.
Sending a satisfaction survey after each appointment can be a great way of gathering real, valuable, actionable feedback, hence this feature should be available in every booking solution.
This way, you’ll keep in touch with your customers, find out what they liked and what could be improved about your services, and grow upwards based on what really works instead of guesswork.
9. Reporting and analytics
Last but not least, reporting on appointments and gaining insights into booking behavior is an essential part of making data-driven decisions when it comes to a service-based business. Adding Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel, and UTM tracking to your booking pages can help you understand your customers’ behavior instead of just guessing.
For example, our live dashboard will give you up-to-date information on your appointments for the week, how many bookings you’ve taken, and how many people have visited your booking page. It will also show you how many messages you have sent and which of those remained unread. Just another clever way to keep on top of your potential no-shows.
As well as this, our reporting tools will give you an even deeper dive into the success of your business – which will help you understand the ROI on the 10to8 booking system. You can export your customer records, your staff information, data on a particular service, or details of appointments that you’ve booked.
+1 Bonus feature – Cross-business sync
What if you have multiple businesses? Or deal with different departments that all need their own booking page? Well, our online booking system can handle this too.
Perfect for medical organizations or more complex business setups, making sense of multiple divisions that need a little extra TLC. It can be tricky trying to juggle numerous organizations – with separate staff, schedules, and appointments. This means that, if you’re working from two different calendars, you could accidentally get your wires crossed.
However, 10to8’s cross-business sync feature means that you can link your two business calendars together. If you receive a booking in one, it will block that time off in the other. So, say goodbye to accidental double-bookings and a lot of unwanted stress.
It’s a wrap
So, with the world shifting rapidly towards a technological future, now is the perfect time to switch to an online booking system for your business. The result? Flexibility for both you and your customers. No more painful, off-putting hold queues and no more no-shows.
With these top online booking features at your disposal, you’ll be sure to see your business blossom. Therefore, before long, the only problem you’ll have to figure out is, what are you going to do with all that extra time on your hands…