By Accenture’s prediction, 66% of US health institutions would offer online self-scheduling to patients, with 64% of patients across the country using the technology. Because of this, health systems would receive a $3.2 billion increase in value.
But what are appointment scheduling applications? These are cloud-based or on-premise software that allows businesses and professionals to receive appointments from clients even when they are offline or during business hours. It also offers the capability to manage these appointments when changes need to be done manually.
There are numerous benefits to be gained from these, and some of them are an increase in the volume of bookings and a reduction in no-shows.
Such things are only possible with the latest innovations that power an online booking system. Below we discuss what some of these technologies are and how they benefit a scheduling platform.
- Email Services
Chief among the available appointment scheduling features is email. In marketing, it is still the main point of contact between brands and consumers because of its versatility and dynamics. Plus, it has a high engagement rate because of its accessibility through various platforms.
The same features that make email a popular channel for marketing communications apply in the field of appointment scheduling as well. That is because appointment scheduling software connects with different email services such as Google and Outlook for sending reminders to clients. And if you opt for it, it can send reminders of your upcoming schedules via email as well. This way, if you are the type of person who works out of your inbox, you can be sure to keep your appointments with the help of the alerts.
- Calendaring Apps
According to a report by Statista, apps in the productivity category are among the most popular apps downloaded by users from the Apple App Store with a 2.71% share of the total downloads in May 2019. Calendaring apps fall under that classification, too, which is why it is a technology that the best appointment scheduling software for small business makes use of.
When people create an online appointment booking, full-featured appointment scheduling solutions provide an option to add an event to the user’s internal calendaring app or to Outlook, Google, and other external calendaring apps. This ensures that clients can see their set meeting in relation to the rest of their daily or weekly activities.
Additionally, since calendar events are usually set to have alerts, customers get another notification that can help them keep their appointment with your office.
This feature is not just for the benefit of patients or clients, it can be advantageous for your business, too. In the same way, it lets you see the appointments you have for your business together with personal schedules. As a result, you can partition your time accordingly.
Did you know that the global average SMS open rate in 2018 was 73%? This is according to an article by Essendex, which shares that when grouped together with people who only read texts from recognized senders, that number goes up to 94%.
Those numbers make SMS a prime channel for communicating with clients, especially when it comes to appointments. It further reduces no-shows and increases your revenue earnings as well.
Moreover, you do not have to send text alerts manually. Since integrations are now popular, you can find an online booking calendar that bundles it. If not, there are cost-effective solutions that you can connect with your appointment booking platform to automate SMS reminders.
- Push Notifications
Push technology or push notifications are those short messages that users see on their devices, whether they are smartphones, tablets, or desktop computers. An application can “push” it to the user even when the application itself is not running. It makes use of Notifications API and Push API to work. Furthermore, as Google Developer tells us, Push APIs work together with the Service Worker API.
Push is something that is applicable to calendars and your online booking app. They appear on your client’s devices at a set time, perhaps three hours or one hour before the appointment is due. This way, your clinic or business can engage your customers even before they arrive at your office.
- Payment Gateways
Appointment scheduling is not the only thing you can do with your online booking system. In fact, if you choose the right platform, you can also support online payments, making things more convenient for clients.
But how is that possible? Payment gateways make it happen. These are merchant services that are authorized to process credit card or debit card payments. It can be provided by a bank or it can be offered by a financial technology company. If the latter is the case, users can even hold up to any amount in their “wallet”, which they can get from their connected bank accounts or cards. If that is the case, then whenever they make an online purchase the business deducts the amount from the wallet.
Aside from convenience, though, online payment gateways offer security. They use SSL for encryption, tokenization for the protection of customers’ card details, additional security layers like 3D Secure, and anti-fraud tools. With this, your business can ensure the integrity of your transactions.
If you are worried about an additional expense for your company, you do not have to. Most appointment systems now integrate secure payment gateways. The process would be comfortable for your clients as well since they would be able to complete the transaction inside the booking widget.
Some features of an appointment scheduling platform would not be possible without integration technologies. We mentioned APIs above, which are the main method for connecting one application with another. There are also integration solutions that can serve as a middleman between different systems.
With the integration, disparate platforms become a whole and comprehensive system that can change data easily. And through that, you no longer have to enter the same information repeatedly on different forms and applications since your connected platforms take care of filling in the fields with the correct or relevant data.
It may not be as obvious, but automation technology has a hand in online booking systems and their features, too. It is driven by manual configuration, Boolean logic, and other algorithms. Because of it, there is no need for you or your staff to write numerous SMS messages or emails per day or to pick up the phone throughout the week to remind clients about their impending appointments.
Automation is also the force behind the flow of data between your platforms. This way, there is no need for you to tell your software to send or exchange information with each other. Thus, you can be sure that you are working with correct and up-to-date data every time.
Starting out with a scheduling solution
If you are wondering how to create an online booking system, you do not have to fret. When you sign up with a vendor, they will take care of the initial setup and configuration with your input. As such, you can rest assured that the tool adapts to your business.
From there, you can begin using the different features and technologies of an appointment scheduling software from the emails to the automated tasks. And with those in place, you can also start enjoying the benefits that such as system offers.