There was a time, not so long ago, when service providers from hotels to hairdressers relied on phone calls and walk-in customers to fill their calendars with bookings and appointments, the fact is that many still do.
The internet can be a complex and intimidating world for business owners who have always done things a certain way. But those who have worked through the anxiety will tell you that the World Wide Web offers endless ways to grow and enhance your business. And for any business that takes bookings or appointments, one of the simplest and most effective uses of the internet is for online booking and reservations.
What exactly are the advantages of online booking? What are the benefits of an online reservation system? There are many, but today we’ll be looking at eight of the most compelling.
The top 8 benefits online booking systems
1. Keep your business running 24/7
There are 168 hours in a week, though your business might be open for just 40 of them – less than a quarter of the total time. What’s more, many customers will have working hours that are the same as yours, making it hard for them to call you or wander into your business to make a booking. One of the main benefits of online booking is the fact that your business is now open to take bookings all day, all night, and whenever it’s most convenient for the customer!
2. Dramatically reduce your admin workload
How much time do you and your workers spend taking bookings, whether over the phone or the counter? It can often take up half an employee’s day. An automated online booking system allows a customer to do all the work for you – they are served up a selection of free spaces, they choose a date and time that best suits them, then the key in all relevant information. An appointment is automatically logged in your system without you having to lift so much as a finger!
3. Reduce human error
People make mistakes. A misheard time on a crackly line, a handwritten one that sort of looks like a seven, a booking jotted on a notepad but never entered into the system; mistakes are an inevitable part of business, but they happen far more often than most business owners would like. Computers, meanwhile, don’t make mistakes. Sure, if a customer makes a mistake technology will blindly pass it on, but the tool itself won’t create the error. One of the biggest advantages of online reservation? You’ll be dealing with far fewer slip-ups.
4. Maximise reservations and reduce no-shows
Fun fact: people who book online are far more likely to show up to their appointment. There are three main reasons:
By deliberately choosing a date and time, they think longer and harder about the booking.
As mentioned above, online booking systems significantly reduce instances of human error.
Automated emails and texts are sent to the customer to remind them of their upcoming booking.
Not only are no-shows reduced, the fact that customers can look at exactly when you have a free opening means that you can maximise your reservations, by avoiding the endless back and forth that often happens when you try to find a free spot over the phone.
5. Upsell easily
‘Would you like fries with that?’ your online booking system asks, as your customer locks their appointment in. Online booking systems automate the process of upselling, and the best will allow you to add whatever items you want. What will your ‘fries’ be?
6. Increase payment speed and security
The best online booking platforms are those that include instant and secure payment functionality, that allows you to either take an upfront deposit or full prepayment, and that get the money into your account quicker. Ensure your preferred payment service provider has clear and strong policies on detecting fraud and resolving disputes.
7. Grow your marketing and online presence
Online bookings are a great way to grow your customer database. People are more than happy to offer up their information when making a booking, and you can use their demographic data, purchase history and contact details to develop effective marketing strategies. Customers also love the convenience of online booking systems, so your online reputation will grow too!
8. Enjoy insights from data analysis
What type of person is booking a particular service? What time of the week, month or year do you receive the most bookings? How many people fall out of the booking process without locking in an appointment? The answer to these questions can all be found by analysing your booking data and can be used to inform all manner of decisions moving forward: marketing strategies, service offerings, pricing structures and more.
That’s the way of online bookings. But what about the how?
How Square Appointments can help your business
Your choice of tool can make or break your online booking efforts. You need to find a solution that:
Is easy to set up, and that integrates with your current systems.
Is simple to use for both customers and workers, and can be used across devices.
Offers instant, secure and cost-effective payment processing.
Square Appointments offers all that and more. No matter what service-based business you run – hairdresser, barbershop, day spa, nail salon, personal training, health and wellness, bed and breakfast, restaurant, home repairs, cleaning, tutoring, or any number of professional services – Square Appointments makes bookings a breeze.
On top of seriously simplifying scheduling, Square Appointments also allows you to manage your team, put your customers first, maximise your income, track your inventory, and even sell through social media platforms like Instagram.
Online bookings and appointments aren’t the future, they’re the present. If you’re ready to make the most of all the benefits that an online booking solution can deliver, Square is ready to help.
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