An online booking system takes the hassle out of managing bookings for your business. It makes it quick and easy for potential customers to schedule appointments 24/7 and reduces the administration associated with managing bookings at your end, freeing you up to focus on other things. Online bookings have become increasingly common as COVID-19 restrictions have changed, so could be something to look into for your business if you’re not already set up.
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What is an online booking system?
An online booking system is a software solution that lets potential customers book and pay for your services through your website or social channels.
Also known as appointment scheduling software, it streamlines the booking process for you and your clients, handling payments, reschedules, cancellations and reminders seamlessly online.
Square Appointments is an all-in-one POS for booking, payments, and more. You can get online scheduling, automatic reminders, and payment processing to run everything easily from one place. It’s built to save you time, so you can focus on providing exceptional service to your clients.
Why should I use an online booking system?
An online booking system like Square Appointments’ free online customer booking website allows customers to create their own profile and easily manage, cancel, and confirm appointments at their convenience. With your clients making appointments online, you’ll reduce missed calls, customer call-backs, data entry errors and double bookings, minimising the workload associated with appointment management. Businesses can also require prepayment for a service and customers can save a card on file for a contactless checkout experience.
Do I need a website to have an online booking system?
Nope! Square Appointments lets you set up a free online booking site that your customers can access if you don’t have a website of your own. From your Square dashboard, you can access an automatically generated booking site that uses the services, staff and location information you’ve already entered into the system. From here, you can share your booking site URL on your social channels and via email to encourage clients to make their next booking online.
If you’d like to offer a more personalised experience, Square lets you create a custom website with integrated appointment booking, or you can embed a Square Appointments booking button on your existing website.
Square Online allows you to customise the layout, colour and font for a modern and intuitive look of your online store. The free platform allows you to add website pages for products, testimonials, and more - and you can choose from a number of professional website section layouts.
What happens if a customer cancels last minute or doesn’t show up for their appointment?
A quality online booking system will allow you to create a cancellation policy that you can enforce on a case-by-case basis. Your clients will be asked to agree to the policy and provide payment details when making their booking; you can opt to charge this card if they violate your cancellation policy.
What to look for when selecting an online booking system?
Do your research to ensure you opt for an online scheduling solution that’s a good fit for your business.
1. Choose software that integrates with your website platform
Different online booking software packages are compatible with different web platforms – check that your chosen booking system will integrate with your website before you buy.
Square Appointments is compatible with Squarespace, Wix and WordPress, three examples of website builders. You can also create a complete custom website that includes booking functionality with Square Online, or embed a booking widget or button to an existing website or your email signature.
2. Understand the online booking features you need
The right online booking system for your business will depend on your industry, size and type. While most appointment scheduling software offers features like a real-time view of availability, automated reminders and multiple payment options as standard, software that’s designed for your niche will give you the most significant productivity boost.
Consider whether your business needs scheduling software that allows you to:
- Integrate with your point-of-sale system, including mobile card readers like Square Reader
- Sync with your Google Calendar
- Book recurring appointments
- Create customer profiles, make notes and attach client files
- Manage a customer loyalty program
- Send estimates and invoices
- Book resources
- Manage multiple staff calendars
- Add processing time (for hair and beauty salons)
- Accept electronic gift cards
- Protect yourself against last-minute cancellations and no-shows
Square Appointments does all this and more. Offering complete integration with your POS, you can manage appointments from your Square Stand and iPad or on the go using the Square Appointments app, available on the App Store and Google Play.
3. Choose a plan that suits your business
One-size-fits-all doesn’t cut it when it comes to scheduling software. The best approach for your business will depend on the type of business you operate, how many employees and locations you have, if you operate across multiple time zones, and more. Make sure you understand the cost of configuring a solution to meet your needs – with some providers, hidden fees and other charges can mean you’re quickly paying more than you expected.
At Square, we believe in simple and transparent pricing. With Square Appointments, there are no hidden fees and no ongoing commitment. Monthly fees start at $0 (for one staff calendar), with a low processing fee for each appointment booked.