Creating an Appointment Scheduling App: Best Practices
Appointment scheduling apps are online tools used by businesses whose purpose is to allow their clients to easily manage appointments as per their convenience. The great thing about them is that they eliminate the need for a human phone operator who will spend all their time on calls with customers manually inputting and confirming appointments in a calendar. By using a digital tool such as an appointment booking app, companies save a lot of time, the cost of employing someone full time, and avoid inevitable human mistakes (appointment overlap, overbooking, not filling in correct details, etc.). Furthermore, online scheduling apps are accessible at any time from anywhere, by both customers and employees.
Online scheduling apps are becoming increasingly popular due to their low cost and high effectiveness. They can be utilized practically in any business and industry. Only a few examples of many are:
- Beauty/Hair salons
- Medical/dentistry centers and hospitals
- Sports centers/gyms
- Tour guides and tourism centers
- Home maintenance and repairs
As you can see, there is a large market, and despite the existence of many online scheduling apps, there are always things that can be improved and added. If you want to know more about how to build the best appointment booking app, keep on reading!
Features to include in your appointment scheduling app
The basic features that an appointment scheduling app should have are: the possibility to make an appointment, reschedule it, or cancel it – and make it as simple and as convenient as possible. You should provide additional information which is necessary for the customer to determine a slot that works best for them, such as: types of services offered, available dates and timings, duration of a certain service, prices, group or individual booking (if applicable), etc. Let’s talk about the less obvious features that your scheduling app should have, but will end up making all the difference.
Open slot notifications
Many services don’t offer a (free) cancellation option, afraid of losing revenue. Try adding a “Notify me if available” option for customers interested in a particular timing which is already booked. This way, if the appointment is cancelled, they will receive a notification that the time slot is available again. Thus, you can still offer appointment cancellations, which is important for many customers, and increase the chances that an open timing will be filled again quickly. Another idea is offering last minute discount deals for quickly approaching open time slots that haven’t been booked yet.
Even without the COVID pandemic, there are people everywhere who cannot physically attend a scheduled appointment, whether due to disability, illness, or simply geographical location. Implementing options for video consultation calls can be hugely beneficial for many businesses, such as:
- Medical and health-related apps: doctors or medical experts can assist patients on video calls through the same app interface.
- Sports apps: get an appointment with your favorite trainer living on another continent.
- Clothing apps: schedule a virtual tour appointment with your favorite store/designer.
Integrate one or more trustworthy payment options with your platform – the more options you give your customers, the better. You should clearly communicate the prices and payment options to your users, or whether they can use promo codes and gift cards, so they can make an informed choice. Furthermore, if you are working with cancellations, set up a reliable system for refunds – whether manual or automatic. Finally, make your system flexible to allow for customizable payment options which you and your employees can control.
Employee and appointment management
In order for your business to run smoothly, the scheduling app should be easy to use and efficient – not only for your customers, but your employees as well. It must contain all the necessary data employees need to know to plan their work day, or make adjustments to the schedule whenever required. Features you should incorporate include:
Support different user roles
Not all employees will need to or even should have access to all the information on the scheduling app. Create different user profiles for different employee roles, for example: admin, senior employee, viewer, etc.
Your appointment scheduling app should be synced with your business calendar, so important information will immediately be synchronized (holidays, non-working days for your business, or last-minute changes to your or your employees’ schedules which affect the bookings).
Assign status to an appointment
Employees should know or be able to change the status of any booking, for example: if the customer showed up, if they are waiting, if the appointment was canceled, appointment confirmations, etc.
Manually adjusting appointments
Many customers still prefer to call for appointment booking. Your app should have the possibility for you or your employees to manually input or change appointments. Additionally, you can include the possibility for all appointments to be first reviewed and then confirmed or canceled by your employees.
Upload relevant information to appointments
Adding this option is a great way for employees to have all the necessary information about the customer in one place. For example, medical centers can upload test results and other patient information to the appointment scheduling app.
Manage different notifications
Owners and employees should be able to choose the type of notification being sent out for a specific user operation. They should also be able to make personalized messages and notifications.
Automatic workload distribution
If one of the employees is suddenly unable to perform their work duties on a certain day/week, the app should reassign the appointments to employees not booked for those timings.
For the businesses who implement any sort of new tool, their goal is to make the process more efficient, and in the process retain their customers as well as gain new ones. Features which could fulfill these demands are:
- Integrating the appointment scheduling app with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system which will find, register, and contact users in order to notify them about any novelties they may be interested in. CRM systems collect and analyze customer data such as purchase history, location, channel of communication, contact information etc. and use it for marketing purposes.
- Integration with automated email marketing services for newsletters and special offers
- Take advantage of social media channels like Instagram or Facebook for advertising and appointment booking
Usability, Flexibility, Scalability!
These are the top aspects you should keep in mind when developing, so implement features that boost them, not prevent them. If you need help with developing your appointment scheduling app, Redvike is here for you. We have experience with creating elegant scheduling solutions for our customers such as Sailsense – for whom we designed a boat rental platform with multiple experience-enhancing features which you can check out right here.