Adding an appointment booking system to your website can help you manage your customer's appointments and reservations more effectively, leading to improved customer satisfaction and increased revenue. Today’s consumers are digital-first and having the ability to easily schedule an appointment online is exactly the kind of convenience they’re looking for.
An appointment booking system is a software application that helps businesses manage appointments and reservations. Rather than having to manually manage a calendar, an appointment scheduling app will automate tasks, send reminders to customers, allow guests to rebook or cancel on their own, and sync the calendars of all of your staff.
Keep reading to learn about the varied benefits of an efficient appointment booking system and to learn how to easily add one to your website.
Why you might need an appointment booking system
In today’s digital landscape, an appointment booking system is an absolute must if your business relies on appointments with customers, whether for services, consultations, or sales calls. Perhaps your business is looking for a new solution, or your volume has outgrown the capacity of good ol’ pen and paper.
Either way, an appointment scheduling app can save you a tremendous amount of time and hassle by automating the process of booking, rescheduling, and canceling appointments. It can also help you keep track of your customer's appointment history, preferences, and contact information, making it easy to provide a better customer experience.
Case study: How Oklahoma State University achieved a 99.9% student satisfaction rate with an appointment scheduling system
Ways to add appointment booking to your business’ website
There are various ways of adding appointment booking to your business' website. The most common methods are custom-built booking tools, content management system plugins, appointment booking by email or webform, and appointment booking systems.
We’ll walk through the pros and cons of each.
Custom-built booking tool
A custom-built booking tool is a software application specifically designed for your business. It gives businesses complete control over every aspect of the booking experience. With a custom-built solution, you can fully tailor each and every aspect of your appointment scheduling process to perfectly fit how your business operates.
The disadvantage of using a custom-built tool is that it requires programming skills and lots of QA (quality assurance)/bug testing. Plus, you’ll have to build functions from scratch that are already available in other existing solutions. They’re also usually very expensive and time-consuming to develop.
Unless you have a very complex and unique appointment booking process, a custom-built booking tool is probably not the best choice.
Content management system plugins
If your website is built on a content management system (CMS), you may be able to take advantage of a built-in library of third-party plugins that include tools for appointment management. These are out-of-the-box solutions that can be one of the easiest appointment scheduling systems to QA since a supported plugin is guaranteed to work with your site.
However, many of these plugins are over-reliant on a single CMS. Not only do they require knowledge of how your CMS operates, but you can also run into serious issues should you choose to migrate to another site or CMS down the line.
Also, your appointment booking process – which is critical to your customer experience – will be at the mercy of the plugin. Plugins are sometimes abandoned by their developers for various reasons, so you may run into bugs or even end up with an inoperable tool should upkeep and development on your plugin cease.
Appointment booking by email or webform
If you don't want to use a plugin, you can add appointment booking to your business site by email or webform. This is where customers submit appointment requests via a form or by emailing you directly.
Email or webform setup is easy. It doesn’t require technical skills, and it's cheap. The downside is that it's not as automated as a plugin. You'll need to manually send customers reminders and log appointments in a spreadsheet or calendar. This might not be easy if your appointment volume is high or if you have customers in different time zones. You may also miss appointments if you don't check your email often enough.
Appointment booking system
The fourth, final, and best way to add appointment booking to your website is by using an appointment booking system. This is an app that can be integrated into various steps in your customer flow. When a customer wants to schedule an appointment, they’ll do it through your appointment booking platform.
The complexity of appointment booking systems can vary. Most will contain essential calendar tools; the best will have comprehensive systems with a backend interface for teams to manage schedules in real-time. Waitwhile, for example, offers workflow automation, real-time calendar management, two-way messaging between customers and staff, easy data and analytics integration, and built-in customization options to match your brand's look and feel.
An appointment booking system combines a custom-built tool's technical flexibility and design quality with the ease of implementing a CMS plugin. Many appointment booking systems offer customization features that allow you to align the UI with your brand and implementation is often as easy as simply adding a link or button on your website or Google Maps listing.
An appointment booking system offers core advantages over the other methods we've discussed:
- Automation saves time on reminders, follow-ups, and calendar management
- The ability to manage multiple calendars at once so different staff members can customize their individual availability
- Easy to set up with an intuitive UI for customers
- Simple to add to your website by embedding a link or button
- A more professional look and feel to your appointment booking process
- Centralized note-taking so you can keep track of customers’ preferences over time
- Operational analytics that make your business run more efficiently
- Two-way messaging via email or text message that’s centralized in a single platform
Appointment booking with Waitwhile
Waitwhile makes it easy to schedule appointments by automatically updating your calendar, messaging customers, and keeping you up-to-date. You’ll be able to put scheduling tasks on autopilot so your staff can focus on your customers. Plus, you can easily add it to your website or Google Maps listing.