What is an online scheduling system?

An online scheduling system is a piece of software that integrates with your business calendar to allow your customers to access your scheduling options, your services and available hours and easily book appointments with you.

A good scheduling system will include the ability to implement automation so that you can cut down on missed appointments and last-minute cancellations by sending reminders to clients via email or SMS. Scheduling systems also give you a way to accomplish many other tasks related to business including collecting payments, registering clients for upcoming events and creating sales reports.

Beyond offering a seamless experience for your clients, you can customize your scheduling system to match your company’s website and / or branding.

Key Features of Online Scheduling Systems

Every online scheduling system will offer a different set of features, so it’s important to choose one that fits with your business’ needs and budget. Make sure you look for the following features if you want to streamline the online booking process:

  • A central dashboard to manage multiple calendars for you and your employees
  • The ability to set blocks of time or days as unavailable
  • Client access to book and cancel appointments
  • The flexibility to select service durations and block buffer time between appointments
  • Forms to collect client information such as contact details and reasons for meetings
  • Integrations with other popular calendars like Microsoft Office or Google Calendar
  • Mobile-friendly displays so clients can schedule appointments from any device
  • Automated appointment confirmations and reminders sent to you and your clients via SMS or email
  • Integrations with your CRM so you can track customer information and appointment history
  • Social media integrations for promoting events and conferences
  • The ability for more than one person to schedule a time for group sessions
  • The ability to customize the look of the calendar with your branding
  • Automatic refunds or partial refunds for time-based cancellations
  • Send out invoices and accept online payments via credit card, e-check or other payment options
  • Create and accept coupons for your services
  • Create sales reports for different team members and the entire company

Keep in mind that while the features listed above are common, some of the most robust online scheduling systems may include additional features.

Finding the Right Online Scheduling System

There’s no shortage of online scheduling systems to choose from so you should plan to research different options and compare what’s being offered at a variety of price points. When you start the process, define what you expect from the system. A good place to start is with software directories which provide you with product descriptions from the online scheduling company itself alongside unbiased customer reviews that discuss everything from ease of use to the level of customer service provided by the supplier.

Most online scheduling systems offer a free trial. See how easy it is to use, if it integrates with your current technology and if it truly serves your business goals.

Once you’ve made your decision, get your online scheduling solution up and running as fast as possible. Run a few tests to make sure that your clients won’t experience any bug. Then spread the word via social media or email. You might even want to offer an incentive for those who opt to use the online booking process (check our coupon templates here).
You’ll instantly find that much of the time that was previously allocated towards administrative tasks can be used in making profit!