Like any service industry, most salons and spas rely on accurate appointments to operate efficiently. A proven process benefits both clients and staff alike: Clients get the assurance that they will receive their services on a specific time and without having to wait in line, while management can better schedule staff members and not worry about being under- or over-staffed, which can occur at locations that allow walk-ins.
Proper appointment-scheduling is a necessity for most spa and salon operators and on paper seems simple enough. But tell that to an overwhelmed receptionist or a small salon with only a few employees who takes all appointments over the phone and writes them down in paper appointment book or enters them into an electronic calendar or spreadsheet. The process can be grueling and extremely time-consuming.
On the other end of the spectrum is the client, who might be accustomed to conducting most of his daily activities-including booking a spa or salon appointment-online and without having to pick up the phone. Many may not even have the time to make an appointment over the phone during the spa or salon’s business hours, instead leaving a message late in the evening that must then be returned from the receptionist or staff member.
In today’s 24-7, online society, it’s vexing to think that some businesses still rely on the old paper appointment book and telephone to book their customers’ and clients appointments and reservations. But many still do, as they are unaware that affordable, easy-to-use technology exists for small businesses like theirs. This technology is known as customer appointment scheduling software.
THE ONLINE SOLUTION TO APPOINTMENT-SCHEDULING WOES
Like most office tasks and processes, the key to simplifying and streamlining service-booking is through automation. The less staff time is focused on this tedious task and the easier it is for clients to schedule their own services when it’s most convenient for them, the better the experience will be for everyone. Online customer appointment scheduling software helps accomplish this by utilizing the power of the Internet.
Also known as an online scheduler calendar, online business calendar, online scheduling software and other terms, customer appointment scheduling software is a SaaS (Software as a Service) application that salon and spa owners and operators access in the same manner as any Web site or portal. If you manage your bank accounts online or manage a social media page such as Facebook or Twitter, you already have an understanding of Wed-based scheduling technology. Most applications don’t require any downloads or installations, nor do they require the attention of an internal IT employee or contracted IT service. The service provider securely hosts and maintains the software and data externally on servers, the same way all other online service and retail providers do. The only requirement to use customer appointment scheduling software is an Internet connection.
The framework behind Web-based applications such as online scheduling software makes it ideal for certain functions unavailable or difficult to integrate in more traditional “boxed” software found in electronics stores and retail outlets. One feature in particular that can completely transform scheduling procedures almost immediately is online client and customer self-scheduling, which gives individuals to ability to quickly and effortlessly book their services without having to pick up the phone. In essence, it keeps a spa or salon open 24 hours a day. By placing a “Book Now” button on their Web site, social media page or newsletter, a business can significantly reduce the number of phone call or e-mails from individuals looking to book their appointments. This can results in more receptionist or staff time freed up that can now be directed at more pressing needs. Equally important is the convenience for clients to book online. It can show that the salon or spa is current with its technology and understands its clients’ needs.
What differentiates online scheduling software from a simple electronic calendar or an appointment request form is that it automatically confirms and books each appointment entered into the system, without any additional actions from the operator or his or staff. They don’t need to view available dates, block off unavailable times, or contact the registrant. The system does all of this on its own.
Another valued feature found in some online appointment scheduler applications is automated e-mail and text message reminders. Anyone associated with a service-based business knows the importance of making reminder calls or sending reminder e-mails. It’s important for keeping down the number of “no-shows”, but it also requires a great deal of staff time and resources. Customer appointment scheduling software streamlines this task as well by automatically sending a reminder prior to a customer or client appointment or reservation. The salon or spa selects when it wants the reminder sent-such as one day before the appointment-and the system takes over from there.
Although other features vary among customer appointment scheduling software providers, operators can expect additional functionality such as: record-keeping and reporting capabilities that make it easy to manage and extract appointment and client information, without having to juggle multiple appointment books, folders and files; online customer payment options for salons and spas that wish to allow online payment prior to scheduled appointments and reservations; and e-marketing capabilities for communicating specials, deals, coupons and other news with clients.
Online scheduling software is a must for any salon or spa that depends on a proven process for managing its appointments and client information. Although some spa and salon operators and owners cringe on any talk of new software-due to monetary and time commitments to properly implement it-most online scheduler calendars are affordable, allow operators to “pay-as-they-go” without any long-term contracts, and don’t require any additional hardware. Additionally, the provider maintains the software externally and conducts all updates and upgrades, which are automatically reflected once the user logs on. Some even offer live customer service and support to ensure the software is being utilized to its fullest potential.
Don’t get trapped in the pages of an inefficient and outdated scheduling process. Let customer appointment scheduling software give your salon and spa operations a boost!