Online appointment booking is a clear fix to a number of problems; customers have an easier time finding and placing new appointments, and your staff has an easier time keeping track of them. But the system only works if your customers are actually using it.
If you have an online appointment booking solution in place, but you aren’t getting as many signups as you’d like—or if people are still using older methods, like calling in—you’ll need to take action.
The Troubleshooting Process
Booking appointments online isn’t the problem; it’s an objectively superior solution to traditional forms of booking appointments. The problem, therefore is the way it’s been implemented, or the circumstances surrounding it. If you want to solve the problem as efficiently as possible, your first step is identifying the root cause (or causes) of the issue.
The Root Causes
There are many potential reasons why an online booking solution wouldn’t work, and some of those reasons overlap with one another. Pay careful attention to note any of the following problems active in your setup:
- Software woes: First, there may be an issue with the software itself. Have you run tests to make sure the software is working properly for your customers, on all devices and operating systems? If the software isn’t working, or isn’t running optimally, your customers may be trying to book an appointment and failing. For example, if they complete the “request an appointment” form, but don’t receive a final confirmation, they may not even realize the appointment was never booked. If the process was slow or included too many steps, they might also bail prematurely. If the software is the root of the problem, you’ll need to work with the software provider, or switch software to resolve the issue.
- Inconvenient scheduling: Customers may also avoid scheduling an appointment if there aren’t any convenient times to schedule. If your online calendar is limited in any way, or if you’re not open at convenient times, customers may not have an opportunity to sign up for your services. Try extending your hours, or providing more scheduling options for your online customers if you suspect this may be the problem.
- Lack of awareness: Next, your existing customers may not know that you’ve made online appointment booking a reality. You can tell this is a problem if your customers continue booking appointments over the phone or through a similar traditional method. If this is the case, you’ll need to work to build the public’s awareness, and convert your customers to using the online system. Start by sending out an email blast to all your current customers, and make sure to reference online appointment booking to anyone who calls the store or books an appointment the old fashioned way. Gradually, your customers should become accustomed to the new process.
- Lack of public visibility: If you’re a newer business, or if your existing customer base is already using your online booking software, the problem is generating new traffic and new business online. If that’s the case, your best bet is to invest more heavily into online marketing strategies, such as content marketing and SEO.
- Issue with your service or performance: It’s tempting to blame your appointment scheduling problems on the software, or on an audience who prefers traditional methods of appointment setting. However, you shouldn’t rule out the possibility that it’s your quality of service or performance that’s driving people away. Make sure your business is listed in all local directories that are relevant to your industry, and pay close attention to any and all reviews you receive. You should be able to gauge any concerns or points of dissatisfaction your customers have from there.
Though many of these problems may be difficult to detect, they aren’t necessarily difficult to solve. Some take time, and others cost money, but they all have a clear path to resolution. Once applied, pay close attention to your signup rates in the weeks and months following a solution. If it doesn’t work, continue experimenting, but be open to the possibility that your root cause was misidentified.