1. Is it really scheduling, or merely requesting?
2. How many places can clients schedule from?
3. How much manual maintenance will you have to do?
4. Does it work in real time?
May 19, 2023 · 3 min read
Your clients do everything online. They can book flights, shop for whatever they want, and even earn a degree all from their couch on their phone or computer. So if your practice doesn’t offer a way for pet owners to book appointments online, a new client may pass you up for a practice with more convenience.
Online scheduling is obviously important, but not all online scheduling platforms are created equal. How can you know which is right for your practice? Here are 4 things you should know before choosing.
This is #1 for a reason.
Most companies that offer “online scheduling” only go halfway to a scheduled appointment. They allow clients to request a timeslot, but that’s all. Your front desk still has to confirm the appointment.
What if there is a conflict?
What if two people request the same time slot over the weekend?
Then your staff has to reach out and play phone tag until a consensus is reached. It’s inefficient. It takes time away from your clients and your front desk.
Real online scheduling integrates with your practice management system, which means you set certain times as available, and once a pet owner requests an appointment, they get that appointment. They don’t need to call. Your front desk doesn’t need to confirm (even though they still can).
Real online scheduling is the difference between a fully booked appointment, and an email to your front desk.
The average appointment scheduling service puts a button on your website, and that’s a great start. It’s much better than having no online scheduling at all (if it really is online scheduling and not just a disguised contact form). But if your website is the only place the scheduling button lives, a lot of money is being left on the table.
Most clients don’t know your website URL off the top of their heads, so their journey to you doesn’t start at your website. Most often they’ll find you through Google. The best online scheduling services put buttons on those sites too, which means more routes for clients to end up in your chair. Convenience is the name of the game, and that’s especially true if a pet owner is comparison shopping.
The ideal answer to this is “absolutely none.” And while we’re not quite there yet, we’re getting pretty close. Even the best online scheduling systems require some front-loaded setup work. But that should be all. After setting your schedule - availability, hours, appointment types, etc. - you shouldn’t have to touch your scheduling system except for when you want to make changes.
If a scheduling system requires you to manually confirm each appointment by entering requests into your practice management system one by one, it’s not an efficient use of your staff’s time (and it’s not really online scheduling either).
When a client clicks that final button, how long does it take before your practice can confirm that the slot is theirs? When scheduling is integrated with your practice management system, that appointment is theirs instantly, as soon as the request is received.
With a manual request system, it can take hours, even days, for an appointment to be confirmed. That lag can really ruin a client’s day, and it can complicate yours, too.
Double bookings clog up your front desk, and it doesn’t make a great first impression when a client who thought they had an appointment, doesn’t.
Before you move forward with an online scheduling service, ask their representative these questions. Our answers are
it’s really scheduling
But if you want to learn more, feel free to book a demo below!
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