Do you remember the first time you scheduled an appointment online? For seasoned online schedulers, this could be a distant memory at this point, but as with anything you had to have started somewhere.
There’s a lot of nervousness when it comes to scheduling your first appointment online. Since appointment request forms were so popular on websites for so long, your clients may be wondering if they’re actually committing to an appointment or if they’re just requesting a time.
We’ve discussed in the past how important it is to be clear with clients in the booking process, and today we’ll go through ways you can handhold those special clients who are making their first ever appointment online.
If you’ve ever worked with a client to get them to transition from constantly calling you to book appointments to using your web scheduler, we would love to hear from you in the comments section. Share how you coaxed them through using your online appointment booker and helped to change their behavior.
Here are just a few ways you can assuage the first-time online booking concerns your clients may have:
Tip #1: Don’t be afraid to clarify (more than once) that they are actually booking a real appointment and blocking off your time
For what has felt like the longest time, service based businesses have been operating off of the “Request an appointment” form model instead of the “Book an appointment” model. It makes sense why a business would have used the request appointment form since (a) it has taken a while for online scheduling systems to be as adaptable as they need to be and (b) many businesses have varying schedules.
This legacy model can backfire when your clients are a bit too acclimated to it. Once you’ve set up your free TimeTap web scheduler or tried out TimeTap Plus, clients will have the same easy booking experience as they previously associated with just filling out the appointment request form. By the end of it, it will be so easy to have made an appointment that some of them may still be wondering, “is that all?”
In order to assure these clients that they have successfully booked an appointment with you, make sure to use language that relays the finality of what they’ve just done.
Instead of saying “Click through my scheduler to see my available appointments” say “Click through my scheduler to book your appointment”. Instead of saying “Check out my availability” say “Schedule an appointment”.
Using language that leaves no room for interpretation about what they’re about to commit to will keep clients from thinking that they’ve only made an appointment request and will let them know that they’ve successfully blocked off your time.
Tip #2: Provide them with documentation on how to use the scheduler
One of the things TimeTap provides our users with is a documentation site that you can share directly with your clients or download and customize for your clients.
This is a great way to get your clients who aren’t quite sure about this whole “online booking trend” to feel more comfortable with the process. The documentation site provides walkthroughs on how to schedule and manage appointments and includes screenshots every step of the way.
For a lot of people, they just want to understand the full process before they go through it themselves. Sharing documentation with your clients around how to use your scheduling system will not only meet this need, but also shows you’re looking out for their concerns.
Tip #3: Offer to walk your client through it the first time
Most of your clients won’t take you up on this (I could sense the horror of having to spend any time on the phone administering tech support eek!) but knowing that you’re willing could make all the difference.
Walking them through it over the phone is one good method. Another option that may be even better is to get your clients to share their screen with you so you can watch them walk through the booking portal and point out the different options they have.
A good tool for doing this is join.me which will let you quickly start a screensharing meeting for free. Once your client has started the meeting, they’ll have a nine digit code to give you so that you can join it. It’s what we use for support at TimeTap all the time and have very few issues with it.
Being able to see your clients go through the scheduling flow offers another benefit as well. Actually seeing a client go through it and hearing their questions will let you know how you can better organize your scheduler to make it even easier on them.
Tip #4: Use a scheduler that creates an easy booking experience for your clients
Every day I look at opportunities to reduce friction for people. That could mean working with our user base to help them get their schedulers set up so that it is as easy as possible for clients to book or adjusting our onboarding flow to make setting up an account as smooth as butter.
When trying to find the right scheduler for your business, look for appointment setters that are not only easy to configure for you as a staff but also mindlessly simple for your clients to use to schedule themselves.
While we’re a bit biased, TimeTap’s web scheduler fits this description to a T. On our web schedulers we keep the focus on one thing at a time. A lot of the other appointment management systems you’ll find will have clients selecting 3 or 4 things at once and get them extremely confused by the end of it.
This may be the last tip, but it might be the first thing you want to keep in mind as you’re going through different scheduling options to decide which one is right for your business.
What have you found to be the biggest barrier in getting clients to start making more of their appointments online (and stop hitting your phone up so much)? Let us know about the barriers and the ways you’ve overcome them in the comments below!