What's a Reasonable Cancellation Policy for Online Appointments?

When you automate your appointments with a web based reservation system, you’re well on your way to Efficiency City. Say hello to more time to let the kids play at the park, organize a more complex dinner, or even spend some extra time planning the next day. However, your trip doesn’t stop there.

You’ve reached milestone number one. When setting up your scheduling website to begin accepting online appointments, you must consider your PC’s or policies and procedures. No business runs smoothly without ‘em, and you need to be sure to clarify them for your clients before they begin booking appointments with you. In today’s post, we’re going to discuss some considerations that you should be make when crafting your cancellation or rescheduling policy.

How do you handle last minute cancellations?

Does your business already allow last minute cancellations or are you in the process of considering last minute cancellations? If so, you then need to determine the timeframe in which you’ll allow clients to cancel appointments with you. If 24 hours is ample enough time for you to be able to adjust your schedule accordingly, then in TimeTap's Back Office you can add a statement for this guideline in your Policies & Procedures section by following these directions:

  1. Go to "Settings"

  2. Click on "Mini Website Design"

  3. Click on the "Bottom Section & Footer" tab

  4. Change the "Show Bottom Section" slider from 'Hide' to 'Show'

  5. Type in and edit your policies & procedures

  6. Click the “Save" button

  7. Click the "Preview Scheduler" button to preview your web scheduler
Add your policies & procedures to your web scheduler

Add your policies & procedures to your web scheduler

How should clients go about rescheduling appointments with you?

Like cancellations, you should choose a timeframe that would allow you to re-group and proceed reasonably with your services. If 24 hours is not enough time for you, then you might choose 48 hours and so on and so forth. Whichever timeframe works best, you can let them know your guidelines in your Policies & Procedures section or even through an email by customizing your email templates.

Adding these guidelines to their confirmation emails and even text reminders would be most helpful so that clients would be able to have a quick reminder and a fast way to reschedule if they need to. Follow these directions to add your guidelines within their appointment confirmation emails:

  1. Go to the "Messaging” tab

  2. Click on "Appointment Templates"

  3. Scroll down and click on the "View" button for the "New Appointment by Client" email template (you can also add your guidelines to the "New Appointment by Staff" template if you'd like)

  4. Click the “Clone" button to clone the default template

  5. Scroll down and click the "Edit" button to add your guidelines to the email (if you'd like, you can simply copy and paste them from earlier)

  6. Click the “Save” button

  7. Click the "Preview Scheduler" button to preview your web scheduler

Add your guidelines to the new appointment email

Add your guidelines to the new appointment email

Now your clients will be able to see your guideline regarding rescheduling within their confirmation email.

Those are general things to consider when crafting your policies and procedures for online appointments. Save yourself and clients the hassle of miscommunication and the likelihood of broken trust through appointment no-shows or late arrivals. Build and maintain client relationships by clarifying your expectations up front so that each party can act reasonably.

How has clarifying expectations worked for your business in the long-run? Did this help to prevent appointment no-shows, and were you more able to effectively utilize your time? Let us know by sharing how setting up your policies and procedures section has worked for you in the comments box below & tweeting today’s #TweetIt message.