Do you really need to take appointments online?

You have a cell phone, you have an email address, you have a Facebook page, you have a (seldomly used) Twitter handle, and heck, you even have a Fax machine. Isn’t there enough ways for your clients to get in touch with you? Do you really need a web scheduler just to offer your clients one more way to reach you?

I think that’s a completely reasonable question. If you don’t ask yourself that, then it’s like you’re just adding on another thing to manage in your business. Why would you want to spend time setting up a web scheduler if you aren’t sure if your clients will use it and if you’re afraid that it may take up more time than it saves?

We’ve busted the myth that a web scheduler may take up more time than it saves on a previous post, so let’s talk now about this doubt you may have about if your clients will use it.

According to the Pew Research, in the United States alone 87% of adults report using the internet. In 2005, that number was just at 66% and it has been on the rise every year since. While we may have thought the internet was just a fad back in the 90’s, it is a pretty safe bet as we close out 2014 that the internet is here to stay.

With that accepted fact on the table, we have to start considering the massive changes in social behavior that have already happened over the past ten years and the massive changes that will happen over the next ten years.

Since 2005, we have seen the widespread adoption of smart devices which has taken the internet to a once unfathomable level of portability. With the adoption of the internet and its increased portability, we have see other social shifts as well:

  • According to Pew Research Center, in 2005, only 44% of people agreed with the statement that “Online dating is a good way to meet people”. In 2013, that number had grown to 59%

  • Even as we have seen a growing concern around privacy, our social sharing has gotten much more open, frequent, and in some cases intimate.

  • We have increasingly claimed that the internet would be very hard to give up. In 2006, on 38% of Americans reported that it would be “very hard” to give up the internet compared to 44% who said the same thing about television. In 2014, 53% of Americans claim it would be very hard to give up the internet but only 35% say it would be very hard to give up television.

  • Voice recognition software has gone from virtually non-existent for the average consumer to a built in component to all smart devices.

  • American Banker reported that in 2000, only 12% of consumers were using online bill pay. By 2013, that number had climbed to 46.5% and grows still.

The facts go on and on, but my central argument remains the same. The internet is here to stay and as time goes on, more and more of the personal interactions we have with one another will find a “better” substitute online.

You may have a sense of nostalgia about answering your clients phone calls, and I get that. Change is hard especially if you actually liked the old technology we had.

Regardless of what you may prefer, I hate to break it to you but the general public (read your existing and potential client base) more than likely doesn’t share that sense of nostalgia.

As the number of things available to do online increases (from paying bills to dating our neighbors), our expectations of what we should be able to do online will increase right along with it.

Right now, it’s not that your clients will be mad that you don’t have online scheduling because it isn’t widespread enough to be expected. I am betting that in 2-3 years, however, your clients will look at the inconvenience of not being able to book & manage appointments online as comparable to a hotel that doesn’t take reservations through their website.

So the burden is on you. Do you want to be ahead of the trend or at the tail end of the trend? I totally respect both types of people, but I wanted to write this post as a sort of PSA so you’d know that you at least have the decision to make.

And if you decide that you would want to try to take appointments online, TimeTap does have a great free web scheduler for you to check out (just saying):

What do you think? Do you think web scheduling is here to stay or do you think we’ll revert back to using the phones more for booking? How do you predict the movement going? Let us know in the comments below!