6 Feb 2023
Scheduling is a lot of work. Whether you’re an administrative assistant or CEO, working in retail or banking, everyone spends time booking meetings.
If you’re reading this article, you’re probably sick of the sluggishness of regular scheduling. There are better ways to book appointments and schedule meetings. For example, a scheduling app.
Easier said than done, of course. With the thousands of options for scheduling apps, how can you hope to pick the right appointment booking app for your company?
You need expert tips on how to judge different scheduling apps and, most importantly, to pick the best scheduling app. Thankfully, this article has you covered with several key evaluation criteria and options for a retail business.
You can’t judge an online booking app by its cover. Reading a few online reviews or glancing through the website might seem like the path of least resistance, but it can come back to bite you in the long term when you don’t do sufficient homework on your appointment booking app.
Don’t count on the best scheduling app for your needs to be the cheapest (or the most expensive). Evaluate which of the below criteria matter most to you and make your decision accordingly.
Price isn’t everything. That being said, you can’t outpace your budget when considering a scheduler app.
Above all, it’s about knowing what is a necessity and what is a luxury for your business. Ask yourself these questions:
With pricing as a consideration, it’s best to make a list of the options you can afford and then go from there. It shouldn’t be the final deciding factor, since a great scheduling app is more of an investment than an expenditure, but knowing what you’re willing to spend can definitely help narrow down your options.
With so many scheduling apps in the market, finding one that fits your budget and needs shouldn’t be a challenge.
Let’s be real. One of the most important aspects of picking a great scheduling app is your ease of use.
Have you ever used a website or an app that was so poorly made that you soon abandoned it and never went back? That’s how your customers and employees will feel if you pick a difficult-to-use scheduling app.
Never settle for a scheduling app with poor design or interface. Although this may seem like a surface-level complaint, using an appointment app you’re not comfortable with on a day-to-day basis will reduce productivity, defeating the point of implementing an appointment application in the first place.
What elements make an appointment scheduling app easy to use?
This list is just a start. Your company may have specific requirements for an easy-to-use appointment scheduling app. Brainstorm for a while with your employees to find out what they want to see in a tool like this.
Speaking of integration, you need any appointment booking app you pick to integrate with the pre-existing calendars of your clients and employees. Managing appointments is impossible without managing the schedules of everyone involved.
Did you know that 70% of adults rely on digital calendars to keep them organized? At that rate, you can’t craft a great user experience without accounting for the fact that people will want to add your appointments to their calendars.
When you let them tap through your scheduling app to add your meeting to their calendar, they are far more likely to actually show up than if you force them to add it manually. Every extra minute they spend manually typing the details into their online calendar is another moment of customer experience friction.
You need to account for not only the tools your employees are using, but also what most people in the market are using. No worries if you aren’t well-versed on which calendars are most common. You can find a quick cheat sheet below.
|Scheduling Tool||Prevalence (User #)|
|Google Calendar||500 million|
|Outlook Calendar||400 million|
|Phone-Based Calendars (Apple, Android, etc.)||100 million+|
Built-in integration for the above scheduling calendars should come standard with any online scheduling app worth its salt.
And if they don’t use online calendars at all? Maybe you want to pick a scheduling app that lets you text or email reminders straight to people’s phones. Schedule management that cuts to the chase is how you can schedule.
Whatever your industry happens to be, you have to schedule client meetings, whether they’re in the form of demos, retail pick-ups, or appointments.
Client-facing features are at the core of customer experience. Features for an ideal scheduler app may include:
Enabling customers to book their own appointments puts the power in their hands, giving them more freedom in how they interface with your business. When your clients can book meetings from the comfort of their homes, they save the time and effort they would’ve spent on scheduling a meeting manually.
The easier it is to schedule an appointment, the more your customers will actually go through and book one. 54% of appointments made during working hours happen when your clients are on the go. Letting them check an item off their list within a few taps makes their life easier, and they’ll appreciate your customer service for that alone.
Calling or emailing for appointments is tedious, and should be relegated to tasks of the past given the current state of appointment application technology. Your calendar scheduling app needs to deliver on the promises of self-scheduled appointments for clients, or it won’t make the cut.
Nobody likes to wait anymore. The speed of the internet has delivered information, packages, and more straight into our laps. Why make prospective customers wait to seal the deal?
Traditional payment means on-site payment. Clients book an appointment to visit your location, finish the appointment, then pay as they leave. There are a few problems with that setup.
Of course, not every company needs payment processing functionality in their appointment scheduler app. Non-customer facing companies will probably do fine with a more traditional kind of scheduling portal. If you’re charging for goods or services in a more direct fashion, however, online payment processing through a scheduler web app can be a lifesaver.
Keeping tabs on customers isn’t easy. When your business is about servicing clients, however, you need more than just old-fashioned paper documents to safeguard client information.
Enter the customer relationship management (CRM) calendar scheduling app. Unlike traditional handwritten notes, CRMs:
Customer relationship management can be the key to unlocking your customer service potential. If customer service matters to your business, stay on the lookout for an online booking app with CRM functionality.
Everyone’s been there. You’re excited to finally get your hands on the newest phone/software/product. Except…something isn’t working. You need help, and you don’t know where to find it.
Even for the most tech-savvy, figuring out how to work a new online scheduling app can be confusing. Great customer support backs you up when you’re in the trenches trying to familiarize yourself with a new platform.
You want a product that’s got a passionate team supporting the user experience. Great customer support will assist you in:
Great customer support is at once responsive and proactive, helping you with problems when they arise and checking in to ensure you still feel supported throughout your user experience. Look for scheduling apps with great customer support. It’ll save you tons of trouble figuring out functionality and user experience down the line.
Now that you’ve gone through the key criteria for the best scheduling app, it’s time to take a look at what appointment book apps are out there. Here are the three best scheduling apps for retail businesses, each with a breakdown explaining exactly what they do and how good they are at it.
Skiplino is a smart queue management system and appointment scheduling book app enabling businesses to manage customers quickly through an intelligent, cloud-based system. Its greatest claim to fame is a robust analytical framework, allowing you to select for location, service, agent performance, and time frame. The Skiplino Retail Plan allows you to check-in and check-out customers by scanning their QR code and monitor activity status inside your stores. Customers can book their appointments from the available time slots to visit your stores using the Skiplino Mobile app and receive their QR codes on their personal mobile device.
Customer booking is quick and accessible through any device, automating ticketing to anyone who is queued or has scheduled an upcoming appointment.
Also, your customers can enable automated alerts through phone and email reminding them when and where they need to show up through an online scheduling app.
Skiplino is very mobile-friendly, boasting a well-designed app with a colorful, intuitive interface that’s vivid and straightforward without being reductive.
How does Skiplino match up within specific criteria for scheduling apps?
Compared to its competitors, Skiplino is very well-rounded. It’s an appointment scheduler app that provides the functionality of employee management software while functioning as a capable appointment scheduling app for customers.
Skiplino is highly accessible and offers incredible reporting and analytics tools, meaning it’s well-suited both for on-site service and virtual branch location appointments.
As the most versatile scheduling app of the bunch, Skiplino can adapt to suit the goals of many businesses in different industries – from retail to government to eateries.
Employee scheduling at the tap of your fingers is what Humanity promises. Shift-based employees can trade shifts and request days off in real-time, and data-driven, skill-based scheduling makes sure the right employee is present for each shift.
Managers maintain a direct line of communication to employees through in-platform updates. They can view employees/shifts at a glance, making adjustments to the work schedule through a few simple clicks.
Humanity is available on any device, since it’s available through app and website formats. Simply log in through your device and you’ll be able to access your work schedule on-the-go.
So, how does Humanity do according to the key criteria for a scheduling app?
Humanity is a good employee shift schedule app, but its functionalities are limited in the customer service area. While it can do much for streamlining employee to manager communications and vice versa, it may not be the right tool for companies seeking to actively improve their customer experience.
Acuity is a customized scheduling page that lets customers view real-time availability and self-schedule their own appointments. On the customer side, it’s laid out with a simplistic calendar display where they can book specific services online, straight through a website portal. Acuity Scheduling is part of Squarespace, the website building service, which likely accounts for its emphasis on browser-based experiences.
Acuity says they’re a one-stop-shop for managers to manage locations and employees. Through a single interface, you can control your availability, organize your schedule, provide simple rescheduling/cancellation, and keep track of clients through client information portals.
You can view analytics on appointments through a reports section, displayed in a clear visualization for you to review. Although it’s nice to see, the analytics are relatively basic, only covering basic appointment information like cancellations, no-shows, and appearance rates.
Let’s see how well Acuity performs on the criteria scale for a web scheduling app.
Unlike Humanity, Acuity is a scheduling app designed for client-facing responsibilities. It’s simplified and far more versatile as an integration into websites (since it’s part of Squarespace’s platform), but becomes lackluster when it comes to more sophisticated customer relationship management features.
Want to see how the best scheduling apps compare to each other? Check out this table that will help you compare them across the categories of criteria discussed earlier.
|Pricing||Ease of Use||Schedule/Calendar Management||Client-Facing Features||Payment Processing||CRM Features||Customer Support|
|Humanity||$3 user/month ($80/month minimum)||Easy||✓||X||X||X||✓|
|Acuity||$14/month – $45/month||Easy||✓||✓||✓||X||X|
|Skiplino||$79/month – $149/month||Easy||✓||✓||✓ * * Depends on the software chosen.||✓||✓|
At the end of the day, picking the best scheduling app for your needs is a highly personalized experience. Different businesses require different functionalities, and your needs for an appointment app will likely vary based on anything from your company size to your design sensibilities.
Take the key criteria listed above into account when you’re picking out an online booking app and do your research. As with everything in life, it’s better safe than sorry when it comes to picking out a scheduling app. The right tool has the potential to help you skyrocket your booking and scheduling efficiency.
Do you want to get started booking with one of the most intelligent appointment book apps on the market? Skiplino’s got you covered. Start your 7-day free trial here.
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