6 Feb 2023
Scheduling is a part of everyone’s life. Whole disciplines exist around time management in the personal and professional world.
You don’t have to be a scheduling guru to be all too familiar with the plight of trying to plan around availability on a coworker’s online calendar, or just coordinating when to pick up a friend or kid on your way.
What you may not know as well is where our modern ideas of scheduling came from.
What gave scheduling definition in the first place? How did our current conception of scheduling in business emerge? What are the best methods of appointment scheduling available right now?
In this article, you’ll find the answer to all those questions. But first, a history lesson.
Scheduling meaning has changed quite a lot over the course of its history, mostly in association with evolutions in workdays.
The first appearance of shift work happened in medieval times when watchmen and guards were assigned to day or night shifts. Although rudimentary, this was an early form of scheduling measured by the hours of the day. In earlier times, people were most likely paid by the day.
Lighting and clock technology transformed the way people labored. Now shifts could continue into the darkest nights, and be measured specifically in hours rather than general times of the day.
Industrialization in the 1800s led to another significant change in the workday. Factory workers worked in 12-hour shifts over the course of either day or night for nearly a fortnight, only receiving one day off every two weeks. It wasn’t until labor unions spoke out against these conditions, citing a high risk of accidents due to sheer fatigue, that the hours were reduced.
The modern 9-5 workday was popularized by Henry Ford in 1926 and became standardized by the Fair Labor Standard Acts in 1938 to prevent factory workers from being exploited.
Given that the average workday is around eight hours, usually between 9 am to 5 pm, appointments and meetings tend to fall within that time frame as well. That’s how modern scheduling started. Customer-facing roles generally operate within a given time frame of hours wherein they respond to customer queries.
Here’s a brief overview of the trends that led to more modern forms of scheduling and tracking time, laid out in rough chronological order.
The technology of scheduling, whether it’s for internal or external purposes, has come a long way. Now let’s take a look at how scheduling is defined, and what it means for us.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary,
scheduling meaning is defined as “the job or activity of planning the times at which particular tasks will be done or events will happen”.
In your personal life, that might mean planning out what you’re going to do on a calendar. For example, working out at 9 am, running an errand at the store at 2 pm, and remembering to pick up milk from the grocery store at 6 pm. Instead of simply relying on a to-do list, you’re assigning times to tasks to structure your day.
Professional scheduling works quite similarly to this, except with a more interactive component. Booking appointments with your colleagues or clients means your events need to square up not just on your calendar, but on their calendars too. This need to match availability is one of the biggest challenges for scheduling in the workplace.
The contemporary world is far more flexible than the past. Most work is no longer constrained by geographical location, often operating from a virtual branch or just completely remote. Some people have even chosen to work flexible gigs, expanding the scheduling definition to the point the factory workers from the past wouldn’t have been able to imagine. So why do we persist in scheduling?
Structuring your schedule according to workload is actually backed up by science. Spending as little as 10-12 minutes planning out your workday can save you up to two hours by the end of the day. Human brains function better when taking on tasks in blocks of time, rather than losing the structure of their day to random unpredictable objectives.
This is why the concept of a continuous workday emerged in the first place. It’s far more efficient to maintain your momentum when you’re already working, compared to starting and stopping with no planning.
Of course, this is fairly intuitive. Imagine being interrupted by impromptu meetings every hour of your workday. You’d be irritated and probably end up getting far less work done.
The importance of a structured workday only lends the act of scheduling even more importance. When managed poorly, you can spend hours each day just coordinating meetings. Finding the right method to schedule your meetings can save you hours in productivity.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the types of scheduling that exist, and the scheduling definition for each.
After discussing scheduling of the past, it’s time to focus on current forms of scheduling. Here are the most popular forms of scheduling and how effective they are.
Generally speaking, in-person scheduling is queueing. Your client shows up at your physical location and waits. Here are a few common elements of in-person scheduling:
Queueing is the most classic form of scheduling for clients. At the same time, it’s not well-suited for business-to-business usage or efficient for larger-scale scheduling. Companies with smaller physical locations will likely have trouble with queue lines as well.
Booking an appointment over the phone is an extremely common form of scheduling in businesses such as hospitals, beauty salons, and more.
How does it work? Your customer dials into your company phone number and a customer service representative on your end picks up to help them schedule an appointment. This generally requires the following setup:
Phone booking is good for its immediacy, but also convenience compared to in-person queueing. Getting a customer service rep on the phone is far easier than having to queue up on-site, only to discover you don’t have the right documentation for your appointment.
However, it does have drawbacks. Even with a note-taking system to jot down customer information, you’ll still likely have trouble retaining that information for reference during future appointments. Inputting customer details will have to happen separately from your phone call, creating more work for the customer service agent.
Compared to the other two forms of appointment booking, digital scheduling is far newer on the market. An online scheduling system is a digital (web-based or cloud-based) application where your customers can book appointments directly through a simple interface display of your company’s availability.
On your end, digital scheduling is easy as can be. All you need to do is set up the software then sit back as your automated system takes care of scheduling without the need for interference from your customer service reps, who can turn their attention to more pressing customer service requests.
For your customers, it’s easier. They don’t have to visit your location or pick up the phone to make a call. All they need to do is select their availability on your calendar and they’ll receive reminders about their upcoming appointment.
Businesses waste 4.8 hours each week just on scheduling meetings. If you can save that time, why not?
How do the three scheduling options compare to each other? Check out this chart:
|High Effort (signage, display screens, waiting area, etc.)
|Over the Phone Scheduling
|Medium Effort (phones, personnel, etc.)
|Low Effort (software setup)
As you can see, there’s a lot to be said about the capabilities of online scheduling.
You may be wondering: isn’t it more work for your customers to schedule their own appointments?
Actually, the opposite is true. Self-scheduling frees up more calendar time on your customer’s end too. Here are three reasons self-scheduling is better than booking through the phone or via physical queueing:
These are just a fraction of the reasons why you should be prioritizing self-scheduling overbooking on your client’s behalf. Now let’s take a look at how traditional scheduling methods compare against virtual scheduling as a whole.
Thinking about it from a surface-level standpoint, traditional scheduling methods may seem less of a hassle to wrangle. You may not want to deal with the headache of figuring out yet another new technology.
Ultimately, however, the scheduling meaning you’ve grown accustomed to has shifted. 70% of clients would choose to book online if they had the option, compared to 20% who would rather book by phone.
Still not convinced? Here’s how traditional scheduling really breaks down in comparison to virtual scheduling.
Traditional scheduling includes queueing inline or booking over the phone.
Examples (Customer’s point of view):
What are some best practices for traditional scheduling?
Traditional scheduling can slow down at times, but there are still strategies to keep things moving along well. Try out the scheduling tips above for maximum efficiency.
Digital scheduling meaning online booking systems where customers can schedule their own appointment and most of the scheduling process is automated.
Examples (Customer’s point of view):
What are some best practices for digital scheduling?
Digital scheduling is a great way to keep your customers happy.
Check out the pros and cons of traditional scheduling here:
|Immediate staff response
|Slow to access for customers
|Quick resolution to queries
|Fragmented data collection from customers
|High overhead cost
Here are the pros and cons of digital scheduling:
|24/7 scheduling availability
|Not as immediate staff response
|Low overhead cost
|Accessible at home
|Could be challenging for people who aren’t technically literate
Scheduling doesn’t have to be difficult. You can simplify the booking process by implementing digital appointment scheduling software.
Looking for a great, simple solution with integrated appointment booking and queueing capabilities? Skiplino’s got you covered. Try it out here.
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