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Since when the terms like Google, Amazon, Taobao have become part of our daily conversation? “I googled something.” “I found that on Amazon.”

Online shopping behavior is nothing new. After 2019, people had no choice but to stay home during the epidemic, which led to a significant increase in online consumption. Taking the fashion industry as an example, according to Statistathe global online fashion market was valued at US$ 533 billion in 2018 and is expected to hit US$ 872 billion US in 2023.

The statistic also stated that 82% of travel bookings were made through mobile apps or on the website in 2018. Most Gen Zers never step into any kind of physical travel agency store. There are 148.3 million travel bookings made online every year, and there will be 700 million people booking hotels online by 2023. Online bookings or orders take up a significant proportion of our expenses.

Do more appointments necessarily mean more mistakes? Many shopkeepers can’t agree more. They admit that they miss calls and forget to reply to messages from customers from time to time, which leads to a bad first impression and even missing valuable leads. How can we handle customer appointments efficiently?

What is an online appointment system?

Online appointment system utilizes the Internet. Rather than traditional manual reservation methods, the customers can make appointments at any time, anywhere. The system even allows potential customers to make self-booking and payment, saving many human resources and making your business operations and expansion effortless.

Popular social media get ahead of everyone. They have already released online appointment features, such as Facebook and Instagram. Therefore, businesses can build a free, personalized online appointment system without even having a website! Isn’t it attractive? For those online shops that have already used social media as messaging platforms, the new appointment feature is perfect for gaining more appointments.

Credit: Pexels

If you want to adopt the appointment function for your Facebook page, the only thing you need to do is turning on the appointment time slots display in the interface. This way, customers can view available time slots and send a direct message to book via Facebook Messenger. For detailed steps, check the Facebook tutorial.

For Instagram, as long as you switch to “Professional Account”, then few steps to go:

  1. Tap “Edit Profile”;
  2. Select “Contact Options”;
  3. Click the “Action” button, and you can add a “Book Now” button to the account page via a third-party partner website.

Credit: Instagram

Plataforma de comercio social SleekFlow can now support Instagram! Talk to us to find out more!

Why do you need an online booking system?

It is acceptable for a small-scale business to use traditional methods, including telephone and manual appointments. However, as the number of orders increases along with business size, it is better to process appointments systematically than manually. Following are some benefits of online appointments:

1. Work 24/7

Regardless of the business hours, as long as the online appointment system is in progress, it helps you arrange appointments. People may burn out, but not technology.

2. Cost-saving

As the number of online consumers is skyrocketing, customers can self-help with scheduling with the online appointment system. Meanwhile, the merchants can save costs on staffing and time. This is a win-win method. Why not? Business owners can concentrate resources on another essence.

3. Provide a better customer experience

In the “fast-food culture” atmosphere, people expect immediate response all the time across a range of channels. If they have to wait for a busy appointment hotline, they probably give up. What’s the consequence? You lose business opportunities!

Credit: Tenor

Want to set autoreply so that your customers don’t have to wait? See this blog: The quickest reply you can get. WhatsApp Chatbot Autoreply  

4. Organize appointments

Human errors are inevitable. Especially when the appointment is not recorded systematically, each reservation will be made and recorded in an orderly manner based on unambiguous instructions with the ready-to-use system. An appointment confirmation can be automatically generated with a nice and organized template.

5. Comprehensive data report

Reservation systems can analyze customer behaviors and create relevant reports instead of studying hand by hand. Thus we can gain a better understanding of customer’s preferences at ease, as well as provide services accordingly.

6. Prevent missing appointments

It is worth mentioning that the online reservation system will automatically remind you of the booking on the reserved date or the day before. Some systems will encourage customers to pay deposits in advance to decrease the chance that customers end up not showing up as scheduled. This is practical for businesses like popular restaurants or salons to make sure their slots are all well occupied.

Credit: Pexels

Brands and consumers are both spending more on online shopping platforms, and this shows no sign of slowing. $900 billion more was spent at online retailers last year”

—— WARC, 2021

Sell better as one team on all messaging channels.

Talk to our product specialists to set up your Social CRM and deliver great customer experiences from your sales, support and marketing teams.

What else can a reservation system do?

A more advanced reservation system can automate other processes, such as allowing merchants to set up separate online reservation pages, create one-to-one or group customer services, send automatic messages, and sync bookings with external calendars and so much more. The goal is to make reservations more systematic and organized.

What features should an ideal appointment system have?

Among the various booking systems, how to choose? Here are some excellent features for your reference.

1. Multiple currencies and languages are available

For many businesses, the ultimate business goal is to go global if you want to scale up. The booking system should provide other languages apart from English to accommodate customers from different regions to reach more customers. An ideal booking system can detect the customers’ IP addresses and show localized content and currency.

2. Automatic email or message delivery

It is crucial that the system can automatically send a confirmation email to the customer after the reservation. It seems that it is only a little step. It can surprisingly upgrade the customer experience and hence the image of your brand.

Credit: Pexels

3. Smart calendar function

Flourish bookings may bring disorder. An intelligent system helps organize and integrate multiple appointments into one single calendar so that people in charge can view it. The smarter calendar can detect clashes and allows the other teams to access different levels of information. Internally, teammates can schedule a meeting without texting everyone individually and asking for their availability.  

Compare the top 6 online booking systems (with pricing reference)

You don’t really need to occupy your engineering team to build a booking system for you from scratch. As mentioned, the easiest way for you is simply to start the social media booking function. If you prefer your customer to book on your website instead of staying on your social media pages, you can consider the following!  

 TeamworkCalendar FunctionCustomized notificationSupport for multiple time zonesBehavior trackingEmbeddability to websiteOnline paymentPrice (in USD)
CalendlyFree 14-days trial
Basic: Free Forever
Premium: $8/2 users/month
Pro: $12/6users /month
Enterprise: subject to change
DoodleFree 14-days trial
Pro: $6.95/user/month
Team: $8.95/5 users/month
Entreprise: subject to change
Acuity SchedulingFree 7-days trial
Emerging: $15/user/month
Growing: $25/ users/month
Powerhouse: $50/user/month
youcanbook.meFree 14-days trial
$10/calendar/month
10to8 Online BookingSmall Business: free for 2 users
Basic: $9.6 / 2 users / month
Grow: $20/ 3 users / month
Bigger Business: $ 40 /6users / month
Enterprise: subject to change
ScheduleOnceFree 14-days trial
Starter: free for 25 users
Growth: $10/ users/month

What about the appointments via direct message on your social platforms?

Sometimes, your customers prefer to book via conversation, especially for the VIPs. Very often they go for their dedicated customer success managers or salespersons. It also happens for those customers who are accustomed to traditional ways of booking. Using social messaging is a baby step for them. To make sure you would not disappoint them, you need a platform to organize and centralize all the booking message requests.

You can opt for those all-in-one messaging platforms like SleekFlow. It is a one-stop platform gathering customer inquiries, and membership information, helping you to coordinate all the inquiries and create complete profiles for customers. In this way, you can better understand the preferences of your customers and follow up on their reservations to deliver a seamless experience.

“Almost 100% of our customers contact us via WhatsApp, sometimes they also contact us on Instagram, Facebook. Through SleekFlow, we can handle conversations, bookings, and inquiries smoothly.” – Cheuk Ying, founder of Weirdo Beauty

See the success story of Weirdo Beauty x SleekFlow 

Integrating your social messaging channels with an online booking system

Messaging requests could be all over the place when you have more than one social channel. Whatever social media customers use to approach you, you should arrange conservations well on one platform while your team can log in simultaneously and handle all requests at ease. Here are examples of integrating social with your online booking system.

1. Automated appointment confirmation

After completing a reservation on the system, the customer will immediately receive a confirmation WhatsApp message containing the time and date of the reservation. It does not just apply to WhatsApp. Through the SleekFlow platform, WeChat, Line, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, etc. can adopt this automation rule.  

2. Automated advance booking reminder

Before the reservation date, you can set a date to auto-send a kind reminder message, for example, the night before the booking.  Your customers might forget an appointment they made 2 weeks ago.

3. Customer booking history

The SleekFlow platform interface provides a coherent view of the customer’s conversations, purchase and reservation records, which facilitate a general understanding of the customer. For example, you can analyze that customers used to visit the website on Saturday/Sunday afternoons while some can come in on Mondays to Fridays. The offers can hence be tailor-made.

Don’t know where to start? WhatsApp message our experts now!

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