Category Archives: Tips and answers

Opening hours–Can your booking system do this?

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(source: 9gag.com, Boss opening hours, Opening hours in Argentina, Opening hours – casual)

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Using Google Calendar as Booking System through Appointment Slots

Google has recently introduced a new feature in their favorite Google Calendar app. Originally, you could only use Google Calendar as your personal journal of what is coming. Google than added features allowing you to share calendars, so you could, for example, let your family or colleagues know what are your plans.

Now Google introduced new (so far experimental feature) I stumbled upon just the other day. It is called Appointment slots and at the first look it seems like a simple booking system.

How to create an appointment slot

In Google Calendar, you have now two options when creating new appointment: event and appointment slots.

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By selecting appointment slots, you are directed to further options. Here you can set how long the appointment will be, whether it is one session or session consisting of many parts, bookable separately.

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You can also set Repeat for repeating bookings, like consultation hours or office hours, perhaps.

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How can people book your appointment?

You are given an (incredibly long) link that leads to your booking page. Unfortunately, only people who are using Google Calendar can book your appointment slots. Others will be shown a log-in/sign-up screen.

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Appointment slots are really just a basic feature, and while useful for infrequent users, it is far, far from ready for business use. The largest limitation being the dependency on users being signed in Google Calendar.


Secure payments through booking system

Since my credit card got falsely charged by a vendor in Texas last week, I am much more cautious as to where do I share my credit card number. And this is a common sense – we don’t want to say the number of our credit card out loud over the phone, or send in some e-mail.

That is yet another reason for businesses to employ an online booking system that allows for secure online payments. The customers are happy because they know that the payment will be as secure as the web allows. And you will be happy, because you don’t need to worry about the details of the payment, you just need to know it arrived.


Not fluent in English? Online appointment system will save your business

Many businesses around the world are managed by people who do not yet speak the language of the country they live in. That is not to say that they can’t do their job well. They usually do a great job! But they can have trouble receiving calls and scheduling appointments over the phone.

A good scheduling software, preferably an online scheduling software, will help you tremendously. Your customers will easily go online to see when they can come to you, and they can simply book the time they prefer. You don’t need to speak to them over the phone, and they appreciate the quick overview and multiple choice of time.

For you, this means less time on the phone, more time with the customer and happier customers.


Synchronizing customers’ appointments with your Outlook

Welcome, Microsoft Outlook users. This little article is just for you. You are used to have all your appointments in one place, and are distressed by the prospect of having to check two or more apps for your daily schedule. But don’t worry. Some of the best on-line scheduling systems keep that in mind and allow you to synchronize the appointments customers input on-line with your personal Outlook Calendar.

  • Sester – on-line appointment scheduling allows synchronization with Outlook and iCal
  • TimeTrade – seems they are offering the same, have not tried yet

The synchronization with Microsoft Outlook calendar can be done through MS Exchange, or iCalendar open standard. Note that the price of Outlook is (obviously) not included in the price of the online booking system. Some systems will force you to download their desktop software (or software from other company) to watch for new appointments and keep you up to date. New Outlook (2010) has options to subscribe to on-line calendars, too. Last but not least, you can simplify things through Google Calendar.


On-line payments inside your appointment software

Some businesses, such as hair dressers, need only a simple tool to keep track of upcoming appointments, and take care of payments once the customer is in their hands, so to speak.

Others, however, need to make sure that the appointment is valid, that it is meant seriously, that the customer is committing. If someone books a room in your hotel and never arrives, you lose money. That is why you need a tool that combines booking system on-line with payments on-line.

Fortunately, there are ways to combine these two. Or, rather, you can get an on-line appointment software that offers on-line payments as a feature. You want to look for on-line reservation solution with integrated on-line payments: PayPal, Credit cards etc.

Make sure that you choose a system that supports all the major payment methods your customers prefers.  Don’t rely just on one way of payment, especially if your customers are not used to it. Offer the type of payment you know your customers are comfortable using. You will save them, and yourself, a lot of hassle, and your calendar will fill with appointments, while your account will fill with money at the same time.


Examples of using modern online appointment scheduling system

In our mind, booking is generally connected with hotels or restaurants. Reservation and appointment systems, however, have much wider application than that. Basicaly any business that deals with clients, meetings, sessions or equipment might benefit greatly from implementing a modern on-line scheduling system.

As obvious from this comprehensive list, some booking systems really are tailored for diverse needs. Here are some examples:

  • Beauty salon, Hair dresser or Nail salon: the advantage of an on-line booking tool is obvious. The staff can spend less time on the phone with clients and more time actually attending clients. Thanks to on-line reservations and automagical synchronizing, the timetable is always up-to-date. What’s better, the software is so easy-to-use it doesn’t even feel like software, so even older ladies can set appointment with their hairdresser on-line.
  • Car rental, Bike rental – another example altogether are businesses that rent various equipment. Again, the same car cannot be booked by different parties at the same time, and the scheduling system will see to it. Even better, the customer can pay for their rental on-line in advance, which is a great help for the business. Some systems allow payments through various means without any extra charge or implementation costs. Few years ago, only large businesses like Amazon could afford easy on-line payments, now a small company can do it, too.
  • Hotels, Restaurants– it is easy to see the advantage of on-line booking for hotels. Frankly, we can hardly think of any other way to book a hotel. But many restaurants still rely on calls from customers or other means, wasting time on phone call or other resources. Time that could be spent making customers who already are there to feel welcome and satisfied.