Appointment setting, scheduling & management are an important activity for any business that relies on meeting with clients. For Doctors, Personal Trainers, Consultants, Photographers or even businesses running group workshops this is a critical activity to get right, to ensure the management of your diary is simple, and the process is seamless for your clients.
The integration of an online booking system into your website allows you to benefit from the ability to have a centralised electronic system to manage your client memberships, marketing activity, payment handling & time management activities making this an almost completely automated service. While your clients benefit from the ease of making appointments when they want, finding a time slot that suits them, being able to finalise payment & manage their membership/appointments all via your website - what a great customer experience!
When we were tasked with finding an appointment setting service, the challenge was to find a complete service that offered integration with both an existing website that was being utilised, while being able to transition to a new Squarespace site that was under construction. It was important for our client to have the ability to get this up and running quickly but to also have the ability to manage the database of customers and in the future have the ability for the service to take payments from customers at the time of booking.
Our Bookeo Review
Why We Chose Bookeo
Bookeo allowed us to start out simply, using the Free plan we have been able to set up the online booking system for our client (Personal Training Studio). This has provided them with a flexible system that allows them to manage staff availability (when they are available to clients), while also allowing them the option of adding group workout sessions at specified times throughout the week.
What we particularly liked about the service was the completely integrated confirmation system, where once a customer has confirmed a booking they receive a fully branded confirmation email of their booking. Bookeo can also be automatically set to send a 'Thank-You' email at a specified time after the service has been provided - a nice little touch.
While it is unavailable under the Free plan, our client was keen to have a system in place that could take payment upon booking so this is not something that needs to be handled at the time of the appointment. Bookeo's affordable paid plans all offer the option of taking payment, and this can be linked with your choice of payment gateway -whether it is through a merchant service you already use or you select to use something like Paypal it is up to you!
Bookeo's ability to integrate with a Google Calendar was also particularly appealing, as each team member can have the schedule 2-way sync'ed with their mobile devices. This way the mess of manually adding appointments to calendars is removed and team members are fully aware of where they need to be and when.
Bookeo for Marketing
Bringing in new customers and retaining existing customers can be a challenge for businesses, especially if the marketing budget isn't overly generous. With the need for little expense, Bookeo provides a range of marketing tools that once set up provide a method of increasing your revenue.
Gift Vouchers & Promotions
With the Bookeo system integrated you have the option to offer Gift Vouchers which your customers can purchase for others - this is a great tool to provide you as the business owner with potential extra revenue & to obtain new customers.
Promotions offers you the ability to attract more bookings by offering limited time discounts on specified services to attract new & existing customers. This could work particularly well for new services you are trying to get off the ground, or for days of the week/year that tend to be a little slower.
You may also choose to offer Pre-Paid packages, this option can work like a 'loyalty card' system. So by offering pre-paid packages you could provide this at a discount if they commit to 5 bookings for example. This is a great tool to reward loyalty as well as increase cash-flow.
Using the database of customers that use your booking service, Bookeo allows you to run email campaigns to keep in touch with your existing customers and communicate new services and promotions that may be available. This is a powerful tool that when used correctly can be of benefit to both your customers and your business. Of course Bookeo also provides the ability to integrate with MailChimp - a third party email campaign service. So if you prefer you can always manage your email campaigns this way as well.
Other third party services that Bookeo integrates with include Groupon and Living Social which allows you to provide tailored coupons and offers to attract new customers and increase revenue.
Memberships & Customer Area
As an option you can provide you customers the ability to log into a dedicated customer area. This is a private area where you client can manage any existing bookings and create new ones, purchase pre-paid packages, manage their membership or update their contact details. This self-service option is a fantastic customer service tool and helps lighten your admin workload.
Bookeo provides the ability for you to offer Memberships to your clients, this tool helps build long lasting and loyal relationships as your customers are more likely to feel rewarded and appreciated for their loyalty. The purpose of the Membership option is to offer special prices for members and provide member only services, for example group sessions that are provided only to members.
The built in power and customisability of Bookeo also lead onto some of it's (limited) downsides. The main concerns we had were around it's clunky set up process. This is in relation to the set up of the services that you wish to offer, it is a little easy to get lost in the user interface when setting this up. There was a number of times where we thought we were setting up a Group session, however we were adding it as a general service. Once you have your head around it, it is fine - the learning curve could be a little easier.
The other concern we had was the booking process itself from the customer point of view. Now I need to preface this by saying that it scales incredibly well depending on the type of device you are using, and overall the booking process is very simple. However it does seem to have more 'steps' than may be necessary.
Overall this is an incredibly powerful service that offers a free option for small businesses just getting into the online booking space or for you to use as a trial period. There is always the option of upgrading to a paid plan for greater functionality.
This was one of the most fully featured services I was able to find - at a reasonable price point. Another bonus for us is that it is an Australian company, however can be used world wide.
We also liked the fact that the booking service doesn't even require you to have a website if you don't want. Bookeo can provide you with a link that you can put on Facebook or business cards that takes your clients directly to your booking service. However (and we would recommend this) if you have your own business website, integration with that is simple and works very well!
Once we got our head around the set up side of things, using the management side of the software is straightforward with all the functionality you could want from a service like this.
All in all, if you are looking for an appointment setting and management solution we would encourage you give Bookeo a try. We would love to hear your feedback and what you think - leave us a message in the comments below!