Do you ever get home from work, change into your tracksuit pants, sit down ready to watch your favourite show on TV and then, just at that perfect moment, you remember. “I needed to book in the car for a service”; “I needed to book an appointment with the physio”; “I really need to book in a haircut”.
I’ll save you the brain power – of course you do. Everyone does. Just when you think you’ve got a moment to relax, a moment to just sit there and not think, you remember that there was that one thing you needed to do, that one thing you missed from your list of things you needed to get done. This is where the value of online booking systems comes into play.
Online booking systems are growing rapidly, both in terms of application and functionality. We have our smartphones on us 24/7 and we’re so easily connected to social networks and websites. The ease of use of booking apps adds significantly to the overall streamlining of the customer experience. And that’s what customer experience is all about, removing obstacles from the path and making it as simple as possible for consumers to go from interested parties to paying customers. The less friction in this process, the more likely you are to increase your number of customers. In many cases, it really is that simple.
And while booking apps are rising in popularity, not everyone has one in play just yet. It makes sense to consider how to utilise booking apps for your business to get ahead of your competition and move with the rising global trend of increased connectivity and smartphone use. From your own experience, how much easier it makes it to be able to make an appointment then and there. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and think of how you could improve your service experience with a booking app.
Here are four reasons why booking apps are fast becoming a must-have for local businesses
As noted above, the added utility of a booking app can change the way your business is perceived and greatly improve the customer process. Many businesses still like to talk to clients over the phone and arrange the details person-to-person, but even if you provide the functionality of a booking app and follow up any bookings with a clarifying phone call, you’re still giving customers the option and the ability to take the next step then and there.
There are a number of everyday incidents and events that will require people to book in for assistance or service. In the connected era, people want responsiveness and they want it right here, right now. The more we’re able to solve issues quickly, the more our expectations increase for everything else – who needs a memory when you have an internet connected smartphone in your pocket?
Being able to quickly and easily book in, when the issue is front of mind, is the key reason that all businesses should be considering a booking app. It removes friction and streamlines the customer process. It is increasingly a business essential and is in line with the rising expectations of today’s consumers.
Another key element of booking apps is the provision of further information on your products and services, including pricing detail. These days, people are used to being able to get full quotes online – you can go through the full purchase process on Amazon and get a listing of the exact costs of your order before clicking purchase. Many booking apps offer the same functionality, giving customers the freedom to be able to investigate pricing and time allocation options before making that final commitment. In doing this, you’re adding further context and information to their experience, enabling them to make a more informed choice about your business and whether they want to do business with you.
One of the greatest, and most underrated, aspects of booking apps is data, and the ability to use consumer data submitted via your app in your marketing and targeting efforts. Any information your clients enter into your app can be filed, collated, and utilised in re-targeting and re-marketing efforts – it’s effectively a data gathering tool enabling you to focus your advertising budget on the people most likely to convert: those who’ve already shown some interest in your products and services.
If someone uses your app, enters all their details and then doesn’t move through to the next stage and make a booking, you can still track that data and use it in your advertising efforts. And for those that have booked in, you can schedule a reminder message to be sent to them at the time they’ll most likely need to visit you again. These additional marketing efforts can have massive payoffs – if your hairdresser sent you a message six weeks after your last visit, for example, it’d be a good prompt for you to book in again.
Most booking apps these days also have social media log-ins and integration with social media platforms. This is a great opportunity – you can create optional, auto-generated social media messages for your clients to send at the end of the booking process like:
“I just booked my car in for its 30,000km service with Tom’s Car Repairs”
Give them the option to tweet or post it to Facebook, and there you are, free advertising. Social media is, in essence, a word-of-mouth engine – it’s the greatest word-of-mouth marketing tool we’ve ever had. The more you can get people talking about and recommending your products and services, the more that message will permeate and spread throughout their extended networks. And while not everyone will want to send out messages like this, happy customers will see it as an opportunity to help you out and share your message. Even if only a few take up the option, that’s still a great endorsement, and a great way to prompt other potential customers and get them looking your way.
When you consider the options available, adding a booking app to your customer process makes a lot of sense. We do everything via our smartphones these days, we’re used to being connected to everyone and being able to do more and more things in taps and swipes on the screen. Think of all the things you do with your smartphone and how much easier it would be if you could cross a few more things off your “to-do” list every day after you’ve sat down on your couch. Booking apps just make sense – have you considered how a booking app might help your business?