by Rakesh Sharma
Published on 2 September 2013
Scheduling an appointment seems like a relatively simple task. Done right, however, it can be a potent tool to increase your bottom line and drive efficiencies across internal processes. This week, we will review one such appointment scheduling software. In this Acuity Scheduling review, we will look at its interface, features, and see how it can be of use to you.
According to Gavin Zuchlinski, founder of Acuity Scheduling, a massage therapist and design firm provided the inspiration for Acuity. "We had several clients asking for a way to let their clients book appointments online," he says. "So, we built something that they'd actually love, and that turned into what Acuity Scheduling is today."
In simple terms, Acuity reinvents scheduling. With its choice of appointment types, it is a multi-use scheduling solution. Thus, you can use Acuity Scheduling to make personal as well as professional appointments. The solution's target audience consists of small to medium-sized service-based businesses. "That's a little bit of a mouthful, but we are building it to work with folks like life coaches, massage therapists, universities, and anyone else where their day-to-day business involves scheduling appointments," says Zuchlinski. This means that pretty much anyone who deals with a high volume of appointments can use Acuity.
Zuchlinski says his solution differs from other, similar solutions (such as the ones offered by Google) because of its focus on simplicity, ease-of-use and services.
"With businesses accepting bookings, they are looking for things like keeping their customer information private and not sharing their full schedule or only the times that are available," explains Zuchlinski. This results in savings, not only in terms of time but, also, in terms of processes.
An example of this is the fact that the number of intake forms required can be drastically reduced using this process. Then, there are other benefits such as automated reminders as well as appointment scheduler and customizable appointment times that can be embedded into websites and branded just for business. Finally, the solution also simplifies the scheduling process through robust time zone support that enables you to solicit clients from all over the world.
Zuchlinski's assertion about Acuity Scheduling's simplicity is true. Creating an online appointment with Acuity Scheduling is easy and consists of multiple steps. At the start of the process, you need to create an appointment type. There are no pre-configured appointment types within the solution. Instead, you can configure your own appointment type based on the nature of your business or interaction. Subsequently, you need to associate a price with each appointment.
For example, say you are a dentist with multiple business services such as filing or root canal treatment. Each service is offered at a different cost. Associating a price with each of these activities will help you categorize the appointment type and, also, inform customers about your rates. The scheduling process works both ways. The client scheduling page is where your clients book appointments. Thus, you can embed the app on your website. You can also associate appointments with custom forms. These forms can be used to collect information from clients when they book appointments. For example, using the same scenario outlined above, you can create custom forms to know more about a client's past dental history. Everything clients fill out is saved in their client history so you can easily see past forms completed and visits.
The Calendar page is the main page to view and manage your appointments. You can set availability, customize scheduler appearance, and set up payment options using the service. You can also create basic online stores to offer products and services through the service.
Frankly, I did not know that scheduling an appointment was such an important business function. I really liked the fact that the solution converts this relatively trivial task into an important activity that can significantly affect your bottom line. I also liked that the workflow is simple and easy-to-use. As a result, you do not need much information or training to get started with the solution.
However, the workflow's simplicity is balanced by an interface that, at times, can seem cluttered with far too many functions and tasks. It might be an idea for the solution's developers to simplify the interface further and remove associated add-ons.
Depending on the number of features and locations or staff, Acuity Scheduling has three pricing tiers: free, premium, and professional. For example, you can opt for the premium pricing tier if you plan to scale your business because it offers unlimited locations and staff. Similarly, their free version is ideal for startups or small businesses that are just starting out.
Try the solution, if only to learn more about the complexities of appointment scheduling.