If you were booking an appointment over the phone and were forced to wait on hold, would you hang up and go somewhere else? According to recent GetApp research, your customers would.
In a survey of over 200 North American consumers who have booked a service appointment in the past year, respondents pointed to the frustrations of booking by phone when scheduling appointments. (See our survey methodology at the end of this piece.)
Why is this a problem? Because a third of respondents are still booking their doctor, dentist, and beauty appointments by phone.
The days of calling to book an appointment by phone are numbered. The only way to adapt is to adopt an online booking option, or risk losing the 70% of customers who prefer to book online.
In this report, we'll go through the necessity of providing online scheduling options for your customers and clients, especially in the medical field.
59% of respondents are frustrated with waiting on hold and the inconvenient office hours related to scheduling appointments by phone.
94% of respondents would be more likely to choose a new service provider if that provider offered online booking options.
Respondents would prefer to schedule medical appointments online more than any other type of service.
Given the ubiquity of online booking options for services such as hotels, airlines, and taxis (Uber, anyone?), consumers are becoming more accustomed to the conveniences of booking at their own leisure. As our research shows, consumers want this option to extend to other services too.
Nearly 70% of respondents say that they’d choose to book online if a variety of booking options were available, compared to only 22% who would choose to book by phone.
Yet, 33% of respondents are still booking appointments by phone. Naturally, this is where their biggest pain points arise. As Americans spent more than 1.6 trillion hours on our mobile phones in 2020, it’s no surprise that consumers are frustrated with traditional booking methods that lack the autonomy and immediacy of online booking options.
When asked about the biggest pain points related to scheduling appointments, 59% of respondents pointed directly to the inconveniences of booking by phone.
Being put on hold is a huge time waster for 42% of respondents looking to schedule appointments efficiently, while 17% are frustrated with having to wait until a service provider opens its doors to schedule appointments.
These issues put consumers at the will of their service provider’s operating hours and limit autonomy in the booking process.
Being able to choose a convenient time slot is a big pain point for 20% of respondents, and calling a service provider to schedule an appointment leaves customers with a limited number of days or few times slots to choose from.
Although these pain points aren’t exclusive to scheduling appointments by phone, online booking options generally provide a variety of time slots where consumers can pick and choose which day and time suits them best.
Providing online booking options for beauty, maintenance, and especially medical appointment scheduling would alleviate some of the frustration associated with scheduling service appointments.
The medical field may have been slower than other industries to adopt online appointment scheduling, but it’s the industry where people want that option most.
According to our research, survey respondents would most like to schedule medical appointments online, followed closely by beauty appointments, leisure activities, and maintenance services.
But it’s not only about having an online booking option. What patients really need are real-time booking options. According to Gartner, many online booking systems for medical scheduling are more like online appointment requests, which must then be validated manually on the backend and confirmed before being scheduled (full research available to clients).
The real competitive advantage is having a system that schedules appointments automatically, without requiring any human intervention. As Gartner notes, adopting self-scheduling options in the medical field now is a market differentiator which will put you ahead of the game.
Aside from the process of actually scheduling an appointment, online booking offers additional benefits that streamline the scheduling process for customers while eliminating manual work for service providers. Cancellations and rescheduling appointments can also take place in the online sphere, especially with online schedule software.
Here’s the bottom line: If your business involves scheduling appointments in any capacity, you should be using appointment scheduling software to offer online booking options, streamline scheduling processes, and eliminate some of the manual tasks associated with scheduling service appointments.
If any of these benefits strike your fancy, you can start researching software options by creating a product scorecard to objectively evaluate online scheduling systems and narrow down the features and pricing requirements according to your business needs.
Typical appointment scheduling software includes:
Automated scheduling: Let clients book their own appointments online and see real-time availability.
Automated reminders: Set up automated reminders by SMS or email to update clients about upcoming appointments or changes to the schedule.
Online payment portal: Integrate a payment portal into your website via PayPal, credit card, or other payment options.
Calendar integration: Sync appointments with calendars in Gmail, Outlook, or iCal.
Compliance: For medical practices, many solutions are HIPAA compliant to protect patient or customer data.
Check out our catalog of appointment scheduling software to find some of the most popular solutions for small businesses.
To gather the data presented in this report, we surveyed 412 people in the U.S in March 2021. We used screening questions to narrow the respondents down to 217 with relevant experience and knowledge.
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