If you have a small business that requires you to set appointments with customers or hold frequent internal meetings, Microsoft Bookings within Office 365 can make scheduling appointments a breeze! Let’s start with a hypothetical:

You: Let’s get together Thursday and hammer out the details.
Your Customer: I’m booked solid Thursday. How about Friday?
You: I’m off Friday – three-day weekend. How about next Tuesday?
Your Customer: Drat, I have a previous engagement for Tuesday.
You: Check your email – I just sent you a link to my calendar. Book the date/time that works for you and I’ll send you a confirmation and reminder email.
Your Customer: Outstanding! It’s a pleasure doing business with you

Sound familiar? Ask your staff, and most will probably admit they are busy and over-tasked.

Arranging a meetup to find a date and time that works for all involved can become a real science fair project.

Microsoft Bookings Stress Ball
If this is how scheduling meetings makes you feel, you might want to check out Microsoft Bookings. Photo: bottled_void via Visual hunt / CC BY

Going back and forth, trying to nail down a date for an important meeting, many times ending at a discouraging stalemate.

The fact is, without a scheduling or appointment tool, your business will experience lost productivity and efficiency.

This means having to regularly reschedule meetings when date/time conflicts arise — or when an appointment is forgotten or missed. The domino effect kicks in and results in an efficiency nightmare.

But imagine if you had a system in place that could book appointments for your entire staff in one centrally located calendar.

With Microsoft Bookings, you can make scheduling appointments as easy as visiting a website.

 

The platform shows appointments on staff calendars as soon as they are made, and they can then be updated across the board. Not only will everyone be able to plan accordingly — they will be able to plan in advance!

A comprehensive appointment-scheduling solution

Wouldn’t you jump at the ability to minimize no-shows with automated reminders for your customers and staff? Yes, yes you would! Once you get Microsoft Bookings set up and in place, you can avoid conflicts by sending appointment confirmations and notifications to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Microsoft Bookings also allows you to set up a reminder email, which is sent based on how much notice you want to give before the appointment. Your customers can then add appointments to their personal calendars with just a few clicks.

So everyone knows where they need to be and when. No-shows alleviated!

Are you organizing a special event? Create separate booking pages on the fly as needed. One for your everyday schedule and another for each special event or promotion. You can then easily add new staff members as demand and your business grow. It’s all the tools you need to run a tight ship!

No more scheduling conflicts and hassles

With Microsoft Bookings, your business gets a unique web page for your customers to use to schedule appointments. This makes doing business with you effortless, even when you’re not available to answer the phone or in front of a computer to respond to an email. All customers have to do is first select the service they want and, based on the availability you provide, choose a day and time when you or your staff are available. Then they enter their contact information and book the appointment.

It’s that easy.

 

Right after your customer schedules the appointment, they are sent an email confirmation with an option to add the appointment to their calendar. Outlook and Google calendar integration is available and helps contacts tie everything together.

For those customers who prefer to speak with you when making appointments, you can enter information manually and all confirmations and reminders will be sent as usual. That’s called personalized customer service.

Microsoft Bookings works across platforms and is responsive

Your Bookings web page is simple to use and looks great on both larger screens and mobile devices. This is extremely important for those businesses that rely on smartphones and tablets to keep their businesses on track.

You’ll also have full access to your customer, staff and calendar info where and when you need it with the Microsoft Bookings mobile app. You can quickly come to rely on the app to email, call or text customers, or create new appointments, all from your phone. Tap, tap — done.

A stand-out from the competition

Bookings beats out many of its competitors in ease of use, convenience and integration with the applications your business and customers are already using in their day-to-day activities. For example, Facebook integration. If your customers are on Facebook, they’ll enjoy the ability to book with you in two clicks. Once customers click on the “Book Now” button, all their information is auto-completed for them based on their Facebook account. They simply have to click “Book,” and they’re done!

Additionally, when communicating with customers, you can link to your scheduling page from an email, your business’s website or your Facebook page. Offering the option to book online simplifies scheduling and cuts down on that frustrating phone tag that we’ve all experienced.

Your customers will welcome the flexibility, convenience and control.

 

What’s more, your customizable public web page lets your customers find available times and book appointments 24/7 at their convenience. In the background, you can manage your private calendar schedule and those time-saving automatic confirmations and reminders. Specifying the services, times and staff that are visible on that calendar is up to you and can be done from any device, at any time of the day or night.

A tool to provide excellent customer service

Customers will applaud being able to book at their convenience, including scheduling up to two months in advance. Customer rescheduling is also super simple to accomplish in Microsoft Bookings, and updated appointments will automatically sync to all staff calendars in Outlook for Office 365, Outlook.com and Google Calendar.

See how one simple tool can improve collaboration through coordination of activities and schedules? With a system like Microsoft Bookings in place, you’ll have more time to grow your business because of reduced appointment conflicts and no-shows. Scheduling doesn’t get any easier than this!


Also published on Medium.