Take care of the minutes and the hours will take care of themselves
This famous quote by Lord Chesterfield explains the importance of time management in just a few words. In today’s world, where any business is driven by interaction, each person spends a lot of time in appointments and meetings. Often, people spend a lot of time in keeping track of their appointments and others appointments too. Personal trainers, hair stylists, doctors, various free lancers spend a significant amount of time keeping track of their schedules and making sure that they do not disappoint their customers by not meeting them on time.
Online appointment systems have simplified the lives of many people. A few intuitive features of such appointment systems include provision of a one stop platform to view the schedules of all the staff members, ease of scheduling and rescheduling appointments, generating invoices and billing customers and easy customization of online scheduling system. Such appointment systems help a business owner maintain his schedule effectively but they can be more effective if they provide a few more features. Today, each appointment system has something unique to offer. In future, scheduling systems will have more features than what are available today.
From a business owner perspective, a few useful features (absent in most appointment systems today) could be
1. Scheduling group appointments. Most appointment systems allow creation of an appointment for a single customer. Once a customer books a slot, it is shown as unavailable to any other customer. For businesses like beauty salons, a facility for group booking should be made available.
2. Selecting multiple time slots. A convenient feature for both, the business owner and the client, multiple time slots offer a great deal of flexibility. Multiple users should be able to select a particular time slot and a majority opinion could be taken while deciding the actual time for a meeting.
3. Scheduling appointment with a staff member. A certain client who learns music in a musical institute might request the services of a particular trainer. At times, various fees can be levied by the same institute for various trainers depending on their experience and feedback. A booking and billing system that can capture such requirements will make online transactions simpler.
4. Text messaging. A few scheduling systems have the option of texting reminders to clients while most others don’t. This is a very powerful feature and it should be made available to business owners at a small cost.
5. Mobile apps. Apps for smart phones that can be easily integrated with online appointment systems are the next big step. They will empower the businessman and his clientele to access their schedules from any place at any time. The apps can also send timely reminders to clients and allow clients to pay for the services from their mobiles. The powerful features of todayís smartphones should be leveraged to build such apps.
6. Integration with other software and services. The online scheduling systems can also provide interfaces to connect to other web conferencing, voice conferencing or video conferencing software and services. Users will be able to manage multiple accounts from one place and this will bring more business for the providers of appointment systems and will prove to be very convenient for the customers.
7. Other features. The appointment systems can also have provisions to share documents like presentation for a meeting, notes shared by trainer, invoices, etc. They can also have a dedicated task monitoring system coupled to the scheduling system. For big enterprises, these appointment systems could provide interfaces to connect to other software like Microsoft Project Planner.
The current scheduling systems have made things simpler but addition of a few features can make the applications more powerful, useful and provide a better package to the consumers. The futuristic appointment systems will make better use of cloud computing and turn the simple calendar into a desktop application that manages schedules, billing, helps consumers update their website quickly, broadcast messages and do much more.