Appointment Scheduling Software
What Is Appointment Scheduling Software?
Many different types of business benefit from appointment scheduling software.
It can be used for:
- Arranging services for customers
- Organising internal meetings
- Providing classes
- Hosting events
- Managing work schedules
If you’re arranging a meeting, it can be difficult to find an appropriate time, even within the same department, because everyone has different commitments.
A system that allows straightforward allocation of time can help reduce the time this takes.
Appointments and free time can be viewed, managed and edited so that every staff member knows where they are meant to be at a given time.
For customers, knowing what appointment times are free can ensure a seamless experience in booking.
Integrations with payment and CRM software can mean a one-click arrangement that improves customer experience.
Appointment scheduling software can work with personal calendars, provide confirmations and reminders about upcoming meetings, and allow both staff and customers to make edits and cancel when necessary.
The best appointment scheduling software is customizable to suit your business and can be added to a website, used as an app or made available on social media, like Facebook and Instagram.
If a business wants to reduce unnecessary admin and make scheduling simpler, finding the right appointment scheduling system can make all the difference.
Time is one of the most important resources to manage in every business, and appointment scheduling software can make sure no time is wasted in arranging (or missing) meetings or appointments.
Benefits of Appointment Scheduling Software
Saving time – The main benefit of appointment scheduling software is gaining time. Saving time for staff and customers through automated bookings adds efficiency to the workflow, or gives all users visibility of their working day to ensure they are making the most of their time.
Calendar-syncing – For staff, synchronizing the booking system to personal calendars – and being able to block out time and show themselves as unavailable – can allow for more focused time. Meeting buffers, set appointments and times when a staff member is unavailable for bookings can all be managed through appointment scheduling software.
Customer retention – For customers, being able to book via an easy-to-use appointment scheduling system encourages retention. If bookings are easy to access and simple to complete, the customer experience is better. Booking an appointment – whether for a mechanic or a beauty therapist – needs to be straightforward, so appointment scheduling software that integrates in a simple way with your CRM and payment provider helps keep your customers happy.
Payment at the right time – If your usual booking procedure involves taking payment at the time of booking, during the appointment or following the meeting, your appointment scheduling software can take payment at the right time. This means you can be less concerned about no-shows or losing revenue.
Reminders – Booking confirmations and reminders, as well as any post-appointment information, can all be automated to make sure that everyone remembers what they have booked. The opportunity to amend or cancel appointments is a great benefit, too.
Multi-platform – If you are providing appointments to customers, it’s useful for them to be able to book wherever they are – through their smartphone, on an app or on the web. Omnichannel access is a key consideration for many businesses.
Free or Paid Software?
Almost every appointment scheduling software solution includes a free trial, and some provide a level of service that has no cost.
The difference between a free or paid service is usually related to the number of users but can also relate to the services provided.
When choosing appointment scheduling software, a free trial will often give you access to all the features that you might need and can ensure you are looking at the right tier for your business requirements.
It could be that as an individual or small business, you may not need enterprise-level tools, but for the larger business with multiple users, lots of customers and different appointment types, more functionality might be important.
Paid versions of appointment scheduling software are usually monthly subscriptions, and in some cases, savings can be made by paying an annual subscription instead.
The appointment needs of a gardener will be different to a sales team. Whether paid or free, your business will be looking for particular features from appointment booking software.
It is always worth finding out what features are non-negotiable for your business. Options that might be regarded as premium, paid-for features in some software packages might be available in the free versions of others.
Features to Look For When Choosing Scheduling Software
Keeping software systems in the cloud is almost non-negotiable for most businesses, especially as remote working is becoming the norm for many organizations.
Appointment scheduling software that not only integrates with existing systems like CRM and email, but is accessible from outside the office, is more flexible for both staff and customers.
The opportunity to process payment as part of the appointment booking system makes for a more streamlined experience for your clients as well as less administrative work for staff.
Integration with well-known payment systems makes your business much more inviting to your customers. Look for payment options from companies like PayPal, Stripe and Square.
AI and automation are a big part of efficient systems that can be used to make businesses more streamlined, and automation can be found in the best appointment scheduling tools.
Whether compilation of booking data or responses and payments are automated, intuitive automation is something to look out for when you are deciding on an appointment scheduling system.
When creating appointments, with a customer or in-house, effective synchronization will prevent double booking.
Most appointment scheduling software will sync with major CRMs, email systems and online calendars, including Microsoft 365 and Google.
Choosing a software system that can be synced with the same calendar software that your business uses is important, unless you are planning a complete system overhaul.
Flexible and Customizable Software
Some of the free options of appointment scheduling software will not have much customization and may in fact be supported by ads or display the software name alongside your business.
For a truly seamless experience for your customers and staff, use scheduling software that is customizable to match your branding and is flexible enough to be used from the web, an app or even through social media.
Access From Multiple Platforms
Alongside cloud storage, being able to access the software from multiple platforms is a great bonus for clients and customers, as well as staff.
The opportunity to actively reschedule or cancel appointments on the move, receive reminders via notifications on smartphones, and even deal directly with all the billing and other details, remains a vital part of the omnichannel experience that most customers have come to expect.
Look for scheduling software that offers things like a booking button, a link to embed in a website or landing page, or even a standalone scheduler so that you can allow clients and staff access from the site, from the web or through social media.
Analytical Data and Reports
An appointment scheduling software application that does not provide analytical data or reports might be perfectly fine for small businesses or solo enterprises.
However, as businesses grow, knowledge about the appointments that are being booked – for example, most popular times and days, preferred services, even most popular staff – is key to future success and growth.
If analyzing this information will benefit your business, then choose an appointment scheduling software that offers great reporting functionality.
These days, most people have a smartphone. Mobile apps can allow your customers to book appointments when it suits them best – if you want them to.
A mobile scheduling app can be used to book meetings and appointments, buy extras, communicate with staff, and reschedule and cancel appointments.
This mobile functionality can help you to maintain a level of service that will increase client loyalty.
Collecting of Contact Information
Information you collect from clients via the scheduling software can include basic contact details for you to get in touch with them if necessary, as well as details that you can use for marketing (with permission).
If you need a client to fill out a form or provide specific details before a meeting or appointment, some appointment scheduling software allows individual fields to be customized as well as the ability to add files to the appointment entries.
This is especially useful if information needs to be shared before the meeting or appointment – like an agenda or health and safety waivers, for example.
10 Best Scheduling Software Solutions for 2021
Best for: Free software
The HubSpot meeting tool is part of the well-regarded suite of tools offered by the sales and marketing gurus at HubSpot.
This tool is designed to allow clients and staff to book time together. It has customizable form fields, and collated information can be automatically shared through integration with the HubSpot CRM.
This tool is just a scheduler and does not include payment functionality.
Best for: Free software for small businesses
Price: First tier is free. Paid tiers start at $5 per user, per month
Setmore is a multi-platform scheduler available for Mac, PC, Android and iOS.
It easily integrates with other tools like QuickBooks, Mailchimp and Salesforce, has Facebook and Instagram plugins, and can be used with video meetings on Teleport.
The easy-to-use dashboard allows staff to view the number of appointments booked as well as to keep track of estimated and confirmed revenue.
The free option allows payment to be taken via Square, up to four staff logins, a shared calendar and automated email reminders for clients.
The paid version is a monthly subscription that starts at $5 per user, per month, and also includes payment via Stripe, SMS reminders and recurring appointment booking.
For an extra monthly charge, Setmore also offers a service to take live telephone bookings.
Best for: Small businesses
Price: Free demo available. Essential package – two staff accounts – $99 per month ($49 set-up fee). Plus package – five staff accounts – $199 per month ($99 set-up fee).
Thryv is an all-in service that can manage appointment bookings from end to end with added customization.
With multiple staff accounts able to sync calendars on Google, iCal, Yahoo and Microsoft 365, classes and events can be created to be either bookable by clients or remain private.
The service manages the whole process, including registration on any device and bookings (including repeat and recurring bookings). Payment can be taken at the time of booking, during the appointment or afterwards, depending on your processes.
Thryv is a full software package offering everything that a business needs to, well, thrive.
Best for: Mid-sized businesses
Price: Depends on deployment option.
- ‘Small business’ is the lowest tier, with prices starting at $6.50 per month, per user.
- The top tier is ‘Enterprise business’, offering a full-suite package that is a standalone full-tech stack, including customizable workflows. Pricing for this tier depends on what the deployment looks like.
According to the developers, TimeTrade is the world’s leading online appointment scheduling solution. It is currently used by 10 of the top 20 North American banks, so there might be some truth to that claim.
It offers Intelligent Appointment Scheduling to match the customer with the right staff member or representative, with all employee availability displayed in one easy-to-read calendar.
Made for customizable availability, with effective integration and reporting, TimeTrade is built for scalability. This is reflected in the deployment solutions based on various user needs, including the size of the business and the number of users.
Best for: Growing businesses
Price: Based on number of users and functions needed. For each level, a seven-day free trial is available.
- ‘Emerging’ is the lowest tier, at $14 per month. At this level, one staff member can be booked for unlimited services and appointments. Emails are sent for confirmation, reminders and follow-ups, and the scheduler can be branded to match your business.
- The top level is the ‘Powerhouse’, at $45 per month. It allows for up to 36 staff or locations to be booked, and also includes text reminders, creation of packages and payment plans, subscription services, HIPAA compliance and custom API and CSS.
Acuity is well-known and highly customizable, making it a great option for a growing business. Made by Squarespace, it offers services for recurring business – from coupons to add-on services upon bookings.
The scheduler can provide a link to be shared with customers, embedded into the website, or used with a QR code or booking button. It integrates with calendars like Google and Microsoft 365, as well as payment companies like Square, Stripe and PayPal.
The ‘Make Me Look Busy’ option automatically hides some availability so the business can look more booked-up.
Best for: International bookings
Price: 14-day free trial, $10 a month flat cost
The simple interface of a customizable booking grid that allows staff to set availability and then share via website, email or on social media makes this software easy to use.
You can customize the booking grid in style and availability, integrate it with Google and Microsoft calendars as well as use it for video-conferencing with Zoom. Notifications, reminders and follow-ups can be sent via email and/or SMS.
This is a low-cost option that recognizes the time zone of both the business and the customer to provide the booking grid in the most appropriate time format.
Appointments can be paid for using Stripe, and it works across all devices – great for that all-important omnichannel experience.
Best for: Customizable features
Price: The free package offers the opportunity for one staff member to book 50 upcoming appointments and can be used by up to 50 clients. The lowest-cost paid version is just $5 per month, offering 100 upcoming appointments to be booked for unlimited users (and no adverts). The top tier is $25 per month, allowing 1,500 appointments to be booked.
SuperSaas offers an extremely customizable appointment scheduler. Users can match the layout to the branding of their business.
Everything about the scheduler can be customized – from the day, week or month view to a list layout, custom booking fields, drop-down lists, forms and even the way notifications and reminders are created.
The software can be used as a standalone scheduler or businesses can embed a link on a website or social media.
It syncs with other calendars, offers payment via Stripe, and provides reporting and data for analysis.
Best for: Reports
Price: Monthly minimum plus a per-user cost starts at $10 per month and $25 per user. No free option available.
TimeForge scheduling software was developed specifically to manage a workforce.
Featuring HR and payroll integrations, this software is not designed for customers, but it does have mobile apps that make the most of employee scheduling.
There are separate apps for employees and management, simplifying daily work tasks.
In the employee app, staff can view their schedule, request time off, swap shifts, clock in and out as well as record breaks and lunches.
For managers, leave requests can be dealt with quickly and supervisors can see at a glance whether there are shortfalls in staffing for a particular shift.
With different labor laws in different states, mandated breaks can be enforced simply and efficiently according to regional rules.
The real bonus of TimeForge is the huge range of reports that can be generated to monitor workforce performance. The data collected through the app is collated into actionable information.
9. Revenue Grid
Best for: Sales businesses
Price: Free trial available. Pricing depends on the number of users. As it is a full package, accurate pricing is only available through quotes.
Revenue Grid is a guided selling platform offering step-by-step information and guidance for staff to win key deals.
Using a combination of AI and automation as well as integration, available information is taken from all client touchpoints to convert leads into sales.
This is a full platform for sales teams that includes an appointment scheduler, rather than standalone appointment scheduling software, and does not include options for customers to pay for appointments.
10. Chili Piper
Best for: Converting leads into revenue
Price: The free tier is suitable for smaller businesses. There are two further tiers depending on the size of the business.
- The ‘Spicy’ tier is most suited for medium businesses and is $15 per user, per month.
- For larger businesses, the ‘Hot’ tier is priced at $25 per month, per user.
Chili Piper is known as the top Meeting Lifecycle Automation platform and is used by a number of major businesses.
It allows businesses to engage instantly with inbound leads and book automated meetings directly from emails, sales tools and their calendars.
It also looks after the whole process of a meeting, including no-show management, providing meeting buffers to protect staff time, and simple rescheduling options too.
Finding the best appointment scheduling software for your business will depend entirely on what you need from it.
Whether you have a small business or are part of a large, multi-national operation, the time saved using appointment scheduling software makes for more productive staff, less time spent on arranging meetings, and happier customers who can book quickly and have payment options when booking.
Look for software that allows access from multiple platforms, syncs with the most popular calendars and is simple to access from wherever your customers and staff are.
If your appointments carry a cost to your customer, then integration with reliable payment providers will streamline the process and ensure that you are paid for your time.
Integrations with other processes in your business like your CRM helps save more time and ensures that you always have customer details to hand when you need them.
There are different features available on free and paid plans, so research the best for your needs to get exactly what you require.
The availability of free trials, demos and advice from the appointment scheduling software publishers will help you to decide which one is the most appropriate for you.