If your business offers services to the public, there’s a high chance your first engagement is via a booking process.
As your first engagement, and since first impressions mean a lot, it’s an interaction which is really important to get right.
Manage it well, and you have a much higher chance of opening the door to paid business. Manage it poorly, and your booking process can become a stopping point for what may otherwise be an excellent service.
But how exactly do you manage the booking process well?
Research conducted by countless local government authorities in recent years suggests that you manage bookings well by taking them online.
Up to now you might have resisted online booking services as a means to managing this process well, perhaps because systems appear too expensive, difficult to use, or irrelevant for your business. On the whole, these conclusions are inaccurate – especially when measured against the benefits of an online system versus an offline process.
But if you’re still unpersuaded by the overwhelming majority now practising online bookings, here are six reasons why taking your bookings online could be one of the best decisions you make this year.
24/7 systems increase volume – Most companies now monitor and control Internet access in the workplace, which means individuals are less likely to navigate a booking process during working hours. To cater for these individuals, some sort of mechanism needs to be in place to serve their booking request. If your offices are shut, that simply is not possible – either via phone call or visitation. An online booking system, on the other hand, can serve these individuals appropriately. What’s more, your volumes (and profits) can increase dramatically – this has certainly been the case in the travel industry, where 39 per cent of bookings are routinely being made outside of working hours, online.
Less stress – Reduced workloads are commonplace where online booking systems are being utilised. Why? Because a properly equipped booking system can handle so many of the menial tasks associated with offline bookings by themselves, with very little initial configuration.
Follow up emails, confirmation receipts, availability checking, the enquiry itself — can all be managed and autonomously operated by the system, giving your staff more time to focus on tasks that require that human touch. With heavy workloads one of the single biggest factors in staff de-motivation and poor performance, this factor alone should be enough to swing the vote to online.
Reduced costs – The idea of reduced costs seems to stand in stark contrast to the reality that an online booking system might cost £5,000 to £10,000. Sometimes, however, you have to give a little to get a lot – and this is really the model on which the online booking process is built.
Through a combination of reduced staff workloads, higher volumes of bookings and improved efficiency – organisations that utilise online bookings tend to see their investment multiplied significantly in savings. These workload savings in conjunction with greater efficiencies will improve your operations to no end. What’s more, the actual financial cost saving is likely to be somewhere in the region of £30,000 and up. Just imagine that figure added to your spending power.
Convenience – Everybody welcomes a more convenient process, and the booking process is definitely one that benefits in this way by going online. No more lengthy phone calls, no more unnecessary visits or human error – just quick, online, common access which makes booking and serving easier, more informative and less time consuming.
Real time – Real time information is an exceptionally important feature of online bookings. Real time updates and access to the system help ensure your data is not only up to date, but also accurate to the multiple user types that will need ongoing access to records during the provision of a service. When suggesting dates and times that are available, it’s critical your records can tap into booked up slots in order to suggest appointments that don’t clash or create problems further down the line.
Better customer service – When you compare the offline management of a booking against the online management of a booking, there really is no comparison. Staff cannot handle enquiries simultaneously, they cannot be relied upon to send out immediate confirmation that is consistent every time, and the customer often has to wait for a response in between data checks.
An online booking system can perform these tasks as part even in the most basic set up, improving the experience for the customer quite significantly, giving your business a grasp on better customer service and happier customers.
With these reasons to move your bookings online, how will you choose to respond in 2016?
For help with that question, please feel free to contact Zipporah, the public sector’s leading bookings specialist, via email at [email protected] or via phone at +44 (0) 29 2064 7048.
Zipporah’s products can also be found the G-cloud framework – G cloud enquiries should be sent to [email protected].