Common Appointment Scheduling Issues That Can Cost Your Business Money
Appointment bookings and the subsequent services performed by your field service business’ team are the lifeblood of your company. The more properly scheduled appointments you have, the better it is for your brand, reputation and bottom line. However, there are several scheduling problems that may arise during the booking process, which can cost your business dearly.
These leaks build up in monetary terms and before you know it, they’re making a huge dent in your budget. In order to better control them, you should be aware of the most common appointment scheduling mistakes as well as how to address them. Let’s find out more below.
Common appointment scheduling mistakes
Although there are any number of potential appointment scheduling mistakes that your business can make, the ones outlined below are the most frequently encountered and the ones that are likely to cost you the most in terms of monetary losses.
1. Overbooking and Double-Booking
As nice as it is to have a fully booked schedule, there is the problem that too much of a good thing can lead to bad things. The same is true for having overbookings, which means that you have more appointments than your team can handle. The potential pitfalls of this situation is that you can end up losing clients instead of gaining and retaining them.
This issue applies to double-bookings as well. With double-bookings, you are essentially supposed to serve two different clients at exactly the same time but with insufficient staff members to handle both appointments. This can lead to customer dissatisfaction, negative business reviews and ultimately a loss of clients.
Learn more: How to Avoid Double Booking Appointments
2. No-Shows and Late Cancellations
When you don’t make it easy for your clients to cancel their appointments with you and offer them options to reschedule, you are looking at financial losses, too. Cancellations that happen at the last minute mean that you’ve already assigned a team that could have been deployed to a different paying client. This means you are losing out on money that’s supposed to be coming in but isn’t and your team will be left with nothing to do meaning wasted time and resources.
Whether your client is a no-show or cancels late, there should be measures put in place to ensure that you can still recover any potential lost funds due to these circumstances. This means ensuring that your clients are aware of your terms and conditions and that if they choose to cancel, there is a form of penalty for their decision, which keeps you in business while also keeping your clients informed of their obligations when booking with you.
3. Inefficient Appointment Scheduling Processes
If you are still accepting bookings for your services using Excel spreadsheets, a team of call centre staff and are manually inputting client information, this is a surefire way to ensure financial losses for your business, too. These inefficient appointment scheduling processes result in a lot of wasted time, resources, human capital that can be deployed for more productive reasons, and of course, money.
The heavier and more sluggish your appointment scheduling processes are, the fewer clients you will be able to book due to inefficiencies and the more money you’ll not earn as a result of lost opportunities.
4. Poor Communication and Customer Experience
Today’s customers are highly savvy. They check reviews of businesses online, they study business brands, they make careful purchasing decisions and only go with businesses that they trust will deliver. As such, providing your customers with an exceptional experience is essential for any business to thrive in a competitive marketplace. One of the ways to ensure that your customer experience is outstanding is to put in place mechanisms for clear communication with them.
This means sending confirmation emails when they book a service, emails or push notifications that tell them that their service professional is on their way, communicating any special needs or requests, etc. When a customer doesn’t get clear, open and transparent communication with a business, especially during the appointment booking process, that means you’re highly likely to lose that customer to your competition, making your cost to retain a customer that much higher.
5. Inadequate Staff and Resource Allocation
A final appointment scheduling mistake that we will cover today is that of inadequate staff and resource allocation. What does this refer to? It means that you are not optimising the talent pool that makes up your team and that your physical resources are not optimised either. When it comes to your talent pool, you may have some teams that are simply on stand-by waiting for an appointment while others are too busy with no balance in between.
In addition, when it comes to resources, it’s about things such as not using the shortest routes when your vans drive to your clients’ homes, resulting in wasted petrol costs, more wear and tear on your vehicles and potentially, your team arriving at the destination late.
How to avoid appointment scheduling mistakes
Of course, although these “appointment scheduling sins” can create serious dents and problems for your business, they are not insurmountable. This is why we’ve put together a short list of steps and actions you can take to ensure your business effectively schedules and manage appointments. Take a look at our suggestions below:
- Send automatic appointment reminders. This will take the pressure off you to ensure you don’t do this time-consuming task manually. And you are much more likely to reduce the number of no-shows or even late cancellations. Use email and/or SMS to achieve this goal.
- Schedule appointments from midday forward and from midday backward. This means you can book solid chunks of time dedicated to serving customers as opposed to booking smaller chunks of time, which can lead to overlaps. This should boost your productivity. Time slots that aren’t filled will end up being either in the mornings or afternoons, and this means that you can use this for other important business tasks or even to schedule meetings with your team.
- Enable your clients to schedule their own appointments online. This is also a great way to fill up last-minute slots and thereby keep your appointment book full while this is done on the back end automatically for you.
- Make sure to have a cancellation policy in place. Failure to do so is money going down the drain. Your staff will lose out on work and their time will be wasted while your business could have served another client in the cancelling client’s case. Your cancellation policy should (in most cases) have a monetary “penalty” involved so that your business doesn’t lose out and so that clients are less inclined to cancel.
All of these appointment scheduling problems and challenges can be avoided if you implement an online booking system at your service-based business. This is one of the most streamlined and effective ways to make your business leaner and more efficient as well as more profitable.
Consider all the benefits of ServiceOS’ online booking system for your business and you will immediately see the difference this will make for your organisation.