How to Handle and Avoid Double Booking Appointments
As a customer-facing service business, it’s a natural part of your venture to book and schedule appointments that will be carried out at a time that is convenient and suitable for both the members of your team (or you, if you are a solo practitioner) and for your clients.
In the past, this used to be done through paper calendars and diaries although pretty much everything related to scheduling appointments has been automated nowadays and is online.
Despite this automation, due to a human or technical error or glitch, it’s possible that you may face a double booking.
If you want to know more about what this means, how to handle such a situation and how to avoid it in the future, keep reading below.
What is a double booking?
A double booking happens when you book two or more customers for a service at the same time and you don’t have the physical capacity to cater to those customers simultaneously.
A double booking can occur due to a human error or a technical glitch and it can be frustrating and embarrassing, not to mention the fact that it can cause a negative review of your business, if not handled correctly or a loss in business reputation.
That’s why below we cover the aspect of how to handle a double booking and how to apologise for the situation in the best way possible so that you don’t lose out on customers and that you don’t end up disappointing them or harming your business further down the road.
How to handle a double booking
We now reach the part of our discussion related to how to handle double bookings. There are several industry best practices that are recommended in such scenarios that will help you save face and ensure that your business’ reputation remains intact.
For starters, once you become aware of the double booking, you need to go through a process of prioritisation in terms of which of the two clients is best for you to serve first and which client’s appointment you can postpone for a later date.
Questions to ask yourself in this regard include:
- Is one client more valuable than the other in terms of the cost of the service?
- Is one of the bookings a recurring one that can be rescheduled?
- What is your relationship with these customers like?
- Which customer do you think will be more open and amenable to reschedule?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you will be able to determine which customer to serve and which one’s appointment you will need to reschedule.
After this, it’s time to get to work. You need to try to contact that client as soon as humanly possible using whatever modes of communication you have available to let them know about the double booking and the rescheduling. Followed, of course, by an apology.
How to apologise for double booking
Once you reach the client via various different methods of communication, you also need to know how to apologise for double booking.
The answer lies in being honest and sincere that a mistake has been made while apologising for the error at the same time.
You should also offer some form of compensation for the inconvenience caused to your client and then provide a new time slot for the service (even if it’s after hours for you) to ensure that you keep your customer happy and to avoid negative reputational damage to your business.
How to avoid a double booking
Of course, double booking is not a pleasant experience and it can actually be avoided altogether. Wondering how to avoid double bookings? Let’s take a closer look at the solution.
With everything becoming automated these days, it’s essential that you have a system in place that manages your bookings automatically, easily, conveniently and from every location and device (laptops, mobile phones, desktops, tablets, etc.).
This may mean that your next booking may come while you’re out on the road but once that booking is set, that particular time slot is completely cleared and set aside and it’s not possible to book any other appointments during that particular time period.
This is why you need the right online booking software that will not only enable you to accept bookings online 24/7 but also manages your schedule on the go and automates reminders by emails and SMS.
But in addition to this, your online booking system should go beyond the ordinary and enable your customers to create their own profiles and self-manage their appointments in addition to enabling you to customise your offers, automate your invoices and a whole lot more.
Where to find a solution to avoiding double bookings
Although double bookings can happen, they can also become a thing of the past if you use the right online booking system for your business.
With ServiceOS, you are in the best position possible to streamline your business operations and scheduling to ensure no double bookings take place ever again.
Our system enables you to choose a plan that works together with your business needs and it is an incredibly efficient way to save you time, money and resources; not to mention avoiding those double bookings in the future.