What Exactly Is an Online Booking System?
Small businesses today need new solutions to their daily challenges. Operations need to be streamlined and made much leaner and more efficient to save on costs and the wasteful use of resources.
One of the ways in which this and more can be achieved is through the right online booking system for small businesses. But what is an online booking system, what are its features and what benefits can you expect from it for your business? Read on to find out more.
What is an online booking system?
Much like the name suggests, online booking system is an automated software solution that enables your customers to book and pay for your services online (whether through your website or other channels such as social media). But it’s not just bookings and payments that are taken care of.
This software also has important reporting and analytics software that can help take your business decision-making to the next level while you scale your operations from a single touchpoint.
All this reduces inventory management and manual spreadsheet entries alongside a whole host of other perks.
Many service-based businesses often still use archaic systems of receiving bookings from their clients. There are entire service departments and call centres dedicated to receiving customer calls. Inboxes are often flooded with emails that you and your team can hardly get on top of. And there are also Excel spreadsheets that can be inaccurate.
All these can lead to costly mistakes, lost or unserviced customers and potential losses to the bottom line. Can this situation be rectified? The answer is “yes” and it all comes together with the right online booking software.
The purpose of online booking systems
If you are wondering what the purpose of online booking systems is for your business, we outline a few of its key functionalities below.
Each of these combined can help you save thousands of pounds and hours on tasks that are repetitive and can be automated. As such, you can maximise your operational efficiency and boost your bottom line.
Here are a few of the functionalities that you should consider when choosing an online booking system:
- Your doors will be open for business 24/7
- You can enjoy enhanced online and payments security
- Stop mundane and repetitive tasks and help your employees become more productive
- Online booking systems have the potential to greatly improve the customer experience
- You will be able to stay more organised in terms of higher-priority operational tasks
- You’ll be better equipped to deal with no-shows
- You can connect with other systems to streamline your processes and operations
- Track reporting, sales and growth in real-time
- Avoid double bookings
- Keep much better track of commissions
- Assign inventory and tasks to the right employees
- Gather customer intelligence to improve decision-making
- Help you improve your prioritisation processes
- Help you streamline customer feedback and improve your online reputation
Key features of an online booking system
Now that you know about the functionalities that this type of software can assist you with, it’s also important to look at how an online booking system works. Much like many other processes, these systems have a front-end and a back-end. They also work in terms of the software-as-a-service model and are usually cloud-based.
The front-end deals with what the customers see. It can be a polished form on your website that, when filled in correctly, takes them to a secure payment channel that streamlines their journey on your website.
The back-end, on the other hand, is the behind-the-scenes information that you need to perform your business. This is generally reflected in a business dashboard that gives you hundreds of insights at your fingertips about any and every aspect of your business.
In most cases, whether you are looking at either the front- or back-end of your online booking system, you should be aware that it can help you track inventory, it has a user-friendly interface, and you can link it to your customer support as well as email marketing software.
On the more complex side, it can also send SMS and automate emails, set language preferences and currencies, customise it for email, integrate with third-party systems, and voucher/promo code management, among many other things.
Pros and cons of online booking systems
Of course, as with any technology, there are pros and cons. However, in this case, the pros considerably outweigh the cons. Here is a brief outline of each side of the coin to help you make a more informed decision.
Pros of online booking systems
- An online booking system can help your customers have a superb online experience
- You can enhance online payments security to a much greater extent
- You can capture customer data for better business decision-making and marketing strategies
- It can enable you to offer promotions and special offers to customers during quiet periods
- Use the customer-driven data to gain customer intel and make better decisions about your service offering
- It’s an excellent way of saving precious resources such as time and repetitive workloads
- You can enhance your business revenue by increasing the number of bookings you received
- Your business will remain open for business at all times of the day and night, even on weekends
- Your workload will be incredibly streamlined and much more efficient as you focus on core business tasks
- You’ll be much better positioned to deal with cancellations and no-shows
- All the data gathered can help you gain better insights into the productivity of your business
- You can connect online booking systems with other software tools for an even more streamlined experience
Cons of online booking systems
- Despite all the advantages of an online booking system, it will take at least 24 hours to set up and install. As such, it’s crucial that you set aside some time for this task that will enable you to help your business grow.
- Staff training is another aspect to consider at the beginning. However, once the necessary knowledge transfer takes place, you’re well on your way to business success.
There is no looking back. With the advancement of technology, having an online booking system for your service-based business is essential. The benefits far outweigh the disadvantages and if you want to compete more effectively in a competitive marketplace while having as lean operations as possible, an online booking system is your best bet for achieving this goal. With ServiceOS, you have all the necessary tools and information at your fingertips to help take your business to the next level.
We hope this post was helpful to you! And if you have any questions, share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.