When you hear “booking”, you, most probably, think about hotel reservations or airline tickets. Right, however, bookings are used much wider than that. Theaters, restaurants, museums, car rentals, government offices, and repair services – whenever you need to reserve something or make an appointment, you are making a booking.
Gone are the days when you had to call or write an email to make an appointment or reservation. Today, businesses implement booking systems to allow customers to create and manage their appointments.
Benefits of a booking system
An effective booking system brings multiple benefits both to the customers and the business:
- 24/7 availability. When you receive booking requests by phone or email, you need to process them manually. In this case, you are severely limited by your service team’s capacity and working hours. As a result, you may fail to fulfill a certain number of requests.
With an online booking system, customers can make reservations whenever they please. In fact, 40% of bookings are made after hours.
- Human error rate reduction. Let’s face it, everybody makes mistakes, booking agents being no exception. They can mistype JUN for JUL or mix up the European and US date formats – and there goes the booking.
When a customer makes their own booking, they are in control. Of course, they can make mistakes, too, but they will check everything carefully before typing in the credit card number.
- Higher customer commitment. When a person does their own reservation from beginning to end, they make a better-grounded decision to go through with it. Additional factors that influence the customer’s commitment to their appointment are pre-payment options and automated reminders usually supported by booking platforms. With automated reminders, the no-show rate can drop as much as 29%.
How to create great booking experiences
Making a reservation should be easy and intuitive for customers, otherwise, it may very well be the first and the last time they book with you. We have gathered some tips that may help you set up your online booking system to create top user experiences.
Choose the right tools
Your booking system should start with selecting the tools you are going to use. Today’s market offers quite a number of effective scheduling software products you can choose from depending on your requirements and your budget.
What you need to pay attention to when choosing a booking tool:
- Calendars synchronization
- Mobile platforms support
- Integrations with other useful tools, such as email clients, messaging apps, payment services
A good idea may be to integrate a support app that allows your team to provide assistance to customers in real-time. Browse this review of helpdesk software to select the tool that meets your needs.
For example, such a combination as Book Like A Boss (BLAB) and HelpCrunch can ensure easy and pleasant booking experiences backed by a robust support platform with a suite of helpful self-service resources and a 24/7 live chat. By the way, live chat can also be a great source of leads, if set up and managed properly.
Optimize for mobile
In the travel industry, almost 85% of users make bookings via their mobile devices. This statistic fits into the overall increasing adoption of mobile apps in all aspects of our lives. For businesses, it is an indication that they should cater to their mobile users and make their services as mobile-friendly as possible.
In many cases, it may be wise to even consider the mobile-first approach, when you develop and release the mobile version before the desktop one. This way, you can still reach a wide audience of those who use their smartphones for virtually everything.
Another thing – build your web pages to be mobile-responsive. People browsing them from their devices should not be annoyed by popups covering most of their screen or flash videos.
Poor performance can discourage users of any software product. However, with bookings and reservations, it can become the cause of even greater frustration. Imagine trying to book the last remaining seats for a movie when your screen starts showing an endless spinner. Or, getting to the end of the booking journey and not receiving a confirmation. Did your booking come through? Is everything OK or should you start worrying?
To avoid creating such experiences, test your product inside and out. Make sure that your website is safe: all buttons work, the payment gateway processes payments correctly, the calendars are synchronized properly, and all the required confirmations are sent. When the journey is smooth, customers are going to appreciate it.
Ensure 24/7 availability
As we said above, constant availability is what customers love in online booking systems. Your service should be available at any hour, on weekdays, weekends, and national holidays. This way, you are giving customers the opportunity to make reservations whenever they are comfortable. At the same time, you are reaching customers in all time zones, if your presence is global.
The same refers to the live chat and support service, too. Make sure they are available whenever customers might need assistance.
Build a simple and intuitive flow
Bookings must be quick, that’s a rule. From the moment the user decides to make a reservation to them getting a confirmation of a successful booking, they should take a minimum number of steps within the shortest time.
This is how can you achieve booking simplicity:
- Do not ask for unnecessary details.
- Use booking software that can recognize returning customers and pre-fill their details from previous bookings.
- Make your UI clear, logical, and easy to navigate. A professional high-performance booking page is the first step to building a smooth and intuitive reservation process.
Support multiple payment options
A variety of payment options gives you an opportunity to reach different kinds of customers. For individual customers, a credit or debit card and PayPal may be the most popular choices. However, if you want to target the B2B sector, consider supporting invoice payments, too. Flexible payment options can be one of the highlights of your marketing strategy aimed at several audience groups.
When you offer as many payment options as you can, you are getting the widest customer reach. Besides, you are preventing the customer’s frustration from not being able to use their preferred form of payment and, as a result, not losing potential sales.
Monitor customer feedback
Feedback is important for any service, not only reservation-based. However, you can set up your feedback collection to get an idea of what customers think about your service and the booking process, too. For example, offer customers to rate their experience immediately following a successful reservation. At the same time, ask how likely they are to recommend your service to others.
In addition, include a quick rating survey at the end of a live chat with the support. This way, you can see how satisfied customers are with the level of support and service they got from your team. If customer satisfaction is high, you can implement an affiliate program to encourage people to spread the word about your service and therefore get more clients through word-of-mouth marketing. With the affiliate tracking software, it's easier to find where your new customers come from.
In this post, we outline the main ingredients of a successful booking system that can create great customer experiences. Ultimately, it rests on a few basic pillars: understanding of your customer and their needs, high-quality development, and a choice of effective tools to integrate into your booking platform. Use Book Like A Boss as the foundation of your system and see how easy and streamlined your booking flows become. Try it for free for 14 days, and you won’t need to look any further.