I love writing Guest Blogs. Sharing tips about how to make technology work for you, and your business is something I enjoy immensely. In 2018, I wrote up a little something for Angela Henderson , from Finlee and Me, and Angela Henderson Consulting, on how to automate your online booking system.
The blog is syndicated below:
As a business coach working with women in business, automating my online booking system was a major step forward in automating my business. I’m super excited to have Stephanie from Rocking Rose to share her knowledge about automating online booking systems for small business.
Take it away Stephanie…
This blog is about the mechanics, and some of the things to consider when setting up an online calendar booking system for professional services businesses, and specifically looking at what happens when someone comes into the first stage of your sales funnel.
In order to get the most of the tips and steps in this article, you will need to have done the below already:
- You are crystal clear on your business purpose
- You know your target market inside out. You know their habits, where they hang out IRL as well as on social channels. You speak their language
- Your main content and messaging are done and ready to be pushed out into the world
- You have already done some work around your credibility and branding and perhaps you have dabbled in social media
Assuming all the above – let’s chat about how you would automate so that someone who is just coming into your sales funnel doesn’t fall off the radar.
Learn How to Automate Your Online Booking System for Small Business
Grab a pen and paper, and list down the first few steps of your current sales funnel.
Maybe it looks something like this :
- 15 Min Free Phone Call /Discovery discussion
- Book in for Small package / Workshop
- CTA at workshop for bigger package / coaching
We can automate at several points just with the first step in the 15 min call booking and subsequent processes. So let’s look at the communication flow when someone uses a booking system to pick a time to speak to you.
Remember that the idea is to facilitate an easy flow of information, not to overwhelm your prospect with a daily spammy automated email – or make them feel like just a number being herded down your funnel.
So the first rule is to absolutely not put them in your list, unless they have explicitly said yes (and saying no is an option that doesn’t prevent them from booking with you).
There are a number of excellent calendar booking systems and tools to choose from, most of which will easily interface with your Google or Microsoft 365 calendar so that you can block out times when you are not available.
Some examples are Calendly, Acuity Scheduling, SimplyBook.me as well as YouCanBook.me
The first automation step is to implement the calendar booking tool of your choice on your website.
Things to consider when choosing your calendar booking tool:
- Does it interface easily with your current CMS or web platform
- Does it interface with your calendar easily
- If you’re planning on taking payments, does it offer easy implementation from a range of payment providers?
- Does it interface ( or integrate ) to your CRM
- Can you insert bookings into your video software such as Zoom or Appear.in
- Does it have the ability to integrate with Zapier or a similar integration connector tool?
Booking rules are how your booking system knows when you allow someone in, and when to show you as ‘Not Available’.
Tip – if you can, make sure to use the ‘random’ setting in your booking system so that it randomly blocks out time for you as unavailable.
Whilst you don’t want to be completely unavailable for weeks on end, on the other end of the spectrum you also don’t want to be fully available all day long (it’s not a good look).
If you prefer to work on sales on specific days, capture those rules into the booking set up so that you don’t get booked at a time when you are doing other work.
Confirmation Emails and Texts
Once the person has made a booking, your booking system should have a template for the booking confirmation which is sent immediately.
Make sure you enable and edit this template, do not use the default.
‘Your appointment is confirmed’ wording. It will sound robotic – and people can spot the template a mile off. You want to engage this person from the get-go.
Use your own language, and style and tone in your content. Change the subject, and if you can update the template colours to match your branding.
Appointment & Booking Reminders
Use the 24-hour reminder in your tool, to prompt the person and remind them of your booking with them. Again, don’t use the default wording.
In your own words, note that you are looking forward to speaking with them, be sure to give them a chance to make a ‘graceful exit’ with a rescheduling option.
It’s far better than being stood up (even virtually) even if it sounds counter-intuitive to offer this option.
After the Booking Has Taken Place
Use the automation template to send a follow-up email at a set point after your call. (1 day, 2 days, 3 hours – think about what makes sense for the booking type, and your business).
Dig into your process a little and decide if you’re going to use the email follow-up to do one of the below:
- Give them a CTA or a link to a specific resource that you always talk about in your discovery calls
- Ask them for some feedback, if your first point of contact was a freebie of some sort
Try not to cram too much disparate and unrelated information into this email (i.e. don’t make it a ‘covering all bases’ type of email – because those look terrible) – you want one actionable step, perhaps it’s a subscription to your newsletter list, or perhaps it’s giving you a review on Facebook.
If you do find yourself trying to do too many things in the follow-up email then consider setting up specific and different appointment types that trigger different templated follow-ups. Each follow-up then has the specific wording, information, and CTA, with relevant links for the type of appointment you offer.
If you charge for your bookings, or you want to take a deposit before securing an appointment – consider implementing an integrated payment platform.
Stripe and Square are two excellent options that easily integrate to a large majority of calendar booking tools and systems.
Consider the experience of your prospect if you take deposits, and insist on a bank transfer, or you have to email them your bank details to get a payment or issue an invoice manually.
The best way to automate is to consider at each step what the purpose is of the automation and to do so in such a way that you don’t lose the human touch of your brand and business.
I hope you found this article helpful and that you too will be able to automate your online booking system for small business soon, as life will be so much easier for not only yourself but for your clients.
You can find the original publication of this article at Angela Henderson Consulting : https://www.angelahenderson.com.au/how-to-automate-your-online-booking-system-for-small-business/
Angela started her consulting business because she kept getting asked in different platforms/forums for her business advice. Seeing a need for advice based on first hand experience , she took the plunge and began helping entrepreneurs and small business owners. You can find out more about Angela and her services at : https://www.angelahenderson.com.au