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Many service professionals such as doctors, dentists and lawyers struggle to remain competitive in today’s fast paced marketplace. One way that can help your business is to offer online booking of appointments. In this article I explain some of the benefits to you and your clients/patients of offering this service.

This article uses quotes and statistics from a survey carried out by accentureconsulting in 2015. I include a link to the survey results at the bottom of the page.

Reasons why you should consider adding online appointment scheduling to your existing company website.

77 percent of patients think that the ability to book, change or cancel appointments online is important (Source: accenture)

It’s wanted

Most people expect to be able to do most things online, including make appointments. If you don’t offer this feature and your competitors do you could be losing business.

It’s convenient

34% of appointments that are scheduled online are done after the office is closed.

It’s more convenient to be able to book an appointment online rather than phone or make a visit. You can book an appointment any time of the day, and a time that is convenient for the patient. It could be on employers lunch break or when they are on the bus or train. Some patients, perhaps if they have tooth ache, will need an appointment as soon as possible. An online booking system will allow such patients to make a last minute booking.

Makes you more competitive

By offering a convenient way to make an appointment you will be able to attract customers away from your competitors. Implementing an online booking system will allow you to take market share from your rivals.

Young people expect it

The 25-34 demographic use online scheduling the most. In addition, this group also shows the highest preference for using online scheduling. If you want to attract and retain this demographic you want to be able to offer them online booking of appointments.

Reduces stress on your staff

Online booking eliminates staff having to process booking appointments. Valuable staff time can be used for more productive tasks. With a manpower squeeze in Singapore at the moment it’s important to get as much productivity out of staff as possible. Patients can check availability and book immediately. No need to wait for a confirmation email or a phone call back.

New patients will look for it

The data from the survey makes it clear that new patients are responsible for a big percentage of online appointments – some 63%. Practices that offer this feature stand to attract new customers than practices that don’t.

Online booking will keep your waiting room full

Only 6% of appointments were scheduled on the same day as the appointment but around 20% were for next day appointments. So offering last minute appointments, through online booking, will reduce the chances of an empty waiting room.

Fewer no-shows

With phone call scheduling the non-attendance rate is between 10-25%. By offering online booking you can keep your waiting room fuller by reducing the people who don’t show up for their appointment.

People don’t like to talk on the phone

Many people, especially introverts, don’t like to talk on the phone. If the only way to book an appointment for your practise is with a phone call you may be losing some customers.

No risk of double booking

With a manual appointment system there is always the risk that you have multiple patients with the same date and time. Automated systems don’t have that problem so avoid a poor patient experience of having to reschedule an appointment because of an administrative blunder.

Collect all of your patient data in a structured format

Collecting and storing your patient data in a structured format will make marketing to previous customers easier. It can inform you of the most popular times for a booking throughout the year or what services are requested the most. Valuable information you can use when advertising or promoting your business.

Automatic reminders

To minimise no-shows an online booking system can be set up to automatically send out email reminders to your patients so they don’t forget their appointments. You can even configure automatic sending of SMS messages to patients – in case some of your patients don’t check their email regularly!

Final Thoughts

There is no reason not to offer online booking of appointments for your patients. It’s something patients want and will help your staff. It will make your practice more profitable and competitive.

Survey link:

Patient engagement: Digital self-scheduling to explode over the next 5 years