Industry • Best Practice
How Technology Supports the Booking Stage of the Client Experience
Apr.06,2023By Boulevard Staff
The first step of the client experience is your chance to make a smooth impression
However a client experience ultimately unfolds, it always starts at the same place: a booking. Whether a client is new to your business or a longstanding regular, their time spent booking an appointment should feel like a warm hand ushering them in from the cold, moving them from considering a visit to locking it in without friction or cause for hesitation.
Nailing the booking experience can be tricky, but technological advances have made it easier than ever to get right. Implementing the right tech features will improve your conversion rates, setting your business up for success from the very first step of the client experience.
Why booking matters
No one is going to book an appointment anywhere if the process is confusing, unpleasant, or outright broken. But there are other, less obvious reasons to improve the booking process. Although your website, app, or social media page may be a new client’s first impression of your brand, booking is where the rubber meets the road. When a client books an appointment, they’re saying “I see can myself connecting and associating with this business.” Any friction they feel during that process — whether that’s long load times, unintuitive design, inconvenient scheduling, or additional checkout steps — makes them more likely to bounce from the page, leaving their appointment unmade. On the flip side, the smoother the process, the fewer opportunities for doubt to enter their minds, making them more likely to convert.
Booking remains just as vital for returning clients as it is for new prospects, as it presents a chance to personalize their experience. 71% of consumers expect personalization when interacting with a business, and 76% experience frustration when that personalization isn’t there. Your booking process can leverage the information clients have provided on previous visits to welcome them back, highlight their usual orders, or recommend new services in which they may be interested. All of these booking details make them more likely to return in the future.
So how do you know if your booking stage is up to snuff? You can compare its conversion rate to the industry average, which studies place at just over 3%. Anything lower indicates room for improvement, while anything higher is a cause for celebration.
Must-have booking features
One of the most important features clients look for when booking is the ability to complete the entire process online and on their own time. Self-booking through a website or app means they don’t need to wait in a queue to make their appointment. They’re also saved from having to speak on the phone, which more than 60% of younger clients — your Millennials and Zoomers — prefer to avoid whenever possible.
Along the same line, it’s vital that your booking stage supports mobile users. A whopping 75% of Gen Z prefers smartphones to their other devices, and 25% of them spend more than 5 hours on their phones each day. It should come as no surprise, then, that 82% of online bookings happen via mobile devices. Just over half of bookings made during working hours are made on the go (54%). Mobile-friendly design ensures all of these potential clients have an aesthetically pleasing, functionally sound, and intuitively designed experience from start to finish. When used in conjunction with self-booking, mobile design makes the booking process even more flexible.
Two-way text communication
As much as Gen Z and Millennials enjoy using their smartphones, they still prefer texting to making phone calls. In fact, 74% of Millennials list text messaging as their first or second most-used method of communication, and 69% of Gen Z say the same. They’re looking for a way to communicate quickly and directly with service providers, and that’s exactly what two-way texting provides. With it, clients can easily ask questions, provide helpful details of what they’re looking for, reschedule or confirm their appointment, and even receive useful appointment reminders.
Real-time scheduling calendar
When clients are booking online, they want to be able to choose the appointment time that works best for their schedules. Your booking technology can accommodate this by providing an easy-to-understand overview of available appointment times for every stylist at your salon. This allows clients to look at all the available appointments with real-time updates as more slots are booked.
Native payment processing
The best booking services take in client payment info when an appointment is first made in order to collect deposits and capture value from no-shows and late cancellations. Handing over credit card information is no one's favorite thing to do, but you can make it easier for clients by making that process native to your booking system. Avoiding a la carte solutions maintains the carefully curated brand experience of booking while simultaneously storing client payment info to ensure a smooth checkout process later on.