Industry • Best Practice
How Technology Supports the Appointment Prep Stage of the Client Experience
May.16.2023By Boulevard Staff
Use up-front optimization to make your client’s first visit a comfortable and personal experience before they even walk through the door
You’ve got your client booked for their first appointment. Now what?
Appointment prep may feel like a relatively insignificant step in the client experience, but putting in the effort here will have ripple effects throughout the following stages and directly impact your clients before they even set foot in your salon.
With a bit of work up front — and the right tech — you can make appointment prep feel so seamless that it’s practically invisible, with systems humming along in the background to maximize bookings and streamline your scheduling.
Why appointment prep matters
Appointment prep is all about setting clients and staff up for success.
Experts say you have about seven seconds to make an excellent first impression. The amount of prep you put into getting ready for a client’s appointment can make the difference between a smooth greeting and chaotic fumbling. Providing clients with intake forms before their scheduled appointment is a great way to gather essential personal details and hit the ground running once they arrive. Plus, as more clients expect a personalized experience, you can provide requisite info to staff early to make your client’s visit special right from the start.
You also want to make sure that your staff has everything they need to make their client’s visit the best it can be. There’s nothing more frustrating for clients (or stylists, for that matter) than wasting 10 minutes out of everyone’s day hunting around for requested hair coloring or having to prep some equipment that should have been ready to go. Upfront preparation will ensure clients feel catered to while minimizing friction for staff.
Appointment prep also optimizes your shop’s daily operations. Monitoring schedules and assigning the right stylists is crucial, as is ensuring that every stage of the client’s requested service is accounted for and staff schedules are maximized to the fullest. You need to know who’s available, what equipment you have on hand, when it will be in use, the time services take to complete, and so on. Then, you need to put all of this information into a scheduling system that allows you to squeeze every drop of efficiency out of your available resources.
Profit margins are tight, and the businesses that are able to minimize staff downtime alongside providing quality care for their clients will see the most success. The right tech can help you achieve these goals.
Must-have appointment prep features
Online intake forms
Client expectations of quality, personalized service are more demanding than ever. In fact, surveys show that two-thirds of clients believe that your business will meet their needs and exceed expectations during their visit. A thorough intake form will give you the information you need to make their first visit positive and memorable.
Once clients have booked their first appointment, email them a brief online intake form. This is a perfect opportunity for your new client to tell you a little bit about themselves, their previous salon and spa history, any special requests they may have, as well as any important medical information that may impact the service they’ve booked. Don’t limit yourself to service or health-specific questions; this is your chance to get to know your client as a person. What kind of music do they like? Do they prefer still or sparkling water? The more you know, the greater your opportunities to impress and connect with them when they arrive.
Providing new clients with intake forms before they arrive can save precious time at check-in and allow staff to prepare for any unique needs ahead of time. And most importantly, clients can relax when they arrive, not stress about having to fill out a form. Creating those moments of zen not only set the tone for the appointment, but the full client experience and relationship.
Precision scheduling tools
No two services take the same amount of time to complete, but you need to be able to fit all of your clients’ potential requests into a standard workday. Your scheduling software should accommodate this by allowing you to set default and custom service durations (including finishing and processing times) to reduce downtime and optimize staff productivity. Time is money, and your booking technology should allow you to maximize both.
Email/text appointment reminders and management
Sending an email or text reminder a few days before an appointment with an easy way to confirm isn’t just polite. It’s a way to let your clients know you’re taking their needs seriously and are preparing a one-of-a-kind experience. Not to mention, it reduces no-shows by making sure the appointment is top of mind. And since we know that life happens and clients sometimes need to reschedule, it should be super straightforward to modify the appointment online. These tech must-haves go a long way to create a frictionless experience and set the tone before your client ever walks in the door.