Turn your website into a 24/7 receptionist with online scheduling tools
As a new independent healthcare professional, you might not have grown to the stage where you can employ a full-time appointment scheduler or telephone receptionist. This weakness can severely impact your growth because you’re relying on third-parties who may not have your priorities in mind.
While not intended to replace a skilled and trained telephone receptionist, you can (partially) address this problem of scheduling appointments for you with online scheduling tools. Many of our clients use vCita LiveSite, which acts as a virtual online appointment scheduler on their websites.
LiveSite is a lightweight and powerful plugin that opens up a new channel for visitor engagement so that you can generate more leads.
We all can agree that getting visitors to call you should be your website’s number one priority. You could set up a telephone answering service, but it’s rare to find one that will represent your business well.
Many healthcare professionals have a form on their website asking people to book an appointment. They then will attempt to follow them up by phone. While we wouldn’t advise someone against it, this approach has several disadvantages:
- The more form options available, the fewer form submissions you’ll get. People tend not to complete forms with long drop-downs forms showing every day and hour of the week. These types of forms are just too tedious to use
- Your schedule changes all the time. Someone may complete your form and request a date and time that is already booked or unavailable
- You often have to call them back to confirm the appointment. You know how difficult it can be to play the ‘let’s find a time to meet’ game over email or telephone? Who has the time or patience for that?
The LiveSite plugin solves these problems by adding a simple and useful appointment scheduling system on every page of your website. Here’s how it works:
How do online scheduling tools work?
We’ve implemented vCita LiveSite on several of our clients’ websites and even on our own. If you look at the bottom right corner of our site, you’ll see a purple tab that says ‘Contact us’.
You’ll also see three round circles at the top right-hand side that do the same thing.
Click on that ‘Contact us’ tab, and you’ll see a pop-up with a call to action inviting you to schedule an appointment. Once you click ‘Schedule Now’, you’ll see another pop-up that offers a choice of services. Choose one of those services and the pop-up will display a table offering available dates and times. These times are dynamically linked to our calendar, so they’re always up to date. Once you choose a date and time for the appointment, we’ll receive an email with the request.
The request will be accepted automatically (we can set it up for approval only if we wish) and you’ll receive an email confirmation. When the appointment is about to begin, you’ll get a text message that will remind you about the upcoming meeting or call – all without us having to do a thing.
Wouldn’t you like to make your online booking that easy?
Do online scheduling tools generate leads?
Yes, online scheduling tools indeed get more leads. A fertility specialist that we installed the service for has created 73 new appointment requests since October 2016 (3 months). That’s an outstanding number of engagements from a site that’s less than a year old.
Another client, a cataract surgeon, has generated 39 LiveSite appointments since May 2016 (7 months). That’s not as high a number in as short time, but it’s still an impressive number of engagements that might not otherwise have happened.
We too can attest to seeing an increase in appointments since installing the online scheduling tools.
Beyond online scheduling
The vCita LiveSite online scheduling tools goes beyond online scheduling by acting like a simple online contact manager and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) that allows you to keep extensive contact records, manage calendar appointments and initiate follow-up reminders.
If you collect fees for your appointments, it will process online payments or email invoices on your behalf. You can even invite existing contacts to attend events or classes with you, whether they are one-time events or repeating events.
You can use online scheduling on many platforms
It works on mobile devices (see top image) and also works on its own appointment scheduling site, Facebook, and in email marketing.
Want to add online scheduling to your website?
If you’re an existing client, please ask us whether we’d recommend using an online scheduler for your website. If you’re not a client yet, you can check out vCita LiveSite by visiting their website.
There are other options for online scheduling tools apart from vCita. We’ve not used these, but have reviewed their features to compare:
- Schedule Once (a robust and flexible option, but the only option you really want starts at $20/month).
- Calendly (an elegant looking solution that does not integrate with your website)
- Time Trade (a good service that costs $49/year; but it doesn’t allow requestable meetings. It only allows meetings to be automatically booked)
In our view, each of the above options have limitations that vCita does not. If you look for options you may want to consider these essential features:
- Integration with Google Calendar
- Integration on your website
- Have a feature that can request an appointment (not just book one automatically)
- A reasonable price
- A robust and reliable solution
vCita offers all of the above and more. Further, vCita has an attractive price ($19.90/month) that is more appealing than the others we reviewed.