Scheduling Software Review
Why Scheduling Software?
The top performers in our review are FlexBooker, the Gold Award winner; Acuity Scheduling, the Silver Award winner; and EZnet Scheduler, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a system to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 systems.
Busy offices are a good sign of productivity and business growth. It's also an indicator that you need a reliable system for keeping track of your clients, including scheduling and managing appointments. Scheduling software lets you, your secretary and your associates see and have access to the scheduling calendar and efficiently schedule time to meet with your customers around other tasks, meetings and days off. In addition to traditional appointment setting through your secretary, the scheduling solutions we reviewed will create client portals that you can link to from your business website that allow visitors to conveniently make an appointment online. Often these portals can also be accessed with a mobile device and will match your in-office calendar with unavailable times blocked out.
After booking an appointment with you, these programs will automatically notify staff of the appointment, usually through email, while also sending either an email or text message reminder to your client. The best scheduling programs will also include convenient functions, such as creating wish lists, converting time zones and providing client-history lists. Several of the solutions we tested, such as bookedIN, allow you to include intake forms to be filled at the time clients book online, which helps reduce the check-in time when they arrive at your office. Other programs, such as Appointy, let you invoice and collect payment at the time your clients schedule through the online portal.
Scheduling software is just one of a network of business solutions that often work together to help simplify running your business and to give you tools to grow your company. Many of the booking programs we reviewed can integrate into other business solutions. For example, BookMyCity integrates in some CRM solutions, while Acuity Scheduling connects with QuickBooks accounting software.
Which Scheduling Solution Is Best for You?
The tools needed to book, reschedule or cancel appointments are universal for any type of business, including realtor offices, spas and construction companies. Each of the solutions we tested will easily meet these basic expectations. However, some solutions are industry specific, such as NueMD, a patient scheduling program designed for medical facilities and currently on our top ten review for medical practice management. Typically, the booking functions in this type of program include additional office-management tools and are HIPAA compliant.
Another type of common appointment setting solution is online reservation systems. Net Check In, by ICA, is one such solution that allows patrons to check-in online and reserve an appointment at a salon or a table at their favorite restaurant. These solutions, like traditional scheduling software, will create a simple client portal on your website that visitors can use.
Appointment scheduling software is only one type of several schedule solutions available. Workforce management programs let you manage a team of workers as they complete assigned tasks, while project management solutions track hours worked on projects then bill clients for those hours worked. Field service management solutions let you schedule fleets or field service workers, such as carpet cleaners, and connect to an in-office dispatcher.
If you don't have a true office setting, or find that you typically make appointments while on the go, you may benefit from an appointment or calendar app that will let you schedule meetings with clients, investors or other from your phone. You can visit our sister site, Tom's Guide, for a good list of appointment apps.
For more help in determining the right scheduling solution for your business, check out our articles on scheduling software.
What We Tested, What We Found
When we tested each of the scheduling software on our comparison, we looked at how intuitive and easy the self-service tools are for clients to use since you will have customers with various computer skills accessing the portal. Those solutions with simple calendars, that didn't require a lot of steps or redirected clients to often, received a higher score.
We looked at whether wait lists are available and if clients are able to cancel or reschedule appointments through the online portal rather than having to call in personally to your office for assistance. We also considered other appointment setting tools included to help create a smooth and positive experience for your clients as they move through the online scheduler, and how clearly these tools are labeled and easy to find. Some of these features include instant quotes and being able to set recurring appointments. Higher-ranked solutions also have both email and text reminders.
In addition to the client portals, good appointment scheduling solutions should make it easy for administrators and staff to set up and manage their schedules from within the office. While testing these solutions, we looked at how easy it is for the program to be set up. Programs that required too many steps and clicks in order to complete a function received a lower score. We also looked at the quality of the client lists, history and reports available and other support functions available, such as if you can set up the program to accept payments through the client portal or schedule payments to be collected at a future date.
Since the booking programs we tested include the ability to either embed a scheduler or link to the scheduler from your website, we created a test website using WordPress. We copied and pasted the generated HTML code from each of the scheduling software into the WordPress website generator.
Some solutions embedded the scheduler directly onto our website so we could book an appointment without having to leave the main page. Most were easy to use while some were condensed so much that we had to scroll over or down too much in order to read all of the instructions or access the text fields needed to complete the task. Others simply placed a button link that redirected us to the free booking website provided by each of the scheduling software solutions. These did not received as high of a score as those that embedded the scheduler.
Our Verdict & Recommendations
Scheduling software makes running your office more efficient. Client portals allow customers to schedule their own appointments online, streamlining the process with your in-office calendar. Most integrate with other important solutions, such as time tracking and CRM software, creating a powerful business suite.
It is important that a booking solution with an online self-service portal be easy for clients to navigate through, with the option of receiving both email and text message reminders. Programs that include functions for generating instant quotes and allowing customers to fill out intake paperwork at the time of booking help save you time and money and reduce wait times once clients show up in your office.
Our highest-ranked scheduling software programs are the easiest to use, from both a client and administrative standpoint, and embed the scheduler onto your website rather than creating a link to an external page.