Online appointment software is infinitely more efficient than taking bookings over the phone. Your employees won’t get interrupted by the lines ringing off the hook everyday, and customers can book appointments more quickly and whenever they want.

If you currently rely on a phone system for appointment bookings, you’ll need to undergo a transition process. To make life easier for everyone, use the following tips to make the switch from phone to online bookings seamlessly:

Start With the Setup

Before you start transitioning online, make sure your infrastructure is good to go before launch. Run some tests with your online appointment software to make sure it’s accurately tracking customer information and setting up appointments without errors. Also take note of any delays or double bookings that pop up so you can resolve these issues before they get out of hand.

Once you’ve worked the kinks out of your online appointment software, you’ll be set up for a smooth transition experience. If you neglect this step, you may have to take your appointment system offline while it’s being repaired, adding further bumps to your transition. Be sure to check everything from confirmation emails to autofill selections when running a pre-launch audit.

Change Voicemail Messages

Give customers a heads up by changing your voicemail message. In it, you can notify customers of your plan to switch from taking bookings over the phone to only accepting them through online appointment software. Those customers who are used to calling in to make their appointment will be quickly notified of the change.

You can set up your voicemail message to run a script describing the new system and how to access it before a call is put through. This allows customers to get most of the information they need before talking to one of your employees. If they can make the switch to your online platform on their own, your employees will be spared from explaining the details over a dozen times a day.

Another potential option is having your voicemail messaging act as an extension to your online appointment software. An automated response system will set up appointments for your online system while using a call-in feature that some of your customers will continue to prefer using.

Incentivize Online Booking

As you make the transition, incentivize the use of your online appointment software to lure customers over more quickly. Those resistant customers will feel more inclined to give the new system a go if you give them an offer they can’t refuse.

While you don’t want to break the bank with incentives, even the smallest offer will carry some weight. Consider providing a discount code for customers using your online appointment software for the first time. This will give customers the chance to learn the new system in pursuit of a lower price.

Some incentives are built into the online appointment software itself. For example, being able to prepay for appointments is a huge plus for many customers. The ability to book an appointment outside of normal business hours is another great perk for customers with busier schedules.

Provide a Transition Period

Even with good incentives, you shouldn’t expect your entire client base to switch approaches overnight. There are a lot of moving parts, and a transition period will allow for a smoother change for both your business and your customers.

Make customers aware of the strict deadline by which they will have to start booking appointments exclusively through your online appointment software. This advance notice will indicate when they need to commit to the switch and provide enough time for them to acclimate to a new system of operations.

Leverage Marketing

Old and new customers alike need to know when you decide to start implementing online appointment software. Leverage your marketing resources to inform everyone that they can now schedule appointments online and that phone bookings will be discontinued. Start by displaying this message clearly on your website’s homepage and your social media pages.

If you send out newsletters and messages to your customers, add information about the change to your next e-blast. Include links to relevant information or your new customer portal to help them get started. A robust social media strategy can also spread the word about your new system to followers, as well as net you some new customers.

Walk Customers Through the Process

Each time a customer walks through your doors, take the time to walk them through the online appointment process and answer any questions they might have right then and there. This gives each customer a chance to voice concerns they might have over the change, which they otherwise might keep to themselves.

This also offers you a chance to encourage customers to set up a return appointment on the spot. This will give your retention rate a boost and fill up your online appointment calendar much faster.

Look for ways to guide your customers through the process online as well. AI-driven tools such as chatbots can answer frequently asked questions or present a guided tour through the online booking process.

The smoother your transition process, the sooner you can get to taking care of customers and booking appointments like there’s no tomorrow. Don’t rush the process — that can cause you to make mistakes that will set you back. Take the transition one step at a time to make sure your online appointment software takes its proper place from day one.