If you are in the market for an appointment scheduler, this guide will explain the exact features that you should look for.
Admittedly, a one-size-fits-all appointment scheduler doesn’t exist. However, review the list below to determine what features of appointment scheduling are important so you can make the most informed decision.
Question: What about a free appointment scheduler?
Let’s lay out there for simplicity’s sake — a truly robust free appointment scheduler software simply doesn’t exist.
Let me clarify. There is a surfeit of free appointment scheduler softwares. In fact, at the conclusion of this article, we’ve listed a handful.
But if you’re looking for an appointment scheduling tool that really delivers a ton of features, options, customizations, and high-octane power, you’re going to have to pay for it.
Even though a free appointment scheduler may not exist, it’s important to understand what a good appointment scheduler should do, free or not.
What Exactly Does an Appointment Scheduler Do?
First, let me explain precisely what this type of software does.
An appointment scheduler is a tool that allows you to book and manage meetings with inbound leads.
A lead can book a meeting from places like your website, social media accounts, a webinar, a demo, through email, or any other channel where you have a booking link.
They select a date and time that works for them, and an appointment scheduler will then route that lead to the appropriate sales rep.
You can use custom rules to determine who the lead is sent to.
Or, you can use round robin routing to distribute leads evenly to your sales team and ensure fair distribution.
From there, a rep will reach out to the lead at the agreed upon time and have a meeting that hopefully ends with a sale.
To see how Workato uses Chili Piper to 75% of their qualified video, check out this video.
Now, let’s dive into what you’re really interested in — what to look for in an appointment scheduler.
Here are some specific features I suggest.
Time is of the essence when scheduling appointments, and you need to move at warp speed.
A study by Velocify found that responding to lead within 1 minute results in a 391% conversion rate boost.
But that number quickly declines the longer you wait.
For instance, waiting 2 minutes lowers that number to 160%, and waiting 3 minutes lowers it to 98%.
And if you wait an entire day, that number drops all the way down to just 17%.
When it comes to closing deals, you have to remember that 78% of deals go to the first vendor to respond.
So, above all else, you want a platform that has automated scheduling.
That way you can always strike while the iron is sizzling hot and schedule meetings before a lead moves onto a competitor.
That’s absolutely essential.
Efficient Lead Routing
Ideally, an appointment scheduler will automatically route leads without you having to step in and do it manually.
After all, you don’t want to have to flip through spreadsheets or have reps step on each other’s toes, so automated lead routing is the solution you’re looking for.
Like I mentioned before, you should have different routing choices, such as using custom rules to determine which rep gets what lead or round robin routing to distribute leads evenly.
It’s nice to have plenty of flexibility here so you can try out different options and make adjustments as you go.
So, when it’s all said and done, you can swiftly get leads where they need to go and remove any kinks along the way.
This is another biggie.
The last thing you want is for your reps to have to manually add meeting dates and times to their calendars.
Not only is this a time drainer, it also opens the door for errors and scheduling conflicts.
A quality appointment scheduler will offer calendar syncing that automatically adds a meeting to a rep’s calendar without any effort on their end.
Here’s an example of how this process would go down on Chili Piper.
Say a lead requests a demo.
After making the request, they select a date and time that works for them.
After doing so, Chili Piper adds the meeting to the appropriate rep’s calendar.
The rep will see the meeting date and time, along with any pertinent information that will be useful for guiding their interactions.
I probably don’t need to tell you that no-shows are a massive pain.
You go to all of the trouble of scheduling a meeting and getting your rep prepared, only to have a lead flake out at the last moment.
A simple solution is to use an appointment scheduler with automated reminders.
With it, you can send one or more emails or texts at specific times to ensure a lead doesn’t forget about the meeting.
For instance, with Chili Piper, you can conveniently set up multiple reminders at key intervals, like an hour before the meeting…
…and one minute before the meeting.
You can also use premade templates to streamline things even more, where a lead will receive emails that look like these.
Here’s an email one hour before the meeting.
And here’s an email one minute before the meeting.
This is a format that we’ve had major success with, and it’s helped us keep our no show rate below 2%.
While you can’t always expect all appointment scheduler to have features this advanced, it should definitely have some type of built-in automated reminders.
But what about the ones that get away?
Even with reminders, you will inevitably have no shows at some point.
How do you make it so these leads can reschedule so they don’t slip through your fingers and get whisked away by a competitor?
For this, you’ll want an appointment scheduler with ultra simple rescheduling.
Ideally, it will be one-click rescheduling so leads don’t have to jump through any hoops.
Instead, you can reel them back in and still get them to the right rep without creating any headaches for either party.
The Ability to Post a Booking Link on Multiple Channels
I also talked earlier about giving a lead the option to book a meeting from different places like your website, social media pages, demo, etc.
That’s another integral feature to look for in an appointment scheduler.
Although you can probably expect for the bulk of inbound leads to book meetings through your website, you definitely want to give them other options to cast the widest net possible.
In fact, a 2018 study found that as many as 37% of leads scheduled appointments through social media, with Instagram and Facebook being the most popular choices.
And in 2020 and beyond, that number is likely to keep increasing.
With Chili Piper, you can create smart booking links, which gives you ton of different options, including:
- Your website
- Demo page
- Email signature
- Social accounts
That way you give quality leads a simple path for getting in touch with your sales team, regardless of the channel they happen to find you through.
Plenty of Integrations
Having an appointment scheduler that “plays well with others” is also important.
While you can’t expect the same number of integrations that you would get with a more comprehensive, paid option, the software should still sync with other major platforms.
Chili Piper, for example, integrates with GSuite and Outlook365 Calendars, which allows reps to seamlessly schedule appointments without any hassle.
It also integrates with Salesforce, which means your reps don’t get stuck doing onerous manual data entry when inputting customer information into your CRM, while simultaneously reducing admin time.
Chili Piper also integrates with Zoom and GoToMeeting, enabling your reps to video chat with leads using universally recognized platforms.
Here’s a full list of what Chili Piper integrates with.
Next, there’s security.
A recent study found, “there are approximately 7 million data records compromised each day, and 56 records compromised each second. This means that in the average year, based on the number of daily breaches, there’s about 2,555,000,000 (2.55 billion) records exposed annually.”
That’s why you need to take security seriously when choosing an appointment scheduler and only use a platform that takes every possible precaution.
In terms of specifics, a software should be Service Organization Control (SOC) 2 compliant.
Developed by the American Institute of CPAs, SOC 2 is based on five “trust service principles,” including security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy.
A software should also be GDPR compliant, which ensures that it meets the guidelines of the General Data Protection Regulation — something you can learn all about here.
Besides that, there are some other key things to look for with security:
- Encryption – Using 256 bit SSL is the industry standard
- Database security – Data should require two-factor authentication and only be able to be accessed via a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
- Physical security – A company should have comprehensive on-site security or run operations on a reputable platform like Google Cloud
- Data privacy – Your information should never been shared with third-parties or used for marketing purposes
- Data recovery – Your data should be routinely backed up so that it can easily be recovered in the event of a disaster
Finally, you’ll want to look for a platform that offers all of the support you need to 1) quickly get onboarded and up and running and 2) promptly work through any hiccups that arise.
For starters, it’s nice for a software to have a comprehensive knowledge base on their website that you can quickly access.
On Chili Piper, for instance, you can search for a specific topic or browse through sections for both admins and users.
So, if you were just getting up and running, you could look through the “Getting Started” section.
And that should cover most of the questions you’ll have, while including helpful screenshots.
Next, you’ll want to have a means of making quick contact if you need further help than what’s provided in a knowledge base.
Besides that, it’s nice to be able to reach a support rep through other channels like email, phone, and in-app chat.
The more options the better, and the more confident you’ll feel that you can swiftly have your questions answered without any drama.
Appointment Scheduler FAQs
What is an appointment scheduler?
An appointment scheduler is a tool that lets you book and manage meetings with inbound leads.
Why is it helpful to have an appointment scheduler?
An online appointment scheduler will provide for the following:
- Jump on qualified leads while they’re piping hot
- Create smoother interactions right out of the gate
- Increase your speed to lead time
- Automate much of the meeting scheduling process
- Free up more of your reps’ time so they can focus on selling
- Close more deal
What are some specific things to look for in an appointment scheduler?
- Automated scheduling
- Streamlined lead routing
- Calendar syncing
- Automated reminders
- Rescheduling options
- Integrations with major platforms like Google Calendar, Salesforce, and Zoom
- The option for posting booking links to multiple channels like email, demos, and social media
- Tight security
- Comprehensive support
What are some software platforms that offer free plans?
While limited, there are some options with the following free appointment schedulers.
- Acuity Scheduling
We highly recommend considering a paid solution such as Chili Piper. While there is a cost involved, those costs are generally recouped due to the power and facility that they offer.
Taking the Drama Out of Appointment Scheduling
Having an efficient and effective process for scheduling meetings with leads is an absolute must these days.
This is what allows companies to pounce on scorching hot leads and quickly move them through the sales cycle.
Using an appointment scheduler is one of the best, and I would argue the only, way to go about that, with 61% of companies who do so reporting “faster, easier and more accurate scheduling.”
It’s just a matter of finding the software that covers all of the bases you need.
Take a close-up look at how Chili Piper can make your scheduling smoother than you thought possible. Get your demo now.