In the wake of success stories like Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa, artificial intelligence has become a hot topic. One industry that is starting to make use of AI is appointment booking software.
There is no longer a need to have a person who is on the phone to talk with customers, who takes appointments, writes them down in the calendar, and keeps an eye on them, sends reminders and informs when there are some changes in the schedule. Let us focus on the role that AI can take in appointment apps.
What is artificial intelligence and how does it work in a scheduling app
In short, artificial intelligence (AI) is a simulation of human intelligence that is created by computer systems. The AI can learn and think like a person, it can remember things from the past just as people do. It can be taught to do a specific task and it can figure out solutions to complicated problems on its own.
In appointment apps, AI can be either a virtual assistant. chatbot or an automatic scheduler.
Virtual assistants can answer questions about the schedule, remind users to book time with their specialists, hairdressers or stylists and call back if there are any changes in clients’ days as well as some other tasks that may require more human skills.
Automatic schedulers monitor when clients should come for their next appointment based on specialist’s recommendations. This is an advantage for people with complicated schedules or those who have to work and are constantly on the go. They don’t need to remember to call or open the booking system after a particular period.
Natural language processing is a branch of artificial intelligence that deals with text analysis for automatic understanding and generation of written human speech. It has been an essential part of chatbots development since they are expected to understand natural language as humans do, and react accordingly. Chatbots operate within already existing systems, not as a separate app. They are simpler than virtual assistants since they do not need to respond to complex questions.
The most common types of chatbots are customer service bots, which help users with their inquiries about products or services offered by the company; and lead generation bots that try to extract information from potential customers for the purpose of sales opportunities.
How AI can help with the planning of the day
Scheduling apps are the easiest way to book a date for hairdressers, nail stylists, doctors, tattoo artists and more. You are just a few clicks away from your appointment to be booked instead of hanging on the phone call or sending emails back and forth to schedule the date.
Switching to apps is simplifying for salons, too. Workers don’t need to answer constant calls to schedule appointments. They have everything in the system, and customers take the available dates themselves. Employees are notified when someone schedules an appointment.
“That includes the implementation of one-click booking, a feature that uses machine learning and AI technologies, to determine each user’s buying pattern and offer them the best dates with their favorite stylists, thus simplifying user experience for both merchants and their customers.” said Stefan Batory, CEO and Co-founder of scheduling app, Booksy about investing money into particular features growth.
There is no longer a need to have a paper notebook or calendar with dates written by hand along with all information about customers. Moreover, apps let salons gain information about how often particular customers schedule an appointment or to schedule the next visit for them if needed.
Some of the most common features in scheduling apps
There are great choices of scheduling apps on the market. They differ in design and the variety of features. Sometimes it is possible to add more stylists into one salon, sometimes they need to have separate accounts. Some apps have a complex system that shows all of the data about customers and stores it to create statistics.
Some of the apps let customers write private messages to the salon to ask about some things, but there are some that don’t have that option at all or let salons to disable it. The same with contact data since the existing app indicates the need to schedule all of the appointments in the system instead of calling the salon.
Many places needed to have receptionists to answer all of the calls and write down the details, but after switching to the app, they no longer have ones, so answering phone or emails is more difficult to them since they still need to do their job with customers.
Pros and cons. Are scheduling apps a perfect solution?
Scheduling apps are being used more and more to make appointments. They have a number of advantages such as alerts, reminders, synchronization with social media accounts.
Reasons why appointments apps are better:
- Better customer experience, less time spent on phone with salon receptionist or emailing back and forth to get an appointment date;
“They see Booksy as their own personal secretary, allowing them to focus on their own customers and streamlining their hectic schedules.” said Stefan Batory, CEO and Co-founder of Booksy about his customers, so hairdressers, beauticians and doctors of particular specialisations.
- Less probability to forget about appointments, because of alerts, reminders and notifications. Good for both, customers and salons since no one will miss the appointment and have to come back again.
- Money saved on hiring receptionists
- Less time spent on the phone and emailing for appointments
- Easy searching for the salon with the most suitable date available
- More transparency between salon employees in checking who has appointment and when
- Great for salons to build a customer base and get new customers
- Keeps the data safe by using encryption, protecting against hacking.
- Informed clients about their hair, nail care routines such as how often they should come in or what products are best for them. Salon employees can also propose services to increase client loyalty; this is very important with salons with huge competitionin the area.
- Gives clients an easy way to pay for their services online, where they are able to see all of their charges in one place and make sure that everything is accurate before completing the transaction.
Some minor drawbacks of appointment apps are:
- It takes time and effort to train an AI and tailor it under particular business
- Sometimes people are not used to chatbots. They might feel more comfortable talking with a human on the phone instead of typing into a box that is constantly changing, so it’s important for employees at salons or other businesses in general to be welcoming and engaging when speaking over text messages
- Older people might not be familiar with the technology
- Apps are not available for all operating systems
Some of the chatbots are not fully automated. They still need to be monitored by a human, and there’s always the chance that they can’t keep up with customer service requests if too many people come into the store at once.
AI is an exciting thing in general because it has promising applications in various industries, including booking and scheduling. There is still a lot to improve in the field of AI, but it is already changing customer service in ways that are beneficial. Apps like Booksy can help businesses grow. They make it easier for people to schedule appointments at a time that suits them, and they also allow customers to find salons or spas nearby without having to search manually in the browser.