Choosing an Online Booking System For Your Website

If your appointment based business already has it’s own website then using an online booking system is a great way to attract new customers. Website booking systems let your customers book and pay for your services 24/7, and are surprisingly easy to setup and use with little technical know-how.

Online booking systems have many advantages that can boost your businesses bottom line. The most obvious advantage is an increase in bookings. Customers who may not have booked your services are more likely to book on impulse, rather than continuing their web search and booking with another business that does provide the convenience of bookings online. These days everyone is comfortable with using the Internet to book and pay for services, so if your business doesn’t provide the capacity for online bookings then you’re missing out on new business.

To start offering online website bookings on your website you must first choose an online reservation system. Most booking reservation systems charge a small monthly fee which can vary from $20 per month up to $100 per month for enterprise solutions. Prices are usually determined by the number of services you provide, and the number of staff/resources that your business has.

Many online booking systems allow your customers to pay for bookings using an online payment solution. When choosing an online booking system make sure that PayPal payments are supported, as PayPal is by far the most trusted and widely used payment gateway today.

Before selecting which website reservation system you will use make sure you try out a demo of what the booking calendar will look like for your customers. Booking systems vary greatly in the technology they’ve been built with, so you want one that’s easy to use and looks good on your site. The booking experience that an online reservation system provides will be the difference between completed bookings and abandoned bookings due to an outdated or un-friendly user interface.

You want to make the booking experience as easy and straightforward as possible for your customers. Don’t choose an online reservation system that forces your customers to create accounts before completing a booking. This is a big turn-off for your customers, and will result in many abandoned bookings. You also don’t want to force your customers to enter line after line of personal information that you don’t even need. A good online reservation system should let you choose what information you collect from your customers when making bookings. It’s important to request only the information you need, since long booking forms will also result in abandoned bookings.

Other features to look out for in a website reservation system are email and SMS/text appointment reminders. Automated appointment reminders will reduce no-shows, saving your business money while providing a handy service to your customers.

Many businesses today use tools such as Google Calendar in running day to day activities. If your business falls within this category then you should choose an online booking system that has Google Calendar integration. Some online reservation systems let you integrate with Google Calendar using “calendar feeds”. Calendar feeds can only update your Google Calendar one-way, and there’s a long delay between updates which means your Google Calendar is not always up to date. If using Google Calendar is important to your business then choose an online booking system that has full two-way Google Calendar integration, allowing you to modify bookings directly within Google Calendar and also ensuring that your Google Calendar is always up to date.

Lastly, make sure your online booking system is powerful and flexible enough to handle things such as staff leave, custom working days/times for your staff, and non-working days for when you’re closed for business. The last thing you want is your customers booking times when your business or a staff member is not available.

Once you’ve chosen your online booking system you simply create an account, fill in some details that define your business and operating hours, then copy and paste some HTML code directly on your website.

Top 5 Innovative IT Insurance Services

INNOVATIVE IT INSURANCE SERVICES IN A CONSERVATIVE INDUSTRY?While insurance is not known as an extremely innovative or exciting industry, new technology has created a platform for a number of exciting insurance information technology (IT) services for both consumers and insurance providers. Here we provide an overview of the top 5 innovative IT insurance services.#1: PAY AS YOU DRIVEPay-as-you-drive insurance calculates premiums according to an individual’s driving profile, rewarding secure driving while tracking and increasing premiums on dangerous driving styles. Drivers who constantly speed, brake suddenly or drive in bad weather conditions (e.g. snow, rain) find themselves paying higher premiums than those who follow the rules of the road. A “black box” device installed in the car tracks key parameters of the journey and transfers the data to the insurance company, who then regulates the premium rate.Some insurance companies already offering simplified versions of Pay-as-you-drive solutions:
Aviva
Hollard
Allianz Lloyd Adriatico
Companies such as Accenture are intensively research this topic to be able offer new solutions.#2: SOCIAL BENCHMARKINGOnline insurance quote platforms, such as Kanetix, all offer access to a limited number of insurance providers, allowing consumers to analyze only a subset of prices, which are based on the insurance provider’s data.Social benchmarking of insurance premiums offers independent, consumer-generated data across all insurance providers. As consumers share information about their insurance spending, they can access the collective experience of other consumers, identifying if they pay too much and who offers the best prices for peers with a similar insurance profile.An example of such a service is the InsurEye Peer Comparison tool, which covers not only spending information for online insurance products (20%-30% of the total market), but also for insurance offered directly by insurers, brokers, and agents.#3: ONLINE POLICY MANAGEMENTOnline banking has become the norm, but online insurance management? Personal banking finance management tools and other useful online IT services are available for consumers for free. Finally, the insurance industry has started to close the gap. Now many insurance providers offer online and mobile tools to help consumers to manage their policies and provide customer support. One example is TD Insurance, which offers an online service allowing customers to perform many tasks on their own, eliminating the need to call a service line. Examples of such tasks are:
Modify contact information
Modify a car policy
Modify a Home Policy
Modify a payment plan
File a claim
A number of insurance providers both in Canada and the United States offer such tools for their customers e.g. TD Insurance, Nationwide, USAA, and more.#4: MOBILE DEVICE CLAIMSCollisions don’t happen while you are sitting at home in front of the computer. Instead, many insurance companies have developed solutions to help customers deal with their collisions and claims situations on their mobile devices. Typical example of mobile application offers customers many handy functionalities reducing headaches in case of an accident. A typical set of features for such an IT solution includes:
List of tips in case of an accident
Capture all required accident info (incl. photos)
Find / order towing service
Find a repair shop
Initiate a claim process
Check claim status
Find an insurance agent
Such apps are usually free and users can start using them directly after downloading from an app store. Especially useful is the ability to take a picture of an accident to document what exactly happened and estimate the potential level of damage.#5: ADJUDICATION FROM A DISTANCEIf you’ve ever had a road accident, you surely know the range of emotions you experience: fear for the own health and those who are in the car, concerns about financial impact on future insurance premiums, not being sure what to do and in what order, dealing with police, towing services, another car driver etc.Some companies, e.g. RBC Insurance, have so-called Road Angels – insurance experts who physically arrive at the accident location to support the customer.Instead of sending an agent to a scene, IT insurance services could potentially provide long distance assistance via video. Modern smartphones are capable of transmitting two-way video, making it possible to show an insurance expert what has happened, and at the same time making the customer feel more secure.Videoconference providers such as Skype already offer these technical functionalities, and Apple has FaceTime, a new video chat for its iPhone users. It’s likely only a matter of time before this technology results in a mature IT insurance service.