Online Scheduling & Diary Integration

Online Scheduling & Diary Integration

Online scheduling is a perfect fit for growing or small and medium business, and entrepreneurs, who sell services and want to automate the service booking process. It helps to automate online appointment scheduling routine, gather leads, manage customer base, increase conversion rates and more. Integrating a seamless, automated appointment scheduling function into your website offers both your business and your customers many benefits.

What is online scheduling?

Online scheduling systems are website-based plugins that allow visitors to quickly and conveniently book appointments through any device, such as a computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet.

The system works by adding simple “Book Now” buttons on to pages on your website that starts an automated process that books a meeting directly into your diary. Once a service, staff member date and time etc. are selected, the system will automatically confirm the booking and instantly record it without any staff action or involvement needed.

In addition online scheduling systems also offer other beneficial features like automated e-mail and text message reminders, which the system sends out to patients and booked individuals on a specific date prior to their scheduled appointment; recording and record-keeping capabilities that make it quick and simple to access data associated with a specific appointment; and repeat reminders, which the system sends out automatically when a specified amount of time has expired between appointments

Some key benefits of online scheduling:

Self-scheduling 24x7

Scheduling appointments over the phone requires an individual to call in during office hours, which can be an inconvenience for many, as they are at work at this time. Additionally, many individuals prefer to schedule their appointments online rather than over the phone. Statistics show that 75% of Millennials prefer messaging rather than talking on the phone, so more of your visitors will appreciate the freedom that comes with an online appointment scheduling.

Studies show that approx. 35% of clients prefer scheduling appointments during non-business hours, and 40% of online bookings happen outside of ‘normal’ office hours. An online scheduling system allows for 24x7 booking.

Faster Payments

Our online booking system can be configured to require customers to prepay some (deposit) or all of the fee to book time with you. This allows you to acquire new revenue as soon as people schedule an appointment. If your business suffers from a high percentage of ‘no-shows’, this approach allows you to potentially keep some of the deposit as compensation.

Less No Shows

Every industry suffers from no-show appointments and, frustratingly, there can be customers who repeatedly no-show or cancel their appointments at the last minute. Implementing an online scheduling system offers automatic email and SMS reminders that reduce no-shows.

Online scheduling also makes it much easier for clients to reschedule their bookings with you by allowing them to change their appointment online (instead of having to call in and speak to you again). This takes all the hassle out of comparing diaries for both you and you’re clients.

Time savings.

You will spend far less time on the phone booking and managing appointments, thereby freeing up your time for more important and pressing tasks. Likewise, your clients also save time, as they no longer have to call in, remain on hold, or send multiple emails just to book a

Monetary savings.

The time savings previously mentioned can translate into monetary savings. Additionally, by reducing the number of “no-shows” who fail to make their scheduled appointments. Surveys have shown that these types of reminders can decrease this number by 50 percent.

Higher conversion levels

Embedding ‘Book Now’ buttons throughout your website and social media pages will increase your conversion rates of visitors. When you have well-written, compelling content about your business and offerings, integrating a one-click button to book an appointment will maximise the chances of receiving bookings.

By streamlining the booking process rather than introducing multiple unnecessary steps to call in to your office, or fill in enquiry forms and wait for a response, you will see an increase in appointments, especially ‘impulse’ bookings coming through your website.

Full mobile integration

With more people using mobile devices than computers to browse the internet, having a responsive, adaptable system that works across all devices is essential. Customisable booking forms that work seamlessly across both mobile devices and desktop computers offers the flexibility to arrange appointments at any time, on any device.

Some of the more popular features we can offer include:

  • A fully Customisable and responsive appointment booking form that works on any device
  • A wide range and variety of filtering options to streamline the booking process
  • Allow your clients to select from an unlimited number of services to book appointments for
  • Bookings can be requested with an endless list of staff members with individual working schedules, prices, and more
  • Appointments can be set for different lengths of time and can automatically add padding between appointments to allow for Covid-19 cleaning etc.
  • Automated SMS and Email notifications can be used to keep you and your customers updated and reminded of the appointment.
  • Various templates for quickly customising any number of Email and SMS notifications
  • Simple integration with all popular online payment methods including integrated PayPal Express Checkout option
  • Easy translation setup for multi-language support (currently 12 languages included)
  • Customisation to incorporate branding and colours with a simple, sleek UI design
  • Flexible enough to suit any business model in any industry
  • Overview of the booking and payment statistics with built-in analytical reports
  • CRM functionality with an unlimited clients list which displays payment situations and internal notes about each of your client

Additionally, there are more advanced features that can be integrated as well, depending on business requirements. Here are some of the more common features you may want to consider:

Advanced feature options:

  • Group booking capability
  • Scheduling of recurring appointments
  • Coupon discount facility
  • Custom fields for further customisation
  • Special Hours
  • Multiple appointment locations
  • Special Days
  • Chain Appointments
  • Waiting list / wish list feature
Online store FAQ

Online store FAQ

Over the last couple of weeks, we have had numerous enquiries about what is involved with setting up an online store. How quick and easy it is to move your business online? Can it work with services as well as products?

With the unusual circumstances businesses are having to operate in looking as if they could be lasting up to a year, we thought we would put together a quick FAQ guide on the options for building eCommerce sites and online stores.

How long does it take to start an online store?

Generally, not as long as you might expect! Our average customer turnaround for an online store is between 2 to 3 weeks. This does depend on a number of factors, namely; 

  • What condition your current website is in
  • What system your website is created in (WordPress/Magento etc)
  • How many products/services you offer
  • The complexity of your sales process

If your current site is a WordPress site that we can add online shopping features to, we can potentially have you up and running in 7-14 days. If a new store needs to be created from scratch, you would be looking at 14-21 days on average.


How much does it cost to build an online store?

We like to keep things simple here. Many sites will break down costs for hosting, eCommerce plugins, SSL certificates etc. The only recurring cost for a website (outside of payment processing costs which you would incur in any business set-up) is your hosting costs. These run at approx. £100 per year (inc SSL Certificate) for a local, fast and reliable hosting company.

Costs are predominantly driven by complexity of features and functionality as well as the number of products and services offered.

A simple online store for upto 50 products with a single payment option, basic search and filtering capabilities and click & collect / home delivery could start as little as £1,500.00

A more sophisticated online store with several hundred products, multiple product configuration options, multiple payment methods etc would be closer to £2,500 - £3,000


What features can an online store offer?

The options really are nearly limitless! One of the main reasons we use WooCommerce is it’s flexibility. It allows us to add lots of additional features by installing various plugins. There are literally thousands of specific plugins that can be used to extend an online shop’s functionality, offering extra features like automatic booking, subscriptions, payment and shipping platform integration, etc.

  • All of our online stores are offered with the following basic features:
  • Search and filter by all key categories
  • Shopping cart and wishlist integration
  • Order online and/or click and collect in store
  • Multiple payment and shipping options


What software do you use to build an online store?

We use a combination of WordPress and WooCommerce to build our online stores.

WordPress is the most popular website builder on the market. Over 35% of all websites on the internet are currently built using WordPress. WordPress allows users to build an online store or full eCommerce platform from scratch, or add shopping cart functionality to an existing website.

WooCommerce is an open-source eCommerce platform that makes it quick and easy to start selling products and services online. Over the years, it has become the most popular eCommerce platform in the world used by millions of small and large businesses to power their online stores.


Can we manage our online store to save on costs?

Yes! This is one of the main benefits of the technology we use to build websites and online stores. It is easy to make changes such as pricing, product specifications, adding new products and services etc. Whilst we are always on-hand to answer questions and help in any way we can, we love seeing our customers take ownership of their sites and stores and develop them further over time.

We always include full user training on all essential functionality before the site goes live. We will guide you through the first updates you make until you are confident you’ve got the hang of it.


What Kind of Products I can sell with WooCommerce?

You can sell any kind of products or service through an online store, providing it is configured properly for your business. If you are supplying physical goods (products that require shipping), There are extensions that allow you to integrate dropshipping capabilities, auction site and multi-vendor marketplace features.

For services, there are plugins to use your store as a booking platform for example. One of our latest online stores is for a beauty clinic. The store allows customers to book times for treatments directly into their diary and take payment in advance. Read the Glam Skin case study here.


Can I integrate Dropshipping into an online store?

Yes, you can. In fact, WooCommerce is the most popular choice to build a dropshipping store. There are several excellent plugins that allow you to easily handle orders, manage vendors, and basically automate the whole process.


Why not use a SaaS eCommerce platform instead?

These are definitely options worth considering if you have the time and experience yourself to build your own online store. One of the key questions we ask our customers is whether the intention is to create an online store simply to get through the current unusual economic conditions or, if you are going to keep the online store going when things return to ‘normal’ – whatever that may look like.

Whilst the up-front costs can be lower using an eCommerce platform provider, you will find your monthly/annual cost significantly higher. The standard costs of the two most popular eCommerce platforms is circa £80 per month and the advanced packages are circa £250 - £299 per month. There can be other additional costs incurred through payment processing for example. If you do not wish to use the proprietary payment solution offered by Shopify, they will charge you an additional +2.0% fee on top of the 2.9% charged by the likes of PayPal and Stripe for example.

There are many other factors to consider in this scenario, but to try and keep it simple, when building your own online store, you are paying more up-front to build a site specific to your requirements that you will own outright in perpetuity. With a SaaS platform provider, you are renting space to create your store with lower up-front costs, but are tied into much higher monthly charges.

web designers near me
Web designers near me – why choose a local web designer?

Web designers near me - why choose a local web designer?

There are plenty of campaigns about the importance of shopping local, so why pick a web designer you never get to meet in person? There are lots of offers on television and online for low price or free websites, but when you look at the detail, you get a free template but then you are charged a monthly fee for using the service which you often have to pay for upfront for the first year. You have to use the pre-set templates and if they don’t cover everything you need, you get charged additional premiums for any alterations or additions you want. Cheaper options will tie you to the number of email addresses you get for your staff and there will be advertising on your site which you can’t opt-out of without making further payments. You will produce all the content and while you can probably make some customisation, your site will look the same as lots of other sites. If you need support, it will have to be by phone and in some cases, you will even be charged by the minute for your call.

Local web designers like Big Mouth Digital offer a completely different level of service. We have over 15 years’ experience working directly with hundreds of businesses and community organisations in Northern Ireland and Ireland, so we know how things work locally. We believe in meeting our customers face to face and getting to know them and their businesses so we can suggest the best approach tailored to their needs. We have clients in a wide variety of sectors from professional services to retail to charities, so we know the key things to discuss to help promote different types of organisations.

Unlike the ‘free’ websites which have a mass of hidden charges, when we give you a quotation for a site, it will include all the things you actually require – so the price won’t keep growing as you design your site. We do our homework at the start and provide you with a quotation to enable you to choose if you want to proceed. We don’t get you part way through your design and then tell you that you will need to pay extra for the part you actually need. We will help to pull your content together, so while we need you to tell us about your organisation and share any branding you have already developed, we can help with logo design, photography and videos if you need it.

Another big difference from free website services is the all-round service a company like Big Mouth Digital can offer. We don’t just let you set up a standardised site and leave you to fend for yourself, we can provide much broader digital marketing advice on things like how to make your site more easily found, keywords to include in your content and what kind of approaches your competition are taking. We can help you with your social media profiles and campaigns and ensuring all your digital marketing is working together towards your goals.

Here are a few examples of some of our recent projects to show how we can help:

Developing short and long term strategies prioritising key marketing activities including website redesign to focus on conversions, easily understood case studies and facilitating customers to leave independent reviews on the site to encourage other potential customers. Reviewing and monitoring the company’s pay per click strategy to focus on reducing costs per click and to enable testing of different landing pages to determine the best approach. Creating blog articles and managing their social media postings following a monthly content planner to ensure relevant, useful content is developed on an ongoing basis.

Help with landing page conversion by optimising the current website’s search engine optimisation and looking at the visitor experience. Developing a content strategy following discussions with the client and a review of competitor’s keywords to ensure the site was meeting the needs of its visitors. Pay per click management to focus the available budget on the ads with the highest performing conversions. Overall improvement in traffic organically and via pay per click with no increase in budget.


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Looking for help with your online business? See how we can help...

web design companies belfast
Looking for a Web Design Company in Belfast

Web Design Companies Belfast

Need a Web Design Company in Belfast? Call Big Mouth Digital

If you are searching for a web design company in Belfast, get in touch with Big Mouth Digital.  Honesty, integrity and trust are at our core.  We are an agile company which guarantee you will get the personal touch.  We always take the time to get to know our clients and their work.  Whether you want to improve your online profile, move up the rankings on google or grow your business, we find out what you need from your website and digital presence and then we research your current performance and your markets to see how we can help.  We always give an honest view of your aspirations and we don’t make false promises.  We will explain how we can use our expertise to help and what is achievable within your budget.

Big Mouth Digital is one of the more affordable website design companies serving Belfast.  We have spent sixteen years supporting businesses in a wide range of sectors from financial service organisations to retailers to community based groups.  We are happy to take on any size of project from small five page websites to ecommerce sites selling thousands of products.  We specialise in WordPress and customise our sites to give you the power to make your own updates to things like blogs, products and news updates.  We provide onsite training for your team once your site is developed to ensure they are confident to manage these updates but we are always at the end of the phone if you have any difficulties.

Unless your website is purely designed to provide information to a group who know where to find it, websites will not perform unless they are continuously updated, provide interesting and informative content about your area of expertise and encourage people to take action such as contacting you or making a purchase.  At Big Mouth Digital we also encourage organisations to use promotional or ‘how to’ videos or animation to get your key messages across and we can design these to suit your key messages mirroring your branding. 

If you are short of time or need more help to meet your targets, we offer full support and digital marketing packages so we can do updates and provide extra help on a schedule which suits your needs and budget.  We believe in continuous learning and improvement, so our ongoing support includes competitor and performance reviews as well as full reports on how your site is operating and what your visitors are doing on your site.  We can monitor ‘call to action’ aspects of your site and see if they are performing as expected.  We will look at everything that is happening on your site and use our expertise to recommend if any changes are needed. 

If you want to know more about what we could do for you, take a look at some of our recent projects here.  Here’s a quick overview of two of our latest sites:

Mortgage Solutions NI: Our tailored package for Mortgage Solutions NI included website design with an inbuilt automated Chatbot to provide a 24/7 interactive marketing and customer service function.  To capture the significant volume of searches for mortgage calculators, we also added a calculator to the site.  Word of mouth convincing is a key aspect of this field, so we provided client testimonials clips to enable real customers to explain why they would recommend Mortgage Solutions NI.

Value Home Solutions: Home improvement is a very fast moving field and customers expect organisations to be very responsive to their requests, regardless of the time of day.  The owner was responding to comments and questions single-handedly and the introduction of Chatbot on their new website has made a big difference.  Our focus on organic search engine optimisation including keywords, content creation and backlinks has helped to increase traffic to their site and improved their current ranking positions.

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Looking for help with your online business? See how we can help...

How To Choose A Digital Agency In Belfast

How to Choose a Digital Agency in Belfast

Looking for help with your digital strategy and not sure who to turn to? Alternatively, are you inundated with Digital Marketing agencies offering their services? This article will give you some ideas on what to ask and what to look out for when selecting a Digital Partner.

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