by Ben Melito

A while back we started to point out the huge difference between “Book Now” and “Request an Appointment”. This initial article highlighted some fundamental differences, using a fairly specific scenario of being able to book an appointment when a business is closed. This article will elaborate on some other key differences and benefits that our aggregated Booking API helps to facilitate.

What Does “Request an Appointment” Really Mean?

When an online service tells you that it will help you request an appointment, it typically means one of the two following scenarios are taking place:

  • You are really just filling out a form that’s being emailed to a business owner that will have to be manually reviewed and approved in order to secure your appointment.
  • A concierge style service is being deployed on your behalf, whereby a ‘call center’ worker will attempt to secure your desired appointment by getting in touch with the business (by phone, email, etc.). Again, this requires a response from a business that must be open to receive inquires.

With the approaches above, there’s no guarantee you’ll get the appointment that you want, and it may take anywhere from minutes to days to get a response. There’s some convenience to you, in that a concierge may be spending time on the phone that you don’t have to. However, these methods frequently result in customers not getting the appointment they wanted and potentially losing valuable time waiting for responses. Additionally, the communication schema very quickly drops to email – a highly sub-optimal user experience for most.

There are some businesses that are required to use what we call the “request-respond” method for good reason, the most salient example being those in the medical services vertical. We’ll talk more about this in a separate post, and as we move further down the road with integration partners that cover that field.

So How is “Book Now” Better?

Another term we use when talking about “Book Now” is “Live Booking”. When you tap or click a Book Now button, you are getting real-time access to the appointment scheduling software that the business uses. It’s as if you are looking at the same calendar the front-desk staff uses, in that any open appointment times that you see will be available for booking. Within just a few moments, you can book an appointment and know that it is confirmed – no humans required. Therefore, you can book with a business at any time of day or night, regardless if they are open or closed.

Why is this important? Well, you could be looking to book an appointment at the same time slot as someone else – so its critical that the booking software partner is able to control the booking schedule in real time. Any type of proxied approach – intermittent inventory ingestion for instance – runs the risk of creating duplicate booking problems that affect all of us within the value chain. Our publisher partners are seeking ONLY real-time booking access, and we agree this both provides for a better user experience and protects against breakage due to duplication.

How Syndication of Live Booking Takes Things to the Next Level

Online booking isn’t necessarily new; there are many businesses that provide online booking from their website. However, this process doesn’t always work so well in the context of mobile users and apps.

While some businesses already offer appointment booking via their own website, this often is not as easy to do on a mobile device. Pingup’s Booking API is being used to syndicate “Book Now” scheduling features out to a variety of services that present business profiles to mobile and web users. Syndicated live booking takes customer engagement to the next level, by allowing users to schedule appointments without leaving the app they are currently using.

The Pingup Booking API aggregates business inventory from many different software providers, allowing app publishers to add live-booking capabilities to the myriad of destinations where customers are trying to find businesses. For example, a customer browsing the profile of a business on their favorite “yellow pages” iPhone app, is now be able to book an appointment without ever leaving that app, making for a faster, smoother and more convenient user experience. No human intervention is required on the business side, so bookings can be secured by customers 24-7.

 



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