On occasion, when I check into a spa for an appointment, I'll see the Customer Service Representative (CSR) bend over their old-fashioned appointment book, pencil in hand, checking me in. But it's getting rarer. Business scheduling software, with its numerous advantages, has really made the paper and pencil version redundant. In fact, I will go out on a limb and say that the few businesses still using this method typically do so because the staff told the owner they're not comfortable with the digital version. However, the random spa or salon owner who has been around as long as I have sometimes is not comfortable with the idea that the appointment book, representing the livelihood of the business, is no longer something they can literally put their arms around. A fair number of spa and salon businesses do use software for their point-of-sale and inventory management, but are reluctant to forego the paper book for logging appointments.
However, the advantages of digital calendar software far outweigh the disadvantages, but I can understand how some habits are hard to break. First and foremost, a spa's appointment book should be the key to a treasure trove of data that goes beyond the information regarding which client is having what service which day. The appointment scheduler module in any software program collects information that is vital to a business that relies on booking time slots, and includes information such as: is this a new client, or have they been in before; did they specifically ask for a particular operator or technician, or are they open to whomever; do they have a gender preference; are they part of a group? The scheduling software collects all of these data points and more, and this information can be used to the degree desired by the business. At minimum, everyone in the spa, technicians and customer service staff alike, can see from a glance of the digital book (from any of multiple locations in the business) the answers to the above questions, as well as being able to see who has either checked in or checked out.
Knowing these details allows the staff to deliver a very high level of customer care by building client satisfaction and retention. But more importantly, the data gleaned from the bookings generated in a software format delivers useful business analytics, especially regarding client retention, that are often used as metrics in tiered compensation plans. You may have a gut instinct about which technicians bring back clients, but having the ability to access hard data easily in order generate a compensation plan can be beneficial to spas.
Now, software isn't perfect, and that's why we still have Customer Service Representatives or Patient Coordinators; nothing beats the human eye and mind for making judgment decisions. Can Sally fit an eyebrow wax in between two existing bookings? The computer will say no, but the human can override that. The CSR can gently nudge a client asking for a 10:30 appointment into a 10:00 slot, leaving larger open slots for future bookings, and maximizing utilization on a daily basis, which is, of course, one of the most important predictors of success. Backing up your data regularly to a secure place, or, even better, storing it in the cloud where it can be accessed from anywhere, keeps your appointments just as safe as your point of sale data. Regular clients can even book their own appointments online, freeing up the customer service staff to focus on welcoming new clients, sending out appointment confirmations, upselling, and further maximizing revenue. Let's face it: selling appointment slots is really what we do, and humans working in tandem with technology will help your business to perform as effectively as humanly, and digitally, possible.