Does your business depend on scheduling in-person appointments with your customers? Are you trying to figure out how to keep scheduling appointments while being disrupted by quarantine, social distancing, and business operation mandates?
Without knowing when restrictions will be lifted, how can you plan to begin filling appointments again? Do we wait for permission to allow our businesses to return to normal, or do we adjust our business in order to continue scheduling appointments and serving our clients?
You can still get in front of your clients even if you can’t meet face-to-face. Go online to meet with your customers.
Here are 3 ways to meet with your customers online when you can’t meet in person:
1 – Schedule Video Appointments:
When you can’t meet your appointments face to face, you must embrace technology. Meeting with a client on the phone is better than not meeting with them. But meeting them face-to-face over video, creates a stronger connection than a phone call.
Zoom and Skype are the major video conferencing applications. Use those if you and your client are comfortable with them.
If these applications are uncomfortable to you or your client, you can use technology that’s already in your pocket. Most consumers use a smartphone and most smartphones have a video call feature. For Apple Devices, schedule a FaceTime call. On your Android use the Duo application to video call your client.
“What if I need to make a repair, video is no substitute for getting my hands on the problem.”
You’re absolutely right. We know you won’t be able to do a full diagnosis or a repair over video. In this season you won’t be able to do your work as normal. You must see this as an opportunity to create a relationship, serve your client and gain their trust. Taking a look at their problem over video will give your client a chance to feel like their problem will get solved soon. You will be building trust with a client and have a better chance to schedule an in-person appointment for the future.
2 – Offer Online Scheduling
Schedule your appointments for the future when you’re more confident that you will be able to meet in person. If you are getting a flood of calls, schedule them for 1-2 months ahead when you trust that you will be able to start meeting in person again. Depending on the scheduling software and tools you use, consider taking your scheduling online to allow your customers to book their own appointment with you. Scheduling online can also allow you to easily reschedule many appointments if you are still unable to meet in 1-2 months.
There are a number of online tools that can assist that range from simple to very complicated. Here are 2 good options to consider:
BirchPress – Birchpress is a comprehensive calendar and scheduling system. You can create a calendar and have multiple service providers set their availability for each day. You can add padding in between appointments for drive time, and you can categorize each provider based on their skill so that users can book the correct appointment. If you have customers that are in different time zones trying to schedule an appointment with you, Birchpress may not be the best option for you.
WordPress Booking Calendar – This may be one of the best free online scheduling tools you can integrate into your WordPress website. The free version is good if you are a small team with simple service offerings. You can upgrade to pro and additional extended versions that allow you to book by the hour, customize admin permissions, take payments, and customize the front end view to match your website theme.
3 – Create Online Tutorials
If you can’t make appointments or meet with clients, you can still meet with your customers online. Your customers still have questions and needs even if you are unable to meet right now.
Consider creating online tutorials, blogs, or videos answering the most common questions your customers ask or how to do the most common repairs you make or steps to fix the simplest repairs.
You may be thinking, “If businesses make money by answering questions and fixing things, why give away your business for free?” Your customers come to you to solve their problems, and when you do, it creates loyalty. When you can’t go out and make the repairs, focus on teaching your customers how to fix the leak they have right now, even if only temporarily until you can come and do it professionally.
Once you have your trust-building content created, distribute it. Put it on your social media channels, put it on your website and in an email newsletter.
Just because you can’t meet with your customers face to face, doesn’t mean that you can’t keep serving your customers. But you may need to innovate and change the way you do business to keep creating loyal customers.