If you run or are part of a business that entertains clients by appointment only, such as a clinic, salon or consultancy, you know how difficult it is to keep staff and visitors on track — you not only have to schedule appointments, but also avoid clashes, remind clients to show up and stay sane enough to make your sessions worthwhile. A secretary could surely make light work of this, but what’s a professional to do if he/she can’t afford to pay another employee’s full salary?
For starters, you might want to try Ubooq, a new service that lets your clients see when you’re available, book appointments and receive reminders via text message — all from your website or standalone booking page. Meanwhile, you’ll get notified of new bookings and stay on top of things, allowing you to deliver the best possible service your customers have ever experienced. Sounds too good to be true? Let’s see if Ubooq is really up to the task.
Ubooq combines day-to-day scheduling and appointment management into a single app that lets you accept bookings from users on the web with ease. It’s simple enough for anyone at your office to implement and requires just a few minutes to set up. Your clients can select and book appointments by checking a calendar that shows your availability, by providing their mobile phone number which doubles as a login credential and a way for you to verify contact info.
To make appointments easier to manage, Ubooq has you set things up by filling out details about your company and staff who will take on clients, creating a schedule so clients know when they can come by, and finally, the app gives you a page for clients to access — or if you’re comfortable editing your own website, an embeddable widget or Facebook page app. You can even generate buttons and links to your booking page.
Ubooq is currently available to users based in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, UK and USA, and works with those countries’ time zones and currencies. You can sign up and use Ubooq for free for up to 30 appointments without a credit card, and thereafter can go with one of the app’s paid plans , which start at $19/month for a single staff member with all other features and unlimited appointments, and go up to $89/month for 10 staff members.
Setting up your virtual reception desk
Ubooq has a simple wizard-based interface to take you through the process of filling out all the information about your company, staff members, the services (appointment types) you provide, and your staff’s availability. Once you’ve done that, you can add Custom Tasks to staff members’ schedules to black out scheduled leave, public holidays and prior engagements.
Next, you’ll need to decide how you want to present your appointment booking facility. If you’re just getting to grips with building a web presence, you can simply point your clients to the custom URL where Ubooq hosts your booking page, or you can generate an HTML code snippet to embed the page within a page on your website. There’s even a Facebook app that you can embed in a tab on your company’s page without much fuss.
To kick the tyres on Ubooq, I set it up to manage appointments for my made-up new media company with two staff members who consult with clients on web development and social media projects (we’re still bootstrapping). I added a few services that we provide, listing prices for each kind of appointment and splitting these up between the two staffers.
Getting booked and living to tell the tale
Once everything was ready to go, I tried making a few bookings to see how things went. The process for clients is fairly simple — visit the reception page, choose an appointment type (social media, web presence, rebranding/redesign, and content strategy, in this case) , select a day and time convenient to you, and login/sign up using your mobile phone number to help verify your details.
Once your client has booked an appointment, you’ll receive a notification via text message and/or email, and see the booking on your dashboard. Your client can cancel the booking at any time by logging in, or if you receive a call/email from your client to adjust the booking, you can do so from the dashboard. Plus, you can add Google Analytics to your reception page to see how often people visit it, and how long they’re on it.
The entire works pretty well for both businesses and their patrons — Ubooq even sends clients a reminder via text message a little before their appointment, so they can remember to show up on time and avoid having to reschedule. In the backend, it’s easy to add appointment types, staff members and even appointments booked offline.
Ubooq looks pretty good as it is, but as usual, I have a feature wish list I hope the developers take into consideration for the next version:
- Customizable design for reception pages, preferably with a WYSIWYG editor so that any business can make it look more on-brand than it currently does
- A flexible calendar in the dashboard to view appointments for any day, week, or month, filterable by staff member, appointment type or client
- Recurring appointments for clients
- Exportable data – spreadsheets of appointments for staff members or time periods, and iCal or MS Outlook Calendar files so that staff members can add bookings to their personal calendars (such as Google Calendar)
Ubooq is a splendid solution for businesses who want to make appointment scheduling simpler for themselves and their customers. It’s simple to use for both clients and businesses, doesn’t require you to have a website to host it, and is reasonably priced. It’d be nice to see some of the features from my wish list implemented in the next iteration (and perhaps a UI refresh while they’re at it), and open up availability across the globe. Try the free trial and watch your booking blues sail right out the window.
Ubooq allows you to create an online appointment booking page for your business that you can run off a standalone page, on your Facebook page or your website. It's easy enough for anyone to set up and use, works well and is reasonably priced.
- Ubooq 1.0 |
- Free for up to 30 appointments; plans start at $19/month for a single staff member with unlimited appointments |