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Monday, October 25, 2010

I want my “OpenTable” for appointed services.

I need a haircut. People can gauge my mood by the height of my unkempt coiffe. (If you wonder whether this is possible, ask @Brainzooming. He’s seen done it.)

It’s 10:00 on Sunday night, and I want to schedule an appointment now, not leave it until tomorrow, when I get into the swing of a busy week and forget about it until I’m sitting here again next Sunday night.

Problem is, my hair place (salon, if I must) isn’t open. Though it should be.

Why can’t I go online or use a smartphone app to schedule an appointment with my regular service professional at a time of my preference? My place has a website, and while it is good at telling me where they are and when they’re open, it has no scheduling application. Nothing that would allow me, during a time when they’re not open but that I have some time, to see my hairdresser’s schedule, pick a time that works and confirm it without having to call anyone.

While we’re at this, surely my dentist could also pick up on this need and stop giving me appointment cards that get lost in my wallet never to be seen again, or at least until call to tell me I’ve missed my appointment and they’re going to charge me for it.

A rule of business (maybe not the “first rule”, but still pretty important) is, “make it easy for customers to buy from you”. Being open online when customers are looking for you extends your ability to take orders and fill your schedule with paying customers. Better, it does so in a way that works to customer convenience. Better still, it does all this without needing an “appointment desk” to be staffed.

If you aren’t available to your customers when they want you, maybe they’ll call you when you are. Then again, maybe they’ll just find a service provider who is.


Jason Bell said...

You may want to have a look at http://www.datasentiment.com who are working closely with the salon industry on a solution.

Chris Haines said...

Great post. I hear you on the dentist side and that really goes for the whole medical industry. They seem to have little need for service, so they avoid spending any money on technological upgrades. It's not just appointment making either. Have you ever ridden an elevator in a medical building? It rises slower than Bob Dole without his Viagra.