AgendiZe Online Scheduling allows customers to do much more than just book appointments online. Customers can see headshots and pick from specific service employees; choose exactly which service they want; and even pay for reservations, deposits or services online. Moreover, since AgendiZe Online Scheduling is a part of the AgendiZe Engagement Platform, users can also Share their appointment info with friends via SMS, social networks or chat; Save it to their calendar or mobile device; schedule a reminder phone call and much more, making it easy to remember their appointment and inform others about it.
There are a range of other companies in the market that offer booking including Book Fresh, Booking Angel and several others. Early experiments to create a Pay-per-Booking model in the local directory segment failed or were false starts. Of course restaurant booking and hotel booking online are wildly successful. Fixed fee billing or adding the capability in as part of a service package is a better model for several reasons.
AgendiZe has a dizzying array of what I would call “social marketing” tools and capabilities and works with numerous directory publishers in North America and Europe. The company is now trying to push beyond the directory industry into new market segments.
As part of past research with Canada’s Yellow Pages Group (2008-2009), AgendiZe found that users were “time shifting” their business contact behavior. In other words they were doing research and then subsequently calling the SMB they’d selected; it wasn’t happening in the same session. The AgendiZe platform and tools, embedded on publisher sites, captured and facilitated these interactions. Here’s a kind of summary of how users interact with the AgendiZe widgets/tools on publisher sites:
Some 70% of all user actions are to “save for later” or to “set up reminders”; only 20% of users want to “Contact Now” (ie. Click-to-Call or Chat) and only 10% want to “Share” (ie. Facebook, Twitter).
The new online scheduling will be very successful in some verticals and not used in others. There’s a bit of a learning curve for SMBs, but consumers are already conditioned by travel and OpenTable to use online booking.
For existing customers and recurring visits (e.g., Salons) it’s a great tool provided that there’s no per-transaction charge for the SMB. This is one reason why a fixed fee or subscription is the right model for most SMB segments. While they’ll pay for new business generally speaking SMBs don’t want to pay for their own customer. But in a subscription model online booking becomes a CRM tool to facilitate repeat visits or appointments.