Automating customer bookings

We speak with many companies that have trouble automating customer bookings. They find it a constant source of frustration that eats into staff time and inhibits growth. It’s also pervasive – when a process starts manually it can be hard to automate the processes that follow.

Luckily there are a number of great tools out there that can really streamline this part of your business. No matter what kind of business you run, this practical guide can help get you started.

Onboarding and information collection

If you need to collect information from customers, you can build a web form that guides them through the onboarding process. You can do this quite easily with an online form builder and you can provide a tailored onboarding experience by customising the questions according to their answers.

We like Typeform for this because it’s easy to customise and looks great. Here’s one we created if you want to view a live demo (digital transformation test).

Initial meetings and consultations

Going back and forth to set meetings wastes a lot of time. You can avoid this by helping customers book meetings on the spot with an online calendar. We like Calendly for this because it integrates with our calendar system and people find it easy to use. Here’s my Calendly if you want to check out a real example.

You can even combine these ideas to automate things further. For instance, when a meeting is booked via Calendly you can trigger a Typeform link.

Estimates and pricing

If you sell products or services for a fixed price, you can set up an e-commerce store for customers to check out online. You can even turn off payments if you just want to use this for bookings (invoice them later) and you can sell services this way too. Platforms like Shopify are great for this.

If you have very complex pricing like many of our clients, you may want to consider building your own customer portal that automates the estimation and booking process (this is a common project for us).

Processing customer purchase orders

In an ideal world, customers would book your services digitally via one of the above methods. When this works, it works a treat; automated, streamlined, and highly efficient.

But what do you do when your customers just won’t do this? We see this often with large organisations that aren’t able or willing to adjust to your processes. A common example is issuing purchase orders with the details of their request.

Luckily, this can still be automated with modern technology. A service like AWS Textract can be used to automatically read a PDF. Combined with some programming, jobs can be created automatically in your job management system based on the contents of the PO. We implemented this recently for a client and the system is processing 75 purchase orders every week automatically. This technique is known as Robotic Process Automation.

These days there are many tools and techniques for automating customer bookings – try some of these out and see the results.

Was this useful? Reach out and let me know. If you have a specific case that doesn’t fit into the above, shout out and I’ll give you some ideas.

Photo by Mateusz Dach from Pexels

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