Artichoke Guest Post: A Better Solution to Your Scheduling Demands

April 18, 2018


Google Calendar is the obvious choice for many small businesses, but is it the best solution to handle the scheduling demands of your business?

No matter whether you’re running a health and wellness studio, coaching consultancy, freelance tutoring business or a household services company, running an appointment-based business comes with its own unique set of challenges.

And, let’s face it, scheduling is at the crux of those challenges. Not only are you responsible for managing your organization’s internal business calendar and your personal responsibilities, but also scheduling new and existing clients for the services that you offer.

scope creep

Just as the name suggests, if you’re running an appointment-based business, your appointments ARE your revenue. You need an accurate, affordable, up-to-date scheduling system to keep the wheels in motion and the lights on.

Google Calendar is the obvious choice for many small businesses, but is it the best solution to handle the scheduling demands of your business? Let’s take a look:

Google Calendar Was Never Really Intended for Business Use

We all love Google Calendar’s ease-of-use and how well it integrates with the default calendar app on our PCs, Macs and mobile devices. While incredibly robust and not to mention free, it lacks the features required to manage your appointments effectively.

And there’s a good reason why. Google Calendar wasn’t built for business scheduling purposes. Long story short, Google Calendar was designed for an audience of one in mind — you and not your clients or customers.

While Google Calendar has evolved dramatically since launching in 2006, it does not offer any of the key workflows and automation processes that online scheduling platforms, like Artichoke, offer.

Need to send automated appointment reminders to your customers? Google Calendar won’t be able to help you with that. Looking for an easy-to-manage, all-in-one system where your clients can go to book time with you online? You also won’t find that with Google Calendar.



Your Business Isn’t Really Open 24/7 with Google Calendar

One of the biggest shortfalls of Google Calendar as a business solution is that it doesn’t allow your existing and potential customers to get a clear, on-demand view of when you’re available, or what products and services that you offer.

As we become more and more connected, the vast majority of customers note that they prefer to book online (vs. making an appointment on the phone or via text message), with more than 35% stating that they want to book an appointment outside of business hours.

accounting

If you’ve got a basic website, and have set up a public Google Calendar where your new and existing clients can view your availability, the process of “booking online” probably looks something like this:

  1. It’s midnight and you’re in bed, but a potential customer navigates to your website and finds a link to your Google Calendar
  2. This potential customer reviews your schedule and wants to book a service with you. However, the user only requests half an hour of service time vs. the hour and a half that the service actually lasts (including prep time).
  3. A potential customer never receives a confirmation that the appointment has been booked and sends you a follow-up email around 1:00 am. You’re still sleeping.
  4. You wake up the next day, see the Google Calendar request, but you need to clarify the service time as well as have the potential customer complete an intake form before their appointment
  5. Then you send a hurried, long email to your potential customer before you’ve finished your morning coffee because you know that time is money
  6. You never hear back from said potential customer as he or she went to another provider with a much smoother online booking process

Getting set up with an online scheduling platform like Artichoke ensures that your business is truly open 24/7 to meet the growing needs of a changing consumer audience.

What takes a frustrating six steps (or more) and lost revenue with Google Calendar is finished seamlessly in seconds with Artichoke:

A potential customer navigated to your website with your Artichoke Online Booking page already embedded
A potential customer can see all of your products and services at a glance, and correctly books the hour and a half time slot
Artichoke automatically sends an appointment confirmation via email or SMS, and will also send intake forms, new client inquiry forms, and more. The time is also automatically blocked off in your online scheduler to prevent another customer from booking that same time slot.

Google Calendar Can’t Automate

Small business success, especially for micro-teams and solo practitioners, is minimizing your admin time and focusing your energy on the things that you love.

Reminders have proven to decrease no-show appointments by upwards of 80%. Smart, automated appointment reminders are absolutely critical to keeping a healthy, growing appointment-based business going. Every minute of your day that you spend manually reminding your customers about an upcoming appointment via phone, email or SMS, is valuable time for investing in the other aspects of your business.

While you may need to invest a few hours into getting everything set up, online scheduling platforms like Artichoke are designed to save you countless hours of time by automating administrative processes and integrating into other apps that you already use and love.

Here are just a few of the processes that you can automate with Artichoke:



Privacy, HIPAA Compliance, and Data Security Not Included

We live in a world ever-concerned with data security and privacy. Between HIPAA compliance and the evolving world of privacy standards, the security of your customers’ data always be a priority.

Despite a number of new features, functionality and a brand new UI launched in the last year, the standard (free) version of Google Calendar does not include HIPAA compliance nor data security features.

If you’re looking to keep your customer data secure while also using Google Calendar, you’ll need to first upgrade to G Suite by Google Cloud.

At Artichoke, we take the privacy of our users and their customers very seriously, which is why we constantly invest in developing an all-in-one solution that’s not only easy-to-use but also backed by rock-solid security (including HIPAA compliance).

The Bottom Line

Google Calendar is a robust, free tool that most bus, business owners rely upon to keep their daily schedules organized. It’s got a lot of new features and we love the brand new UI; however, should never view Google Calendar should as a scheduling solution for any appointment-based business.

There’s good news, too…you don’t actually have to ditch your trusty Google Calendar. Artichoke seamlessly integrates with Google Calendar to ensure that you can continue to view your schedule in your favorite calendar app, all without sacrificing customer happiness when it comes to booking time with you.


about the author

CMO, Artichoke Attiya Abdulghany is a digital strategy consultant and CMO of Artichoke, the all-in-one platform for appointment-based businesses of 1 to 10 team members.