How to use WhatsApp Business for appointment booking and scheduling
Everyone is talking about using WhatsApp for marketing, sales and support functions. While lead generation is an active conversion around the messaging app, there is another meaningful interaction that helps businesses grow based on which industry they are in and what they sell – appointment scheduling and booking.
In this post, we’re going to look into how businesses can set up and use WhatsApp Business for appointment booking.
Can customers book appointments via WhatsApp Business?
To answer this simply, yes.
Just as customers today can reach out to businesses on WhatsApp to seek support and shopping assistance, or even make a purchase, they can use the messaging platform to schedule or book appointments too.
The two-way conversational nature of the platform is what makes it possible for customers to book appointments via WhatsApp Business. But how a business manages the booking and scheduling of these appointments entirely depends on whether they are using the Business App or the WhatsApp Business API.
If a business is using the WhatsApp Business app, they may have to respond to some of the queries to book appointments manually. They may have to also manually follow up with reminders for the appointments scheduled to prevent cancellations.
But if a business is using the WhatsApp Business API with solutions like Interakt, they can streamline the booking process. Right from the moment a consumer shows interest in choosing the right day and time for the appointment to sending reminders, the conversation can be automated and hence, handled at scale!
What are the benefits of using WhatsApp Business appointment scheduling?
You probably have a website interface or customer touchpoints set up for booking and scheduling appointments. So why care about using WhatsApp Business appointment scheduling?
• Wider reach and use – WhatsApp is a commonly used messaging platform across all audience demographics. This makes it easier for your business to ensure that you can reach and engage the right audience without them struggling to figure out how to chat with you.
• Easy two-way communication – As compared to other channels, WhatsApp offers a two-way conversational experience that reduces the back and forth it takes to schedule appointments.
• Higher open and click-through rates – Comparisons have time and again proven that WhatsApp offers a higher open and click-through rate than other channels. This ensures that your offer to book service appointments as well as follow-ups, will not go unnoticed!
Now before you get into accepting appointment bookings on WhatsApp Business, let’s dive into the setup you need to have in place.
How to set up and optimize WhatsApp Business for appointment booking?
To be able to invite booking requests and manage appointments on WhatsApp Business, we recommend having the following in place:
1. Sign up for a WhatsApp Business API solution
As we mentioned, manually managing appointment booking and scheduling can be prone to error – especially if you have a dedicated team handling these requests. We recommend using a WhatsApp Business API solution provider like Interakt that gives you the ability to add multiple users to one account, create a Shared Inbox and also set up automation to accept appointment bookings at scale (more on this later).
2. Add a WhatsApp widget on your site
You want your site visitors to know that there is an easy way for them to book appointments instead of having to fill out forms. Set up a WhatsApp chat widget with an auto-triggered message that nudges the visitor to start a conversation with you to book an appointment.
3. Automate conversations on WhatsApp
Once you start driving in requests on WhatsApp, you need to stay on top of conversations. Your inability to instantly engage a prospect can result in losing a customer! This is where we recommend setting up automation like:
• Greeting messages that reinforce you’re taking appointment bookings on WhatsApp and what the next steps need to be.
• Creating an automated follow-up flow using interactive messages like reply buttons and list messages to let the prospect choose a day and time of their preference.
• Appointment booking confirmation.
• Appointment schedule reminders.
• Post-appointment follow-ups for feedback.
• Cancellation and rescheduling appointments.
4. Set up payment links
Another way to secure appointments and ensure consumers show up is to take payments for the same. You can create WhatsApp checkout links or give buyers the option to pay using credit, debit, net banking, UPI, and other wallets by integrating Interakt with payment gateway solutions.
5. Set up Shared Inbox with labels
As we mentioned before, once the requests start coming in, you need an efficient and effective way of managing WhatsApp Business appointments. This is where setting up a Shared Inbox can come in handy to give your team an overview of the booking requests in process and the appointments scheduled. You can also use smart labels to clearly mark conversations based on the stage they are at – booking in process, appointment scheduled, appointment completed, and similar.
6. Integrate with Interakt
If you’re making use of an appointment booking system or a calendar to manage the schedule and a CRM to keep track of the customer journey, remember to integrate it with your WhatsApp Business API provider like Interakt. This will ensure you don’t lose any customer data.
Now that you have the setup ready, let’s get into how you can start to get more bookings for your service with WhatsApp.
7. Set up away messages
If some part of the appointment booking process requires your team to assist the consumer, remember to set away messages. This is important if you have a set schedule for customer service and support as it lets the prospect know you’ll get back to them in a certain period of time. It also prevents them from thinking you’re not responsive on the messaging platform.
How to get more bookings for your service business with WhatsApp?
There are several ways in which you can reach out to your target audience and get them to WhatsApp for scheduling appointments. But let’s take a look at some of our favorite tactics:
1. Promote WhatsApp links across marketing channels
Whether you’re using social media, email, ad campaigns, or online groups to market your business, create and keep a WhatsApp link ready. You can use WhatsApp links in online conversations, social media post captions, your email sign-off, social media Stories, and in other ways to invite your audience in.
2. Run click to WhatsApp ads
Another way to shorten the cycle of getting appointments is to run click-to WhatsApp ads that encourage interested buyers in starting a conversation straight away – instead of first landing on your website. You can also run WhatsApp-exclusive discounts to encourage more appointments on the messaging app.
3. Use WhatsApp Stories to grab attention
Similar to how you use Stories on channels like Facebook and Instagram, use WhatsApp Stories to tap into habitual browsing. Promote a discount you’re running, or a new service you’re offering, and share customer testimonials or behind-the-scenes images and videos on WhatsApp Stories with a clear call-to-action to message you for scheduling an appointment.
4. Set up banners across the site
Even if you’ve set up a WhatsApp chat widget on your site, we recommend using promotional banners for marketing purposes. This may include a banner that nudges the visitor on a service page to drop a message on WhatsApp to schedule an appointment. Or you could offer special discounts on some of the service pages when the appointment is requested on WhatsApp.
But just like cart abandonment, cancellations and rescheduling are common in appointment bookings. So let’s look into how you can handle them on WhatsApp Business too!
5. Run WhatsApp broadcast campaigns
Have a WhatsApp list of prospects and customers? Ensure you keep them engaged by creating strategic and well-segmented WhatsApp business broadcast campaigns. For example, you can reach out to existing customers to ‘schedule another appointment at 10% off’ or to prospects with a ‘get 10% off on your first service appointment’ message.
How can I handle cancellations or rescheduling through WhatsApp Business?
Appointment cancellations and rescheduling can impact your availability to other interested prospects and customers, and result in a loss of the resources you have. Here’s how we recommend handling cancellations or rescheduling on WhatsApp Business to prevent such negative outcomes:
• Automate appointment reminders: The very first thing you want to ensure is to prevent cancellations or rescheduling. You can do this by setting up an automated confirmation at the time of booking and then sending reminders 72 hours prior to the day and time set.
• Offer easy rescheduling: Instead of no-shows, make it easier for your customers to reschedule their appointments. Let them drop you a message on WhatsApp which can be automatically followed up with a message that gives them the option to pick the next day and time best suited to them.
• Take feedback on cancellations: If someone cancels their appointment, set up an automated follow-up to ask why. This can help you understand where you could be potentially losing customers and how you can serve them better.
• Automate appointment updates: Integrate your WhatsApp Business API provider with your appointment scheduling tool to keep track of all the bookings, schedules, rescheduled, and cancellations. This will also keep the team up-to-date.
Ready to get more appointments for your business?
Reaching your target audience and engaging them is getting tougher by the day.
With the competition increasing, you want to ensure that when you do have their attention, it’s easier for them to take the next steps. In this case, book and schedule an appointment with your business.
So if you’re welcoming requests on WhatsApp, ensure you’re proactively responding to them and covering all ground to not have them forgotten or canceled!
Explore how you can use automation to increase WhatsApp Business appointment booking with Interakt.
Book your WhatsApp Business API demo now.
If you’re using a WhatsApp Business API solution provider like Interakt, you can access intelligent integrations with your existing scheduling systems. This allows you to make the most of both WhatsApp Business and appointment scheduling tools without having to keep track of booking requests on separate dashboards and streamline the data you gather.
WhatsApp charges businesses based on conversations, and now the type of WhatsApp templates they use. So there is no additional cost associated with WhatsApp Business appointment booking; the standard pricing structure applies.
With WhatsApp Business API solutions like Interakt, you can track and analyze ongoing and closed conversations around appointments. You can also measure the number of messages sent, appointments scheduled, canceled, or rescheduled, and the payments collected, on the analytics dashboard.