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    Streamlining appointments: The 12 best booking software options

    best booking software

    Managing bookings can be a time-consuming task, and a tricky one, especially for clinics, medical spas, and beauty salons. 

    If you’re currently taking bookings over the phone, email, or via social media, you’re probably dealing with a constant exchange of messages about availability, finding suitable dates, and then sending confirmation messages, organizing cancellations, and rescheduling.

    But you – or your front-of-house team – shouldn’t have to do this, not when there’s a smarter way that will help you significantly improve the client experience along the way.

    You can achieve this by incorporating the best booking software for your cosmetic clinic, med spa, or beauty salon. Today we’re here to help you make the right decision. 

    The impact of effective booking systems

    An effective booking system for your med spa or clinic won’t just save you valuable time. 

    It will provide more conveniences for your business than you’ve ever hoped for. 

    Effective booking systems will free you up from back-and-forth exchanges. Instead, clients will have the freedom to schedule, reschedule, or cancel appointments 24/7, make payments directly within the system, and receive automated reminders and pre-care and aftercare treatment instructions which will reduce the wait time in your offices. 

    The good news: Statistics also show that 60% of healthcare professionals and 72% of patients say online booking platforms encourage patients to keep their appointments. 

    A robust booking system will also enable you to integrate with other third-party tools and systems, such as Stripe and Klarna for payments, The Doctors Lab for receiving lab test results, Healthcode for insurance payment, and much more.

    Key features of powerful booking systems

    A good cloud-based booking software doesn’t have to be complicated. It needs to be intuitive and easy to use for both you, as a practitioner and business operator, and for clients. 

    But it should also understand the specific needs of a healthcare businesses and have built-in tools that will help you manage complex patient data gathered through bookings.

    Here are the 7 features that a powerful scheduling tool should offer:

    Intuitive calendar interface

    An intuitive interface means that the calendar should work in a way the user expects it to.

    So, a reliable booking system needs to have a user-friendly calendar system with all the necessary information packed in one place for easy access. 

    An intuitive calendar should offer features like drag-and-drop scheduling for effortless appointment manoeuvring, the ability to filter appointments by date, clients, and service providers, and color-coded appointments for a quick overview of the most booked services.

    Staff availability management

    The more staff you have to manage, the more complicated the scheduling process can be. 

    A powerful appointment scheduling software should be able to keep track of the staff availability in real-time, manage the schedule, and let you assign the services only to team members who can perform the service.

    A booking system should let you create and publish the staff shifts, set up repeatable rotas, and provide you with a clear overview of the staff’s schedule, which will help you maximize staff utilization and plan their holidays effectively.

    Two-way calendar sync

    The scheduling tool should also provide the ability to integrate the personal calendars of service providers and sync them to avoid double-booking and maintain schedule accuracy. 

    For instance, if a practitioner schedules a staff meeting from 1 pm to 2 pm, this time slot should automatically be blocked in both calendars so you or your clients aren’t able to schedule any appointments during that time and avoid any misunderstandings.

    Patient information management

    Keeping detailed digital records of your client’s medical information, appointment history, health conditions and allergies, photos, consent forms, and lab results is a must in a cloud-based booking software if you’re working in the beauty or healthcare industry. 

    This will free you up from the overwhelming paperwork and you’ll be able to access important patient information with one click and manage them effortlessly.

    Electronic charting and notes

    Following a client appointment, it’s important to take notes to keep track of their treatment progress. Paper notes aren’t practical because you can easily lose or misplace them. That’s why keeping track of everything electronically is a game-changer. 

    You can easily record important details, add photos and charts, and – even better – you’ll be able to access them from anywhere. A great addition is if the booking system allows you to take notes through voice recognition and auto-generate notes for you. 

    Telehealth integration

    According to a 2022 survey, 67% of respondents have accessed video telehealth services in the past year, and it’s something that all business owners should keep in mind. 

    That’s why, in today’s world, a booking system should also have a telehealth integration to conduct virtual consultations and appointments with patients remotely. 

    Related:  The importance of consultations for med-spas and medi-aesthetic practitioners

    It’s even better if the scheduling tool has a built-in video consultation service where you can create, monitor, and share video consultation sessions all within the system without needing additional integrations with external software, which may come with hidden fees.

    Reporting and analytics

    A comprehensive booking system should allow you to track key metrics like appointment volume, staff productivity, and patient satisfaction at a glance. Creating reports should also be automated so you can have them ready with only one click.

    The 12 best booking software options

    While every booking software serves the same fundamental purpose, they vary in terms of features. The top-notch booking system should strike an optimal balance between having the essential features you need to run your business, and being user-friendly. 

    They should save time by enabling clients to independently schedule, cancel, reschedule, and make advance payments for services.

    We did some research and found the 12 best booking software options on the market: 

    1. Pabau
    2. Square Appointments
    3. Calendly
    4. Zoho Bookings
    5. Setmore
    6. Acuity
    7. Appointy
    8. SimplyBook.me
    9. Doodle
    10. Picktime
    11. TimeTap
    12. Zocdoc

    1. Pabau

    Pabau is a booking tool, but it doesn’t stop there. In fact, it’s an all-in-one practice management software designed for healthcare and beauty businesses.

    With Pabau, whether you’re scheduling appointments or making edits, the user-friendly design will allow you to seamlessly switch between tasks, without exiting the calendar view.

    Pabau’s online booking widget also easily integrates into your website so clients can self-manage their booking – they can book their appointments online, 24/7. With customizable deposits and payment protection in place, you don’t have to worry about no-shows. 

    Plus, it’ll take your business to new heights with its automation features, like sending pre and aftercare forms, consent forms, appointment reminders, and much more. You can make all of these specific to each service for a seamless customer experience.

    And, as it’s an all-in-one practice management software, you’ll also be able to manage all the other operations in your clinic or med spa within one softwareManaging robust client records, inventory, staff, marketing needs, reports — it’s all at your fingertips.  

    Key booking features 

    • No-show and cancellation policy
    • Automated email and SMS appointment reminders (According to a survey, practices state that automated appointment reminders decrease no-shows and cut down on the time staff spend confirming appointments.)
    • Automatically sends consent forms and questionnaires 
    • Online booking portal for clients to book, cancel or reschedule

    Other notable features 

    • Point of sale system
    • Manage newsletters and email and SMS campaigns 
    • Create membership programs 
    • Create packages and bundles
    • Send automated reminders to clients to leave reviews 
    • Automated client recalls 
    • Telehealth conferencing
    • Comprehensive EHR with photos, injection plotting, etc 

    iOS or Android App available 

    The Pabau app is available for iOS users and you can find it at the Apple app store.

    Integration capabilities

    Pabau integrates with many third-party systems such as Stripe, Klarna, Xero, Mailchimp, Zapier, Google Calendar, Healthcode, The Doctors Laboratory, and more.  

    2. Square Appointments

    With Square Appointments you can view, create, modify, and approve appointments. Additionally, you can access client details and process payments for appointments directly within the app. 

    However, Square Appointments is known to have limited payment options, which might be a deal breaker for you.

    The good thing about this scheduling tool is that you can integrate it with other Square tools such as Square Invoices and Square point of sale, which will allow streamlined task operations. But, unfortunately, one drawback is its limited social media integrations.  

    Key booking features

    • Free online booking website 
    • Automated email and text reminders 
    • Cancelation policy and no-show fees

    iOS or Android App available 

    Square Appointments app is available both on iOS and Android. 

    Integration capabilities

    Square Appointments integrates with other Square products and third-party apps like QuickBooks, Wix, Homebase, and JotForm.

    3. Calendly

    Calendly prides itself on its ease of use and user-friendly interface. It also provides good booking features, even on its free plan. Calendly will seamlessly update the event details on your calendar and send appointment reminders. 

    But you should keep in mind that Calendly is a more generic tool and is not built for the healthcare and aesthetics industry. Its downside is also that Calendly is not designed for recurring bookings. There’s also some feedback about poor customer service. 

    4. Zoho Bookings

    Zoho Bookings synchronizes your calendars, allowing clients to self-schedule and make payments for appointments. Zoho Bookings also allows clients to cancel and reschedule appointments and notifies clients and service providers of any updates. 

    It’s a flexible tool that adapts to different industries, and it also has a personal care industry solution. The downside though, is that it doesn’t integrate with all other CRM systems and you can’t remove the Zoho branding in some of their basic pricing plans.  

    Key booking features

    • Allows group booking by setting the total number of seats
    • Resource booking — for booking assets like rooms
    • Customer portal for customers to sign in and view their bookings  
    • Online payment

    iOS or Android App available 

    Zoho Bookings is available on Android and iOS.

    Integration capabilities

    Since Zoho Bookings is strictly designed for bookings, it seamlessly integrates with other Zoho apps. It also integrates with third-party apps, such as Zoom, Mailchimp, Paypal, Stripe, Slack, and others so, in other words, works best as part of a tech stack.

    5. Setmore

    First up, this booking tool is very affordable and it has a free plan available to users. 

    With Setmore you get access to an appointment calendar and client profiles, and can keep your clients in the loop with automated reminders, both email and SMS. Setmore also comes with an online booking page where clients can book, cancel, or reschedule appointments 24/7 and your staff will get automated email alerts of any updates. 

    However, Setmore also has its setbacks. There’s limited customization and it needs to be used with other software solutions, meaning it’s not always as budget friendly as it first appears.  

    Key booking features

    • Automated alerts for new, canceled, or rescheduled appointments
    • Customer list of all customers 
    • Online payment

    iOS or Android App available 

    Setmore App is available both on iOS and Android.

    Integration capabilities

    Setmore integrates with many third-party apps. It has social media integrations, payment integrations, calendar sync, video meetings, marketing, CRM, business app integrations, and more. But it doesn’t have tools such as built-in forms you can send to clients.

    6. Acuity

    Acuity Scheduling provides a comprehensive online appointment scheduling software for every business needs. With Acuity, you can customize how and when clients can book appointments, and most importantly, you can block off personal time in your calendar.

    However, its calendar view is confusing, as it redundantly repeats appointment information for each time increment instead of blocking the entire time slot into a single information block

    Acuity, though, is known to work best as part of a software stack. 

    Key booking features

    • Automates appointment booking 
    • Automatic time-zone adjustments 
    • Automated reminder notifications and receipts
    • Multi-calendar sync

    iOS or Android App available 

    There are both Acuity iOS and Android apps available. 

    Integration capabilities

    Acuity integrates with many other systems. It supports integrations with systems for accounting and invoicing, email marketing, analytics and conversion tracking, CRM software, client engagement, video conferencing, API, and payments.

    7. Appointy

    Appointy offers automated appointment scheduling, streamlined client management, staff scheduling, and marketing solutions for businesses in diverse sectors. They cater to a lot of industries but they do have the features that healthcare and beauty businesses need – things like no-show protection, multi-channel booking, and virtual appointments.

    What you need to know about Appointy is that it is purely a booking software, so you will need another tool to manage client records.  It also shows Appointy ads in most of its plans. 

    Key booking features

    • Accept bookings from social media 
    • Online payments 
    • No show protection 
    • Send automated SMS and email reminders 

    iOS or Android App available 

    Appointy mobile app for iOS and Android is available for staff and Admin.

    Integration capabilitie

    Appointy integrates with many apps such as Paypal, Gmail, WordPress, Google Calendar, and more.

    8. SimplyBook.me

    With SimplyBook.me you can make bookings easy for your clients as you can offer them a personalized client app for booking your services. Once you display the availability of your staff and services available for booking, clients will be able to book your services 24/7.

    SimplyBook.me also offers custom features such as coupons and gift cards, customizable emails, memberships, intake forms, and more. However, if you decide to use the custom features and increase services, it can come out as an expensive tool. Their notification system also needs improving, and their customer service has received negative feedback. 

    Key booking features

    • Personalised client app 
    • Online payment and deposits
    • Accepts bookings directly from Instagram, Facebook, Google, and your branded client app.  
    Related:  6 top-rated booking software for effortless salon reservation

    iOS or Android App available 

    Both iOS and Android App are available. 

    Integration capabilities

    SimplyBook.me integrates with Instagram, Facebook, Google My Business, Xero, and other CMS systems. You can also use their API to build your custom integrations.

    9. Doodle

    Dealing with a group of people with varying availability is tricky. Doodle project manages this and helps you schedule meetings at a time that’s convenient for everybody. This scheduling system will help you effortlessly and efficiently organize events and meetings. 

    However, while it caters to a broad range of users, it’s not specific to healthcare or beauty, so you may find yourself running into limitations. Example: there are no appointment reminders, and it’s not designed to schedule recurring payments or appointments. 

    Key booking features

    • Efficient polling system for group meeting scheduling 
    • Seamless calendar integration 
    • Timely auto-reminders 

    iOS or Android App available 

    Both iOS and Android apps are available. 

    Integration capabilities

    Doodle integrates with Zapier, Zoom, Google Meet, Google Calendar, Outlook Calendar, and a few more Microsoft apps.

    10. Picktime

    Picktime will help you manage your appointments, group bookings, and classes. Within the system, you can also manage your rooms and equipment, generate reports, and manage multiple locations.

    Picktime falls short on customizations, as they don’t offer custom text and email confirmations and reminders. 

    Key booking features

    • Online booking widget that integrates into your website 
    • Automated reminders
    • Create booking forms to collect information about your clients when they book

    iOS or Android App available 

    The Picktime App is available on Android and iOS.

    Integration capabilities

    Picktime integrates with many third-party apps that will be helpful for your marketing and payment needs, for video meetings, analytics, and more.

    11. TimeTap

    With TimeTap every team member can have their calendar and then you can integrate each booking page into one booking site. This way, each team member can manage their appointments while you can still retain visibility into all scheduled appointments from an organizational login.

    There’s an option to send SMS reminders, but it doesn’t allow you to set up deposits and doesn’t have pre-care and aftercare templates.

    Key booking features

    • Multiple staff calendars 
    • 2-way calendar-sync 
    • Automatic email and text messaging 
    • Automated waitlist — send invites to waitlist clients when a slot becomes available

    iOS or Android App available 

    Has mobile app access for Android and iOS. 

    Integration capabilities

    TimeTap integrates with a few systems, such as LumaPay, Salesforce, and Twilio.

    12. Zocdoc

    Zocdoc is a bit different booking system than the other 11 we mentioned before. On this platform, practices can register on the platform and clients can book appointments with doctors and clinics in their city who take their insurance. 

    The downside of Zocdoc is that patients can cancel appointments at the last minute and you’re not able to set a cancellation policy for your business. Plus, it charges commission fees for bookings made via the Zocdoc marketplace.

    Key booking features

    • Real-time calendar updates
    • Collecting IDs, insurance cards, and intake forms online 
    • Automated reminders

    iOS or Android App available 

    iOS and Android apps are available.

    Integration capabilities

    Zocdoc has over 150 integrations with top practice management systems, EHRs, and custom solutions.

    Find out why an all-in-one practice management solution is right for you

    While there are numerous excellent booking systems available, Pabau stands out as a smart choice for those who are currently operating their own med spa, beauty salon, or other healthcare businesses. The reason why is that it’s not ‘just’ a booking tool.

    With Pabau, you can efficiently manage all aspects of your business in one place. You can manage your bookings as well as collecting and managing sensitive patient data – plus as all the other things you need to do as a practitioner running a busy clinic.

    Pabau lets you customize the pre-care and aftercare forms, and intake forms, as you wish — specific to each service — and send them automatically before the appointment. These forms will save you valuable time on paperwork and let you focus on your appointments. 

    Pabau also offers features such as built-in signatures, customizable deposits, cancellation, and no-show functionality, plus membership programs, packages, and lots more. 

    Even though Pabau is a more premium product than some of the scheduling software we discussed, you don’t need to purchase lots of other apps or tools – it’s all baked in. So don’t let the low prices fool you, as things aren’t always as affordable as they first appear.

    To see Pabau in action, schedule a demo today.

    What you should do now

    1. Schedule a Demo to see how Pabau can help your team.
    2. Read more clinic management articles in our blog.
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