06 Jan How Mobile Scheduling empowers Small Business
Small Business owners have grown to love using mobile in communicating with their clients and managing their day-to-day activities, but among the bevy of online services which exist to help them do their jobs better, Online Scheduling stands out. When combined with the ease and availability of mobile technology, its benefits are all the more apparent. However, in what should come as a surprise, a majority of businesses aren’t integrating this critical Call-to-Action when both they and their customers love using the right digital tools to do business.
Small Business owners love Mobile
According to a June 2015 study by Manta, 80.5% of US Small Business Owners (SBOs) are using their mobile devices for business once a day or more. While SBOs are typically considered behind the curve on technology trends when compared to corporate enterprises or even your plain-ol’ tech-savvy millennial, they’ve actually jumped ahead of the 64% of US adults using a mobile or smartphone device.
This trend has emerged in part because of the various productivity applications available to mobile users, small businesses and, in particular, the beloved category of “solopreneurs” that are popping up in this new economy of ours, but is there more to this market than meets the eye? As far as we can tell, there may be less – it seems those 8 out of 10 SBOs are mostly using their devices for phone calls and email, conventional activities that aren’t necessarily business-specific.
How many Small Businesses already use Online Scheduling?
The Manta study also shows is that 55.5% of SBOs are using their mobile devices to schedule appointments and communicate with customers, smaller proportions use it for productivity apps, social media, banking, inventory, accounting, documents and presentations. However, what the study doesn’t show may be more crucial to understanding where small business can improve both in implemented mobile and improving their customers’ overall experience.
It’s clear that, by their usage of mobile devices, a majority of SBOs believe that mobile is an effective means to organize appointments and communicate with customers. Along those lines, 56.3% of SMBs are scheduling client appointments with an online calendar (about the same as the percentage of SBOs who use their mobiles to schedule appointments), while only 10.8% are using dedicated appointment booking apps or software.
What do customers want?
The prevalence of services like Uber and the growth of a freelancing, sharing and on-demand economy show that customers are coming to value convenience most of all, primarily through the capabilities offered by their mobile devices. With that in mind, it’s also become apparent that fully 67% of consumers expect improved websites from their local businesses within the next 12 months. A further 61% expect or prefer the ability to book an appointment online, and 29% would like to see such improvements take place in the course of the next year, slightly edging out electronic payments and electronic billing.
Here, not only is there an apparent gap between what consumers want, prefer, or expect and what small and local businesses are offering, but there’s an opportunity for businesses to adapt and take advantage of mobile’s effect on consumer behaviour. Not only do 50% of searches from smartphones and 34% from a tablet or desktop result in a store visit within 24 hours, but fully 78% of mobile searches for local business information result in a purchase, and 2 out of 3 consumers prefer accessing mobile websites to mobile apps. Much as SBOs relate to their customers through mobile devices, customers want constant access to businesses and appointment booking through the mobile internet.
Mobile driving more connections, more sales
All of these mobile uses combine to create a new standard of customer relationships with Small Business, and in our experience those who implement and promote Online Scheduling solutions quickly begin receiving nearly 40% of their bookings outside of working hours. That’s right – nearly half of consumers will use an Online Scheduling platform exclusively, in addition to doing so outside of business hours. Not only does this lead to more sales, but it enhances productivity and saves time for a business. Not that anyone ever enjoyed shuffling paper agendas, but doesn’t it make sense that customers want a more efficient way to book appointments? With so many Small Business Owners already using mobile for business, they should offer their customers the tools to connect – and all before a competitor does!