Did you know that 35 percent of salon guests prefer to book appointments online and 25 percent of millennials will only book online? In today’s hyper-connected world, having an online booking option is more important than ever.
But not all online booking systems are created equal. Consumers expect online booking to be fast, clear, simple and personalized. They aren’t willing to navigate through confusing menus or lengthy descriptions.
Here are four simple online booking best practices to help you design an experience that converts.
1. Be Fast
"I have other things to do. If this takes too long, I'll give up."
Enable guests to book in a few clicks.
- Visitors expect to be able to complete a booking in a few clicks or taps. This means the entire booking flow should only take a few steps, so visitors don’t get frustrated and give up.
Make the download time really short.
- Ensure that any images (photos, logos, etc.) are at an appropriate pixel size. Use the imgix Page Weight Tool to see what can be modified for faster download speeds. Also, be sure that all resources (scripts, images, etc.) are coming from a reliable source with fast transfer speeds.
Follow the “clear” and “simple” guidelines below.
- The more time visitors spend on your page, the more likely they are to leave. If you apply the clear and simple guidelines to your website, the resulting experience should also be fast, allowing your customers to complete the transaction in the minimum amount of time required.
2. Be Clear
"Don't confuse me. I want to easily understand what I'm looking at."
Ensure that all the text is readable by your customers.
- Use colors and contrasts that work well together. To your designer, the light grey text against a white background may look cool, but your customers may not be able to see it. Use accessibility tools (such as the Colour Contrast Check and the Colorblind Web Page Filter) to validate that your color combinations can be seen by everyone. Also choose easy to read fonts. Use sentence case (not all capitals or all lowercase letters) in the descriptions and avoid using all bold text.
Use colors purposefully.
- The primary actions for each step should use a color combination that stands out, drawing attention to what the user should do next. However, when building your online booking page, keep in mind that it should fit the overall color theme and style of your website. This will create a consistent brand experience for your customers.
Use photos strategically.
- Photos for services and service providers not only look better and engage your customers more, your customers will also have more confidence in their selections. But be strategic about when you use photos, and avoid repeating images or using your company logo for every service.
3. Be Simple
"I want to discover what I need to know and find what I want easily."
Use precise language that makes sense to your customers and leaves no room for misunderstanding.
- Studies show that people only read about 20 percent of the text on a screen, so be sure your customers understand what they’re selecting without having to read too much. There should be enough information that your customers are confident about what they’re doing, but not so much that they get lost in the details. Avoid using marketing or flowery words or industry specific language unless it’s absolutely necessary or universally understood.
Break up your services into groupings that make sense to your customers.
- Find categories that make sense to your customers. This is trickier than it sounds since different customers may think differently about your services. Use your instincts as a start, but ask your customers too. Some common methods of categorizing are: by service type (cuts vs. coloring), functionality (therapeutic vs. relaxing), customer needs (long hair vs. short hair), customer preferences (classic style vs. modern style), demographics (adult vs. child), convenience (quick services vs. long services) or quality (basic vs. premium).
Limit the number of options per grouping.
- Once you've defined your groupings, try to keep the service options per grouping to a maximum of 15-18 choices (an average of 5-10 choices is ideal). Use the service variations option to combine similar services (e.g. Massage: 30 min / 60 min / 90 min). Ideally, all the primary choices are displayed without forcing the customer to scroll down too far.
4. Be Personalized
"I only want to see my favorite stylist. If I can’t find their open availability, I’ll give up."
Make it easy to book with a preferred service provider.
- Salon and spa guests often want to book with their preferred service provider — fast. That’s why it’s important to allow visitors to select a service provider and see their schedule and next availability at a glance. This simple feature is so important that one of our customers’ saw a 28 percent online booking conversion rate increase when they enabled it.
Enable quick rebook options.
- Personalization should extend to making it easy for visitors to rebook their favorite services. Quick rebook options reduce the time it takes to book an appointment, so visitors are less likely to abandon their bookings.
Zenoti customers on average book half of their appointments online. Our platform makes it easy to book online or using the customer mobile app in as little as two clicks or taps. Guests can even store card information on file or even use popular payment options like Apple Pay, with conversion rates as high as 92 percent.
To discover how Zenoti can help your salon, spa or medical spa build an effective system that follows online booking best practices, request a demo today.