TL; DR: Online booking has become complicated during the pandemic for both businesses and their customers. However, it doesn’t have to be. Amelia delivers a WordPress plugin that empowers website owners and businesses to seamlessly add event and appointment booking capabilities to their online touchpoints. The tool carries a number of features, including integrations with Zoom and payment software. And as a result, Amelia users are able to easily engage and serve their customers.
Booking an appointment or reservation can be a hassle. Before you know it, you’re on hold for hours, only to hang up when your place in the queue never moves. But with the onset of pandemic-induced staffing shortages, booking over the phone has become more of a game of cat and mouse. And consumers are tired of the long wait times. According to GetApp, nearly 70% of respondents prefer to book online if various options are available, while 59% point to booking by phone as their biggest pain point.
Although the necessary use of online booking has been apparent in the likes of airline and hotel industries, its reach is only now expanding within the medical, beauty, and fitness sectors. Amid the pandemic, most small businesses had to go virtual with their business layout, realizing their need for online booking. Their consumers seek immediacy and autonomy on all levels. And delivering a seamless booking experience would give their customers just that.
“Small businesses who didn’t previously use any online-scheduling system started to do so when the pandemic hit; it’s important to know when someone’s coming and not to overlap, so having a tool like ours suddenly became very important,” said Nevena Ilić, Business Development Manager for TMS, Amelia’s parent company.
Backed by the WordPress booking plugin Amelia, small business owners can find the digital solution to their online booking needs. TMA has recently upgraded the plugin features to factor in more customization and a variety of options tailored to the consumer and business experience.
Tackling The Pandemic-Led Demand For Online-Scheduling Systems
With the pandemic came the need and dependence on all things digital. During the lockdown, everyone had to come to terms with social distance and no in-person activities. Businesses scrambled to resume their pace once conditions improved and had no choice but to let go of a significant fraction of their workforce, leaving a disorganized backend in its wake.
The leisure and hospitality field was one of the top industries to suffer from pandemic-related unemployment, its customer service department taking a nosedive. The unemployment rate went from 5% in 2019 to 16.7% in only a year. People were either laid off or chose to leave for coronavirus-related issues. Booking systems were sorely hit. As the customer service department dwindled, the already frustrating booking experience became more stifled.
Small businesses had to look to other resources to support their booking operations. So, they switched over to online. The online booking software market skyrocketed last year and is expected to increase at an annual rate of 15.1% by 2024. Businesses applying this software can leverage the digital aspect of autonomy to optimize on time and money. Customers no longer need to wait till office hours to speak with a representative; they can book while you sleep and better select appointment times to their needs.
Small businesses can power their booking system with the WordPress plugin Amelia. And for entrepreneurs who aren’t as tech-savvy, no need to worry. As Nevena Ilić explained, the plugin is simple to use. “No coding knowledge required because everything is available in the builder. And you don’t even need to hire a designer for input on colors and styles.” Thanks to this simplicity, small businesses will have more time to focus their energy on other parts of their business.
Amelia has also evolved to account for the new changes brought on by the pandemic. As the world switched to online meetings and events, streamlining online registration processes became even more imperative with the uptick. So the company added Zoom and GoogleMeet integrations to its builder, simplifying the planning and organizing workload for these meetings. Emails notify both employee and owner when customers are registered to avoid confusion or overlap of appointments.
TMS added even more improvements to its WordPress plugin, configured for an overall better experience for all involved. We’ll dive into the variety of features available next.
Prioritizing Small Business Needs With New Customizable Features
Amelia thrives on providing WordPress-powered small businesses with the tools to make their booking systems manageable and simple. Although the plugin delivered on those aspects, the access to broad customization wasn’t high within its previous framework. Amelia’s latest update means businesses can now utilize the plugin’s new features to align their booking systems to their personal branding feel and look. This customization improves the consumer experience by giving customers a sense of your brand every step of the way.
“We released the 4.0 version of Amelia last week with functionalities allowing full customization of the front-end. Now people have more freedom to adjust booking forms to their needs. They now can change every single color, every label, every font, the background — everything!” Nevena said.
You can alter the frontend to match your business style in more ways. Your booking systems can take on the complete look of your website by easily changing fonts, backgrounds, and colors to match your company model. More payment options are available on booking forms with a new design. Users can also optimize their booking experience with simplification-based filters and drag-and-drop fields. The drag-and-drop field makes organizing that much easier by giving you options for ranking.
“Users can now drag and drop and reorder steps. If you want to first ask for the location or the service, you can just drag and drop those fields,” Nevena said.
As companies also use Amelia for internal operations, employees can now connect their Google and Outlook calendars to the employee panel, helping with notification measures and reducing no-shows. The plugin also accounts for time zones and provides customers and employees with efficient time management for panels and events. Its automation and synchronization save you time and keep you organized on multiple fronts.
All of these features help business owners deliver a seamless booking experience to their customers and employees. This new update has elevated Amelia’s previous design to meet the creative needs of small businesses. At the same time, the update maintains its clean, modern interface that allows customers to use it for its core benefit — selecting services and appointment times with ease.
Looking Forward: Innovating For Higher Delivery
TMS continues to work on modifying and improving Amelia for its customers. Nevena said, “We plan to add changes to the booking forms so people will have more options — more customizations and more modernization coming soon!”
As it did with this update, the company looks to upgrade its scheduling integrations and improve its current framework on an ongoing basis, fixing any bugs along the way. With many industries to tackle, TMS has added more integrations to its system. For example, in its most recent update, the company added Lesson space for facilitating online classrooms.
Whether you’re in the medical industry or the education system, Amelia features work to improve service-based online booking operations for WordPress websites. The plugin can adapt to various kinds of small businesses because of its frontend design and versatility. And as the demand grows, Amelia innovates to deliver on the supply and evolve with its changing demographic as it garners a global user base. All while keeping it beginner-friendly, convenient, and customizable.