Microsoft is hoping to make it easier for businesses - and particularly smaller businesses with more limited resources - to manage appointments with their customers, through the introduction of a new service in Office 365.
Microsoft Bookings is designed "to make appointment scheduling simpler and more efficient for you, your staff and your customers", according to the company.
Bookings provides a web-based interface for customers to be able to book an appointment even outside of business hours, or when there's otherwise no-one available to take a customer's call:
The web page is simple to use: the customer first selects the service they want and, based on availability you provide, chooses a day and time when you or one of your staff is available, enters their contact information and books the appointment.
The automated service also sends email reminders to customers ahead of their scheduled appointment, in addition to an email confirmation after they book, with the option of adding it to their calendar. It's hoped that these simple measures will help businesses to reduce 'no-shows', leading to greater efficiency and savings.
The confirmation email also features a unique link which directs users to a page on which they can manage their appointment, including the option to reschedule, cancel or make an additional booking. Businesses are offered flexibility in customizing the amount of notice required for cancellations.
Businesses can access a complete overview and management console of all appointments via a dedicated dashboard on Office 365. This interface also offers a basic customer directory to help companies manage their contacts more easily and efficiently.
And to further help businesses manage their operations, Bookings automatically adds and updates appointments to staff calendars as well, including Outlook and Google calendar options.
With a responsive design, the Bookings dashboard can be accessed via PCs or mobile devices, and a dedicated mobile app will be released "in the coming months".
Microsoft says that Bookings is rolling out now "in First Release to customers who subscribe to the Office 365 Business Premium plan", with general availability for all Business Premium customers around the world in the months ahead.
You can get a further overview of Microsoft Bookings in the video below:
Source: Office Blogs