Is your organization still using a paper form or simple digital document to take reservation requests? The requester completes the form and submits it in person or via email, and then your staff reviews the information and keys it into your scheduling system? If so, you’re not alone. Many of the organizations we talk with are doing the same. And that’s not surprising, since it’s a process that, despite its drawbacks, does continue to work to some degree.
However, what scheduling teams are realizing is that giving customers the ability to submit requests online produces a number of benefits. And as they become more familiar with those advantages and share them with managers and other decision makers, organizations are increasingly turning to integrated online scheduling as a way to increase efficiency, cut costs, and provide a better customer experience.
What Your Organization Can Gain From Implementing Online Request Capability
While there are many ways that implementing online request capability can improve your scheduling operations, seven stand out as the biggest benefits. They are:
1. The system works while you sleep.
When you enable online reservation requests, it doesn’t matter whether it’s midday or the middle of the night, customers can submit their request when it’s convenient for them. And, you can rest easy knowing that the system will receive and store the requests properly until you and your team are ready to address them.
2. Using online requests frees up valuable time for you and your team.
Ever wish that you could clone yourself or your team members so you could get more done? Empowering customers to submit reservation requests online produces the same type of effect. Your scheduling system performs functions that you used to have to take on yourself or assign to one of your team members, giving you the bandwidth to tackle other “to do” items.
3. Making information available online streamlines the inquiry process.
Every scheduling professional knows how painful “phone tag” or “email tag” can be. The requester wants to know if a space is available for their event, so they attempt to contact you about it. You’re busy and can’t take their call or address their email initially. When you do respond, they aren’t available, but you give them the simple availability information they asked about. Later, you get another voicemail/email from them looking for additional information (“Can the room accommodate a DJ and dance floor?”). And the game continues. Allowing requesters to see online which rooms are available, and also providing details on those spaces, can save literally hundreds of emails and phone calls each month.
4. Enabling online requests helps you better manage the scheduling process.
“Which request came in first? The email or the paper form on my desk? And where did I put that note about the special setup request for Friday’s event in the Aspen Ballroom?” When requests and information are coming at you from every direction, you may find yourself having those kinds of internal monologues. On the flip side, when customers learn to submit their requests online, the information you and your team need to do your job well is centrally located, easily accessible, and date stamped. All you have to do is open your scheduling system when you’re ready and start working your way through the requests sequentially. No more fire drills for you or frustration for your customers because someone “dropped the ball.”
5. Online request integration eliminates retyping and the potential for mistakes.
If you don’t have integrated reservation request capability, someone gets assigned the task of rekeying information from a paper form or digital document into your scheduling system. Not only can this eat up a significant amount of time in a high-volume operation, it opens the door to typing errors that can have serious consequences. “They needed beverages for 50? The service order said, ‘Beverages for 5.’ Oh, no!”
6. Easy access to room availability information makes optimizing space usage a breeze.
Every scheduling operation has “that room” that everyone wants. When 10 people have requested it for the same date and time, giving it to the first requester and then having to figure out what to do with the other events is a major headache. If people are able to see that “that room” is booked, they can find suitable alternatives for themselves. It’s a natural “space optimization” process that can save you countless hours in a month.
7. Allowing online requests shows that you take customer service seriously.
Whether you’re looking to grow your scheduling operations or simply prove to your boss that you’re doing a good job, making customers happy is important. When they see that you’ve taken steps to make things easier on them, it surely pleases them. And when they share their opinion, you, your boss, and your organization will be happy too!
Moving Your Request Process Online Is Easier Than You Might Think
There was a time when adding online request capability to a scheduling system—or switching to a system that has the capability—was, frankly, a nightmare. We’re happy to say things have changed. Easy to use systems like Mazévo have integrated request functionality and can be operational in a matter of hours or days rather than weeks or months. In other words, they can have you and your customers “living the dream” in no time!