Does this sound familiar? “Hey, can you send me a few time slots that work for you?” …then you play calendar tag over four or five more emails until you finally find a slot that’s available to both you and your customer.
Even worse, sometimes you need to reschedule, and the dance starts all over again! This is a huge waste of time and always a point of frustration.
In fact, it’s such a big pain point that several third-party tools have spawned to fill this obvious feature gap in the Microsoft Office suite of applications. Calendly.com, for example, gives you the ability to sync your calendar to the Calendly service and then send a link to your customer so they can choose a time that works for them.
This really simplifies the process of finding a meeting time that works. However, you need a subscription to access anything beyond the most basic features.
As such, I thought I’d let you know about Microsoft Bookings, included in Office 365.
Bookings is an app available in the office suite. You can find it by going to Office.com.
The first step in using Bookings is to set up a business. You need to choose a business name and a business type.
Once created, set up your Bookings site by adding staff, a logo, filling out business information, adding services and finally by publishing the page.
Let’s go through these steps a bit more.
Booking Page Setup
I suggest starting here before adding staff and services. The Booking page allows you to set up your preferred configuration for all services you will eventually add and is a real time saver.
At the top, look for the Booking page access control section. Here you will find a checkbox to disable search engine indexing. Search engine indexing will make the page show up in Google searches (and other search engines). If this page is not meant for general public use, be sure to check this box and disable search engine indexing. See more details from Microsoft here.
Scroll down to the Scheduling policy section and configure the settings. You can set default time slots e.g. every 30 minutes, the minimum lead time and maximum lead time.
Further down, look for the Staff section. Here you will find an important checkbox: Allow customers to choose a specific person for the booking. You should set this based on the needs of your business.
Adding staff is easy. Simply click the Staff button in the left side menu then click Add staff.
In the add staff screen, click Add people then start typing the names of your employees and the list will auto-populate with matching choices. Select the employee you want and all matching information will be populated.
The next items to set up are the checkboxes under the Availability section. I suggest checking both checkboxes:
- Events on Office 365 calendar affect availability
- Use business hours
Services are your appointment types. Here you can choose the name of the appointment, a brief description and more. If you’ve set up your Bookings page, then all default scheduling options will be pre-configured. If not, be sure to review those selections carefully.
You can set up multiple services. For my company, I set up a one-hour and a 30-minute meeting.
Also, you can override the default settings for a service and customize each service individually if you want to.
If you need a service that falls into a first-available model, simply override the default configuration and then uncheck the Allow customers to choose a specific person for the booking checkbox.
Publish your Bookings
Once you’ve finished your configurations, return to the Bookings page. At the top you can choose to Save and publish your Bookings. You can also get the necessary code to Embed your Bookings into another site. Finally, you can connect your Bookings with Facebook via the available Connect button.
A great place to start is your next round of interviews for job candidates. Simplify the booking process and present a professional image – without spending any money.