In our April edition of Millennial Home, David Munczinski, CEO of software company Brickwork, told us that one of the best ways to pull Millennials off their phones and into stores was to offer personal appointments with sales associates. But customers of all age groups can benefit from appointments. Personal appointments create an experience. Plus, by providing sales associates with information before the appointment, associates can better answer specific questions and show customers exactly what they’re interested in. Customers, in turn, feel more confident in their purchase. If you don’t offer prescheduled appointments, consider it — it’s easier than you think, especially with the online tools available. Here’s what you need to know.
Showrooms See Results
Both Kate Bailey, Director of Showrooms at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen and Lighting Gallery, and Doug Van Der Weide, design, development and training at WaterPlace in Crown Point, IN, said they see an even split between the number of walk-in versus appointment customers.
“Oftentimes, the walk-in customer enjoys getting inspired on their first visit and then schedules a time to return and work the details of their project when they’re ready to start making decisions,” Bailey adds.
Van Der Weide says consultations with WaterPlace designers take up to two hours. Customers feel more prepared to come to the showroom after speaking with a designer over the phone first, and they know what to expect and what to bring to their appointment.
Designers also can better answer specific questions to make sure that what customers are getting coordinates with what will fit their homes and what their contractors need. It saves time and ends most guesswork.
“You don’t want to spend two hours showing them contemporary fixtures when they have a Victorian home,” he says.
Online Appointment Books Setup
At Ferguson, customers can schedule appointments either over the phone or online by submitting a short form, which then sends the form to the closest showroom based on the submitted information. An associate then calls the customer to get more information and schedule an appointment.
WaterPlace uses a similar model. Their submission form acts as an firstname.lastname@example.org email address. The forms go to one inbox and are assigned to designers using software called Teamup.
Showrooms can also use third-party software to make their scheduling easier. Sarang Verma, co-founder of the online scheduling software Appointy, says all business owners need to use Appointy is an internet connection and a computer. The customizable software allows users to design the Appointy widget to fit their website and customize their submission forms. The software also has a scheduling feature that makes it easy for employees to monitor their appointments.
“Appointy has evolved over the years with tons of customer feedback,” Verma says. “While the evolution continues, we can confidently say that Appointy represents one of the most intuitive and user-friendly interfaces in the market.”
Whether you choose to build your own system or use software such as Appointy, offering the option to schedule appointments may become even more crucial as the retail landscape changes. With advances in virtual and augmented reality, getting customers into your showroom might get harder. Offering appointments creates an experience and allows your employees’ knowledge to shine.
“The main value to using automated scheduling is to be able to save time coordinating every appointment,” Verma says. “Some clients tell us that they save up to two hours every day.”