Benefits of Scheduling Software For Higher Education
Higher education institutions face the difficult task of administrating a vast student body of individuals with disparate needs. While their task is difficult, it is important, and ensuring every student receives the education and assistance they deserve is vital to the success of any school. That is why academic appointments are such a necessity. They give students one-to-one interaction with university officials to discuss things like academic and financial plans to ensure they benefit from their higher education experience.
However, many educational institutions rely on outdated, underperforming appointment systems, making accessing appointment resources difficult. It is pivotal that students feel it is easy to book and manage their appointments, or they simply won’t bother to attend. Higher education students tend to be extremely busy and stressed, and if the appointment process is not simple for them, many won’t bother with it.
According to Economics Observatory, student satisfaction with their higher education institution has recently fallen to an all-time low. Only 27% of students think their courses are good value for their money. Some of this was out of higher education institutions’ control, as the pandemic disrupted university life in a major way. Still, fixing appointment scheduling processes is important to keep students happy. And that is where appointment scheduling software like QLess can make a significant impact.
Online appointment scheduling software gives enterprises a tool for managing their appointments while making scheduling simple for students. These systems are designed for the modern student, with mobile accessibility and a suite of features that align with their habits. These systems make managing staff calendars, handling administrative tasks, and communicating with the student body straightforward and efficient. Let’s look at what online appointment scheduling software is and why it benefits higher education institutions.
What is Online Appointment Scheduling Software?
Online appointment scheduling software is a system that can be accessed through the internet to schedule appointments. Unlike phone call scheduling, these systems allow users to schedule outside business hours. They simply visit a website, click a “schedule appointment” tab, and select the available time that works for them. The appointment is then uploaded through calendar sync into the staff calendar, ensuring staff are informed about who has an appointment and when. Students can select different appointment types and communicate with staff using the online scheduling software.
The QLess scheduling tool is booking software that also includes a range of other features designed to ensure an end-to-end positive experience for students and an increase in efficiency for staff. It creates convenience for students while also improving efficiency for staff and creates an appointment calendar that can also integrate with walk-ins. The QLess software also includes queue management features that allow customers to enter into virtual queues, where they are moved through a digital lineup after checking into their appointment virtually. This eliminates the need for them to be physically present at the office until their appointment begins, maximizing convenience.
An online appointment scheduling software is designed to reduce the difficulty of scheduling and overseeing appointments. Both staff and customers can update appointments and communicate with each other through bi-directional chat features on the platform. This improves communication and eliminates the need for back-and-forth emails. It also increases the flexibility of a higher education institution’s appointment calendar.
Overall, an online appointment scheduling system for higher education is designed to help schools and students navigate the appointment process more successfully. Scheduling appointments should be friction-free, as should managing an appointment calendar. With advanced appointment scheduling software, there are no bottlenecks caused by outdated and rigid appointment systems.
How Will Online Appointment Scheduling Software Benefit Higher Education Institutions?
The number of students at U.S. higher education institutions has reached an astonishing level. According to Statista, in 1965, just under six million people were enrolled in college or university in the United States. In 2021, that number was more than 20 million people. The average school in the United States has thousands of students and faces the monumental task of ensuring they are all happy with their experience, up-to-date with their payments, and academically on course to graduate. While administrative staff does their best, managing the unique needs of such a substantial student body is not easy without the right solutions.
This is why an online booking system is so important. It gives schools the tools they need to ensure students are happy, receive the help they deserve, and access school resources whenever needed. There are many benefits an effective appointment scheduling tool provides. Let’s dive into what exactly online appointment scheduling software can do to positively impact higher education institutions.
Increase Student Satisfaction
As we’ve mentioned, student satisfaction is at an all-time low. Higher education institutions know that if students are unhappy, that poses a problem for them. Students can transfer, and many often do. According to the National Student Clearinghouse, roughly one-third of all college students transfer institutions before receiving their degree. A portion of this is students transferring from community colleges to universities, but there are also many transfers due to students being unhappy with their institution. Many schools alienate students by making accessing school resources and meeting with advisors hard. This leads to an unhappy student population.
Implementing an appointment scheduler like QLess designed to make students’ lives as easy as possible will go a long way toward boosting student satisfaction. Your students are busy juggling higher education’s academic, financial, and social responsibilities. Making them use outdated appointment systems that lead to scheduling conflicts and an inability to book appointments outside of business hours wastes their time.
The QLess system is incredibly efficient. Students simply visit the university website and schedule through their computers or appointment-scheduling apps on their phones. They pick the appointment type they want, the staff they need to meet with, and the available appointment slots that work for them. They are then all set with an appointment blocked off. The whole process can be done within minutes and doesn’t require any outside assistance.
Online appointment scheduling software aligns with consumers’ preferences for booking appointments online. According to Zippia, 67% of people prefer online booking. The QLess key features make this process easy and efficient for students, and the queue management software ensures the pre-appointment wait can be done outside waiting rooms. Combined, this creates a student experience that is ultimately much more positive, leading to increased student satisfaction.
Boost Appointment Attendance
One problem that many schools have is a lack of appointment attendance from students. Nothing is more frustrating for a financial or academic advisement office than when a student books an appointment, staff blocks off their schedules, and the student neglects to show up. This wastes staff’s time and resources, as that appointment slot could’ve gone to a different student. And, the student that didn’t show up is now not receiving the help they needed.
To combat this issue, many institutions have implemented email reminders that send to students on the day of their appointments. These automated reminders often include appointment details for students and are sent to their school email accounts. This is certainly better than not doing any reminders, but it is not a solution geared toward the modern student. What if a student doesn’t check their school email that day? It can be very easy to forget appointments, and if staff want to boost attendance, they need to ensure they are contacting students in a way they are likely to see.
With the QLess bi-directional communication features, higher education institutions can schedule appointment reminders sent to students via SMS. Students are far likelier to check their phones than email, and SMS appointment reminders are dramatically more impactful. According to Klara, text appointment reminders reduce appointment no-shows by 38%, ensuring staff less frequently allocate their time and resources for appointments that don’t show up.
The QLess appointment reminders can require students to verify that they intend to attend the appointment with a response. This makes it all the more likely that students will arrive for their scheduled appointments. Ultimately, it is critical that higher education institutions optimize their appointment calendar. With many schools trying to administrate a massive student body, any appointment no-show is an opportunity lost. QLess helps ensure that fewer appointment slots go unfilled.
Better Manage Virtual Appointments
The pandemic changed a lot for the average college in the United States and Canada. Schools were forced to migrate much of their resources online and adjust to a world where human-to-human contact posed a risk. While almost every school across the country has mostly resumed a full in-class calendar, one of the most substantial changes that will last from this period is a move toward increased virtual appointments. Virtual consulting appointments became the norm during the pandemic, and many financial and advisement offices maintain them today.
Virtual appointments are convenient for students because they don’t need to come onto campus or wait in a waiting room. They simply open Zoom or Teams and can discuss whatever they need with university staff. The impact of implementing virtual appointments has been markedly positive. According to EAB, students schedule more appointments, are more likely to attend their appointments, and appointments are shorter and more efficient when done virtually.
It stands to reason that this will continue to be the preferred way of meeting for a significant portion of your student body. So schools need the infrastructure to handle not just their in-person appointments but their virtual ones. This is what the virtual services feature of QLess helps provide.
QLess allows students to schedule in-person and virtual meeting types at the initial phase of their appointment booking process. If they choose the virtual appointment, they continue to select the time and type of appointment they want to have and are sent a meeting link to check in when it is time for their appointment. When the student’s appointment is ready to begin, they click on a link from QLess, which is integrated with both Zoom and Teams. They are then taken to a virtual meeting with their counselor.
With these virtual features, it is easy for students to book the virtual appointments that have become a common preference, and it is easy for staff to manage a mixed virtual and in-person calendar. This leads to an appointment system that can handle the demands the modern higher education institution faces.
Eliminate Scheduling Conflicts and Human Error
One issue that can lead to a deeply negative customer experience is when scheduling conflicts and mistakes arise. Whether these are due to double bookings, appointments that are improperly added to appointment calendars, or mistakenly canceled appointments, this is a serious frustration for students. This can become way too common when higher education institutions rely on manual processes like phone-based appointment scheduling or outdated online appointment scheduling software. With a modern system like QLess, scheduling conflicts and mistakes made due to human error are eliminated.
QLess’s appointment scheduling features automatically manage an appointment calendar for higher education institutions. They don’t need to do anything to schedule student appointments or oversee the calendar. When an appointment is booked, it is automatically uploaded to the appointment calendar, and that time slot is booked off for a specific staff member. That ensures there are no inadvertent double bookings. The calendar can be edited, but it has fail-safes to ensure no accidental scheduling conflicts or double bookings are done by staff.
The customer experience ultimately comes down to how you can make students feel about their appointment experiences. If students take their valuable time to come to schedule an appointment but find out they have been double booked or mistakenly rescheduled, that isn’t likely to leave them feeling happy. With QLess, human error is eliminated from the equation. The AI features of QLess handle the appointment calendar, ensuring there aren’t mistakes or oversights that can accidentally disrupt schools’ appointment processes.
Improve Staff Workflow Visibility and Flexibility
Administrators at higher education institutions face a difficult task, considering they oversee the academic progress of student bodies that can have tens of thousands of students. They are often overtaxed and overextended, particularly when they aren’t given resources designed to make their jobs easier. Happiness greatly impacts productivity, with research from the University of Oxford showing that happy workers are 13% more productive. Empowering staff with a tool like QLess that makes managing schedules easier will improve the happiness and effectiveness of higher education administrators.
QLess provides smart calendar management features designed to improve workflow visibility and create more flexible appointment management. When customers schedule their appointments, it is uploaded to the smart calendar, which is color-coded and organized for staff to see the schedule clearly. Staff can segment the calendar to see their entire appointment layout for the day, including the name of the customer that booked the appointment and the appointment type they have signed up for.
The digital nature of the smart calendar enables heightened flexibility in business operations. If customers don’t attend their appointment or never confirm their automatic reminders, the QLess calendar can be moved around and edited. Staff can move appointments out, put new ones in their time slot, and have automated notifications that update customers on changes. Instead of no-shows and rigid appointment systems causing delays, the flexible nature of the QLess software allows teams to move on from them very quickly.
Having a flexible and cohesively organized calendar will enable staff to better organize their schedules and have a clearer sense of the work that needs to be done that day. It organizes their calendar for them, making their lives easier and ensuring they can handle the rigors of overseeing a large student body.
Foster Transparency and Communication
Communication is a vital component of customer service, but for many academic offices, it often goes neglected. The quality of communication students receive throughout the appointment process is very limited. Typically, they will receive a confirmation email when they book their appointment and not much else along the way. This is because it can be incredibly difficult to communicate with a large group of students without the right tools. But that doesn’t mean higher education institutions should give up, considering 76% of customers are frustrated by lack of personalization, according to McKinsey.
The QLess online appointment scheduling software offers a scalable communication system, ensuring students receive the level of dialogue that they desire. With bi-directional communication features, students and staff can message back and forth. If students are late for an appointment, they can message the office they are meeting with. If staff needs updates on students’ academics before an advisement meeting, they can simply ask.
Unlike email correspondences, with the QLess communication features, messages are sent directly to the student’s mobile device. This aligns with what customers typically want from the businesses they use. According to a QLess survey of 250 US adults, 55.6% of respondents prefer to receive communications and appointment reminders from businesses via text messages.
The QLess communication features improve transparency and foster better customer and staff connections. And with the queue management features on the software, customers can check wait times in advance, with highly accurate forecasts that factor in the time of day and current customer volume. In a separate QLess survey, 57.2% of respondents indicated that they are likelier to patronize a business if they have early insights into wait times.
Communication and transparency are two things customers value highly, and with the QLess online appointment scheduling software, higher education institutes can offer students that open dialogue around appointments that they desire.
Real-Time Analytics to Help Tweak Processes
The more informed your higher education institution is about the success of its appointment processes, the better equipped they are to make high-impact changes that improve them. Like in every other business, having unbiased, accurate data is an impactful tool that gives businesses the means to implement positive changes. According to Deloitte, companies with leaders that make data-driven decisions are 77% likelier to succeed. But many educational institutions struggle to collect insights that could’ve been impactful ways to improve their operations.
That is why the business intelligence features of QLess’ online appointment system are so impactful. With these advanced features, schools now have a solution that collects information on their appointment and queuing processes and presents it in easy-to-understand graphs and charts that can be segmented according to different criteria. The QLess data shows KPIs like the number of customers served in a day, appointment no-show rate, median wait time, employee utilization, and more. Combined, it paints a very accurate picture of the customer experience at your academic offices.
Segmenting this information is very helpful, as the data can be altered based on the time of day, the academic office, or the employees that handled the appointment. Armed with this data, enterprises can spot weak points in their appointment processes, such as specific offices or times of the day with longer waits or higher rates of missed appointments. They can then implement the necessary changes to ensure these problems don’t persist and use the data to measure their success in addressing the problem.
Higher education institutions looking to modernize and streamline their important processes should not overlook the crucial benefits of online appointment scheduling software. The average U.S. institution has a student population ranging from 5,000 to 50,000, and administrators must use every tool at their disposal to ensure students are on-track academically and financially to graduate. With an improved appointment scheduling system, schools can enhance their ability to give students the help they need and improve their experience.
With the QLess higher education scheduling software, schools can use key features to transform their appointment experience. Students benefit from enhanced convenience, with around-the-clock accessibility, as well as improved communication, a more seamless virtual appointment process, and academic queue management features. Administrators benefit from higher appointment attendance, increased workflow visibility, and easier appointment management.
Online appointment scheduling software is a high-impact solution that gives staff and students a digital tool to improve the end-to-end appointment experience. Higher education can be demanding and stressful for employees and students. With QLess, schools can ensure their appointment scheduling is smooth, efficient, and stress-free.