Which is the best appointment scheduling software?
In a world where being "the best" is subjective, partially because everyone claims they're the best, how can we decide on the best appointment scheduling software?
It's tiring, and near-impossible, to try all the software in the market, and then choose the one that works for you. After all, you can't test-drive all the cars in the market before you buy a car.
One aspect of product management is understanding the competition. Zoho Bookings, launched in February 2020, is over 2 years into the market, whereas many competing apps have been there for a decade, or more. There are many good things
for us to learn and adapt from them.
Like customers in search of the best appointment scheduling software, we also went through G2Crowd and influencer reviews. None of those places answered the question of which is the best, and more importantly, why? G2Crowd reviews sent
us in all directions, from meeting schedulers to CRM systems when we wanted an appointment scheduling software. Influencer reviews are impartial: every app in a listing of best apps is good, which is the nicest way to do a review!
However, for a customer or someone like us, we need to know which is the best.
We spent 6 months studying over twelve apps, and drew our own conclusions without depending on existing studies. We wondered how tiring it would be for a customer to do the same research. Nobody will want or enjoy doing it without getting
paid for it. That is why we thought of writing this, in order to give valuable information and definite answers about the best appointment scheduling apps.
You might argue that there's no definite answer, and we need to find an app that suits our needs. We disagree—we can find the best choice if we filter the apps based on principles that guide the universal buying process.
We set a budget, knowingly or unknowingly. Our perceived value of that product determines the higher limit.
The choices are decreased after we set the budget. Then, we look for products which offer the maximum number of features within that budget.
Up until this point, it's a very logical process. Next, we enter the subjective areas, where we ask:
Is the product reliable?
Will we enjoy using the product?
We applied the same thought process to find out the best appointment scheduling software in the market. We restricted our study only to those apps that frequently come up on the first page of Google and Zoho Bookings.
Appointment scheduling software that are part of this study
A quick snapshot about each appointment scheduling app
1Zoho Bookings integrates well with Zoho apps, like CRM, Meeting, Flow, Sites, etc. It offers the best personalization and branding options in the market, without pushing the user
to do HTML and CSS coding. We want to make the product suitable for customer-facing teams. Our customer support channels are email, community, and help documentation.
2SimplyBook.me has a usage-based pricing model, which is different from all of the other apps compared here. They allow you to pick a specified number of features in each pricing
plan. They support customers by email, chat, and help documentation. They have mobile apps. The primary target audience is the health and wellness industry.
3Setmore comes from a design oriented parent company and it shows. They have good mobile apps, and the web app UI is one of the better ones in the market. Setmore supports customers
with help documentation, email, and live chat support. Their pricing plan is one of the simplest.
4Calendly needs no introduction. Their minimal user interface is the main attraction, and their community and support are active. They do not cover all scheduling use cases—for
example, classes. They have mobile apps and plug-ins make it easy to share your schedule.
5Appointy also covers many use cases in the service industry. Unlike other apps, they have features that enable at-home/house-call type services. Also, they have many options to
filter out unwanted bookings. They support customers via email, chat, and help documentation. They integrate with Square POS, have mobile apps, and offer custom development.
6Appointlet is a Calendly alternative if you want a simpler app. You will miss some of the Calendly features, but if you do meetings by approval, you've to go with Appointlet.
They support customers by email, chat, and with help documentation. They don't have mobile apps; Calendly does.
7Acuity Scheduling is a flexible and versatile app that can meet many appointment scheduling cases. Their primary audience is the health and wellness industry. They offer a seven-day free trial. The help documentation is good, and they support customers by email and chat. They don't offer a free plan.
8 10to8 Scheduling is another app that is good for scheduling use cases. They offer a 30-day trial period and supports their customers by email. Users have rated the app positively. 10to8 is not very strong when it comes to integrations.
Here is how we conducted the study:
Needs vs budget plot: We plotted 75 appointment scheduling features against the best plan each app can offer for $25. The app which gives the most number of features for $25 is the best value-for-money app.
Why did we choose $25? We've seen in reviews that people are happy to pay that much for a month to automate scheduling. Also, you can order a decent to luxurious breakfast in any part of the world with that amount, which is an
indication that $25 is affordable.
Quality of support: After we made the needs vs budget plot, we took a trial of all these apps. We interacted with their support staff and learned from their help documentation. Even if a product offers the best
value, you will have a hard time using it if it isn't reliable or customers aren't well-supported. You would rather pay more for another app.
User experience: Do you like your interaction with the app? It is subjective, but it will still influence your decision. It could be the design, ease-of-use, navigation, consistency, or some other aspect of the
app. You cannot rate these, but only experience it. In our study, there is a distinct group of apps that provide a better user experience than the rest.
Before declaring the results, let's go through some of the interesting findings from our study.
To pick the best app, identify your need first: is scheduling a part of your business or is that your business? For a sales manager looking to automate customer appointments with their team, Calendly, Appointlet, or Zoho Bookings
are the best options. Their features suit sales teams well, and sales managers don't have to spend the whole day setting up the app.
However, if you're in the service industry and your revenue depends on the appointments, you need to look at Setmore, Acuity, Appointy, 10to8, or SimplyBook.me.
Scheduling software categorized based on customer needs
For service-oriented businesses
2 10to8 Scheduling
For customer and candidate facing teams
2 Zoho Bookings
Calendly vs Acuity Scheduling—finally, an answer!
Acuity's founder developed the app based on requirements from his mother's massage practice. Calendly's founder was a salesperson. The influence is visible in the direction the two apps take. Acuity has tried to cover almost every
use case in appointment scheduling, while Calendly focused on sales and recruitment teams. That resulted in Calendly being able to manage everything without complicating things, whereas Acuity added a lot of features that can
make it harder to use. Acuity can do all that Calendly can do, but Calendly cannot say that for Acuity. Calendly can do what you want in a shorter time than Acuity.
Takeaways for Zoho Bookings
The study has been beneficial for us. We've identified areas of growth and improvement like:
Marketing: We need to emphasize our strengths: personalization, branding, and the modern UI.
Strategy: We will double our focus on the customers-and-candidates-facing teams.
Support: We need to add people to our support team to provide the best resolution in the shortest possible time.
Pricing: At $6 and $9 per user/month it is one of the most affordable appointment scheduling apps. We need to emphasize that in our marketing.
Which is the best appointment scheduling software?
The best appointment scheduling software is Acuity Scheduling as they provide the most number of features under $25.
The eight best appointment scheduling software ranked
Based on the needs vs budget plot, we made this definitive list of the best appointment scheduling software. If you do the same plot that we did, you will get the same results. That
way, this list is objective and not based on opinions.
If Acuity is the best, why do other apps exist?
Because sometimes it's easier to work with a simpler product with lesser features, and perhaps that product has better support.
Quality of support
All apps have good help documentation, community, and email support. The real differentiator is Live chat support. Calendly, Acuity Scheduling, Setmore, Appointy, Appointlet, and SimplyBook.me offer live chat support. Among them, Setmore is the
app that always responded to questions in the time they promised: under 5 minutes. SimplyBook.me, Appointlet, and Appointy also responds well during their work hours. It is hard to evaluate the quality of email support and
community, because that varies for every individual. However, I think the response time and availability of live chat support 24x7 is verifiable by anyone.
One of the positive aspects of Zoho Bookings when placed among these senior apps is its UI. Since it's newer, it has a fresh feel and adheres to latest UX standards. Except for Zoho Bookings, Calendly, and Setmore, we found
it difficult to find our way through the apps. The other apps are feature-rich, but took a lot of effort to set up. Our sample case was to set up an app for our sales team. All apps could do that, but the speed with which
we could do that, the learning curve, determined our experience. Time-to-go-live can be a common denominator to measure your user experience.
It is hard to offer many features and great UX at the same time. Each app has its priorities and plans. Calendly has chosen to keep it simple, offer a minimal UI, and support (live chat for more than 10 users). Setmore and
Zoho Bookings have covered more use cases than Calendly, and kept their UI clean and easy.
Putting budget, support, and UX together
Setmore and Calendly are the most balanced apps. If we had to pick one of them, we would choose Calendly for the slightly better, minimalistic UI, and overall market standing.
Our ranking of the apps, when we wanted to automate appointment scheduling for our sales team
How to get started
We've given you the answer, from a few different points of view. Here are some final thoughts...
If you need an app to automate your sales, hiring, or customer calls, go for Zoho Bookings, Appointlet or Calendly. These are simple apps and you can fully evaluate them in a few days.
Meeting polls, staff booking pages, customized booking pages, and appointment reports were included in the list of features.
Acuity Scheduling and 10to8 scheduling retained their first and second positions with a few additional features.
In this update, we considered Calendly’s $16 Teams pricing plan. They released their meeting poll feature, CRM, and email marketing integration, which moved them up to the third position.
Appointy secured more points in the feature updates and maintains the fifth position, while Setmore slid from fourth to sixth place.
Simplybook.me revised their pricing plans to be more user-friendly. In this update, we considered their Standard plan, which is now priced at $24.90. Earlier, when it was $29.90, our study also included their Basic plan at $9.90. They added 20+ features to their custom feature list, but Standard users can only choose eight of these options, compared to three in their Basic plan. Even with these new features, they still finish last on the list.
1. Acuity Scheduling
2. 10to8 Scheduling
3. Zoho Bookings
Zoho Bookings moved to a per-user pricing model in July 2021, so its position changed from sixth to third in this update.
Acuity Scheduling and 10to8 scheduling retained their first and second positions.
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