Choosing online scheduling software that meets your company’s needs is vital to its smooth operation. Quality scheduling software can save untold hours of struggle and frustration — not to mention, money. Conversely, purchasing scheduling software that lacks flexibility and necessary features is a setup for disaster.

Microsoft recently released Bookings, its new Office 365 online scheduling software. This scheduling platform is being lauded as a software that “will allow customers to schedule appointments with a business … without the need for a phone call.” But will it really meet the needs of businesses wanting to improve their online scheduling capabilities?

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Unfortunately, Microsoft Bookings is not customizable. As a business leader, you cannot control which fields clients need to fill in to make an appointment, and Bookings doesn’t save or remember your customers’ information on the booking page. When it comes to support, Microsoft’s size prevents it from being able to offer direct one-on-one customer service.

Microsoft Bookings is also not flexible; you can’t change the system to match the way your business runs; it has to be used as-is. And with Bookings only available for Office 365 Business, if you don’t subscribe to the business side of the suite, you won’t be able to access it. Then, if you want to keep using Bookings after you purchase it, you’re locked into Office 365.

So if Microsoft doesn’t make the cut, what will?

Finding the Perfect Software

When sourcing scheduling software that fits your organization, it’s vital you know what to look for. To determine whether a specific software will satisfy your requirements, here are four questions to consider:

1. Do the vendor and its software provide the functionality needed? Categorize the functions you are looking for into those you absolutely need, those that would be particularly useful, and those that would be nice to have. These lists can then be used to evaluate each software’s offerings.

When considering the vendor, find out whether it provides flexible invoicing and service level agreements. Remember, both the software and the vendor need to serve what’s best for you and your business.

2. Can the software be configured to match your unique needs? Each business has its own vernacular, and being able to adjust online scheduling software to meet those demands is vital. Do you need to schedule “appointments” or “meetings”? “Interviews” or “deliveries”? Are those who you serve referred to as “customers” or something else? “Clients,” perhaps? Or maybe “volunteers”? Language matters, and scheduling software should be able to accommodate the specificities of your business.

The ability to configure a scheduling system to thousands of potential scheduling scenarios requires a very robust system. Vendors of online scheduling platforms that have been around for years have learned this the hard way and have adapted their programs to accommodate variety.

3. What kind of customer support is offered? Will you be able to reach someone by phone at 2:45 a.m. if you have a problem? Online help services may be nice, but you need to be able to reach an actual person who can help immediately when a problem arises. Having quick access to your provider’s support team by phone, online chat, or email is vital to getting issues addressed and problems resolved quickly.

Microsoft’s size prevents it from being able to offer direct, one-on-one customer service to support a platform like Bookings. Smaller online scheduling software companies know how much damage having a prime piece of software down can cause, so they prioritize immediate customer support to get you back on your feet as soon as possible.

4. Does the vendor provide thorough training? You’ve heard the horror stories: A customer purchases a great new software, but once he or she makes the first payment, the helpful vendor disappears, leaving the purchaser with no idea how to actually use the software. Unfortunately, this scenario is far too common. Be sure you and your employees are guaranteed thorough training.

The simple fact is that a one-size-fits-all scheduling solution won’t work. Every business needs something different, and businesses should not have to alter their process to use online scheduling software. When it comes to flexibility and adaptability, Microsoft Bookings falls short.