People who want to learn Axure often message us and ask what is the fastest and easiest way to book our live, remote training by the hour? This training is done webinar-style (screen sharing and dial-in) but is completely private. It’s one-on-one if there’s read moreRead More
I just want to book some spa time. How hard should that be? What are the services and what do they cost? Well, they’re both PDFs. Seriously? Nobody considered that someone might want to look at this on a phone? And yes, that the word, “both,” was on pu read moreRead More
We’ve got a lot to juggle over here at Ptype! We have people who want short Axure trainings, long Axure training sessions, and some companies want us to fly out for on-site Axure training. We also have phone calls to schedule and UX Walkthrough calls as well.
We also have to juggle lots of time zones. Debbie’s in San Francisco, but trains Axure students all over the continent live and remotely. To accommodate their schedules, sometimes she starts really early her time… 7:30am… sometimes earlier. And if you’re looking to book a full day, 8-hour Axure workshop for your team AND you’re on the east coast, then Debbie’s calendar has to show she can start at 6am California time.
We’ve looked at lots of scheduling and appointment options, and it was hard to find something that could really handle some of this complexity. I want to say a special thank you to YouCanBook.Me, who was our scheduling system for years. Nice people, great product. We just grew out of it, but it could be right for you so check them out!
Here’s our new scheduling system, dropped into our website.
Acuity Is Our Best Match
Acuity has a lot of great flexibility. It can understand multiple people and multiple calendars (especially in the paid version). You might be a salon with 2 locations and lots of staff. You might be a fitness trainer who only books certain blocks of time in certain locations. Or in my case, you need one calendar that runs 6am – 8pm local time for full day bookings and one calendar that runs 7:30am – 7pm for shorter bookings (and sleeping in a bit).
Acuity lets me build services that include time as well as padding. Optionally, I can have a 7:30am hour booking and then an 8:30am, or I can say please give me at least 10 minutes between appointments (which is nice).
I can charge for appointments or services, make them free, or charge people later. Not everybody wants an eCommerce checkout to pay for Axure training or UX consulting. Some people want an invoice and will mail a check someday.
Acuity also lets me sell products and packages. I could create a “package” for 10 hours pre-paid Axure training. You then get a certificate code. When you book your time, just drop in that code, and it’ll decrement your package automatically. A very cool feature is that I can sell this myself, say through invoicing and being paid by check, and then create a certificate code to send to the client. So the system does NOT have to charge the card or see the checkout process to make this work. Hooray!
Acuity IS integrated with Stripe, so if you want to charge people, you can. Easy enough.
I can also customise the form people fill out when booking, and I can create different forms for different services. Also hooray!
Of course, I couldn’t use an online booking system without 2-way Google calendar syncing. Acuity understands that in addition to my “open hours,” it should read my Ptype calendar (one of many Google calendars I have). And when something it booked, drop it back into the Ptype calendar.
Acuity also understands your clients. The people booking can create accounts. You can easily see them among your customers. Make appointments, move them, cancel them, and all kinds of emails can go out. It can even send SMS reminders. It’ll email those too if you don’t want to text people.
So I’m happy with Acuity and think it will have room for me to grow a bit.
What would I change about Acuity?
This wouldn’t be a UX blog without noting some thing that could be improved in the user experience. All in all, I have to say it’s pretty solid. The UX is pretty good! But here is what I would like to see them change:
1) Search by time. I have training clients who HAVE to meet me at a certain time due to their work and/or personal schedules. Right now, you click a date on a month calendar, and it drops down which times are free. It would be GREAT to let people say show me only the days when I can get Debbie’s 7:30am-9am block. Same would go for salons. Some people really need to get their hair cut after work hours. Which days can you give me 6pm?
2) I noticed when pretending to have bought a package and then pretending to use that package booking services that I couldn’t easily see how much I used and how much I had left in that package. Creating an account (as a customer) and logging in showed me a list of every appointment I ever made or cancelled. That’s a lot! That should be moved behind a tab or something… just show me my next one!
But I couldn’t easily see hey, you bought a package of 8 hours of training. You used 2 hours for a 7:30am-9:30am appointment on November 6, 2014. You have 6 hours left. Want to book some of that now? Click here!
3) Similarly, the place where you put in certificate codes was kind of hidden. After you pick your service, the calendar comes up. ABOVE the calendar is a link that wants you to click it. Clicking it reveals an input field where you put your certificate code. That’s an extra click and not totally obvious. I’d like to see any place someone is using a certificate or discount code to be really easy to find.
Acuity might even want to ask for the certificate code first. Certificates can be very specific. It could be you can have ONE hour for this type of massage with this person. Well, if you ask me for the certificate code first, you might NOT need to then ask me the service. It might be my only choice! Or I might have choices for my certificate (a nice feature) and then I’ll need to pick the service.
Also, Acuity knowing which certificate it is should help it only show dates with that service in that time block available. So perhaps that should be on the same screen as picking a service, and expose it. Don’t hide it under a click, especially since for some reason, links by default are grey. Grey is the official colour of something being invisible.
Acuity is still great with lots of cool features that I know will simplify my life and appointment scheduling. Acuity currently comes in three flavours… free, Professional ($10/month), and Premium ($19/month). I took the deal on the Premium level, which cost $209 for a year (buy 11 months, get 12). For what I bill in an hour, Acuity has to save me 1-2 hours my whole YEAR to have paid for itself. Yes, please.
LivingSocial was offering a voucher for a chocolate-making workshop with Rachel Dunn Chocolates. I’m already pretty good with chocolate, but I thought it might be a nice weekend adventure for me and my boyfriend. So I bought it.
I did read LivingSocial’s fine print first, which among other things said:
- Open toe shoes, cologne, perfume, finger nail polish, and facial jewelry not allowed
I thought that seemed a little weird but assumed it was for sanitary reasons. You don’t want someone’s nose ring falling into the chocolate. You don’t want toes in chocolate. And someone just hates cologne. I have no facial piercings. OK, I meet the fine print conditions, this should be fine.
I then looked at their website to find that they hadn’t yet scheduled when future classes would be. I had no idea what dates and times were available. So I emailed asking which dates and times would be coming up and did they have Saturday 4 October.
I never heard back.
2 weeks later, I tried to just sign up on their website. There was a special link that took me to a page for people with LivingSocial vouchers. You choose from a dropdown menu which deals site you used and you type/paste in your voucher. I did that and it said my code wasn’t valid. That means I’m stuck trying to get these people some other way, and I already know they don’t answer emails.
I tried emailing anyway. I gave my LivingSocial code and what date I want since by then, they had put lots of months’ dates on the workshop calendar. We want 4 October. I eventually heard from someone named Randy, who asked my LivingSocial code (ugh that was in my email) and both of our names. OK, here’s the code again and our names.
I never heard back.
10 days before the workshop, I emailed again… any update on getting us into the 4 October workshop? Didn’t hear back.
7 days before the workshop, I called. Got voicemail. Left my details and asked for a call back. Didn’t get a call back. I got an email confirming I was signed up for the 4 October workshop. FUCKING FINALLY!
Except there was one problem. The email had EXTRA terms and rules the LivingSocial offer didn’t state.
That’s bait and switch. That means I bought the deal under one set of conditions and am now being told that if I don’t agree to THIS set of terms and conditions, I can’t come. Well that’s not cool, especially considering LivingSocial DOES give you a spot for all the terms and conditions you need to tell people.
The main problem was that the form I’d have to sign defines “facial jewelry” as including necklaces (OK, I don’t have to wear mine) and earrings (evidently ears are now on the face). It also said to leave cell phones home. That seems weird. I guess I’d leave it in the CAR. Usually I see workshops say no cell phone use and they ask you to put it on silent or power it down. She doesn’t even want you to have a phone in the building.
But about those earrings. I have 7 piercings in my ears and they are all CBRs aka “captive bead rings.” This is NOT a picture of me but this is kinda what my ears look like though I have a thicker gauge (image found on bodyartforms.com):
These are put in with a special tool whose name I don’t know. But it looks like this (image found on painfulpleasures.com):
It’s like a reverse pliers of some sort with notches so the ring doesn’t slip when you’re gently squeezing it. I have one somewhere… maybe. My kinda squeamish boyfriend (sorry, honey) had to take these out for my gall bladder surgery in 2012. The poor guy was nearly hyperventilating every time he had to take one out or put it back in. We didn’t have the right tool, and he was really nervous about slipping.
I’d imagine the chocolate people are worried about jewellery falling into food, machines, etc… And that can make sense. But my earrings can’t come out, at least not without a serious tool.
The bottom line was: I cancelled the workshops
After the customer service annoyances of emailing multiple times with no responses, a booking website that couldn’t do a booking, a workshop web page that didn’t list upcoming workshops, and a voicemail asking for a call back that prompted no call back PLUS the bonus of bait-and-switch workshop terms and fine print, I felt pretty done with these people. Bad user experience, and I didn’t even get there yet. I already felt unwelcome and like a bad dog.
Good luck, chocolate people. And next time you find yourself at a computer, other than actually answering emails, why not update your daily deals so that they have the FULL terms and conditions that you require. Some of those terms might be dealbreakers to your potential customers, and it makes no sense to surprise us later with extra terms and conditions when you can lay them ALL out up front.
And PS: ears are not on your face. They’re just not. I found websites about facial piercings that said that while earrings are very popular, they are not considered facial piercings. Necks are probably not on your face either, so you might want to re-word the whole bit about facial piercings.
Remember my blog post last week when I ran into some bad UX that kept me from making an online appointment at a spa? Well it went way downhill from there.
On Thursday, the spa finally called back. I told them my online booking troubles. They seemed to know their system is bad. Well then fix it. I asked for 2 massage appointments for 11am on Sunday (2 days later). They said those slots were still open and they could book me. Thank you!
They sent me confirmation emails which I promptly deleted without looking at them. Because that’s what people do. We ignore lots of emails and make assumptions. I figured all was done. But I was wrong. I’ll never ignore a confirmation email again. What I didn’t know was that she had made the appointments for the wrong date.
On SATURDAY at 11am, I got an email from their online booking system asking me to confirm my appointment for right now. Well holy cats that’s bad UX. You are asking me at 11am if I plan to make my 11am appointment half an hour away? Why wouldn’t you ask me to confirm the day before like most appointment systems do? My hair salon does. My dentist has an automatic system that texts me to ask if I’m still coming and if I don’t text back yes, his system removes my appointment.
Asking me to confirm an 11am appointment the moment it’s due to start is really bizarre UX. And at that moment, all I could do was call the spa and leave a message explaining that they got the date wrong and do they still have Sunday and no, we’re not coming in today and no we never were and please call me back.
It gets weirder. At 11:25am, the spa called me back. When I saw their number, I figured AHA they heard my voice mail and they are calling to reschedule me for Sunday!
“Hello. I’m calling from [spa] to ask if you will be coming for your 11am to 12:15pm appointment,” the live human woman said.
You’re calling at 11:25am to ask if I’m going to make a spa appointment that started 25 minutes ago? That seems super bizarre. I’m a spa junkie, and I’ve never seen or heard anything like that.
I re-explained what I left on their voice mail. She first offered to put me in for noon on Sunday, but then said she had to talk to the spa manager and would call me back.
She never called back. I guess she didn’t want my business. And I was feeling pretty done with that spa. But my friend had been there before and liked it, so I figured I’d give it one more go.
I went back to online booking. It doesn’t work in Chrome. Very frustrating. Opened Firefox. Managed to book two 4pm massages for me and my friend. Texted my friend.
Friend responded just before midnight that he can’t make that time, and let’s give up on the whole spa day for now. I go back to the online booking system to cancel. It shows me my appointments. There is a cancel button. I click it. It says I can’t cancel because it’s an appointment for TWO people. I will need to call, the message tells me.
Oh Lord, I have to call these people again? An online booking can’t handle a cancellation? I left another voice mail for the spa telling them I’m cancelling. I left it 2 hours before they opened. Best I could do.
What’s the spa cancellation policy? Couldn’t tell you. When you go through the online booking and you click to read the cancellation policy, it’s empty. So I guess they don’t care when you cancel. And from how they treat you online and over the phone, the don’t seem to care if you book anything either.
If my friend wants to go there, next time he can struggle through their appointment system. I would like to talk to these people as little as possible, and never again deal with their online booking system. Spa Booker’s system (URLs starting with secure-booker.com) can go jump in a lake. Awful system, and in this case compounded by inept front desk humans.
I attempted to use some online booking system this week for a spa I was going to try.
I don’t have a screen shot of how I opened it in Chrome, picked the services I wanted, picked the time I wanted, and clicked checkout only to find my cart was empty.
So I opened in in Firefox.
I picked the services I wanted. The times I wanted. I added them to my cart. I checked out. I chose to make an account. I put in a password. Confirmed the password. And I finally submitted everything. Click to enlarge the message I got:
Do I have an appointment or not? I wasn’t sure.
I started over. I chose the services I wanted. The times I previously booked showed at not available. OK, does that mean I reserved them? No idea.
Let’s log into that new account I created! Account not found. Forgot password? Nope, no account. OK I’m lost.
I called the spa. They said their online booking has been really messed up. Yes, I agree. I didn’t mention how much this can hurt business. What if I decide to not go because that was frustrating? What if I assume I have an appointment but I don’t? It turns out I did NOT have appointments. Don’t put obstacles between you and your customers!
There are a zillion online booking systems out there. If the one you’re using is failing you, pick another. Each place I go uses a different one. There are options! Good user experience is important!