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If you’re looking to modernize the way you schedule appointments, you might want to check out Microsoft Bookings. The new Office 360 application out of Redmond lets you schedule and manage appointments online. Bookings eliminates the need for clients to call in to schedule a check-in, or to ping pong emails back and forth to set up a time to confer with opposing counsel.
The way Bookings works is not so different from how you might schedule a haircut, doctor’s appointment, or dinner reservation these days — online and fairly seamlessly. Could it work for a law firm?
The idea behind Bookings is somewhat simple: it gives you a single place where clients can go to book an appointment, along with tools for you to manage that process. And, since it's Microsoft, it integrates into the Office 365 platform.
When you use Bookings, you're given a unique webpage where clients can see your availability and schedule a meeting. The app then automates some of the follow up. It sends out meeting confirmations, email reminders, and allows for rescheduling, for example.
This video gives a good overview of how that all works. Just imagine that the dogs are your clients, instead of just dogs.
Bookings gives you some powerful tools to shape how your appointments are made and managed. You can customize your scheduling policies, for example, by setting meeting interval times or restricting how far in advance someone can book or cancel an appointment. You can create a customized list of services, the length of time needed for each, and their price.
Bookings looks promising enough that it's worth testing out, if you can. Bookings is currently only available to Office 365 subscribers with Business Premium plans. If you're not in that group, you'll have to wait until Microsoft rolls Bookings out to a wider audience.
But even if you can test out Bookings, you might not want to give up your current scheduling process just yet. We're not entirely convinced that the client-driven nature of bookings will work as well in a law firm as it does in, say, a restaurant or doggy salon. Will a client be able to know whether they need a 15-minute check-in or an hour-long meeting, for example? Does Bookings know, like your support staff might, that you have an unwritten policy against meeting with opposing counsel without some scheduling gamesmanship? Do you want someone seeking an initial consult to be able to see that you have no appointments at all on Tuesday?
Which is to say, Bookings looks like a cool, sleek way to manage your schedule. And it might be. But test it out to make sure.
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