Microsoft 365 plans continue to grow, and new features are getting added regularly.
Some features were released only for Business customers and some for Enterprise customers (the Office 365 E# subscriptions)
To get a full view of the supported features on the various 365 subscriptions, you can take a look here.
One of the newest features to be from the business plans over to the enterprise plans is Microsoft Bookings, info here.
Microsoft Bookings let you set up a public facing portal for your customers/clients to make appointments, seamlessly integrated to your Outlook Calendar in Office 365.
You can put some generic info about your company, phone, address etc, that gets added to the customers confirmed appointment.
You can also set up various “job types” available for scheduling, and set different rates one different services.
Different services can be connected to preconfigured calendars (if multiple employees can be booked via Microsoft Bookings).
If you’re in sales, why not put up a service for scheduling a presentation of your company and its services, free of charge for the customer, to hook potential new customers?
The customer chooses the time for the appointment, and Microsoft Bookings adds the appointment to your calendar, and sends a confirmation to the customer.
The confirmation includes information for the customer to change/reschedule/cancel the appointment. (You can set a limit as to how late this is allowed – default 24h ahead of scheduled time).
If your company has multiple employees available for booking appointments, you can enable the customer to select who to schedule with.
When the customer selects the person to schedule with, available times shown depends on that person’s appointments in the calendar, Microsoft Bookings only shows free time in the calendar for booking.
Now, when enabling this, one can understand why this is not ideal for bigger companies with hundreds/thousands of employees, and why this was not included in the enterprise plans earlier.
But for smaller companies this can be a real timesaver for both the company and its customers, giving you free time to work, and the customers the ability to decide the time by themselves, and easily reschedule an appointment. Your Calendar will always be up to date.
I have put this up for test for myself on an Office 365 E3 plan, and the steps to get access are a bit different, as the app is not available by default in the Office 365 center.
To get access:
You can follow Adam Fowlers instructions found abit down on the page here.
I myself had trouble accessing based on the instructions he provided, but there is also an alternate way to access this.
If you are already logged in to your 365 portal, open a new tab in your internet browser and use this url:
The first time you visit the link, you will meet the wizard to create your Microsoft Bookings page – put in the necessary info and follow the guides to get started.
You can later use the same link to visit the administration of the booking page – but normally this is something you set up once and don’t visit regularly.
Most administration can also be done by logging in to the mobile app for iOS or Android as well.
After initial setup you will see something like this:
The options on the side is self-explanatory, but the basics are:
Fill in information about your company, Name, Address, phone, website, currency and work hours (work hours can be set on pr user level).
Optionally add a company logo to be displayed on the customers email confirmation.
Create various job types/services available for scheduling, and add wanted information on each job type/service (price, length, description etc)
You can also enable “buffer time”, this adds the selected amount of time before/after the appointment, can be nice to have if you need to use 15 minutes before and after an appointment for preparing/documenting/logging etc.
This is where you add multiple employees to the booking page, and sets permissions, working hours (if different working hours for some employees)
Permissions pr user is:
Administrator: Can edit all settings, add, remove employees and add/remove/edit bookings
Viewer: Can only see their own bookings in the calendar, cannot edit or delete bookings, no access to settings
Guest: Can be assigned bookings, cannot open booking mailbox.
When someone makes a booking the have to fill inn information about themselves, email etc. This is collected here, and can be used by you later to schedule appointments to them directly.
This is where you customize your booking portal. You can edit color scheme for the page based on predefined templates and customize settings for the booking page in general.
You can set policy to control the intervals for available times in the booking page for the customer, default is pr 30-minute intervals.
You can also set a limit to control how close to an upcoming appointment the customer can cancel or reschedule the appointment – default Is 24h before.
If someone books an appointment closer to the set limit, link to cancel or reschedule is not included in the confirmation email to the customer
The employee chechbox is to enable the customer to select who to schedule an appointment with – if this is enabled and you have multiple employees available.
When all settings are made, you can make the page online by clicking on save and publish on the top menu.
When published, the gray box in tops shows your public url for the booking page – this is normaly a very long URL, so add a shortname for this to make it easy to use, i.e booking.domain.com
Also, after publishing, you get a button intop saying embed
Click this to get HTML code for embedding in existing website as iframe, or as a booking button.
When finished your booking portal – on the customer end – will look something like this:
If you have the need for further customization – Microsoft Booking is abit limited as per now, but who knows what they will add in the future.
I personally used Acuity Scheduling for booking before, this has the same functionality as Microsoft Bookings, but can be further customized if you have the need for this.
Have nothing but good things to say about Acuity Scheduling, but for my need Microsoft Booking is enough as of now.
Information on Acuity Scheduling can be found at their website here, and is a great service, at a reasonable price depending on needs and number of employees – they have a very easy integration with office 365 as well.
One thing I will miss from acuity is the option to control the public url, and avoiding the amazingly long url from Microsoft Bookings.