More and more customers expect online booking options for various services they want to use in the modern world. Some customers use a service provider solely based on their online booking option because it's accessible and more comfortable. A person might even hesitate to call the service provider in the traditional way, preferring the more relaxed way of booking online.
From the clinic's perspective, online booking can also free up precious call centre time, allowing some customers to book online instead of calling for a simple booking. Also, if your clinic is not working 24/7, online booking will still allow customers to book appointments outside regular working hours.
A common worry is that customers will have too much control over this process, but with the Provet Cloud Online Booking function, you can control the access in a detailed way and open this service step-by-step.
Online Booking is an add-on feature in Provet Cloud. Please contact the Provet Cloud Sales or Support team to purchase this feature if you have not done so already.
How It Works
In Provet Cloud, you need to set up what are called 'reasons' - a set of possible visit reasons that the customers see when they use online booking. You also have to set up staff shifts so they would allow online booking. You'll also have a set of general controls in Provet Cloud settings.
You can present the feature by sharing a link with your customers or even embedding it on your clinic's website. The customer selects the visit reason, selects form available times and then fills in their details before creating the booking.
Check this video overview to see how it will generally look for the customer:
Setting Up Online Booking
1. Setting Up Reasons
We want to set up possible visit reasons because they allow us to define customer access in detail as you will see below. Navigate to Settings > Items & Lists > Reasons to do so. Note that reasons are also useful for regular booking and consultation workflow purposes.
1.1. Adjust Reason Groups
The first step is to set up what are called 'reason groups'. Reason groups help with categorisation so customers can narrow the issue down instead of browsing a large list of mixed reasons. If you don't want to use groups, you can also just create one group and put all reasons into it.
A common approach is to create reason groups based on general veterinary fields like dermatology, neurology, vaccinations and so on. In the end, the design of reason groups and reasons is entirely up to the clinic (you).
On the reasons' page, under the 'Reason groups' section, select the blue 'Add' button to add a new reason. On the dialogue that opens, select an applicable department. If no department is chosen, it will be available in all departments. Name the reason group and select the green 'Save' button to create the group.
You can edit or remove existing reason groups or reasons with the pen and trash bin buttons on the table rows as usual in Provet Cloud. Note that removing a reason group removes all reasons that belong to it.
1.2. Adjust Reasons
Next, we want to define the actual reasons that allow precise control and will define available times for the customer. On the reasons' page, under the 'Reasons' section, select the blue 'Add' button to start adding a reason.
Name - Name the reason. This will appear both to Provet Cloud users and your customers.
Duration - Use this field to define the default duration for the booking if the given reason is used. When the customer starts to choose a suitable time for the visit after selecting the reason, they will be offered a list of available starting times. The duration of the booking will be chosen automatically for them based on this setting. The duration can later be adjusted by the clinic from the appointment calendar if needed. This setting is mandatory.
Colour - Use this setting to set a colour for the reason in the appointment calendar if wanted. This is not used in customer communication.
Group - Choose the reason group for the reason. The customer can see the reason as the next choice when they have selected the corresponding reason group. This setting is mandatory.
Proficient staff - You can use this option to select staff members for whom an appointment with the given reason can be booked. This helps to ensure that depending on the problem, customers would book the appointment with the correct vet, physio, technician or team. If nobody is selected, there are no limits.
Instructions - You can enter a custom message that will be sent to customers with confirmation and reminder messages.
Disable all reminders - Option to disable all reminders when this reason is used.
Disable all confirmation messages - Option to disable all confirmation messages when this reason is used.
Email message - Choose whether the general instruction text will be used or a more customised message is sent when it's a confirmation or reminder.
SMS message - Select whether general SMS confirmations or reason-specific messages will be used.
Available online - This is the most important setting here for us. Make sure this setting is enabled for the reason to be usable with online booking.
Available from and to - Optionally, define the time during the day when this reason is available with online booking. This setting works hand-in-hand with the duration setting. For example, if the available time is defined to be from 10 to 12, the duration is set to 60 minutes and the calendar time slot size is 15 minutes, available times for the customer will be 10:00, 10:15, 10:30, 10:45 and 11:00. The duration must fit within the available period entirely.
Default items - When the given reason is used, selected treatment items will be added to the consultation automatically when it's started. This allows you to standardise and make the workflow faster with common appointments.
Default clinical note - Optionally, choose a clinical note template that will be automatically added to the consultation when it's started. Similar to the default item setting, this allows you to standardise and make the workflow faster.
Shift types - This setting allows you to select shift types with which the reason is usable. If none are selected, there are no limitations. There's also a checkbox option to update existing shifts in that regard if needed. The update changes the shifts, placing the limitations, but it does not cancel any existing appointments that may conflict with the rule. Note that this setting is in sync with the shift type settings described below - when we change something here, the selected shift types will also have their setting adjusted.
Pre-registration questions - This section allows you to define pre-registration questions the customer can answer when checking themselves in if you have the appropriate feature enabled.
This concludes the reason setup guide. Keep setting up reason groups and reasons until you have the desired selection.
2. Setting Up Staff Shifts
2.1. Check Shift Types
First, we want to check if we have shift types set up so that they would allow online booking. To do this, navigate to Settings > General > Department > Shift types.
You can create a new shift type using the blue 'Add' button or edit an existing one using the white 'Pen' button on the shift type table row.
When creating or editing the shift type, we want to make sure that among other options, the 'Online booking' checkbox would be ticked. This allows the given shift type to be used for online booking.
Note that the reason type setting here is in sync whit the shift type setting described above in the reason setup section - when we change something here, the selected reason types will also have their setting adjusted.
2.2. Schedule or Edit Staff Shifts
Next, we are ready to create or edit shifts so they would allow online booking. Navigate to Appointments > Shifts from the main menu to do that.
When creating or editing shifts, we want to make sure that the 'Online booking' option is checked. This makes the shift available in online booking. The shifts are also marked with the computer and arrow icon as seen in the image below.
Note that you can so disable online booking for existing shifts when editing them, and ticking off the 'Show in web booking' option.
To see how online booking is made available with shift templates, see the respective article.
Now that we have some reasons and shifts configured, we are ready to continue to the general online booking settings and preview.
3. Adjusting General Online Booking Settings
Online booking is generally enabled and controlled from department settings. Navigate to Settings > General > Department > Online booking settings.
Under online booking settings, we can see the blue 'Preview online booking' button - it's useful to open that on a new tab on your device to have the preview ready as you adjust settings.
As usual with settings, we can select the blue 'Pen' button to open them for editing.
Enabled - Use this setting to turn the whole feature on or off.
Available time slots - If your calendar uses smaller time slots (15 minutes is the default), you can use this setting to limit online booking to half or a full hour only, for example.
Information - Use this field to add general information to the beginning of the online booking form.
Required time before appointment start - Use this setting to limit bookings so they can't be made at the last minute. For example, if you enter 120, booking for a certain time has to be made at least two hours (120 minutes) before the start.
Summary information - Use this field to add info that is shown on the summary page of the booking process.
Do not show duration to clients - Checking this option hides the duration of the appointment for clients. The duration is determined by the reason setting (described above).
Do not show veterinarian's name to clients - Hides the appointment's responsible employee name for clients.
Default label for "Notes for vet" field - This field allows you to change the title of the area that the clients can use for adding extra info for the appointment's responsible employee.
Set "Notes for vet" as a mandatory field - As the name describes, sets the note field to be mandatory - the customer has to enter something to proceed.
Confirmation email message - After the booking process is complete, the customer will receive a confirmation message. Use this field to customise the message.
Send SMS confirmation - Select whether an SMS confirmation will be sent about the booking.
Send email copy to department - Select whether a copy of the confirmation email will be sent to the department's email address.
CSS data for styling online booking - You can use this advanced field to adjust the look of the online booking form.
Enable client ID field - Select whether the client personal ID field will be shown in the form.
Set "Client ID" as a mandatory field - This option will appear if you have enabled the client ID field. Tick it to make it mandatory.
4. Previewing the Online Booking Process
As mentioned above, we can 'Preview online booking' by using the button in the online booking settings section. This opens a new page that shows us a preview based on our settings.
On the preview page, we have some extra options to adjust the preview and the links Provet Cloud can provide for you.
Department - Use this to make a department limitation if needed. Note how the code and link fields change below. If you only have one department, you can ignore this setting if you have not made any limitations for reason groups as described above (assigned a specific department for them).
Language - Use this to adjust the client interaction language if needed. You can create separate forms with different languages using this setting.
Size - This adjusts the preview size and the iframe code.
Code example for embedding iframe - A field that displays a code example that your website developer can use to embed the form to your website.
Direct link to online booking - This is the link you can directly share with your customers (for example, on your website, on your social media channels or emails) so they can actually access the online booking form.
Note that the preview is interactive:
- We selected the reason group first, as the customer has to do. Note that the information that we could define from the general online booking settings is displayed above the title.
- We selected a reason. Note that reason-specific instructions are displayed below the reason.
- After reason selection, days with available times were highlighted in green and we chose the 23rd of March here.
- We can select whether the available times are shown for the whole day or morning only for example.
- Available times are shown. Note that here we see only 10:00 and 11:00 because we limited the availability from 10:00 to 12:00 in the reason settings, we set the duration to 60 minutes and we also ruled out any starts except full hours. As the customer, we can select the green 'Choose' button to select the time and proceed to the next form page.
After selecting 'Choose', we are directed to the next page where the customer should fill the form with the necessary info.
- We can see the appointment summary. Note that the duration and the treating employee can be hidden as described above if so desired.
- Next, the client is expected to fill in their information. Fields marked with the asterisk (*) are mandatory. See the section below about how customer data is transferred to Provet Cloud.
- The customer should then also fill in info about their pet. Note that currently, only single-pet appointments are technically accepted. Notes for the clinic will be shown in the preliminary note section on the appointment and the consultation general info section.
- The customer can check the 'Remember me' checkbox so that their browser would remember the data they have entered. This is useful if they regularly book online.
- Finally, the customer should select 'Confirm appointment' to finalise the process. At that point, the appointment will be booked in the clinic's appointment calendar and selected confirmation messages will also be sent. The customer will also see a summary page.
How is Client Data Matched with Existing Data in Provet Cloud
When an appointment is booked online, Provet Cloud receives client and patient data from the booking. Provet Cloud also attempts to match the details with existing customers in your client and patient database. This helps to avoid client and patient duplicates. If the matching fails, data provided by the customer is displayed in the interface as shown below so users could create new clients and patients as needed.
There's a certain set of rules that are followed for the customer match:
- The first name must match exactly.
- The last name must match exactly.
- The phone number must match exactly.
- The email address must match exactly.
- If there are existing duplicates in the database based on details mentioned in the rules above, the match will not happen. For example, if there are two customers with the same email address, the match will not happen even if all other rules were met.
- If the customer fills out the optional street address, postal code and city fields, Provet Cloud will also attempt to match based on that data and the match won't happen if there's a mismatch. If these client data fields are empty in Provet Cloud, however, a possible match is not blocked.
For the patient match, the following rules apply:
- The client must match.
- The patient name must match exactly.
- The species must match exactly.
How to Admit Appointments That Have Been Booked Online
When online booking is enabled and used, the admission process will still be generally the same as without it. See our general admission process article to learn more about the general process.
When viewing the appointment from the calendar, we can recognise an online booking by the computer and arrow logo on the top-right corner of the appointment entry. When you open the appointment details' dialogue, you can also see the info that was provided by the customer.
The client and patient are also matched with existing records in your Provet Cloud database if possible, as mentioned above. If matches have not happened, you can either link an existing client and patient(s) manually or create a new client and/or patient(s).