365 Feature Focus: The All-New Microsoft Bookings

Published
New Microsoft Bookings

Executive Summary

  • In an extension to our Feature Focus series, this edition of 365 Feature Focus will be looking at an existing Microsoft 365 app which has received a significant overhaul or update which we feel is worth shouting about.
  • Microsoft Bookings hasn’t always received the attention it perhaps deserved, but in 2021, Microsoft changed all that with a complete overhaul.
  • In this article, we’ll explore the new and improved features of Microsoft Bookings, including new roles, customisation options, security features, and more.

Introduction

Even in a post-pandemic world, many businesses are still run on the ability to meet with their customers.

From financial advisors to tree surgeons, giving customers the ability to book an appointment based on real-time availability can be a great way to reduce friction and win more business. This is where Microsoft Bookings comes into play.

Built on the robust Microsoft 365 platform, Bookings saw a significant update in 2021, taking it from a slightly dated and clunky application to a slick, smooth modern experience.

Here’s what UK businesses should know about the all-new Microsoft Bookings.

What is the new Microsoft Bookings?

Back in 2020, we dedicated an edition of our What’s That App? series to the previous version of Microsoft Bookings. Not even a year later, Microsoft has reworked and enhanced the experience with speed and functionality in mind.

The core purpose of Microsoft Bookings remains unchanged: it’s a simple way to deploy a real-time appointment booking system into your business. You can create customer-facing portals which sync seamlessly with your team’s Microsoft 365 calendars and give real-time availability for meetings.

Beyond that, Bookings admins can add services, assign appointments directly to staff, and get an holistic view of the company’s external meeting schedule. It also integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Teams, meaning appointments can be viewed, edited, or deleted quickly and virtual meetings can take place right in Teams – even with external users.

So, what makes Microsoft Bookings so powerful? And what did Microsoft add in 2021 that made it ever better? We’re glad you asked.

4 Microsoft Bookings features you should know about

There’s a lot to like about the new Bookings experience, but we’ll be here all day if we list them all. Instead, here are 4 of the best features we think will be useful to small UK businesses.

#1: A new visual refresh

Just like Microsoft Office and the entirety of Windows 11, Microsoft has given Bookings a brand-new lick of paint with this latest update – but it’s far more than just skin deep.

Bookings now offers a sleek and fast user interface (the previous version was clunky to say the least) to match the other updates in the Microsoft ecosystem. When users open up Bookings, they’ll now be presented with a unified calendar view of all existing appointments broken down by team member, department, and more.

#2: Simplified scheduling options

It’s not just the visual experience which has had a tune-up, but the nuts-and-bolts of Microsoft Bookings, too.

For admins, who are tasked with managing the appointments for the entire team, knowledge is power. That’s why Microsoft Bookings has been redesigned with simpler scheduling in mind. From the unified calendar view, admins can quickly add staff members to see their availability. They can also use filters in the sidebar to switch between services or staff. They can even pin specific staff, services, or individual meetings to keep them front-of-mind.

Admins can also manage staff member’s day-to-day experience with hourly slots for availability. This is based on the Microsoft 365 or Office 365 calendars of these users, meaning they can also mark their own availability to further assist the Bookings admin.

#3: A better brand experience for customers

A core aspect of Bookings is the ability for customers to use a simple web-based interface to book an appointment based on real-time availability. In the past, the options have been somewhat basic, but with the new Bookings, that’s all changed with the ability to set custom brand colours, logos, and more.

The most important thing, however, is the ability to customise service offerings available to customers through the portal. Whether it’s financial advice, hairdressing, or lawnmowing, you can add services and enable options such as online meetings powered by Microsoft Teams.

#4: Enhanced control for Microsoft 365 admins

Because Bookings takes advantage of the Microsoft 365 platform, much of the user management is taken care of almost by default – but admins still have the power to make changes.

With this update, Microsoft 365 admins have had a few new control options added to help them create a more consistent appointment booking experience for customers:

  • They can control who can access Microsoft Bookings at all
  • They can choose whether or not external users are able to book appointments#
  • They can control search engine visibility for the appointment booking tool
  • They can enable the option to share staff details with customers (e.g. if a customer wanted to know who they’ll be meeting).

In addition to these new controls, admins can also assign new roles to users to make management easier:

  • Team Members can view and edit their own calendar, but not those of other team members.
  • Schedulers can add and edit appointments to the calendar of any member of staff, but they don’t have admin access.

How to start using the new Microsoft Bookings today

Unlike other 365 updates, like the all-new Microsoft Whiteboard, Microsoft Bookings is not available as a standalone app, so the only way to get it is with a Microsoft 365 subscription.

Microsoft Bookings is available with all business subscriptions above the Basic plan, but the two most popular options are:

  • Microsoft 365 Business Standard which starts at £9.40 per user per month, with annual commitment.

  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium which starts at £15.10 per user per month, with annual commitment.

Not sure where to start with Microsoft 365?

If you think your business could benefit from the power and flexibility of Microsoft Bookings, the best way to get started is with a Microsoft 365 Business subscription as outlined above.

But, if you’re not yet sold on the many benefits of 365 (and there are plenty), we’d love to help you better understand how it could help your company thrive. As a direct Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider, our dedicated IT team can help you hit the ground running from back-end setup to booking those all-important appointments.

To discuss Microsoft 365 and how it could boost your business, call us today on 01865 594 000 or just enter your details into the form below and we’ll call you.

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