Virtual Appointments in Microsoft Teams: Beginners Guide
If you’re like me, you will have been spending time over the last twelve months getting back to doing things you love doing post-lockdown.
No doubt, if you have been to Melbourne CBD on the weekend, you will see the city is back. Streets are heaving with people, spilling out of bars, restaurants and theatres again. It’s fantastic to see.
But one challenge remains – staffing. Especially in the hospitality and entertainment sector. Without enough staff, well, the service can be less than desirable. So often, what should be a quick and simple transaction, can seem to take a lifetime.
Take our recent family trip to Melbourne Zoo. The kids wanted a chocolate ice cream after lunch to enjoy in the warm Autumn sunshine before we tackled the elephant trail.
Unfortunately, only one team member served ice cream for the long queue snaking back towards the penguins. But we all know that ice cream on a hot day will be a hit with the kids.
So the service experience was disjointed, lengthy and detracted from an enjoyable day overall.
Well, only a minor blip in our day, but it does show how not offering a seamless customer experience can impact.
Therefore, the same applies to setting up your customer appointments. For many businesses, trying to deliver a smooth experience has been difficult, especially when scheduling a new virtual appointment with a customer. So often, you relied on one application to conduct the virtual meeting (e.g. Microsoft Teams) and another to schedule the appointment (e.g. Calendly).
Fortunately, Microsoft Teams (MS Teams) has introduced virtual appointments with a new meeting style designed for customer engagement.
So what are Virtual Appointments in MS Teams?
Virtual Appointments provides you with an all-in-one meeting platform for customer engagements. You can schedule, manage and conduct business-to-customer (B2C) meetings in Microsoft Teams.
With Virtual Appointments, you can schedule your meeting with the video conference interface, allowing anyone with the link to join – even if they don’t have an MS Teams account.
Leveraging the power of Microsoft’s scheduling app, Bookings, will make using Virtual Appointment seamless. Many of the features I’ll share are available with any Microsoft 365 plan, but some are exclusive to a premium plan.
MS Teams’ Virtual Appointments features
Manage scheduled appointments
You can easily see your appointments in a single view. In addition, they allow you to manage cancellations and schedule changes.
Send customised confirmations and reminders
With MS Teams, you can send customers personalised messages via SMS or email. In addition, you can use automation to create a personalised experience without manually sending each message. And create automated appointment reminders to save you time.
Create a customised waiting room
Enhance your customer experience by creating a personalised waiting room with themes or logos to brand your company. With MS Teams, you can chat with your attendees while they wait in the waiting room. This can be especially helpful if your current appointment is running overtime. You can let your attendees know you will be with them shortly.
Send meeting follow-ups
Once your virtual appointment has finished, you can send meeting follow-ups, helping save time by sending any further information you committed to sending. In addition, this allows you to keep all details in a single place, making client communication easier.
Run effective meetings and appointments
Often, it’s hard to know if your appointments are effective and result in sales if you don’t have an existing tracking system. For many companies, it’s vital to have visibility into customer appointments. With Microsoft’s 365 premium analytics feature, you can access helpful reporting that provides insights into B2C virtual appointments in all departments.
How to start using Virtual Appointments
To get started with Virtual Appointments, your Admin needs to set up a few things as outlined below, including a Bookings admin having access to these settings.
Create a calendar
Choose “Create a calendar” from the Home tab in the Virtual Appointments app. Depending on the size of your business, you might want to create different calendars for each department.
Add team members
You can add up to 100 team members and assign them a role. Once you’ve added your team members, you can view their availability in Teams and Outlook.
Create appointment types
Next, set up your appointment types from the following options:
- Scheduled: You can schedule the day/time, and the system will add this information to the email confirmation.
- On-demand (MS Teams premium feature): Your customers choose when to meet from your availability displayed in the booking calendar.
Create SMS notifications
Depending on your MS Teams subscription, you can create SMS notifications to send appointment confirmations and reminders via text message easily. However, at the time of writing, SMS notification is not currently available in Australia.
Complete linked forms
Virtual Appointments allow your meeting attendees to fill out any cloud-based forms prior, and you can link them to the invite. You can create these forms in Microsoft Forms.
Publish your booking page for on-demand appointments
You need to publish the booking page to allow your customers to book an on-demand appointment. To do this, click the “Manage” tab of Virtual Appointments. Then, select “Booking page” and switch on “Publish booking page.”
Need a hand to use Microsoft 365 effectively?
To explore all of Microsoft 365’s features and deliver a seamless customer experience, let us help. Reach out to us today for expert guidance on using Microsoft 365, including how to optimise Virtual Appointments.
About the author
Yener is the founder and Managing Director of Intuitive IT. Prior to running his own business Yener worked for a number of corporate organisations where he gained invaluable experience and skills, as well as an understanding of how IT can complement and improve business outcomes.