Last week I stumbled upon a small but really useful tool buried in Office 365. Ok, it’s not that hidden but it can be found under „all apps“ and does not appear necessarily on the start page.
Bookings is a tool to help persons or organizations to book a service at a certain time. Imagine you run a small business and want to allow customers to schedule an appointment directly without contacting you. You define the slot properties and the general availability of your employees. Slots will automatically added to the employee’s calendar once the customer send the invitation. This is done via a public booking page, the customer doesn’t have to be a O365 user, too.
You can also setup Bookings only for yourself to offer customers this functionality only for your calendar. You know the mails that go here and there, exchanging available slots and and finally set the appointment for a call, webcast or a remote support session.
I am using this now exactly for this.
Open the Bookings app from the O365 start page. If it’s not there find it under „all apps“. You will be asked to enter the organization’s name at the beginning but you can change it later.
Your first stop should be the „Business Information“ area. There you setup the basic information for the organization like name, contact address, privacy URL and business hours.
In my case I only added an entry for myself. A staff member can set individual service hours as well.
This is where you define what to offer on the public bookings page. In my case I added three services with different lenghts: 30 minutes, 1 hour and 2 hours as these are the regular durations the customers want. Pricing information is optional.
Finally you set up what the public booking page should look like and what to display. You also find the URL that you send to the customer or add to your mail signature so the customer can use it. This is a public URL - keep this in mind.
Once the customer opens the booking page, selected a service from the list and added some additional data, the booking is sent to you (you get a mail notification) and the appointment is added to your calendar. Genius: the slots that the customer can select reflect your free time of your calendar and the service hours you set up earlier. The customer can cancel the appointment but you can also. Either way notifications are sent.
This is a nice and simple tool that fills a gap, at least in my work life. I always searched for a neat solution exactly for this task - and no, Doodle is something different.