- BookMe - New service that helps service providers streamline their booking process online
- New iPad/iPhone App - Developed to support the increase in popularity of mobile scheduling:
- Initiators Survey - International survey reveals that Doodle’s users are very active
- Doodle Snapshot - Contest featuring pictures of events scheduled with Doodle
- Doodle Unplugged - New scheduling product from Doodle runs on a piece of paper
Integrating your Facebook events in Doodle can have two major advantages:
- You get reminded of events you might want or plan to attend while scheduling.
- You prevent scheduling some other event/meeting when one of your Facebook events takes place.
Here’s how it works:
- Register for a (free!) Doodle account, if you don’t have one yet: http://doodle.com/open.
- Visit your Facebook events list: https://www.facebook.com/events/list.
- Click on the cogwheel in the upper right corner and select “Export”.
- Choose either your friends’ birthdays or upcoming events (or both, if you wish), right-click on the respective link and choose “copy link address”.
- Visit the calendar settings in your Doodle account: https://doodle.com/mydoodle/manageAccount.html#calendars.
- Paste the link you copied above into the “calendar feed URLs” textfield.
- Make sure to replace the “webcal:” at the very beginning of the URL with “http:”.
- Click “Add”.
From now on, whenever you create a new scheduling poll or participate in a poll, you can choose to use the calendar view and have your Facebook events displayed.
Please let us know if you use this feature or if some other form of Facebook integration might make sense for you.
In early September 2012, we launched BookMe, a new reservation service that enables smaller service providers to offer their customers a fast and convenient way to make appointments online. Numerous companies have already taken advantage of BookMe. We wanted to find out exactly how our new offer was being received by business, who was using BookMe in their daily work and for what purpose. We will be taking a look behind the scenes in the coming months and will present in our blog different practical examples of BookMe in action. Today is the first of the series: the float center in Zurich.
float Zurich has been offering total relaxation for everyday life since 2007. Visitors experience the feeling of weightlessness by floating on special salt-water in three floating spaces. float Zurich offers a total of 100 floating appointments a week at 90 minutes each (60 minutes floating + 30 minutes resting time) for one to two people. The high season runs from October to April, when booking rates generally reach 90%.
float Zurich works with a small team and has no permanent reception staff. As most appointments were previously made by telephone, the staff spent valuable time every day scheduling arrangements instead of taking care of their customers. On Monday mornings, in particular, the phone would ring incessantly, which meant the line was permanently engaged, leading to a loss of customer inquiries.
Sabine Riess and Oscar Trott, managers of float Zurich, searched for a more efficient solution to a problem that was intruding on their work day. They heard of BookMe when it was still in the development phase and decided to test this new method of appointment booking.
The BookMe experience
float Zurich has been using BookMe since November 2012, setting up a license for each of the three floating rooms. With the exception of special offers such as all-day floating, all current appointments can be booked online. The new service has been extremely well received by both staff members and customers: already 30%-50% of all appointments are booked through BookMe.
Noticeably fewer telephone calls have led to a great improvement in daily work and the system has been a real time saver. Oscar Trott estimates that in the short time since BookMe was introduced, the center is spending six to eight hours a week less on the phone. This is a full working day – valuable time that is now invested in providing the best service to customers.
Asked for his feedback on BookMe, Oscar Trott said: “The tool is fantastic! Customers are also thrilled that they can see all available appointments and book outside our opening times. And the automatic appointment confirmation emails sent by BookMe mean we have to do very little ourselves. Less stress, more time, and satisfied customers – what more could you ask for? We believe that our utilized capacity will increase even further with BookMe.”
Our latest product BookMe allows 24/7 customer appoint scheduling. BookMe is already used by hundreds of businesses such as hairdressers, driving schools, language centers, beauty and wellness studios, etc.
Of course we receive a lot of feedback from these users, and they result in improvements for the product. Here are the latest goodies:
Approval process: BookMe now supports two approval modes:
- “Automatically accept new appointments”: Every new appointment request by a customer will be accepted by BookMe — and can always be declined again later on. This is the perfect option if your calendar is always up-to-date and you don’t have time to check your BookMe requests regularly.
- “Manually accept or deny appointment requests”: New appointments are tentative only — you have to accept them first. This is the perfect option if you are always on top of your BookMe requests and wish to have the final say about which appointment to take and when.
Timezones: BookMe now supports timezones. A crucial feature for all our international customers: In your BookMe settings, you can now define a timezone for your business (in the location dialogue). All times will then be interpreted for that timezone.
Free services don’t mention payments: A couple of our users rightfully complained that BookMe emphasizes in the user interface that a customer will be required to pay for the service even if said service is free. The respective message is now suppressed if a service is free.
That’s it for now. But we have a long roadmap for upcoming releases. What are your priorities? Let us know!
With the latest release, Doodle features a whole new sign in and sign up experience. Our objectives for the redesign were the following:
- Make the process as seamless and user-friendly as possible.
- Allow our users to sign in and create an account any time without losing the current state of their work.
- Improve third-party sign-ups via Facebook and Google.
The accounts themselves remain unchanged. As always, they are completely optional, but they enable a number of advanced features:
- All your scheduling activity at a glace in a central dashboard,
- the ability to connect your calendar to Doodle for even more efficient scheduling,
- the possibility to easily invite your participants directly from Doodle.
We always want to improve Doodle’s services, and we regularly carry out scheduling research projects to help with these efforts. Not only do these user / online population surveys help us, but the results contain interesting data on scheduling and time management that we like to publish on our blog. We’ve now combined our research over the last few years in a new archive (Doodle Analytics), and we hope you enjoy learning from the data as much as we have!
Our timezone selection has always been a pain for our users — and, as a consequence, for us too. It was very cumbersome to find the correct timezone in an overly long list of countries, cities, and timezone abbreviations. With our latest release, we have introduced a new UI element that should make things much easier:
Now, if you want to adjust a poll’s timezone, you can first select your country and then one of the major cities that represent your timezone. And you can use the search field to quickly narrow down the candidates.
“Can’t make it”
If none of the options offered in a poll suit you, there is now a short-cut button to decline all options. Simply enter your name and click “Can’t make it”. We also think that this additional button makes life easier for our first-time users who might otherwise not know how to decline all options.
Straight to the dashboard
Most of our users appreciate that they don’t have to register to use Doodle. However, if you are a registered Doodle user, you benefit from a number of advantages. One of these is a dashboard with an overview of all your polls. And as of today, registered users will be taken directly to that dashboard rather than the regular homepage when they access www.doodle.com. You can always visit the homepage by clicking on the Doodle logo on the top left.
Mandatory e-mail address
Previously, we did not require you to enter your e-mail address when creating a poll. However, the vast majority of our users always entered their e-mail address. And those who didn’t often ran into problems — e.g., because they lost the admin link (or even the participation link) to their poll. So we decided to make life easier and more consistent for everybody by requiring a valid e-mail address for all new polls.
Revamped admin mails
We love to experiment and try out new things on our quest to make Doodle as user-friendly as possible. Many things work, but some things don’t. Our latest redesign of the admin mail confused a lot of our users so we went back to the drawing board and came up with an alternative that should now please all existing users as well as new ones.
Let us know if they don’t.
We send hundreds of thousands of notifications per day that are related to the administration of Doodle polls. Some of you may have already seen that we’ve switched to HTML e-mail notifications. This was an important step to improve the overall user experience of one of Doodle’s core communication streams. We handle these messages in-house so that we can have full control over what our users get. You’ll notice that the HTML e-mails look better and offer more helpful information in one look.
The basic approach to develop the new e-mails involved iterative steps and a lot of testing. Over the course of a month, we released six layout versions to small subsets of users and measured KPIs like the opening rate and the click-through rate. Many users and a service called Litmus helped us test the designs in a variety of e-mail clients. We immediately incorporated the feedback and were able to measure the improvements instantly.
As a result, you can now experience HTML notifications in a fresh and structured layout that gets displayed in all modern e-mail clients. Poll initiators are much less likely to send out the admin link that is not intended for the participants. They can also invite participants by clicking on the invite buttons in the HTML e-mail. The final layout has been selected because it achieves an optimum click-through rate on links to Doodle polls, other Doodle content and advertising partners. Just like before, you can get rid of all advertising on Doodle by choosing a premium subscription.
- a text-only fall back increases the click through rate significantly
- over 50% of all Doodle notifications get opened
- less clicks on advertising was equivalent with a higher lead rate, which is good for the advertiser as for the Doodle user
In the end, it was trickier to develop a good HTML e-mail than a website because there are even more e-mail clients than there are Web browsers. That was one of the lessons that we learned that anyone who’s created HTML e-mails before has also learned. Here are some helpful resources that we used:
We’re happy to announce that Doodle is expanding its product portfolio and launching a new service called BookMe. 85% of consumers use the Internet to search for local service providers*, but they primarily book their appointments offline. BookMe will put an end to the flood of phone calls by handling the booking of appointments for hairdressers, therapists, mechanics, consultants, music teachers, sports trainers, and other small and medium service providers. This new booking service is based on Doodle’s philosophy of radically simplifying the scheduling process, and it’s a useful tool for service providers who want to provide online tools for their customers.
How it works
BookMe can act as a standalone Web presence, and customers are able to book appointments with just a few clicks (see example). There’s no back and forth communication because the available times are the only ones that are displayed due to the live synchronization of an electronic calendar. For smaller service providers that can’t afford a dedicated receptionist, BookMe is an attractive option that provides reception, Web presence, reminder, and even marketing functionality. The subscriptions for this professional service are on a monthly basis per connected co-worker and include future updates.
During development, we focused on creating a user-friendly and attractive interface that would enable customers to book appointments without experiencing any obstacles.
- Malte Schiebelmann, Product Manager
We believe that no one should have to waste time when scheduling appointments, and more than ten million Doodle users already save their precious time when scheduling group events. Since 2011, MeetMe has been the solution for one-on-one appointments, and starting today, BookMe simplifies client bookings for service providers.
- Michael Näf, CEO
*Local consumer review survey (2012)
Yesterday, Tungle announced the retirement of their service and recommended to switch to Doodle instead, which was also picked up by TechCrunch. We know that such a change is always a pain but we welcome all Tungle users warmly and hope that they soon feel comfortable with Doodle.
As we already see in our stats, most Tungle users who give Doodle a try look to MeetMe as a replacement for Tungle. At Doodle, MeetMe is one of the more advanced features and a pure 1:1 communications channel to fix appointments quickly. It is particularly useful when have your calendar connected, be it Google Calendar, Outlook, or iCal.
Group scheduling on Doodle, however, is handled via an event “poll”. This is basically a table of time slots in which all participants indicate their availability independent of the calendar system they use. Each participant can individually decide whether to connect an electronic calendar in order to let Doodle prefill choices and to see the own availability right in the same interface. But you don’t need to do so – you don’t even need to sign up for using Doodle.
We want to thank Marc and his team for having been a great challenger and for generously reffering to us. It was great to see a Canadian and a Swiss company shape and push the idea of online scheduling over the years. We wish you the best of luck and are looking forward to seeing your handwriting in Blackberry 10!