Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Online Booking


HAIRLINKSQL’s cloud based online booking system has been developed to operate with “live” integration to the HAIRLINKSQL in-clinic Diary system. In the web setup section, the clinic is able to select appointment reasons that are allowed to be available on the web. The appointment reasons can also be categorised on the web module independently. A set of smart client data-aware “survey” questions can also be configured with a tree-structure funnel to get information similar to what a competent staff member should always ask during a live phone or in-person conversation with the client. This is certainly the way of the future. This is what clients want today – total freedom to search for available appointment times online, and not be put on hold, let alone get a clinic closed message when it is a more convenient time for them, such as at night.


Allowing clients to make a booking into our diary system by themselves?
Not a chance!

  • What about security?     
  • I don’t want them to see our Calendar; my competitors could see it too?
  • How do they know how long it will take?
  • What can they book for?
  • What about asking those questions?
  • What about special instructions for certain appointments?

These are very common questions that people ask when this concept is introduced to their clinic. It is important to note that we have asked the same questions, and many more, before designing this concept and function. Please do not discount this until you have read through the whole article; once you have done this you can make an informed decision as to whether this is right for your clinic. We believe that every clinic should have this functionality as your clients are becoming very internet savvy and would prefer to access services via the web as much as possible; they simply do not have time to wait around while your staff ask them to hold the line while they serve clients at Reception!

There is no doubt that almost everyone these days has an email address. Email is still a free method of communication and clinics should be embracing it fully; this does not mean that other forms of communication have to be abandoned – email is just another effective way to contact your clients “in writing”.

Just imagine this scenarios; it happens every day in the life of your clients.

ONE: Clients receive a Reminder by email during the day. They read it and try to make sure to remember to get to it soon, maybe when they have a break at lunch. The email is gone down the list as “READ”, not to be seen again. They remember at lunch and call up the clinic but your staff at the clinic asks them to hold - the client can’t be bothered to wait.

TWO: Clients receive a Reminder by email and does not read it until the evening. It is too late to call the clinic to make a booking.

Now Imagine. If there was a link on that email that said “Click here to make your booking now”. In both cases above the client would have had a choice. In the first instance, the client could quickly make a booking as soon as they read the email without having to wait on the phone or remembering to call later. In the second example, the client can make the appointment straight away instead of having to remember to call the next day. In addition to this, no staff resources have been utilised and there is no disruption to staff in the middle of other in-clinic tasks in either case in a busy clinic environment. Call-backs are not inconvenient as it is done when clinic staff are free; this is generally seen as part of standard time management without disruption.


There are certain points that everyone will agree on.

I don't want clients to be able to book for all services
You can choose

I don't want to expose our diary to users
You don’t have to; read on

A phone call gives me “live” on-screen information and choices
So does this

I can’t have double-bookings; are "live" checks are in place
Yes you won’t get double-ups

Appointment Reasons are Staff Specific (Qualification)
Fully Supported

I want to see incoming appointments for final acceptance
You can

I want them to be able to change their appointment as well
They can, with you being aware of it

I don't want no-shows in case our phones were busy
You won't (cancel appointment feature)

I want to ask questions based on what they are booking for
You can

I want to give them instructions based what they have booked for
You can

I want automation but with manual override
You can

I want live messaging from the client if they can't find a time 
You can have that as well!

I also want clients to be able to book from a mobile phone App
We are working on it!


Once set up and activated, the cloud application resides on our secure server with a secure connection to the HAIRLINKSQL server or main PC at your clinic. The booking system can be a link on your existing web site or you may provide a direct link in your email or SMS correspondence to the client. When they click on the link they will be provided with a login screen; their email address doubles as their login ID. If they forget their password, they can get it sent to them by the “Forgot Password” link thereby making this system, maintenance and hassle free for the clinic.

By logging onto a secure SETUP area the clinic is able to fully configure special ONLINE CATEGORIES and Appointment REASONS allowed to be booked on their system. A set of Questions based on current client data can also be set up to capture more information, as well as provide relevant and timely instructions. Once these are configured you are ready to go. 


Data-Aware Business Intelligence (DABI) refers to a technology developed by HAIRLINKSQL engineers that allows the clinic to set up questions and/or instructions with priority levels that are activated at appointment making time based on pre-configured data sensitive triggers. Up to three of these are then presented to the client seeking an appointment based on such criteria. This is no different to what a well trained staff member should be doing consistently when clients phone in for an appointment.

When a client books an appointment online, data is automatically captured “live” off the clinic server, within seconds, into the DABI unit. Pre-determined information and/or questions will then trigger for the client to see, based on pre-selected Boolean and operation amongst several data fields. Some examples of these data fields include:

  • Age From and To
  • Gender of Client   
  • If NOT Visited for “X” days
  • If PURCHASED an item from a Category
  • If NOT PURCHASED an item from a Category
  • If Booking for a Particular Reason Today

Example One (Information): The DABI detects that the client has selected an Appointment Reason called “IPL Hair Removal”. , we could provide some information automatically:

“You have requested a booking for IPL Hair Removal. Please insure that you are not sunburned or tanned when you come in for treatment as your appointment may be rescheduled.”

Example Two (Survey): The DABI system detects that a Client is being booked but an item from the Category Shampoo was NOT purchased on the last visit. The client could then be presented with:

“Please note that consistent hair care is vital. Please discuss this topic with our Senior Hairdresser and receive 10% off when you mention the word “Shampoo"

Based on your questions priority level, the DABI will present up to a maximum of three qualifying questions or instructions to the client. Of course, a large repository of questions can be pre-set based on the hundreds of permutations that can be achieved with the variables within the DABI.


Configuration within HAIRLINKSQL allows selection of Staff that are to be available online. In addition to this, Staff members can be allocated Diary Reasons to show their exclusive qualification. For example, a Senior Beautician could be made available online but a client would only be able to book tasks that the Beautician can handle, and so on. 


New clients finding your clinic online will certainly want to book online straight away. There is a facility for new clients to Register online; this basic data is automatically entered into HAIRLINKSQL on a live basis. While there are some mandatory fields to enter, how does one make sure that the rest of the information is captured when the client does come in? Data field absence is automatically detected and the record marked as incomplete within HAIRLINKSQL.  When the client approaches Reception on the day, and the appointment is marked as either “Arrived”, admitted, or if the client is billed, HAIRLINKSQL will detect the incomplete record and prompt the Receptionist to request further details to complete data capture. So, which fields are to be mandatory? Referral source, Email address, Mobile number? In HAIRLINKSQL, you can select these for your clinic under Setup Options.


Driving clients to online booking can be done either by your web site and newsletters or you may embed a link into a correspondence such as a Reminder for direct access. You may promote this in many other ways, including a message on your receipts, and so on.


Once the client logs in, the application queries the diary in HAIRLINKSQL on your server and attempts to show any upcoming bookings. This avoids double-bookings and also shows the client their future bookings.

There is also a space to promote a product or service on this “Landing Page”. Once satisfied the client clicks on the “Make a Booking” button to see the selection screen. Here they select a date and then a timeframe for that day, such as Morning, Afternoon, or Evening (AM, PM, and EVENING). This narrows down the search and can provide more accurate results faster, and places less stress on the in-clinic server. Then, the user is able to select a maximum time “tolerance” they may be prepared to wait if they have multiple procedures, as slots may not be available together that day. Once they have this selected they can then select the reason for appointment and choose a staff member (if allowed) that they may prefer. Once they select “Search” the application makes a live secure connection to our cloud server and then to the HAIRLINKSQL database and comes up with options similar to an airline seat booking system. The right hand panel allows for the advert/promotion and a set of pre-configured questions for the client. Freehand notes can also be typed by the client regarding any special information. Once accepted, the client has acknowledgement on-screen as well as by email that the “REQUEST” has been submitted and that confirmation will follow.

The HAIRLINKSQL clinic diary system has a panel on the right which shows all online bookings coming through on a live basis. Clinic staff can right-click on the appointment and select Accept to book it in or they may want to call the client and then Drag-N-Drop the appointment into another slot.

Both options are at the clinic’s discretion. Once accepted, HAIRLINKSQL will automatically ask for confirmation and then send an email or/and SMS to the client confirming the appointment. This email to the client will be in a format that allows them to save it directly into their own Outlook, Google, or any other iCal compliant calendar system. This process provides seamless end-to-end integration between the clinic’s calendar and the client’s calendar, and eventually to their smartphones if they sync their calendars to their phones.

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