What Virtual Appointments in Microsoft Teams Can Do for You

Appointment scheduling has always been a routine work activity. Now that COVID has been on the wane, Zoom is not the primary vehicle for meetings, although the convenience is here to stay. Salespeople use it to answer questions about a product. Software companies allow people to schedule live demos. Telehealth therapists allow clients to book video sessions.

These are just a few of the groups that are going to love this new Microsoft Teams feature. Virtual Appointments adds a new meeting style tailored for engagements with customers.

Have you’ve been using Teams and a different online appointment app? No need to juggle the two since this new feature will streamline the experience.

What is Microsoft Teams virtual appointment?

Virtual Appointments is a handy all-in-one meeting platform for engaging with customers. You can schedule, manage, and conduct B2B or B2C meetings in Microsoft Teams.

This new feature combines the scheduling component with the video conference interface. Anyone with the link can join the virtual appointment - without having a Teams account.

Image is from Microsoft

Microsoft’s scheduling app, Bookings, connects to Teams, making the Virtual Appointments function as seamless as possible.

Some of the features below will be available with any Microsoft 365 plan. Some are available with a premium plan.

Teams Virtual Appointments Features

Manage Scheduled Appointments

At a glance, you can see all of your scheduled appointments in a single view, making it easy to manage cancellations and time changes.

Send Customized Confirmations & Reminders

You can send customized messages via SMS or email, personalizing the experience for them. You can also use automation to give that personal touch without having to send each one manually, which saves a bit of time.

Customized Waiting Room

It’s easy to add a personal touch to your virtual engagements. You can customize the Teams waiting room, using themes and logos to brand your business. You can also chat with attendees while in the lobby waiting room, which is helpful if your current appointment is running a little long so you can let them know you’ll be right with them.

Following Up on Meetings

You can send meeting follow-ups after a virtual appointment, which helps you reduce the time it takes to send any promised follow-up information. You also keep all details in a single place. This makes your client communication trail easier to follow.

Department & Organization Analytics

Do you know how effective your appointments are? It’s hard to know if your demos are resulting in sales if you don’t have a good tracking system. It’s also important to have visibility into customer appointments across the organization.

You can do this with a premium analytics feature. It gives you helpful reporting. The report provides insights into virtual appointments in all departments.

How to Use Virtual Appointments

Your admin must set up a few things before you start using Virtual Appointments in Teams. They do need to be a Bookings admin to access these settings.

It is advisable to consult with your IT services provider, whether in-house IT support or an outsourced Managed Services Provider (MSP).

Create a Calendar

In the Virtual Appointments app, go to the ‘Home’ tab and choose ‘Create a calendar.’

Larger organizations may wish to create different calendars for different departments.

Populate With Staff

Once the initial setup has been done, just simply add staff members - up to 100. You will also need to assign them a role. Once you’ve added the employees, you can view their availability in both Teams and Outlook.

Another nice thing about using an integrated platform like M365 is the cross-app compatibility. Your calendar syncs across apps.

Create Appointment Types

The next step is to set up your appointment types. Choose from these two options:

Scheduled: You schedule the day/time. The system adds this information to the email confirmation.

On-demand (Teams Premium): Customers can choose when to meet from your booking calendar.

Image is from Microsoft

SMS Notifications Setup

You can set up SMS notifications if you choose to - and have the right Teams plan. This allows you to send appointment confirmations and reminders via text message easily.

Note: To receive the SMS notifications, attendees currently need a valid U.S., Canadian, or U.K. phone number.

Link Forms

If you would like attendees to fill out any forms, you can link them now. Virtual Appointments allows linking up to four cloud-based forms, which you would need to have created in Microsoft Forms.

Publish Your Booking Page

This next step applies if you have Teams Premium and you want to give customers the ability to book on-demand appointments. If so, you will need to publish the booking page. Just go to the ‘Manage’ tab of Virtual Appointments, select ‘Booking page,’ and turn on ‘Publish booking page.’

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I need Microsoft 365 to use Teams?

A:  In Microsoft’s own words: “If you don't have Microsoft 365 and you don't use a business or school account, you can get a basic version of Microsoft Teams. All you need is a Microsoft account. To get a basic free version of Microsoft Teams: Make sure you have a Microsoft account.”

Q: Do Teams meetings cost money?

A: Not if you already pay for a business-class version. In the Teams you can use for free, there is a very modest version of meetings.

Q: What is the difference between a text message and a SMS message?

A:  There is effectively no difference. The only difference is: SMS (Short Message Service) is a ‘text only’ (but you get to use emojis!) mode of communication – no images or videos whereas you can include those if you text using MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service).

Q: What is cheaper Teams or Zoom?

A: Overall, Teams is cheaper, according to Trusted Reviews.

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