The repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic have revolutionised business communication practices. The catalyst sparked an explosion in online meetings and appointments, meaning business-to-business and business-to-customer engagements were flipped on their heads. 

It’s safe to say that virtual work is here to stay, and it requires creative ways to connect with customers. Realising this, Microsoft built a new application into MS Teams: Virtual Appointments, which aims to enhance business-to-customer meetings. 

As your reliable Microsoft Gold Partner, we’re here to outline what you need to know to make the most of the Virtual Appointments in Microsoft Teams. 

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What is the Virtual Appointments App?

As communication tools have expanded, so have their challenges. These issues stretch from technical difficulties (calls dropping, audio issues), overcomplicated processes (not having one unified system to manage appointments), and human error (forgetfulness to attend appointments). 

Downloading the Microsoft Teams Virtual Appointments app is an opportunity for businesses to streamline their business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-customer (B2C) communications. It's designed to make things easier for managers, supervisors, schedulers, and attendees. 

How does it work?

One of the standout features of the Virtual Appointments extension in Microsoft Teams is its accessibility. Anyone with a link can join the virtual appointment, regardless of the device or browser they’re using, eliminating the need for a Microsoft Teams account. 

To fully optimise your use of Virtual Appointments, it’s advisable to configure your appointment calendar and preferences. This feature allows you to tailor your availability, appointment duration, reminder settings, and waiting rooms to both parties’ specific needs.  

You can also customise your email and SMS templates for appointment confirmation and reminder messages, allowing you to enhance the level of personalisation in the different touch points you have with customers and clients.  

Virtual Appointments is a tool that’s well suited to people working in a variety of industries. Healthcare providers can use it to tailor each patient appointment specifically to meet their needs, and real estate agents can use it to conduct virtual property tours. Thus allowing potential buyers to view and ask questions regarding the property from anywhere.  

All these features are designed to create a seamless and professional experience for both the appointer and appointee, enhancing communication and efficiency in the process.  

What types of features does the Virtual Appointments app have to offer? 

The level of features you can access depends on which version of Teams you pay for. 

Basic Virtual Appointments Features 

Microsoft 365 users will have access to the basic features, such as: 

  • Scheduling tool: See and arrange your appointments. You can sync your existing calendar or create an entirely new one. 
  • Customisation: You can easily manage and customise your business information, appointment types, and staff member settings within a specific area. 
  • Booking page: This feature allows users to create a public web page enabling clients to book their appointments. The booking page is a convenient tool for customers to easily schedule appointments with your business, simultaneously enhancing their overall experience and bolstering your customer relationships. 
  • Other features include waiting rooms for customers (non-branded), Microsoft Forms app integration, and appointment-specific email confirmations.  

Premium Virtual Appointments Features 

If your organisation opts for the Teams Premium add-on, you’ll have access to enhanced capabilities that include: 

  • Email & SMS Text Notifications: Reduce no-shows and make joining virtual appointments easier via mobile devices via the Email & SMS Text Notifications tool. 
  • Customised Waiting Rooms: Create a branded waiting room for attendees to enhance their experience. 
  • Queue View: A one-stop shop for managing all scheduled and on-demand virtual appointments. 
  • Enhanced Analytics: Provides information such as the number of customer no-shows and appointment wait times. 

*Microsoft Teams Premium costs $10 (£8) per user per month.

These features can help your business achieve its goals by providing a seamless end-to-end experience to your customers.

How would Virtual Appointments Benefit your Business? 

You’re probably thinking, “How will this app provide value for me and my business?”.  

The primary benefit of Microsoft Teams Virtual Appointments is that it enables you to offer a convenient and professional way to connect with your customers, clients, or patients online. You can use the app to: 

  • Save time and money by reducing travel and administrative costs. 
  • Increase customer satisfaction and loyalty by providing personalised and flexible service. 
  • Enhance your brand image and reputation by using custom branding and waiting rooms. 
  • Improve your productivity and efficiency by using Microsoft 365 integration and analytics. 
  • The app also provides a secure and reliable platform for your virtual appointments, as it uses Microsoft Teams encryption and authentication features. You can rest assured that your data and communications are protected and compliant with industry standards. 

If you want to try out the app, you can download it from the Microsoft Teams App Store or visit the Microsoft Teams Virtual Appointments website for more information.

Testing Virtual Appointments

The Microsoft Teams Virtual Appointments App, like most Microsoft applications, is simple and easy to use. You can access it by: 

  • Opening Microsoft Teams. 
  • Click on the ‘Apps’ feature via the navigation panel on the left-hand side of your screen. 
  • Type in ‘Virtual Appointments’ in the search bar. 
  • Click ‘Add’ and install the VA application onto your device.Screenshot of the Virtual Appointments app for Microsoft Teams
  • The app should appear on your navigation panel (if Virtual Appointments doesn't appear, select the ellipsis tool, in which you can search and pin the application to the taskbar).

A screenshot of how to add the Virtual Appointments app into Microsoft Teams

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The Verdict 

The type of Microsoft Virtual Appointments feature you decide to use ultimately depends on your business needs and preferences. Both tools integrate well with other 365 products, like Microsoft Teams and Outlook, but have distinct differences. 

At Netitude, we recommend a ‘try before you buy’ approach to Microsoft’s Virtual Appointments App. Testing the basic version first will help you understand how the application can work for your business. By doing so, your business and its users will be able to get to grips with the features on offer. If the staff are on board and need further features down the line, you can revisit the Premium package, which offers an increased level of visibility and reduces the likelihood of no-shows.  

If you'd like more guidance or assistance on any Microsoft-related queries, contact our experts today!  

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