An appointment scheduling plugin for WordPress that can replace the likes of Calendly and has deep integrations with other plugins.
- Deep integration with WordPress, allowing more native (and customizable) display of your calendar on your site.
- WP Fusion integration enables a lot of powerful marketing automations and followup via the CRM
- No limits on appointment types
- Google Calendar integration, plus Zoom and WebEx
- Non-native admin panel takes over the entire screen
- No ability for admin to schedule appointments outside of public availability
- Lack of flexibility in blackout dates and times.
Simply Schedule Appointments is a big of a mouthful, but this is a plugin which is handy for any membership site owner, consultant or small business site that wants to enable customers to book appointments via the website.
You don’t need to use a hosted, third-party application such as Calendly, Acuity or the many others. With SSA, you can do it “in house”.
The short version is that it will do all the standard functions you would expect of a calendar.
- Multiple appointment types
- Control of your availability
- Custom fields during the booking process
- Styling flexibility
- Reminder emails and SMS reminders
- Google Calendar sync
- Integration with Zoom and Webex
- Ability to take payments for appointments
All fairly standard stuff for a well-developed calendar solution.
But, this one integrates deeply into Wordpress. And that presents a lot more options that are just much tougher to do (if not impossible) with a remotely hosted calendar.
For instance, while the plugin can take payments to sell consultations, you also have the flexibility of using options such as WooCommerce.
While remotely hosted apps will “integrate” with your site using embed code or a shortcode (powered by a plugin), Simply Schedule Appointments has direct integrations with popular page builders like Elementor, Divi, and Beaver Builder. You can literally just drag and drop your calendar into your page and set your options without screwing with shortcodes. And yes, there’s a Gutenburg block, too, so you can work with the standard block editor if you want.
Want a really customized booking process? SSA integrates directly with Gravity Forms and Formidable Forms so you can literally build scheduling right into your form as a drag-and-drop form element.
I also really like how SSA has the ability to show upcoming appointments right on the site. For instance, when one of my members comes to the scheduler, if they already have an appointment scheduled they will see it. I can also easily display upcoming appointments on the member dashboard.
But, here’s the real integration that for my attention…
WP Fusion + Simply Schedule Appointments
When it comes to CRM and sending emails, there’s usually limits.
SSA works directly with Mailchimp, for instance. But, I hate Mailchimp and wouldn’t recommend it to anybody.
SSA can also work with Zapier and supports webhooks. Technically, that allows integration with a large number of CRMs. It is rather geeky, though. And I try to avoid using Zapier when I can because it is just another appendage to your tech stack.
But, SSA works with WP Fusion. Which means you can work with any CRM that WP Fusion works with (and that’s a lot). Not only that, but this isn’t some simplistic operation of merely adding a person to a list when they schedule. This is a robust integration. And, coupled with a real marketing automation platform, the possibilities are truly endless.
With WP Fusion, you can add tags whenever a person books, reschedules or cancels. The “Sync Guests” function allows you to capture lead info from the scheduler and add them to your CRM if they’re not already logged in.
With a marketing automation platform, you can use these tags to trigger any automation you would like.
Want to customize those emails using data specific to that customer or appointment? No problem because WP Fusion will sync that data with custom fields in your CRM.
Once those fields are synced to their CRM profile, you can use merge fields of your CRM to customize emails all you want.
You can still use the built-in email reminder capability of SSA if you like. But, using these tags and fields, you can set up additional easy followups. For instance:
- Automatically follow up with your customer the next day after an appointment to see if they have any questions or seek a testimonial
- Automatically add them to an upsell sequence
- Modify your actual website so they see different content (using WP Fusion’s ability to show/hide content based on tags)
My Wishlist For Simply Schedule Appointments
So far, I’ve been singing the praises of this plugin. And to be clear, I really do like it. I use it myself now. 🙂 But, nothing is perfect. So, here’s a few things I wish they would change…
More native admin panel. I wish the control panel area of the plugin didn’t use it’s own custom styled panel which totally overrides Wordpress. I wish it were better integrated into the Wordpress admin panel.
Ditch The Ads. I also wish the backend didn’t have ads to upgrade my license. Basically, the whole sidebar in there is…. advertising. When I PAY for the plugin already, I shouldn’t see that.
Self-schedule appointments at any time I wish. I wish that I had the ability to book appointments in the backend that override my own usual availability. As the admin, I feel I should be able to do that. Right now, the scheduler even inside the admin panel uses the same availability as the public. There are situations where you want to override it privately, however.
Blackout times, not just dates. I wish you could have blackout time and not just dates. As it is, there is a blackout date option where you can mark off days they will not be able to schedule (like vacations). However, the option is only for entire dates. There is no option (that I can find, anyway) to block out just a few hours of one specific day but otherwise leave your day open. That’s a pretty big missing feature and they really need to fix that.
For now, the only alternative to blackout times is to use the Google Calendar integration. You can have SSA monitor your calendar and if you book something that interferes with a usually available time slot, it will ensure nobody can book. That works fine, but I do feel as if there should be an independent way to do that without relying on Google.
More calendar integrations. Speaking of calendars, I also think they need to have other options besides just Google for calendar integrations. Some of us would prefer not to use Google for such things.