Microsoft Bookings Gets a New UI, More Features, and Roles
It’s like it was yesterday…well, almost! Just a few short weeks ago, I wrote about how to set up a new Microsoft Bookings site. And now Microsoft has decided, with good intent, to completely refresh the UI.
Last March, at Ignite, Microsoft gave a preview of the new powerful and customizable experience. Starting on June 1st, they are starting to roll it out as a toggle to First Release customers.
When you see the toggle ‘Try the new Bookings’ in the upper right corner, flip it and get ready. What a lovely view! :)
If you need to go back to the classic version of the site, you can flip the toggle as often as you wish. Here are some of the new features to get ready for.
Passwords Haven’t Disappeared Yet
123456. Qwerty. Iloveyou. No, these are not exercises for people who are brand new to typing. Shockingly, they are among the most common passwords that end users choose in 2021. Research has found that the average business user must manually type out, or copy/paste, the credentials to 154 websites per month. We repeatedly got one question that surprised us: “Why would I ever trust a third party with control of my network?
Compliance, Privacy, and Tighter Controls
Every organization is different; as an IT Pro, you’re bound to be responsible for different compliance and security regulations. Thankfully, Bookings now has stricter administrative controls. Each user within Bookings has varying levels of control over how calendars are used and changed. They’re also in control of how appointments on those calendars are booked, especially from Guests (external users).
Microsoft 365 Admins
Admins now have more controls including deciding if said Guests can book appointments and if staff details can be shared with customers. Privacy is also more attainable around customers’ booking appointments and around restricting what information can be collected when making a booking. They can also prevent staff from requesting customer info by blocking the creation of custom fields.
To make sure the right staff members have the best access to MS Bookings, Microsoft has created two new roles.
- Team member – this role allows a staff member to view and edit their own calendar but not anyone else’s.
- Scheduler – this role allows staff members to schedule appointments without being able to modify services or settings. In addition to ensuring tighter access control, these roles unburden the Bookings admin from day-to-day operations.
Customization & Branding
You can now customize your Bookings page with your own logo and color theme. Confirmations, cancellations, and reminders can now be used with a rich text editor.
It looks like Microsoft has overhauled the art of scheduling appointments in Bookings. The Calendar view draws on the overall modern style of UI Microsoft has become known for; this helps bring Bookings in line with their overall design mantra – a modern Microsoft 365 experience.
Admins can add multiple staff members and get a more unified view of all the calendars and availability. At a glance, it is much easier to find the right time slots that work for everyone’s needs. You can now filter by staff members and/or services to quickly find the right open slot. Admins can also navigate to a staff member profile directly from the calendar. This gives them a comprehensive view of all their scheduled meetings, pertinent contact info, and services they offer.
The availability of each staff member is synced with the staff’s Outlook calendar to avoid double bookings. Also, an appropriate lead time can be configured for each service to ensure each staff member is well prepared before an appointment booking. You can also optionally add buffer time before and after an appointment for travel, breathing, meditation, yoga, inner peace, counting terabytes…oh, well, you know what I mean.
Here are a few of the features they are developing right now to further improve the efficiency of the thousands of organizations globally using Microsoft Bookings to manage their appointments:
The admin toolkit will provide admins with granular controls around naming policies, logos, business hours, staff availability and other aspects of Bookings with in your company.
Microsoft is working hard on scaling the service to handle larger organizations and scenarios like virtual meetings, consultations, and other larger types of appointments.
Because both admins and staff members have ever-evolving personal and business needs and schedules, Microsoft continues to work on giving more granular access to customize the availability for appointments well into the future.
Microsoft, out of the kindness of their hearts, is also looking forward to organizations building rich scheduling platforms based on Bookings. Developing custom solutions more suited to their needs is crucial; Bookings APIs are currently available in preview as part of the Microsoft Graph APIs. They will soon be generally available.
If you have any questions about going through the basics of setting up Microsoft Bookings, you can reference my earlier post here. As of this writing, my tenant doesn’t see the new toggle yet. But, when I do, I should be able to write another follow-up post with updates from the new interface!