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February 19, 2018

TimeTrade: Intelligent Appointment Booking Done Right

The process of scheduling an in-person appointment is one of those things that we all generally take for granted. Maybe you call someone up, maybe you show up in person, or maybe you book online. But do you ever think about what it takes to give someone a positive booking experience?

As my conversation with TimeTrade CEO Gary Ambrosino illuminated, there’s a lot that goes into the process of creating a positive in-person interaction—which is just what the Tewksbury-based company specializes in.

TimeTrade is an enterprise SaaS company that offers TimeTrade Scheduler, which helps companies enhance customer engagement through intelligent appointment scheduling.

Take Best Buy’s Geek Squad for example, whose in-store services are powered by TimeTrade’s platform. Offering a personalized appointment—like the Geek Squad is able to do when it helps customers install, set-up, or service their hardware and software—provides a core differentiator for Best Buy. And the use cases don't end there.

"One of the world’s best-known technology companies, IBM, uses TimeTrade to connect prospects on IBM.com with the right expert to answer questions and give a technical deep dive," Ambrosino said. "Other tech and service-based companies, like Vorsight, use TimeTrade with their Salesforce CRM to schedule and track customer meetings, creating higher conversion rates and increasing sales and customer satisfaction."

CEO Gary Ambrosino.

He adds, “We’ve created a powerful platform for businesses who need to engage with prospects and customers via a human interaction. We can create that in-person customer engagement—where, when, and how the customers wants to connect.” 

The “when” is a given, but as for the “where” and “how,” TimeTrade helps companies schedule live interactions both in person and over virtual spaces.

The company was founded in 1996 to offer its self-service appointment scheduling solutions—long before the Apple Genius Bar became famous for it. While they did have some early major brand accounts (Petco was their very first customer), Ambrosino explained that it took until 2008—after the company received its first round of venture capital—for TimeTrade to “really come alive.”

“That’s when the company started to view itself as a tech company that needed to generate growth and find a repeatable format. And that really changed things because it started to demonstrate that TimeTrade was clearly creating a new category.” That category of self-service online appointment scheduling started to gain a much greater foothold during this 2008-2010 time period, which Ambrosino called an early “inflection point” for the company.

Ambrosino would join as President and COO in 2010 (before becoming CEO in 2014), and it was at that time that TimeTrade decided to meet the growing needs of the market by rebuilding the platform from an on-premises software model to a scalable, SaaS-based cloud solution.

As it exists today, end-user access to TimeTrade Scheduler can be done via a website (think BestBuy.com), a mobile app (such as a banking app), an email, or an in-store kiosk.   

Let’s say you want to set up a custom makeover at Sephora (one of TimeTrade’s clients). You go to Sephora’s website, choose your service, select your location from the populated list, and then choose an available time through the calendar that pops up. Finally, you put in your contact information, as well as any special requests.

And while you schedule your appointment, TimeTrade uses its AI-powered Smart Matching technology to check the calendars of all the people working on any given day who have the skillset to deliver your requested service. Once you schedule, the makeover professional gets a new slot on their calendar with your appointment on it.

But while a majority of their scheduling occurs through their customers’ websites, that may soon change with their new Google partnership. Introduced last summer, Reserve With Google allows customers to book appointments and check availability, as part of a Google search. Select TimeTrade customers were incorporated into the Google channel in the last few weeks.  

Now, when you search for a business on Google you might be offered the opportunity to schedule a specific appointment time to meet with a company representative, saving you time and helping the business increase in-store traffic (research shows that appointment-holders have triple the conversion rate over walk-in appointments, and purchase a more valuable basket of goods and services). While the UI is integrated into Google’s search experience, TimeTrade’s presence on Google maintains all of the functionality and benefits of TimeTrade scheduling.

Ambrosino explained that this partnership has the ability to take self-service scheduling to the next level. This is creating a new, potentially even more significant inflection point for the company. “It crosses us over into the mainstream. The idea that you can schedule an appointment and book something is now becoming an indigenous part of the search process.”

Last year, TimeTrade’s platform booked over 100 million appointments for the buying public, which represents approximately 500 enterprise customers. As their Google partnership continues to grow, Ambrosino said, it has the potential to take the company from making 100 million appointments annually to more than half a billion.

Naturally, the CEO is thinking about scale, and how the 145-person team can grow into the future. He’s looking to hire across the board, with special attention paid to sales, marketing, strategy, and the executive level.

“When we think about going from 100 million annual appointments to half a billion, and we think about monetizing a pay-per-appointment model, you have the formula for hypergrowth. And we envision the company tripling in size over the next few years.”


Alexander Culafi is a Staff Writer for VentureFizz. You can follow him on Twitter @culafia