For years, providing patients with appointment cards was the standard method used to remind them of their future appointments; however, according to a recent study, modern technology is making the appointment cards an impractical reminder method for dentists, veterinarians, and really just about anyone else still using appointment cards.
Other Methods Used to Remind Patients About Upcoming Appointments
Staff Members Making Appointment Reminder Calls Can Be Costly
A single reminder call takes approximately 3 minutes. This time includes picking up the phone and dialing the number. Taking this into consideration, a staff member can make 20 calls an hour. If you divide your employee’s hourly rate by the number of calls made in per hour (20), you get an accurate cost of each reminder call. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average hourly wage for a veterinary receptionist is approximately $13/hour; hence, each call costs you $0.65.
Text Message Reminders Are Cost-Effective
Automated recall is a very effective and inexpensive tool for reminding patients about their appointments. Be sure to ask your patients if they would like to receive text reminders, and verify the number they would like the messages delivered to; otherwise, you may be sending a text to an outdated or incorrect number.
Notification Mailers and Printed Postcards Are Expensive
Take into consideration the cost of postage, printing and the labor it takes to fill out these reminders; in addition, you send these reminders via the United States Postal Service (USPS) and there is no way to ensure your patients actually receive the reminder (unless you pay even more money to send them using the USPS Signature Confirmation ™ service). By using automated services, patients can quickly and easily confirm or cancel their appointment. Furthermore, by the time your office receives a notification from the USPS that an address is undeliverable, the appointment time will have most likely passed. If the patient was a no-show, your office has lost quite a bit of revenue when you consider the cost of the postage, printing, labor and the fact that you were unable to fill the open appointment time because you thought it was already filled.
Cell Phone, Home Phone and Text Messages
According to the study, Appointment Reminder Systems and Patient Preferences: Patient Technology Usage and Familiarity with Other Service Providers as Predictive Variables, the majority of patients prefer to be reminded of their appointments via their cell phones.
In the end, the reminder method you use proves the most invaluable if the patient confirms or cancels the appointment, which is why choosing the least expensive and most effective method is essential.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a renewed emphasis on the safety of healthcare workers. People throughout our society are rightfully championing these workers as heroes for their willingness to continue to provide lifesaving service in the face of a global health crisis. The duty of healthcare practices is to do everything they can to protect these heroes.
Weave recently commissioned a survey of 750 providers and patients in order to better understand how they’re dealing with the challenges imposed by the pandemic. The results indicate some of the best ways to use communication technology to reinforce social distancing protocols in your office.
Here are 13 tips for keeping healthcare workers safe that you can apply right now:
1.Ditch your landline phones
73% of the healthcare practices interviewed said they’re confident they can keep employees healthy at work. Providers have years of experience grappling with difficult circumstances, and their sick or aching clients have always needed safe conditions. Because healthcare workers are exposed to various viruses and illnesses on a daily basis, most providers are sure they can protect their employees from COVID-19.
However, the pandemic has brought some new dimensions to the table. There are government regulations and cultural expectations that offices will guarantee appropriate social distancing. If your office only has landline phones, it makes enforcing proper social distancing significantly more complex. VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phones are internet-based, allowing your team to explore new ways of shielding itself from the spread of disease.
2.Adopt new waiting room procedures
Despite the pressure and occasionally chaotic scenarios presented by the pandemic, many offices say their quality of care has improved. 48% of healthcare providers say their customer service has gotten better due to COVID-19. While it’s crucial to show enhanced care in strange times, it’s also critical that offices match this quality of service with dedication to worker safety.
Practices have altered the way they structure their waiting room in order to protect their employees. Curbside waiting rooms are set up by using a VoIP system to text patients before appointments and ask them to wait in the parking lot instead of in your lobby. Along with this request, providers are sending a wellness form to screen customers before they step into the office. Both of these measures can redirect infected clients to public health clinics, saving your workers from exposure.
3.Convert to text messaging
VoIP phones allow offices to bounce between calls and other forms of communication. 68% of healthcare practices think most of their outgoing communication will happen via text in the next three years. Coincidentally, texting is a great way to encourage social distancing and keep your team from getting exposed to COVID-19.
For instance, texts can work in tandem with your inbound calls. If customers aren’t able to reach your front desk by phone, communication software will automatically send them a missed call text, assuring them that your team will contact them as soon as possible. This type of reinforced communication keeps clients from showing up to your office unannounced, potentially bringing with them germs and viruses.
4.Control your scheduling by text
Even though most offices are aware of business texting and many use it on a regular basis, only 18% of healthcare practices say they’re using text messaging to its fullest potential. Texting isn’t just useful when you want to have a conversation with patients; it also lets you maintain an orderly schedule and control the office environment.
Scheduling software allows your practice to distribute appointment reminders that let clients know about their upcoming visits. These reminders can be scheduled in advance for specific dates and times. When customers confirm their appointments, sentiment analysis interprets responses and lets your team know about cancellations and rescheduling. Keeping clients on top of their appointments ensures that they won’t rush into your office without following social distancing protocol.
5. Don’t forget about emailing
Calling and texting patients are foundational forms of communication for modern healthcare practices. However, 33% of patients admit to forgetting about calls and texts from providers. They also say that their third-most preferred method of communication with practices is emailing.
Emailing allows you to get vital information about social distancing, office closures, and other safety measures out to your entire clientele base at once. This efficiency will make your patients better informed than relying strictly on calls and texts because emailing enables you to share more detailed descriptions of how your office is handling COVID-19. Email marketing software is now available that professionalizes your email outreach with pre-written templates, images, and Call to Action buttons.
6. Ask for feedback with review requests
Traditionally, healthcare practices have gathered feedback about their services with in-person interviews and written questionnaires. In recent years, providers have also collected feedback with text messages and phone calls. Of these two methods, 38% of patients say they prefer giving feedback by text compared to 24% that would rather respond over the phone.
Based on the preference for text feedback, providers should consider sending online review requests by text. Instead of talking to customers at the front desk following appointments, employees can use communication software to send a request with a link to popular sites like Google and Facebook. This form of gathering feedback is effective as a means of social distancing and building a strong online presence.
7. Make customer insights easy to access
In our survey, 73% of healthcare providers said communication that’s personalized performs better than generic communication. That’s because personalized communication relies on the rapport you’ve built with clients to get their attention and call them to action. Once you’ve captured the attention of customers with personal insights, you can take care of a laundry list of tasks that, like many of the other tips on this list, control the flow of patients into your office.
Controlling how frequently people pop into your office is an effective way to protect employees from COVID-19 threats. Software that connects customer insights with your calls and texts brings medical histories, upcoming appointments, and outstanding balances to your team’s attention. They can clear up a whole series of needed actions with just one call or text conversation.
8. Socially distance with contactless payments
After receiving essential services, patients frequently stop by the front desk to take care of scheduling and payments. This article has already shown how texting can alleviate the need to schedule appointments in-person. We haven’t, however, taken into consideration how alternate payment processing methods can promote social distancing.
73% of healthcare providers say contactless payments support social distancing. Contactless payments include both mobile wallets and text payments. Mobile wallets are available through companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Samsung. Weave offers a feature called Text to Pay that makes contactless payments incredibly simple and secure.
9.Meet the demand for contactless payments
COVID-19 has put pressure on healthcare workers to provide improved service in stressful circumstances. 71% of practices say the pandemic has increased the demand for features like Text to Pay. So, why is a contactless payment method like Text to Pay in high demand?
Text to Pay allows your office to promote social distancing at the end of patient visits in the same way curbside waiting rooms protect employees and clients at the beginning of an appointment. After a visit, customers can forego the usual stop at the front desk. Employees can send payment requests by text that include a link to a payment site.
10. Offer a complete payment platform
For better or worse, some patients will insist on sticking with traditional payment methods, like cash, checks, and cards. That’s why 69% of practices want one complete payment platform. Being able to accept the full gamut of payment options increases your office’s appeal to prospective clients.
11. Transition away from credit cards
Credit cards are ubiquitous in our society, yet 67% of healthcare providers want to transition from primarily processing cards to contactless options. A complete payment platform allows practices to make this transition. Moving away from credit cards means better social distancing and greater protection for your employees.
12. Be more hygienic with Text to Pay
Credit card processing and other conventional payment processing options involve a lot of touching payment portals, exchanging currency, and violations of social distancing. 51% of healthcare practices think Text to Pay is more hygienic than credit card processing. Once your office has a patient’s credit card information on hand, it can take care of all its merchant services using texts rather than physical exchanges.
13. Emphasize growth and safety
Safety for your employees doesn’t have to come at the expense of growth. In fact, high-growth practices are 41% more likely than low-growth practices to emphasize Text to Pay and contactless payments. The pandemic has highlighted how taking safety measures with advanced communication technology is a model for growth in the near future. If you would like to discover more about how to protect your employees using Weave’s complete business toolbox, contact us today.
Veterinarians are incredibly busy people. Along with their duties as practitioners, they’re frequently small business owners that have to tend to the day-to-day demands of managing an organization. Vets in more rural areas also choose to travel to take care of animals that can’t easily be transported to their clinic.
In short, vets are constantly on the go. Many of them have adopted modern communication technology to help them cope with their busy schedules. However, these technologies are often lacking consolidation, which means their overall communication network is a bit disjointed.
For those veterinary practices looking to bring their communication together into an integrated system, one of the primary benefits is that this unification of your network allows for improved mobile management. It’s time-consuming having to repeatedly check-in at the office when you’re working remotely. Putting as many communication strategies in the palm of your hand as possible facilitates optimized remote work for vets and their employees.
Some vets may wonder how such a system would work on a practical level. The goal of this blog post is to describe eight methods for managing a clinic with a mobile device. Consolidated communication that’s accessible through a smartphone is a reality for thousands of offices already. Here’s why you should consider upgrading:
1.Founding your communication on VoIP Phones
Veterinary practices that still rely on conventional landline phones are doing themselves a disservice. Not only are their basic daily phone calls more difficult to manage with landlines, it’s virtually impossible to create a unified communication network with landlines in-house. VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phones are foundational to any modern communication network because they connect your phones with the central feature of information flow in today’s world: the internet.
When a vet clinic’s phones are converted to VoIP, a whole range of possibilities open up to your practice. For starters, the average office sees an 18% improvement in the amount of calls it answers. This increase leads to higher customer satisfaction and more regularly scheduled appointments with pet owners.
But that’s just in the office. For vets on the go, they now have the ability to access their voicemail through their mobile device, letting them stay up to date with the everyday administrative needs of the practice. From their device, they can also alter their voicemail message and phone tree, or simply allow their front desk team handle things while still keeping in contact.
2.Starting text conversations with customers
It’s hard to really manage your clinic without business texting. Many customers now prefer texting to calling, and busy pet owners are also likely to utilize texting, especially considering how often they’re on the go. Veterinary practices that adopt text messaging within their communication system are much more prepared to manage themselves remotely.
Text messages are perfect for vets that are constantly on the move because they’re much less time consuming than phone calls. Vets can shoot a quick text to their administrative team or their next customer, then get going on their next appointment. It’s crucial, however, that your clinic’s business texting have a two-way capacity in order to allow for dialogue with pet owners.
Through software that syncs with VoIP phones, customers that aren’t able to get through to your front desk receive missed call texts that are sent out automatically. These missed call texts initiate conversations that can be handled with a mobile app. This feature opens up possibilities not just for veterinarians, but for their employees.
3.Having customer insights on hand
When vets are trying to access information about specific pet owners from outside the office, it can be a bit of a fiasco. If their systems haven’t been updated, they’re forced to call their own front desk and have receptionists share information over the phone. This scenario is a waste of valuable time, especially when it could be taken care of with customer insights available through a mobile app.
Veterinary offices with a VoIP phone system can connect the individual information of pet owners to calls. This level of connection allows your network to populate a computer screen with information that’s directly pertinent to your call as soon as it’s received. If you’re a vet on the move, a mobile app gives you this same personal information.
Having customer insights at the ready makes for more efficient management of your practice and better customer service. If you can look at the names, pictures, birthdays, medical history, and payment history of customers regardless of your location, you’re able to recognize each customer’s needs and remember the particular condition of their pet. You and your staff can also make notes within a customer’s profile for future reference.
4.Automating your scheduling
Vets that aren’t always in the office may have difficulty keeping track of their schedule. If their employees are also having to work remotely because of social distancing measures, scheduling gets even more chaotic. Utilizing communication software that automatically ensures that appointment reminders and confirmations are going out on a regular basis cuts down on the stress of managing a practice’s schedule.
With scheduling software that’s part of your communication network, your office can program appointment reminders and confirmations to automatically go out to customers at specific times, relieving front desk workers of the need to cycle through reminders each and every day. These reminders keep your schedule full and customers up to date, even if as a vet you don’t have the bandwidth to worry about your upcoming calendar.
These automated messages allow for two-way text conversations to start, providing an alternative channel for customers that might need to reschedule or cancel. In the event of cancellations, scheduling tools provide a feature that lets practices send out last-minute text blasts to priority customers. Again, vets and their employees can access these features from their mobile app.
5.Collecting digital payments
Veterinarians on the go can sometimes have clumsy or uncoordinated methods for collecting payments from customers. If they’re showing up at a rural location, they might be taking checks back to the office that won’t be cashed for days. Credit cards can be a pain in their own way; cards and card readers tend to backfire, creating a huge hassle for busy vets.
Luckily, technology has evolved to the point where veterinary offices can get around conventional payments, including cash, check, and cards. By implementing digital payments, clinics can simply send a text message to customers after appointments to take care of payments. All practices need is card information, and then customers handle the payment by clicking a link within the text message.
Vets with small practices sometimes manage payments themselves. If they’re out on a call, it’s remarkably easy to use a mobile app to send a payment request after an appointment than almost any other methods. This approach also appeals to younger customers who are getting accustomed to paying for things with services like Venmo and PayPal.
6.Setting up a team chat
As already mentioned, a point of difficulty for busy veterinarians is staying in touch with their administrative team. Even if they’re simply in a back part of the building, there can be a divide in the communication between vets and their staff. Putting the whole team into a group chat can save your clinic from having information fall through the cracks.
Recent events have led to many offices working remotely. Relying exclusively on calls or personal texts presents organizational problems that can be avoided with a team chat. Team chats are available through mobile apps and integrate with the other features of a VoIP phone system.
86% of employees cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication¹ for workplace failures. Vets that travel regularly can manage their teams with greater efficiency by setting up a team chat within their office’s communication network.
7.Requesting reviews by text
The marketing aspect of running a business can be stressful for veterinarians. After all, they got into their line of work for animals, not for developing marketing strategies. Trying to bring in new customers is tough enough without having to focus on more essential work.
Modern marketing strategy is geared toward establishing a strong online presence. This presence comes from a professional, easy-to-use company website. It also is influenced heavily by online review sites like Google and Facebook.
Vet clinics that want to amass positive reviews on popular sites can distribute review requests after every appointment with a text message. These texts have links that bring customers to review sites for quick posting. From their mobile app, veterinarians can use an interface to regularly monitor their progress on review sites.
8.Crafting professional emails
Another marketing strategy that’s proven to drive business for small practices is emailing. While most vet clinics have an email outreach, they’re often not optimized. Improving the quality of your office’s emails can make it easier to manage your practice on the go.
Emails appeal to customers because they provide them with a wealth of information without requiring the same level of engagement as texts and emails. Emails also have a visual component that texts and calls do not. Additionally, with Call-to-Action buttons, customers can be given the chance to take action on scheduling and payment needs.
When emails are firing on all cylinders, vets can rest at ease knowing that their practice is being managed smoothly. Email marketing software gives vets access to pre-written templates and an image library for quickly creating aesthetically-pleasing emails. CTA buttons allow for standard practice upkeep to take place without significant oversight from vets and their employees.
Managing your veterinary office on the go
The above lists some of the best methods for managing your practice’s communication. Once your office has a VoIP phone in place, there are numerous opportunities available for using alternative communication and payment methods, as well as areas where automation can save your team time and effort. Weave’s complete business toolbox provides the hardware and software solutions that enable greatly improved clinic management for vets on the go.
Contact us today to discover how to better manage your practice using our VoIP phones and mobile app.
Your 3 Step Guide to Accepting Payments in the Social Distancing Age
The age of social distancing, brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, has incentivized businesses to discover new ways to minimize the amount of human contact that goes on in their offices. These ways include having employees work from home, reducing the number of clients on site at a given time, and implementing curbside waiting rooms and wellness forms.
As businesses have attempted to set up proper social distancing, they’ve also had to maintain effective communication with customers. Consolidated lines of communication make it easier to call, text, and email clients in spite of social distancing protocol. It’s also important that businesses keep a personal touch in their communication by utilizing customer insights and scheduling software.
Social distancing after appointments is just as crucial as before and during client visits to your office. Much of the post-appointment conversation between administrative staff and customers involves handling payments. Depending on how your office deals with payments, you can simultaneously protect customers and staff from COVID-19 threats and optimize your existing payment platform.
In fact, optimizing your payments in the age of social distancing is synonymous with protecting people with contactless payment options. This blog post discusses how adding contactless payments, prioritizing them over credit cards, and using analytics are some of the best ways to improve your office’s payment processing in the new normal.
The statistics included in this article come from an independent survey commissioned by Weave this year to understand the payment preferences of 750 different healthcare providers and patients.
1.Adding Contactless Payments
The first step for accepting payments in the age of social distancing is adding a contactless payment. What is a contactless payment? A contactless payment is a payment method that doesn’t involve a physical exchange, such as traditional methods like cash, checks, and the swiping of credit cards.
Contactless payments can involve mobile wallets, which are offered through companies including Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung. They can also take place with a simple text message. At Weave, we refer to our text payment feature as Text to Pay.
The respondents in the survey recently commissioned by Weave had a lot to say about contactless payments. Let’s take a look at why both providers and patients want to use contactless payments.
Employees and Contactless Payments
Healthcare practices are finding that contactless payments are necessary if they want to set themselves apart on the market. 70% of the healthcare employees interviewed said contactless payments are now a competitive advantage. Those practices hoping to remain viable in the present and thrive in the future need Text to Pay.
High-growth practices are significantly more interested in contactless payments than low-growth practices. In the survey commissioned by Weave, high-growth practices were 40% more likely to say Text to Pay improves the patient experience. High-growth practices understand that contactless payments protect their customers and make their service more satisfactory.
The overwhelming majority of practices recognize how contactless payments are uniquely capable of promoting good social distancing. 73% of the healthcare providers in the survey said contactless payments support social distancing. Because social distancing has become standard practice in the healthcare industry almost overnight, it’s crucial that offices build social distancing into their payment processing.
The demand for contactless payments stems directly from the COVID-19 crisis. According to 71% of the healthcare employees in the study, coronavirus has increased patient interest in contactless payment options. Taking action by offering Text to Pay is a great way to meet this increased demand.
Right now, only 19% of practices feel like they’re using texting to its fullest potential. The younger generation of clients prefers text options in their communication with healthcare providers, and this communication shouldn’t be limited to scheduling appointments and answering patient questions. Text payments increase employee productivity and protect everyone in your office through social distancing.
Patients and Contactless Payments
Employees aren’t the only ones who recognize the value of contactless payments. Of the healthcare patients interviewed in the study, 64% of them said they feel safer using contactless payments compared to traditional payment methods. This response makes sense; cash, checks, and cards inherently risk the transfer of germs and viruses.
Just the idea of touching a payment portal, whether it’s swiping, tapping, or scanning, is problematic for many patients. 43% of the patients surveyed said touching a payment portal is risky business. Practices that allow their customers to forego this risk increase the likelihood of a pleasant customer experience.
Contactless payments are no longer a thing of the future. 68% of healthcare patients prefer contactless payments according to the study commissioned by Weave. If healthcare providers aim to attract more customers and keep their current clientele happy, they should strongly consider adding Text to Pay.
Weave’s Text to Pay
Weave created its Text to Pay feature to integrate contactless payments into the other communication tools it already offers businesses. The age of social distancing has revealed to us how using a text payment option allows businesses to keep their waiting room clear of improper social distancing while increasing the rate of collections.
Once your practice has patient credit card information on record, your administrative team can simply send a payment request to customers by text following appointments. These text requests are able to be customized and include a link to a site for submitting payments. Patients can make payments from the parking lot or from home without sacrificing social distancing measures.
2.Prioritizing Contactless Payments over Cards
Healthcare practices aren’t going to switch to exclusively contactless payments yet. Payment methods like Text to Pay are one option among many. However, pushing for patients to use contactless payments optimizes their experience by protecting them from the threat of COVID-19 with good social distancing.
When asked about their preference between contactless payments and credit cards, the majority of healthcare providers stated they prefer contactless payments. 67% of them said they want to see more payments transition from credit cards to Text to Pay. Clearly, the age of social distancing has demonstrated the value of contactless payments.
Patients manifested a similar preference for contactless payments over credit cards. 68% of the healthcare clients interviewed said they think Text to Pay is more hygienic than credit cards. Practices should not only be offering contactless payments to their customers; they should be actively letting their clients know about the need to transition to text payment options.
The complete payment platform offered by Weave gives healthcare providers the flexibility to continue to collect traditional payments while prioritizing contactless payments. You know about Text to Pay from the previous section, but we didn’t discuss the other features of the Payments tool. This tool includes secure payment processing and a terminal for point-of-sale transactions.
Payment processing can be a complicated affair when accepting various payment methods. With Weave Payments, you don’t have to deal with upfront or monthly fees. There’s one flat rate for each payment that’s processed. Along with Text to Pay, Weave Payments accepts major credit cards (Visa, AmericanExpress, Discover, and MasterCard), as well as HSA/FSA cards, prepaid cards, and mobile wallets.
3.Analyzing Your Payments and Communication
The business world has put a premium on collecting and analyzing data in recent decades. Gathering statistics on how your practice is functioning provides you with the opportunity to systematically approach the process of moving toward greater efficiency. Getting analytics on payments is as important as studying any other component of your business strategy.
Analytics are available through software that’s connected with your office communication and payments. Communication analytics look at phone calls and identify the times your office is busiest to help you get staffing optimized. Payment analytics show how customers are paying and when, letting you find better ways to collect payments and make your practice profitable.
The Analytics tool in Weave’s suite allows businesses to gather the data necessary to make better business decisions. It shows you to study call times and traffic. For dental practices, Practice Analytics identifies unscheduled patients and unscheduled treatments, letting you take immediate action by calling or texting. Recall Analytics helps you recapture customers you haven’t seen in a while by identifying those customers and easily messaging them.
Payments Analytics gives you the ability to understand how customers in your specific organization want to pay for services. While the general market trend is toward contactless payments over credit cards, you need to have the tools to make sure this is the right move for your patients.
Weave Payments in the Age of Social Distancing
There are three steps for businesses and healthcare practices hoping to optimize their payment processing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. First, add a contactless payment method like Text to Pay in order to protect employees and customers from community spread. Second, prioritize contactless payments over traditional payments like credit cards. And third, use Analytics to understand the best payment methods for your specific practice.
If you’d like to get a better idea of how Weave Payments works in the age of social distancing, contact our team today for a free demo.
Everyone is busy, and convincing your patients to keep appointments, especially for routine and non-urgent office visits can be a challenge. Looming work deadlines, family obligations, and social commitments can all seem more important in your patients’ minds than a routine oral hygiene appointment or an eye exam.
However, missed appointments can be detrimental to your practice, and your clients also suffer by not getting the care they need. If you’re dealing with cancellations because your patients are busy and strapped for time, we’ve got 10 tips that can help you increase your show-up rates while also strengthening the relationship you have with your patients.
1.Remind Your Customers About Their Appointments
Arguably, the most effective strategy is to simply remind your customers that they have an upcoming appointment. Relying on your busiest customers to automatically remember their appointments is going to result in a lot of missed and forgotten office visits.
Even your most organized customers will probably appreciate a quick call or text reminding them a day or two in advance. But before you start bombarding your patients with appointment reminders, there are some best practices to keep in mind. For most scenarios, there’s an ideal window of time to reach out to the customer. That timeframe is typically 24 to 72 hours before the appointment. It’s close enough to the appointment time to serve as a reminder, but far enough away for them to make rescheduling arrangements with your office if that is necessary.
With today’s systems and technologies, you also have several options to deliver your appointment reminders, such as:
Texting is a convenient method that’s easy to set up, and with Weave’s smart appointment confirmation options, it can be configured to work with almost any customer base. If you’re not sure what your customers prefer, ask them. For more tips on best practices for using your appointment reminder software, check out this article called Three Reasons Your Practice Should be Using Automated Reminders.
2.Make it Inconvenient for Customers to Cancel
As much as we dislike it when customers cancel, we often make it very convenient for them. A cancellation call often goes something like this, “hi Jenny, this is Jared. I have an appointment scheduled today, but I am not going to be able to make it.” To which Jenny would respond something like this. “No problem Jared, let’s go ahead and find a time that will work for you.” At first glance, this seems like a great way to handle a cancellation call. But, if you look a little bit closer, you have made it very convenient for your customer to reschedule which will likely lead to more reschedules and cancellations in the future.
Instead of letting customers do something very inconvenient for your office while finding another time that “works for them”, set some rules about how your staff is able to reschedule customers. Those rules could look like this:
If a customer cancels their appointment, they are not allowed to get back on the schedule for at least three weeks. This communicates that your time is scarce and in high demand. Your front office could say, “is there anything we can do to help you make it to your appointment because we wouldn’t be able to get you in again for at least three weeks”. The customer might still cancel their appointment, but they will be less likely to cancel again next time.
If a customer cancels their appointment, they are not allowed to take a prime-time appointment spot when they reschedule. Again, you are communicating scarcity and making it inconvenient for them to reschedule. If they ask for a convenient time slot, your front office can say something like, “that time is very popular and is typically booked months in advance”. Then they could give them some options for other times that are available.
Many offices are hesitant to implement a policy like this because they are worried about offending customers. This is a legitimate concern, which is why having a policy that is adhered to with every patient is so important. If you have the policy set in stone, you can train your customers to understand that your time is valuable. If you adhere to this policy with every customer, you may lose a few customers over it, but your schedule will be significantly more productive because of the time that you won’t lose to broken appointments.
3.Ensure Your Information is Up to Date
If you’re sending appointment reminders, it’s important to remember that this system is only as good as the accuracy of your contact information. If your customers’ phone numbers and email addresses are outdated, then they’re not going to get your messages.
We recommend checking in with customers every 6 months to 1 year and asking them to confirm that their contact details are current and accurate.
4.Manage Your Schedule
No one likes to be kept waiting, and while some wait time is inevitable, take a look at your office flow to make sure your customers aren’t waiting longer than they should. If your customers are waiting for several minutes, then they might feel like their time isn’t’ being valued. They’re busy, remember?
And, if they don’t get the sense that you value their time, it’s going to be harder for you to convince them to value yours. By having your office staff greet them promptly and then allowing them to be seen with a minimal wait time, they’ll be more willing to sacrifice time out of their busy schedule to keep their appointments.
Make sure you let them know that you appreciate their promptness and attention to their health. Again, when they know that you respect their time, they’ll be more likely to respect yours in return.
5.Implement a Cancellation or No-Show Policy
If missed and canceled appointments have gotten out of hand, you may need to implement a cancellation or no-show policy to deal with these extreme cases. Some offices institute a nominal fee ranging from $5 to $20 to enforce their policy.
Other offices, understandably, elect not to fine their customers. Instead, they find that just publishing their policy and displaying it prominently in the office and all written customer communications is equally effective without seeming heavy-handed.
Most people are happy to comply with a request if you simply ask. So, why not ask your customers to notify you at least 24 hours in advance if they won’t be able to make their appointment? You can explain that it opens up space for other customers to be seen. When they understand that it’s polite and the right thing to do, they’re more likely to comply.
6.Offer Fun Rewards for Showing up on Time
Many offices have seen excellent results in show-up rates by doing raffle drawings that incentivize customers to show up on time for their appointments. An example of this in action would be to give a raffle ticket to a customer for showing up on time for their appointment. Each month, one or more tickets could be drawn, and the winner gets a prize, like an iPad, a gift certificate to a local restaurant, or some other desirable prize.
7.Fire Customers Who Repeatedly Miss
It can be tough to “fire” a customer, but if one of your business has clients who are constantly missing appointments and not showing any improvement in behavior and attitude, it might be time to let them go.
Consider the effect they have on other customers who aren’t able to get in to see you because this person has taken up an appointment slot. Consider the negative effect it has on your staff’s morale when they have to monitor this customer and handle no-show appointments and rescheduling challenges. Consider the example it sets for other customers who might observe this patient breezing into the office 20 minutes late or hearing your staff on the phone rescheduling yet another missed appointment.
If this person is harming your office or having an effect on the care your clients receive, then it could be time to refer them out.
8.Nurture Customer Relationships
Work on having a positive rapport with your customers. Make them feel like welcome friends in your office. By showing that you value the relationship you have, they’ll, in turn, enjoy coming to your office. It’s easy to cancel an appointment that you don’t look forward to, especially if you don’t like going to the office. However, if your customers genuinely enjoy seeing your staff and chatting with you about tennis (for example), then they’ll be less likely to dismiss their appointments.
9.Schedule Appointments When They’re Still in the Office
Before your customer walks out the door, make sure your staff schedules their next appointment. It can be helpful to discuss the calendar in person and having a conversation with someone face to face can be more compelling and memorable than a phone call, email or text. This also helps the patient experience momentum and the positive reinforcement that comes with taking care of their health.
For example, if your patient has just had their teeth cleaned, your staff should schedule their next cleaning on the spot. The patient is already feeling great about the steps they’ve taken to maintain their oral care, and they’ll be more likely to take the commitment of their next appointment seriously when they make it in your office rather than waiting three months later when they schedule a cleaning just because they know they’re supposed to. This also gives you and your office staff a chance to explain the importance of the appointment, so it’s etched in their mind. This applies to any service that your business has provided.
10.Identify and Track Cancellation Reasons
Using a system like Weave, you can easily document and track cancellation reasons. Taking a data-driven approach allows you to identify patterns and then proactively adjust your procedures to increase show-up rates.
For example, let’s say your office staff notices an increase in cancellations between 5 pm and 6 pm. Maybe your clients are having a hard time getting out of work or they’re stuck in traffic. You could consider moving these customers’ appointments or building in a time cushion and explaining to your customers that you know traffic can be hectic and that you’re okay with them being a little bit late in these instances.
Whether you choose a low-tech or high-tech system to manage your appointments, the key is to pick a method and stay consistent.
Best Selling Author- Lindsey Stirling on Cultivating Authenticity & Connection
Business Growth: 5 Step Roadmap by Multi-Million Dollar start-up CEO
How to Create a Delightful Workplace- A Therapist’s Perspective