No-shows can be more damaging to your business than you might think. Not only do they disrupt your scheduling, but they actually cost you money, as the missed appointment could have been filled with another.

Luckily, there are a few simple practices you can start implementing today to dramatically reduce the number of missed appointments for your business. Here are nine points to remember when trying to reduce no-shows.

1. Make Use of Automated Reminders

Using automatic reminders does two things. First, it shows your customer that you care about them enough to send them a reminder, building a closer relationship between yourself and the customer.

Second, they improve punctuality. Studies have shown that text message reminders decrease the amount of tardiness among patients. Booking plugins, like those for WordPress, are a great way to automate your appointment reminders.

2. Give a Prepaid Option

Getting your customer to pay beforehand is a great way to ensure they will actually be there when it’s time for the appointment. The only thing that people care about more than time is money, and if they’ve already paid, they won’t want to waste it.

It’s also helpful to provide them with some small reward for booking in advance. For example, you could give them a discount on their next visit.

3. Message Your No-Show

With the busy lives that we lead in the modern world, it’s no wonder that sometimes we forget about our appointments. Usually, customers don’t mean to insult you when they don’t show up for an appointment. Most likely they simply forgot.

When this happens, simply send them a text alert saying you’re sorry “that we missed you” and providing options for immediate rescheduling. Customers can be forgetful so it’s your responsibility to suggest rescheduling as soon as possible, otherwise, you might lose their business.

4. Use All Kinds of Reminders

  • Cell phone call.
  • Home phone call.
  • Text message.
  • Email.

The first time a new patient makes an appointment with you, ask them what kind of reminder method they would prefer. A cell phone call? Text message? Email? Home phone number? Once you have this information, you can prioritize their choice.

However, you shouldn’t ignore the other options. The more ways you remind them, the better the chances are that they will keep their appointment. Automating these kinds of interactions will save you time, and in the long run, money as well.

It’s also a good practice to provide customers with physical reminders if they make an appointment at your office. A simple slip of paper with the date, time, and location will suffice.

5. Minimize Waiting

One of the main reasons for customer dissatisfaction is the wait time. It can even cause you to lose customers. You must remember that the customer’s time is just as important as yours, and commit to it just as they have committed to you.

As a general rule, 10–15 minutes is an acceptable wait time. Anything over 20 minutes and watch out! You will most likely be dealing with unsatisfied customers and might even lose them in the process.

6. Show Appreciation

A simple “thank you” is often all it takes to let your customers know that you care about them and value their time. Get in the habit of thanking customers who keep their appointments and arrive on time. It will make them feel appreciated and help to develop your relationship.

7. Reward Good Customers

Positive reinforcement is one of the best ways to ensure good behavior. If your customers consistently keep their appointments and show up on time, you should reward them for their good behavior. Whether a discount on their next appointment or a customer of the month photo on the wall, show them your appreciation in a tangible way.

8. Make Scheduling a Priority

The longer into a conversation a customer books an appointment, the more likely they will be to forget it. Whether on the phone or over email, make booking an appointment with the customer your first priority, save the chit-chat and questions for later. This will help you reduce no-shows as well.

9. Invest in Your Customer Relationships

There are several things you can be doing to improve your relationship with your customers. It really depends on the customer. Holiday and birthday greeting cards may be old fashioned, but the elderly love to get them. Make it a point to send your older customers greeting cards and they won’t forget it.

For younger and middle-aged customers, newsletters and blog posts on your website are a great way to keep them engaged and invested in your business. If you provide them with stimulating content on a regular basis, they will be more likely to think about your business and so remember their upcoming appointments. Building good customer relations is important for any business, and will keep them loyal and punctual.

If you follow the above-mentioned advice, no-shows will no longer be a problem. Remember, your relationships with your customers are key to avoiding tardiness. Build stronger relationships and mutual respect with your customers and you’ll be surprised by just how punctual they can be.

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