There are many reasons why a client may not show up for an appointment. While we may not know why client no shows, there are several easy steps that you can take to bring back a client from the ghost town. In this post, we will examine several examples of what may cause a client to no show, how to respond, and why responding benefits your business.
We've all been there: we've missed an appointment and forgotten to call the business to let them know or to reschedule. Shame sets in. The longer that we wait to call and reschedule the appointment, the longer we prolong the feeling of shame. The likeliness of rescheduling an appointment diminishes. Understanding that shame and embarrassment play a significant role in the possibility of getting no shows back into the business is integral to turning no shows into reliable clients.
Missed Appointments: in this modern era, we are busy, busy, busy. All of the time. Our minds are inundated with reminders: pay the electric bill, buy a new carton of milk before the existing milk goes bad, change the cat litter, wish a good friend "Happy Birthday," empty the dishwasher before cooking another big meal etc. You may have this nagging feeling that you might forget something in the daily shuffle. Two days later, you realize that you forgot to attend your yearly physical exam. When the office doesn't follow up with you, it's easy to feel that the longer you wait before rescheduling that the business is hurt or frustrated by your absence. There are many, many reasons why a client may not rebook. While this is common, the way that we, as businesses, react to the challenge of no shows can bring back a client or allow them to fade away indefinitely.
This is only a partial list, but contains a large portion of reasons that many clients may miss appointments. Responding well to these clients is integral to getting them back into your business and keeping them coming back.
Bracket Your Response: Try not to respond negatively. Shame, embarrassment, and fear are among the most common factors that lead a client to no show and then ghost your business altogether. If you feel frustrated with clients for no showing, that is completely understandable and valid. You may even feel angry. As we will discuss later in this post, no shows are a significant loss of revenue, especially small businesses. Let us first say:
Reach Out with Compassion: for many businesses, this may mean that you establish communication with them that does not put them on the spot after their missed appointment. For example, if you make a phone call to client after a missed appointment, they may be reluctant to answer because of their guilt and shame. Responding via email message or text message may ease the client or patient back into communication. Simply reaching out lets them know that you do not harbor hard feelings about their missed appointment and would be pleased if they came back. This friendly and compassionate tone is integral to making a client or patient feel comfortable. And, at this time, a voice call may not be right step, but as we discuss below, in certain situations, phone calls may be next.
Text Message or Email the Client. Let them know that you want them to come back. A message such as, "We missed you! But we know that missed appointments happen. We value you and would love for you to come back to the office (or business). Please call us at (555) 555-5555 to reschedule. We hope to see you soon!" This type of message is both friendly and understanding. It also importantly provides the contact information for the client to reschedule. When a client feels ashamed about missing an appointment, they may avoid rescheduling, but if your message is friendly and provides easily accessible information to rebook, they are significantly more likely to reply.
Know When to Make a Phone Call: This is a tough one, but at Reminderly, we know that you know your clients the best. Sometimes, making phone calls and speaking to a client is the best way to get them back in the door. This phone call is incredibly important during scenarios that include financial stress, such as a missed appointment for a dentist visit or physician visit etc. In some cases, a client may have lost their dental or health insurance and therefore cannot afford to come back to the office. A phone call may take away the hurdle that the client faces of contacting you, and they may open up about their situation. This one-on-one phone communication gives you the opportunity to communicate with the client and offer solutions. For a dentist or primary care physician, this phone call may inform clients of patients that there are payment plans or give you the opportunity for suggestions on finding new coverage etc. Knowing when to speak directly to a client or patient over the phone is important to further reduce no shows, keep more patients or clients, and improve patient outcomes.
While many clients have very valid reasons for being missing appointments, frequently, it's them and not you. Keeping track of clients and their appointments can give you the tools to know which clients to pursue and welcome back, and which clients will not likely return, regardless of your efforts. Having a base idea of which clients have an extremely high no show rate is one of the most important details to consider, including whether or not they confirm appointments or frequently cancel or reschedule. This will save time by taking a couple minutes to look over the patient history.
It probably sounds too good to be true. Trust us, we've analyzed the data. It's true. Automated appointment reminders significantly reduce no shows. While different studies show different rates, many demonstrate that no shows can be reduced by up to 90% by sending appointment reminders. The low end of these statistics is closer to 70%. Whether it is 70% or 90%, your business or organization cannot afford to lose revenue through client or patient no shows.
What Do No Shows Really Cost?
Given that you already know the statistics, let's do the math on lost revenue. If you are a healthcare provider and your hourly rate is approximately $300 an hour, and you have a 10% no show rate that is 8 missed appointments per week, the annual loss is approximately $60,000.
Fewer No Shows: you can achieve this with automated appointment reminders. Clients that forget or are too busy to plan ahead greatly benefit from appointment reminders. There are multiple ways that this can be achieved.
Start by sending appointment reminders. These can be in the form of text message reminders, reminder calls, and/or email appointment reminders. Reminders are not "one size fits all," so we encourage you to learn what is best for your clients and patients. Reminder messages are easy to make and automate, so that you can save time and save money and reduce no show rates. Sometimes, the solution really is that simple: reminder messages reduce cancellation rates, save money, benefit customers, and reduce appointment no shows. Client and patient reminders are popular because they are easy to set up and they are so effective. With Reminderly, we offer a two-week free trial that requires no upfront commitment. In less than five minutes, you can start sending automated reminders and message clients in real-time, immediately. Additionally, we provide the flexibility to send multiple reminders, because many clients may need more than one. With automatic appointment reminders, you can save time and revenue while still getting clients and patients in the door.