How Voicemail Is Slowly Killing Your Business

How Voicemail Is Slowly Killing Your Business

The life of a small business owner can be hectic. 

When you’re doing everything from daily administrative tasks to providing quality customer service, sometimes the phone is left to ring, and incoming customer calls are missed. 

But one or two missed calls won’t hurt, right? 

Wrong! 

Unfortunately, 80% of callers that don’t get through on the first call will hang up and call the competition. 

That’s right — a missed call is a missed opportunity.

On top of that, your advertising budget is going to waste, because it’s directing potential customers to a business that doesn’t have time for them. 

So, what do you do? 

You decide to invest in an automated voice answering system to direct customers to voicemail whenever you’re unable to answer their call. 

While voicemail might be better than missing the call completely, the potential revenue loss isn’t the only negative impact that relying on voicemail can have on your business. 

The Disadvantages of Voicemail

Most customers prefer human interaction and the feeling that employees care about them when they’re calling a business. 

A first-time customer reaching voicemail on their very first call can leave a long-lasting, damaging first impression. And the disadvantages of voicemail go both ways — for your customers and your business. 

Reaching voicemail is impersonal

When a customer reaches your voicemail instead of being greeted by a real person, it’s like the business is telling them “We don’t have time for you.” Reaching voicemail also gives the caller a feeling of uncertainty over whether their call will get returned. This not only robs the customer of their time but their patience, too. 

Checking voicemails is inefficient

Voicemail creates another problem — it creates more work for you. 

When you get voicemail, you’re still required to check it, listen carefully to it, transcribe every message, and return every call. Then, you have to delete the messages to ensure there’s enough room left on your answering machine for future callers. 

What if you need clarification on the message that was left? Then, there’s the almost inevitable back-and-forth with the caller as you’re trying to connect with each other just to talk. 

Leaving a voicemail is time-consuming

Forcing a customer to leave a voicemail can eat up valuable time. What if the potential customer is calling about something urgent? Unfortunately, automated answering systems can’t detect urgency. 

This scenario can lead to revenue loss and a frustrated customer, which can be detrimental to the business’s reputation. (That person will likely tell the people they know that they couldn’t reach you.) 

The Importance of Human Connection

Efficient customer service is necessary for the satisfaction of your customers and the success of your business. And the easiest way to build rapport with your current and potential customers is by investing in your customers’ experience. 

Connecting with customers on a personal level will increase the chances of them coming back and even telling their friends about your business. That’s the power of human connection

According to Salesforce, 89% of customers will make another purchase after a positive experience. And a one-on-one interaction can be that game-changer — it allows you to quickly resolve any issues your customers may have and answer their questions on the spot. 

The human aspect of customer service can transform every customer’s experience into a memorable one. Therefore, it should be your business’s top priority. 

What kind of alternative solution can help boost the customer experience for your business? 

Virtual reception.

Creating A Positive Customer Experience With Virtual Reception

Virtual reception is what it sounds like — a service where your customer calls are answered by remote, friendly, highly trained receptionists from a third-party company that will ensure your customers’ needs are met in a timely manner. 

Smiledog Virtual Reception offers a team of trained professionals that take messages, schedule appointments and answer your customers’ questions.

This is an affordable, personalized, and efficient solution that can take your customer service to the next level. When customers have good experiences with businesses, they tell their friends — and sometimes, the rest of the world. 

Wrapping Up

In the digital era, timely, personalized, and efficient customer service is more important than ever for the success of your business. While it may seem like an easy solution, investing in an automated voicemail system isn’t foolproof. It can cause more problems — and even permanently damage your reputation.  

In addition, voicemail is an impersonal, inefficient, and often time-consuming “solution” to connecting with your customers. 

Smiledog’s Virtual Reception call answering services guarantee that no call goes unanswered. 

With virtual reception, you will: 

  • Avoid revenue loss due to missed opportunities
  • Improve your customer service and boost your business’s reputation
  • Gain the ability to focus more time on your top priority — providing exceptional customer service and growing your business

Your customers are everything to your business. Without them, there is no business. So, to retain your customers and earn their loyalty, sprinkle a little of that secret ingredient we’ve been talking about; human connection. It’ll make a world of a difference.

We also wanted to share that Smiledog has been recognized as one of the Top Virtual Receptionist Companies by DesignRush!

4 Tips For Setting Yourself Up For Success With Virtual Appointment Setting

4 Tips For Setting Yourself Up For Success With Virtual Appointment Setting

According to Zendesk, more than 50% of customers across all age groups typically use the phone to reach out to a service team, making it the most-used channel for customer service.

The phone is still a crucial part of any business, and especially for healthcare professionals. After a long and uncertain year and a half of living with COVID, patients are more hesitant than ever about visiting a healthcare facility. They want assurance it is safe for them to come in for treatment. An effective way to do this is with a welcoming, friendly voice on the phone to greet them. 

Your receptionist has always been essential, and they are even more essential right now because they are the first connection between you and your patients. 

While we’ve begun to come out on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic, hiring front desk staff has never been more difficult. At Smiledog, the general sentiment from our clients right now is that the hiring pool seems to be quiet — quieter than it has ever been.

The investment and time commitment needed to get a new team member up to speed comes at a high cost and is especially challenging when practice owners are fully focused on getting their clinics back up to full capacity. There isn’t time to spend 3-6 months onboarding a new receptionist when they could jump ship at any moment. 

This is where virtual appointment setting could be a great option. However, before you decide if this is the solution for you, ask yourself: Is my practice optimized for a virtual appointment setting service?

Let’s dive into the 4 tips for setting yourself up for success with a virtual receptionist and having them book your appointments.

1. Know your phone system

The most important factor to consider here is that you want to have full control over your call forwarding.

The process should be quick and easy. You will either manually enter the call forwarding codes on your physical phone in the clinic or program them via your online account with your phone carrier. 

Getting all the details of your call forwarding options is actually the first step in getting you closer to using a virtual receptionist.

What is call forwarding and how can you use it?

Call forwarding is simply redirecting your main clinic number to a different external number to be answered. 

  • Full Call Forwarding: This forwarding feature redirects all incoming calls to another number.
  • No Answer Transfer: This forwarding feature redirects incoming calls after a set number of rings on your side first. We recommend a maximum of 2-3 rings on your side before transferring over to a virtual receptionist. Keep in mind that 3 rings on your end and 3 rings on our end is actually 6 rings for the patient. So you need to determine what is best for your practice.
  • Busy Call Forwarding: This forwarding feature ensures calls do not get sent to voicemail. If your clinic line is already busy and another call comes in, then it will transfer that call to the virtual receptionist instead of pushing it to your voicemail.

The call forwarding you should use is really dependent on your needs. One option isn’t better than the other and in most cases, it is actually the combination of all types that work best. For example, full call forwarding is best when you know you can’t take any calls. No answer transfer is best when your in-house staff can get to most calls, but they need the reassurance that another person will help if a distraction comes up. And busy call forwarding is ideal because it can help you increase your call capacity without having calls go to voicemail.

2. Simplify your booking procedures

It is obviously not the receptionist’s job to know each practitioner’s specialty at the same level as the practitioner. The receptionist’s job is to connect the patient with the practitioner as quickly as possible by either booking in or taking a message.

A patient in pain wants to get booked in as quickly and as seamlessly as possible. So for your patients’ sake, you want to make the booking process fast and easy. 

We have learned over our 15 years of helping practices improve their phone service that the organization of your information is crucial. It needs to be organized and processed in a way that both the receptionist and patient can understand. This will make the booking process much easier to navigate for your virtual team and your patients when they call in. It allows your receptionist to develop more confidence, which will ultimately lead to more bookings. 

Here’s the most important information to keep handy for your receptionist:

  • General Practice info. You’ll want to organize the following:
    • Address
    • Main phone numbers
    • Main contact email
    • Scheduling software login
    • Payment methods
    • All relevant general practice information
  • Practitioner Profiles. Each practitioner should have a set of instructions for how they want their individual calls handled. (Example: Try to book patients first or take a message if it is a non-booking call.)
    • Provide the practitioner’s contact info
    • Provide the practitioner’s modality and/or position at the clinic
  • How-To’s. These are the most important instructions where clarity is crucial. The main thing to consider here is simplicity. If you are mapping your booking rules and notice that the instructions for a particular style of booking have too many if then/only when caveats, then it is best to separate those out and create more than one how-to. Examples include:
    • How to book a new patient
    • How to book an existing patient
    • How to book a free consult
    • How to book a same-day appointment request
    • How to handle inappropriate/banned patients
    • How to handle a waitlist appointment
    • How to handle mobile treatment requests
  • Info instructions. This information is a way to categorize unique information within your practice. You will want to divide this info into a simple format to ensure it is quickly accessible.
    • INFO: Cancellation Policy
    • INFO: Insurance details
    • INFO: Location & Directions
    • INFO: Services & Pricing
    • INFO: Service types by practitioner (who does what)
  • COVID screening rules. You will need to have a specific set of screening rules/questions to ensure the patient qualifies for an appointment.

3. Implement web-based booking software

It is crucial for your practice to have a web-based booking system that allows you to create an administrative profile for your virtual receptionist

You ensure security with this system by protecting your login, and you can track the number of appointments booked by your administrative profile. This will help you measure the success of your virtual team. 

JaneApp in particular has a wonderful option for this that is free within your account. Other platforms like Cliniko, Acuity, and Mindbody are also great options that a virtual receptionist can use and integrate easily.

Web-based booking software also allows you to create online booking options via your website, and it’s a great tool to increase your bookings without any additional cost.

4. Keep your virtual team up-to-date through collaboration

The main goal of a virtual receptionist is to help balance the workload. They will help you deliver customer service over the phone and help book appointments while you’re in appointments. 

Worrying about each and every word of every phone call will ultimately result in an unsuccessful relationship. This is why Smiledog does absolutely no call scripting. Instead, our focus is on simplifying your appointment booking process. This allows your virtual team to deliver better customer service because they can more easily engage in organic conversations with your patients instead of sounding like call center employees.

Updates and changes are expected, and we understand that they are part of a growing clinic. So communicative collaboration is essential to ensuring your virtual team is always up-to-date. The best way to ensure collaboration is by consistently letting your team know what is going on. For small, minor updates, email is usually the preferred method of communication; for larger protocol changes, we recommend scheduling a meeting with an account lead to ensure those changes are understood and properly implemented. 

What constitutes a minor vs. major update?

Minor updates are: 

  • Vacation notices
  • Email or phone number changes for a practitioner
  • New or adjusted clinic hours

Major updates are:

  • New service offering(s) being implemented
  • New practitioner coming to the team
  • New location added

During the virtual receptionist onboarding process, a crucial factor is strategizing your account structure. It will serve as the foundation on which your virtual receptionist will handle your calls, and it will prevent the need for micromanagement.

Ensuring there are simple and structured booking rules in place upfront is key to having a successful virtual receptionist. Once the concept of how to book your appointments is understood, making smaller or larger changes as your clinic evolves will have much less of an impact on your virtual team’s service delivery.

Wrapping up

Specific actions like simplifying your booking rules, implementing web-based booking software, collaborating with your virtual receptionist, and studying your phone system setup are great ways to ensure a smooth handoff to your virtual team. 

Implementing a virtual receptionist for your practice is actually very easy to do if the upfront preparation is handled properly. With our 15 years of experience, we are confident that the tips listed above are a great start to get your practice ready for virtual appointment setting. 

Still wondering if virtual reception is right for your practice? Here are 3 benefits to consider when thinking about virtual reception: 

  1. More consistent customer service.
  2. More appointment booking opportunities.
  3. More time back in your day to focus on growing your clinic.

Creating a seamless and simple transition from patient call to appointment booked will result in much stronger customer satisfaction and a more successful relationship with your virtual team. The more simplified your processes are, the easier it will be to scale your practice.

If you’d like to find out more about virtual appointment setting, schedule a consultation with us here.

5 Free And Easy Ways To Start Promoting Your Brand Online

5 Free And Easy Ways To Start Promoting Your Brand Online

Remember when marketing was putting your product or service on flyers and brochures? 

If you had the budget for it, you might have even invested in a billboard. Though these traditional forms of marketing still exist, we now have digital marketing. And the methods for digital marketing are endless. 

Now’s the time to maximize growth for your business. You can do it by taking advantage of the digital marketing avenues available — they’re only a click away.

There are several user-friendly platforms you can leverage for connecting with your target audience and building lasting client relationships. And the beauty is — many of them are free!

Because of the digital platforms at our disposal, we small business folks can stand a chance against large businesses — and even win. 

So, what are you waiting for?

If you’re ready to take your digital presence to the next level and grow your business, this article is for you.

We will discuss how to:

  1. Get discovered on Google with Google My Business
  2. Delight your audience with your company blog
  3. Connect with your audience on social media
  4. Design professional assets with Canva
  5. Maximize reach with email marketing on Mailchimp

1. Show up on Google Maps and Google search results with Google My Business

Google My Business (GMB) is a free online tool that enables you to create, manage, and optimize your Google Business Profile to increase your chances of being discovered. GMB will enhance your business profile by allowing you to appear in Google Maps and local Google search results. 

Why it’s important

Very often, GMB is the first thing customers notice when searching for your business — especially local customers. And first impressions matter. But so does accessibility. Having essential business information on your profile, such as your contact information and website, will make your business easily accessible to potential customers while increasing the chance they will contact you. In fact, 60% of smartphone users have contacted a business directly using search results. 

In addition to Google profile discoverability and accessibility, GMB allows you to: 

  1. Interact with customers by answering questions, responding to reviews, and publishing posts
  1. Provide essential business information on your Google Business Profile by letting you add your location, business hours, phone number, website, and other details to help you stand out from the competition
  1. Measure and analyze search performance by giving you access to key insights such as actions taken on your profile, search queries used for finding your profile, where your profile is seen the most (e.g., Google Maps or Google search), and the performance of your photos compared to others in your business category
  1. Optimize local search engine optimization (SEO) by adding keywords to your business profile to improve your ranking in search results

How to get started

Setting up your GMB account involves completing and verifying your process. The verification process can take anywhere from five minutes to 14 business days depending on your chosen verification method. 

To set up your GMB account, follow these steps:

  1. Log into or create a Google account you want to be associated with your business
  2. Enter your business name and address
  1. Choose your business category
  1. Add your business phone number and website address
  2. Select a verification option 
  3. Enter verification code

2. Create content that responds to your audience’s queries with your company blog

Where is the first place you go to quickly find information and answers to a question? 

If your answer is Google, then you’re not alone. Every minute, there are approximately 3.8 billion searches globally. One way to have your website rank on Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) is with consistent, value-packed content optimized for search engine optimization (SEO). 

Though there are several types of content that are used to generate website traffic and attract, engage, and delight prospects, we will be focusing on one type here: blogs.

Why it’s important

Blog content can be used to further support your business by generating website traffic, attracting users with educational, value-driven content, and bringing in leads. It does this by: 

  1. Positioning your website as a relevant result to your prospective customers’ search queries
  2. Keeping your website current to improve search engine algorithms by indexing your website
  3. Giving you opportunities for backlinking to improve your website’s credibility and organic search engine rankings
Source: Backlinko
  1. Increasing the chances of repeat website visitors and raising your website’s authority level

How to get started

There’s no doubt that blogging has numerous benefits to offer — including building and maintaining relationships with your prospective customers. 

If you’re ready to start a company blog, begin by:

  1. Creating and setting goals that contribute to your company’s overarching goals (for example: increase organic website traffic by 25% in Q3)
  2. Determining who you will be speaking to by creating a buyer persona
  3. Conducting SEO research (keyword research) to identify a keyword’s search volume and determine if it’s worth the content investment. SEMRush, Ahrefs, and Moz Keyword Explorer are all terrific SEO tools
  4. Creating content for each stage of the buyer’s journey (i.e.,  awareness, consideration, and decision)
Source: HubSpot
  1. Creating an editorial calendar for planning your content creation and distribution strategy

3. Connect and engage with your audience directly using social media 

There are now more than 4.2 billion social media users. If your business isn’t taking advantage of social media, you’re missing out. 

Source: Hootsuite

Why it’s important

Social media is an efficient, effective, and free way to reach and engage your audiences and prospective customers. Social media allows you to gain valuable insights into your industry, competitors, and target audiences. It will also help you learn what content works with your audience, and will also lead you to discover new content ideas. 

More specifically, social media allows you to:

  1. Increase brand awareness by reaching new audiences 
  2. Create human connections and relationships with your audience to build trust 
  3. Establish your brand as a thought leader by sharing value-driven content and insights about your niche
  4. Increase website traffic by sharing links in your social media posts to content on your website
  1. Discover content ideas to incorporate in your content calendar 
  2. Interact and engage directly with your customers 
  3. Make business decisions based on what you learn from your audience
Source: Sprout Social
  1. Find out what people are saying about your business and make adjustments accordingly to manage your reputation
  2. Monitor your competition and stay up-to-date with their promotions, new products, and reviews from clients.

How to get started

A solid strategy should always come before execution. To maximize the benefits of social media, begin by:

  1. Identifying the goals and objectives that you’re trying to achieve on social media (e.g., leads)
  2. Determining the right social media platform(s) for your business (e.g., Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) 
  3. Finding out what platform(s) your audience is most active on
  4. Researching your industry and competitors to see what platforms they’re using, where they are receiving the most engagement, and what content they’re publishing is successful
  5. Understanding the purpose and benefits of each social platform
  6. Creating a content calendar of what and when you will publish

When planning your content calendar, aim for 80% of your content around non-promotional content (e.g., culture-focused posts, testimonials, value-driven content, etc.), and 20% max for promotional content.

Once you arrive at the execution stage, use social media marketing software like Hootsuite or Sprout Social to efficiently and effectively manage and execute your social media strategy. 

This software allows you to schedule posts in advance on various social media platforms and monitor performance through native social media analytics tools. 

Pro tip: Consistency is key. Ensure you have the capacity to consistently manage your social media account(s). If you’re only able to manage one platform well, stick with one. 

4. Create eye-catching assets with Canva

There’s no doubt that graphic design matters for brand recognition. Attractive design can turn heads, but it wasn’t always easy producing quality designs … until Canva.

Canva is a free, user-friendly online design platform that has a plethora of templates available (+8k in the free account) you can manipulate. It also has photo editing capabilities and access to fonts, icons, copyright-free photos, and videos. 

Why it’s important

Canva allows you — regardless of your skill level — to simply and efficiently produce attractive designs that’ll help you stand out from the competition. 

Create business cards, a new presentation deck, or even a cover photo for your Facebook business page in minutes. And no fancy computer is needed — only an internet connection.

Once you’ve created your Canva account, you can access your designs on any device, including your phone. That’s the beauty of an online service — all of your designs are stored in the cloud. 

How to get started

Explore Canva’s brief video tutorials to learn more about the platform and all things design-related. Then, create your own free account. You’ll be creating masterpieces before you know it! 

5. Keep your audience up-to-date with educational news and promotions with Mailchimp

With over 4 billion people using email globally, email isn’t going away anytime soon. It’s expected to grow to 4.48 billion by 2024. 

Email marketing is an efficient way to send email newsletters, promotional offers, and links to your blogs. It’s a cost-effective way to engage your audience and nurture relationships with a personalized experience in real-time. However, it can be challenging. But that’s why online platforms like Mailchimp exist — to make it as easy as possible for small businesses to leverage email marketing to grow their business. 

Source: teach:able

Why it’s important

Mailchimp is free for up to 2,000 email subscribers. It’s a fully customizable platform with powerful design capabilities and a comprehensive analytics tool. 

Additionally, it allows you to:

  1. Prepare and schedule your emails in advance 
  2. Ensure that you’re speaking to the right audience by creating audience segmentation  (which allows your audience to select topics they’re interested in during the email newsletter signup process)
  3. Integrate with other apps, customer relationship management software (CRMs) like HubSpot, and content management systems (CMSes) such as WordPress

How to get started

Are you looking to maximize reach and nurture relationships with Mailchimp? Get started with an easy sign-up process. Once your account is set up, you’ll have access to your dashboard. Your dashboard is an overview of your account showing you campaign stats, number of daily subscribers, and more. 

Create an email campaign by following these steps:

  1. Manage a list
  2. Build and design your campaign
  1. Send your campaign
  2. Monitor your campaign via Mailchimp’s reports
  3. Create a drip campaign (optional)

Wrapping Up

If you’re struggling to find clients or you’re trying to scale, digital marketing is the most efficient way to do so. 

Now you have an arsenal of effective (and free) digital marketing tools for maximizing reach, gaining and retaining clients, and ultimately growing your business. 

Remember, the time is now. Take advantage of these tools and growth will be in your foreseeable future. 

Here’s a recap of the 5 easy ways to start promoting your brand online:

  1. Get found on Google with Google My Business
  2. Delight your audience with your company blog
  3. Connect with your audience on social media
  4. Design professional assets with Canva
  5. Maximize reach with email marketing on Mailchimp

Did you know Smiledog supports small businesses with virtual reception and appointment setting? Operating a small business involves daily administrative tasks that can take away from planning and executing your digital marketing strategy. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Smiledog handles answering your phone and scheduling appointments so you can focus on maximizing reach with marketing, providing quality service to your clients, and ultimately, growing your business. 

Connect with a Smiledog representative to learn more.

5 Small Business Tech Tools To Help Your Clinic Scale Faster

5 Small Business Tech Tools To Help Your Clinic Scale Faster

Today, 80% of small business owners are not taking full advantage of available technology. 

This is not an overly surprising statistic. It’s not because small business and clinic owners aren’t tech-savvy. Most are. The issue is the number of software options available. It’s easy for anyone to feel overwhelmed.  

Smiledog has been in business for over 15 years, and we believe that a software solution should be about helping your team deliver better for your clients. It should be a compliment to your people. It should help to create cohesiveness between them, and that should lead to happier clients.

There is no such thing as an all-in-one software solution that will solve everything. It is about combining different platforms that best fit your workflow, and constantly working to improve processes.

Here are 5 tools we have found that can help bring more cohesion to your team—which can lead to improved communication, and ultimately, more growth within your clinic.

Slack

What is it?

Slack, in essence, is a collaborative communication tool. Slack allows you and your team to seamlessly discuss ongoing projects, client issues, or internal news. 

How it helps:

The most attractive part of Slack for a clinic is the asynchronous work model. Many practices have different practitioners working different schedules, and Slack allows the whole team to monitor the day-to-day when it is most convenient for them.

Features and integrations:

In terms of features, one of the most prominent is its ability to be used as an email replacement. Additionally, it offers text & chat messaging, as well as video calling. And the list for integrations is seemingly endless—Slack syncs with over 2,200 different applications. 

Pricing:

Pricing varies based on your needs, and they offer plans for clinics of any size. What’s even better is that they have an intro plan that’s free to dip your toes into, and it lets you familiarize yourself with what Slack can do. Check out the details here.

Jane

What is it?

Jane is one of the best all-in-one practice management software solutions on the market, especially from a user experience standpoint. 

How it helps:

Jane allows a clinic of any size to schedule, bill and chart their entire client base. Whether you are a solo practitioner or a multidisciplinary clinic with 10 people on staff, there is an option that will help you improve your day-to-day.

Features and integrations:

One of the best features of Jane is the online scheduling option that can be built directly into your website, with the ability to customize different schedules based on practitioner or location. You can also link payment info directly to each client’s profile. Jane also offers automation for appointment reminders and intake forms.

Pricing:

Pricing is easy to understand, and there are three intro plans, with customizations available for each to best fit your needs. Take a look here.

Mailchimp

What is it?

Mailchimp is an email-based, all-in-one marketing platform. It can be used for outbound and inbound email marketing, as well as developing newsletters and special promotion campaigns. It really is a great tool to engage your clients through email.

How it helps: 

With its user-friendly, easy-to-navigate platform, it can help you structure your daily communication workflows with your clients.

Features and integrations:

Mailchimp offers email and social automation, landing page development, and even customized digital ad creation. And in terms of integrations, they provide every option under the sun.

Pricing:

Mailchimp is currently the frontrunner catering to small businesses as that is their niche). So in terms of pricing, they have three very cost-effective options for any new clinic. And if you’re a larger clinic looking to push growth, they have a plan for your clinic, too! Check out the details here.

Sprout Social

What is it?

Sprout Social is social management software that allows you to post, manage and report on all of your social media accounts seamlessly.

How it helps:

Housing your social media management all in one platform is extremely helpful, especially for busy clinic owners. Sprout Social also has the added advantage of giving you the ability to see all performance and engagement metrics, providing the insight you need to be able to prioritize more efficiently.

Features and integrations:

With Sprout Social, you get everything from conversation history to comment moderation, and automation workflows to account analytics and task assignment—and these are just the baseline features. The more premium the plan, the more features you’ll get. 

Pricing:

The pricing model offers fairly standard  SaaS (Service as a Subscription) tiers, and they have 3 entry points for each level of business. You can find out more here.

Smiledog

What is it?

A virtual receptionist (VR) that specializes in customer service and booking appointments over the phone.

How it helps:

A VR appointment setting service will help your clinic provide more consistent customer service via phone. It will also increase new and existing booking opportunities because you’ll always have reliable front desk staff to schedule appointments while you’re with patients.

Features and integrations:

An appointment setting service provides you with a full customer service team that has the ability to help clients with FAQs. Smiledog also features full calendar integration to ensure your schedule is properly managed.

Pricing:

Pricing starts at $129/month with an average monthly cost of around $300-500. (Pricing is dependent on your clinic’s call volume.) Find out more here and book a free consultation.

Wrapping up

These are some of the available tools at your disposal that can help you grow your clinic. The choices are endless, but the main question to ask is: What is the main obstacle my clinic’s office is facing right now? Addressing this question will help you focus your search and prioritize your time.

Once you know the problem, finding the solution is considerably easier. Running your business online with digital tools allows you to better take care of the two things that matter most:  your practice and your patients. Choosing the right platforms for your needs will help you grow your clinic.

If keeping reliable and consistent front desk staff seems to be a continuing struggle for you and your clinic, check out our appointment setting service here and schedule a consultation to see if we can help!

3 Tips For Scaling a Healthcare Practice in 2021

3 Tips For Scaling a Healthcare Practice in 2021

As the owner of a small healthcare practice, scaling your business can be difficult on your own. With so many different responsibilities to handle to successfully run your business, you aren’t left with much time to focus on scaling when you’re distracted with day-to-day operations and admin.

Common tasks like scheduling appointments, answering the phone, responding to emails, and interacting with clients face-to-face are time-consuming and can affect your ability to run an efficient medical office.

There are always ways to be more productive and efficient, and identifying and implementing those strategies is key to business growth.

For example, if you gain more time to focus on your clients, you will increase client satisfaction, which will get you better reviews, more testimonials, a positive reputation, and in turn, a longer list of clientele. According to Forbes, 84% of companies report an increase in revenue as a result of an improved customer experience. 

How do you start? By implementing the following three tips to help you free up more time to focus your efforts on your clients and scale your practice so you can focus on revenue and business expansion.

Create client-friendly scheduling

It’s important to consider when your potential clients are available during your hours of operation.

Since the typical workday is 9 a.m.-5 p.m., you may want to tweak your practice’s operating hours to make appointments more accessible to your clients’ schedules.

The more you can do to help your clients easily find times to schedule appointments, the more appointments you’ll be able to secure.

Sure, some clients are able to take time off during their workdays to come into your office. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that all potential clients have that luxury. 

Implement an appointment reminder system

When a client misses their appointment, not only does it waste your time, but it also leaves revenue on the table.

To help reduce missed appointments and last-minute cancellations, implement a reminder system that reminds your clients of their appointments 48 hours in advance. The reminder, or automatic confirmation system, can be sent via text message or voicemail.

This way, you can decrease the chances of no-shows while increasing appointment confirmations. 

Pro tip: look for software that’s fully customizable and easily integrates with your calendar. If your calendar is working for you, there’s no need to adopt a new system. 

You should consider software that has a reliable customer support team so, if you ever need last-minute support, they can have your back and provide the assistance your clients are looking for.

Try an appointment setting software to help you smoothen out your practice’s scheduling process and efficiently schedule future appointments even while you’re in one.

With an appointment software implemented in your practice, you’ll quickly notice:

  • An increase in efficiency
  • An increase in capacity 
  • Improved quality of service
  • More time to focus on your clients

Additionally, your clients’ trust and experience will improve, and consequently, contribute to your practice’s long-term growth. 

Improve your phone systems

Let’s consider how a client may feel when their calls aren’t answered when they’re attempting to book an appointment.

The best way to do this is by putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. It can be very frustrating to try to cross something off of your to-do list quickly (like set an appointment), only to be met by voicemail. In this instance, you’re most likely to try calling a different practice or provider instead so that you can cross this off and get on to your next task. 

According to Harvard Business Review, 85% of patients who don’t reach you on the first call will not call back. Instead, they’ll call your competitors. 

As a business owner, this situation can have a significant negative impact. Not only have you shown poor customer service to a potential client, but you’ve also thrown a revenue opportunity out the window and sent your lead straight to a competitor. 

To help with this problem, invest in a virtual receptionist

A virtual receptionist can help you:

  • Avoid lost revenue by capturing every call the first time and ensuring your practice’s growth isn’t stunted.
  • Boost your return on investment by saving you money compared to a traditional receptionist.
  • Give you back time to focus on what really matters—scaling your business.
  • Improve your clients’ satisfaction by creating a human connection that makes a difference.

Wrapping up

Client retention can be challenging. It doesn’t have to be. 

Investing in an appointment setting software and a virtual reception solution will help eliminate friction within your practice and provide various benefits to your practice and clients. These cost-effective solutions are the perfect ingredients for growth. And they can be easily outsourced.

Here’s a recap of the three tips for scaling your healthcare practice:

  • Create client-friendly scheduling
  • Implement an appointment setting reminder system
  • Improve your phone systems

They will increase your operational efficiency, save you time, allow you to take on more clients, and improve overall client satisfaction. 

It can be difficult to scale your practice on your own. Luckily, with the affordable technology available today, scaling is possible and doable. Stop putting your efforts into tedious, time-consuming tasks. Invest in technology backed by a knowledgeable and supportive team and start growing your business!

Is your healthcare practice ready to grow? Get in touch with us today and find out why Smiledog is a good fit for you, your business, and, most importantly, your customers.

Spend Less Time On The Phone & More Time Growing Your Business (In 3 Steps)

Spend Less Time On The Phone & More Time Growing Your Business (In 3 Steps)

85% of business owners work nights & weekends. They spend the majority of their time working in their businesses, handling everything from client issues, payment processing, personal deliveries and any other activities they feel will help the business succeed. This entrepreneurial mindset of needing to be involved in every aspect of the business is actually the leading factor that stunts growth. 

Although business owners don’t know it, their phones are actually one of the most distracting factors in their day to day. The idea that “always being available” leads to more opportunities and potential success isn’t actually true. Prioritizing your time in a way that allows you, the business owner, to focus on strategic activities without interruption is where you will generate the greatest chance for success. 

Did you know just hearing your phone ring  takes your focus completely away from the task you were working on? From the moment you hear the ring it takes, on average, 25 minutes to completely regain your  focus on your original task.

I can't answer right now

As a business owner, answering the phone yourself is a double-edged sword. If you don’t answer, you run the risk of losing a potential new client or leaving a bad impression on an existing client. If you do answer, your productivity stops in its tracks, and that project you wanted to move forward gets pushed aside, yet again.

Luckily for you, there are many good ways you can better prioritize your time. Here are three of our favorites:

  1. Time Blocking
  2. Delegating
  3. Outsourcing

We believe using at least one (but preferably all 3) of these techniques will improve your day-to-day time management and lead to more growth for your business

Time blocking

The idea of time blocking isn’t new, however, it is a very hard skill to master. It requires a little bit of stubbornness as well as some faith that this dedicated time will push your business forward. 

Time blocking is essentially the practice of designating specific times of the day to focus on certain things you want to accomplish. The way you break this down is up to you, and it varies from person to person. Forbes has a great article listing 20 time management tips that can help spark some ideas on what might work for you. When we reviewed this list, two tips stuck out to us: setting a time limit & using an online scheduler. 

Lady writing

Setting a time limit

This technique is extremely helpful and easy to implement. It almost gamifies your daily task list and helps keep guilt from setting in. For example, let’s say you want to develop a follow-up sequence for anyone who contacts you through your website. You are not sure how long this will take or what obstacles will come into play, but if you set 1 hour every morning for the next two weeks to work on this, you’ll have put in 10-14 hours of dedicated time for this project. By simply setting a time and length for the task you:

  1. Eliminate project fatigue because the task is spread out.
  2. Move an important project forward without interruptions.
  3. Put all guilt aside because sparing 1 hour of focus per day is far more reasonable then taking 2-3 full days out of the office. 

This small shift in how you plan your days can really make a difference for a business owner struggling to find the time to “get it all done”. 

Using an online scheduler

This can really be a game-changer. An online scheduler brings structure to the chaos of the day . 

Personally, I could not manage my day without an online scheduler. The great thing about these systems is that they give your clients the appearance of availability when in reality you have designated times in the day when they can schedule meetings with you. 

Smiledog

There are a few tips to follow in order to get the most out of your booking system: 

  1. Create multiple booking pages; have as many as you need so that you can cater to the specific audience. This may mean, for example, one for new clients, one for existing clients, and one for demo requests.
  2. Ensure that all booking pages sync to a main personal calendar that you have full control over. This way if something unexpected pops up, all you need to do is block time in that main personal calendar, and all your booking pages will automatically update simultaneously.
  3. Give structured choices to your clients: have an option for a short meeting (15 minutes) or a longer one (30 minutes).
  4. Build in a preset buffer. This is so important because it will give you a little leeway to prevent meeting overlap and avoid upsetting a client by having to cut them off.

Delegating

Business owners often find letting things go to someone else on their team is the most difficult thing to do. However, when delegation is done successfully, you will begin to see the true potential of a business. 

The biggest advantage of delegating to your team is that you are building a layer of trust with them. Trust is a great motivator to a team; an ability to trust that they will make the right decision to push the business forward. This doesn’t mean tossing something into their hands and hoping for the best. It is handing it off confidently once the infrastructure and processes have been properly built. This is what allows a business to begin to thrive.

The great part about delegation is that with some time the business owner will be surrounded by a team of experts who are running their own businesses within the business. Leading your people is the purpose of any business owner, and the only way that can be done is by trusting your team and delegating the day to day to them.

Outsourcing

We may be a little biased about this technique of delegating, but it is with good reason! 

woman answering phone

Outsourcing is an extremely quick and efficient way to get specific tasks done that you don’t want to handle. 

Answering the phone and booking appointments are great examples of tasks that are better handled by an outsourced team. The cost and time investment necessary to get someone in-house up to speed can be very hindering for a small business owner, especially since they may leave at a moment’s notice and leave you hanging. Hiring an outsourced professional gives you the reliability you need day-in and day-out. 

Another great advantage to outsourcing is increased efficiency and productivity. Having a dedicated team managing a specific part of your business allows you to better prioritize your day. You no longer have the constant interruption of a ringing phone  or the need to frequently  check your email.

Outsourcing is best used when you need a specific task done regularly, but you no longer have the time to do it. Let’s face it, answering the phone all day–everyday–isn’t what you want to be doing. You want to be focused on the strategic steps that will push your company forward. Let us help you do that.

Wrapping up

Time blocking, delegating and outsourcing all have their advantages; using all three of them can be very effective. By implementing at least one of these techniques into your day to day you will increase your productivity and move your company forward. 

Our speciality here at Smiledog is outsourcing in virtual reception and appointment scheduling. If you’re not sure how our expertise could impact your business,we would love to discuss more about what you need and how we can help. 

Take a look at our Virtual Reception and Appointment Setting service pages to find out more!