There is no question that COVID-19 and the current recession have affected the health of small businesses. In fact, 38% of small businesses facing closure plan to lay off employees to survive.
In the current economic environment, small businesses are facing many challenges. Some include a decrease in sales and the need to cut costs wherever possible. Among these costs is the number of employees they have on payroll. Plus, studies have shown that employee wages average 70% of all expenses in a given business.
Considering that number comes close to three-fourths of costs, there is no way one person can meet all of a business’s needs and provide excellent customer service. Therefore, owners are in need of more employees.
Answering customer inquiries and booking appointments, for example, are two crucial responsibilities many (if not all) small business owners need assistance with.
Why You’re Struggling to Hire an In-House Receptionist
As a small business owner, you have limited time to handle everything on your plate. For example, creating business plans and marketing campaigns, ensuring profitability, and increasing research and development (R&D) efforts.
With so many moving parts, it is nearly impossible to provide top-notch customer service to your customers. This is why you might feel inclined to hire a receptionist in the first place. But again, hiring an in-house employee during an unsettling economic state can be difficult.
In addition to taking up revenue, hiring an in-house receptionist adds to the stress of having to onboard them. After spending time teaching your company’s language, values, and how you want them to treat customers, you may find they leave soon after or do not perform. This may be due to the lack of flexibility, work-life balance, or competitive pay. Luckily there is a better option—a remote receptionist.
How Hiring a Remote Receptionist Solves Your Hiring Challenges
As a business owner, you have to deal with a lot of administrative work to keep the business running. You may get stuck behind the desk, answering phone calls, dealing with customer inquiries, and scheduling appointments.
While these factors are essential to the health of any business, you cannot thrive in other areas of the company. For example, handling marketing and financial planning, while onboarding new clients, and nurturing their relationships with existing ones becomes challenging.
Now, let’s look at how a remote receptionist can help you solve all of your hiring problems and grow your business!
1. Remote Receptionists Give You Quality Time Back
Remote receptionists give you your precious time back and allow you to easily work on your other priorities. They come ready with the necessary skills, so you don’t have to worry about training them.
Smiledog has professional remote receptionists who can confidently answer phone calls, book appointments, and answer any inquiries.
The benefits don’t stop there. Outsourcing your receptionist allows you to focus on other aspects of your business. For instance, they allow you to spend more time with your clients.
It is easier to prioritize your day when you have assistance managing a specific part of your business (aka, reception). Having a ringing phone or checking your email constantly will no longer be an interruption.
2. They Ensure Your Calls To Answer Every Call
It’s normal for an in-house receptionist to miss calls while on a lunch break or because they get off the clock at 5 p.m. But a missed call is a missed opportunity.
With Smiledog, you can prevent missed calls and increase customer satisfaction with a warm smile.
With multiple receptionists available to support, you no longer have to worry about your in-house receptionist missing calls because they arrive late, take lunch breaks, or are out of the office for vacation.
Our team of remote receptionists is always available, 70 hours a week. That’s right, we’re there a few hours after 5 p.m. to ensure you capture more business opportunities.
Not only do we remove all of the stressful receptionist tasks, but we also eliminate the headache of finding a replacement.
3. Remote Receptionists Save You Money
Remote receptionists eliminate the need to hire an additional employee or compensate for PTO and sick days because they are available as needed. As a result, your business will save money.
Our receptionists here at Smiledog are ready to handle any and all of the same responsibilities as an in-house receptionist.
Unlike an in-house receptionist that you would pay to work 8-5 Monday through Friday, Smiledog remote receptionists are available whenever necessary. You can tailor their schedules to your needs, so you won’t have to pay for their services if it’s not necessary for them to assist.
Get Smiledog’s Support to Spend More Time With Clients
You can count on our Smiledog remote receptionists to manage all of your phone calls and appointments whenever it is convenient for you. They will ensure you capture more business opportunities, capture all calls, and keep more money in your pockets.
Invest your time and energy into onboarding your clients who have invested in your business, and we’ll take care of the rest.
When you work with our team, it’s seamless, and we’re here to ensure you succeed and are free to do what you love and know best – catering to your clients.
With over 15 years in business and over 3.1 million phone calls taken, the Smiledog team has a pretty good lens on creating a welcoming and professional phone call.
A lot of business owners, especially when they are growing, lose sight of how important professionalism is when answering phone calls. In fact, 71% of consumers still believe that phoning a small business is the most effective way to get their questions or concern addressed.
Answering customer calls is often looked at as an interruption rather than an opportunity. This thought process sets most calls up for failure before they even start. A successful phone call revolves around two things; tone & empathy. It really makes or breaks most calls. So today, we want to share how to consistently deliver a professional tone and keep a sense of empathy throughout your calls.
1. Smile immediately to offer a sense of warmth
The moment you hear the phone ring, smile – even if you have to force it. The entire tone of your voice will shift when you answer, and it will invite the customer into the call, putting them at ease. Listen to the difference below, and you can literally hear when someone is smiling vs. not.
I’m sure you can guess which recording had a smile and which didn’t. When you smile first, it creates a welcoming impression and invites your customer into the call.
2. Always ask, “how can I help you?” to initiate support
Your introduction to a call should always include “how can I help you?” It opens the door to support, which is the main purpose of most phone calls. Rather than immediately explaining who you are and what your company does, ask them this important question instead.
Sorry, not sorry, but a prospect doesn’t care if you’re the home of the best mattress in the U.S. or North America’s #1-rated lawn care system. They care about what you can do for them – quickly.
Here’s an example of what to say and what not to say where the difference is pretty obvious. I was winded by the end of the second greeting, and by this point, the customer will be irritated.
By always ending your intro with “how can I help you,”the door is opened for support, which is the main purpose of most phone calls.
Asking this question ensures your prospects and clients always feel heard. Even if what they are saying isn’t true, they are getting it off their chest, and that is often more important than who is right or wrong. Now, to get into the next step of ensuring your phone calls are more professional…
3. Listen closely with the intent of finding the right solution
It all comes down to your attitude when listening with the intent to help. Do you genuinely want to help this customer or simply check them off your list? This should be the easiest part of any call, but it’s usually the hardest.
Before you jump into a line of questions for the customer to better understand, a quick “thank you for letting me know” or “I appreciate you reaching out” is best practice at this point in the call. It diffuses any potential tension customers may have as they explain the problem, and it helps them feel heard. Once that tension is diffused, you can jump into curious mode.
4. Be curious and ask questions to understand the root of their concern
Now that you have an understanding of how to address the concern of incoming calls, it’s time to ask helpful questions. Paraphrasing or repeating a caller’s initial question/concern, then asking a deeper follow up question, is a very effective approach. It shows you have listened to what the caller has said and want to better understand their needs.
Here is a quick example of a real-world scenario we had from one of our prospects:
Client Inquiry: “Hi there, I own a small business that specializes in counseling services and saw your company was mentioned in a Facebook Group I am part of. I am looking for more help with answering my phone and some admin tasks. Is that something you can do??
Our Response: Awesome, thanks for reaching out! We can certainly help. It is just a matter of where we can be most effective. You mentioned you needed help with admin tasks. What tasks specifically did you need us to handle for you?
This step usually opens up the caller so you can get the information you need to properly address your client’s questions. Do it as many times as necessary to get to the root of the problem. After you ask the deeper follow-up questions, go back to step 3 and listen. Do not move into step 5 until you are confident you have the full picture of what is going on.
5. Confirm and take action to create confidence
This is simply where you confirm and repeat the details of the issue or ask, then tell the customer your action plan. This doesn’t need to be the solution but simply the next step to their answer. This goes for any type of call. Telling the customer what to expect next inspires the confidence that you are on top of it, and they will hear from you.
Next, confirm their contact info! Even if you already have it. You need to make sure it is up-to-date and current. There is nothing worse than scrambling trying to get that client’s email or phone number after the fact.
6. Always end with a “thank you!”
According to Salesforce Research, 89% of customers are willing to purchase again after one positive customer service experience. That’s why the final step of a successful professional call is to thank prospects and clients for contacting you, no matter what.
Use their call as a chance to learn and improve, even if you’re frustrated. Never let the customer sense your frustration. It’s not worth the risk of letting them sit with a bad taste in their mouth after the call. So no matter what, end things on a positive note, especially with a “thank you!”
Sounding more professional on the phone comes down to this simple flow:
If you take this approach with tone and empathy in mind, you will greatly improve the quality and results of your company’s phone calls. If you’re having trouble doing this consistently, that’s where we come in to help. Smiledog can give you a full team of professionally-trained receptionists who take this approach on each call. Phone calls are what we do, and it’s what we thrive on. Find out more about what service you think could be the best fit for your business: Virtual Reception & Appointment Scheduling
Picture this: Your new healthcare business is gaining more attention than you could ever imagine. The work you put in is paying off, and you’re seeing your vision come to life. But with that increased attention also comes:
Greater responsibilities (strategic planning, finances, reporting, transacting, acquiring new products/services).
More opportunities (acquiring new customers and developing new products and services).
A rise in customer inquiries (questions, concerns, product/service information).
Consequently, your focus as a business owner becomes tangled up in numerous activities. For instance, managing the business plan and marketing campaigns, maintaining profitability, and increasing research and development (R&D) efforts.
Juggling so many priorities, it can become difficult to dedicate the right amount of energy to efficient telephone answering and email response. Yes, expansion is amazing, but as a small business owner, your #1 priority should be your customers and the support they receive.
Rather than juggling everything internally, there is another option worth exploring: Hiring a remote receptionist.
Why? Because it is crucial to have a trained individual answering the phone to ensure no important calls are missed.
A remote receptionist will boost your business’ efficiency and productivity, ensuring that customer calls are never missed and that each is meaningful. One data source shows that businesses can save up to 78% by hiring a virtual receptionist versus a full-time employee.
Now, let’s dig into what a remote receptionist is and all the aspects you need to know before hiring one to enhance the success of your small business!
What is a Remote Receptionist?
A remote receptionist performs many of the same tasks as an in-house receptionist, but they have the flexibility to work from any location of their choice. With a remote receptionist, you can choose the most suitable services for your practice.
For example, they prepare for the day depending on your need. So it might be beneficial to hire a backup receptionist if, for example, you only need assistance three days a week.
Overall, they are someone who takes over the administrative tasks so that you can spend more time doing what you love, catering to your clients at hand.
What Does a Remote Receptionist Do?
The main responsibilities of a remote receptionist include answering incoming calls, scheduling appointments, forwarding messages, transferring calls, and making outgoing calls.
Depending on the client’s needs, their other over-the-phone duties may also include; collecting payments, making follow-up calls, and taking messages.
In the end, having a remote receptionist will ease your workflow – helping you achieve your goals and grow your business.
How to Decide if You Need a Remote Receptionist
A remote receptionist is perfect for you if you:
Want to spend more time with your clients without extensive costs
Are looking to improve communication and customer service
Want to ease some of the growing pains
How do you decide if a remote receptionist is really necessary? There are a few key indicators that can help determine the answer:
You’re struggling with scaling your business:Nearly 93% of customers who receive personalized service generate repeated sales. You improve customer satisfaction by delegating the responsibility of remembering each client’s main details to a remote receptionist.
You don’t have enough time or money to onboard a receptionist: As your small business grows, you’ll want to hire more help, but this can be quite costly. In fact, payroll accounts for 70% of business expenses, making it the largest expense. The time it takes to train, and onboard is also a major cost.
You can resolve your business needs at a lower cost by hiring a remote receptionist who is already trained and ready to serve your customers.
You worry about losing clients due to a lack of organization and management: Providing excellent customer service is key to attracting new clients and retaining existing ones. This can be challenging for startups due to the lack of organization they often experience, which is completely normal.
A remote receptionist can alleviate the lack of organization by taking the burden of answering customer calls and questions off your plate and centralizing all customer inquiries into one place, with one person.
If you identify with any of these key indicators, it’s worth learning about the advantages of a virtual receptionist for your company.
4 Benefits of Having a Remote Receptionist
You can increase productivity, customer satisfaction, and revenue with a remote receptionist.
Remote receptionists at Smiledog answer your customers’ phone calls with a smile, provide custom instructions, and are ready to offer exceptional customer service. By hiring one, you’ll be able to focus more on your clients and spend less time on administrative tasks.
Now, let’s dive into the four key benefits remote receptionists can provide:
1. A Remote Receptionist Captures Every Call You Miss
Remote receptionists take the entire responsibility of handling customer phone calls and messages off your plate, giving you some space to breathe and reset for the days, weeks, and years ahead.
You won’t have to worry about following up with clients, or checking the voicemail in the morning, as a remote receptionist takes care of that for you!
2. They Save You Money
Remote receptionists allow you to save money or use it for other things, such as clinical supplies, rather than hiring a full-time receptionist. By using a remote receptionist, the company loses no money since the receptionist works according to when you need their support.
3. Their Automation Allows You to Delegate Efficiently
There’s no way you can do it all (even though sometimes you might want to).
You’re already overseeing the entire business, reinforcing the mission/goal, and focusing on day-to-day business operations like forecasting, finance, research and development, strategy, supply chain management, and quality control.
A remote receptionist makes it easier for you to connect with new clients and schedule future appointments on top of everything else.
4. A Remote Receptionist Increases Loyalty & Returning Clients
A remote receptionist provides a high level of professionalism and top-notch customer service, which increases customer loyalty and satisfaction.
You can say goodbye to negative reviews and customer dissatisfaction due to long wait times, missed calls, miscommunications, or lack of follow-up calls. Reduced customer satisfaction doesn’t only result in lost customers but also prevents your business from attracting new ones.
How to Find a Remote Receptionist Today
Now that you know what a remote receptionist is and how to determine if you need one, the next step is to find the right service.
If you’re interested in a credible remote receptionist service, then look no further. Smiledog’s remote receptionist service will allow you to grow your business, manage your call volume, and improve customer service without hiring a full-time staff member.
Our mission is to leave a lasting impression on your customers, provide them with fully informed instructions, answer any and all questions, and go above and beyond for them.
A growing business is an exciting time of new customers, revenue, and opportunities. But scaling a business also comes with new challenges.
While business expansion is amazing, it also means that it’s harder to dedicate the same amount of care to customers. A scaling business receives a higher volume of customer inquiries that can be hard to tackle when other parts of the company need to be tended to.
Maintaining a high-quality customer experience becomes a common pain point for many growing businesses.
Not addressing these growing pains can hold a brand back from scaling and result in negative customer experiences. An excellent way to combat this is to outsource your customer care to those who can dedicate their full attention to giving your customers a great experience. This is where an answering service can help.
Implementing an answering service can help address these pain points and allow your business to grow even further.
What Is An Answering Service?
An answering service handles any customer inquiries to your business for you. This can be via answering your business phone line or handling customer inquiries on other platforms such as email or chat. Answering services ensure your customers reach a live human who positively represents your company to help resolve any issues promptly and efficiently.
How Can It Help Your Business?
For an elevated customer experience, you can go a step further than an answering service and get a virtual receptionist. Virtual receptionists not only help handle customer inquiries, but they can also handle other admin tasks to help free time up for you and your staff. At Smiledog, our virtual receptionists embody the tone and personality of a brand to become an extension of the business and give customers an authentic brand experience.
When An Answering Service Is The Solution For Your Brand
Outsourced answering services are great for businesses looking to improve customer service and communication and ease some growing pains startups experience. The most obvious question is when does the benefit outweigh the cost? Luckily, several key indicators can help determine the answer:
1. You begin experiencing a higher volume of inquiries
Increasing business opportunities will cause it to become nearly impossible to keep up with every single phone call coming in, which (ironically enough) could actually lead to more missed opportunities.
It’s difficult for business owners and employees to manage all aspects of a growing business while caring for their customers. When a business misses customer calls over an extended time, it can damage its bottom line.
You may not be surprised to learn that 75% of callers hang up when they get a voicemail. Even worse is that 85% of those callers never call back. You can lose a substantial amount of revenue and damage your reputation.
Answering services can help address these pain points and allow your business to grow even further by ensuring calls are not missed and customer waiting times are kept at a minimum.
2. You want to level up your business productivity
Maintaining a high level of productivity is essential if you want to keep scaling your business. By increasing productivity levels, you can generate higher profits without adding too many more employees. In competitive markets, this increases the likelihood of long-term success.
With an answering service, you can be sure your customers are being taken care of so that you can concentrate on other aspects of your business that are more or equally as important.
You can even go a step further and hire a virtual receptionist who can handle tasks other than answering phone calls, such as scheduling appointments.
3. You need support on a budget
As businesses grow, their first instinct can be to hire more employees for support, but this can get quite expensive. Most businesses’ largest expense is labor, with payroll averaging 70% of all expenses.
Hiring an outside solution, like an answering service or virtual receptionist, is a great way to resolve your business needs at a lower cost than hiring more in-house staff.
4. You’re experiencing a decrease in customer satisfaction
When you’re considering purchasing a product or service, do you read the reviews first? You’ve probably come across a review that said something like: “3/10… I was really interested in the service this brand offered, but the customer service was HORRIBLE!!! I called twice, and nobody answered, and the third time I called, I was on hold for over 30 mins! Never again.”
People tend to feel a lot less attracted to a company after reading such a review. In fact, 65% of customers said they had changed to a different brand because of a poor experience.
When you’re on the other side as a business owner, you may not even be aware of customer satisfaction issues because you feel like you’re working your butt off and getting everything done. But unresolved negative customer satisfaction is a major pain point that will lead your business down a very narrow path with little chance for success.
An answering service can alleviate poor customer satisfaction by never missing a call, answering all questions, maintaining the ‘customer is always right’ attitude, and using a positive tone when speaking with them.
Now that you know how an answering service can assist you and your business, the next step is to find the right service.
Smiledog’s professional virtual receptionists ensure you don’t miss calls and help increase revenue opportunities. You can count on us to leave your customers with a lasting impression, provide your customers with fully informed instructions, answer all questions, and go above and beyond for your customers.
It’s very rare for companies, especially SaaS companies, to consistently have great customer service. Most times, you have a great initial experience, then once you’ve been “closed,” it’s almost as if customer service has gone out the window.
Many SaaS companies give off the impression they don’t want you to contact them. You’re usually stuck with a help guide database that never answers questions deeper than the basic FAQs.
Then if you’re brave enough to decide to contact their team for help, you’re met with an automated chatbot that takes you in circles. Usually, your last resort is to send an email to the tiny clickable link at the bottom of their support page and then wait days or weeks for a response.
HubSpot completely flips this SaaS stereotype and puts its customers’ needs first:
They have a help guide database that is massive. They have diligently created a community that helps each other find answers.
Their customer support email response time is one day.
I can honestly say I have never been disappointed with the service I have received. Even if they don’t know the answer, their support team is honest about it and takes action to help us. Our experience with their brand has been so consistent that we actively include their platform in our growth strategy.
From day one, HubSpot has understood that an authentic brand experience that leaves a lasting impression comes down to 3 simple things: Consistent Timing, Consistent Tone and Consistent Truth.
As they say in life, “timing is everything,” —Especially when it comes to customer service. The quicker, the better. In fact, 89% of customers, according to a Zendesk survey, say that a quick response to an initial inquiry is crucial when deciding which company to buy from.
So why is timing so important when it relates to a company’s brand experience and customer service?
It creates loyalty. A company that responds to inquiries quickly and consistently conveys that the customer is important and their time is valued.
It stimulates the most powerful form of marketing: word-of-mouth. Quick service creates a strong reputation, making it easy for clients to recommend you as they’re confident you’ll help.
It drives revenue. Quick service is the tried and tested way to stimulate business growth. The more efficient the experiences you create, the more clients will want to use your business.
These are all great things, but when it comes to timing and your customer experience, you need practical advice on how to actually execute that. So here are 3 practices we use here at Smiledog that have helped us improve our responsiveness to our clients.
It’s best to follow up within 1-2 hours of contact. Letting the client know you’re looking into an issue is equally as important as actually fixing the problem. Many clients simply want the weight lifted off their shoulders knowing that you are handling the situation..
Ask Clarifying Questions
Clarifying questions are an excellent way to ensure that you have understood the true problem, and they help your team get to the point and resolve the issue faster. Aim for 1-3 in your initial follow-up that can summarize the entirety of the problem. More often than not, asking those questions will help create your team’s action plan to solve the issue.
Give An Accurate Timeline
Clients want to know when the issue will be resolved. Give them a timeline and stick to it. Scale the timeline based on the scope of the issue. Most people are quite understanding if you’ve made the initial effort to respond promptly to their original request. Timing is getting to the client’s door before anyone else, and tone is what makes them open it. So let’s jump into why tone is the next step in creating a great first impression that will last.
Have you ever called a small business and someone answers the phone with something like “Yeah, what?” or “Can I help you?” and you immediately go:
That’s how quickly tone can cost you everything in your business. Why is tone so important in creating a great first impression? It shapes the customer’s view of your empathy.
How can a small business get its tone right every time? By incorporating empathy into our process to better serve our clients.
Always Smile First
Smile before you do anything, even if you need to force one. Do it before you respond to that email, pick up the phone, or even walk to the front desk. Burt’s Bees conducted a study with Human Connection Scientist Dr. Ali Walker, and their research showed that 94% of their participants agreed that smiling is a sign of support. And that is exactly what you do when creating a great customer experience; you support them.
Being professional is all about high intelligence and low emotion. In a highly emotional state, it can be very easy not to see the problem and only see the person causing you pain. So your natural reaction is to react to them instead of the problem. When you do this, you have lost complete control over your tone and, more often than not, will escalate the situation, making it worse than it really is.
By remaining in a high intelligence state, you have full control over your tone so that you can remain cordial and polite even though you can see or hear a customer getting emotional. It is up to you to take control and bring them back so you can find a solution to their problem.
A Little Extra is Awesome
Doing that little extra is all about following through for the client, and it instills confidence that you will follow through and deliver.
There are plenty of little extras you can do that show you care:
Saying you’ll follow up within the next 24 hours and actually doing that.
Letting them know you don’t know, but you’ll find the answer for them.
Giving them some advice on a different part of their business that has nothing to do with yours.
A ‘little extra’ is an attitude that sets the tone that you care and want them to succeed and builds trust. Trust is the foundation of everything in a single relationship, so be willing to work for it.
An authentic brand experience can only be successful if it is rooted in honesty.
Because clients are too smart not to see through the bull****.
Honest interactions with your clients brighten the human side of your business.
It builds loyalty and trust in your brand.
A lot of small businesses don’t necessarily deceive on purpose but rather accidentally. They over-promise and under-deliver. “No” can be a very powerful word in your business’s growth, and it’s just a matter of when and where you should say it. I have worked in sales for the past 10 years, so I understand that always trying to please new clients and saying “yes” is the easiest way to do that.
We use a couple of tools to create honest first impressions when speaking with new clients for our business.
Clearly Defined Sow (Scope Of Work)
A well-defined scope of work has 3 areas:
Yes work: The work you specialize in and can confidently provide
No work: The work you do not touch, as you’ve learned from the past, is not your focus and simply not what you do.
Maybe work: This is work you don’t commit to without a deeper understanding. It is also the solution to the no work. This is where you can provide an “instead” solution to something you say no to. This brings it into your scope and allows you to explore it further before fully committing.
Give Without The Expectation Of Receiving
Sales is really about education more than anything else; sometimes, clients simply don’t need your service or aren’t ready for it.
Be honest with them about it and offer some guidance on what might work for them at this point, even if it doesn’t mean you will convert them.
From my experience with people in sales, I always gravitate more towards the people who want to help my problem vs. forcing their solution onto my problem.
Consistency in timing, tone, and truth is what holds everything together. There really is no point in building your brand experience if you don’t plan on being consistent with it.
It’s what allows you to actually build the experience you want to create. Nothing can be built on ‘sometimes’ or ‘occasionally.’
The most adored brands are those that consistently replicate the same level of service throughout their entire organization and always put the customer first. If you’re looking for a starting point in helping create that experience regularly, our virtual reception service might be able to help; find out more here!
Consistently searching for new patients isn’t the key to a successful clinic (unless you’re new to the game). Jerry Durham, owner of a company that helps physical therapy practice owners engage patients for greater results, shares that clinic success is three-fold.
A successful clinic focuses on getting people to keep their appointments, streamlining the payment process, and patient retention.
Patient retention is the area clinics struggle with the most.
Here are some facts:
Patient churn rate in the US healthcare system is a whopping 48%
36% of patients have left a healthcare provider in the past two years, with 80% of these patients doing so because of a poor in-person experience and/or lack of access and communication.
If you don’t want patients to leave your practice and never return, keep reading to learn tips that will help you use appointment scheduling to boost patient retention. But first, let’s look more closely at what customer retention is and why it’s important.
What Is Patient Retention?
Patient retention is about helping your existing customers have as many positive experiences with your clinic as possible. It’s divided into three main buckets:
In-office patient retention — This is where you make all aspects of the appointment experience as seamless as possible. It should be easy for patients to schedule new and follow-up appointments and avoid spending too much time in the waiting room.
Patient loyalty — Train your team to keep customers happy and at ease. Also, don’t allow patient calls to go unanswered or take too long to respond to a patient’s request. Make it a priority to follow up with patients after their visits.
Patient interaction — Communicate what’s happening and why to make your patients feel as comfortable as possible, and send best wishes for birthdays and other special events your patients have shared. Do whatever you can (big or small) to make every interaction with your patients a positive one.
Why Is Patient Retention Important?
Patient retention impacts your ability to attract new patients. Dissatisfied patients either leave bad reviews on sites or tell their friends and family members about their bad experiences. According to research by Patient Pop, 74% of patients find online reviews very or extremely important when choosing a healthcare provider, and 69% won’t consider a healthcare provider with an average star rating lower than 4 out of 5 stars.
While new customers are important, your clinic can’t survive on new customers alone. It costs far more to win new patients than to keep the patients you already have. The cost to win new patients is based on your Patient Acquisition Cost (PAC) — the amount of money spent to convert a possible patient into an actual patient.
Appointment Scheduling And The Customer Experience
Appointment scheduling can shape your patient’s view of your brand. That’s why it’s important to be aware of your patient’s appointment scheduling preferences:
67% of patients prefer online booking while 22% prefer to book over the phone
68% of patients say they’re more likely to choose a medical provider that offers the ability to book, change, or cancel appointments online
You need the right technology and the right team for your appointment scheduling process to work well. As Maggie Bergeron shares, the seamless integration of technology helps put the ‘care’ back in healthcare.
Technology-centered appointment scheduling can make a huge difference to your clinic. Here’s how.
How Appointment Scheduling Tools Can Improve Customer Retention
Your appointment scheduling process is an extension of your customer’s experience. Here’s how the right booking system can appease your customers and keep them returning to your brand.
1. Create A Better Booking Experience
Appointment scheduling makes it easier for patients to book appointments at times convenient to them, thus making the process more efficient. Patients can easily see when you’re available and book an appointment at a time that works best for their schedule. Setting an appointment is as simple as clicking a link and choosing a date and time from the calendar.
A great booking experience must also be followed up by an informative appointment confirmation message. An appointment confirmation message is sent immediately after a patient schedules an appointment to ensure the details are correct and to provide any other relevant information. This helps keep the appointment top of mind for your patients and helps them to avoid missed appointments.
2. Personalize Your Patients’ Relationships With Your Brand
With the right appointment scheduling system in place, you can provide a more personalized customer experience just through a booking. A dedicated appointment scheduling system will be able to troubleshoot any customer booking issues, questions, or comments, thus making the booking more aligned with what they need.
The trick with adding the personalized touch is to look beyond an appointment scheduling tool and add a virtual receptionist to the appointment scheduling process. Appointment scheduling technology makes it simple to book appointments, but the human connection that virtual receptionists provide helps your clinic make the right impression. Smiledog’s virtual receptionists provide an appointment scheduling system for personalized bookings with enhanced customer service
3. Keep You (And Your Team) Focused On Customers
Having a set appointment scheduling system keeps you and your team available to focus on the quality of your customer’s experience. A good thing to do is include a feedback survey with each re-booking link to track how patients feel about their experiences. This feedback allows you to work with your staff to quickly address concerns and nip any issues in the bud.
Make Appointment Scheduling A Natural Part Of Your Business
Appointment scheduling helps you provide patients with the booking experience they want. It’s one part of the patient retention process that reduces patient frustration and no-shows. Pair your appointment scheduling tools with a caring and friendly virtual receptionist, and your clinic will stand out in a sea of competitors. Check out Smiledog’s appointment scheduling services to learn more.