How we respond when someone contacts us can mean the difference between someone who can receive the help we can give, we love this, or someone who badmouths us to all of their friends, we definitely don’t love this.
If you are anything like me you will use your mobile, or cell phone, and email as a couple of your points of contact. Quite often I receive texts or emails from someone I haven’t seen before wanting to come in and see me. What is the best way to respond to this? Well as communication is not a perfect science there are lots of options some better than others. Let’s explore a couple.
Texting back – It makes sense in some respect to respond to someone in the manner that they contacted you, however the downside of this is it can be a little harder to get all of the information you need to provide all of the information they need to make the best decision. I personally like to ask enquirers if there is a particular issue they are looking at resolving. The benefit for me is it gives me an opportunity to be able to show this person I actually know what I am talking about and that my treatment approach can be directly related to a positive outcome. This can be hard in text form to communicate.
Calling – This is certainly my preference because as I explained above I can give them more information directly related to their issue and it shows them I am a human being after all.
But what if they don’t answer? For me I always leave a message letting them know I have received their text, email or call and am responding to it if they want to get back to me, mainly because I want to be able to talk to them directly.
Emailing – This would be my second preference as like calling I can provide more information about my services more easily. I can’t tailor that information to the persons query as easily unless they provide specifics in their contact email or they respond to a question. I don’t particularly like asking the ‘What’s the issue?’ question via email as some people may not have the time for an email conversation and expecting so may act as a deterrent.
What information do you want to give them?
Just like our marketing tips you want the information to answer these questions:
- What problems do you solve?
This can relate to a specific query or a general one.
- How do you solve them?
What are the methods/ modalities that you use in your practice?
- What’s the experience/ outcome?
Brief description of the treatment process and ideal outcome without making unrealistic claims.
- Why should they choose you?
Explain some of your strengths without boasting. Eg I have been practicing since 1995 and treat a wide range of issues.
- How do they find you?
Clinic address and perhaps a basic guide to finding you eg ‘We’re on the corner of Luke street diagonally opposite Jackson’s Pharmacy’
Additional information worth considering:
- Consultation fee
- Consultation duration
- Should they turn up early to fill out any paperwork so they get maximum time with you? This saves you running behind.
- Do you have a receptionist and if not what should they do when they arrive?
- Do you have a cancellation policy? If so it’s good to let them know the details.
- Should they wear something specific?
- Do health fund rebates apply and can they be claimed electronically?
Whilst there may be a lot of information here it’s about providing your potential clients with the right information to ensure a smooth transition into your clinic rooms. A smooth transition keeps the stress levels to a minimum making sure your clients have a positive experience and more likely a positive result. Keep the information concise, as people are overwhelmed with information today and are less likely to read an essay.
Another consideration is to email or text a confirmation of their appointment and a reminder 24 – 36 hours prior. This is a service your clients will appreciate and help reduce no shows or late cancellations. These days it is almost becoming an expected service. Not sure which one to choose from? Here are some potential options:
Making your first point of contact smooth and easy improves your book in rate and sets the scene for a strong relationship with clients. This is part of the key to being able to build a successful and sustainable practice.
Jeff Shearer has been in practice since 1995 and now works in Newcastle. Despite his success in practice Jeff constantly seeks ways to improve care and service to his clients and community. Jeff also runs Ethical Practice an information based service to assist practitioners to become all they can be. Find out more at www.ethicalpractice.net