It can be utterly frustrating when a customer you had an appointment with cancels at the last minute. However, frustration is not the only damage that cancellations cause. These also waste your time and revenue opportunities.
When someone cancels or reschedules their appointment at the last minute, most probably, you won’t be able to find someone else to fill that slot. Hence, your productivity drops, and you lose an opportunity to earn.
When this type of situation occurs, we all start thinking about how great it would be if no appointments were canceled or missed.
Luckily, there are some tips we can all take into account to increase the appointment attendance rate.
You may be a busy person and want all your customers to respect your time and show up at the promised time. This may be the case; however, it is important to remember that your customers are busy too. Sometimes they may get so busy that they forget about the appointment they’ve scheduled with you.
A simple solution for this is to send them reminders for the appointment and let them know that you are considerate enough to help them with reminders.
Sometimes, even when you send reminders, customers don’t show up on the appointment. Although this is usually not intentional, it would still be nice to eliminate no-shows.
If you have cases like this, it would be best to ask for confirmation over email or phone. It is interesting how a simple confirmation can keep people mindful of their actions and increase the customer attendance rate.
Keep them accountable
There are a number of things you can do to keep your customers accountable. And one of the most effective ways is financial accountability.
In other words, you can have prepaid appointments. They don’t have to pay the full amount before the actual meeting, however, charging them a percentage of the price will make them thoroughly consider it if they want to cancel the appointment.
Give them an incentive to show up
Charging a percentage of the rate before the appointment will increase customer attendance because they wouldn’t want to lose the money they’ve already paid. However, money is not always a good enough incentive to show up if they really want/need to miss the appointment.
To make them want to show up, try to know as many details about your client as possible. This doesn’t mean stalking your client or getting creepy. Instead, find out more about their needs that you can address during the appointment.
On top of that, having a pre-appointment phone conversation would be a great way of getting to know them. Try to get personal and show empathy and compassion. And when you meet them after your talk, offer solutions to their problem.
These actions will show them how considerate you are and will make them want to come back again, lowering the no-show rate.
Showing appreciation isn’t always about gifts and grand gestures. It can be as easy as saying “thank you” and showing that you mean it.
There are several ways to make your clients feel appreciated.
The easiest way is to thank them in person and let them know how important they are for the business.
Some companies choose to send personalized thank-you cards or handwritten thank-you notes. These end up making the clients feel not only appreciated but also special. And when we feel special, we all try to be good to the one who made us feel that way.
In this case, next time they have an appointment, your clients who’ve got the thank-you note will be less prone to canceling it.
Show them their gain
Your clients make appointments because you have something valuable, and they want it. However, when they have a crazy schedule like most of us, it is easy to undervalue the appointment and choose to do something else.
Here, you should be the one to remind them how much value you can provide if they care to show up for the appointment. You will find that most customers will learn that the appointment will give them so much more than they have thought.
Depending on how you present it to them, they might start waiting for it impatiently.
Have an online scheduling system
Today, customers look online for any information they want to find. Having an online scheduling system in place will give them the control key. This way, they won’t be limited to the choices that a customer support specialist can give them. Instead, they can choose and reschedule themselves.
An online scheduling system will also make the process much easier and faster. In addition to all of these, if your clients see all the available slots before choosing what’s convenient for them, they will be less likely to miss the appointment, and the customer attendance rate will rise.
Have a waiting list
For some inexplicable reason, we all want what we don’t have. And when we finally find a way to get what we want, we are willing to wait for it. Strangely enough, the more we wait, the more desirable the reward gets. For example, we go to the university knowing that in a few years, we will graduate. Many of us think about that as the start of a new life, and we are eagerly waiting for it to arrive. And as the graduation gets closer, the more impatient we all get.
The same is with appointments. When people get into a waiting list, it signals that appointments with you are not that easy to book, and they will have to get on the waiting list to have a chance to meet you.
Another advantage that a waiting list provides is making your job much easier. With this list, you won’t have to find someone else when the first person has canceled. The system will automatically fill it with the next person on the list.
Punctuality is one of the most important assets in a business.
If you keep showing up on time for your appointments and doing exactly what you promised to do, it will show that you care about the people you work with as well as respect their time.
However, wanting to be on schedule is not the same as being on schedule. Sometimes, because of unexpected circumstances, you might not be able to make it on time on your appointment. That’s why, to avoid disappointing your clients, try to take into account those unforeseen events when scheduling your day or week.
Let’s say you have appointments back to back with 5 minute time in between the meetings. But what if one of the clients takes 10 minutes more time then you could anticipate. They can have more questions or urgent issues that you will have to figure out. Take that into account when scheduling and leave a little more time in between the meetings so you won’t have to make the next client wait.
When they see that accuracy is in the first place for you, they will be more prone to showing up at the appointments, because they know they will get in when promised and won’t waste their time.
Follow up with those who don’t show up
Follow up messages are great when the client shows up, and you have your appointment as planned. However, it may be a better tool for those who didn’t show up.
When a client doesn’t show up for the appointment, the first thing you should do is to call them and find out why they are missing. If they didn’t just forget and there is a reason behind it, you can try offering your help if that’s possible. If not, then show them that you understand the situation and try to reschedule the meeting at once.
If you don’t do it right on the call, you might be having some trouble getting them back on schedule. They will most probably forget to reschedule the appointment for a long time. If they refuse to make an appointment right then, ask them when is the more convenient time for you to call them.
Show that your time is limited
Although showing your clients that you are willing to reschedule the appointments is good, there is also the second side of the situation that you should consider. When they call you last minute, and you reschedule their appointment to another hour for the same day or the next day, that sends the wrong message.
They understand that they can change the time and date whenever they please because you will always be available. But that’s not entirely true, is it? You are not always available, and you are just trying to adapt to their schedule.
However, there is a workaround for this.
Let’s say a client calls you and asks you to reschedule because he can’t show up for the appointment tomorrow morning. Here you can tell them that rescheduling is possible, but if you do that, he will have to wait for a few weeks to get in. If they agree, they will know that next time they will have to show up.
If they don’t agree to reschedule, 2 things can happen.
First, they will show up for the original appointment knowing that the next one can only be after a few weeks.
Second, they might ask you to cancel the appointment instead of rescheduling. To make sure this never happens, you should first understand their motive for coming to the appointment. How important is it for them? If it is really important for them, they will probably try to reschedule it anyhow. If it’s not that important, they may even be willing to skip it.
It’s okay to fire a client
One thing you should understand here is that your clients need you as much as you need them to run the business. If they keep missing the appointments, rescheduling at the last minute, or coming late to the appointments, you should see if keeping that client benefits you or creates more problems.
A client who always reschedules at the last minute, leaving you no time to fill your schedule with another client, is probably causing problems. Or maybe they don’t even reschedule, but just never show up; you keep calling them to find out why they missed the appointment and to reschedule it for a later time.
This type of clients not only mess up with your schedule but also take your time from people who really need your help. Maybe someone needs to have an urgent appointment, but you turn him down because your schedule is full. But if you know that the other one is going to miss the appointment again, you can deal with the urgent request.
Have great customer service to keep them coming
Having a great product or service is always very important. But it will be worth almost nothing if you don’t maintain positive relationships with your clients.
Successful customer service shows the clients that you are mindful of their time as well as needs, and you are willing to do everything in your power to help them get what they want.
Here you should be able to make your clients feel both important and appreciated, as well as find solutions to their problems as fast as possible. Not many companies can do this, so if you can master it, you will be one of the few, and your clients will be more excited to come to the appointments.
Overall, if you want to increase the customer attendance rate, you should show them that you are the best option they’ve got, as well as give them an incentive to show up. For some companies, prepaid appointments work well; for others, just friendly reminders are good enough. Maybe, you will need to use both. Find out which works for your business, and don’t forget to show your clients that you are the best they can get.