In our last few blog posts we talked about the importance of each patient touch point in establishing your brand—that intangible bond with your patients. Because when patients feel that connection they are more inclined to make appointments and pay a fair price for their care. Yet no-shows can and do happen despite your best efforts.
And nothing is more irritating than a last minute cancellation or a no-show. To help reduce the amount of broken appointments you must realize there is distinct difference between appointment confirmations and courtesy reminders to your patients.
A confirmation requires a call or contact back to acknowledge the appointment. A reminder is simply a courtesy contact for an already confirmed appointment. The key to a successful confirmation process really starts with your scheduling process. Make sure the person scheduling appointments for your office is expressing implied confirmation (and responsibility) to the patient… right from the get-go!
When scheduling an appointment with a patient, set clear expectations for them. Tell them that you will go ahead and schedule their appointment right now and that they should be sure to mark it on their calendar. In doing so, you have indicated a mutual commitment for that time and date. “Mrs. Jones, your appointment on July 12 at 9 am is reserved only for you. It is considered confirmed. As a courtesy, you can expect to receive a (call, text, email, postcard, etc.) a few days before your appointment to let you know we are counting on you. When you receive that, will you please make sure to respond to us so that we all know we are on the same page?”
Avoid using the word “confirm” in your follow-up communication as that implies the appointment was not “firm” in the first place, leaving them room to back out. Instead, consider saying “Mrs. Jones, we are looking forward to seeing you at your appointment on July 12 at 9 am. Please reply to this message today so that we know you have this appointment noted on your calendar.”
Learn more about our Ritz-Carlton event “Creating Exceptional Patient Experiences” at Lambeau Field, the home of the Green Bay Packers, on April 28 & 29, 2016.
About Dental Practice Advisors Dental Practice Advisors is a dental consulting firm dedicated to offering dental practices management solutions that will help improve patient care, work-life balance, and financial success.