This is a guest post by Anastasia Masters, a Content Marketing Associate at G2.
Missed appointments in your appointment schedule are costly. You’ve spent time preparing for your meeting with a customer, and now you have an empty block on your schedule last minute that could’ve been filled by another appointment. In order to maximize your business potential and your time, it’s important to increase your chances of customers attending your meetings.
There are a few proactive ways that you can minimize appointment cancellations. These require a little action on your end, but it’s well worth it. The main thing being that you need to provide value to your potential customers in different ways before the actual appointment.
Offer online scheduling
Today’s consumer spends some portion of their time investigating products online, and some of that process is conducted in-store or in-branch. With so many choices available to consumers, the key to success lies in the consistency of experience - wherever it happens. As such, letting customers control when to move from online to offline by leveraging a pre-arranged appointment can reduce the number of no shows you experience.
The modern consumer wants control and the choice to meet any time, anywhere, and on any device. Putting the ball in their court ensures they can make an appointment on their own terms- no matter the time of day.
This can help reduce the number of cancelled appointments since the customer is choosing the best time for them at the time of booking. Though if they do still cancel, they’re easily able to reschedule the appointment at a time that you’re both available.
Send appointment confirmations and reminders
After your customer books an appointment, they shouldn’t be left in silence until your meeting. Sending appointment reminders and/or confirmations can increase the likelihood that your potential customer attends the meeting.
Your appointment scheduling software should have the ability to remind your meeting attendees before the event. Make sure to send a confirmation two days before the scheduled meeting, and also a reminder the day before. Even better, ensure your reminder mentions any documents or materials the customer should bring to the appointment. The double reminder gives your customer two chances to reschedule if the time no longer works for them.
Choosing between email or SMS messaging is up to your discretion or customer’s preference. However, a text message will pop up on their phone, which they will likely have with them more often than they check their email. Figure out what works best for your customers and run with it. Your customer will not be surprised by the confirmation and reminders, and they can use it as a chance to move the appointment if need be rather than no show.
The more buy-in you get from your customer before the meeting, the better odds you have of them attending it. Before scheduling an appointment, make sure they have a reason to commit to attending. They’ll need to see the benefits of your offering so that they see that the meeting is worth their time.
If you sense any doubt before the first meeting, try to eliminate it as much as possible. Clarify the benefits and the agenda of your meeting. You don’t want your customers to come in with a closed mind. Identifying areas for doubt early on will be easier to overcome rather than dealing with them after a no show.
Unless your meeting is set for the very next day, it’s important to not leave your potential customers in complete silence before your meeting. When setting up the meeting, make sure that you ask your potential customers the right questions. Use questions to learn what value they see in your offering and where your service can fill in voids.
Get to know your customer’s needs during the appointment booking process, so that you can be prepared with answers and tailor your meeting directly towards their needs. By being proactive, you can get customer buy-in and see a higher rate of meeting attendance since the customer will feel as if their needs are valued from the beginning.
Increasing the chance of customers attending your meetings can be as easy as getting to know your customers before your appointment happens. Learn their names and refer to them by name during the conversation. If they feel valued, they’re going to feel more guilty about abandoning your meeting without warning. The more personal and connected you can get, the more trust you’ll build with them.
As such, it is imperative that your appointment scheduling solution offers the ability to integrate with internal systems. It will allow staff to track past appointments, preferences, milestones, and mishaps. In addition to greeting someone by name, it’s also a great way to welcome them back and start from a point of familiarity.
Lead by example
If you want to reduce the number of no shows that you experience, it’s important that you lead by example. Don’t be late to your appointments and make sure that you leave enough time in between so that if one runs over, you won’t be scrambling. You can’t expect your customers to respect your time if you aren’t respecting theirs.
No matter what you do, you’re still likely to have a few customers that don’t attend. If your customer doesn’t show up, follow up with them and include your calendar booking link so they can reschedule. Stay dedicated and don’t drop them after one instance. Have an open line of communication and work to ensure that you can get a new meeting on the calendar as soon as possible.
These tips can help maximize your meeting attendance, but don’t worry if you still see some no shows. After all, life can get in the way and things come up. Regardless of that, the more trust and connection that you build with customers, the more they will go above and beyond to ensure they’re at every appointment on time.
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Anastasia Masters is a Content Marketing Associate at G2. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in history. In her spare time, Anastasia enjoys eating her way through Chicago's different neighborhoods, planning her next trip, and binging a new show on Netflix. You can follow her on Twitter at @anastasia_mm0.