From lost time to lost revenue, no-shows are not just frustrating – they can be hugely disruptive to your business.
While it will never be possible to completely eliminate no-shows, there are certainly things you can do to incentivize customers to keep their appointments, and reduce the number of missed appointments.
Why do customers miss appointments?
Not sending SMS or email reminders gives your customers the perfect excuse for not showing up.
Research shows that the further into the future the appointment is, the more likely the customer is to no-show. Customers are more likely to forget their appointment, double-book themselves, or go to a competing provider.
Missing an appointment in the past is a good indicator that the customer may no-show again. Some people just don’t respect your time.
5 ways to reduce no-shows
Online scheduling gives your customers greater control – they are more likely to keep their appointment simply because they selected the time themselves. Also, it’s much easier for customers to reschedule their booking ahead of time without needing to call you, increasing your chances of refilling the time slot. Basically, the easier you make it for your customer to modify their appointment, the less likely they will be to simply not show up.
2. Send appointment reminders
These days, many customers expect and even rely on SMS reminders to keep their appointments. Appointment reminders should be automated to streamline the process and reduce the burden on your admin staff. It’s also important to send the right number of reminders at appropriate intervals. Too many reminders and you risk angering some customers, too few and you risk a no-show. Be sure to choose an online scheduling software with the ability to send automated SMS reminders, such as Scheduly.
3. Establish strong relationships with customers
Studies suggest that a customer with a good relationship with your business is less likely to miss their appointment. This is because when a customer feels valued, they are more likely to be loyal in return. A simple way to build customer relationships is to send a greeting or message on their birthday or at Christmas, thanking them for choosing your business.
4. Block out times
Since we know customers are more likely to keep their appointment when it’s booked one or two days in advance, rather than one or two weeks in advance, use this to your advantage. Set up your online booking system so that your customers can only book appointments for a one or two week period into the future. Better still, choose a software that highlights the next available appointment so you can fill up vacant time-slots and increase your booking rate.
5. Ban repeat offenders
While there are some people that no-show accidently for genuine reasons, there are some people that are just bad customers. Record all no-shows and if you identify repeat offenders that are damaging your business, do not accept future bookings from them.
Emma Sanchez is a freelance writer and small business owner based in Perth, Western Australia.
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