Missed Appointments - The RIGHT Way to Respond
Did you know that first time Chiropractic patients have about a 60% chance of not keeping their first appointment if brought in through marketing means? Typically, when Front Desk staff come across these patients, they tend to just let them go. After all, they take up valuable space in the schedule, they require more work, and not showing up for your appointment is just rude, isn’t it? Well…not really. What is actually happening is just another step in the marketing process, and giving up on these patients after their first missed appointment is throwing away a lead before they have been pitched. It’s an unnecessary waste of a new patient that you could have sold, had you worked the lead to the end.
“But they didn’t even have the courtesy to call to say they were not coming; do we really want a patient like that?”
The answer is YES – because you still don’t actually know what kind of patient they will be once presented with the facts of their case. We say it a lot here, but it’s a good mantra to keep in mind when a lead frustrates you: “Remember where this patient is coming from. They don’t know anything about Chiropractic, they have never been into your office before, they responded to an Ad or a phone call and they are expecting for it to lead to something that is too good to be true. They don’t yet know that they need you – but you know that they do.” Because of all of this, other things that come up in their life are automatically going to take precedence over seeing you, but only until they have gotten all the way through the marketing process.
So, you need to work to reschedule them, and it needs to be done right – or you are wasting your marketing dollars.
The wrong way to reschedule a new patient is to call them once, leave them a voicemail, and then wait for them to call back. They won’t. Remember, whatever happened to keep them from showing up was more important than you today, you have to continue to take the initiative. Here is the RIGHT way to get a missed appointment back in the door:
On the day of their missed appointment, ideally, within 15 minutes of their missed appointment time, try to make 3 points of contact – call (and leave a voicemail if they dont answer), send a text message, and send an email – all of them should sound sympathetic and NOT IRRITATED. If the patient thinks they are going to be in trouble, they will never respond. Then, reach out every day for the following 4 business days utilizing one of those three methods, mixing it up as you go along. If you send a text message on day 2, then call on day 3, etc.
With this formula, we typically reschedule about 80% of the appointments that miss. And, after missing an initial appointment, your chances of the patient showing up for their 2nd actually increase. ONLY if the patient has missed 3 new patient appointments, AND you have confirmed that they do not have some sort of extenuating circumstances going on (a family emergency, etc), should you give up on attempting to reschedule that patient further yourself. What is likely to happen in those cases, is that when the pain that that patient wanted to see you about becomes their number one priority, they will contact you, rather than one of your competitors, because you have already demonstrated to them how dedicated you are to helping them feel better.