Whaaat!?! You Double Booked?
Learn how to combat this.
In all of the campaigns that we do that include appointment setting, we inevitably come across the same set of situations, all surrounding one issue: Double Booking.
From panicked voices we will hear: “But if you can’t see our schedule what are we going to do if we end up with a double booked appointment?”
In confident nonchalance we will hear: “They were set at a time when we already had a patient coming in, so I left them a voicemail to reschedule and I have not heard back from them.”
And occasionally, in frustration we will hear: “I apologized over and over and over, but she was just so angry that she had to wait 15 minutes before she was seen by anyone.”
We understand that double booked schedules are no fun, but if you dig to the root of the above scenarios, you’re going to find that your problem is…too many patients? That sounds like a GREAT problem to have! What we really need to explore, is how to deal with this great problem so that it doesn’t cause any undue stress, because they’re going to happen.
Don't worry, we've got you.
Firstly, DON’T PANICK. Remember, and help your staff remember, this is a GOOD problem to have. Double booked appointments are great because they mean that if one person doesn’t show up for their appointment, you have a backup (and that means you don’t have any unnecessary overhead or wasted time). It also means that your office is going to be buzzing with activity, which is a great first impression to have and a wonderful way to get referrals (“this place MUST be good, look at how many people are here”). So look at it that way, and then calm down. People are naturally mirrors. You can avoid upset patients by not being upset yourself. If you are apologizing profusely or muttering under your breath about your awful marketing company, your patients are going to pick up on that…and then feed off it. You have made it clear that there is a reason for them to be upset, so now they are going to be upset. However, if you are calm, if you behave as if this a normal situation, then your patients will as well.
Secondly, DON’T RESCHEDULE! Are you crazy? Don’t you like making money? The first thing anyone is going to do (if they actually answer the phone when you call to reschedule) is tell you that they have to check their schedules. And then life is going to get in the way, and their pain is going to take a backseat to the rest of their world, and you will have just lost a patient and lost out on helping someone live a pain free life. More than 90% of the appointments that we attempt to reschedule due to conflict on the doctor’s side end up never scheduling an appointment. 90% is a huge chunk of patients to lose out on!
So what do you do?
Rule #1 is still to stay calm. After that, do what you can to keep them busy: have them fill out paperwork, give them information to read (education keeps patients coming back, after-all), have your front office engage them in conversation. Remember that people are not strangers to waiting: they wait to pump gas, they wait at the grocery store, they wait at the dentist office, they wait at the bank…they wont mind waiting a few minutes to speak with you. Isn’t that what they have Candy Crush for anyway?