Dealing with the conditions created by the Covid-19 pandemic has been a struggle for many small practices. Along with reduced hours and temporary closures, businesses have also witnessed legitimate concerns from their customers regarding their health and safety practices. The challenge for small practices is to validate these concerns and embrace new public health guidelines for running a business in this era of pandemic.
At Weave, we consider it our job to guide small practices through the difficulties our clients and prospective clients are facing. With the right level of education and a modern communication network, we believe it’s possible for practices to navigate the effects of the current situation and even flourish.
We have seen how a combination of hardware and software solutions can improve the customer service and revenue stream of small businesses in good times. Now, under more strenuous circumstances, we believe it’s more important than ever to optimize business management through effective communication.
Our clients have highlighted some of the most useful communication strategies they’ve utilized throughout this pandemic, and how specific communication technologies have helped them implement these strategies. They’ve re-emphasized some of the things we’ve long known about business communication, and also brought new tactics to light. We want to share these lessons with you.
Here’s a list of seven lessons for small practices trying to manage their business in a crisis:
1.Create a backup voicemail greeting
Keeping customers up to date with your office’s hours is key to maintaining their loyalty. When lockdown measures began a few months ago, many businesses were caught off guard and didn’t think to update their voicemail. This small mistake can lead to customer confusion regarding the status of your business.
Marc Wilk of Tudor City Dental notes how he used a backup voicemail greeting tool during a crisis:
“The key is being able to function responsibly without someone answering the phones. [We] set up an immediate text upon hang up to voice message for the coronavirus… Then we enabled calls to ring on some iPhones so [we] can answer at home. No way to do this with anything else. It’s an invaluable tool.”
In times of uncertainty, it’s essential that your current office hours are made clear to your clients. Creating a backup or emergency voicemail greeting in advance is remarkably easy with the help of communication software. Once your business records this alternate greeting, it can save this messaging and activate it in the event of future schedule changes and closures. "Amazing technology has simplified our patient communication immensely! We are fairly new and can't wait to learn even more Weave features... customer service and tech support is SPOT ON and can't be beat! " - The Eye Station
Weave Helps Streamline Business Communication
"Amazing technology has simplified our patient communication immensely! We are fairly new and can't wait to learn even more Weave features... customer service and tech support is SPOT ON and can't be beat! " - The Eye StationSchedule Demo
2.Provide a digital check-in by texting
Though the majority of customers use text messaging as one of their primary forms of communication, some small practices have yet to adopt texting as a method of communication. Text messages have an astoundingly high open rate, ensuring that customers receive the information your office is providing.
A digital check-in for appointments allows your practice to create a virtual waiting room, eliminating concerns about improper social distancing by keeping clients out of your office until everyone is absolutely ready to receive them. One practice learned the significance of digital check-ins during COVID19. Here’s their experience:
Krista Woodlock, South Beach Dentistry
“Very happy that we decided to go with Weave before COVID19 happened — since we are doing drop off appts, very happy that we can text clients and they can text us when they are here.
Making sure your administrative team has two-way texting capabilities simplifies the process of establishing a digital check-in protocol by letting them text with multiple customers at once.
3. Send customers reminders and confirmations
Your texting outreach shouldn’t be limited to the time immediately before and after appointments. In stressful times, when customers are occupied with multiple other aspects of their lives, a short text reminder or confirmation is invaluable for helping remember their upcoming appointments. Texting is also useful to reach patients when there is a sudden change in office hours. These texts will maintain a steady flow of clients through your practice’s doors.
Here’s what Krista Woodlock of South Beach Dentistry shared about sending appointment reminders using Weave’s business text:
“During this COVID crisis, I was able to communicate with every one of my patients via text. I was able to move every patient forward without losing anybody on my schedule. It was awesome and I was able to do it in the comfort of my home.”
Modern communication technology allows small businesses to automate these types of texts. While two-way texting is a powerful way to engage with customers, your administrative staff can’t answer every single text that comes their way. Automating these scheduled reminders saves your team time, and smart software actually interprets response to customer confirmations, then notifies you if action needs to be taken.
4.Set up digital payments
Our research shows that adding payment methods to your small practice has a profound impact on revenue. Digital payments are an underutilized form of payment, especially among small businesses. With many consumers anxious about disease spread, it’s critical that your practice gives them the option to avoid physical payments.
Dr. Royal, Family Eyecare of Toccoa shares how the features mentioned throughout this article, including Text to Pay (Weave’s digital payment tool) came in handy.
“Being able to forward the phones and see who is calling, as well as text responses back and Text to Pay…all of these features are fantastic, before COVID and especially now!”
Digital payments include both mobile wallets and text payments. Mobile wallets are becoming increasingly popular because they require scanning as opposed to handing over cash or swiping a card. For those customers who want to forego in-person payments altogether, a text payment option allows them to pay through a convenient text message, regardless of their location.
5. Communicate internally with a team chat
Working remotely is more widespread than ever due to Covid-19. This remote work makes communication significantly more challenging, but this obstacle can be overcome with an effective team chat.
Some businesses may still be relying exclusively on phone calls and conventional text messaging in their remote work.
However, a team chat is an option that builds office unity in spite of the need to quarantine or work from home. If health regulations limit the amount of people in your office, team chat permits them to still be on the same page about the scheduling and services your practice is providing.
6. Encourage customer reviews
With consumers doing less face-to-face communication with their friends and acquaintances, word-of-mouth marketing is becoming less reliable. People are turning to the internet, and review sites in particular, to help them make decisions about which businesses they’re going to investigate and frequent. Encouraging your customers to share online reviews is critical for practices trying to establish an online presence during times of crisis.
In fact one of our podiatry customers, Dr. Edwards & David Edwards DPM says,
“I’ve been a user of Weave services for 1 1/2 yrs. I have not seen anyone in the Podiatry space that offers the breadth of services they provide…The ease of the “Review posting” – (two clicks) – can Optimize your search engine presence and patient flow to your office.”
Search engines like Google are programmed to give priority to local businesses with a high number of positive reviews. By sending review requests to your clients immediately following each appointment, your practice can amass enough reviews to push toward better online visibility. As potential customers look for practices online during this pandemic, they’ll be more likely to notice and contact your business. Weave helps you easily collect and monitor reviews on Google and Facebook. These reviews can be some of the best marketing for your business.
9 out of 10 people check online reviews before choosing a business
Weave helps you easily collect and monitor reviews on Google and Facebook. These reviews can be some of the best marketing for your business.Schedule Demo
7. Improve your email marketing
Another marketing technique that’s imperative in times of crisis is email marketing. Not all small practices have an email marketing strategy yet, and some don’t email at all. Now is the time to develop emailing, because it’s one of the best returns on investment for businesses trying to succeed under tough conditions.
By creating emails with an email marketing tool, your small practice can craft professionally-designed emails without any expertise. This type of tool allows you and your administrative staff to use pre-written templates, an image library, and actionable links to catch your customers’ attention and drive business. It also lets you test emails internally before distributing them to your clients.
How Weave Helps Practices Manage in a Crisis
Our complete business toolbox equips small practices with the communication technology necessary for applying these lessons. Let’s briefly take a look at some of the tools that make effective management possible during challenging times.
The voicemail override feature lets businesses easily create a voicemail greeting for holidays, emergencies, and other closures. These pre-recorded messages can be activated at a moment’s notice, relieving you and your staff from the stress of updating your customers about changes to your schedule.
Our two-way texting integrates with other lines of communication like VOIP phones to create a robust network for coordinating with your customers regarding policy and scheduling protocol. Instead of using phone calls to set up virtual waiting rooms, small practices can chat with clients as they wait outside the office, then can bring them back as soon as they’re ready for their appointments.
Through the Scheduling tool, practices can build on the utility of texting by automating the text messages they distribute to customers about upcoming appointments. You have the freedom to choose how far in advance these reminders go out to customers, and your staff doesn’t have to worry about responding to each and every confirmation thanks to smart software that interprets texts from your clients.
The Payments tool we recently added to our suite is highly valuable for offices trying to promote social distancing. While it’s fully capable of accepting major credit cards and other traditional payment methods, it also gives you the ability of sending customers payment requests by text. By clicking on the payment link in the text message, customers can take care of their payments without stopping at the front desk.
Small practices are finding that their staff is more able to work as a cohesive unit by coordinating through our Team Chat tool. It allows you to communicate seamlessly with your whole office, regardless of their location. For those practices whose employees are still working remotely, this tool prevents confusion from spreading about the happenings in your organization.
As online reviews become increasingly popular and essential for a strong online presence, our Reviews tool makes it possible to automatically send each customer a review request after each appointment. Once these reviews are posted, your office will get a notification through our easy-to-use interface. The Reviews tool also allows you to monitor your review status on multiple sites, like Google and Facebook.
A final tool for managing your practice during the Covid-19 era is our newly developed Email Marketing. This tool brings email marketing down to earth for those without expertise. With only a few minutes of getting acquainted with the software, your team can create professional email campaigns for sharing important information and resources with your customers. "Amazing technology has simplified our patient communication immensely! We are fairly new and can't wait to learn even more Weave features... customer service and tech support is SPOT ON and can't be beat! " - The Eye Station
Weave Helps Streamline Business Communication
Guide your practice through crises with Weave
Recent events have shown our company how effective modern communication solutions are in times of both feast and famine. In fact, the challenges presented by large-scale events like Covid-19 can be averted by further exploring and applying our complete toolbox in the day-to-day management of your practice.
Contact us today to find out more about how to manage your business with Weave.