10 Ways to Use Automation to Form Better Connections With Patients
Automation is no longer reserved for large corporate enterprises, and it’s more common than you think. From the follow-up emails you get after you ditch your cart online to annual birthday messages from your favorite restaurant, automation has become an efficient and effective way to correspond with customers.
When the principles of automation are applied to small businesses, they can free up time, resources, and brainpower for your staff to focus on the things that are more important. When your team isn’t bogged down with busy work, they can use that time to connect with your customers and provide a five-star experience for them every time they visit your office.
We’ve identified 10 ways that automation can help your staff provide a better customer experience while, at the same time, lightening their workload.
Provide a Consistent Experience
You’ve probably spent a significant amount of time creating and refining your brand message. You know how you want your customers addressed, what type of language to use with them and what information should be shared when you confirm appointments and send reminders.
By automating routine messages and follow-up correspondence, you can ensure that your customers are always getting a consistent message that aligns with your brand’s personality.
Increase Touchpoints without Increasing Labor
You might need to reach out to a customer several times throughout the course of a year, depending on your type of business as well as the reason the customer is coming to your office. Some of the reasons that could necessitate an email, text or phone call to your customers could be to schedule an appointment, confirm an appointment, notify customers of a change such as a new doctor or address, etc.
If your staff has to manually contact your entire customer base for each of these touchpoints, the workload can be overwhelming. However, by using automation, your office can craft each type of message just once and set up rules for when and how they’re delivered. Effectively, this allows your staff to be in touch with your customers more frequently with minimal work.
Manage Failed Billing Charges
Having to call a patient to discuss a failed credit card charge can be awkward and uncomfortable for both your staff and the customer. It can be even more delicate to have the discussion in person.
One way to avoid this unpleasantness is to use automated billing. Having software that collects payments on either a subscription or as-needed basis can decrease the number of payment conversations your staff has with customers. Further, if a card is about to expire, an automated system can remind the customer to update their payment information.
In the case of a failed payment, a gentle email reminder could be sent, allowing the customer to update their details without having to interface with any staff members.
Increase Response Speed
If a customer texts your office, how quickly do they get a response? Depending on how busy your staff is, it might be hours or even days.
In today’s always-connected digital world, customers expect immediate responses to their inquiries. One way to achieve this is by having an automated text reply delivered to customers who send your office a note. A simple message letting them know that you’ve received their message and will get back to them shortly can go a long way in assuring them that their message isn’t lost, and that someone will respond to them.
It’s also helpful to give your customers a general idea of when they can expect a response, even if it’s something along the lines of “within the next business day.”
If the customer phones your office and leaves a voicemail, you can still employ a similar system. Weave’s system has missed call texts so that if you miss a call during business hours the customer gets a certain text, and if the missed call is after hours, they get a different text.
Win the Game of Phone Tag
There are times when your office staff is going to have to reach out to customers with a live phone call. It can be tough to reach customers during business hours because they’re often at work, too! Plus, not all of your customers are going to have your office number saved on their phone, so they won’t necessarily know that it’s your office calling them.
If you do get voicemail, it’s a relatively straightforward process to follow up with an automated email or text letting your customer know that you’re trying to reach them. Instead of having to keep trying to reach the customer and leaving an endless loop of voicemails that might not get listened to, you’ll be able to reach the customer directly via text or email, and you can leave instructions or specify a time that’s best to contact your office for a follow-up discussion.
Welcome New Customers
Just because someone scheduled an appointment with your office doesn’t mean they’re a lifelong customer or raving fan. Their satisfaction with your office begins before they even step foot in your office. By having a friendly “welcome” procedure, your new customers will come to their first appointments with a positive impression of the office.
New customer correspondence isn’t limited to a simple appointment confirmation and reminder, either. You can set up a welcome series that’s sent to customers leading up to their appointment that includes information about the office and staff as well as customer testimonials.
Send Appointment Reminders
We’ve alluded to this tactic before, but it’s so helpful that it deserves its own bullet point and mention. You already know that forgotten and missed appointments cost your business dearly, both in terms of dollars as well as customer satisfaction and outcomes.
Providing your customers with a five-star experience doesn’t have to mean playing the role of their personal assistant. Your office staff shouldn’t have to spend hours chasing customers down to remind them of their appointments. Instead, you can schedule automated follow-ups via email and text leading up to the appointment date.
This strategy helps reduce no-shows while also maintaining the sanity of your office staff.
Gauge Customer Satisfaction
How do you know if your customers are happy? How do you know if they were satisfied with their last office visit? A simple and automated email sent after their appointment can help answer that question. The email could be a simple survey, an invitation to write a review or just an open-ended question asking them if they have any feedback about their experience.
In addition to understanding how a customer feels about your office, your staff will be better equipped to identify any problems or inconsistencies with care as well as address any complaints before the customer decides to leave a negative review on Google or Yelp.
An automated system can trigger your staff to reach out to a customer right away if anything is amiss with their customer satisfaction survey, allowing your team to salvage the relationship and potentially turn an unhappy customer into a lifelong advocate.
Ask for Referrals
People tend to trust their friends for recommendations. Word-of-mouth is hands down the most trusted form of advertising, and it’s virtually free.
Asking your customers to refer new business to you might seem awkward, and if your staff aren’t natural salespeople, then it can be tough to get this right. By having an automated system in place, you’ll be able to get referrals on autopilot without any “selling” on the part of your office team.
One way to accomplish this task is by sending a friendly email reminder asking your customers to share your services with their network. Depending on your field, you could potentially offer a small incentive for doing so, like a gift card or a raffle.
Logistically, you could get the referral in one of two ways:
- Ask your customers to refer their network and keep your office in mind when someone they know is looking for the exact service you provide.
- Invite the customer to share a link to your business with their friends via email or text.
Most people love to have their birthdays acknowledged and surprisingly, few companies extend any effort to make their customers feel special on their special day. It’s likely that you already have your customers’ birthdays on file. From there, a simple email on their birthday with a heartwarming message will make your customers feel special and cared for.
You might even want to offer them an incentive for coming into your office during their birthday month, whether it’s a discounted teeth whitening, an exclusive offer on glasses frames, etc.
Once you begin thinking about how automation can save your office time while simultaneously elevating the customer experience, you and your staff are bound to be brimming with ideas on how to implement these strategies and more.
Now that you know what’s possible, it might seem overwhelming, and indeed, there are lots of avenues for you to explore! We suggest beginning simply. Start by automating appointment reminders and then go from there with a path that makes the most sense from your office.
Want some help prioritizing your automation strategy? Weave has several options to help with your automation. Schedule a demo today to learn more.