Communication Part 2: Email Followups
Hello again! As promised, this week I'm talking about the importance of following up with clients by email.
Like I mentioned in last week's post, following up with existing clients is a super crucial part of running a health care practice - or any business, really! Sometimes we find ourselves overly focused on bringing in new business and thinking that’s the only way we’re going to fill our schedules and be successful.
But in reality, it’s the clients you already have that are key to your success. Those clients already know you and have a relationship with you. What you want to do is nurture that relationship in every way possible, so they’re that much more likely to come regularly for treatments and refer other people to you.
One huge way you can do that is by sending followup emails to your clients. This helps open the lines of communication between you and your client and keeps you and your services in their mind. Often, people do want to rebook and found your treatments helpful, but simply let it slip. A reminder is the perfect way to help them take that action.
When you write your followup emails, it’s really important to make them specific to each client - don’t just cut and paste the same thing to 20 people. These emails are a way to show you care about your clients and want to check in to see how they are doing with whatever it was you were treating (an injury, scar tissue, back pain, stress, and so on). Obviously, you shouldn’t get super personal in this exchange - you do want to keep it professional. But tailor it to your relationship with that client. If conversations have always been ‘all business’ then keep your emails similar. But if you’ve chatted about personal things like your hobbies, kids or shared love of coffee, then feel free to mention those things in your followup.
When you write the email, make sure you actually ask them to book an appointment with you. For some folks this might be a bit uncomfortable, but remember, you can do this in a way that works for you without shying away from it completely. If being super direct with people, such as saying ‘I have this available time next week, shall I book you in?’ isn’t your style, then that’s ok. Instead, you can let them know you’ve got some time in your schedule available to them and would be more than happy to book them in when they’re available. The crucial thing here is to make sure you DO ask them to book.
How often should you be doing followup emails? Honestly, it should be an ongoing thing. Set aside time once a week to look through your client list and see who hasn’t rebooked that you should be touching base with. If you get into the habit of doing it regularly, you’ll find it doesn’t take a long time and gets easier and easier to do.
The other really key thing to mention is overall communication with your clients is extremely essential. If they contact you, make sure you get back to them within a reasonable amount of time. You should be checking your email at least once per business day and replying to anything that needs your attention. Phone calls are the same thing. And remember, you should always respect your client’s preferred method of communication. If they prefer email, email them. If they prefer the phone, use that.
Another issue I want to stress is how quickly you should be replying to messages your clients send you.
Now, if you’re on vacation, or it’s your day off, or some other reason you aren’t at work - it’s totally fine to ignore your messages until you are at work. Everyone deserves time off. And of course, if you’re in the treatment room with someone you’re obviously not going to be answering your emails. I get that too. I remember those days when I worked 8+ hours massaging with barely any breaks.
But what’s not ok is this:
I see a lot of health care businesses tell people that if they email they’ll get back to them within 2-3 business days. Honestly, in 2016 that’s not really ok, unless you’re also ok with losing clients because you don’t follow up promptly. I’m sorry if that frustrates you, but this is the way things have gone, and while I’m all for being a bit unconventional in your business, there are certain things you just have to honour. Communication with clients is one of them.
If you don’t have time to send someone a full answer the same day or next day, just give a brief reply letting them know you got the message and will send a full response as soon as possible. Don’t automate this - sit down and do it yourself.
What’s funny about this is because so many health care offices still do the ‘2-3 business days for a response’ thing, you’ll actually end up surprising and delighting many people just by being on top of your messages! Crazy, right?
In the end, communicating well with your clients is a really key way to set them at ease. It shows them they can rely on you. It builds trust, which is so key for a client/therapist relationship, and helps them get to know you and your business better.
So, send those followup emails. See how your clients are doing, and be genuine about it. Ask people to book appointments. Then reply to their emails promptly. Seems really simple, but this stuff will go a HUGE way in keeping your clients coming back and maintaining great relationships with them.