Online Scheduling – Don’t Make Promises You Can’t Keep

The digital front door is opening wider every day, and with it, consumer convenience in everything from scheduling appointments to paying bills and asking medical questions of their providers. But be careful not to put all your eggs in one basket and assume everyone will use this technology. Consumers are still calling your practices. And when they do, they expect prompt, courteous, and knowledgeable staff to help schedule appointments and answer questions. They expect you to keep your brand promise, no matter how they choose to contact you.

Our Findings with Online Scheduling

In a recent study of consumers seeking appointments as new patients, we found that although they were asked to begin their search for an appointment online, 37% said that they still preferred to call to schedule.

Further, those expecting to schedule online are more dissatisfied when their attempt is thwarted. 

The Hurdles We Found

The study found that new (potential) patients were frequently led to believe that they would be able to schedule online only to find after answering a series of questions, that they could only make an appointment request – not an appointment. Others got through all the questions only to be told they must call.

For years, we have talked about the importance of managing consumer expectations as foundational to a great experience. It’s better to overdeliver and under-promise rather than disappoint. My advice:

  • If your system doesn’t allow online scheduling, make it clear upfront. Don’t overpromise and under-deliver. You may lose prospective patients during the first digital encounter.
  • Maintain high-quality phone encounters. Ensure attendants are polite, attentive, empathetic, and knowledgeable. These are all closely correlated to the high likelihood of the caller becoming a patient and recommending your practice.

Interested in delving into consumer experience with your online scheduling and phone experiences? Contact Baird Group for a customized assessment. Or, schedule your free 30-minute consultation online here

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