Using a CRM to ensure attendence
Using a CRM to ensure attendence
by RUTH THOMAS - Dec 02,2013

For many businesses, it’s an important part of their process to get clients or prospects to attend an initial one to one advisory or consultancy session. Often appointments may be booked as part of a sales process and clients who were initially keen do not show up for a number of reasons:

  • Something else came up
  • They changed their mind
  • They didn’t want to say ‘no’ to the nice sales person. Nobody likes to give bad news.
  • They want the service, but forgot

From a business perspective, the following improvements will make a positive impact:
  • Increase attendance at the first appointment
  • Get clients to provide advance notice that they will not attend

Every client attending their first appointment has the same likelihood of completing the programme, so even a small increase in the number attending brings you closer to your target. But if clients do not show up for their appointments it wastes the advisor’s time. So whilst the goal is to have as many attendee’s as possible, it’s still better to have a definite “No – I will not attend” as the slot can be reallocated, than a weak “Maybe”

 

Automation and Technology

There are a number of approaches that automation and technology can use to help us.
  • We can send periodic reminders
  • We can confirm that they do indeed want the service
  • We can give them the ability to cancel the appointment
  • We can ask them to confirm they will attend the appointment
  • We can make it easy for them to reschedule
  • If we do not hear anything back, we can get someone to phone the client to confirm their intensions

SMS has a low technology footprint. Most people have a mobile phone and read every SMS they get. Compare this to email. A significant minority, particularly of the older generation, do not have email. And the majority that do have email can often get so much email that they may not always read it all.

One of the benefits of a well-designed CRM is that we can use workflow to automate the use both of both SMS and email to communicate with the client. For example, a week before their appointment we can send them an SMS and email reminder, asking them to reply confirming, cancelling or rescheduling the appointment.

 

Getting commitment

The psychologist Robert Cialdini in his book “Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion” talks extensively about how getting people to make a small personal commitment can make them more likely to take the first step in a process. It implies that a client away from the pressure of the sales pitch who has to take an action in order to confirm their appointment will be more likely to attend as they will have thought about what that appointment means to them and made a personal commitment. Not keeping that commitment becomes a personal failure.

If we do not get a reply from the first SMS we can send another two days before the appointment and if there is no reply automatically schedule a phone call to check. This may be outsourced to a call centre. Hence a combination of SMS, email and scheduled phone calls can efficiently ensure that clients do not forget their appointments and have had every opportunity to cancel or reschedule.

If you want to get really advanced the same mechanisms can be used to fill up vacant slots by offering last minute standby bookings or give clients the option of bringing forward their appointments

 

Using Social Proof

Even when automated workflows maximizes attendance and minimizes no-shows, there is still more that can be done. Research shows that careful phrasing can have a positive impact on conversion rates.

Cialdini talks about how ‘social proof’ can make both a positive or negative change in behaviour. He hypothesises that people want to be normal and their behaviour gravitates towards what are considered ‘social norms’.

Consider the following phrases:

Phase 1: You have an appointment with Dr Seuss at 1pm on 1-4-13. 
Reply CONFIRM, CANCEL or RESCHEDULE


Phrase 2: You have an appointment with Dr Seuss at 1pm on 1-4-13
Clients who do not show up for their booking reduces the effectiveness of the service
Reply CONFIRM, CANCEL or RESCHEDULE


Phrase 3: You have an appointment with Dr Seuss at 1pm on 1-4-13
Clients letting us know if they want to keep or change their booking has helped us offer a better service.
Reply CONFIRM, CANCEL or RESCHEDULE

In this case Phase 2 may be less effective than phrase 1 because it implies there is social proof that it is normal for clients to miss their booking, and hence its acceptable. Phase 3 however implies that it’s normal for clients to inform them. To do otherwise would be abnormal and hence more likely to get a response.

 

Experimentation and improvement

So what does this mean in the world of technology and CRM? The process of trying out different messaging strategies is known as AB Testing. A well designed CRM should enable experimentation with the messaging and reporting on the results. This then leads to the most effective strategy being implemented.

About Geeks Ltd

Based in south London, we are one of the fastest growing software development companies in the UK. 

Our passion is business efficiency enhancement for our clients via smart application of automation techniques.We are winners of international awards for our innovations in business productivity. 

We have attained Gold Certified Microsoft Partnership level which represents our highest level of competence and expertise with Microsoft technologies as well as our close working relationship with Microsoft.At this level we have been granted access to exclusive Microsoft resources and support, access to the Partner Knowledge Base, and many other advantages which contribute to our capacity to meet our clients needs.