One of the most frustrating things for any business owner is when a customer simply does not show up. When this happens, not only has the time now gone to waste, but you are not making the money that you thought you would. While there isn't really anything you can do to prevent customers from no-showing entirely, there are some steps that you can take that should reduce the amount.
Call Reminders – One of the most common ways to reduce customer no-shows is by simply calling them a day before and reminding them of their appointment. This way, if your customer has forgotten about the appointment, they can tell you when you call, and you now have 24 hours to try and fill the spot. It is not a perfect system; especially in today's world where many people do not answer there phones all of the time.
Email Reminders – Another way to remind customers of their appointments is through email. If people are not checking their voice-mails, you may have better luck getting them through their email. There are many programs out there that will help you set up automatic emails that will send out whenever an appointment is approaching.
Text/SMS Reminders – The third way – and maybe the best way – to remind customers of their upcoming appointment is with a text message reminder. Text messages are often seen more frequently than emails, and are easier to deal with compared to call reminders. By syncing an SMS reminder system with your current booking system, you can have the process automated to make it easier for your customers. They will receive the message automatically, and if they need to cancel, they can simply respond to the text message.
Flexible Scheduling – Chances are your customer’s lead busy lives. If you want to reduce the number of appointment no-shows, you should give them more flexible scheduling options. Presenting a customer with only a limited range of options when it comes to an appointment time means that there is a great chance that they have something else going on at that time. Take a close look at your business, and see if there are any other hours that you could open up to appointments in order to accommodate your customers.
Cancellation Window – When your customers make an appointment, let them know that you have a cancellation window. Tell them that if they do not call to cancel within 24 hours of their appointment time, and if they fail to show up, their credit card will be charged for the entire appointment. This will make it more likely that you'll hear from your customers, and if not, you still get paid.
Penalties – If you don't want to charge the customer for the entire appointment when they don't show up, you can still have a policy that has penalties attached to it. So instead of charging the entire amount, you could charge a 10% “convenience fee”, that will at least reimburse you for part of the missed appointment. Customers will also likely understand why you are charging them this amount, and will probably not complain should they be charged.
Incentives – Lastly, if penalties are not your style, consider incentives. For example, every time a customer makes and keeps an appointment 5 times in a row, their next one is at a discount. This is like a loyalty program, where customers who stick to their appointments are rewarded, encouraging others to do the same.
There are many options for reducing the amount of customer no-shows – you just have to decide which ones are right for your business. Whatever you choose, be sure to let your customers know of your new policies. Blindsiding a customer by charging them for the full appointment is not a good way to get return customers.
We hope that these few suggestions will reduce the number of clients missing their appointments for you. If any of the ways mentioned above have worked for you, or if you have any other suggestions on how to reduce customer no-shows, please reach out to us via twitter or our contact page.