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Happy Friday All,

I am writing about a phenomenon that I have recently encountered and struggled with. It involves the many ways that clients can now communicate, schedule their appointments and change/cancel their visits.

Since buying an iPhone I now have the ability to get e-mails, text messages, and phone calls, as well as take credit cards through Square-very cool.  However, this week I was involved in an e-mail duel with a client who had scheduled a 90 min. session and was trying to cancel and move it to another day. After several e-mails back and forth, I got confused as to what this person wanted and told her. This started at 10:00PM the night before and continued into the day, the last e-mail was 90 minutes before her time, when she agreed to come in for the scheduled visit.  I had stated that I was firm on my cancellation policy-especially with a 90 min. session. She had asked for a change  that I couldn't provide.

What was interesting was that the third of four e-mails stated that if it didn't work she would "see me later." Hmmm.  I wonder what that meant. I was barely able to keep up the communication during the day as I was busy working!  So, in the end, she came in and got her session. She was working on a report that was due and she was busy finishing it. I wonder if this all comes down to poor planning on the client's part.  What a waste of time for me.

So, after my long-winded story, I'm wondering how to keep up with all this communication overload. I have trouble going back and forth from e-mails and texts to calendar and scheduling. Being a one-man show is tough at times, even after years of practice. Help!

Cheers,

jh

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The disadvantages to the advantageous high tech world. What we need is a robotic secretary to handle everything before we get any more convenience from high tech. I still use a flip phone and most people know the way to reach me is to text.

Don't you just hate having several long voicemails to listen to when you only have a few minutes to get ready for your next massage? I like text!

DC,

Thanks. I am not good with texting. I am old school and can't get it when a text comes with only a phone number. No introduction, salutation or even a name.  I have told clients that I won't accept texts for cancellations. I hate texts that cancel at the last minute with no explanation. I am old fashioned and need a secretary-robot or otherwise.

Cheers,

jody

Hello,

With the boom of the internet we have so much already at our fingertips.  Although i am still in the newer stages of my business and have yet to deal with this personally, I have seen it in the places I have worked before.  Honestly, I think if someone needs to cancel an appointment they should have to call.  Even if we cannot answer the phone right then, it is good to actually be able to speak with the person.  And it saves a lot of confusion along the way.  So I would just make it clear in your cancellation policy that any and all cancellations must go through the business/ practitioner/ office.  I think that would definitely make things easier.

Best of Luck!

Jody, I hear you.  

Last month I had a no-show client in the middle of a busy working day, and so I called her 15 minutes after she was supposed to arrive. She said "I sent you an email a couple of hours ago, didn't you get it?".   Maybe if I was working at a spa then someone would be sitting at a computer, but not in my little studio. Calls only please! 

Like Daniel said, I don't want to have to check my phone messages AND emails on my iphone when I'm trying to get ready for the next client.  BTW I have all my clients names and numbers in my iphone contact list so if they call or text, their name shows up. First-time clients I don't do that.

Lee I have the same on my old flip phone. Monday there was a message on the clinic phone. Couldn't get the name or phone number just "call me". Thursday my noon appointment didn't show. She called at one thirty to reschedule. She also said I called Monday but you didn't call me back. So it goes in the modern world.

Daniel, I agree - I like texting!  It's quick, to-the-point and usually reliable.  I also like the opportunity to reply when I have time, and the same for my clients.  

Jody, I work by and for myself as well and every once in a while I get overwhelmed by e-mails, calls, texts, scheduling, changing the schedule, etc!!  But usually it's OK.  My husband is a computer guy (he's had the same job writing custom software and running networks for 22 years) so I think I have an advantage in that he keeps me up to date on computer stuff - including how to use my smart phone!  I don't think I have any sage advice besides do the best you can!

BTW - I have had some of those last minute text cancellations with no explanation - very annoying!  I don't mind the text part, but the no explanation part drives me nuts.

Like Lee, I have everyone's contact info in my phone so I know who people are when they call/text.  It's a lot to keep up with!!

There are a lot of good points here that I agree with, and I added a couple of my own:

- Don't accept cancellations by text. Make this apparent in your policies.

- Find a way to limit your in-bound messages: choose one primary communication method (i.e. phone or e-mail) and stick to it, so that you don't have to check three different places for messages.

- Don't forget to accept that mistakes and cancellations happen and that technology has its limits. :) 

Me? I have difficulty hearing and understanding what's being said over a phone. Written communication by e-mail and text usually works better -- however, I don't have a smart phone, so I can't check my e-mail if I'm out and about. I use Full Slate for scheduling, and a handful of clients use it to book their appointments on-line. Otherwise, I have to schedule them manually. The appointment reminders go out automatically by e-mail 24 hours ahead of time, and I often get "thank yous" or "I have to reschedule due to ____!" e-mails in return. If they cancel on-line, I get a text message. So far, so good!

Beth,  do you like Full Slate?

It works great for what I need! There are limitations, of course, especially in organizing one's services and the design itself. I like that I can plug in a client's info and scheduled appointments and just leave it -- the reminders and Thank You e-mails are automatic (you can also adjust the settings and the messages). I get texts when I get an appointment request, as well as when an appointment is cancelled. Setting new or temporary operating hours is easy, which is great if your schedule is flexible. For instance, I could set my schedule to closed during school vacation weeks, and then it will switch back to normal after those weeks pass.

You can take a peek at what my Full Slate page looks like: http://ikneadserenity.fullslate.com/

Lee Edelberg said:

Beth,  do you like Full Slate?

I'm old school too.  I have a landline for my business # and few clients have my cell #.  It drives me nuts to get cancellations via text mostly because during business hours my iPhone is in airplane mode and docked on a speaker providing music in my treatment room.  A text message is the absolute last thing I will see during the work day.  Call or email me please.

As to long email exchanges, if there's confusion after the 2nd reply, I will just pick up the phone and call.  I find that a 2 minute phone call can sometimes accomplish more than 10 emails back and forth and certainly a lot quicker.  So much gets lost when looking at words on a screen vs a vocal exchange. 

Jody C. Hutchinson said:

DC,

Thanks. I am not good with texting. I am old school and can't get it when a text comes with only a phone number. No introduction, salutation or even a name.  I have told clients that I won't accept texts for cancellations. I hate texts that cancel at the last minute with no explanation. I am old fashioned and need a secretary-robot or otherwise.

Cheers,

jody

Along the robotic secretary line of thinking, if you haven’t looked into online scheduling yet you might want to check it out. It's come a long way, especially in the last 6 months or so.

We did a study of our customers recently, and found that they typically have 75% to 90% of clients to book online. Our customer base is primarily massage practitioners.

Our goal is to make the secretary-robot dream a reality. :)

I’m also happy to answer any questions.


Cheers,


-- Lowell Manners

Founder, Schedulista

online scheduling for massage therapists


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