[Photo courtesy of Ryan Hoyme at MassageNerd.com.]

As a society, we expect immediate results. All crimes and social blunders are solved in an hour. The guy gets the girl in 90 minutes. We get hot water on demand and popcorn in three minutes. And health practitioners call back within 45 minutes. Right?

Hmm … Maybe not.

As a single practitioner, you are not always able to call people back or return emails within the hour. Sometimes not until the end of the day. The idea of losing a booking or potential client has just got to stick in your craw. The real beauty of today’s technology is that you now have a myriad of solutions for keeping your clients in the loop every hour of the day. You can continuously, seamlessly provide care and attention. And you never want to pass up a natural (and inexpensive) opportunity to provide a bit of special care to your clients and acknowledge their value to you.

Voice Mail Messages

Keep them updated. Daily. Put the vital information first: “Thank you for calling Body Logic. I have a one-hour session available today, July 29th, at 2pm…” or “Thank you for calling Ahhh … Some Massage. I am on vacation until July 31st. Please leave a message and my assistant will call you back promptly to set up a session for when I return.” “Thanks for calling Sohnen-Moe Associates. We have gorgeous new post card artwork available for keeping in touch with your clients. You can see them on our website.”

Phone Service

How many calls do you get where no one leaves a message? Not having a person available to answer phones is an opportunity lost. Having a person pick up the phone, even just to take a message, puts you miles (MILES, I tell you) ahead of your colleagues. If you are unable to answer your phone due to busy-ness or absence, send your calls onto somebody who can take or respond to messages. It’s fairly easy to set up a temporary service with your phone company to have your clients’ calls forwarded to another number. If you haven’t looked into working with a virtual assistant or an off-site receptionist service, I recommend taking the time. Working with a business support company that is right for your practice will bring you more clients and the service will more than pay for itself. Don’t worry about committing. Ask for a trial rate for the first few weeks or month. See how it works for you.

Bright idea: Single practitioners lose opportunities when they cannot respond to clients immediately. There are many therapists cutting back on their hours or retiring. Surely you can get together with 3-5 health practitioners and hire one former therapist to be an off-site assistant for all of you. All your calls can be easily forwarded (you just punch a code into your phone) and your email inquiries, too.

Email

If you don’t have an automatic responder function in your email program, see about getting that set up. When your clients email you, they will promptly get a message back. Your message will say that you did receive their email, that their message is important, and you will respond to them no later than [6:30 tonight]. If they are experiencing trouble, please call [your number] and leave a message. And, oh, by the way, here is a list of your next three available sessions [with links to your online scheduler, if you have one set up]. And, remember to tell them about your latest special/add-on/technique.

Your Website

You should be able to make text changes to the home page of your website yourself. If you cannot, don’t know how, or aren’t “allowed” to, you need to change your situation. Posting fresh updates on your site allows potential clients to see your level of commitment to communication. It allows your regular clients to see or be reminded about what’s going on in your practice: Vacation dates, open sessions, road closure alerts, emergency absences.

Social Media Sites

Some people like them, some don’t. The nice thing is, they’re elective. If your practice has a Facebook page, or what-have-you, don’t be afraid to tell your clients about it. Create a link from your website to your [Facebook] page. You don’t want to inundate your clients with trivial thoughts, but do let people know when a session opens up. Or, if you have a slow 3 minutes, send out a quick reminder to stretch or breathe or smile. It’s really okay. Your clients elected to get your messages. They’re really glad you’re thinking of them.

Remember

Things like voice mail and email are standard, necessary tools for your practice. You can get so much more out of them if you think of them as marketing venues. Use them to broaden communication with your clients. Demonstrate your level of care and commitment by updating them regularly. Having an “expired” message on your voice mail message or auto responder is not good and makes you look a little slapdash.

[This blog article was originally published on the Natural Touch Marketing blog site. We are reposting it here for your benefit, and with permission.]