“You’re Late” – Acceptable Ways to Handle and Avoid Customer Tardiness
If you run an appointment-based business, such as a salon, spa, or medical office, you know that one late or no-show appointment throws your entire day off-kilter. A client late for a scheduled appointment likely doesn’t understand that your next client will now be late, and your client after that, and your client after that… you know the chain reaction well. You can’t demand that your clients show up to their appointments on time; that will shoot your customer satisfaction rating way down. And even though you likely extend an appointment reminder of some sort to your clients, you’re still going to have a few late birds. It’s one thing when your client is met with an unexpected delay; it’s quite another when you have a client who just doesn’t seem to care and is perpetually tardy to scheduled appointments. How do you handle those late birds acceptably? Here are a few tips.
Schedule Them Last
You know the client, the one who tosses the reminder card in the trash once they get home and who, no matter how many times your appointment reminder service calls them, still manages to show up late. It doesn’t matter if you utilize reminder software that sends this client an email reminding them of their appointment; you know they’re going to set you back. So although some might consider this a passive-aggressive way of handling it, why not schedule that client last in your day?
I realize it’s not appealing to think about having to wait however long this client is usually tardy to end your business day, but it’s even less appealing to think about all of your angry customers who had to wait because they followed this client in your appointment book. If you have a client who continually disregards your schedule, and you’ve talked politely with this client about it, book the client at the end of your day. That way, the only person affected by the customer’s tardiness is you.
Utilize Additional Reminder Methods
You probably already use that handy-dandy reminder card, writing your customer’s next appointment down and handing it to them before they leave their current visit. Many will tack that onto their refrigerator when they get home; others will put it in their appointment book; some lose it, one way or another. The business-card-sized appointment reminder is a fantastic tool, but you need to use some additional prodding to back it up for those infamous late birds.
One way to go is to hire an appointment reminder service, but that can be an expensive proposition, and, to be completely honest, it’s unnecessary. Sure, it offers the personal touch of a human calling your perpetually late client to remind them of their next appointment, but if you’re going to do that, the phone call should come directly from you, and this could be problematic if you’re busy.
Fortunately, there is appointment reminder software available to issue your customers, even the chronically late ones, an online reminder of their appointment via email or other preferred medium, such as a text message. In fact, an online booking experience is becoming the way to go for booking your clientele. Why? Because your clients can view your schedule online and book their own appointments whenever they need to see you.
Why Online Reminder Methods Work
Here’s the thing. We live in an automated society, and everyone wants instant gratification via their own control. Keep in mind that “own control” is the operative phrase here. You will have your handful of regular clientele who still believe in the old-fashioned way of booking their next appointment. While they’re finalizing their bill, you’ll flip to the next month in your appointment book and jot them down manually.
This tried-and-true method works well, but today, people are on the run. They don’t want to book their next appointment while they’re paying their bill. They have another place to be, and if they’re consistently late to their appointment with you, chances are they are late to their next appointment as well. They’ll “call you later” and book it then… or will they? This is where online appointment booking software has the advantage over just reminding your clients of their next scheduled visit.
By allowing your clients to book their appointments online, you give them the power to select the date and time of their next visit and book it themselves when they have time. What’s even better? Studies show that they’ll be more likely to remember their appointment because they booked it and less likely to rush through your doors late because they forgot about the appointment until the last minute.
In addition, your online booking software will remind your client of their next scheduled appointment via their chosen medium. They get to choose how they are reminded, and they will likely choose the method that works best for them; no more excuses for being late! By handling tardy clients this way, you’re giving them the tools to ensure that they make their own appointments and arrive for them on time.