When was the last time you made a reservation for dinner or a hotel? Did you call the establishment directly? Did you use an online service like OpenTable or Travelocity? People are increasingly looking to get 24 hour access to your schedule and want to book their appointment when they want it. Chances are they’ll keep looking until they do. Most dental office systems only allow you to leave a message or even worse, ask you to call back later during business hours!!
I hope we can all agree it’s best to confirm the appointment the first time and don’t let the patient move along to someone else. In my last practice we tried something radical. We tried opening up the schedule so patients could book directly into our schedules. I know crazy right. Honestly it was a disaster. Most patients didn’t know what kind of appointment they needed and didn’t know how long was needed. The result was a mess on our morning schedule leaving the front desk staff to call and rearrange everything. It resulted in no increase in patients and far more work.
Cloud based dental software and some services like 1-800-dentist offer the possibility of 24/7 scheduling. In this system a patient either goes to your website or calls in and books an appointment into a few selected appointments made available by the practice. The key to success here is that you only need to open enough appointments to meet the expected demand whether it be overnight or 30 days out. Any booked appointments are confirmed by the practice the very next morning and changed if needed. With only the necessary number of appointments opened up the risk for chaos is markedly decreased. The practice gets to capture those additional patient appointments with little additional work placed upon your front desk staff. The patient gets an appointment and the practice gets a patient they otherwise would have missed.
We’ve talked before about your website and how it fits into your marketing efforts. By adding an integrated schedule such as with the tab32 system, your website can attract and capture new patients 24/7!