- Your training and tools should enable your front desk staff to answer emails quickly while adding a personal touch. Develop templates and FAQ to give them a solid foundation.
- Auto-responders are a great tool to give you coverage during non-office hours, but make sure you set expectations for a personalized followup and empower consumers to learn more on their own.
While most phone inquiries to aesthetic practices are received between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., practices receive email inquiries almost evenly between business and non-business hours.
Effectively handling both scenarios requires slight variations in your responses, but the keys to responding via email are to do it quickly, add value, and give consumers a taste of the great experience they will have with your practice if they select you as their treatment provider.
For emails received during regular business hours, we recommend practices try to respond within one hour. Doing this can increase the likelihood that a consumer will book a consultation by up to 79%. For off-hours responses, you’ll want to use an effective auto-responder, let consumers know when they can expect to hear from a human, and then deliver on that expectation.
Here are some tips for getting back to prospective patients quickly via email, and putting your best foot forward when you do.
1. Leverage Your Front Line to Get Back to Consumers Fast
Your front desk staff, who will likely be stationary, are your best bet for responding to email quickly since they can regularly monitor your inbox.
Unlike managing phone call inquiries, where your staff may want to transfer the caller to a team member who can focus solely on them, your front desk can stay on top of email while still fielding phone calls and greeting walk-in guests.
Practices that habitually reply to inquiries in an hour or less schedule three to six times more appointments from the same number of inquiries.
2. Set Expectations With Automated Responses During Non-Business Hours
For emails that are received outside of normal business hours, it is crucial to use an auto-responder. An auto-responder will immediately respond to emails with a standard message, ensuring the prospective patient that their message was received and that someone on your staff will get back to them during normal business hours.
Without an auto-responder anchoring your off-hours inquiries, consumers may feel their message was dropped into a void and wonder if anyone is listening. Make sure your staff sends a followup response as soon as possible on the next business day.
3. Make Your Responses Personal—And Personable
This initial contact will be among consumers’ first impressions of your practice, and will help set the tone for all future interactions. Make sure your staff addresses the sender by name and uses a warm, friendly tone.
4. Speak to Consumers’ Specific Questions in Email Responses
Making each response personalized, and ensuring you answer each question as much as possible, can reinforce the fact that they are dealing with a real person who is listening to them, cares about their needs and is there to help. If a question is unclear, ask for more details and confirm that it’s okay to give them a call to follow up.
5. Staff Should Credential the Doctor at This Critical Consumer Touchpoint
While addressing consumers questions, it’s also important to credential the doctor. There’s a chance they will have read your credentials on your RealSelf profile, but this is the perfect opportunity for staff to reiterate certifications and experience vis-à-vis the procedures the potential patient is interested in. This can best be accomplished in short bullet points.
6. Use Templates to Enable an All-Hands-On-Deck Approach
Make sure everyone on the team is trained on how to handle email inquiries. Even though you want to make responses personalized, you may be able to develop basic email templates based on the procedure prospective patients are interested in, and boilerplate answers to questions your front desk staff receives frequently.
If you choose to develop templates, you should still take care to address inquiring consumers by name and answer all the questions they have—templates offer a strong starting point, but those details still matter.
Now do this:
- Facilitate correct consumer expectations. Make sure your correct business hours are posted on your website and online profiles.
- Automatically signal to consumers that you offer fast responses by joining the RealSelf Network and becoming RealSelf Verified if you haven’t already. Start here.