In this first edition of RMT Tech Talk, the subject of utilizing technology to optimize external communications with your clients will be considered.
The intent of this article is to get you to think about your methods of communicating with your clients and also to provide some options on how you might rethink your approach to client communications. The intended result is to improve the experience for your clients – when they are interacting with your services – as well as for you as the care provider and, where applicable, business owner. The final goal is to optimize your patient care while improving the bottom line for your business.
With any business, as I’m sure everyone will agree, timely communication by the business owner with clients is crucial for establishing a positive professional relationship between the two parties. This could not be more evident than in today’s “connected” society, where customers are looking for immediate feedback from those they choose to do business with. Massage therapy clients are no different.
WHAT IS BEST FOR YOUR CLIENTS?
There are many communication technologies for streamlining your client communications available for you to incorporate into your practice. These technologies include the traditional telephone / answering machine, the postal service, electronic mail (e-mail), online websites and text messaging, to name a few. The question is, what combination of these technologies is best suited to you and your clients?
To answer this question, you need to examine the demographics of your clientele. For example, if your clientele is made up entirely – or almost entirely – of senior citizens, it is unlikely that your primary method of communications should be text messaging over the cellphone network. Conversely, if your clientele is made up of mostly younger people, say in their 20s and 30s, they would likely prefer, and expect, a form of electronic communication rather than a traditional telephone voice call and the resulting voice mail tag. You will want to keep in mind that this is really about what is best for your clients, and not what your preferences might be.
The reality is that your practice is likely made up of a diverse group of clients ranging from children to senior citizens. As a result, you may consider the adoption of multiple methods of communicating with your clients. However, this doesn’t mean you need to add to your daily workload, as many technologies available to massage therapists will actually save you time, effort and money.
SMART TECH MULTI-TASKING
Let’s consider what the communication technologies might look like in a massage therapy practice that has been optimized to support a clientele with a diverse age demographic.
- A home or office personal computer (PC) is a requirement.
- E-mail accounts that work hand–in-hand with the home or office PC, allowing clients to communicate with the practice electronically.
- A website to communicate information about your practice such as hours of operation and directions, treatment modalities offered, service rates, your no-show policy, etc. Since the website is often a potential client’s first glimpse at your practice, it should be professionally designed and convey relevant content in an easy-to-navigate structure. First impressions are often lasting impressions.
- Online appointment tools on the website that offer clients convenient access to your availability and allow them to request appointments at their leisure. This also saves the massage therapist’s valuable time.
- Telephone service with supporting voice mail. Yes, this may sound like it is old school, but it is still a requirement in any business setting. It will provide service to those clients who may be less tech-savvy and to anyone else who may only have access to a telephone.
- Keep in mind the voice mail greeting should direct your clients to the other methods of contacting your practice, and offer the option to request an appointment with you from your website, as this is the most common reason they are calling.
- E-mail messaging services that will automatically communicate appointment confirmations and reminders. This technology enhances your clients’ experience when doing business with you. It keeps them informed throughout the entire life-cycle of their appointments. Best of all, it is an automated process and does not add additional workload on the personnel of the practice.
- Cell phone technology that will allow the therapists to be more accessible and responsive to their clients via voice, e-mail and text messaging. During treatments of course, your cell phone “ring” function should be muted or turned off.
- The above communication tools are intended to accommodate everyone. They provide traditional communication services, as well as modern methods for those who prefer a more instant response. While this may appear to be complicated and budget-breaking, it doesn’t have to be. There are a variety of service providers that make these technologies readily available to massage therapists at a very affordable cost.
You will find that a large percentage of your clients will end up preferring to use electronic methods to communicate with you. This will actually be time-saving for you. You may elect to use this extra time to treat more clients or simply to spend more time with family and friends.
Until next time, be well!
Jessica Foster writes on behalf of mindZplay Solutions – a leading provider of massage therapy websites and practice management solutions. To learn more about mindZplay Solutions for Massage Therapists please visit www.massagemanedger.com or call toll free 888-373-6996.