Client Retention Strategies To Help Your Practice Grow
Increased competition in the therapy market means that it is more important than ever to satisfy clients and keep them coming back until they achieve a positive outcome. Turning new clients into loyal clients involves putting customer service at the heart of everything you do. Showing that you are committed to providing therapy in a safe, confidential and non-judgmental environment starts with the initial client encounter and continues through treatment and beyond. Here are a few strategies to help you build loyalty, garner repeat visits and reduce no shows in your private therapy practice.
Make a Good First Impression
When a client calls to schedule an appointment, make sure their call is picked up by someone who sounds warm, inviting and interested. In some practices, it may be necessary to have an automated attendant as a backup, but a live call handler is always best. The fastest way to lose a new client to another practice is to make them wait for a return call for something as simple as arranging an appointment.
Send a Welcome Letter
Once a client has scheduled an appointment, send them a welcome letter. The tone of this letter should be personal and genuine. The purpose is to solidify your relationship and make the client feel comfortable with their decision to choose your practice. You should also send friendly appointment reminders via automated calls, emails or SMS texts. These reminders will help your client to stay organized and prevent them from tackling the embarrassment of having to make a new appointment after a no-show.
Capture Information Electronically
Asking a client to fill out intake forms by hand in the waiting room is not the best way to create a positive first impression. Practice management software grants clients the chance to fill out, sign and submit intake forms electronically before their first session. Explore TheraNest’s counseling intake form templates to see how they could simplify the intake process for your private practice. It streamlines the intake process for your clients and helps you to reduce paperwork, improve record keeping and save time.
Allow Upfront Payments
One of the benefits of offering upfront payments is that it enables clients to avoid answering questions relating to how and when they are going to pay when visiting your practice. In addition to speeding up the registration process, it also eases billing, invoicing and electronic claim submission. You should consider allowing your clients to provide insurance information and make pre-payments for future sessions via a dedicated client portal. No shows and cancellations are also significantly reduced when a client has paid upfront. TheraNest’s mental health billing software allows practitioners to do all of these things in order to increase retention rates. Therapy scheduling software like TheraNest can help you keep your appointments in order so you never overbook.
Create a Welcoming Environment
The appearance of your office plays an important role in a client’s perception of your attitude. Before inviting a client into your office, ensure that you have created a warm and welcoming environment. A clean and orderly office with soft, comfortable décor and personal artifacts, such as certificates and diplomas, on display, creates a sense of trust and respect in the mind of a client, making it easier for them to participate fully in therapy.
Build Client Rapport
From the moment a client enters your office, they start on their own unique journey. Make it clear that they are in professional and capable hands by greeting them warmly at their first session and every session thereafter. Build rapport at your introductory session by encouraging your client to share their reasons for their visit. A statement such as “Please tell me what brings you here today” allows your client to define the conversation and shows them that you are prepared to listen.
Once your client has started talking about the issues that have brought them to your office, focus on the flow of words and do your best not to interrupt. Facilitate the telling of the story with subtle, non-verbal expressions of empathy, such as silent nods and meaningful eye contact. Listen to their wording and mirror it later on in the session to demonstrate your understanding and listening ability.
Provide Engaging Educational Materials
Before bidding farewell to your client, offer educational materials that can help them to see their situation more clearly, with hope and possibility for moving forward. You can deliver client education in many ways, from handing out booklets, brochures and other printed materials to posting podcasts and videos on your practice’s website. When you provide educational materials based on your clients’ needs, you improve your relevance and make your clients feel like they are getting, even more, value for their money. Start by identifying which problems the majority of your clients seek help for, then create useful content for those clients. For example, if many of your clients are looking to improve their self esteem, offer them links to useful self esteem worksheets and activities.
Offer Incentives for Future Appointments
The therapy process does not end when a client leaves your office. It continues through the implementation of the goals set out in their action plan. Your clients may be more likely to return to your practice for follow-up sessions if you provide them with an incentive to do so. Whether you choose to offer your clients a discount for scheduling their next appointment within a given time frame or for paying for multiple sessions upfront, think up ways to entice your clients to visit your practice over others.
Strive for a High Retention Rate in Therapy
By checking in with a client in between office visits and sending greetings or incentives on special dates, you can enhance their sense of being cared for and increase their top-of-mind awareness of your practice. When they require further therapy, they will think of your practice. They will seek your services over others, simply because they know that you care.
Make It Hard For Clients To Forget Their Appointment
Through automated phone call, text and email reminders you can remain top-of-mind so your clients never forget an appointment, then fall off of your schedule completely. TheraNest’s practice management software has this feature, and even gives you access to analytics so that you can track whether or not your retention strategies are working. Don’t just guess whether or not your efforts have been successful. Start a 21-day free trial of our therapy note software to know for sure.