Healthcare marketing: Is online booking always the best option for your clients?

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Online booking is no longer just a nice to have, today’s patients and clients expect it. With more and more people accessing health services online, being able to book an appointment straight from the screen and bypass the need to pick up the phone is a real plus. But is it always the best option?

Online booking is big

Thanks to today’s sophisticated online booking management systems, such as Gensolve, MindBodyOnline and Cliniko, setting up online booking on your health website or even your company Facebook page is now easier than ever. MindBodyOnline even lets your patients or clients book an appointment directly via a mobile app.

Whether your business is general practice, physiotherapy, cosmetic surgery or personal training, your customers can log on, view your calendar, choose a preferred practitioner, pick a time slot, fill in their details then simply press click to book. It’s as easy as that.

Benefits of online booking

Not only is online appointment booking easy for customers it’s also convenient. They can do it anytime, e.g. they can hop on and book in the evening rather than trying to find a time to call in the day. They can also do it anywhere, e.g. on the bus or in bed via a mobile device. Plus it offers some great benefits to you.

Most importantly it reduces the time spent making bookings over the phone, freeing up staff to deal with clinic or practice footfall. In addition, it eliminates duplicate booking errors that can so easily occur when appointments are made. Because many of these systems send out SMS reminders, they can also minimise missed appointments.

Is online booking always best?

There’s no denying that online booking offers many advantages to patients and clients, and to you. If you don’t already have it set up, it’s definitely something worth doing. However, it shouldn’t be your only option. That’s because online booking many not always be the best solution in every case.

For example, while an online booking system can be very convenient for your existing clients or patients, it may not always be the most effective option for new ones.

Firstly, as it eliminates an opportunity for human contact, you’re missing out on a vital chance to connect with people on a personal level and build trust – something better achieved over the phone or in person. Because trust is such a major factor in people choosing health services, if you only offer online booking people may be wary.

Secondly, clients or patients may not know which doctor, practitioner or service would be best suited to their needs. This means they may make a booking that it unsuitable or insufficient, wasting their time and yours. This compares to having a conversation with them during which you can figure out exactly what they require.

The advantages of call back

There are a couple of ways to overcome these two drawbacks. The first is a clearly visible phone number on your website and social media pages which prospective patients can call. The second is to offer a call back option alongside your online booking facility.

Rather than getting patients or clients to call you, a call back form lets them input their name and contact details and request that you contact them. You can even include fields for extra information, such as the nature of their health issue, so you have a better understanding and can assist them more efficiently when you do call them.

Not only can this help you deliver better customer service, it’s once again taking the pressure away from your front desk as call backs can be made a more convenient time, for example, when your clinic is less busy. This will also boost your customer service by avoiding rushed conversations, voice mail diverts and unanswered calls.

It’s all about choice

Ultimately, the more options you can give your patients or clients for making an appointment, the better. Today’s customers expect choice, and if you don’t offer it they might just head off to another provider or service that does. So, as well as including your phone number on your website, include an option for online booking as well as a call back form – it’s a win, win for you and your patients.

Need some help setting up online booking and call back on your website? Contact Total Medical Design Today.