By Kelly Houtchens
The ubiquity of texting is undeniable. Most patient management systems include automated texting out of the box, but they don’t allow customers to respond naturally. Conversational texting is becoming increasingly prevalent within the industry, and now it is possible to tell your patients to “text or call” your main phone number.
Your existing business phone number is one of the most vital pieces of information associated with your business. You’ve probably had it the entire time you’ve owned your practice. It’s published online, included on business cards, in directories, on your website, invoices… the list goes on. Your phone number is a major piece of your brand — and it’s now possible to text-enable that number.
Keeping your phone number live and working is key in staying in contact with your patients. Having a published business phone number directly increases the number of appointments booked and annual revenue earned:
- Patients are seven times more likely to respond to a text than return a call.
- Every day, there are 150 million texts sent to non-mobile numbers. These texts are going into a black hole if your main phone number isn’t text-enabled.
- Most people find listening to and leaving voicemail to be a painful experience. JP Morgan Chase and Coca Cola have eliminated voicemail from their phone systems.
Patients don’t want to call your office OR be called by your office – they want to text. It’s in your best interest to make it as simple as possible for a patient to contact you.
According to the Wendy Briggs Team Training Institute, there are five common phone calls made to a practice:
- An emergency call from a new patient who needs to book an appointment
- A new patient seeking recare who needs to book an appointment
- A shopper caller
- A patient cancelling an appointment
- A patient calling with a financial or clinical question
All of these calls can (and should) be converted to a text conversation. This will free up your staff to offer better in-person service to your patients, and the patients who are texting you instead of calling for the aforementioned reasons will be much happier. Reaching patients in an unobtrusive easy way is in your best interest. Texting them from a recognizable phone number will help you reach them immediately. Imagine filling your wait list in minutes or even seconds guaranteed.
Kelly Houtchens is a widely-recognized expert in healthcare communications and a frequent speaker at medical industry events. As Director of Medical Sales at Zipwhip, she helps doctors and practices improve patient engagement, office efficiency, and productivity. You can meet her at CDA or ADA annual conferences.