This is a guest post by music therapist Kat Fulton, MM, MT-BC of SoundHealthMusic.com
But we do know this:
In every “bad economy” there are people who thrive in each industry. People who make their craziest dreams come true. People who find some way to adapt to the times and achieve insane success. Some people even start private practices in bad economies and make it through without a scratch.
The question is:
What makes the difference between the practices that lose clients and the practices that gain clients?
The Better Business Bureau, Yelp, your national therapy association’s Code of Ethics, and I would all agree that treating clients with the highest level of dignity and respect makes the difference. I’ve got some tricks to add the icing to the cake for your clients. You already know that your therapy service and reporting are of the highest caliber. But let’s talk about communication with parents, family members, and caregivers.
I love the internet for client communications exchange, and I’ve found several ways to improve my customer service using the net. The best part? Most of these items are FREE. Here are 6 easy things you can do to make your clients as happy as clams:
1. Use web-based intake forms and payment options.
People aren’t always carrying around the ol’ checkbook these days. And this may sound strange, but pen and paper are going out of style fast. Web-based payment and forms are turning into more of a convenience than ever before. I pay my bills online. Why not add the therapy bills to the monthly list?
2. Offer telepractice services.
Consider gas and travel time. Telepractice saves time and money. I’ve only flirted with this idea, but I’ve come close. I had a client who lived 1.5 hours away. Instead of meeting in the middle, Skyping our sessions would have been a great solution! With my client, things changed and the family moved away. But I know of successful speech therapists who telepractice now and love it. Download Skype and give it a try.
3. Send out annual feedback forms to parents, families and caregivers.
This shows that you not only care about the person you serve, you also care about everyone around them. These questions are the best to use in order to get useful feedback:What hesitations did you have before hiring (company)?What short-term changes do you see in your loved one right after therapy? What long-term changes do you see in your loved one? What is the most effective therapy strategy that you’ve seen work? Would you recommend our therapy practice to others? Please explain in as many words as possible how we can improve our work with your loved one.
4. Make sure your website is user-friendly.
Update your listed events. Test your payment buttons to make sure they work. Determine how your can reduce loading time. Make sure your contact information is obvious and apparent. Remember that the fewer links there are to click, the less confusion will arise. Nothing frustrates a client more than a busy, confusing website.
5. Write blog posts with your clients in mind.
This is a stellar way to serve your clients. AND it brings traffic to your site and improves SEO. Ask your clients what they would like to know. Just start by blogging once per month as a service to your clients. Write it, publish it, and send it out in an email. They will love it. Your post titles might be “7 Great Tips for Parents of Kids with Speech Disfluency” or “How To Plan For A Respite” or “How To Transfer Speech Work Into Daily Routines.” These may be topics your parents, families, and caregivers would LOVE to know more about. Ask them.
6. Offer protected video content viewing options.
It kills me that my clients’ parents, families, and caregivers don’t always have the privilege to see what I see in the session. So, this is still a dream to me. I haven’t done it yet. But imagine recording your session, uploading it to a private web-based video publisher, embedding the video into your client’s customized password-protected area of your website, and then notifying your client that the session is available for viewing. Or how about private live-streaming? What a treat this would be for your client’s parents and families!
Customer service is more than a smile and a thank you.
Customer service is deeply inspiring, empowering, and moving your clients and their loved ones to evolve. I’d love to hear what makes your practice different from others.
Kat Fulton, MM, MT-BC is a board-certified music therapist and regular blogger. She teaches therapists how to use the web to convey their awesomeness in a course called Music Therapy Business. You can also read her music therapy blog.
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Jena H. Casbon, MS CCC-SLP is a private practice consultant who helps SLPs, OTs and PTs start their own private practices. She is the author of two books: The Guide to Private Patients and The Guide to Creating a Web Presence For Your Private Practice and an online course, Grow Your Private Practice.