Explain the rules, plainly

It may seem obvious, but if you want your clients to behave in a certain way, why not just tell them? Open honest communication really is the way to go.

That’s why I was thrilled to see the following message in a newsletter from my chiropractor:

Missed appointments and late cancellations — our solution

Missed appointments and late cancellations are an inconvenience not only for us, but also for other clients who may have wanted your appointment time and miss out. So in future missed appointments and cancellations on the same day will be handled as follows:

1st missed appt: We understand, anyone can forget once.

2nd missed appt: We’re not very happy — a gift (wine or flowers etc) is required to appease us. Or we will donate your “Missed appointment fee” to charity.

3rd missed appt: Our regular fee will apply.

4th missed appt: Our regular fee will apply and we won’t make any more appointments for you.

What a superb piece of writing, too. It’s friendly and conversational, but it’s also laying down the law.

2 Replies to “Explain the rules, plainly”

  1. that comes under the same heading as padding your deadlines with knowledge of how your suppliers/clients behave

    we did this at a job ad place I once worked at: our boss was the “tell em what they want to hear” kind but this simply made too much unneccesary stress for us workers at the end of the week – when he was away one week the ‘rep’ girl and I got together and came up with some realistic (for us) deadlines which built in the slackness of various clients, turnaround times for outsourced layouts etc and we stuck to it.

    We had a few mumbles for a week or so, but within a month the other girl and I were actually able to go home at a decent time on Thursdays and Fridays. In fact we ended up being able to go out for lunch on Fridays instead of chasing late adverts. The clients were happier as we no longer kept hassling them for copy or proof approvals s and we were able to get them proofs earlier in the week to run through their end of things.

    Honesty and knowing your workload capabilities coupled with communication equals a lower stress level in your workforce (and often in your clients and suppliers too).

    A side effect in our situation was eventually boredom set in as we had nothing else to do… but that was also to do with the size of our office and its lack of diversity in services.

  2. @quadrapop: Funny you should mention all that. My business is having “problems” with a client that’s exactly that “Tell the end client what they want to hear” type — too afraid to raise “tricky” issues — with the result that there’s increased stress.

    One example is that the client needs to sign off on something before we can move to the next stage of the project. The “plan” (such that it is) is predicated on the client turning that around in a day or two — but they’re busy people and can’t do that, and it’s even less likely to be that prompt during the last week of the financial year. Everyone’s busy! But the plan has yet to be adjusted…

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