Automated Cancellation Advice to Clients / Patients

Just as there is an automated communication sent to clients when an appointment is booked, an automated communication to a client when an appointment is cancelled would be a VERY helpful feature.

We always endeavour to send an email to clients when we receive a cancellation advice, but in a busy practice it is easy for this to get missed.
Given that we work with a significant number of clients experiencing anxiety, this can be a place of friction in the customer experience, which also has the added detraction of heightening their anxiety.

Thank you for your consideration. And in the meantime, if others in the community have a good work around, I would really appreciate your guidance.

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I would definitely be very helpful, VERY :wink:

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I agree this would be a VERY helpful feature

This is an absolute must for cancellations.
Rescheduled appointments get an email for the new appointment, but the client still won’t get a confirmation of the cancelled appointment.
This is fairly simple stuff, come on…

Hi all! Thanks for the messages and starting this conversation!

Part of the thinking behind there not being a cancellation notification for the patient, is that an appointment would not be cancelled without the patient being involved in that interaction. As examples - a patient may contact the clinic to cancel their appointment if they are unwell, or a clinic may contact the patient to cancel the appointment if the therapist is unwell.

Can I ask are there many circumstances where there will be no client/clinic communication involved in the cancellation of an appointment? If we can better understand clinic’s needs, we can better develop features to suit!

Cheers,
Marcus

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Dear Marcus,

You are correct, when we cancel an appointment there is always a client interaction in the process. Whilst sometimes we may speak directly with the client, the interaction is much more often a message left on voicemail or an email sent in response to an appointment reminder sent 2 days out before an appointment.

Canceling the appointment is one step in the process. From a client’s perspective, if they feel like they have been heard in their request to cancel and they do not then need to worry about the possible cancellation fee, I believe it gives them a great sense of relief and an experience of a high level of customer service.

Interacting with the client and then understanding why they needed to cancel the session and when we can re-book them is a subsequent step. This often involves return emails, texts and or phone calls. This takes time. Cliniko as a PM system has enabled us to grow as a reception free practice. This is something we would like to continue, both from a cost and client experience perspective (the client’s feel more connected to us as therapists which we believe is a very therapeutic aspect to our offering).

Yes certainly in an ideal world, the therapist would immediately follow up with the client and communicate their receipt of the cancellation and discuss a follow up appointment. In reality, the majority of our therapists are working back-to-back with clients and so taking time interaction does not happen until a break or until the end of the day.

I hope that helps. It is as much about the time delay that occurs related to the admin of follow up.

Sorry to be brief.

Clients waiting.

Sarah Sacks

P 03 -9532-4567

M 0478-565-315

E sarah@thegrovecounselling.com


www.thegrovecounselling.com

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Dear Marcus,

In my haste yesterday to complete the email in between sessions, I realise I wasn’t very clear. Perhaps this is a part of the issue - the brain shift that is required to craft communication vs in session brain …. it will all makes sense below …I hope!

I explained there are 2 steps to the process of cancelling - 1) receiving the cancellation advice, 2) communicating the client re re-scheduling / reason for cancelling. Whilst upon receiving their cancellation advice I might cancel the session in my calendar and want a quick note to go to the client to let them know that I have received and acknowledge their request, I don’t do the follow up re rebooking / reason for cancelling until a later point in the day or sometimes even the next day. This second step doesn’t happen til later b/c it takes so much time.

From a client’s perspective, the tardiness of my initial acknowledgement can result in 1) anxiety that they may be charged a cancellation fee, 2) friction of customer experience as they don’t feel serviced in that moment. As a user / practitioner / group practice owner, I want us all to be able to manage our own diaries and limit the number of in-between steps that are necessary to offer a high level of customer service to our clients. When I receive a cancellation advice, which can come through a multitude of different channels (Cliniko email, practice email, Cliniko text, therapy dedicated mobile text, SM, call to the practice landline, voicemail to the landline, voicemail to the therapy dedicated mobile), my first priority is to manage the diary, so I cancel the session and if there is another client waitlisted for that appointment advise them. I could at that moment also construct an email / send a text / make a call to the cancelling client to let them know that I have received their request, but I note that step can easily get missed the busyness of the practice.

We work as counselling psychotherapists, so many people come to us feeling unimportant / anxious about their place in the world. For this client group particularly, but I would say for a large portion of society, feeling like we matter and that we have been heard is a very important part of feeling well as a human. All I am asking for is a the time of cancelling an appointment, the option to send an automated acknowledgement for request for cancellation, perhaps with the option to personalise in it. For our practice I would want the message to read something like “Dear Client Name, thank you for letting us know you would like to cancel your appointment with Therapist Name on Appointment Date. We have cancelled the appointment accordingly and will be follow up with you soon. Warm regards Therapist Name / Practice Name”.

In the meantime as a work around I have created a series of letters that can be sent to clients depending on the nature of their request to cancel. With this, when I receive a cancellation request, I go to the appointment / Letters / select a pre-constructed letter re cancellation advice / email to client / cancel the appointment in the calendar / note I need to follow up with the client re rescheduling / fill the time from the Waitlist, then at the end of the day, I follow up with clients re next steps. Still a lot of steps, but a manageable brain shift in between sessions as opposed to having to turn on my mind to craft communication and work out the diary availability.

There is then the added layer of contractor therapists who may be at the practice 2 days per week. For these practitioners we help manage their communication and diary. In terms of delivering quality customer service both for the client of the practice and for the practitioner, this process is even more important. As mentioned previously we are a receptionist free practice.

In all honesty, with how intuitive Cliniko is and given that automated appointment confirmations are sent to clients and automated appointment cancellation advice is sent to the practitioner, for a long time we simply assumed that this sort of cancellation confirmation was being sent to the client. We only discovered this by accident, when clients called began contacting us rather agitated, asking to confirm that we had received their cancellation request. As we have become a full practice, this issue has become an issue. Prior to this time, we had the space to receive the advice, act on it immediately including rescheduling the client.

I hope that is clearer. And thank you for making the space to try and understand how we use the platform and what we need as a service providers.

Warm regards,

Sarah Sacks

P 03 -9532-4567

M 0478-565-315

E sarah@thegrovecounselling.com


www.thegrovecounselling.com

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Hi Sarah! Thank you so much for the detailed response and for your time taken in helping us understand your needs. You make a very good set of arguments for this feature, and I can see how it would be useful for your practice and others. I like your workaround with the letters feature!

I will go back to the team and draw attention to this. We’ll reach out if we have further questions!

Marcus

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I agree that when a patient has left a message on the out of hours voicemail they then would like confirmation of the cancellation to know it has been done.

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Hi Marcus,

From our perspective, Cliniko with its recent updates to confirmation & reminders etc has pushed forward massively in this area of client communications.
Cliniko is and also will be, about having a complex but simple to use software solution that is effective for the management of practice diaries.

When a client cancels say via voicemail, text or email when we are unavailable, I currently have to cancel their appointment in Cliniko. I then have to reply with confirmation that the appointment has been cancelled (because Cliniko doesn’t send a cancellation response).
When I am back in the office say 3 days later (bank holiday weekend) I will then call them to understand why it was cancelled and if they would like to reschedule it for another time.

How nice would it be for the middle part to be automated?
And just like your recent updates to confirmations, you could create set responses for different appointment types/ or reason for cancelling.
For example - if a client cancels their group class space this week, we would say something like - ‘sorry you missed class this week. Contact us if you would like to make up the missed class another time’.
However - if a client emailed to say they would like to cancel their Physio appointment because we have done such an amazing job and they are feeling much better, that would be a totally different reply.

Cancellation responses are really important for practices that put customer service high on their business values and Cliniko can help with that process.

Thanks for your time Marcus.

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Hi Marcus,

The main reasons I would like to see automated confirmations three fold.

Firstly it is better customer service. Many clients like confirmation that their request has been actioned. I think this is particularly reasonable in view of the fact that I, like many clinics, am very explicit in my policy of taking full payment for DNAs.

Secondly, patients will often cancel with full intention of re-booking but might not be able to do so immediately so a cancellation e-mail sitting in their inbox can be a useful reminder.

Thirdly, if a cancellation is received via a message eg answerphone, e-mail, text or call handling service then a confirmation the message has been received and acted upon is essential. If you could automate that it would save me some precious minutes!!

Hope that helps.

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