If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me the best way to handle appointment cancellation calls, I’d be a rich woman. So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk about some tried and true ways to handle the inevitable. Now, before we dive into this, I wanted to note that there are measures to take to avoid cancellation calls from happening in the first place, but that’s another story for another time. Or you can check out a blog post by our very own Chief Operating Officer, Jennifer Price, who covers the bases on this.
Let’s be honest. No one loves taking cancellation calls but someone’s got to do it. If possible, you should have one expert and one backup employee (just in case the point person is out of the office) handle all of these calls. They should also be trained on how to do this. If you’re the boss lady or boss man you might even consider turning this into a fun game by giving this staff member a reward if they are able to turn the call from a cancellation to a rescheduled meeting because it’s no easy feat; however, if done properly it can become a reality.
The first thing you’ll want to do when you receive this call is to STOP EVERYTHING. And I mean everything. Be in the moment, focus and direct all of your energy to the prospective client and this call. Time should come to a standstill– it’s just you and the prospect. OK, maybe I went a little too far there but you get the idea. It’s also important to go into this call with the mindset that they’ll want to reschedule.
Secondly, listening is key. You should be listening on all of your calls but it’s even more important here. Have you ever tried talking to someone and instead of them listening intently to you, you see them checking Facebook on their phone, looking at the people walking behind you, and basically doing everything but really listening? I’m sure you’ve experienced this before and it probably made you feel unheard, not important and overall not great. Well, guess what, even if the person can’t see you because they are on the other end of the line, they can still feel this distraction and disinterest, intentional or not. It’s imperative to remind yourself that they are not just a number on your tracking report but rather a real live person. Take the approach that you are there to help them and make a difference in their life. By taking this approach, you’ll also come across more sincere.
Additionally, ask open-ended questions and get them talking. They have their own sense of reality distinct from your own, therefore, it’s important to always listen, ask questions, and never assume based on your own interpretations. Their answers may actually surprise you.
And remember, you don’t want to convince anyone to keep their appointments nor can you change their mind. But, you can always ask thought-provoking questions to get them to re-evaluate the level of importance they are placing on the meeting, which could get them to change their own mind and keep/reschedule their appointment.
This is just the tip of the iceberg – if you are a Member, contact your Practice Building Consultant to learn even more ways to handle cancellations. They can also point you to all of the great resources we have on this topic. Even if you’re not a Member, consider some of these approaches and turn those cancellations into clients!
Until next time,
Practice Building Consultant
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555
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