If you’ve made an effort to meet with your customers regularly, I’m willing to bet you’re familiar with one of the biggest frustrations of any appointment-driven work.
You guessed it - no-shows.
Sometimes people get busy and forget their appointments. Other times they may misunderstand the purpose of the appointment in the first place and decide to skip it.
No-shows cost you money, time, and energy, and the unfortunate reality is they’re inevitable.
It’s worth mentioning that even when no-shows happen, your review program and retention strategy aren’t all for nothing - check out this blog post to see the many benefits of your proactive outreach, even when clients don’t show - No Show? Not the end of the world.
Now, while they’re bound to happen on occasion, that doesn’t mean you’re powerless - there are many different things you can do that will significantly increase the likelihood of your customers showing up for the appointments they schedule.
By talking to some of the most successful agents we’ve worked with over the past 15 years and scouring the internet for other ideas, we’ve got an updated list of things you can do to prevent and reduce the number of no-shows at your agency and ultimately increase the efficiency of your annual review program.
Before I get into the list of things you can do to prevent no-shows, it’s important that we briefly touch on one thing - your client’s perception and understanding of an annual review appointment.
When clients feel confused about the appointment they’ve committed to, the likelihood of them showing up is pretty low.
On the flip side, if they have a basic understanding of what the meeting is for, and especially if they understand the value and benefits they’ll be getting out of it, they’re much more likely to show.
Knowing the meeting will add value to their life is the primary motivation for them to schedule an appointment and show up.
Reinforcing the value and benefits they’ll receive from attending an annual review is something you can do with most of the items on our list and can even be implemented before an appointment has been scheduled!
Learn more about that here: Preparing Your Clients: Laying The Groundwork for an Effective Annual Insurance Review Program (2 min. read)
Now for the list (in no particular order):
1. Call 3 days before the appointment
Calling 3 days before allows you to remind your client of the importance of the meeting - especially the things that will benefit them the most.
They may have forgotten what you explained when they scheduled the appointment.
You can also mention the specific policies you will review and what they should bring if anything.
2. Call the day before or the morning of the appointment
People are naturally forgetful, and calling the morning before their appointment will be a helpful reminder.
It also shows your client how important the meeting is to you.
3. Utilize Text Messaging
I came across some interesting statistics on 2023 texting trends related to businesses. Text Request created a report from survey results they gathered, some of which are a little surprising!
88% of people want text messages regarding appointment scheduling. 88%!
70% of people say text is the quickest way to reach them
You might think this only applies to younger generations, but that’s no longer the case.
Adults ages 46-55 read text messages sooner than other age groups and 75% of this age group says text is the quickest way to reach them.
Adults from ages 26 - 65 read the same number of texts.
They share many more statistics about text messaging that I won’t cover - you can read more here.
Clearly, utilizing text message reminders is a no-brainer. We’ve all got our phones on us most of the time, and text messages are more difficult to miss than emails for most of us.
You can even experiment with re-confirmation links in your text messages to let you know they got your message and are still planning on the appointment.
Our IT team at Engagex is currently testing a new text reminder feature for the agents we set appointments for - stay tuned for that!
4. Utilize Email
Email reminders similar to text messages are great! Add a calendar link to make them even more effective so they can easily put it on THEIR calendar.
Remember to reinforce the value and importance of the appointment.
To prepare them for the appointment, send a brief meeting agenda including the policies you’ll be reviewing, contact info that needs to be updated, and some space for them to add anything they might want to cover.
Sending a Needs Assessment form for them to complete before the meeting is also a great way to prepare them!
Read more about the Needs Assessment form here: 3 Reasons a Needs Assessment Form is One of Your Best Sales Tools (2 min. Read + free PDF download)
5. Consider sending a postcard reminder
If you schedule an appointment more than a few days in advance, sending a postcard is a great idea!
Print custom postcards that include a picture of your office or staff with a message saying something like, “We're excited to meet with you next week!” and the appointment details.
This outreach, again, reinforces the importance of the meeting and sends the message that you’re taking time to prepare.
6. Prioritize Convenience
Be aware of the barriers and obstacles your clients must overcome to get to an appointment with you.
The more inconvenient it is, the more likely they are to cancel or no-show.
Some ways you can prioritize your client’s convenience:
Offer Virtual or Phone Appointments
From what we hear from most agents, virtual appointments are more effective than phone appointments. However, some agents have better phone appointments!
Offering a way for your client to meet with you that doesn’t require them to hop in the car and drive for 10 minutes to an hour shows them you value their time.
If you’re a State Farm agent, we created a Webinar featuring 2022 Million Dollar Round Table agent Pat Dickey. In the hour-long presentation, Pat shares his secrets on how he grows his agency utilizing virtual appointments and continues to provide top-notch service despite losing multiple staff members.
Register here: How to Use Good Neighbor Connect for Simple Conversations
Consider Lunch or Coffee Appointments
With clients who are comfortable with it, consider appointments that might feel more personal for them. Grabbing a coffee or lunch can be a simple way to cultivate a relationship of trust that will help you to help them.
After Hours Appointments
Many of your customers likely work the same hours as you do. You don’t need to offer evening or weekend appointments all the time, but consider designating a few days each month when you’ll be available to meet outside your regular office hours.
This simple adjustment will speak volumes to the customers that typically can’t meet with you during business hours.
7. Smart Scheduling
The days and time slots that you offer appointments can have an impact on the no-show rate!
Typically, any appointment over a month away is more likely to be canceled, rescheduled, or a no-show. The optimal time frame to schedule is within the next 2-3 weeks.
Track no-shows to see trends over time
If you notice certain appointment times (like Friday afternoon, for example) result in no-shows more than other time slots, it might be better to remove that option altogether.
Keeping track of this will help you adjust your options over time to be most efficient.
8. Don’t Overbook!
If someone has cleared 30 min to an hour to meet with you, imagine the annoyance they would feel if they arrived on time to find you busy with another client.
Schedule ample time between appointments to make every client feel valued and respected. If you’re clearly scattered and multi-tasking during their appointment, don’t expect them to return next year for a review.
9. Offer Gifts or Incentives
A quick note about gifts/incentives: familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations to know what you can and can’t do.
Consider asking if they’d like a coffee or soft drink for the meeting if you can.
If you have a loyalty program, you could incorporate an annual review as one of the qualifications.
Instead of a holiday gift for your clients, you could give them a mug or other “swag” item when they come in for the review.
Remember that if you’re just starting to implement an annual review program, your clients will likely need time to get used to it.
During the first 6 months to a year, you’ll likely have a higher rate of no-shows than is ideal. However, with continued effort and consistency, despite these no-shows and other bumps in the road, it will become a routine that they expect and want to participate in.
It can be tempting to slow down or try something else instead of reviews if they’re not going well initially, but once you push past the early obstacles, it will get better. Just keep going.
11. Immediate Follow-up
10 or 15 minutes after the appointment start time, if they haven’t shown up yet, call them to see if they’re on their way or need to reschedule.
Waiting too long to follow up tells the customer that the meeting wasn’t all that important to you.
(If Engagex schedules your appointments, all you have to do is mark the appointment as a no-show/reschedule in the agent portal, and we take care of rescheduling or replacing the no-show ASAP!)
12. Continued Proactive Engagement
Continued proactive engagement with your clients is the most effective strategy to prevent no-shows and increase retention, referrals, and cross-selling.
If your clients never hear from you, they’re much less likely to agree to a meeting in the first place - and even if they do schedule, they’re less likely to show.
You can’t trust someone you don’t know - and you can’t know someone you don’t hear from.
When your annual customer insurance review program is part of a broader proactive outreach effort, they strengthen each other.
While the insurance industry has undergone some massive shifts in the past decade or so, one thing remains true: it’s a relationship business.
Nothing can make up for a long-term relationship of trust with your clients.
Implementing some or all of these tips can considerably improve your appointment show rate and, over time, deepen client relationships, improve retention rates, and increase sales and referrals.
What other things have you done to prevent no-shows at your agency? Please let us know in the comments below!