I remember looking for a therapist when I was 21. I felt anxious and hopeful before that first phone call with the woman I worked with for several years. If I hadn’t heard warmth in her voice, there’s no way I would have hired her. You’ve been a therapy client yourself, or maybe you’re in therapy now. Remember what it felt like when you reached out to find that person. Use that memory to help you know how to welcome potential clients into your practice.
In this series we’re examining your intake process from your potential client’s point of view, and I've created a checklist to help you with that. Last week I talked about the key parts of your intake process that happen before your potential client talks to you. Make sure you read that first, because many potential clients are lost before the first conversation.
You’ve got to be in the right mindset before your first phone call. Your goal is NOT to convince this person to work with you. Your biggest purpose in that call is to help her feel comfortable and cared about. Start with finding out what she wants help with. Even if she jumps right into logistics or has a lot of questions for you, slow her down and ask her to share a little bit about what’s going on right now. Offer your authentic empathy. You will get a sense quickly of whether she is an ideal client for you or if she is meant to work with another therapist. Have your referrals ready, and be just as happy to refer her out as to work with her. When you discuss money, smile. If you are comfortable and happy about what you charge, she will hear it. If you’re squeamish, she’ll hear that too.
If he schedules an appointment with you, be clear about how he will get to your office and what he needs to bring. If you ask him to fill out forms before the appointment, make sure the process is clear and simple.
Walk through her journey of walking in the door and sitting in the waiting room. If that process is uncomfortable or difficult in any way, change it. If she has to deal with a difficult door code, finding an address with an unclear sign, or sitting on a stained and lumpy chair, it clouds her experience.
When you finally meet him in the waiting room, greet him with a warm smile. In an attempt to be professional, some therapists and other healers come across as cold in this moment. Focus on helping him feel cared about in a potentially anxiety provoking moment.
Here’s a checklist. See how you’re doing and note what it will take to make the process better for your potential client.
- My website has welcoming and clear language.
- My website tells potential clients what to do next.
- It is easy to make an appointment or request an appointment on the site.
- My phone number and email are prominent on every page.
- My outgoing voicemail message is welcoming and the next steps are clear.
- My outgoing voicemail message includes other ways to contact me.
- I call potential clients back quickly.
- I respond to emails from potential clients quickly.
- My first email mentions my concern for the client.
- My first conversation is welcoming and clear.
- I smile when I name my fee.
- I have a system for letting the client know how to get to my office and what to bring.
- My forms process is clear and easy.
- It is easy to get in the door and find the waiting room.
- My waiting room is comfortable and pleasant.
- I greet my client with warmth and a smile.
From time to time, review your entire intake experience from the potential client’s point of view. Could you use some help making over your process for welcoming clients? Set up a free consultation now.