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How to Set an Effective Cancellation Policy

Business Advice
Peter McKesson // January 19, 2018

How to Set an Effective Cancellation Policy

When your business depends on customer appointments, then whenever a cancellation happens, you lose money. Last-minute cancellations can be even more damaging, since they leave you little time to attempt to fill the empty appointment slot and recoup the loss. For these reasons, having a cancellation policy can help to protect your bottom line, but if your policy doesn’t suit your business and your customer base, it could end up costing you loyal clients. Integrating the ability to make, change, and cancel appointments into your business management software can streamline the process, and ensuring that customers have access to the policy when the book will ensure that they understand the guidelines. Here is a look at how you can build a cancellation policy that is right for your business.

Determine What You Need to Accomplish

Start by deciding what you want to prevent or reduce with your cancellation policy. If your main problem is cancellations that occur in the 24 hours before the original appointment time, then you may want to create a fee for cancellations that occur in that window. If your company’s services involve large fees and any cancellation is a significant disruption to your business, then consider collecting a deposit and setting a policy that deposits are forfeited for cancellations that occur in 30 days before the appointment.

By being clear about what you need to achieve with your policy, you can build one that gives you the protection that you need without creating an unreasonable burden for your customers.

Know When You’re Willing to Make Exceptions

Policies are helpful in creating clarity, but to avoid alienating your customers, you will also need to be flexible about making exceptions from time to time. For instance, if you have a regular cleaning client who uses your service every month who wishes to cancel one visit at the last minute because of a family emergency, you may want to be flexible in order to retain the ongoing business.

Although you can’t anticipate every potential situation that can arise, have some ground rules about exceptions, so you have a framework to guide your decision-making. Your employee should also understand your entire policy, including acceptable reasons for exceptions, so that they do not communicate misinformation to your customers.

Make It Clear

Clarity is essential when it comes to your cancellation policy. Use your online appointment system on your business management software to clearly and succinctly communicate your policy to people who book appointments. Include a prompt that customers have to check that indicates that they have read and understood the policy, so you can point to them if there are any issues in the future. You may also disable the ability to cancel appointments online within a certain window, so that customers need to contact you directly when they need to make a change.

Our business management software makes it easy to take appointments online and manage your staff’s schedule accordingly within a single interface. Use our tools to help you improve customer satisfaction while protecting you from the costs of excessive cancellations. Find out more about how our software can help your business by visiting our website, and stay up to date on news and tips for small businesses on our blog.

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