While waiting for my daughter’s optometrist appointment to wrap up, I received a voicemail from a potential client. I stepped out to return the call. And in what felt like 90 seconds, I had already collected the client’s information, finalized an appointment date and time, and sent an email with a link to my paperless intake forms for them to fill out.
I sat back down in the waiting room and thought, “Wow, that was painless.” That’s when the true value of SimplePractice really sank in for me.
The Features that Improved My Client Onboarding
My answer is always “onboarding!” whenever a curious colleague asks me why I chose SimplePractice as my practice management platform. My days of returning phone calls, manually transcribing paper forms, arranging early arrival times, and leaving reminder voicemails are gone now—thanks to SimplePractice.
Now that my website’s “Book Now” button directs potential clients straight to my online portal, it’s more common for me to receive new-client appointment requests through my website. All they have to do is click “I’m a New Client” and fill out basic information to request an appointment.
Then, I receive a SimplePractice email stating “New Appointment Requested by [Client Initials].” I simply click the link to view the request and approve or reject it as I see fit—enabling me to have full control over my own schedule while still getting the perks of online appointment requests.
For example, just the other night around 2-3AM, a client of mine signed onto their portal, picked a time on my schedule, and began the onboarding process. When I woke up the next morning, I found their name on my schedule.
This has given my clients a ton of freedom. Plus, it helps protect their confidentiality because they’re not having to talk to someone on the phone and go through all of that anxious conversation. Clients can book appointments from the privacy of their phone and other devices. Then, all I do is approve it with just one click, and SimplePractice sends my new client an email with a link to fill out my introductory paperwork. And voila! My new client is ready to start their sessions.
You can still screen clients prior to an intake session if you prefer. For me, I just have one service listed—a counseling session. I want to make it as simple as possible for my clients, so they don’t really have to make any decisions. From there, they can decide if they want an in-person appointment or a telehealth session. Once they’ve chosen their preference, they can select a time that works best for them on my calendar, which only shows my availability.
Customizable, Paperless Intake Forms
One of the things I receive a ton of positive feedback on from my clients is my paperless intake process. They’re able to fill out all of the forms through their personal, online portal. My clients love how easy it is to review informed consent documents and complete intake questionnaires.
What makes the feature especially valuable is that you can build your own intake forms or choose from a sizable batch of templates. Customizing and editing forms is a breeze. I can quickly create unique forms for my various clients and services.
As part of the onboarding paperwork, clients can indicate what their reminder preferences are—options include email, text, and voicemail reminders. They can also opt-out if they want. I can even customize what my email and text reminders say.
As part of my intake process, I typically review and explain the types of reminders they can choose from, and then I can make any adjustments as needed. Sometimes I forget how time-consuming it was to call or text clients before appointments. These automated reminders are easy to set up and have saved me a bunch of time.
Telehealth by SimplePractice has proven to be super handy, especially during these unprecedented times. For me, it’s worth every penny.
New clients who’ve chosen to meet via Telehealth receive an email link prior to their appointment time. One click and they’re in! New clients also have the option to use the free Telehealth by SimplePractice app on their smartphone or tablet. Either way, clients have a private and easy way to virtually connect with you.
Why the Clients’ Onboarding Experience Matters
Potential clients should be able to go from “interested” to “on your schedule” in a streamlined, easy way that makes sense to them. If not, you may be missing out on a lot of clients. From what I’ve heard and seen, private practices typically have one in every three website visitors become a client. With online appointment requests, I’m able to connect with so much more.
It’s great for me as a clinician, and for clients, because it gets their therapy process started off on the right foot. I talked to colleagues a lot about this process. And the fact is, clients are often anxious when they’re signing on with a new clinician. It’s a risk to sit across from a stranger or to jump on a Telehealth session with someone you’ve never met.
The onboarding process starts from the very first moment of contact. Your onboarding process can either help with client anxiety, or it can hinder that process. And thankfully, with SimplePractice, each step of the process helps bring down those feelings of risk or anxiety. This helps me establish a strong working foundation with them—even before their first session.