Skip to content

The Psychology Behind Appointments

Any business that operates with customer appointments knows that the logistics of booking, confirming, and managing appointments present a number of huge challenges.

People forget, they don’t show, they’re late, or they have to reschedule at the last minute. Each scenario introduces a number of additional logistical hurdles and headaches.
Earning the seller’s confidence is the main goal when communicating with a customer. Setting a firm appointment with a specific day and time increases the sense of responsibility to honor a commitment and the likelihood that the seller will show up at the dealership.

From the customer or seller perspective, there are other reasons why they are motivated to act a certain way regarding their appointment.  In this case, there are three different actions we want the seller to take, and we must consider their motivations for doing each one.

These three actions:
  • Agreeing on the appointment
  • Accepting the calendar invitation
  • Confirming the appointment

From that point, we can identify specific tactics that will help us achieve the best outcome.

Agreeing on the Appointment

Ensuring that you have a strategy in place to support the process will increase the number of appointments that your team sets. In turn, the number of sellers that honor those appointments will increase.  We find that providing options rather than closed-end questions works best for obtaining the appointment. Rather than asking the seller for a day and time, provide options:

  • “Which works better, tomorrow or the next day?”
  • “We have an 11:15 AM or 4:15 PM appointment open, which is best for your schedule?”

Accepting the Calendar Invitation

Avoid having someone forget to add an appointment to their calendar by sending a calendar invite via calendar, email or text right after the appointment is booked. This gives them an opportunity to add it to their schedule and reduces the chance that they will get busy and forget.

Appointment setting is useful, but if the time is not blocked off on their calendar, it may be impossible for them to stick to their appointment.

Provide all Relevant Information

One aspect of confirmation that is often overlooked is the importance of providing all the relevant information that someone would need to know before attending. It’s important to include parking, directions to the dealership, as well as bringing the extra set of keys and vehicle title that may be unknown to the seller when booking the appointment.

Confirming the Appointment

There is one thing that helps alleviate the majority of the problems with booking and maintaining an appointment schedule: Appointment Confirmations.

Dealerships find that once an appointment is confirmed, there is a 90% chance it will show. This level of success is huge for any appointment-based business.

How do you get more people to confirm their appointments to improve shown rates?  Having an alternate individual or manager confirming the appointment 24 hours before or on the same day dramatically increases the appointment shown rate.

The Psychology Behind Appointment Setting

If we break down the factors that impact the likelihood of someone confirming and arriving for their scheduled appointments, we have a few basic factors that will influence the outcome:

  • Intrinsic Motivations
  • Extrinsic Motivations

Although you can’t control mitigating circumstances, such as if someone is sick, has a last-minute change of schedule, or other cases — you can have influence on the remaining factors that go into someone confirming and arriving.  Let’s analyze each factor in depth to uncover specific tactics that will help us exert some level of control over the outcome of the situation and confirm more appointments.

Intrinsic Motivation

This is the level of motivation that a customer has to confirm and appear for their appointment, based on their own needs and desires. Although these desires are largely controlled by the person, you are able to exert some influence on their level of internal motivation by framing and reinforcing the importance of the appointment from their perspective.

Discuss the Benefits
Many companies send confirmation messages that focus on the basics — day, time, place — but not much else. This is a missed opportunity to reinforce why the person should want to attend their appointment.

Consider the fact that appointments are made for a specific reason. The person has a problem that they need to solve or something they are worried about and need answers. They are interested in selling their vehicle, reducing the stress and time constraints selling it on their own presents.  Try sending a personalized confirmation that provides motivation.  The point is to create a reminder of the underlying value of the appointment.

Use Inviting Language
Create messages that are short and to the point, but also use warm and welcoming language to make them feel at ease about attending the appointment. This will help you build rapport and comfort with your customers.  Something as simple as a friendly greeting or personalized message can go a long way in making someone’s day and helping them feel more confident about their scheduled appointment.

Extrinsic Motivations

Outside of internal motivations, you also have external forces that give people motivation to take a certain action. These factors are things like social norms, rewards, and other systems and processes that encourage people to either take an action or deter them from doing so.

These motivations can come in a number of forms, and you can use them to your advantage to reinforce the internal motivations that someone has and give them an additional reason to stick with their scheduled meeting.

Social Norms
Make sure that appointment holders know their spot is important in your schedule and that their actions will affect others. This will provide some social pressure that will help keep things running smoothly.  Try sending a message that clearly says that by confirming their appointment, they will be locking in a block of time meant just for them — and that other people will be counting on them to follow through on that confirmation.

Lastly, but not least, customers need to feel adequately prepared for their appointment.  Even if customers have numerous internal and external motivations for attending, they may not show up if they feel unprepared or too stressed out. Do they know where they are going? Where they will park? The time, date, and who they will be seeing?  Giving your customers confidence goes a long way to ease any fears or anxiety about the appointment.

These small changes to your appointment process can make a huge difference and give customers the extra boost they need to confirm their appointment and arrive as expected.