Intake forms can help you better understand clients or potential clients before you meet them for the first time. New customers fill out them out before their first appointment, giving you the critical information and setting the tone for your working relationship. In many ways, these intake forms are one of the first impressions your company will make. If things go well, you can use that information to keep your customers informed about your future offerings and — hopefully — earn yourself a loyal, returning customer.
So what kind of impression do you need to make? How do you strike the perfect intake form balance of getting enough information without seeming too long or invasive? It all comes down to knowing what to include in your intake forms.
This may seem like a small thing, but branding can still be important when your customer is filling out an intake form. Your logo’s appearance can help lend credibility and trust to your intake form. It also helps your client to associate that logo with your company. That way, they’ll have your company in mind whenever they see your logo. Keep your logo at the top of the intake form, at the bottom, or wherever it is most fitting without being disruptive.
This is the main purpose of your intake form: you need to know how to contact your client. If you need to change the appointment, schedule a new appointment, or keep them posted about new events, you will need their contact information. This should include:
- Phone number
- Address (in the event that you use physical billing)
You’ll need this information for business purposes but may also be able to add your new clients to any email lists that you have, which can be a boon for lead generation.
Many intake forms include the question, “How did you hear about us?” They may have a list of a few options to choose from, or it may be left with a short blank where the customers can explain their first exposure to your company. This helps you to identify which forms of marketing or lead generation are most effective for your business and which are the least effective. You can allocate your marketing budget appropriately or tweak lead generation attempts that aren’t going as well as you hoped.
Not every new client will want to be spammed with promotional emails as soon as they fill out an intake form. For some, this could actually be quite a turnoff. It’s important to add a question towards the end — usually with a checkmark — asking if they would like to receive news on new promotions or other offerings through your email list.
If they check yes, you can add them to those email lists and keep them posted on any further promotions. That yes check also tells you that the new customer is truly interested in your company, whereas those who check no might just be a one-time customer. Either way, being given the option to opt in or out will help to gain their respect and build trust.
Whether they’re booking an appointment for the first time or asking for a quote, customers will want to explain what brings them to your business. And you need to know that so that you can better accommodate them. Make sure to include a text box where they can explain their reason for filling out the intake form.
The longer the intake form, the more questions they might have. Make sure they know where to ask those questions by providing links to your FAQ or to a chat where they can reach out for help. Again, this is a great way to build trust and authority and to make sure that they don’t bounce halfway through filling out the form.
Signatures help to make the intake form legally binding. It protects your client’s rights as well as your own. It’s important to have this space for the sake of security.
Once the intake form is filled out and submitted, the next thing the customer sees should be a warm welcome message. This can be a short message from your company, telling them how you look forward to working with them and how soon they can expect to hear from you. You can also include an email or further links to FAQ in the event that they have any questions. This offers the icing on the cake to that great first impression.