How to Automate Text Reminders for your Appointments and Save Time!
Over the last decade, there have been significant developments in the smartphone industry. There has been an approximate increase of 2.7 billion smartphone users since 2016, and it’s no wonder that businesses are trying to find the best ways to reach clients through their phones.
According to a study, it was found that an average user goes through their phone about 150 times a day and about 78% of them prefer having a business exchange over text instead of conventional emails. Whether it’s a casual conversation or a formal one, text messaging is gradually being accepted as the most efficient and convenient way to share information. So what better way to reach out to your clients than with SMS appointment reminders, promos, and more?
Through this blog, we will show why you should use text reminders for appointments and the best practices to follow while doing so. Let’s get started!
Why are text reminders helpful?
Reminder texts are very important to improve business-client engagement. Using such reminders text messages can help you, as a business, to:
1. Prevent no shows
If you offer appointment based services, you are most likely familiar with appointment no-shows. When clients don’t show up, that can quickly decimate the ability of any business to succeed.
Across industries, the average no-show rate can vary from 10-15%, but it can go up to 80% for some industries, including healthcare. No-shows can not only affect your employee productivity, but can also have a negative impact on your business’s growth and efficiency. Thus, minimizing no-shows should be a priority.
For such businesses, text reminders for appointments can be a cost-effective solution as they may help in bringing down the number of missed appointments. With an online booking software like Appointy, you can configure when these appointment reminders go out to ensure that your clients are well aware of their upcoming appointments. We have a dedicated blog which highlights various ways to reduce no-shows so make sure to check that out as well.
2. Improve your efficiency
In the past, calling people up to remind them of their appointments was the way to go for most businesses, but it has its own set of challenges. Manual reminder texts are extremely time-consuming and costly as the time spent on managing these calls could be better spent elsewhere.
As a business owner/ manager, your list of tasks will be endless. Having an online appointment scheduling software will not only decrease the workload on your staff, but also enable them to focus on other things. Everything from notifying customers about their confirmed appointments to sending out appointment reminders via text messages, will be for the software to take care of 😀
3. Better client convenience
No one wants their work to get disturbed by calls. That goes for your clients too. They might not always be available for a call, especially during their working hours.
Missing the call or relying on a voicemail can increase the chances of a missed appointment. In contrast, SMS reminders won’t disrupt your clients and will provide them with a record of the appointment that is always accessible.
In fact, 75% of millennials think that texting is a helpful way to receive appointment reminders.
4. Keep proper track of your clients
Irrespective of your industry, you will have clients who try to cancel or re-book appointments at the last minute. Having automated appointment reminders will help you know who cancels often and who comes on time. It’ll help you create a detailed client database.
You could analyze the habits of your existing clients through the database and find which of your customers are unpredictable and unreliable. These insights will help you form strategies which can increase your client engagement.
Appointy’s online appointment scheduling software lets you keep a proper record of your client’s activities and allows you to focus on the right clients through its intelligent CRM tools. On top of this, using Appointy, you can also create cancellation policies and set a minimum cancellation notice which can help prevent last minute cancellations.
5. Know who isn’t coming in advance
Wouldn’t it be great to get notified about the cancellations ahead of time if a client has a change of plans?
Sending SMS reminders will not only notify the clients about the appointment but also make the cancellation process easier if required. Getting notified about the canceled appointments ahead of time will provide you with more time to fill gaps in your schedule and make room for someone on the waitlist.
From sending text reminders in advance and notifying you about the cancellations to filling in the gaps, Appointy does the whole job for you.
Maintain your brand and build client relationships
Satisfied clients are the greatest contributors to the growth of any business. Which is why building a strong client relationship is extremely important. Taking care of their convenience should be of utmost importance.
Did you know that texting is the preferred customer service channel, ahead of calls and email? Moreover, consumers express a more positive outlook towards a business if it has SMS capabilities simply because it is convenient for them to read an SMS instead of looking for and then going through an entire email.
Given all this, it’s fair to say that SMS reminders can deliver great results. They can help you create a good reputation for your business and make your clients know that you care about them and don’t want the appointments to get missed. As a result, you can boost customer loyalty and earn repeat business.
Best practices for SMS reminders
Now that you know why you should use SMS appointment reminders for your business, it is essential to understand how you can automate these reminders and what you should keep in mind while setting them up.
Here are a few tips:
Timing is everything
An SMS is usually opened within seconds, but it’s necessary to get the timing right. If you send it too early, you risk people forgetting, resulting in no-shows. If it’s too late, and even if your clients reschedule or cancel, you are left with an open slot with no one to fill in.
There are no hard and fast rules, but a few general guidelines which can help you:
- It’s optimal to send early reminders a couple of days ahead of time and a final reminder 24 hrs or 12 hrs before the appointment.
- People usually find it convenient to receive reminders during business hours.
Optimal timing can vary depending on the industry, so you should try to find the time that suits your business.
Various scheduling software, like Appointy, allows you to send a reminder at any time before an appointment according to your convenience. With such a software, you can configure the time dependency of these reminders and customize their content. These automatic reminders do not need any supervision. All you need is to configure your time preference and the content which you intend to send out, and that’s it! From there on, it’s the system’s responsibility to send out these reminders as and when required.
Make it concise and clear
You should try to ensure that all the relevant information is there in the reminders you send to your clients. You only have 160 characters before you get charged for a multi-part message. That’s why you must try to make the most of this limit and concisely put in the necessary details.
Here are a few key things that an appointment reminder should include :
- Client’s name
- Appointment date
- Appointment time
- Appointment location
If you have additional information or special instructions, consider sending a separate message or using a different channel. Online booking software like Appointy can help you with automating email notifications which are again completely customizable. You can send an email with all the booking details along with any additional details, if needed.
Right tone is the key
How you phrase your reminders will primarily depend on the kind of service which you provide, and the context you want to set. But in general, it’s advisable to frame reminder notifications in a way that sounds professional and feels approachable to your clients.
If a client has to cancel the appointment for some reason, they should feel comfortable enough to do so, as a cancellation is better than a no-show.
One way you can set up the right tone for your reminders is by personalizing them. A personal message has a friendly feel to it and can increase engagement. It can also demonstrate that you have an interest in developing long-term relationships with your client.
Considering the demographics of your business will also give you a direction towards setting up your reminders. For example, if your clients lie between the 18-30 age group, you could reach them better using lighter, less formal language.
Consider using a dedicated sender code
If you have a business that requires you to send frequent appointment reminders, it will be beneficial to get a dedicated sender code. A sender code represents the ‘from’ field when a message is deployed.
Having a dedicated sender code has various advantages. Some of them include :
- It makes it easier for your clients to recognize your business and gives you complete control over the number and how it is used.
- A dedicated number shows how professional your business is and helps you build trust, loyalty, and recognition.
- If you use a shared number, it’ll be randomly allocated and can be a little risky to use because other businesses might be using it too. A dedicated number will give you activity control and also improve brand security.
Try to include a CTA
It’s a good practice to offer a link or an option that the clients could use to respond to the appointment reminder.
Once the client gets to know the important details of their appointment, such as the date and time, they can respond by confirming. This will make them more likely to attend.
If there is some additional information to share that can’t be sent through the reminders, offering a link to a web page containing the details will improve client convenience.
Sending a link that directs to your website or your booking page will enable you to view link clicks and other analytics using various tools. That will allow you to keep track of your clients and also improve your website traffic.
SMS reminders vs. Emails: What to choose?
We have told you why you should use SMS reminders, but you might wonder, what about emails? Is one more effective than the other?
While email and SMS marketing are both effective ways to communicate with your clients, what differentiates the two channels is the intent behind the messages you send.
Emails are great for sending longer, richer messages that can include attachments and images and can be saved for future reference. On the other hand, SMS is the perfect communication channel for concise, timely information that doesn’t require an internet connection.
According to a study, SMS has an opening rate of around 98%, whereas it’s just 20% for emails. It has also been found that most text messages are read within 3 minutes of delivery. Thus, for sending out a text message reminder that aims to deliver concise information, SMS is the way to go.
From the healthcare industry, where it’s essential to remind the patients of their appointment to salons and beauty spas where there is nothing worse than having professionals standing around waiting for their clients to show up, a wide range of businesses can use SMS appointment reminders.
SMS text reminders help save time and money, reduce no-shows, have a convenient communication channel, and create a better experience for both businesses and clients.
Wondering how to automate such notifications? Don’t worry, we have got you covered!
Appointy is an online scheduling tool that can help you manage your appointments, run customer analytics, send out automated emails and SMSes, take care of payments and a whole lot more. And the best part is you can sign up for an account, without having to use a credit card, for absolutely free! For the first 2 weeks, you will have complete access to all the features Appointy has to offer.
If at the end of your trial you would like to upgrade, great! If not, your plan will automatically be downgraded and you can continue using it as you like, without incurring any cost 😀
You can simply visit our website, register for a free account, and get started right away!
We at Appointy, help business owners grow and run their businesses with our online scheduling software. This blog was a part of our ‘Manage your Business’ category, where we provide expert tips, and resources, or simply talk about the challenges that small and medium businesses face every day.
If you have any thoughts on this blog or would like to chat about your business struggles and achievements, let us know in the comments below.
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