Reduce No-Shows with SMS Appointment Reminders

If you’re running an appointment based business you’re probably painfully aware of the cost of no-shows and missed appointments. Whether you’re taking bookings for an office based business (doctor, dentist, hairdresser etc) or for onsite appointments (building inspections, electricians, plumbers etc) it’s important to have a system in place to remind your customers about the upcoming appointment in advance.

Integrating reminders into the daily workflow of your appointment based business has a number of important benefits:

  • decreases appointment no-shows. We’re all human and sometimes we just forget to enter the appointment into our diary, but being reminded helps prevent no-shows or gives customers a chance to cancel or reschedule. It also allows you to fill your calendar if someone cancels with other waitlisted customers
  • maximises the convenience to the customer by allowing them to receive reminders on their mobile phone which they generally have with them at most times. They can also choose to respond if necessary from their phone at a time of their choosing
  • reduce the number of outbound and inbound calls and staff playing telephone tag

SMS messaging has emerged to be a preferred channel for customer communication including appointment reminders. I personally receive SMS reminders for the majority of my appointments (everything from car repairs/servicing to dental appointments). There are a number of advantages of SMS appointment reminders including:

  • SMS/TXT messaging is available on every mobile phone – there’s no need to download an app. It will work just as well on a Nokia from the 1990s as it will on the latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy and doesn’t require an Internet/data connection
  • sending txt messages is immediate and asynchoronous – it doesn’t require you and your customer to be talking to each other at the same time. You can send an appointment reminder to a customer and they can read the message and reply if needed at a time that is convenient to them
  • 90% of SMS messages are read within 3 minutes of being received and have a a 5X higher open rate than email
  • Cost effective – compared to a physical mail out or phone calls SMS appointment reminders are very cost effective

We’ve helped many small businesses implement an SMS based appointment reminder system into their daily workflows, including:

  • a removal business sends appointment reminders to both customers and truck drivers 2 days in advance confirming the upcoming appointment
  • a hairdresser automatically sends out appointment reminders 3 days before each appointment using a FileMaker Server scheduled script
  • a physiotherapist sends out birthday congratulations to all their customers automatically on their birthday with special offers using a FileMaker Server scheduled script

Appointment reminders can be sent by a staff member each day (for example to remind everyone about appointments tomorrow) or scheduled to be sent automatically by FileMaker Server. You can also take advantage of 2 way messaging to allow your customers to send a reply via SMS which is routed directly back into your FileMaker solution. One customer was able to replace a process that took 2 staff members over 90 minutes to contact all customers to confirm their appointments for the next day with an automated SMS reminder system that sends out hundreds of appointment reminders in under 5 minutes.

If you would like to discuss integrating SMS appointment reminders into your FileMaker solution please contact us for a free initial consultation to discuss your requirements. Our fmSMS solution is also available if you would like to have your existing in-house/external FileMaker developer perform an integration using our ready made solution.

 

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