No-shows present a substantial challenge for many service-related businesses through wasted time, missed opportunities and the associated costs of those two things. One way you can potentially avoid no-shows is to send an appointment confirmation text ahead of time.
This article describes how missed appointments detrimentally affect different sectors and explains why SMS reminders are so effective. Looking for an appointment text message sample? You’ll find several of those in this post too.
The impact of missed appointments on businesses
Appointments are easily missed these days – we’ve all probably forgotten about an appointment or two ourselves because we lead busy lives that are full of distractions such as family, work and recreation. So although missed appointments are commonplace for businesses, they’re still a significant blow to the bottom line.
Both private and public sector healthcare get hit really hard by no-shows. NHS England, for instance, sees 1.2 million General Practitioner (GP) hours being wasted each year, adding up to a cost of more than £216 million. That cost alone is bad enough, but consider the knock-on effect on those people who are desperately waiting for a GP appointment; who would jump at the chance of seeing their doctor in the event of a cancellation.
The hairdressing and beauty industry is also severely affected by no-shows. According to research from Powered by Flossie, the UK hairdressing industry loses at least £1.2 billion each year as a result of missed appointments.
Then there’s hospitality; a sector that’s faced disruption more than most this year because of Coronavirus restrictions. All too frequently, people don’t turn up for restaurant reservations. Celebrity chef, Tom Kerridge, recently called out 27 no-shows at one of his own restaurants, stating that the industry was on the verge of collapse and that no-shows affect costs and force uncomfortable decisions about staffing levels.
Why send appointment confirmations by text?
As a marketing and communications channel, text messages are extremely popular, because they have an excellent open rate of 98%. Simply put, text messages get seen. People tend to have their mobile device on them, or close by, most of the day – and check their phone regularly. Case in point: Americans check their phone 96 times per day; that’s once every 10 minutes, according to a study conducted by Asurion, a global tech care company.
Text messages can undoubtedly help you connect with your customers, but just how well does an appointment confirmation text work? Well, effectiveness does vary by sector of course, but many experts agree that they help to reduce no-shows.
This review report conducted by the IGEES suggests that sending SMS reminders in advance of hospital appointments does indeed reduce non-attendance. It also indicates that SMS reminders are just as effective as phone reminders (but are less costly).1
And if your target audience involves millennials, an appointment confirmation text could be particularly effective. According to OpenMarket, millennials prefer texting over other forms of communication with 75% thinking text is a helpful way to receive appointment reminders.
The key elements of an appointment confirmation text
For best results, an appointment confirmation text should include your contact’s name, the time, date and location of their appointment and an option that allows them to cancel or reschedule, such as a web link or a phone number. Cancellations provide a better outcome for your business rather than a no-show because you should, in theory, have time to fill the vacant appointment slot with another customer or client.
If your business enforces a cancellation fee for last-minute cancellations, you could also use the appointment confirmation text to remind your contact of this policy.
Appointment confirmation text message sample
You’ll want to get all those important details across as briefly as possible in a text. Take a look at these examples below which cover different businesses and services:
Hi [Abdul], you’re booked in with our [dental hygienist] at [10am] on [27/11/20] at our [Ripley Lane branch]. Need to reschedule? Change time/date: [add URL]
Hey [Laura], your [cut and blow dry] is booked for [2pm] on [3/12/20] at [Top Cuts Hair Salon]. Can’t make it? Call [012 345 6789] now to rearrange.
[Buster] is due for his annual vaccinations at [11.45am] on [Monday, December 14th] at [Beales Veterinary Centre]. Not convenient? Rearrange it: [add URL]
Your feet are in for a treat at [Webster’s Chiropody Clinic], [4pm] on [17/12/20], [Sally]! Need to cancel? Call 48 hours before to avoid a fee. [0300 1012014]
[Jon], your [Kia Ceed, reg: AB CD 1234], is booked in for a service at [12pm] on [30/11/12] at [Neil’s Wheels]. Rearrange or cancel online: [add URL]
If you’re running short on space while creating your appointment confirmation text, read our top tips on how to fit more content into an SMS.
How to set up appointment reminders
The easiest way to set up appointment confirmation texts is to use an SMS messaging API that integrates with your appointment scheduling system and can trigger messages automatically. That way, once they’re set up, you can simply forget about them and get on with the day-to-day running of your business.
When setting up your appointment reminders, be sure to consider timings. Sending your reminder too soon can mean that your customer still forgets about their appointment. And sending it too late means your customer won’t have much time to think about rescheduling it if they need to.
A good rule of thumb is to trigger your appointment confirmation text to send a few days beforehand, but the right time really depends on your business and the type of services offered. For example, an auto repair company may need to send reminders out a week in advance, so customers have plenty of time to arrange alternative transport for when their vehicle is being worked on.
Get started with appointment confirmation texts
At Messente, appointment reminders are one of our main use cases. Our SMS API can integrate with whatever scheduling system you use, enabling you to automate the process of sending out appointment confirmation texts. Set up can be completed by your developer in just a few hours.
Additionally, you can use Messente to send a range of SMS campaigns, including promotional texts and customer service messages. Learn more – create a free account to get started.
1 Murphy, R., & Taaffe, C. (2019). Using SMS Reminders to Reduce Non-attendance at Hospital Appointments: an Umbrella Review of Key Issues, Department of Health Research Paper.