Confirmations make life easier. Whether it's confirming an upcoming flight or reminding a customer about a dentist appointment, each reminder is equally as important as the other.
Text message appointment confirmations and reminders can prevent misunderstandings and chaos, especially if your business provides appointment services.
No-shows can occur when there is a misunderstanding between a business and a customer about the booked appointment time. Or, a customer might not want to attend their appointment anymore and choose not to inform the business. Sometimes, the customer might simply forget about their appointment.
In any case, no-shows present a challenge for many service-related businesses due to wasted time, missed opportunities, and associated costs. If you are a business that provides services by appointment, you will benefit from sending a confirm appointment text to each customer ahead of time to prevent no-shows and save time for you and your staff.
Read on to discover more about how missed appointments can negatively impact businesses and why SMS reminders are the solution.
The impact of missed appointments on businesses
Appointments are easily missed these days – we have all probably forgotten about an appointment or two ourselves because we lead busy lives that are full of distractions such as family, work, and leisure. So although no-show appointments are commonplace for businesses, they are still a significant blow to the bottom line.
Both the private and public sectors of the health and wellness industry 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 no-shows.
Then there’s hospitality, a sector that has faced disruption more than most this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic 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 restaurants, stating that the industry was on the verge of collapse and that no-shows affect costs and force uncomfortable decisions about staffing levels.
What is an appointment confirmation text?
Appointment confirmation text messages act as reminders. Their main purpose is to prevent no-shows by reminding customers of their scheduled appointments and bookings beforehand via SMS messages.
Reminders are usually sent on the same day as the booking via SMS, hours or days before an upcoming appointment. Recipients can reply via text message or click on a link to confirm, cancel, or reschedule their upcoming appointment. These messages are often used by doctors, veterinarians, hair salons, and other services that offer services by appointment.
Why send an appointment confirmation message by text
A friendly reminder via text can encourage attendance and prevent the likelihood of cancellation. With the right appointment reminder app in your corner, you can easily distribute appointment time reminders and general text reminders to customers.
In some cases, you can automate the process of sending appointment confirmation texts and reminders to streamline your workflows.
Instead of time-consuming phone call reminders, you can send branded appointment reminder texts to customers. When you remind customers about upcoming appointments ahead of time, it gives them the necessary time they might need to reschedule appointment bookings.
Using the right SMS solution and confirming appointments at scale is not very challenging.
As a marketing and communications channel, text messages are extremely popular because they have an excellent open rate of 98%. Using a communication channel with such high open rates to confirm appointments will drastically improve attendance rates.
Simply put, text messages get seen. Your customer does not even have to own a smartphone. A simple feature phone with cellular network coverage will ensure that your customer receives your text. On top of that, people tend to have their mobile devices on them, or close by, for most of the day and check their phones regularly. Case in point: Americans check their phones 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 reminder text message work? Well, effectiveness does vary by sector, of course, but many experts agree that they certainly help to reduce the number of no-shows.
This review report conducted by the IGEES suggests that sending reminders via SMS in advance of hospital appointments reduces non-attendance. It also indicates that text message reminders are just as effective as reminders given through phone calls (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 – 75% of them think texts are a helpful way to receive appointment reminders.
You can build appointment reminders programmatically into your workflows and send recurring text reminders to those with looming appointments. If you are growing tired of no-shows and want to raise client attendance rates, SMS appointment reminders are the way to go. Appointment reminder text messages can help prevent cancellations.
An automated reminder text message for all customers should prevent them from missing their appointments. As SMS communication comes with instant notifications on a customer's mobile device, SMS appointment reminders are remarkably effective. Rather than sending appointment reminder messages via email, you should send appointment reminders via SMS.
The key elements of an appointment confirmation text
So you're ready to start sending appointment reminder messages to your customers via SMS. Now, it's time to design a text message that will garner the best results.
Every appointment reminder should provide the customer with the option to cancel or reschedule their appointment. To make it easy, you can include a link within the 160-character limit that directs customers to a webpage where they can view other days to book.
Cancellations are actually better than no-shows, especially if the appointment was cancelled with plenty of notice. This leaves room for your business to fill the vacant appointment slot with another customer or client.
On top of that, some businesses go a step further to prevent cancellations by imposing cancellation fees. If a business enforces cancellation fees, an appointment reminder text can also be used to remind the customer of this particular business policy and maybe reconsider their choice to cancel or reschedule their appointment.
Here are our tips for creating the perfect appointment confirmation text:
1. Use the customer's name
Personalization is key. You can tailor personalization not just around your business for branding purposes but also around the customers you are trying to target by addressing them with the right titles and names.
2. Confirm all the important details
A text reminder is not just a reminder of the time of an appointment. An SMS reminder should always confirm important details and include the appointment date, time, and location of the appointment.
On top of that, you should include any extra details that might help the customer out, such as the doctor's name or precise directions, and even a link to a map that explains how to get to the designated location.
Avoid burdening customers with too many unnecessary details, and remember that you are limited to 160 characters. So, prioritize the most important content and add extra detail only if you have space left. Given the criticality of such a message, make sure to double-check and confirm the text before sending it out to the customer.
3. Provide the option to opt out
Try to make your customer's life as easy as possible. You can do this by allowing them to confirm, reschedule or cancel their appointment without leaving their SMS app.
Although a large fraction of customers prefer text reminders, some might not want to receive them in their inboxes. This is why you should always provide an option for them to opt out of receiving reminders from you entirely at any point in time.
Appointment confirmation text message examples
You will want to get all the important details across as briefly as possible in a text. Take a look at these appointment reminder templates below, which cover different businesses and services:
Hi [Abdul], you’re booked in with our [dental hygienist] at [10 am] 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 [2 pm] on [3/12/20] at [Top Cuts Hair Salon]. Can’t make it? Call [012 345 6789] now to reschedule or cancel.
[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 are 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 a text reminder too soon can mean that your customer still forgets about their appointment. And sending it too late means your customer will not get much time to think about rescheduling it if they need to.
A good rule of thumb is to trigger your appointment confirmation text messages 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. A massage appointment, on the other hand, is something that a customer might easily forget the day of. So you can drop a friendly reminder at the start of the day, for instance.
Get started with appointment confirmation texts
At Messente, appointment confirmations and reminders are one of our main use cases. Our SMS API can integrate with whichever scheduling system you use, enabling you to automate the process of sending out appointment confirmation texts. The setup can be completed by your developer in just a few hours.
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.