3 Tips for Sending Effective Appointment Reminders

Businessman with too many things on schedule

Automated appointment reminders have been shown to increase no-shows by as much as 80%. This staggering number is a direct effect to any businesses’ bottom line. But, more importantly, how you use this feature can have a big impact on your results and your customer experience. Here are three tricks everyone should know when they use automated appointment reminders.

Tip #1: Learn Your Magic Number

Sending out an automated appointment reminder can be tricky business. Too many and it becomes annoying. Too little and it becomes ineffective. Every audience will vary slightly, which is why it’s important you know and understand your audience. Depending on your practice as well as the appointment type, your magic number may vary.

For example, if you are sending out an annual reminder for an appointment, it’s probably best to give your customers some notice.  Most likely, the appointment is not even on their radar. So if they get hit with a reminder the day before the appointment, they may have to cancel, or worse “no-show“. It’s probably best to send out a couple of reminders for this type of appointment.  The first one could be one or even two weeks prior to give them plenty of heads-up time.  Then send a follow up reminder perhaps a couple of days prior to the appointment.

However, if you have a weekly appointment scheduled with a customer, most likely you will not need to send out many reminders at all. In this case, it’s probably better to just send one text reminder the day before the appointment. This way you are not annoying your customer with too many.

One way to know for sure if you’ve hit that magic number is to simply ask your patients. Patient feedback is very important to the vitality of a practice. Automated appointment reminders and SMS communication can be a useful tool in collecting feedback. You can send out surveys directly to your patients with these platforms and offer a convenient way for them to respond. So don’t be afraid to ask if your reminders are effective or if you need to scale them back a touch.

Tip #2: Send Your Automated Appointment Reminder Before Your Cancellation Fee Kicks In

Your businesses most likely has a cancellation policy. While the policy itself may vary, most do include some version of penalty once the policy has been violated. Regardless of your policy or penalty, sending an appointment reminder before the cancellation fee kicks in can prevent your patient from an unpleasant experience.

Add the information for the policy directly in the call or text message reminder to let them know about it.  If you charge $100 for a missed appointment that is not cancelled 24 hours in advance, include this information in the reminder and make sure to send it to them a couple days prior to the appointment.  This way your customer has plenty of time to cancel if needed. If you send them this information the day before the appointment, then they are pretty much stuck.  This can lead to patient or customer dissatisfaction.

Platforms like appointmentreminders.com allow you to send an appointment reminder up to one hour before the appointment. This feature can save your patient from showing up late, not showing up at all, or even help to fill a last-minute cancellation. However, this is not the time to give them the information on the cancellation policy!

Tip #3: Ask For Confirmation

While automated appointment reminders are a key tool for any practice, knowing how to use them effectively is equally as important. Don’t forget to ask your patients for confirmation! If you are sending a text reminder, you can simply request they reply with a “C” via text message. Automated phone calls will require the patient to press a certain key to confirm their appointment and record their response. Emails will usually allow your customers to reply but clicking a button. Alternatively, you can give them information to opt-in to your website or online platform to confirm. Either way, don’t skip that step. 

 

In Conclusion

If your staff is still taking time out of their day to make phone calls for appointments, they are managing a huge time sucker. Calling and leaving a voicemail leaves your staff with waiting for the patient to call back and confirm. This leads to higher call volume and more for your staff to manage.

Implementing automation into your practice can really be effective. However, it’s important to do it correctly. Incorrect automation can lead to frustrated patients and staff. Make sure to follow these few simple rules for sending effective appointment reminders and your business is sure to see the benefits!

It’s time for you to take advantage of the amazing benefits of appointment reminders! Start with a free 30-day trial so you can see how it works for yourself and your practice. Use this time to evaluate the effectiveness of appointmentreminders.com and give your staff their time back. Sign up now!

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