Tips & Resources

5 Ways Different Industries Use SMS Reminders And Lessen Appointment No Shows

Guest contributor
By Guest contributor
19 October, 2023

Appointment no shows can be costly, both in terms of time and money. SMS reminders can help lessen the numbers of no shows you experience.

graphic representation of an sms appointment reminder

Have you ever arranged an appointment and then had the person not turn up. It can not only be annoying but can be disruptive to your plans for the day. Sales teams and executives often have busy schedules, and appointment no shows can throw your entire schedule out of kilter. You would think that in this era of instantaneous digital communications, this problem would hardly exist, yet it persists. 

Of course, there are many reasons people might miss an appointment. They may simply have forgotten, had transportation issues, or something else interrupted their plans. However, using SMS reminders can be a highly effective way of lessening the number of no shows and is well worth considering for your business.

How can appointment no shows affect you?

+a graphic showing statistics about reasons for missed appointments
Image sourced from TIMIFY

​​​​​​​It doesn’t matter what industry you operate in, a no show can have a serious impact on your day, as well as your clients / customers – the health sector is a clear example. Doctors and other health professionals (such as physiotherapists) tend to have almost-full schedules on a daily basis, so efficient scheduling can be crucial. If a patient fails to attend their booked session, that is an appointment someone else could have taken. The knock-on effects then impact both the professional and other patients. 

What is an SMS reminder or confirmation text?

statistic data about how many millennials find text reminders helpful
Image sourced from Clinic Sense

In this omnichannel world, your business likely uses multiple communication methods and channels to stay in touch with customers and suppliers. From 8x8 VoIP phones to chat apps such as WhatsApp, your staff have numerous choices. Often, the least complicated form of communication can be the most effective in many scenarios: an SMS message.

stock image of a busy woman checking her watch
Free to use image sourced from Pixabay

​​​​​​​SMS reminders are not just about preventing or reducing appointment no shows. How you schedule appointments is important for your business but you also need to consider other factors. 

As well as reminding someone that they need to be at a certain place at a certain time, these direct messages can also remind clients of other details that may be essential for the appointment itself, including:

  • Documents. Whether it’s a bank meeting or medical test, some appointments require specific documents. An SMS reminder ensures clients know which documentation they need to bring with them. If this requires specific forms, get a sub domain for your website where clients can directly download everything they need in one place. You can then link people to this page in the text message. 
  • Preparations. In the case of some healthcare appointments, the customer may need to prepare in advance. For example, an SMS message could remind a patient to fast for a certain amount of time prior to a test. 
  • Explanation. SMS reminders can also contain an explanation of what the attendee can expect from the appointment. If it’s regarding a job interview, it could confirm the type of interview (virtual or in-person) as well as advising who will be conducting the interview. 

What to include in every SMS reminder

Whether a member of the public or a fellow professional, there’s a good chance your clients receive numerous text messages on a weekly, if not daily, basis. So it’s essential that each SMS contains important details rather than just an ambiguous ‘see you at 2pm’. 

At the very least, SMS reminders should incorporate the following:

  • Personalization. This will vary according to your role and relationship with the customer. If you operate a beauty salon and are sending an appointment reminder, you may keep the tone informal, especially for a regular customer. On the other hand, hospital administrators sending reminders for medical appointments should take a more formal approach. 
  • Details. Perhaps the most essential thing to include is the actual details of the appointment, keeping in mind people may have made their booking a while ago. This should include date, time, location, and contact details, as well as things like the type of treatment a client has booked or medical test that is being conducted. 
  • Precise location. If the person has never been to your location before, you may want to go beyond simply listing the address. Consider including a link to Google Maps or listing instructions if the venue is particularly difficult to find. In some cases, you may also need to provide more than a standard address. For example, for healthcare appointments, you may need to confirm a ward, department, or room number.
  • Questions. Your reminder messages may also contain pertinent questions. As with other factors, these will vary between industries. If the appointment is a home visit, you might ask whether there are parking restrictions. Or a restaurant may ask customers if they have any dietary requirements. 
  • Opting out. Including an option to cancel the appointment can allow you to mitigate the impact of no shows and give you time to make other arrangements. On top of this, it gives the attendee the ability to reschedule the appointment digitally, rather than having to call and wait to speak to a reception desk or call centre. 

5 ways industries use SMS reminders

graphic image of a appointment reminder message
Image sourced from Greminders

If you have a packed schedule filled with daily appointments, then the idea of sending SMS reminders to each and every person who has a booking is daunting to say the least. However, if your organization is using a cloud communications platform for business, then things will be significantly easier. 

If your platform doesn’t offer an SMS messaging option, then it will likely integrate with a third party app or offer an API that can be included. Cloud-based platforms are the future of digital communication. So you’re not only likely to find a suitable solution for your specific needs but you’ll see it can make life easier in all aspects of your business communications. 

Of course, different industries and businesses will use SMS reminders in distinct ways and the information you send out will vary greatly. Let’s explore some key ways industries are using text messages to reduce no shows.

1.   Hospitals/healthcare providers 

These will use SMS reminders to ensure a patient attends an appointment. Given the providers’ diaries are often full, reminders can provide an essential cog in the machine. They will usually contain the date and time of the appointment as well as the location and the professional being seen. It’s vital here that anyone who cannot attend their appointment notifies their hospital or clinic in a timely manner so the team can offer the slot to another patient.  

The healthcare system can encompass everything from your local doctor to a specialist in a major hospital. Regardless of the healthcare professional’s position, missed appointments can be costly in terms of missed opportunities. 

2.   Salespeople

Another group often dealing with full diaries – though the difference here is that many salespeople will be on the road, travelling significant distances between appointments. Reminders – and cancellations – can help minimize wasted journeys. 

Relationships are crucial in securing sales, and a salesperson may decide to prioritize one client over another. If that first client cannot make the appointment – and fails to notify the salesperson – then the other client may take their business elsewhere. SMS reminders can help avoid this and help sales agents maintain positive customer relationships.

3.   Financial institutions 

Many appointments with financial institutions require attendees to bring certain documents. SMS reminders not only act as reminders of appointment times, but also which paperwork to bring. With many bank branches now a fair distance from a customer’s house, this can save repeat trips.

4.   Interviews

SMS reminders are a great way of ensuring job applicants attend an impending interview. Besides reminding candidates of the interview date and time, messages can include a meeting link if the interview is remote or names of managers conducting the interview so they can prepare accordingly. 

As with financial institutions, these messages can also remind people if they need to bring certain documents, such as proof of ID or certifications. If an applicant misses an interview – and has not notified the interviewer – then it is likely they’ll miss out on the job. 

5.   Education

The education sector is wide-ranging and there are numerous ways to use SMS reminders. If a student is due to sit an exam, then a timely text can remind them of the time and location. If you've ever been a student, then you know how forgetful they can be!  

Another use would be a school sending reminders to parents about a parents’ evening, upcoming field trip, or planned school closures. At an individual level, a lecturer could send a reminder to a student when a one-to-one tutorial is planned.  

Educational institutions are starting to adopt QR codes in SMS reminders, allowing students and parents to quickly access event details or additional resources by simply scanning the code with their smartphones. This has applications for a number of industries such as mobile ordering for food orders and restaurant bookings and cancellations. 

The takeaway

​​​​​​​stock image of a person sending a message via an mobile phone
Free to use image sourced from Pixabay

There is little doubt that appointment no shows can impact your day and your business, both in terms of time and money. By implementing a strategy of sending SMS reminders, you can help reduce the number of no shows that occur as well as minimizing the impact of missed appointments. 

This strategy is easy for you to implement and easy for customers to follow. By using your cloud communications platform, you can schedule reminders to be automatically sent at predetermined times appropriate to you, clients, and the business. 

Fewer no shows means greater efficiency for your organization. And greater efficiency means you can focus on the things that truly matter in your business.

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