Did you know that an average person forgets about four things per day? Often, one of these things is booked appointments, be it with their doctor, beautician, lawyer, or other.
There are many reasons why clients fail to show up at their appointments. It could be due to simply forgetting, writing down the wrong time, being busy with work, getting stuck in traffic, picking up their kids from school, and so on.
Regardless of the reason, in order to prevent these occurrences, you need to gently remind your clients that they have an upcoming appointment booked with your business.
Why send appointment reminders?
Sending your clients appointment reminders will save you a lot of trouble in the long run and bring about some very positive changes, including:
- Reduced no-shows: Sending appointment reminders will help your clients remember they have an upcoming appointment with your business. This way, you decrease the risk of appointments with your business being one of the four things your client forgets on average.
- Less cancellations: Often patients forget about their appointments or have other obligations to tend to, only to remember at the last minute. By then, it’s too late and they have no other choice but to call and cancel. Reminding them on time about a pending appointment will help them better organize their schedule so they don’t have to cancel.
- Improved relationships with clients: Sending appointment reminders fuels professional communication with your clients, helps them feel closer to your business, and encourages them to reach out whenever they need anything. As a result, you’ll earn their loyalty.
- Client convenience: Providing your clients with appointment reminders allows them to confirm the appointment or change it to a different time or another service if they prefer. Having this flexibility will make all the difference compared to the competition.
- Better bottom line: No-shows and last-minute cancellations result in a significant loss of annual revenue that could’ve been prevented simply by sending appointment reminders. Not only will you save money by reducing these, but the flexibility and communication you encourage through reminders will keep the clients coming. All these elements will improve your bottom line.
Do’s and don’ts
That said, understanding the advantages and choosing to deploy appointment reminders isn’t the end of the story. There are some things you could do to improve their effectiveness and mistakes to avoid that hinder it.
Do consider timing and frequency
Appointment reminder software allows you to choose when and how often you send these reminders to your clients. However, be very careful here. You don’t want to spam your client with dozens of reminders every day or send them late at night, as this could be counter-productive.
There is no set rule on the frequency and timing of sending appointment reminders, and sometimes it might take a while to tweak them. You could try sending a reminder seven days ahead, three days ahead, and/or on the day of the appointment, at different times of day, and check the effectiveness.
Don’t hide your cancellation policy
It helps to have a clear cancellation policy and have it presented to your client in the appointment reminders you send them. This policy may refer to certain financial compensation in case of a cancellation or no-show. As a result, it could lead the client to make a conscious effort to show up or mitigate the financial loss if they still fail to show up.
Appointment reminder software that automates sending these reminders typically allows you to customize your message to include any special notes, such as the cancellation or no-show policy.
Do understand email vs. text message
Today, there is more than one way to remind your clients that they have an upcoming appointment with your business. Usually, email is the go-to method for most businesses due to its popularity as a communication channel.
However, the increase in mobile device use also increases the chance of your client seeing the appointment reminder sooner if you send them one via a text message. Furthermore, not all of your clients are inclined to check their email inbox regularly and an SMS reminder is a surefire way to help them remember.
Don’t use generic messages
When using software to configure appointment reminders, make sure to customize the accompanying message to fit your brand as best as possible. Additionally, if the software doesn’t do it automatically, add a link clients can use to view their appointment at the end of each reminder. From there, they take any further action (confirm, edit, or cancel).
Some appointment reminder software tools also allow you to add follow-up options for the clients who have completed an appointment with you. These can be sent automatically sometime after the appointment, containing a short personalized message to encourage the client to book again.
Do use a catchy subject line
A lot of users make a conscious decision whether or not to open their emails solely based on the emails’ subject lines. This is why it’s important that your appointment reminder’s subject line provokes enough interest and attention for your client to read it.
One of the best ways to do it is by using personalized email subject lines that mention the client’s name and/or create a sense of urgency. An example is “[Client Name], your next appointment is [Date, Time]”).
Don’t use the wrong language
Consider how you would like your appointment reminder to read and what to convey. In other words, adjust the language and tone of your message appropriately. This will mostly depend on your specific industry branch, the type of clients you work with, and how you want your business to be perceived.
You also want to avoid using emojis as these are inappropriate for the professional setting. It goes without saying that you should also avoid writing in all caps as it is generally considered in written communication as shouting.
How to send reminders – automatic vs. manual
There are two ways to send appointment reminders to your clients: automatic and manual. For many businesses, automating reminders through appointment reminder software has largely replaced the obsolete manual method. And here’s why:
- Sending automatic appointment reminders is very simple. You only need to select the time when you want your reminders to go out, as well as customize the accompanying message, and you’re good to go. Usually, appointment reminder software will include additional features, such as sending both email and SMS appointment reminders, setting the reply option, analytics and reporting, and more.
- Some may prefer sending appointment reminders manually as it gives them a better sense of control or the situation simply requires it (e.g. if not all automatic reminders were successfully sent). However, the manual method is often tedious, time-consuming, and prone to error. This is because you have to manually type all the messages, find your client’s email address/phone number, and keep up with the sending timing and frequency schedule yourself. You also don’t get any additional options featured in appointment reminder software.
To give you an idea of what an appointment reminder should entail, here are some examples of templates for several different industry types where such reminders come in handy:
- Email: Hello [patient name]. This is a friendly reminder of your upcoming appointment with Dr. [clinician’s name] on [date] at [time] with [name of the business]. If you need to reschedule or cancel, please reply to this email or call [phone number] [number] hours ahead of your appointment time to avoid a $[amount] no-show charge. Best regards, [sender name] at [name of practice].
- SMS: You have an upcoming appointment with [clinician name] on [date] at [time]. Need to reschedule/cancel? Text/call us [number] hours ahead to avoid a $[amount] no-show charge.
- Email: Hello, [client name]. This is [business name] confirming our [employee role and name] will be at your location on [date] at [time]. If you need to reschedule, reply to this email or call us at [phone number]. Best regards, [sender name] at [business name].
- SMS: Hi, [client name]. This is [business name] confirming our [employee role and name] will be at your location at [date] at [time]. Call/text us if you need to reschedule.
- Email: Just a quick reminder for the [service/appointment title] scheduled for [date] at [time] with [name of the business]. Please reply to this email or call [phone number] if you have any additional questions.
- SMS: [service/appointment title] is scheduled for [date] at [time] with [name of the business]. Reply to this text for any questions.
- Email: Dear [client name], this is a reminder from [gym name] that our [class name] class is scheduled for [class time and date]. If you have any questions, feel free to reply to this message or call [phone number]. We’re looking forward to seeing you!
- SMS: Don’t forget! [gym name] [class name] class is scheduled for [class time and date]! For any questions, reply to text or call this number.
Teachers and Tutors
- Email: Hello, [student name]. You have a tutoring session with [tutor name] on [date] at [time]. Please make sure to complete your assignments before arrival. If you need to reschedule, feel free to reply to this email or call/text [phone number]. See you soon!
- SMS: Don’t forget about your tutoring session with [tutor name] on [date] at [time]. Complete your assignments beforehand! Text/call this number if you need to reschedule.
Say goodbye to last-minute cancellations and no-shows
We hope this article has helped you avoid some of the most common errors and deploy the best practices for the most successful appointment reminders. Here’s to your clients never missing a single appointment with you again!