One Dentist Eliminated No-Shows with SMS Appointment Reminders
No-shows are a serious issue in dental offices. Some surveys estimate they account for as much as 10% of appointments, resulting in thousands of pounds lost each year. Many practices send reminders via post or email, but simple appointment reminders aren’t always that effective. Not only is there a loss of revenue, but other negative side effects as well.
According to dentist Andrea Kowalczyk in an article on rdhmag.com (part of the Dentistry Network), “When hygienists and team members have too much downtime, it breeds a host of negative feelings and frustrations that permeate the practice, particularly if salaries are paid based on production numbers.”
There is something that can be done about no-shows, and it’s a simple use of technology everyone has: SMS messaging.
No-show rate "eliminated"
Today’s lifestyles are on-the-go and mobile connected. Sending a paper reminder in the mail, or even an email, just won’t get the attention you need it to. SMS messaging though, is a perfect way to get appointment reminders in front of your patients, and offer them the chance to cancel or confirm with a simple reply.
Kevin Morgester, DDS, reported that after they began using automated reminders, their no show rate “has been eliminated”. They sent messages via email or SMS (patient preference I assume) but the article reads as though text was their main method.
To get such a reduction, they send out three reminders per appointment. The first goes out a month before, the second one week before, and the final one the day before. This combination gives enough opportunity for patients to make changes or cancel, and their practice has been buzzing ever since. They now service 70% of their practice “online” and they even send post-operative care information via text and email. It works so well because as Morgester notes, “Like us, patients also work during the day and may not be able to take phone calls, but they can text or email.”
"Lost patient syndrome"
Sometimes when a patient cancels or doesn’t show up for an appointment, they can get lost. Not lost in real life, but lost in the mass of paperwork or computer records at your practice. Unless you have a method for identifying those people who haven’t been in for a year, or two, or ten they may be lost forever.
In an article on DentalEconomics.com, Linda Miles comments on the impact these lost patients have, which is similar to that of many no-shows. “Dentists see major declines in their hygiene departments, which result in major declines in the operative and restorative side of the practice. Within 90 days of this decline, panic sets in,” she says. “The doctor and staff begin to sound and act desperate, which leads the patients to suspect that something is wrong.”
If your patients begin to feel nervous about you and your practice they may not come in for their next visit, or may find another place to go. In her article, Miles details the extensive amount of work required to call each and every patient and try to get them to come back in for their regular check-ups. She estimates it can take 20-40 hours a month per dentist for this activity alone.
By using SMS messaging, you can stay in contact with your patients in a way that takes much less time, but also can prevent them from getting lost. Here’s how it works:
- You send an appointment reminder via SMS
- They cancel via SMS reply
- A month goes by (or some predetermined time period)
- You send a short SMS reminding them they need to reschedule
- They call and reschedule
This is a simple example, and it may need to be repeated at intervals until the patient reschedules (not too often or they’ll just get annoyed).
By integrating SMS appointment reminders into your practice, you can reduce no-shows and lost patients. Both can save you time, money, and keep moral high in your practice.
A lot of the time, personal training can be one of the most rewarding jobs you could possibly pursue. Yet at other times, it can be dispiriting. Naturally, this is all part and parcel of the industry, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t changes you can make to your everyday work habits that will boost the benefits and mitigate the downsides. And top of the list of those changes are SMS marketing strategies.
Most car dealerships and garages already have almost everything in place to start an effective SMS marketing campaign. When customers go into a car garage to have a service or a MOT done, they almost always give the dealership their mobile phone number. The reason for this is simple: if a customer is bringing their car in to get checked and they don't want to wait around for any work to be carried out, they'll simply head into town or run a few errands, until the garage gives them a call on their mobile to let them know the work has been done. That means most garages will have a healthy amount of mobile numbers already in their database, but quite often a garage will overlook the potential that their database of contacts presents.
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A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about using SMS messaging to contact your list after some sort of trigger - they made a purchase, had a birthday, or some other event or date. I’m going to build on that concept a little bit more in this post and share how you can really offer just-in-time SMS messages by integrating with your existing systems.
If there's one industry that's often assumed to be cold and impersonal, it's the financial industry. It's all about numbers and money, not about the people who have accounts, or need help with enquiries. The reputation may or may not be deserved, but there is a way to combat it: by making customers, investors, or clients feel like you care.
With 64% of people stating they prefer text messaging for customer support, over voice calling – it is no wonder the hectic, often overstretched health care sector is utilising SMS messaging frequently. Below we’ve listed out a range of benefits of using text messaging within the healthcare sector.
If you're an estate agent who isn't using SMS to increase their database of buyers and sellers, then you're an estate agent who isn't maximising their clients' phone numbers. A mobile number is something your purchasers and sellers are quite happy to share with you, and this voluntary opt-in can be invaluable when it comes to getting an edge in a competitive market. Using this information, you can create effective and affordable marketing campaigns, whether you’re alerting your clients to a change of price or promoting a particular property.
Mobile marketing offers an unprecedented access to your customers virtually any time, anywhere. This is particularly true for SMS marketing because it is “always on”. Customers don’t have to be surfing the web, or using an app to receive messages. Instead, they see the marketing messages right alongside ones from their friends and family.