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.
Often people think SMS messaging costs a lot of money. Particularly when they plan on sending thousands of messages. So in this blog I want to walk through an example of how much money SMS messaging can actually save property managers and housing associations.
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.
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.
Most youth and community groups are volunteer-led, and either charitably funded or run on donations, so communications need not only to be effective, but they also have to be easy, and quick for volunteers to use, and low cost. That's where SMS comes in...
In recent years, there has been a noticeable shift in the property market towards a new generation of estate agents who are leading a push away from the traditional high street model. With new generations entering the housing market and changing customer behaviours, estate agents are having to look for new ways to attract both buyers and sellers. SMS marketing is a low cost and highly effective tool which could help. In this article, we explore how estate agents can use SMS messaging to attract and engage with customers, helping to boost sales and increase revenue with a minimum of effort.
When people talk about SMS marketing they usually refer to the one-way message with coupon codes for a sale. Or potentially a two-way message requiring the customer to respond with a keyword in order to get a deal. And that is customer communication for sure. It’s also marketing. But it’s just the very basics of what SMS messaging can do for your business.
The British Equestrian Trade Association’s findings from their National Equestrian Survey 2015 put the economic value of the equestrian sector at £4.3 billion of consumer spending across a wide range of goods and services, with the average spend per horse during the same year at £3600. It is an incredibly varied industry encompassing all types of businesses from sole traders making a living in remote areas to multinational companies. Their customer base typically tends to be busy people who lead largely outdoor lifestyles so the obvious and most effective means of communicating with them is by mobile phone, yet very few equestrian businesses appear to be utilising SMS text messaging marketing. So how could businesses in this sector benefit from this method of marketing?
Text messages are fast, secure, subtle, simple and reliable - and those aren’t the only qualities they have to offer. Preferable to other forms of communication in many circumstances, they can prove to be a highly useful addition to a police force’s armoury.
Technology has changed how companies operate in recent decades. It’s changed how employees work too. Successful companies are taking advantage of these changes, specifically mobile phones and SMS messaging. Read our blog to see five ways you can use SMS messaging in your business.