How to send SMS appointment reminders
Missed appointments can be a huge problem for businesses, no-shows cost businesses billions every year, in fact the NHS revealed that almost £1 Billion was wasted annually by patients missing appointments. According to the NHS figures, every hospital outpatient appointment missed, costs the NHS approximately £120. (Source: Guardian)
However, it is not just the NHS that is having this issue with missed appointments, lots of businesses now have customer appointments and rely on their customers turning up, from dentists, to osteopaths, to bank appointments and taxi drivers, missed arrangements is something that is harming and effecting millions of businesses.
The good news is, it doesn’t have to be this way, businesses have found a way to drastically improve attendance rates, making sure their customers are turning up to their appointments, and the answer has been right there in their pocket or hand the whole time – the mobile phone and SMS appointment reminders.
Effective appointment reminders using SMS
The mobile phone is a very personal and instant form of contact, which is exactly why it works perfectly for any transactional messages or appointment reminders. Emails unfortunately can get missed easily, with stricter spam filters being introduced because of the sheer number of spam emails that are now being sent, in fact, 49% of all email is spam (Source: Radicati Group). Also email doesn’t have the immediate instant response rate of SMS so can fall short.
98% open rate with SMS, compared to 20% with emails (Source: Gartner). The average response times for an email is 90 minutes, where SMS is an incredibly quick 90 seconds (Source: CTIA).
Sending your SMS appointment reminders
The best time to send a typical reminder message is 24 to 48 hours before the appointment, this allows your customers enough time to adjust and make alternative plans if they need to while also providing them with a gentle reminder. Anything earlier might cause them to forget again, anything later and they might not be able to rearrange.
Typically appointment reminders are sent through an SMS API integration with an existing office system or software, meaning that you reminders are automated. But it’s just as easy to send SMS appointment reminders through our online web system using our mail merge feature.
Simply select ‘Distribution Lists’ from the contacts dropdown. In here you will need to click ‘Add List’ and then then the ‘Edit’ button. You will then see the image below.
Here you will need confirm your custom field areas, so the date, time, locations, anything that is specific to each customer/number. You do not need to add the customers names as a field as that gets picked up in the next screen.
Then if you click the ‘View Entries’ button you can add your customer list. Here you can see above that the first 3 fields are automatically given, but our date and time fields are in place.
When uploading your spreadsheet, make sure you have the numbers in column one, names in column two and email address if needed in column three. Then you can have your specific desired custom fields in the other columns.
Then you just need to click the ‘Send’ button in the top nav, you will then see the page above. Simply select list and then your desired list name from the dropdown. Say who the message is from in the text area on the right, then right your message below following the same structure as the message above. So any custom field area needs to start and finish with a hashtag.
You can then send a merged text message out to all your customers about their upcoming appointments, simply write your merged text message and click send.
If you would like to know more about how you can integrate with our SMS API or how to send appointment reminders, then please get in touch today.