Some things in life you remember - Christmas day, your first car’s registration and that beer Dave still owes you. Other things you forget - dentist appointments, haircuts and that beer you still owe John. Your customers are no different, and it’s costing you time, money and new business. Fear not - we’re here to explain how SMS appointment reminders can reduce no-shows, increase your business and save you time. 

What are SMS appointment reminders?

SMS appointment reminders are SMS messages sent to individuals or groups of recipients reminding them of an upcoming appointment. SMS appointment reminders are useful because:

They increase your booking capacity

SMS reminders give appointment holders a quick way to cancel their booking if they can’t make it - freeing up space for other customers. 

They save you money

Not only is SMS a cost-effective way to communicate with your clients, but SMS appointment reminders also reduce the financial consequences of a no-show appointment holder by increasing the likelihood that they’ll show up or cancel with enough notice. 

They utilise the power of SMS

SMS messaging is one of the most powerful communication channels out there - with a 90% open rate that means your appointment reminder is likely to be opened, read and acted upon. 

They can be scheduled

Many SMS communication platforms power you to automate your reminders via API - meaning that you don’t need to add to your already long “must remember to do” list. 

They build relationships

Text message reminders show that you care about your customer’s appointment and that you’re excited to see them - far better than issuing no-show fines and lost deposits.

SMS appointment reminder best practice

So how do you go about implementing an SMS appointment reminder strategy? First, you need to follow some SMS appointment reminder best practices, including:

1. Timing

Timing is everything when it comes to appointment reminders - send them too soon or too late and they’ll make very little difference. The best time to send SMS reminders are:

- At the time of booking - confirming the details and encouraging the appointment holder to add it to their calendar; and

- Just before the booking - the exact timing depending on how much notice you need to re-fill the appointment. 

2. Content

You have only seven seconds to grab someone’s attention, so keep this message short, sweet and to-the-point. The best content to include in SMS reminders is to use custom fields to add the contact’s name, the appointment date and the appointment time, along with information on how to cancel or reschedule. 

3. Ease

Speaking of cancelling an appointment, you want to make it as easy as possible for your customer by using a keyword (i.e. “text RESCHEDULE to change your appointment), telephone number or website link. 

Pro tip: encourage and direct your customers to reschedule instead of cancel.

4. Sending

Use an SMS communication platform to automate your reminder messages and to send bulk SMS reminders. 

What can SMS appointment reminders be used for?

Now you know how to use SMS appointment reminders, let’s take a look at some examples of where you can use them. 

Medical appointments

One in twenty medical appointments are missed, which is not only costly but can prevent others from receiving treatment and care. SMS appointment reminders for doctors, dentists, opticians, physios and other medical practitioners can reduce this number by encouraging patients to cancel with enough time for someone else to fill the appointment. 

Beauty appointments

Customers often make beauty appointments in advance - increasing the likelihood of them forgetting about it. Help your customers to stay on-track of their lives by texting them a reminder before their appointment. You can also use this as an opportunity to advise of any preparation required. 

Pet bookings

Customers struggle to remember their own appointments - let alone their pet’s. Dog groomers, vets and pet therapists can use SMS to beat calendar and remind pet owners about their upcoming appointments. 

Hospitality bookings

It’s hard to imagine someone could forget about food - but an average 20% of diners fail to turn up to the table. Increase your table and room availability by using SMS reminders to encourage diners and guests to show up or cancel. 

Education

Thanks to the sleepless nights, Frozen reruns and late night maths homework, parents can find it especially hard keeping up with their diaries. Keep them on-time and present by using SMS alerts to remind them of parents’ evening appointments, school plays and teacher meetings. 

Other uses for reminder text messages

And, it’s not just appointments that SMS reminder messages can be used for. You can also use them to:

- Prompt customers to schedule an appointment;

- Remind people about an event they have booked; and

- Alert audiences about last minute appointment availability and event spaces.

SMS appointment reminders - key thoughts

SMS appointment reminders are a quick, cost-effective and easy way to reduce appointment no-shows while showing your customers that you care. All you need to do is:

- Perfect the timing;

- Use clear and to-the-point content;

- Provide a quick way to reschedule; and

- Use an SMS communication platform to automate the process for you.