SMS Appointment Reminders or Confirmations

23 replies
I posted this in the Offline Marketing Forum but got no response so here goes...

Hello everyone,

I've been dabbling with the idea of offering SMS appointment services to business who have repeat visitors.

I have a partner and we seem to have a minor disagreement. Briefly...

When you offer an SMS appointment reminder, are you just reminding the client and assuming that because they will see it they will attend their appointment? Or do you offer a method where the client will text back to confirm the appointment?

Would love to hear from those who have experience with this.

Thanks
Peter
#appointment #confirmations #reminders #sms
  • Profile picture of the author imsolutionsgroup
    I would test the appointment reminder text.

    First, you should have the % of missed appointments each month. If you don't already have that number, then find that out before you start sending out appointment reminder texts.

    After you have that number, send out your appointment reminders and see if that lowers the % of missed appointments.

    If the reminders do lower the % you now what to figure out if the investment is worth it. Does the amount of people who no longer miss their appointments worth the return for the cost of sending these messages?

    Hope that helps!
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    • Profile picture of the author hommi_16
      Hi I spoke to a dentist over the weekend and right now they need a confirmation from a client which they are getting by calling their clients a few days before the appointment.

      If they don't get a confirmation they won't book them in.

      My concern is that without any hard data, I'm reluctant to simply offer a text reminder without asking the client to confirm.. What if their no show increases?

      Has anyone here had experience just offering text reminders without confirmations and has reduced client no show?
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      • Profile picture of the author imsolutionsgroup
        Originally Posted by hommi_16 View Post

        Hi I spoke to a dentist over the weekend and right now they need a confirmation from a client which they are getting by calling their clients a few days before the appointment.

        If they don't get a confirmation they won't book them in.

        My concern is that without any hard data, I'm reluctant to simply offer a text reminder without asking the client to confirm.. What if their no show increases?

        Has anyone here had experience just offering text reminders without confirmations and has reduced client no show?
        Agreed, that without any numbers there is no way to tell if this is a worthwhile effort. Unfortunately, I never tried this...so I have no numbers to provide you.

        Can you "straight up" with your Dentist and let them know this is a new system you're putting into place. See if they're willing to be a "tester" at no cost. And, maybe offer them a discounted rate after the test, if it's worth it, since they're helping you out.

        You can start off with a 50/50 test. Next month, continue to call 50% of the appointments and see the no-show %. Then text message the other 50% and see what # of no-shows there are from this effort.

        If the numbers make sense...maybe test 1 more month to make sure it was not a fluke. If they continue to be better...roll out with it 100%. But, continue to monitor the %'s.
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        • Profile picture of the author JTV
          Originally Posted by imsolutionsgroup View Post

          Agreed, that without any numbers there is no way to tell if this is a worthwhile effort. Unfortunately, I never tried this...so I have no numbers to provide you.

          Can you "straight up" with your Dentist and let them know this is a new system you're putting into place. See if they're willing to be a "tester" at no cost. And, maybe offer them a discounted rate after the test, if it's worth it, since they're helping you out.

          You can start off with a 50/50 test. Next month, continue to call 50% of the appointments and see the no-show %. Then text message the other 50% and see what # of no-shows there are from this effort.

          If the numbers make sense...maybe test 1 more month to make sure it was not a fluke. If they continue to be better...roll out with it 100%. But, continue to monitor the %'s.
          Have to agree with this strategy as well. There's no way in really telling without testing it to see if it reduces no-shows. Actually, the dentist I go to just started with SMS marketing a few months ago and they also require a text back to confirm the appointment. So they text out the appt. reminder and the client either has to text back a "1" for yes or a "2" for no. If they don't receive any confirmation at all and the client doesn't show, they charge the client a $50 no-show fee. From what I hear, hasn't been too popular among their clients, but their booking time for that client and for them to not confirm and just not show, I can see why they do that.
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          • Profile picture of the author hommi_16
            JTV - whether it's text reminders or traditional phone calls, many dentists and other practitioners charge for no shows. In a packed dentist's office, some will no longer accept you as a patient if you miss an appointment.

            imsolutionsgroup - I agree with you! I think transparency will have to be the best policy but convincing them to simply send a reminder may prove difficult but let's see...
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            • Profile picture of the author mobilemanic
              Basically it's simple. You must use it to see the results. Then and only then can you tell if it's a good fit for that particular business. You can send a message with full confirmation to try and cut down your testing time. Send a message that says reply "C" to confirm appt. "R" to Reschedule "B" for running behind, or "M" to Miss appt.
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  • Profile picture of the author Tim Franklin
    I noticed that my dentist has three people working just making phone calls, they call 24 to 48 hours in advance, they still get no shows. SMS, might help in some ways, but people get a lot of SMS messages, some go un-noticed.

    Some never arrive.

    Some take hours or even days to get there.

    My neighbor sent me a text one time and it was 48 hours later before I actually got the SMS message.

    I have a few ideas about how you might make something like this work, but it would have to be automated and it would have to be bullet proof.

    SMS, MMS, it might be useful but its not going to get anyone out of bed.
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    • Profile picture of the author mobilemanic
      Originally Posted by Tim Franklin View Post

      I noticed that my dentist has three people working just making phone calls, they call 24 to 48 hours in advance, they still get no shows. SMS, might help in some ways, but people get a lot of SMS messages, some go un-noticed.

      Some never arrive.

      Some take hours or even days to get there.

      My neighbor sent me a text one time and it was 48 hours later before I actually got the SMS message.

      I have a few ideas about how you might make something like this work, but it would have to be automated and it would have to be bullet proof.

      SMS, MMS, it might be useful but its not going to get anyone out of bed.
      Actually. If you are sending text messages from a short code platform delivery is withing a few seconds. And the delivery rate is almost 100%. Not sure where your info is coming from. Maybe a long code with a poor service provider. Even twillio (long codes) has a very fast delivery rate. Have been using short code platform for over a year have many clients. Not just appoint reminder. We send to lists well over 1000 at a time and delivery is usually under 2 minutes.
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    • Profile picture of the author Celltactics
      Originally Posted by Tim Franklin View Post

      I noticed that my dentist has three people working just making phone calls, they call 24 to 48 hours in advance, they still get no shows. SMS, might help in some ways, but people get a lot of SMS messages, some go un-noticed.

      Some never arrive.

      Some take hours or even days to get there.

      My neighbor sent me a text one time and it was 48 hours later before I actually got the SMS message.

      I have a few ideas about how you might make something like this work, but it would have to be automated and it would have to be bullet proof.

      SMS, MMS, it might be useful but its not going to get anyone out of bed.
      There are just so many things wrong in this post I can't do much but shake my head. Reminds me of a potential client who once said " I don't text, I hate texting, so I am not going to push that crap on my customers".
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      • Profile picture of the author mix87
        Well messages have delay if you found some bad SMS service company.
        My advice is to do test always, before you push huge amount of messages to your customers. That is just one way to make sure there is no delays or little delay.
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  • Profile picture of the author toddchaney
    You should just offer the mobile app to send reminder messages to the clients, not the one to get back replies as that will become hectic for you to manage and you would require a big database for that.
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  • Profile picture of the author Tim Franklin
    Well if you read the fine print in your network providers contract agreement, SMS is not a guaranteed service, if the network is congested, you may find that an SMS message will not go out, If you sitting in a large metro area, then yes, you probably will see better delivery rates, but any network is always going to be limited by the capacity of the network, if capacity is high SMS will fail, (my info comes from ATT, Bellsouth,) In my experience technology is only as reliable as those who are running the network.

    no offence implied, no warranty, as is where is, )
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  • Profile picture of the author TrumpiaTim
    It should really serve both functions, remind the client about their appointment but at the same time if they're unable to make it, you should have them reply with a preferred date/time for their rescheduled appointment.
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    • Profile picture of the author hommi_16
      Many in the health industry require a confirmation before fully booking the time slot. The issue with getting confirmation via SMS is that it could become too much to manage and could also be a time waster (i.e. someone replies back with a question or a long winded statement that require follow up).
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      • Profile picture of the author Celltactics
        Originally Posted by hommi_16 View Post

        Many in the health industry require a confirmation before fully booking the time slot. The issue with getting confirmation via SMS is that it could become too much to manage and could also be a time waster (i.e. someone replies back with a question or a long winded statement that require follow up).
        Seems simplistic but couldn't your reminder text state something like this?

        Dr. Soandso: Patient Name A friendly reminder that your appt is Fri 4/25 @ 2pm. Please call to confirm or we will cancel your appt. donotreply via txt. 702-555-1212

        This at least reduces the outbound calls for the dr office. Also I if were doing this for a dr or dentist that wanted a confirmation response I would send these a couple days before the appt for sure. Give the patient time to respond.
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        • Profile picture of the author xlfutur1
          Originally Posted by Celltactics View Post

          Seems simplistic but couldn't your reminder text state something like this?

          Dr. Soandso: Patient Name A friendly reminder that your appt is Fri 4/25 @ 2pm. Please call to confirm or we will cancel your appt. donotreply via txt. 702-555-1212

          This at least reduces the outbound calls for the dr office. Also I if were doing this for a dr or dentist that wanted a confirmation response I would send these a couple days before the appt for sure. Give the patient time to respond.
          YES. simple is best. staff members don't want to handle all sorts of incoming texts all day long. when you make things complicated, it won't get used, and if it doesn't get used you won't make any money.

          I have a hair salon client that sends out text reminders from a simple web form I created for them. the message is a default message and they just change the date and time, and press send. the outgoing text tells the client that if they need to reschedule to CALL back. the sms implies that they will be there unless they call back to reschedule. If they do text back, the system sends back a message saying "we cannot respond to texts at this time, please call us at [phone number here].

          Keep it simple. You just want it to be a reminder, not something that will necessitate extra work for staff.
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          • Profile picture of the author hommi_16
            Thanks for this. I suspect that this might work for some services but not all. Most medical related services require a confirmation (for the ones I spoke to anyway).

            The hard part will be convincing them to use the SMS service as a reminder not for confirmation as they are use to having the receptionist call for confirmation.

            Which leads back to the initial question: will an SMS reminder service on its own reduce the number of missed appointments?
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            • Profile picture of the author Celltactics
              Originally Posted by hommi_16 View Post

              Thanks for this. I suspect that this might work for some services but not all. Most medical related services require a confirmation (for the ones I spoke to anyway).

              The hard part will be convincing them to use the SMS service as a reminder not for confirmation as they are use to having the receptionist call for confirmation.

              Which leads back to the initial question: will an SMS reminder service on its own reduce the number of missed appointments?
              I went back and reread this whole thread and your question has been answered. Your supposed problem was addressed as well. Yes it will work and ask the customer to call back to confirm in response to the text. Done.

              The hard part it seems to me is convincing YOU that you would be able to sell said service. If you cant sell it to medical professionals (those that want a confirmation) stick to those that dont. Quit beating yourself up.

              If I have misread this, apologies.
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              • Profile picture of the author hommi_16
                It's funny - after re-reading this thread a few month later, I do see that my question was answered! Selective reading I guess!

                I'll be working on a platform soon and will see how it goes.

                Glad to hear that some hair salons have adopted this. Motivating!

                Originally Posted by Celltactics View Post

                I went back and reread this whole thread and your question has been answered. Your supposed problem was addressed as well. Yes it will work and ask the customer to call back to confirm in response to the text. Done.

                The hard part it seems to me is convincing YOU that you would be able to sell said service. If you cant sell it to medical professionals (those that want a confirmation) stick to those that dont. Quit beating yourself up.

                If I have misread this, apologies.
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  • Profile picture of the author johnkeenus
    At present all are busy in their life and due to this hectic schedule sometimes we forget our important tasks like some forget about their appointments and if you are suffering from any illness may be forget to take medicines by the time. One solution of this problem is that we must buy some reminders.
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  • Well, why not compromise maybe both you and your partner are correct?
    Why not use the appointment reminder as both a notifier as well as a way to allow 2 way messaging so if they customer can't make the appointment they could just reply and reschedule.

    This way both of you guys are correct!
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  • Profile picture of the author lesliescott
    We offer SMS Text services via AVID's platform. We have chosen to NOT offer this appointment reminder service, even though they allow a 2 way communication back from the dental client. This is because with their current system of personal phone calls they accomplish that and get confirmations. It is too easy to answer back to a text that says "Oh I need to cancel" which is harder to do over the phone to a person. The dentists I have talked to about this see it is actually increasing their opt outs on appts.
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    • Profile picture of the author Celltactics
      Originally Posted by lesliescott View Post

      We offer SMS Text services via AVID's platform. We have chosen to NOT offer this appointment reminder service, even though they allow a 2 way communication back from the dental client. This is because with their current system of personal phone calls they accomplish that and get confirmations. It is too easy to answer back to a text that says "Oh I need to cancel" which is harder to do over the phone to a person. The dentists I have talked to about this see it is actually increasing their opt outs on appts.
      Sorry if this sounds like I am being mean, but what you just said was
      1. You resell for Avid
      2. You cant sell appointment reminders because a couple of dentists have told you they think its harder for people to cancel on the phone.

      if these dentists think their no shows (not opt outs) will increase because they send a text, they arent very bright. People cancel regardless of the notification method. What you have failed to make them aware of is how much money text reminders can save them vs a staff member spending hours on the phone.

      You've "chosen" not to sell the easiest sms product out there.
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