Whether you run an oil change shop, a beauty salon, a dental office or some other type of business, it’s crucial that you control no-shows, and ensure that your customers are on time for their appointments. There are tons of ways you can try to do this, including:
- Appointment reminder cards
- Phone calls
- Email reminders
- Postcard reminders
Some of these methods have been around for a long time, and many of them offer questionable results. Text-based business SMS customer appointment reminders are more successful, offering you greater control, more engagement with your customers, and other benefits. However, you do need to ensure that your reminders are structured and formatted the right way. Below, we’ll discuss 10 tips to make your text customer appointment reminders more compelling, memorable, and successful
1.) Personalize the Reminder Message
First and foremost, remember to keep things personal. Call the customer by name – generally by first name. This will depend on your type of business, of course, as the ways in which customers are addressed can vary from industry to industry. In almost all instances, though, keeping it personal makes it feel less formal and less like a marketing message.
2.) Time It Right
Make sure that you time your text message correctly. If you send your reminder too early, your customer is still likely to forget. If you send it too late, it might make it impossible for your customer to reschedule if they are unable to make their appointment and had forgotten about it. Generally, tie your reminder timing in with your policy on appointment rescheduling, or go with the 24-hour rule (send the reminder 24 hours beforehand).
3.) Simplicity and Effectiveness
Resist the urge to make your text messages too long. Keep things simple and effective. Include a brief, personalized message that includes your customer’s name, as well as the date of the appointment. It would also help to include the type of appointment. For instance, a general cleaning/dental checkup for a dental office, or an oil change and tire rotation for an auto maintenance shop.
4.) Make It Simple to Reschedule
One benefit of using SMS messages as customer appointment reminders is that they help you avoid no shows, not just by reminding customers about their appointments, but by encouraging them to reschedule if they cannot make it, rather than just skipping. Use text messages to make rescheduling simple – include a phone number or email address specifically for that purpose (make sure to explain that purpose, of course).
5.) Know When Not to Text
Some of the most effective text message reminders are those you don’t send. Consumers value their privacy greatly. If you send too many reminder notices, you’ll quickly invade their personal space. That can cause serious problems, including tarnishing your reputation. And you can bet that the customer will be unlikely to keep his or her appointment, too. So, how often is too often? It can vary a lot, but the best option seems to be not to send a reminder more than once 24-hours prior.
6.) Confirm What They Know
Make sure that your text message includes all the information that your customer should know. For instance, if you’re sending reminders about appointments at a beauty salon, some of the pertinent information to include could be:
- Beautician name
- Appointment time/location
- Suggested upgrade
7.) Use Cancellation Messages
Despite your best efforts, you will still have some appointment cancellations. However, you can turn even those to your advantage with SMS messages. If your customer cancels an appointment, send a text message confirming the cancellation, but suggesting other dates for your customer to return. This can help turn a cancellation into a reschedule.
8.) Tie into Savings
While you probably don’t want to go overboard with this method, it can help to decrease no shows and ensure that your customers show up to their appointments on time. Just tie in some sort of financial savings – a 5% off coupon for making an appointment is a great incentive to help encourage your customer to keep that appointment. Again, use this in moderation, but it can provide significant traction and improve your results.
9.) More Than Once
While you don’t want to message your customers too often, you also don’t want to do it too little. While one message 24 hours prior to the appointment is a good rule of thumb, some customers may benefit from more than one reminder. For instance, you might choose to send a text message a week before the appointment, and then again 24 hours prior to the appointment.
10.) Monitor Replies
Finally, it’s important that you have someone monitoring the replies from your customers. In most instances, an automated system can handle pretty much anything you’ll see here, but that’s not always the case. Often, customers don’t realize that you’re using an automated SMS system, and will reply to you directly – they might have questions, concerns, or want to reschedule, and believe that replying to your text is the best way to do that. Just make sure there’s a real person monitoring replies to handle these situations.
In the end, text message appointment reminders can give you a vital edge, reducing the incidence of no shows and appointment cancellations. By using the simple tips we’ve covered above, you can dramatically increase the effectiveness of your text appointment reminder system, improve customer service and satisfaction, and deliver a better overall experience. As a note, working with the right SMS provider is an essential consideration – you need the right SMS system in place to ensure that you’re able to reach your customers in a timely manner, and that you’re able to customize the experience to each individual. Choose your SMS provider with care.