Reducing No-Show Appointments: The Reminder Method That Works

No matter a dentist’s office, medical practice or hair salon, these and other service-based businesses all have at least one goal in common: reducing no-show appointments.

Your bottom line suffers when patients, clients or customers don’t show up for their scheduled appointments, and your staff ends up wasting time having placed reminder calls and sending emails that went ignored.

Ahead, read about how to decrease no show appointments by using the medium that most consumers prefer when receiving reminders — the text message.

Why emails and phone calls aren’t always helpful at reducing no-show appointments

If you’re sending out plenty of phone call and email reminders without results, you’re likely using the wrong medium to reach forgetful customers. A Zipwhip survey found that:

  • 97% of consumers reject or ignore phone calls from a business or unknown number; and
  • 96% of find phone calls to be disruptive

There are many reasons for not answering a phone call, including being busy, not wanting to get caught up in a conversation, experiencing anxiousness and the growing frequency of spam and robocalls. And even if your business does leave a voicemail, the recipient may never listen to it.

Similarly, emails aren’t the best medium for reducing no-show rates. It’s easy to miss important messages in an overflowing inbox, and emails can go unopened for days, if they’re opened at all. A separate Zipwhip survey found that:

 

  • 56% of consumers estimate they receive anywhere between 25 and over 100 emails a day, yet nearly half say they read between zero to five per day; and
  • 77% of consumers have two or more personal email accounts (16% have four or more), making it that much harder for businesses to get their emails noticed.

How many emails consumers receive every day

Texting is convenient, non-intrusive and a high-priority medium. We see text messages almost instantly and answer them fast — 83% of consumers reply to a text message from a business within 30 minutes. It’s the best method to ensure that your recipient will see your reminder on time.

Reducing no-show appointments with two-way texting vs. short code texting

It’s not just the text reminder itself that helps in reducing no-shows. Giving your customers the ability to engage in a back-and-forth conversation with your business is also a contributing factor.

Short codes (five- or six-digit phone numbers) are commonly used to automate text appointment reminders, but they don’t offer the best customer experience. When using a short code, if the recipient wanted to reschedule their appointment, they wouldn’t be able to do that in the same text exchange. There wouldn’t be anyone on the other side to help. They would have to spend the extra time to call you or dig through their email inbox to reply to your reminder message. It may not seem like a big inconvenience, but when extra steps are added to rescheduling, the more likely customers will wait to do it.

An example of how two-way, conversational texting is used for appointment reminders.

Two-way texting using your existing business phone number can better help in reducing no-show appointments because it lets customers easily engage with your business. If your customer needs to reschedule, they can quickly do so by replying to your reminder text. A staff member can jump into the conversation to assist. The sooner a customer can cancel or reschedule, the sooner your staff can fill the empty spot.

Appointment reminder template: Sample messages to use

Using business texting software for appointment reminder texts can streamline workflow for your staff. Automation features, like scheduling and auto-replies, deliver information to customers instantly, and dynamic fields and templates save time from having to create messages from scratch.

Below are a few appointment reminder templates your business can copy and paste. Dynamic fields have been included in brackets for compatibility with Zipwhip software. Adjust any information in parenthesis to fit your intended text message.

Simple appointment reminder
This example communicates past the essential appointment time and date; it also lays out what service the client signed up for and who they will be seeing. The no-show policy is also clear: If the client needs to reschedule or cancel, they need to do so within 24 hours of their appointment or they will be charged a fee.

reducing no-show appointments with a text message

Hi! It’s [My First Name] from (your business name). This is a reminder that you have an appointment on (insert date and time) with (insert name) for (insert service). If you can’t make it, please let us know at least (insert timeline) before your appointment to avoid our (insert amount) no-show fee. You can reply to this text or call this number to reschedule or cancel. See you soon!

Appointment reminder with link to scheduling calendar

This upcoming appointment reminder gives the customer the easy option to reschedule on their own via the business’s online scheduling system.

Reducing no-show appointments with text messaging

Hi [First Name]. This is [My First Name] from (your business name)
reminding you of your appointment this (insert date and time). If you need to reschedule, please do so using our online calendar: (insert link)

Otherwise, we’ll see you there!

Appointment message sample using an auto-reply feature
This example shows how to reduce patient no shows with a menu of interactive options. You can set up an automated appointment reminder with auto-response messages that correspond to each patient reply. A staff member can pop in and help the patient with rescheduling if they reply with R, for example.

Consider reminding patients of your late cancellation or no-show policies and fees. This may encourage them to act fast knowing that they’ll have to pay a fee for missing their appointment.

Reducing no show appointments with text message menu of options

Hi [First Name]. This is a reminder of your appointment with (insert doctor’s name) on (insert date and time). Please reply to this text with one of the following letters, Y, C or R:

Y – Yes, I can make it.
C – Cancel my appointment. (Please cancel within 24 hours of your appointment to avoid our (insert amount) late cancellation fee.)
R – Reschedule my appointment. (Please reschedule within 24 hours of your appointment to avoid our (insert amount) late cancellation fee.)

Thank you!
(insert employee signature)

Reply options

 

Reducing no-show appointments with text message menu optionsGreat! We look forward to seeing you. If anything comes up, just reply to this text and I’ll get back to you soon.

Reducing no-show appointments with SMS

Thank you for letting us know! If you’d like to reschedule, reply to this text with R at any point, and I’ll help you take care of that.

Reducing no-show appointments with automated text messages

Thanks! I’ll cancel your appointment and help you reschedule. Please allow me to check our availability, and I’ll get back to you soon.

 

A few more tips for reducing no-show appointments

  • Ask your customers which reminder method they would prefer. While most enjoy texting, there are still those who would rather use email or receive a phone call for their reminders.
  • Confirm their mobile phone number if they choose text reminders.
  • Use friendly, human language in your texts. Your customers may be more inclined to engage with you (i.e., reschedule their appointment right away) if they feel that there is another human on the other side of the text.

Are you new to texting for business? Learn more about how to use texting to engage with your patients, clients and customers by reading our free e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Texting Your Customers.

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