Why You Need Appointment SMS — and How to Get Started
What if we told you there was a hack to dramatically reduce missed appointments and no-shows? 🎉
If you operate any type of service-based business, you’ll understand the frustration of when a client or customer fails to arrive. No-shows create issues across numerous industries in all parts of the globe:
- No income, same costs
Missed appointments mean that not only are you paying your staff and overheads, no-shows mean lost revenue. It’s a lose-lose situation.
- Opportunity cost
By booking an appointment that results in a no-show, you may have had to turn away other paying customers (who may or may not have returned).
- Waiting around can be frustrating
No one likes feeling like their time is not valuable!
There is a simple, cost-efficient way to dramatically reduce your rate of no-shows. Appointment SMS Reminders.
SMS for Appointments: A Game-Changer
Appointment texts are SMS messages that are triggered based on scheduled events or appointments. They are almost always automated as this allows businesses to easily send messages at scale.
Given the immediacy of text messaging with near-perfect open rates and best-in-class response rates, SMS is the best way to communicate appointment-related messages. For comparison, text messaging response rate is eight times better than email!
Appointment SMS is fantastic for:
- Confirming, and reminding customers of bookings and scheduled events
- Notifying attendees of upcoming appointments, consultations, or events
- Reminding clients to make bookings for recurring services or check-ups
- Setting up meetings and interviews
- Sending information should bookings be changed
- Roster updates — ensuring that staff are aware of their scheduled shifts
- Following up after the event — eg. to request feedback, provide additional information to get the best out of your product, or seek further information to complete a job.
Appointment reminders are one of the most popular ways our customers use SMS; no-shows were once a huge pain point to many of our customers. Not only have these messages been proven to significantly improve attendance, but they’re also helpful for boosting customer engagement and improving client satisfaction.
Examples of SMS Appointment Reminders
A good appointment reminder text will include:
- A greeting that includes the client’s first name,
- Clear identification of who they are receiving this message from,
- Information about the date and time of the appointment,
- Clear instructions for the recipient should they wish to change their appointment.
Most businesses allow clients to change their appointment either through a link to their scheduling tool or via reply message.
Example 1: Using a Link to Cancel/Reschedule
“Hi Jonica, you have an appointment at 9.15am on Thursday 17 June at ClearSkin Clinic. Please confirm or reschedule at smsu.io/123456.”
Tip: when using a link in your message, use our link shortener to reduce the number of characters in the message. Some message carriers refuse to send messages containing shortened links from public link shorteners (eg. Bitly).
Example 2: Confirmation by Return Message
“Hi Lowri, you have an appointment on November 2 at 3.20pm with TaxHelp. Reply YES to confirm and NO to cancel.”
Allowing customers to respond to your message is a smooth experience for your users, and simpler than it seems to set up! Read on for how to accommodate appointment confirmation, reschedule and cancellations via return message.
Note: if you use a dedicated shortcode or send using your business name as the sender ID, you will not be able to receive replies and should use a reschedule link.
The Impact of No-Shows
What is a no-show? It is broadly defined as a patient or client who misses their scheduled appointment or cancels it at the last minute.
In the medical industry, the rate of missed medical appointments in the USA can be up to 55%! 😱 In such an industry, not only does this impact the provider, but also the patient, resulting in:
- Disruption to the continuity of care/service
- Prolonged delays
- Hinderance of diagnosis and treatment
- Enormous amount of wasted time and resources
- More expensive care: many providers charge a last-minute cancellation fee or collect a non-refundable deposit to offset some of the cost of no-shows. Even from consistently reliable clients.
So why do people miss appointments they have booked?
Why People Fail to Attend Appointments
The single largest reason for no-shows is that most people simply forget they have an appointment scheduled for a particular date and time.
With a text message appointment reminder, they’d have not missed their appointment. Or if they were unable to attend, they’d have canceled and rescheduled on time so that the provider could fill the time slot with another client.
Other common reasons for no-shows include:
- Personal/work-related issues
- Issues with transport
- Illness/too unwell to attend
- Negative mindset or poor executive function (especially related to healthcare)
- Cost concerns
- Opted for another provider
- Did not believe the appointment was important
A study published in the BMJ Open, not only observed that sending a text message reminder reduced instances of clinic no-shows by 25%, but concluded that this reduction could be increased by sending multiple notifications.
Businesses that send automated SMS reminders report:
- Better use of staff resources
- Better available appointment utilisation
- Higher revenue
- Lower no-shows and unfulfilled appointment rates
- Reduced waiting periods for clients
No matter your industry, reduce the incidence of no-shows for your busy appointment schedule with SMS.
Ways to Configure SMS Appointment Automations
Depending on the applications and technology your business uses, there are different ways to configure your text message reminders. This includes:
- Setting up an autoresponder in the ClickSend dashboard
- Using our APIs to create a powerful, fully customised solution
- No code integrations through booking or scheduling software
Read on for popular ways our clients set up automated appointment SMS.
1. Automate SMS Replies Within the ClickSend Dashboard
Within our online dashboard we have a few automations to help you get started with sending triggered text messages:
- time-based: for sending at regular time intervals
- contact-based: for sending based on when a contact is added to the list
- reply-based (or inbound): for sending automated responses
We’ve done a walk-through in our Guide to SMS Automation.
2. Code Your Own Custom Solution
If you want a solution that is completely tailored to custom applications or uncommon use cases, we offer flexible and powerful APIs to build SMS functionality (and more) into almost anything!
This option requires a technical resource who is comfortable with coding. If that’s you, you’ll love our API documentation — check it out at our Developers Portal.
If not, our no-code integrations are great for setting up text message appointment reminders without the need to engage a developer.
3. No-Code Integration with Your Booking Software
At ClickSend we offer hundreds of no-code integrations so you can easily connect text messaging functionality into your existing systems. Here are some examples.
Direct Google Calendar Integration — New!
Many employees across all industries use Google Calendar to keep their appointments and meetings organised. With our new Google Calendar SMS Plugin, you can seamlessly send text message reminders to meeting attendees in a few clicks. Don’t believe how easy it is? Check out this video.
Vik Booking Plugin — for Hotels and Accommodation
Vik Booking is a popular Property Management Software (PMS) plugin for Wordpress that allows hotels, villas, apartments, and BnB managers to run their business online. It elevates WordPress websites to add property management-specific features like adding seasonal rates, booking restrictions, or even synchronising with booking comparison sites.
With our direct integration, you can connect this PMS straight to your favourite text message gateway. Then set up notifications that trigger when rooms are booked, a day or two ahead of check-in, and feedback requests after check-out.
Direct Zoho Bookings Integration
Zoho Bookings is another scheduling tool that’s popular no matter which industry you’re in. Our direct integrations with Zoho allow you to add text message functionality to Zoho Bookings as well as other products in the sensational Zoho ecosystem.
Indirect Scheduling Integrations: Calendly, Acuity Scheduling, Simplybook.me, Appointlet and More
There are still ways to connect your scheduling tool, even if we don’t have a direct integration for it yet! (If this is the case, we encourage you to submit a feature request to your scheduling software and to us- our dedicated Product Managers review every single one.)
Using a tool that connects applications together (known as an integration platform), you can connect ClickSend with almost any other software.
It’s simpler than it sounds!
Example: Acuity Scheduling and ClickSend via Automate.io
Automate.io is a popular integration platform and offers two-way functions for text messaging. Either the incoming SMS can trigger an action in Acuity Scheduling (eg. Add a Client or Schedule an Appointment), or the reverse: an action in Acuity can trigger a message to be sent.
Once signed up with Automate.io, click ‘Create a Bot’ and follow these steps.
- Choose your Trigger: select your scheduling tool, then ‘New Appointment’.
- Create your Action: choose ClickSend and then ‘Send an SMS to a Contact’.
- Match up the Input Fields
This is where you match to, from, message content and when you want the message to send.
Check out this guide from Automate.io for more information.
Example: Calendly and ClickSend via Zapier
Zapier is one of the biggest names in the integration platform game and it’s fantastic for getting started with automations.
Within the Zapier dashboard, you follow a similar process to above — choose your trigger, choose your action and then add the inputs to create what they call a Zap.
Then all you need to do is set your Zap live and your appointment reminders will be sent via lightning-fast direct routes to your contacts.
Integration platforms like Zapier, Automate.io, Microsoft Power Automate, Piesync, Integromat, etc allow you to do more than just text messaging. Why not try automating busy work like adding contacts to lists? Or you can also send MMS, automated voice calls, postcards, letters, and more.
Check out our integrations portal for a world of possibilities.
Work With ClickSend!
Our SMS software enables you to send automated reminders directly to the phones of your patients, clients, or customers. It’s a discreet and gentle way to prompt people to keep their appointments — or to at least cancel or reschedule in an acceptable time frame. There is no better way to save your business time, money, and maximise your opportunities — and boost customer satisfaction at the same time.
Sign up with us now and start reducing no-shows immediately!