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How SMS and email appointment reminders can improve your business

A whole range of businesses, from individuals right up to large companies, schedule appointments with members of the public, sometimes months in advance. The types of businesses who can benefit from text appointment reminders is surprisingly extensive!

In an ideal world every client would turn up to every appointment making the system 100% efficient. Unfortunately the reality is often very different - people lead busy lives and can easily forget about appointments, especially if arranged weeks or months ago. Did Not Attend (DNA) rates can be alarmingly high. And every lost appointment means wasted resources. For small companies such as hair salons or driving instructors it might mean no income. For dentists, GPs and hospitals it means wasted time for consultants and staff (and money - they still need to be paid).

The simplest solutions are usually the best. A proven way of reducing missed appointments is simply to remind people. That's it. Letting clients and patients know they have an appointment just before the event is the gentle prod most people need to turn up on time, every time.


Manual vs Automated reminders

In the past ringing people up to remind them of an upcoming appointment was the most popular method of reducing DNAs. This worked well enough but suffered from some drawbacks. The good news is that there's an easier way thanks to two widespread and well-understood technologies - email and SMS (text messages).

A quick comparison of the two approaches is given below:


Manual remindersAutomated reminders
Time-consuming - ringing up lots of people takes timeTime-efficient - takes a fraction of the time
Costly - people need wages and their time could be better spent elsewhereLow cost - takes less time = costs less money
Manually intensive - only a human can do itAutomated - once appointments are input, the rest just happens
Disruptive - the client has to actively engage by picking up the phone, interrupting what they were doingPassive - the client can read their SMS or email at their own convenience

Of course we don't claim SMS Client Reminders can solve all your problems and the following things should be considered:

  • Not everyone uses email - or they use it infrequently
  • Not everyone has a mobile phone - older generations in particular
  • Messages might not be read - sending an SMS or email is no guarantee it'll be seen
  • Contact details required - the solution only works if you have a client's mobile number and/or email address

That said, in Developed nations the number of mobile subscriptions compared to the number of people is 128.2%1 - in other words there are more phones than people! And the percentage of people with Internet access averages over 83% (USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand) 2 - so 4 in 5 people will probably have an email account they check regularly.

So it's fair to say a large proportion of people own a mobile phone and access the web. Certainly enough to make automated appointment reminders effective, even if you only use it to reach a subset of your clients. The tables below provide more detail on phone and Internet penetration.


Mobile phone ownership 1

CountryPhone ownership*
United Kingdom122.9%
New Zealand122.7%
Ireland119.0%
United States103.9%
Australia100.4%
Canada74.1%
* values above 100% = more phones than people
     

Internet usage 2

CountryPopulationInternet usersPenetration*
Australia22,015,57619,554,83288.8%
New Zealand4,327,9443,810,14488.0%
United Kingdom63,047,16252,731,20983.6%
Canada34,300,08328,469,06983.0%
United States313,847,465245,203,31978.1%
Ireland4,722,0283,627,46276.8%
* % of people who use Internet

1 Source: International Telecommunication Union (July 2013)
2 Source: Internet World Stats (June 2012)

A small minority of people won't want to receive appointment reminders electronically and there's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. For the majority of clients, patients and customers however it's a useful service that they immediately recognize as worthwhile. As the figures show developed nations are well placed to benefit from appointment reminder systems given widespread mobile phone and Internet usage.


Return on Investment

The Return on Investment (ROI) can be spectacular too (use the calculator to find out why). In fact, preventing a single missed appointment typically covers the monthly cost of providing the service! In other words, it will pay for itself many times over.


Summary

The purpose of SMS Client reminders is simple: save time, money and provide a useful service for your clients.

Did Not Attends, no-shows, missed appointments...whatever you call them they have a negative impact on the operational efficiency of a business or organization. Reminding clients and patients that they need to attend just prior to the event is a tried and tested technique and using an automated service with emails and text messages simply moves the idea a step forward. An increasing number of people are connected to the web, and Mobile usage is even more widespread so it makes sense to use this platform.

Our aim is to make the best appointment reminder software available. We're confident that once you've tried SMS Client Reminders, you won't want to go back to the old way of doing things.

See how much you could save using the simple Cost-Benefit calculator.



A proven way of reducing missed appointments is simply to remind people.


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Cost-Benefit calculator

Number of appointments (per month)
Average missed appointments (per month)
Cost per missed appointment
Reduction in missed appointments
when using SMS Client Reminders

Money saved:

$per month   Details »



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