In today’s busy world, we have an innumerable amount of things to remember every single day and it’s difficult to keep up with everything on your calendar. But when it comes to running a business, it’s even more difficult not to feel the first-hand effects of other people’s attendance issues as it costs you time, resources and money.

A World Without Appointment Reminders

Missed appointments are a lost opportunity for companies. There are many factors that cause no-shows, such as environmental disruptions, scheduling policies, a client or patient’s behavior or their financial situation. However, according to Relatient, forgetfulness was recorded as the number one reason why people don’t show up to their bookings. That’s why appointment reminders are absolutely essential to the fluency of day-to-day operations.

Administrative staff are often left with the responsibility of sending appointment reminders to tackle this issue, but reaching out to each person individually can take hours and it may not even result in successful contact with the client. It’s not possible for one person to multiple people at one moment in time, but this delay creates a never-ending backlog and sometimes leads to late reminders — making the process inefficient and hard to maintain.

If only there was an easy and reliable way to notify people of their upcoming appointments and dramatically reduce the possibility of no-shows. That’s where SMS comes in.

SMS, the abbreviation of short message service, is another term for text messaging and it can send mass amounts of messages in a minimal time frame. But why go with a text message interface over other communication platforms?

Benefits of SMS Appointment Reminders

SMS platforms allow you to completely automate the process of sending appointment reminders, and with customization options, you can engage clients or patients with immediate effect. Here are some reasons why text messaging appears to be the ultimate solution for appointment reminders.

High Reachability
According to Exploding Topics, there are currently over 6.5 billion smartphone users worldwide which make up approximately 85% of the global population. With the ability to contact anyone from anywhere through mobile, text message achieves impressive reachability. You might be thinking: Sure, anyone can receive a text, but how do you know they’ll actually read it? Well, according to G2, text messages have an average open rate of 98% with 60% of consumers reading a text within five minutes of receiving it. This means you can effectively and reliably reach your customers to remind them of their appointments before it’s too late.

Text message services are one of the most cost-effective ways of communicating with an audience, especially when considering their wide reachability and impressive open rates. With these results, you’re more likely to make returns on your investment and save valuable time so your teams can focus their efforts on goals elsewhere within the company. Also, when comparing an SMS message to a phone call, where a one-minute call costs one dollar, a text message only costs ten cents — the numbers speak for themselves.

Easy to Integrate
SMS can easily integrate into your company’s systems to allow you to reach customers from an easy-to-use online platform. This is all made possible with A2P (application-to-person) technology, meaning you won’t have to manually send texts from a mobile device to deliver timely reminders. Instead, businesses can manage and automate their texting processes, and send SMS from a computer device. Since SMS integration is so simple, nearly any company can implement it.

Who Can Utilize SMS Reminders?

Any company or organization that relies on the punctuality of their clients or patients will greatly benefit from a text appointment reminder service. Below, we’ve listed a wide range of industries that can gain from sending SMS reminders and explained the ways they can take advantage of its capabilities.

Healthcare Facilities
Healthcare facilities can notify patients at the perfect time by integrating SMS into their appointment booking system. This makes the reminding process completely automatic as SMS systems can be programmed to send a text message reminder following a trigger — enhancing patient communication. In this case, a trigger could be sending appointment information exactly 48 hours before the scheduled booking. The SMS system would then read the patient information in the booking database and send a customized SMS template to the recipient.

A healthcare appointment reminder text could say:
“Hello [FIRST NAME]. This is a friendly reminder that your [TIME] appointment at [LOCATION] with Dr. [NAME] is coming up on [DATE]. If you’re no longer able to attend this booking, please respond with ‘cancel’ or ‘reschedule’.

In this example, the patient is not only notified of their confirmed appointment time, but if they can no longer make their booking, they have the option to respond and let the facility know of their absence ahead of time — avoiding potential embarrassment, ensuring patient privacy and preventing wasted opportunities for other patients to be seen.

Postal Services
Postal services can also benefit from sending SMS alerts to their customers. Instead of reminding clients about appointments, customers are notified of their package arrival and provided with their recommended time of collection. Again, by using an SMS platform, it allows the customer to respond and communicate whether the allocated time works for them. 

A package text reminder could go as follows:
“Hi [NAME]! We’ve received your parcel at [LOCATION] post office. Please come and collect your item today at [TIME]. If you’re unable to make this slot, please reply with ‘reschedule’ to reassign your window.”

Community Centers
Whether it be reminding consumers of their scheduled appointment or confirming a slot, community centers can utilize SMS by sending automated reminders on various occasions to their customers. For instance, once a party books their activity, you can set this as a trigger to send appointment confirmation.

This could look like:
“Thank you for booking [ACTIVITY] at [LOCATION] sports center. We look forward to seeing you at [TIME] on the [DATE]. If you wish to make adjustments to your appointment, please text back ‘change’ 48 hours before you’re scheduled to arrive.”

This informs customers that they won’t be able to make changes in less than two days prior to their booking. With this in mind, you can then schedule a text 72 hours before their appointment to confirm that no changes are necessary. This ensures customers are still happy with their slot while giving them 24 hours to make changes if this is not the case — greatly reducing the likelihood of a no-show.

The following businesses can also achieve more with SMS appointment reminders:

  • Schools: Contacting parents regarding events.
  • Legal Entities: Reminders for court summons.
  • Banks: Loan payment deadlines.
  • Retailers: Collection updates and notifications.
  • Salons: Treatment reminders.

How To Get Started With SMS Reminders

1. Find a Suitable Text Message Provider
If you’re looking to get set up with SMS reminders, you’re going to need the services of an established SMS provider who can provide you with comprehensive support when you need it. At Swift SMS Gateway, we offer full SMS integration and give you access to our easy-to-use, reliable SMS platform so you can get planning. Our support services ensure you have all the help you need, whether you’re just getting started or require assistance years down the line. 

2. Set up a Business Phone Number
Once you’ve picked out your SMS provider, you’ll then need to set up a business number. This is the phone number that your business uses to contact clients, patients or customers. There are two main options the choose from: shortcode and long code (also known as 10DLC).

Shortcode has high throughput capabilities with fast and reliable deliverability. It’s the more expensive option, but it’s the perfect solution for large corporations. On the other hand, 10DLC is a cost-effective way to send SMS but has limitations, including low throughput levels and slower delivery times. This is a better option for smaller businesses.

3. Start Designing Your Templates
At this stage, you can start planning your texts using handy templates which your SMS provider should provide. If you’re looking at an SMS provider that doesn’t offer templates, it may be good to search the market a little further to find a company that’s willing to offer an extensive service to make your life as easy as possible. At Swift SMS Gateway, we offer customizable templates so you don’t have to fret about the wording. Instead, just make the adjustments you’d like to align with your branding and the messages are good to go!

4. Map Your Automation Preferences
Last but not least is mapping out your automation preferences. Consider the services that your company provides and evaluate the ways that processes can be streamlined for optimized efficiency. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you looking for a process where customers must confirm their appointment before it’s officially booked?
  • Are there areas where customers or patients can respond to streamline the process, such as a confirmation text?
  • Do you need to set up multiple reminders to avoid disruption?

Swift SMS Gateway is a global SMS service provider that can put you on the right path to optimize your communication and efficiency by integrating SMS into your systems. Sign up for our free demo to trial our services or get in contact to find out what we can do to leverage your business to success.