No-shows have increasingly become more and more of a problem in our society. In the good ol' days, when you made an appointment, it was set in stone. There was not really a way to get a hold of people to change appointments, so they were final.
Now today, with the advancements in communications, and with increasingly busy schedules, people feel as if their plans are in flux. “Yes, I have an appointment at 11am today, but I don't know if I will quite make it.” Not only that, but it seems more and more people today are ok with just forgetting about their appointments, not realizing that this is a massive inconvenience.
Not only is it inconvenient, but it actually can take quite a hit on your revenue. If you set aside a half-hour block for a customer, and then that customer doesn't show up, you don't magically have another customer to take that place. That is a half-hour block that is just revenue down the tubes.
A recent study as to why patients miss scheduled appointments narrowed it down to four main reasons that people become ‘No-shows'
- Patients don't feel an established relationship with your company.
- Patients have to wait a long time to get an appointment and may either forget the appointment or decide they no longer need it.
- They have to wait a long time in the waiting room.
- They have personal issues, such as scheduling conflicts or transportation problems, which cause them to miss their appointments.
Believe it or not, but text alerts are a good solution for most of these problems.
Text alerts create a relationship between your company and the customer. Text messages seem a lot more personal to most people than emails, and studies have shown that receiving text messages increases engagement with that customer. This is especially true if you make the text messages seem less generic and more personable: “Hi Jill, this is Jenny from your hair salon, I just wanted to remind you that you have a hair appointment at 11 tomorrow. Thanks!”
Sending text alerts is a great way to remind customers of appointments. It is true, if you make an appointment 2 months in advance, the odds of remembering it are far less than if you made the appointment last week.. But sending out a quick text message to a customer 1-2 days before the appointment quickly refreshes their memory.
Believe it or not, sending text alerts actually can cut down on waiting room wait times. If you cut back on the number of no-shows, then you can really begin to tighten up your appointment scheduling, which automatically leads to less wait times for patients, which leads to even fewer no-shows which leads to even better appointment scheduling. It really is a a double benefit to get your customers to show up for their appointments.
There's not actually a lot you can do about #4. Things happen in life. Cars break down, emergencies happen. There will never be a way to get your number of no-shows down to 0. But, with text alerts you are given the added benefit of customers letting you know promptly that they won't be able to make it. When you send out a text alert, it allows a reply that will go neatly into your email inbox. So when you text someone “You have an appointment tomorrow!” and they remember that they have something else scheduled for that time, instead of having to remember to call the office, they can just text back “Sorry, I have a scheduling conflict, I won't be able to make it tomorrow.” This helps you keep your scheduling as accurate as possible. You can even encourage customers to text you back by changing your messages to something like “Hi Jill, this is Jenny from your hair salon. Just a reminder that you have an appointment at 11am tomorrow. Please text me back if this won't work for you. Thanks!”