Any successful business puts a lot of effort into attracting new clients. For appointment-based businesses, that means everything you do to end up with a full calendar of scheduled appointments. Is your service up to par? How does your pricing compare with your competitors? Is your marketing and publicity effective? With all the effort that goes into winning new clients, it’s a huge emotional and logistical drag when too many of those hard-won clients don’t come back. Every client lost requires that a new one be brought in just to tread water, not to mention growing your client list.
In this blog post, we’ll look at an aspect of client retention that’s easily overlooked because it seems so basic: effective automated appointment reminders via sms, email, and automated phone calls. Getting this part of your communication infrastructure right gives you a huge leg-up on your competition because it conveys a sense of reliability and professionalism to your clients or patients.
With a reminder app like Reminderly, you will see a decreased no-show rate and improved client retention in a matter of weeks.
One of the most important tasks in terms of assessing your client retention is to take a close look at the nitty-gritty of client communication, and this is where appointment notifications come into play.
Let me use an example that happened to me recently. My wife and I decided to look for a couple’s counselor, and after a bit of searching, we found two we wanted to try, figuring we’d go with whoever seemed like a better fit.
After an initial phone call and some texts with the first therapist, we were booked for an appointment with her. But since she was booking about three weeks out, the appointment wasn’t for some time. As the appointment date got closer, we didn’t receive any additional text messages or phone calls from her, nor did we get an email reminder. So, I kept having to scroll through my old texts to remind myself the date—and even the therapist’s name. We also found ourselves frantically Googling her while driving to her office because she’d never sent us her office address.
Perhaps this therapist has a sufficiently full client list that these kinds of aggravations don’t affect her business, but you can see how the lack of a basic appointment confirmation message led to a sense of disconnect and frustration in the lead-up to our first session.
The second therapist we contacted employs an easy-to-use online appointment booking system and also uses an automated reminder system, so we got an appointment confirmation email right away. We also got a reminder the day before reminding us of our appointment, giving us the address of her office, and asking us to confirm that we could make the appointment. We were well aware of the time, location, and the therapist’s name. In contrast to our appointment with the first therapist, the lead-in felt like a breeze.
Surveys show that 85%+ of people say they want to receive reminder messages about upcoming appointments, and expectations in this area are rising. For instance, as Millennials and Gen-Z become a larger share of the adult population, more of your clients or patients will be anticipating that your business will not only offer text message reminders but also have real-time two-way communication so that they can cancel or reschedule on the fly if needed.
If this sounds intimidating, don’t worry—it’s easy to get started. All you have to do is develop a few templates that fit your business’s needs, and you can make adjustments whenever you need to. Here’s a super simple text message template, as an example:
Thanks for booking your upcoming haircut at <salon name>. Please respond Confirm or Cancel, or call <business phone number> to reschedule.
And here’s the same text message template but with a little more complexity. (Note that since this one is over the 160-character limit for sms, in some cases it will arrive as two texts instead of one, and you might prefer to send longer reminder messages as emails or automated calls for this reason.)
Hi <client name> - thanks for booking your upcoming haircut with <provider name> at <salon name>. 💇♀️ Please respond Confirm or Cancel, or text back if you have any questions. Follow <this link> to our online booking system to reschedule.
Offering two-way communication through a service like Reminderly doesn’t mean that one of your team members will suddenly need to be texting with clients all day. Quite the opposite, in fact. With Reminderly, the majority of your clients or patients—including many who would have been no-shows—will simply confirm that they’re coming. Indeed, across industries, 90%+ of confirmed appointments not only don’t turn into no-shows but also don’t need to be rescheduled.
For the now much smaller number of clients who are cancellations and/or need to reschedule, and for those who have questions, Reminderly allows them to send response messages at any time. People are much more likely to take this step when they can do it in real-time rather than trying to remember later or adding it to their bulging to-do list. So, the clients can respond immediately when they get their reminder message, and Reminderly aggregates those messages into a communication hub for you to respond as you have time. This process cuts way down on unexpected phone calls to you or your front office staff, especially when you consider that the reminder messages themselves will already have solved many cases of clients being uncertain about the date and time or location of their appointment.
You’d be surprised at how much your staff can save time in its day-to-day workflow by allowing automated reminders to do the lion’s share of the work and funneling those clients who need additional communication all into one communication hub. Reminderly offers a range of fully-automated and semi-automated data integrations across all major calendar software systems and is equally easy on ios or android, so the process of sending out your appointment reminders and updating your calendar takes place seamlessly. It’s a “set it and forget it” process that frees you up to focus on other aspects of your business.
Ever receive a birthday greeting from a business, perhaps with a coupon or freebie offer? It feels good, right? Even if you know that it’s just a computer system sending you an automatic note, you also know that someone at the business felt it was important to celebrate a special day for their clients. It’s the kind of small gesture that can make a big difference in client retention. And Reminderly can help with that...
In addition to its primary function of reducing your no-show rate and conveying reliability and professionalism to your clients, appointment reminder software like Reminderly can facilitate your client communication in other ways such as: