People at reception desk due to appointment reminders

How to select an appointment reminder app

Why appointment reminders matter

SMS message, phone call, and email appointment reminder notifications can reduce your no-shows by 90%. Appointment reminders are the easiest and fastest way to increase your revenues. Once you've already spent the time and money to attract clients and patients, appointment reminders prevent you from losing the business at the very end. Using software, such as Reminderly, allows you to fully automate sending these reminders to your clients. Within days, this software will reduce your no-show rate and allow your staff to save time.


Not all appointment reminder software is the same

Although many apps offer the same fundamental promise of sending automated appointment reminders, their solutions are often very different. They often vary in the features they offer, their ease of use, the customer support they offer, and the reliability of their features. Switching to another product can be costly because it takes time to reevaluation a new product, train your staff, and set up the system to your needs. Additionally, you frequently can't transfer your data when switching software providers. So before you purchase a product, you should consider several factors, specifically:


Message flexibility

Your clients and patients are not the same as another business or practice. Your clients need different information included in their reminders. For example, sometimes an upcoming appointment time is required (e.g., 10:00 AM), while sometimes a window needs to be given (e.g., We will arrive between 10:00 AM and 12:00 PM). Sometimes you will want to include your address, but sometimes you will want to be discrete in the name of your business (i.e., if you are a mental health clinic).  

Because your clients are unique, you need the ability to tailor the appointment reminder notifications to your specific needs. An appointment reminder that is customized for your business will be more effective at reducing no-shows. Picking software that allows you to customize your messages will ensure that your customers have the information they need.


Can deliver SMS, phone call, and email reminders

Your clients are not all the same. Some clients may want SMS messages, while others prefer phone calls or emails. Having the ability to deliver text messages, voice calls, and emails will ensure that your customers receive their reminders. You may want to contact every client in multiple ways. For example, send them an email four days before and a text message the day before. Or you may want to send everyone a text reminder or a voice call based on their specific preferences. Your needs in this area may evolve, so it is best to pick a solution that can grow and change as your business needs change. Pick a solution that can deliver all three forms of communication to ensure that you have flexibility today and in the future.


Ease of use for staff

Any solution that you purchase should be straightforward to use. Having a complete set of features does not require that the program is challenging to learn and use. Many employees usually need to use the appointment reminder system. When someone is sick or on vacation, a different staff member needs to step in and use the appointment reminder app. If the program is challenging to learn, it's difficult for new people to step in and ensure that the reminders run smoothly. Regardless of your staff's computer skills, they should be able to start using the software with little to no training. When deciding which software to purchase, make sure that it is user-friendly.


Ease of use for clients

Your appointment reminder system should be straightforward for your customers to use. They should be able to quickly see the information they need and easily respond with a confirmation or a cancellation. Your clients should be able to text or call you back. Avoid any company that "shares" your reminder phone number – this is when reminders for multiple companies are sent from the same number. Your clients can only text and call you back if you have a dedicated phone number. This two-way communication is critical for rescheduling, follow-ups, and real-time conversations with your clients.


Product integration

It should be effortless to get your appointments from your appointment scheduling software into your appointment reminder system. Any solution should not take more than a few minutes each day for your staff to manage. Fully automated integrations are when your scheduling software directly connects to your reminder system in real-time. Once set up, this requires the least amount of time for your staff to manage. Reminderly offers fully automated integrations with scheduling apps such as Google Calendars, Outlook 365. We also fully integration with cloud-based spreadsheets such as Google Sheets.


Semi-automated integrations require your staff to upload a daily file, such as a spreadsheet. Many businesses choose this option for various reasons: their schedule software doesn't have an automated integration option, or the cost of creating a customized integration is too expensive. Even if a fully automated solution isn't an option, the semi-automated integration process should be straightforward for your staff to manage. The best practice is that it should only take a few minutes every day. It should be 3-5 button clicks to download your schedule and 3-5 clicks to upload the file into your appointment reminder system. Any reminder program you select should accept the file in whatever format your schedule software creates. Forcing your staff to reformat the file every day is a huge burden. For example, your appointment reminder app shouldn't force your team to move the date and time columns from columns D and E to columns A and B. Your appointment reminder system should also remember how your schedule is formatted. Be wary of programs that require you to specify which columns the date, the time, and the phone number are in every time you upload a new file. This will not change daily, so having your staff reenter this information every day will slow down the process.


Product reliability

Product reliability is one of the hardest things to evaluate in the short term. First and foremost, are your messages delivered. From a technical perspective, simply "sending" text reminder messages is easy, but ensuring that your clients receive them is difficult. It requires well-written code with redundant systems built-in, advanced spam detection tools, attentive support staff, and a strong relationship with the carriers. Usually, the only way that you know that your clients aren't getting their reminders is when they complain to you. Unfortunately, most customers won't tell you, so it can take a long time to realize that you aren't getting the service you are paying for. At Reminderly, we know that your automatic appointment reminders are a critical component of your business, so we do everything we can to ensure that your clients receive our messages. We take this obligation seriously; it is core to who we are as a business.


Customer support

Ideally don't ever need it. But when you do, you need it to be prompt and reliable. You should find a service that quickly responds to phone calls and emails. You should avoid companies that are slow to respond or make you wait for hours on hold. Because your appointment reminders are critical to your business, you need your problems to be resolved promptly. I can't count how many customers have told us, "We are switching to Reminderly because we have had a problem with our last service. They haven't responded to us yet – the problem started two months ago."  


Price

Price is always important when evaluating a solution. To be completely transparent, prices for appointment reminders vary across the industry. You can find low-cost providers. However, many of these providers cut corners, from inconsistent technology and deliverability to nonexistent customer service. If your SMS reminder messages are not being delivered, then it obviously doesn’t matter how cheap the service is.. On the other hand, some providers are extremely expensive. These companies usually have a small market niche and try to exploit their customers with high prices. At Reminderly, we are not the cheapest, and we are not the most expensive – we aim to offer a superior product at an average price.


Complementary functionality

Lastly, you should look at your appointment reminder service's complementary features, especially if you can't get those services anywhere else.  


Ability to fill vacant appointments.

Once your clients respond that they can't make their appointment, do you have a way to fill that newly vacant appointment? Look for a solution that can easily manage a waitlist for you and send out texts to fill your vacancies quickly. It's helpful to know when your clients will not make their appointments, but it's only useful if you can fill that appointment time.


Get customer feedback.

Getting regular customer feedback is critical to growing your business. From healthcare to retail to construction, businesses want to identify unhappy customers early so that they can help them, and they need to identify their biggest promoters that can help get new customers. Look for a solution that can automatically send post-appointment surveys. It's even better if the system will help you get more reviews on Facebook, Google, or Yelp.


Free trial

The easiest way to determine if an appointment reminder app will work for you is to try it. At Reminderly, we are so confident in our product that we offer a free 14-day trial, and no credit card is required for sign up. We have worked hard on creating a superior product at an average price, but we want to you feel as confident as we are before you purchase our app.

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