SMS message, phone call, and email appointment reminder notifications can reduce your no-shows by 90%, and that's why appointment reminders are the easiest and fastest way to increase your revenues. Once you've already spent the time and money to attract clients or patients, appointment reminders prevent you from losing the business you've done so much to bring in. 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.
Although many apps offer the same fundamental promise of sending automated appointment reminders, their solutions are often very different. They vary in the features they offer, their ease of use, the customer support they offer, and the reliability of their features. Switching services can be costly because it takes time to reevaluate a new product, train your staff, and set up the system to your needs. Additionally, you can't always transfer your data when switching software providers. So before you purchase a product, you should consider several factors. Let's examine them one by one...
Your clients or patients are not the same as those of 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 (for instance, if you run a mental health clinic).
Because your clients are unique, you need the ability to tailor your appointment reminder notifications to your specific needs. Appointment reminders that are customized for your business will be more effective at reducing no-shows than a one-size-fits-all solution. Picking software that allows you to customize your messages will ensure that your customers have the information they need.
Your clients likely have different preferences in terms of how to receive reminders. 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 are being contacted in the way they would like.
What's more, you may want to contact every client in multiple ways to make sure you're reaching them. For example, sending an email four days before an appointment 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 service that can deliver all three forms of communication to ensure that you have flexibility today and in the future.
Any solution that you purchase should be straightforward to use. Having a complete set of features does not require the program to be challenging to learn. It's often the case that a number of employees will 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.
As with staff use, 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.
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 Calendar and Outlook 365. We also fully integrate with cloud-based spreadsheets such as Google Sheets.
Semi-automated integrations require your staff to upload a daily file, such as a spreadsheet. There are various reasons why many businesses choose this option: 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. It should only take a few minutes every day, involving 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 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.
Ideally you 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 even though the problem started two months ago."
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.
Lastly, you should look at your appointment reminder service's complementary features, especially if you can't get those services anywhere else. Here are two examples:
Ability to fill vacant appointments
Once your clients respond that they can't make their appointment, do you have an automatic way to fill that newly vacant appointment, or does it depend whether a staff member has time to start calling or emailing people on the waitlist? 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.
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, and we want to you feel as confident as we are before you purchase our app.