Text message, email, and phone call reminders
Automated appointment reminders are a great way to boost client engagement and improve workflow at your healthcare practice or service business. But in our age of a zillion means of communication, how do you know which channel works best reach your patients or customers?
In this blog post, we’ll look at ways you can combine the three main communication channels—text messages, emails, and phone calls—to maximize the effectiveness of your appointment notifications. With Reminderly, your office can automate its upcoming appointment reminders across all three of these channels. Taking this low-cost step results in a rapid decrease in no-shows, which removes hassle for you and your staff, increases revenue, and improves client satisfaction.
Let’s look at no-frills appointment reminder templates/scripts for phone calls, emails, and text messages, and then we’ll consider the pros and cons of each channel.
Simple but effective appointment reminder templates
Reminderly allows you to customize as many templates as you need to reach the various segments of your clientele. You can optimize these over time as you seek to get your no-show rate closer and closer to 0%, but it’s best to start quite simple. With that in mind, here is a basic sample call script for reminder calls, as well as basic templates for text message and email reminders.
Appointment reminder call script
“This is <business name> calling to remind you about your upcoming appointment on <day of week, date> at <time>. Press 1 to confirm or 2 to cancel. Or press 0 if you’d like to speak with someone from our office now. Thanks so much, and we’ll see you soon!"
Appointment reminder text message template
You have an upcoming appointment with <business or provider name> on <day of week, date> at <time>. Please reply Confirm or Cancel, and call <business number> with any questions.
Appointment reminder email template
Subject line: Your upcoming appointment at <business name>
Thank you for booking your upcoming <appointment type> with us! Your session with <provider name> is on <day of week, date> at <time>.
Confirm your appointment using the button below. If you need to reschedule, please click the link to our online scheduling system or call us at <phone number>.
<business or staff member name>
<additional info links, social media links, or other info>
Pros and cons of text messages, emails, and reminder calls
Here’s a run-down of the pros and cons for each of the main communication channels used for automated reminders.
Phone call reminders
- Preferable for older clientele. Good old fashioned phone calls are still the norm. In some cases, they are the only way your older clients will receive a reminder for their next appointment. With that said, even older populations are starting to prefer text messages.
- Quickest for in-person rescheduling. If you require people to call your office to reschedule, sending reminders over the phone sets the stage for that. Reminderly can initiate an automated call, and if the person picks up and wants to reschedule, all they have to do is press zero to be connected to your office. If your reminder call goes to voicemail, your business phone number can be part of the script so that the person can call you back right then if they’d like.
- Easiest for tech-averse people. Some people of all ages just don’t want to deal with business texting, online appointment scheduling apps, or other tech-based forms of communication. These people will select phone calls as their communication preference.
- May seem weird to younger clientele. Millennial and Gen-Z customers are used to doing everything online and through smartphone apps, and they often send calls straight to voicemail and never listen to the message.
- Full voicemail = dead end. In contrast to the near-infinite capacity of a text thread or email inbox, someone’s voicemail inbox can be full, and until they realize it you’ll be out of luck trying to leave them a voicemail reminder. This can be doubly bad, as they may form a negative association with that unknown number that keeps calling them and not leaving a message.
- High open rates. Unlike emails and phone calls, people rarely skip reading their text messages. SMS open rates are close to 100%.
- Very succinct. Text messages are the perfect format for quick reminders: client name, business name, date, appointment time, and a prompt to confirm or cancel are all that’s needed. Many folks appreciate the brevity, and you can trust your clients to respond if they need additional follow-up.
- Super easy confirmations. It takes only seconds for your clients to read and respond to the message—typically typing "confirm" or "cancel." They can also text back immediately, getting their question or concern to you while it’s fresh. Their response will be compiled with other customer responses in a communication hub you can check anytime. Text messaging is also the channel that makes it easiest for people to unsubscribe from reminders if they don’t want them. For instance, your reminder template can include, “Reply STOP to end text reminders from this business.”
- Not everyone texts. Although text messaging rates are very high for people age 49 and younger, about one-third of people age 50 to 64 still don’t text. Most importantly, far less than half of folks age 65 and older text. (Then there are those like my 72-year-old dad, who does text—about once every six months.) If your patient base or clientele leans to the older side, you shouldn’t rely solely on text message reminders.
- You might have their landline, not their cell. Some of your clients might have given you their landline instead of their cell phone. Reminderly can automatically detects when a number is a landline so you can opt for reminder calls instead of texts.
- Too short for much info. Although business texting is on the rise, people don’t want to read overly long texts or get a lengthy series of texts from a business. If you’re trying to send detailed information or updates, relying solely on sms is not the way to go.
Appointment confirmation emails
- Space for multiple links and chunks of info. If you want your reminder to come with additional elements—for instance, links to intake paperwork or payment info, a clickable map, instructions on appointment prerequisites, or the text of your cancellation policy—email affords a lot more space to fit these in.
- Easier to make on-brand. With the extra space and design capabilities in emails, it’s easier to express the tone (friendly, formal, enthusiastic, etc.) and design elements (photos, color palette, patterns, etc.) that you want for your business. Although you don’t want to conflate your marketing emails with your friendly reminder emails, email reminders offer more options than text or calls to express your business’s style.
- No penalty for redundancy. The flip side of low email open rates—see “cons,” just below—is that people are unlikely to be put off by redundancy in emails. Multiple reminders about the same appointment are common these days, and people are unlikely to view redundant emails as intrusive in the way they might with text messages or phone calls.
- Low open rates. In this 2022 analysis from Mailchimp, the average email open rate for all industries analyzed was a mere 21.33%. No industry reached a 30% open rate, and “Medical, Dental, and Healthcare” came in right about average at 21.72%. Although this analysis focused on email marketing campaigns rather than reminders, it doesn’t inspire confidence about email open rates in general.
- Easy to miss. A big part of those low open rates is that single emails are just easy to miss amidst the deluge in everyone’s inbox. If you only send your clients appointment reminders via email, it’s certain that people are going to miss them some of the time even though they want the reminders (which 85% of people say they do). This is why sending reminders through multiple channels is often the best approach.
- People often have multiple email addresses. I recently scheduled an intake appointment with a new doctor. As I drove there I wondered why I hadn’t received any reminders, and I worried I had the wrong date or time. After the appointment, I realized they did send me a few reminders, but I didn’t see them because they were using my work email instead of my personal email, and I hadn’t checked my work email because I was on paternity leave. I’ve had the opposite happen too—work-related reminders going to my personal email address. Cases like that are another reason why clients might miss your email reminders or not see them till too late.
Overlapping appointment reminder channels
Seeing that there are pros and cons to each of the three main appointment reminder channels leads to an obvious conclusion: if you want to be certain you’re reaching as many of your clients as possible with reminders, you need to overlap the reminders across two or all three channels. This can be done in any number of ways, but below are a four common ones. Contact us if you’d like to talk through the perfect reminder system for your clientele.
- Email 3 days in advance of appointment, phone call 24 hours in advance, text message 1 hour in advance.
- Email one week in advance of appointment, text message 24 hours and 1 hour in advance.
- Text message 7 days in advance of appointment. Until a confirmation is received, text again 5 days and 3 days prior to appointment. If still no confirmation, phone call day before appointment.
- Phone call and email 5 days before appointment. If no confirmation is received, text message and email day before appointment.