We’ve all had the experience of missing an appointment. What a terrible feeling—and a hassle—it is when you see a phone call or get an email notification from your provider and suddenly realize that you missed your appointment. Not only did you miss the service you were seeking, you also potentially will be charged a no-show fee. In this article, I’ll relate the reason for my own most recent no-show and talk about how automated client appointment reminders could have spared both me and the service provider trouble and expense.
Although it’s not the most common reason for no-shows, the last appointment I missed was due to the weather. I was visiting a friend in a mountain town when a huge snowstorm blew in. Feet of snow covered the highways, and the roads were promptly closed. Two days later, I was still waiting out the weather when I got a real-time phone call from my massage therapist asking, “Where are you?” I had totally forgotten that appointment, and he asked me to pay a 50% no-show fee. I knew he was running a small business and couldn’t afford to miss the revenue entirely, but as I read off my credit card number over the phone to pay for a service I hadn’t received, I couldn’t help but feel—ouch!
When I was stuck at my friend’s house a few hundred miles from my massage therapist’s office, the highways were a mess, and I doubted that my car could even make the drive. But you know what was working just fine? My cell phone. Even with something as unpredictable as a snowstorm, the missed appointment could have been prevented if I’d received a confirmation text a day or two beforehand—a simple sms, email reminder, or voicemail would have been enough to remind me to text or call the massage therapist and let him know I needed to reschedule.
Although I paid the 50% no-show fee, that was far from an ideal solution. With a simple automated text reminder, he could’ve filled that slot and made more money, I could’ve saved the fee, and both of us would have been spared the relationship strain that comes from a penalty for a no-show.
I have since switched to a massage therapy office that sends automated appointment reminders: they send an email reminder two days before my appointments, as well as a confirmation sms text the day of, and the odds of me being a no-show again have dropped to near zero.
Although snowstorms and other weather-related events are uncommon reasons for people to miss a scheduled appointment, missed appointments for all types of reasons are entirely too common. Among the most common are:
When a patient, client, or customer doesn’t show up at the time you’ve booked for them, it costs your business money and time, and it’s an overall strain on smooth workflows. Whether you charge a no-show fee or not, your practice has lost out on a timeslot that could have been filled by a full-paying client, if only you’d known to refill it. For businesses that lack supportive automation, a cancellation can also mean staff time calling to check what happened and reschedule over the phone.
And the awkwardness of rescheduling may be enough to send your customer looking for another provider or simply skipping care that they might need. One massive study found that patients who failed to keep just one appointment with their primary care doctor were 70% more likely not to return within 18 months. This suggests that for large numbers of people, a single missed appointment can lead to ongoing disengagement—to their detriment and that of your business.
And, boy do all these costs add up! No-shows cost the medical industry at large some $150 billion per year, and untold billions more to other appointment-based industries. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a system in place that would not only prevent the large majority of no-shows but allow you or your office manager to spend less time worrying about the issue?
A quality appointment reminder system can reduce your business’s no-show rate dramatically and quickly. Many studies have shown that confirmation text messages, email reminders, and other simple notifications can reduce no-shows by as much as 90%. Most appointment-based business owners spend a lot of time thinking about how customers can enter smoothly—creating online booking pages with the functionality to integrate directly with appointment scheduling software. When we work so hard to get customers to book appointments in the first place, why are we less concerned with having an equally smooth and automated solution to preventing missed appointments?
An integrated system like Reminderly offers automated text messages, reminder calls, email appointment reminders, and more so that your patients or clients experience a smooth communication process that takes the pressure of them and the burden off you and your staff. The appointment reminder software integrates seamlessly with your existing calendar software, whether Google Calendar, Office 365, Calendly, or many others, and we pride ourselves on responsive customer service to help you handle any questions that pop up.
Even better, receiving appointment confirmation texts or other types of appointment reminder messages will leave you with happier customers. Over 85% of people say they want appointment reminders, so implementing a reminder service is providing support your customers already desire.