16 June 2016

Time is money! Fill your diary with profits

If appointments are the lifeblood of your business, late cancellations or ‘no-shows’ can mean thousands of dollars in lost revenue and reduced staff productivity.

This is especially true for industries that are characterised by high appointment costs such as healthcare and finance and banking. Tight appointment control is one option, however, even with controls in place, missed appointments often occur as the result of avoidable scheduling mistakes, last minute emergencies, or simple human error.

Studies have proven that implementing a proactive confirmation/reminder program can significantly reduce the instance of missed appointments. This reduction, coupled with a possible increase in customer revenue (from back-filling late cancellations) suggests that timely customer reminders can make a real difference.

One very cost-effective approach for improving appointment attendance is to utilise short message service (SMS) or text messages.

As a communication tool, SMS is immediate, non-intrusive and interactive. Over 90 percent of SMS messages are read within 30 seconds.

Text message solutions can be put into practice quickly, with an easy-to-use web interface and text message software that automates the process, making it simple to send a single or bulk SMS message from a computer. Sophisticated solutions will also tag message responses so you know to which message a contact is responding. This facilitates two-way conversation, which is both engaging and customer-focused.

Organisations that harness the power of SMS to confirm appointments and back-fill late cancellations are immediate results, delivering a positive impact to their bottom line.

Steve Green, Voice Communication Manager at Children’s Hospital of Westmead, said that implementing an SMS solution has provided the business with numerous benefits: “Implementing SMS in our business has saved us labour hours, decreased ‘no show’ rates by 25 precent and saved us money.”

Industry best practice indicates that a two-phase approach is the most effective method to confirm high value appointments. The first confirmation should be sent four to five days prior to the appointment, followed by a reminder sent 24 hours before the appointment.

In addition to having a dramatic impact on ‘no show’ rates, cancellations that are re-filled using SMS reminders can result in re-booking approximately 50 percent of the time. When you multiply that over a year of appointments, the impact on revenue and staff productivity is significant.

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