Drop no-shows with SMS appointment reminders.

Put the power of SMS to work and watch the number of no-shows drop. Here’s why texting comes out on top for appointment reminders.

This article has been written by Amanda Ranville Amanda Ranville wrote in use-cases February 13, 2024
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Every time a customer misses an appointment, it costs you. Not only do you miss out on revenue, but you still have to pay the staff standing around waiting for the customer to show up. It’s a double whammy.

And the problem is, no-shows are rife. In healthcare, a whopping 27% of appointments are missed. More broadly, the average no-show rate is 10-15%, and the costs quickly add up.

Missed appointments are annoying for customers too. If they simply forgot the appointment, then they have to go through the hassle of rescheduling.

Make life easier for you and your customers by sending appointment reminders via text.

What are SMS appointment reminders?

In a nutshell, SMS appointment reminders are automated text messages that remind customers about upcoming appointments. Timed to perfection and super convenient, they help reduce the number of no-shows.

The reminder text typically includes the date, time, and location of the appointment. If you use two-way texting, then it can also include a confirmation request. You can also use two-way texts to communicate changes, cancellations, or other info about their appointment.

Note the word ‘automated’ above. The beauty of SMS is that it’s set-and-forget. Integrate SMS into your appointment management software to automatically send a reminder a certain period of time before the appointment. This takes the onus off your team and saves heaps of time, too.

Why use SMS over email, phone, or an appointment card?

Remember appointment cards? Written in good faith by a friendly receptionist, only for you to slip it into your bag and promptly forget about it.

Or what about phone calls to remind customers about appointments? Just think how much time that takes out of a busy admin team’s day – not to mention how many people ignore calls from unknown numbers these days.

Then there are other ways of reminding people about upcoming appointments. Email is one. Push notifications from a business app is another. These methods can work — but they rely on customers either downloading your app or checking their emails (and, potentially, their junk folder). Neither are guaranteed.

It’s why SMS can be the most effective channel for appointment reminders. SMS is:

  • Lightning fast, with 65% of consumers opening a text messages within 5 minutes of receiving it
  • Automated, ensuring that each and every customer receives a timely reminder
  • Familiar, with customers comfortable using texting in their day-to-day life

Plus, with two-way texting, customers can respond in their own time — there’s no missed calls or voicemails to deal with, just quick and easy text messages.

Take SMS for a spin.

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Best practice tips for SMS appointment reminders.

If you’re new to using SMS for appointment reminders, keep these tips and best practices in mind.

Timing matters.

When it comes to timing, there are two things to consider.

First, there’s when you send the reminder. For appointments like a medical check-up or haircut, it’s best practice to send the reminder 24 hours beforehand. If it’s a dinner reservation, then a same-day reminder is probably better.

Then, there’s how many reminders you send. You don’t want to overload customers with too many messages. Start with just one text per appointment, and gauge its effect. If customers are still not showing up, then you might want to up the ante.

Use people’s names.

To really grab your customers’ attention, personalize each text. Start with a friendly ‘Hi Sam’ to get their eyeballs on your message. There’s no better way to boost engagement than by greeting someone by name.

Keep it short, but helpful.

Cut out the fluff and shoot for between 140 and 160 characters for your appointment reminders. Really, all you need is the customer’s name, appointment time, date, and location. And perhaps a call to action to confirm.

The only exception is if you need to include specific details about the upcoming appointment — for example, instructions about what to wear or how to prepare.

No-shows dropped 43% with SMS reminders.

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Integrate and automate.

One of the biggest benefits of baking SMS into your software to send reminders? It frees up your team to focus on other stuff. You can set up a template using custom fields, and then use triggers to automatically send the reminder X hours before each appointment. It really is that easy.

You can also set up workflows to automate responses, making the whole process even more efficient. For example, if a customer replies ‘N’ to a text asking if they’re still coming, you could ping back an automated reply with ‘Is there another date and time that works?’

Check out our Integrations Marketplace.

Stick to the SMS rules.

Don’t forget that you’ll need to comply with SMS guidelines and regulations. Even with information-based messages like appointment reminders, you still need to get customers’ consent before you hit send.

When you get a customer’s details, ask them permission to send texts. For example, you could add a check-box on a form or website. Keep records of their consent, too. Catch up on the opt-in and opt-out rules for texting.

Templates to help you craft SMS appointment reminders.

No need to start from scratch when crafting your first messages. We’ve got you covered with examples and inspiration for common scenarios. Let’s take a look.

Health clinics.

Missed appointments cost the US healthcare system a whopping US$150B each year. Let’s rewrite this sobering stat by helping patients remember where they’re meant to be, and when.

TEMPLATE: Hi [Name], you are booked in with [Name] tomorrow at [Time]. Please fill out our New Client form: [URL]. Please call if you have questions or need to reschedule.

Beauty salons.

Don’t let your salon chairs sit empty. Send SMS appointment reminders to all your clients, so they never miss a blow wave again.

TEMPLATE: Hi [Name], we’re looking forward to seeing you tomorrow at [Time] for your [Service] with [Name] at [Company]. Please reply Y to confirm or call to reschedule.

Rental inspections.

As a real estate agent, the last thing you want is to drive out to a rental property only to find the tenant hasn’t shown up for an inspection. Send them a text reminder the day before so they don’t forget — and you don’t waste your time.

TEMPLATE: Hi [Name], this is a reminder that your quarterly house inspection will be on [Date] at [Time]. Reply with OK to confirm you have received this.

Restaurant bookings.

If you’re in hospitality, send out same-day reminders for dinner bookings, and try the day before for brunch and lunch bookings. Ask for confirmation so your tables don’t end up without guests.

TEMPLATE: Hey [Name], your table for [Number] people at [Time] tonight is ready to go. Please reply ‘Y’ to confirm or ‘N’ to cancel.

With so many ways to use SMS, we’ve got you covered with even more templates here.

Get started with your first SMS appointment reminder.

You’ve seen how easy it is to set up your appointment reminders. Now it’s time to put the power of SMS to work.

Start a free trial, and experience the difference it makes to your appointment schedule.

FAQs about SMS appointment reminders.

Any time you make an appointment with a customer or client, you can use SMS to remind them about the upcoming rendezvous.

The obvious examples, like those listed above, are healthcare clinics, hair and beauty salons, and restaurants. If you run a gym and fitness-based business that has one on one sessions with clients, use SMS. If you arrange meetings for your professional services business – like accounting or financial advice – use SMS.

Essentially, if you want people to show up, use SMS.
It’s easy. Particularly with a platform like Sinch MessageMedia. With an API or an integration, you can set up automated workflows that are triggered every time you add a new appointment to your system.

For all the nitty-gritty, here’s a detailed support article on setting up appointment reminders using the Messages API.
The main thing to remember is that you need to get customers’ consent before you start sending text messages. And don’t forget to provide an easy way for them to opt out, too.
A good place to start is with one reminder per appointment. But if you find that customers are still forgetting or not turning up, then add a second reminder and a stronger call-to-action. And if they’re still not turning up? Maybe it’s time to start taking deposits when they book.

Ready to roll?

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