Are you currently sending SMS appointment reminders?
If you’re not, you probably should be. Here’s the thing: you can’t rely on emails being read by clients. Getting them to pick up the phone is also tricky. Voicemail probably isn’t even worth mentioning.
But often you really need your communication to cut through, especially when it’s reminding clients that they have an upcoming appointment at your clinic.
If you don’t, the outcome is no-shows, gaps in your calendar, and lost revenue – and no clinic wants that. This is where text messages really start to shine.
Text messages are a great way to cut through the noise.
Instead of an email that gets lost in an inbox, a phone call that goes unanswered, or a voicemail message that no one even knows the code to access, a text announces its arrival. It beeps, pings, and says ‘LOOK AT ME’.
The result? You keep your customers engaged, your team can more confident about clients actually showing up, and your business doesn’t lose revenue.
Today, we’ll dive into why all clinics should use SMS appointment reminders.
Why is texting so powerful?
First up, let’s look at why texting should be part of your clinic’s overall communication toolkit. Texting is a hugely powerful tactic.
Just take a look at this stat from Forbes…
95% of customers who have opted into your text messaging program OPEN and READ your mobile messages within three minutes.
Compare that to email open rates.
According to MailChimp, the average open rate across all sectors is 21.33%. It’s pretty clear to anyone that texting can be transformative.
How to use texting in your clinic
There are many ways to use texting in your clinic. You could send texts to:
- Confirm an appointment
- Send an appointment reminder
- Complete pre-care before an appointment
- Leave a review after the appointment
- Send a specific offer or discount
- Communicate important information
Let’s explore these in a bit more detail…
Confirm an appointment
If a client books online, over the phone, or in-person, it’s good practice to let them know that everything has gone through with the booking. A text confirmation does this. It also gives the client the opportunity to check that the details, such as time and date, are correct.
Send an appointment reminder
Your client may have booked their appointment months ago. How will you remind them that it’s coming up in the next few days so that they don’t forget? You send a text reminder confirming the appointment details. You can even make this part of your booking process!
Complete pre-care before an appointment
The majority of appointments will require some sort of pre-care. They might simply need to complete a medical questionnaire or they might have to have a patch test or need to know what food or drink they can consume before the appointment. Use an SMS to remind clients.
Leave a review after the appointment
Looking to boost your online social proof? Reviews are a great way to do this. Why not send a text to a client a couple of hours after their appointment, when it’s still fresh in their memory, and ask them to leave a review? You can also make this part of your booking process.
Send an offer or discount
If you have a special offer that you want clients to know about then a text is a great way to notify them and potentially boost uptake. You might want to send an offer on special celebratory times of year, birthdays, or to re-engage with clients who haven’t booked an appointment with you for a while.
Communicate important information
Sometimes it’s critical that clients see the communication you send them. Examples may be emergency closures, appointments having to be cancelled because of sickness, or other important updates. Sending a text means it’s much more likely to be read – you can be more confident clients will see it.
PABAU CLIENT STORY
"I use texts every single day"
Lisa Whiting runs her own medical aesthetic clinic in Reading, England. She’s been a Pabau customer for a number of years and she uses text messages really effectively to deliver quick and punchy messages to her client base.
Lisa tells us more…
How Lisa uses SMS
“I use SMS reminders in my clinic every single day.
“I send appointment confirmation texts when a client books an appointment and clients also get a reminder text two days before the appointment.
“I also send birthday messages so that clients can get £25 off their next appointment, and I just did a campaign where I sent out texts to clients who hadn’t visited the clinic for a while. I also use SMS for important client communications.
Emails get lost
“The great thing about SMS is that you can send it out to all your users. I used texts a lot during lockdown when we had to notify clients about something at short notice.
“An email will just get lost but when you get a text there’s a notification and it pops up on your screen. I like it as a way of delivering quick, punchy messages.”
Patients really value it
“Texting through Pabau is so effective it doesn’t affect my daily life.
“I know that the text messages are just going out – all I have to worry about filling the diary and the rest is done for me.
“It’s lovely to see how much my patients value the acknowledgment of their birthday and the text messages make sure no one is missed.”
SMS appointment reminders
Now let’s drill into the type of text that will work hardest for you.
In the world of aesthetic clinics, there’s one type of text that’s more important than any other. It stands head and shoulders above the rest.
We’re talking about SMS appointment reminders.
What are SMS reminders?
As we mentioned, SMS reminders are texts that you send to clients to remind them that they have an appointment with you. Clients may book appointments months in advance and forget about them nearer the time, so a text acts as a prompt.
What are the benefits of SMS reminders?
There are a number of benefits to sending text message reminders, such as:
- Reducing no-shows – which in turn helps to boost your revenue
- Helping your clinic run more efficiently with fewer gaps in the calendar
- Automating a manual process = less admin work for your team
- A smooth client experience with clear, consistent communication
Should you use SMS reminders?
Absolutely. Using SMS reminders will help to create a great client experience, help your clinic run more efficiently, and boost revenue at your clinic.
What’s not to like?
Are there any risks to sending SMS reminders?
Maybe you’re worried that sending texts will prompt more clients to cancel.
This isn’t the case however. In fact, less than 5% of appointments are cancelled after text reminders. One thing to consider is how frequently you text clients. You don’t want to risk annoying clients by texting them too frequently. Texts should be used sparingly to communicate important information, not for everything.
We’ll share some dos and don’ts on how to avoid this shortly.
Is it unprofessional to text a client?
Sending a professional text to a client is perfectly OK.
As long as the client has consented to receive texts from your clinic there won’t be any surprises on their part.
What is an example of an SMS reminder text?
Here’s an example:
Hi [client name]. This is [insert your business name].
We look forward to seeing you at [insert time and date].
How do I send a text appointment reminder?
No one wants to have to manually send out hundreds of text messages!
The best way to do it is to use clinic management software. That way, you can automate everything. When clients book an appointment you can automatically trigger an SMS reminder to send a couple of days before the appointment.
In other words, set it and forget it!
The impact of no shows
No-shows are a massive issue for clinics because they hit where it hurts: revenue.
Let’s say the average appointment for botox in three areas costs £180. Even if you only have one no-show a week, that’s £720 a month, and £8640 a year. And that’s a conservative estimate – most clinics will be dealing with a lot more than one no-show per week.
In fact, one study found that five no shows a week can cost a salon or spa $80,000 in lost revenue a year – a pretty sobering statistic.
While some clinics try and tackle no-shows by scheduling an email or a phone call, often this simply isn’t effective. Clients might not check their emails regularly. And your front-of-house team having enough time to call 20 or so clients to check if they’re still coming? Not realistic.
Using SMS reminders for no-shows
Using SMS reminders is a great way to get in front of your customers.
As a business, you have to identify and use the channels that your customers are using. In other words, you have to hang out in the places they hang out!
If they’re not picking up the phone or if they’re not checking their emails, that can’t be your sole method of communication – not when your revenue depends on it. You have to diversify your tools, which is where texting comes in.
Relying on clients opening reminder emails from you – chances are, they won’t!
Sending texts reminders that clients are much more likely to open
Have to call clients to confirm they’re coming – a huge time suck for your team
An automated system using out-of-the-box templates – much easier for your team
Gaps in your diary when clients don’t show up for their appointment
A much more efficient clinic diary where clients are more likely to show up
A loss of revenue every week, month, and year as a result of no-shows
A more efficient operation with a much smaller percentage of no-shows
PABAU CLIENT STORY
"It's a very positive part of the patient journey. I see SMS reminders as a fantastic service and I know my patients are very happy with it."
Dr Manav Bawa is a multi-award-winning cosmetic doctor and medical director. He’s the co-owner of Time Clinic Medical Aesthetics and Wellness, located in Chigwell, Essex. He uses SMS confirmations and reminders to enhance the patient experience…
Helps reduce no-shows
“Everyone leads very busy lives and so sending an SMS reminder a couple of days before helps us reduce no-shows and gives clients an opportunity to call and say, I can’t make it. It gives us time to rebook another patient – the last thing we want is gaps in the calendar.
Improves patient communication
“Almost every single time, patients are shocked because when I make their next appointment and they get a ping on their phone and will say, oh, I’ve already got the message. They get the confirmation, so I know that they know it’s in the diary.”
Creates a great impression
“The impression on the patient is so important. Patients see that it’s a very professional service. Rather than me writing it down and giving them their next appointment on some scrap paper, they get an instant confirmation message from us.”
Create an SMS appointment reminder system
OK, so we may have piqued your interest about using texts to prevent no-shows at your clinic. However, you might also be thinking:
Isn’t it just another job I need to do?
Actually, setting up SMS appointment reminders is really simple.
When you use clinic management software you can make the process of sending SMS reminders super efficient.
Got a text to send? You need a template. The great news is that when you use a clinic management system, like Pabau, you’ll have access to a range of SMS templates, designed for every purpose. Simply tailor the content to your clinic.
2. Automate text reminders
Another smart way to work is to make SMS reminders part of the booking process. When you’re booking a client into the calendar, you can simply tick a box to send them an appointment confirmation by email and text and a reminder text.
Dos & Don'ts: Best practices for texting patients
1. Don’t text before 7am and after 9pm
No want wants to receive texts from a business early in the morning or really late at night. Unlike an email, where someone might not have notifications set up, an incoming text will be noticed. Make sure you schedule at reasonable hours.
If you have multi-location clinics, consider the different time zones.
2. Do test when the best time is to text
When do your clients prefer to hear from you? There’s some research that reports that texts sent at 6pm are up to 41% more effective than texts that are sent at 12 midday. The best way is to test, test, and test some more to see what works best for your customer base.
3. Don’t be overly informal
Just because it’s a text message, it doesn’t mean it should descend into text speak with lots of abbreviations and informal language. A text message is still representing your business so it should have a professional look and feel, the same as any other communication.
4. Do say who it’s from
Your clients may not have your clinic’s number stored in their phone. It’s therefore worthwhile informing the client who the text is from. You can do this either by saying ‘This is [clinic name]’ at the beginning of the message or simply signing off with the name of your clinic.
5. Don’t waffle
You only have a limited number of characters to get your point across via SMS – 160 characters in fact. Even less if you use emojis or special characters! It’s OK to be direct and to the point – you don’t need to add in any necessary chit-chat with SMS communication.
6. Do have one clear message
Each text message should have one clear message, no more than that. One text, one purpose. Start by asking yourself what the purpose of this text is. To confirm an appointment? To remind them? Don’t complicate or dilute the SMS with mixed messaging.
7. Don’t bombard clients
A final important point is about volume. You don’t want to text clients about every little thing – use them sparingly and keep them for the important stuff.
As we said at the top, if you can only use a text for one thing only, make it the appointment reminders. These will have the biggest impact.
How to set up SMS reminders in Pabau Classic
Want to see just how simple it is to set up SMS reminders in Pabau?
First, head over to the Setup button in the top right of your screen. Click on Data, then Template Archive.
Click on +New Template and select the template type you’d like to create.
In this case, it would be SMS. Click on the SMS icon to create your template. Start by giving the template a really clear name, such as SMS Reminder Template.
Add in the copy for your SMS, remembering to stick to the 160-character limit.
Use the merge tags on the right as you’re creating the template.
These are what you use to add in unique data such as the client name, time, and date, for a personal touch.
Then, head over to Setup > Data > Client Notifications.
Select Reminders from the left sidebar.
Scroll past Email Reminders down to SMS Reminders.
First, make sure that the SMS notifications toggle is on – it should read Enabled.
Next, select the template you just created from the dropdown menu.
Now, decide when you would like the appointment reminder to be sent.
The default time in Pabau is two days before the appointment, but you can adjust this as you wish. You can also change the time that you’d like it to be sent.
Now go to Setup > Settings > Calendar Settings.
Make sure your reminders are set to be on by default when booking an appointment
Finally, you can also individually choose if you want to schedule them by ticking or unticking the checkbox for Set Reminder when booking an appointment.
That’s it – you’re all set up to send SMS reminders in Pabau.
To sum up: SMS appointment reminders are a win for your clinic
We hope we’ve shown you how valuable SMS reminders for your clinic.
In terms of impact, they blow other communication tactics like email and phone calls out of the water. An open rate of an email just can’t cut it next to the open rate of a text: 95% text open rate versus 21% email open rate.
But that’s not all… SMS appointment reminders can also save your team time by automating what is often a time-consuming manual process. They can help you manage no-shows so that you’re not losing revenue each day.
The final win is the benefit to the client. Instead of missing emails or feeling like they’re not in the loop, SMS reminders are a great way to create a clear line of communication.
A benefit to you, your team, and your clients? Sounds like a win-win-win!