Save time and money with SkyCreek’s eContact automated appointment reminder system.
Customer appointment no-shows and late cancellations are to be expected in any service business, but the cost of those sudden schedule gaps can add up. Not only do they disrupt the flow of your team’s day-to-day activities, they impact customer service experiences, trigger overbooking, and drain revenue. In U.S. healthcare alone, missed appointments cost the healthcare system more than $150 billion a year. That’s why establishing an appointment reminder system is one of the top objectives for SkyCreek customers, in healthcare and beyond. An automated appointment confirmation system drastically clarifies your organization’s scheduling and gives your team precious time back to focus on value-based efforts.
While eContact offers plenty of templates and timelines to utilize for your automated appointment reminder system, it is key that any appointment communications follow these basic best practices.
Send it at the right time
Any automated appointment confirmation system should keep in mind the best days and hours to contact its recipients. With eContact, these customer preferences are already ingrained in your campaign. But outside of the customer preferences, you also need to ensure your appointment reminders hit the right cadence as your customer gets closer to their appointment. For telecommunications customers, we recommend sending appointment reminders both the day before and the day-of-the job. For healthcare, send appointment reminders 48 hours before, and if the patient hasn’t confirmed or canceled, send another reminder the day before. Your organization may warrant sending appointment reminders in the hours leading up to the appointment as well. This works well for service technicians for telecommunications and utilities, as customers often need to make themselves available for at-home visits during a certain time frame.
Keep it short and concise
An automated reminder system doesn’t just inform your customer, but allows an opportunity to respond and make changes if needed. To engage your customers and encourage a response, your message needs to be succinct and to the point. Here’s an SMS example to start you off:
“Hello [First Name], this is a reminder for your appointment at [Organization Name], scheduled for [Date, Time]. To confirm, reply CONFIRM. To reschedule, reply CHANGE. To cancel, reply CANCEL.”
Offering short-code responses to confirm, reschedule, or cancel their appointments facilitate more responses from customers, giving your organization a better idea of the gaps that may exist in your scheduling. If customers respond to the early alerts, it also gives your team an opportunity to schedule other customers in the changed or canceled slots. When a customer confirms early, remove the “CONFIRM” response option from your next message, but still send appointment reminders in the day(s) leading up the scheduled appointment.
Make it personal
Today’s customers are dealing with an unprecedented amount of spam on all channels: email, phone, and texts. And as they are bombarded with these messages, it makes it easy for them to miss your important appointment confirmations. Keep your message succinct, but make it personal. Use the customer’s first name and give them the relevant details. Here’s an example of a concise SMS message that gives the personal touch to grab the customer’s attention:
Hello [First name], it’s almost time for your appointment at [Organization Name]. We look forward to seeing you at [Date, Time]. To reschedule, reply CHANGE. To cancel, reply CANCEL.”
While these messages need to be kept simple in your automated appointment confirmation system, always make sure your message is free of typos, punctuation errors, or irregular font – the telltale signs of a spammer’s text.
Change up your channels
While many appointment reminders are done via text and email, it is wise to escalate your reminders to other channels when you haven’t received a response. With eContact’s Campaign Manager, you can set your rules to utilize all channels to communicate with customers. For example, if a SMS is sent and no response has been received from the customer, an IVR contact can be made. eContact’s automated appointment reminder system is sophisticated and executes these protocols without manual intervention.
CASE STUDY: Appointment reminders for telecommunications
The telecommunications industry has a unique challenge when it comes to scheduling and confirming appointments. While customers engage customer service representatives and request appointments, they have to be present in their home during the scheduled time slot. Unfortunately, many customers don’t make themselves available to allow technicians in their home, which results in a “not home occurrence” and costs the client money for wasted time and fuel.
Comcast, a SkyCreek client, reported experiencing around 100,000 “not home occurrences” per month in the central U.S. region alone. The staggering amount of no-show appointments affected technician productivity, caused multiple repeat customer visits, and reduced customer satisfaction. To address this issue, SkyCreek implemented a few strategies. First, SkyCreek audited and standardized the communications to customers in an attempt to get them present for their appointments. We empowered the field agents to communicate directly with customers and better manage their scheduled appointments by allowing them to close appointments after customer communications had been made at certain intervals. SkyCreek also automated a number of other manual processes that were eating up field technicians’ time.
Using eContact’s Campaign Manager for all appointments, Comcast benefitted from over $300,000 in monthly savings and eliminated 185,000 into their support center. That’s a 800% return on investment. Read more about their story here.
CASE STUDY: Appointment reminders for healthcare
Healthcare is one of the industries most impacted by no-shows. Patients at the Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute (FCS) weren’t receiving effective virtual communications. Dropped calls, inadequate reminder calls, and other disconnects were undermining the patient experience and affecting retention. SkyCreek implemented a patient-management, automated appointment confirmation system to enhance FCS services and improve patient messaging. Using eContact’s Campaign Manager, FCS successfully reached over 95% of patients and improved confirmation rates by 20%. Read more about their story here.
An automated appointment reminder system takes the headache out of scheduling and can save you time and money. See how it can work for your organization by scheduling a free demo.