Quick! What is the day and time for your next pre-scheduled doctor or dental appointment? If you would have to pull out your phone or open a planner to answer that question, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re also not alone if you know you’ve scheduled an appointment for the future but haven’t written the date and time down anywhere. Perhaps you’re counting on automated appointment reminder calls to help you remember.
In 2018, researchers studied a group of business school students studying in France, Abu Dhabi, and Singapore. They found that when put into a busy mindset, most of the students experienced elevated self-esteem and made healthier lifestyle choices. When that busy mindset was combined with time constraints, the result was stress, anxiety, and impulsive decisions.
It’s that stressful kind of busy that many people live with these days. For those chasing deadlines or struggling to keep up with rising prices, healthy habits that take up time are often perceived as the easiest sacrifices. In many cases, pre-scheduled doctor appointments or scheduled workouts with a personal trainer are the healthy habits that get sacrificed.
Living with consistent stress and anxiety due to a hectic schedule can also lead to more forgetfulness. While scheduling appointments weeks or months in advance may help your business, it doesn’t always help customers remember when to show up for those appointments. Handing out an appointment card isn’t much help because they’re often lost. Thankfully, we can utilize advanced technology to replace appointment cards with more effective reminders.
What are Automated Appointment Reminder Calls?
Automated appointment reminder calls are telephone calls that remind customers of upcoming appointments. You can also send automated appointment reminders through text or email messages. The goal is to state the date and time of an upcoming appointment.
If a customer knows they have an appointment scheduled but isn’t exactly sure when it is, the call serves as a reminder. The same goes for those who hung the appointment card you gave them on a cork board three months ago and have since forgotten all about it.
Many businesses also use appointment reminder messages to remind customers what to bring with them to their appointment or other important instructions. If you have a requirement that is often forgotten, you can use the appointment reminder call to refresh that memory for each of your customers.
How Do Automated Appointment Reminder Calls Work?
You can automate appointment reminder calls by utilizing a voice broadcasting system. The first step is to determine the wording or script for your appointment reminders. You can then pre-record a message or use voice-to-text technology to use a different voice for the recording.
That message is then used to send reminder calls to each of your customers at a time determined by you. The messages are personalized to state the date and time for each customer’s appointment.
You can also use advanced features that allow call recipients to interact with the message. That makes it easier for them to cancel scheduled appointments, leaving time to fill their slot with a different customer. We’ll talk a bit more about interactive reminder calls now.
The Importance of Interactive Reminder Calls
Many services offering automated appointment reminder calls also allow you to create interactive phone messages. If call recipients can speak or push buttons to communicate with your automated system in any way, it’s considered interactive.
For instance, have you ever received a phone call that asked you to select 1 to speak to an account representative? What about messages that ask you to hit a certain button on your phone to confirm or cancel an appointment? Those were interactive calls automated with voice broadcasting software.
Interactivity is important because it helps you keep your appointment database up to date and accurate. More of your customers may cancel appointments in advance when they can simply hit a number on their phone to let you know that they aren’t coming. If they have to call your office or log into a website, they’re more likely to just not show up or cancel at the last minute.
Standard reminder calls with no option to interact are still effective. They just don’t simplify scheduling matters for your customers or your staff members.
Benefits of Automated Appointment Reminder Calls
You should have at least a general understanding of what automated appointment reminders are at this point. What you may not fully understand is how your company can benefit from investing in voice broadcasting software to automate your appointment reminders. After all, you can just have a member of your staff call each person to remind them of their upcoming appointments, right?
While making those calls manually may seem like no big deal, they’re actually a bigger inconvenience than you may imagine. For starters, manual calls add another task that your employees must complete. While it’s not a difficult task, it is a task they must complete on a consistent schedule. That makes it a task that makes them busier and potentially more stressed.
You likely have employees who would love to hear you say, “We’re automating all appointment reminder calls.” Perhaps that person is you if you operate a small business.
There are also some benefits for your customers, and we’ll discuss those in greater detail now.
Reminder Calls Improve Results for Customers
What are your customers trying to achieve by scheduling appointments with you? If you’re in the medical field, then they’re likely in some stage of diagnosing or treating a medical condition. They may also schedule appointments for preventative care because they want to avoid serious medical conditions. If you’re a personal trainer, then perhaps they’re trying to lose weight, gain muscle, or define their abs. For a beauty salon, appointments are often made with the intention of maintaining or transforming physical appearances.
Consistency is critical to the results many of your customers want to achieve. When medical appointments are missed, patients wait longer to address their medical concerns. Inconsistency in exercise can slow progress toward any health and fitness goal. Even missing an appointment for an oil change or other element of car maintenance can have a negative impact on customers.
When researchers collected general practice data for more than 820,000 Scottish patients over a three-year period, they found some interesting results:
· The more long-term health conditions a patient suffered, the more likely they were to miss doctor appointments.
· Patients with mental health conditions were most likely to miss appointments.
· Patients who missed appointments were at greater risk of all-cause mortality. The greatest risk was for patients with mental illness who missed two or more appointments in one year.
When your customers show up for appointments, they enjoy better results for whatever goals they’re trying to accomplish. You are also better able to help them if they keep their scheduled appointments.
What does any of this have to do with automated appointment reminder calls? Reminder calls help your customers keep their appointments, thus potentially enhancing their results. Sometimes, a busy person just needs a reminder that the appointment they scheduled last month or three months back is coming up soon.
There are also many benefits to automating appointment reminder calls for your business. The remaining benefits listed here are all for you.
Automated Reminder Calls Save Time
Imagine you’re the owner of a busy beauty salon. You struggle to profit consistently when relying on walk-in appointments, so you decide to offer your customers a small discount in exchange for scheduling appointments at least two weeks in advance. You realize that many of your customers show up at the wrong time or forget about their scheduled appointments entirely. Appointment reminder calls are your solution.
There are a few ways you can handle these calls:
1. Stay after work on designated days of the week—or daily—to personally call each person with an upcoming appointment.
2. Designate appointment reminder calls to one of your stylists or the receptionist. They must complete these calls while keeping up with all other duties in the salon.
3. Automate the calls so that they go out at the right time while consuming no time from your day or that of your employees.
The third option seems the most efficient and least stressful, right? That’s because automated messages are much faster than manually calling each person on your schedule. Even if you have a small business with just a few customers, those calls quickly become a drain.
Automating Appointment Reminders Reduces No-Shows
In February 2020, the Canadian Medical Association Journal printed a discussion that addressed the most common reasons for no-shows and the best ways to prevent them. Researchers highlighted lack of childcare, transportation issues, and illness as common reasons people cancel or fail to show up for medical appointments. They noted that finding patients for no-shows was ineffective, but phone call reminders were often effective.
That information applies to many businesses that depend on appointments to serve customers efficiently. No-shows are costly because providers have no warning that a customer isn’t going to show up. That leaves a gap in the schedule with a provider waiting on the next scheduled patient while earning no revenue.
If given adequate notice that a customer cannot keep an appointment, many providers can fill those empty spots in advance. That’s where automated appointment reminder calls are invaluable. When you give customers an easy way to cancel an appointment in advance, they’re less likely to simply not show up.
If you want to take full advantage of this benefit, time your appointment reminder calls properly. You may only need one appointment reminder if your customers schedule appointments a week or two in advance. Scheduling a month or more out increases the risk of no-shows, so you benefit from sending multiple reminders.
Send the first reminder far enough in advance that you can fill empty spots if a customer cancels during the reminder call. If you guessed that these early calls should have interactive features, you’re correct. Give each customer a chance to easily cancel their appointment so that you can fill their spot with other customers.
Automated Appointment Reminder Calls Can Reduce Last-Minute Cancellation Rates
Cancellations are just as devastating for your business as no-shows when they are last minute. They leave you scrambling to call other patients to see if they want to move their appointment times up. In some cases, you’re unable to fill the empty spots and have costly gaps in your schedule.
How can automated appointment reminder calls help reduce your rate of last-minute cancellations? They help by giving your customers opportunities to cancel at an earlier date. There will always be situations where a customer intends to keep an appointment but something happens on their end at the last minute.
You can’t avoid those cancellations entirely, but you can reduce this rate some by giving patients who are thinking about canceling an appointment an opportunity to do so easily and quickly.
Automated Reminder Calls Elevate Customer Care
We have one last benefit of using automated appointment reminder calls. It improves customer satisfaction and gives you another way to take great care of your clientele. When a customer needs to cancel an appointment or is unable to show up, they’re often in the middle of a challenging situation. The more you simplify the scheduling process, the more value you bring to their lives.
You may also reduce wait times between scheduling an appointment and receiving service. Getting to your customers faster is one of the best things you can do to encourage repeat appointments. Your customers simply feel more valued when you can get to them in a reasonable amount of time, especially when they have urgent needs.
What happened when researchers studied the connection between appointment wait times and appointment reminders for patients receiving care from the Veterans Affairs Health System? They found that patients often waited fewer days to get in for an appointment when appointment reminder systems were in place. Even though the patients canceling appointments waited longer to receive care, patients keeping their appointments had shorter wait times.
In general, customers don’t want to wait long periods of time for an appointment. Getting to them faster is an improvement to your customer care system and a great reason to invest in automated appointment reminder calls.
The Leading Voice Broadcasting Service for Appointment Reminder Calls
Are you ready to see how a voice broadcasting service can deliver all of the benefits we just discussed for your business? You can get started today when you sign up for VoiceShot. In addition to automated appointment reminder calls, we offer comprehensive services for all of your voice and text messaging needs. You can use our system for customer service, marketing, and even internal communications.