How to Evaluate Appointment Reminder Services and Costs
An ineffective appointment reminder service can cost your business on several different levels. While no-shows directly cost businesses billions of dollars in revenue annually, just in the U.S., indirect costs include lowered satisfaction rates and diminished operational efficiency. In a fast-paced world now reliant upon automation, the appointment reminder service cost a business pays tends to deliver significant long-term value.
But not all appointment reminder services are created equal. While the right one can provide timely updates while maintaining client confidence and privacy, the wrong one can be both intrusive and counterproductive. As clients get bombarded with calls and messages from countless other sources, finding the right way to reach a client can make all the difference.
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Appointment Reminder Service Cost vs. No-Show Costs
In no industry are appointment services more important than healthcare, which is why it tends to yield the most high-quality data. Prominent studies suggest as much as $150 billion is lost annually just in the United States from no-shows, with the average cost of a single no-show appointment landing somewhere between $125-$274.
This is a staggering and recurrent cost that goes straight to the bottom line of any medical facility, leading to a wealth of associated problems.
Healthcare is also only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the chronic problem of missed appointments. An incomplete list of other businesses and professionals that are often hindered by no-show appointments include:
- Hair salons
- Real estate professionals
- Tax experts
While a major medical facility can often absorb the costs and inefficiencies of no-shows, smaller businesses are usually hit the hardest. Hair stylists, for example, often rent the chairs they use, which means there is considerable pressure to ensure their appointment book is filled with clients who intend to show up.
Similarly, nothing can slow down a contractor faster than a broken appointment; a plumber or electrician who has to travel to a new client’s home wastes significant time if the client is not there for the agreed-upon appointment window.
As medical facilities can sometimes charge no-show fees to mitigate a portion of the cost, most other businesses are not in a position to do the same. Instead, most small companies that do not send appointment reminders in a constructive way simply have to anticipate lost time and revenue in their schedules and budgets.
Ultimately, upgrading a business’s appointment services tends to cost pennies on the dollar when compared to the short, medium, and long-term value of avoiding no-show appointments.
Additional Costs Associated with Missed Appointments
Not only do no-shows directly cost businesses, but there are also other negative correlations that can hinder a business’s overall trajectory. Staying with healthcare as a general window into the related costs, we can see a snowball effect that can severely inhibit a business.
As one study demonstrates, missed appointments can lead to longer patient wait times and marked drops in patient satisfaction. They can even increase ER admission rates in hospitals and severely undercut the efficiency of an entire medical facility. In some cases, high no-show rates can lead to difficulties just maintaining healthcare services.
In other industries, it’s the lowered levels of customer satisfaction that can be just as harmful as the direct losses in revenue. In an attempt to overcome no-shows, businesses will often overbook clients in an attempt to gauge the number of actual clients on a given day—a risky gamble that often backfires. This type of erratic system inevitably leads to less reliable service, which can be a difficult perception to overcome.
For any business trying to retain new clients, longer wait times and inefficient service can significantly harm attempts to build clientele while testing the loyalties of established clients. Considering that some experts estimate that about 80% of future business comes from just 20% of current clients, retaining a business’ current client base is absolutely critical.
Studies even show that a single no-show can lead to elevated levels of attrition, translating to a higher likelihood that a patient or client will leave their medical practice. Confronting this trend, the right appointment reminder service can provide a much-needed bump in efficiency for any company, providing a crucial edge over businesses that still rely on manual reminders and guesswork to manage their schedule.
Signs of a High-Quality Reminder Service
In order to stay on schedule without having to overbook to compensate, many companies now harness the value of automated services to send appointment reminders. The best services find a way to lower no-show rates by understanding the keys to communicating with clients, such as:
- Installing an effective timetable for reminders
- Clear messaging
- Finding the right messaging format to fit the clientele
- Versatility and reliability
- Maintaining client privacy
Near the top of the list: appointment reminders are only as good as their timing. Messages that reach clients too early or too late can be largely irrelevant. Although each business has its own quirks to manage, studies show that a staggered approach often works best.
While a reminder three to four weeks out can be effective in setting the tone, a follow-up reminder three to five days before an appointment can have the maximum impact. Additionally, another reminder just before an appointment—roughly three hours beforehand—can reinforce the appointment and encourage a client to be on time.
Businesses also must ensure clarity and that the message is sent in the most helpful format. Concise messaging that quickly brings a client up to speed should always be a focus regardless of the type of messaging. While phone calls may be appropriate for many businesses, often a collaboration of voice reminders, and SMS texts can provide the best groundwork for a successful appointment reminder system.
This is why versatility is important when determining whether the appointment reminder service cost is worth it. Services that make it easy to implement and adjust an appointment reminder plan can make all the difference.
And if you determine that automated phone calls are the best option, the type of phone service provided can make a huge difference as well. Is the service prone to cut-off messages or delays in voicemails? While some services use the often-unreliable VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol), higher-quality services avoid typical problems by using dedicated Copper landlines that provide a more professional touch.
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Understanding Trends to Maximize Your Reminder Service
One of the business trends that only seems to be growing in the post-pandemic world is automation. While the automation revolution was already taking shape beforehand, clients are now extremely familiar with automated services—particularly for appointment reminders. Instead of automation being a luxury, a polished, professional reminder service is now what most clients expect. Not having one in place can even make the entire business look outdated compared to its peers.
More than just having the right system in place, businesses are now able to tap the benefits of interactive automated messaging. Clients can not only receive helpful reminders, but many appointment services allow clients to quickly confirm the appointment as well or easily speak to a staff member to cancel or reschedule.
This reinforces the appointment for the client and allows businesses to automatically firm up their schedule or fill gaps as appointments approach. Clients that need to reschedule can have an opportunity to do so without having to make the effort to call in themselves and without disrupting the appointment schedule.
The convenience of appointment messaging—text messaging in particular—has led to some convincing trends that businesses simply can’t ignore. Studies have demonstrated that fewer than five percent of appointments are missed once a client receives a text message reminder.
While that delivers vindication for the value of a business’ appointment reminder service and its costs, the advantages of SMS messaging go beyond everyday efficiency. Indeed, more than half of clients have a positive attitude toward businesses that utilize texting, while 28% are more likely to recommend that business.
Customizing in a World of Automation
Forward-looking businesses now have an opportunity to anticipate the needs and expectations of clients like never before. While clients broadly approve of automated appointment reminders, that trend is especially pronounced with younger clients.
As many as 75% of millennials have a positive perception of text appointment reminders, widely viewing them as an excellent way to manage appointments. Meanwhile, the number of seniors who have smartphones has more than doubled since 2015, giving businesses much more flexibility in reaching clients of any age with reminders.
Automation itself has also significantly changed since the trend began to fully take shape. Although automated messaging was originally quite limited, automated appointment reminders no longer have to be plain and robotic.
With easy-to-customize calls and SMS messaging that can fit any client, businesses can still provide a personal touch within the realm of automation. Naturally, many clients will favor the business that provides both timely service updates and personalized content that shows they aren’t just another client on a spreadsheet.
Unlocking Value with Appointment Reminders
No-show appointments have long plagued many types of businesses. On top of the main problems associated with no-show appointments, office managers not utilizing high-quality automated reminders can spend far too much time managing the appointment calendar.
This leads to a less efficient business and hinders the ability of staff to respond to other problems that arise. That said, businesses that automatically send appointment reminders can improve operational efficiency while tailoring their business for the present as well as the future.Built to seamlessly integrate with applications like Outlook and Google Calendar, VoiceShot’s appointment reminder services can provide a significant boost to your business’ scheduling efficiency and help keep customers on track and satisfied. Contact VoiceShot to schedule a demo and see how customizable appointment reminders can improve the way any business manages appointments.