Can you recall a time when a reminder about an upcoming appointment, meeting or event proved crucial? Most of us probably can. We all appreciate reminders. Whether it’s a “heads-up” phone call from a loved one regarding a weekend gathering, an Outlook reminder on a client meeting set to begin in an hour, or a text message from a friend letting us know about an after-work concert or ballgame, reminders are a blessing in our fast-paced lifestyles. And, luckily, many technologies we routinely use offer automatic reminder functionality, such as those found in cell phones and e-mail calendars.
It’s not just individuals who benefit from reminders. Small businesses, too, can capitalize on the effectiveness of reminders to their clients, customers, patients and students. A perfect model of automated e-mail and text reminders are the ones found in some online appointment scheduling software, such as Appointment-Plus.
EFFECTIVE USE OF APPOINTMENT REMINDERS
A reminder of any kind can dramatically improve the operations of businesses and organizations. Prior to the advent of automated technology, the typical appointment, lesson or session reminders came in two standard forms: a reminder letter or post card in the mail and/or a telephone call. While some businesses still use these traditional reminders, they are not cost-effective. Printing and postage costs can dramatically increase office expenses, while telephone reminders require the service of a receptionist or staff member. The one exception is automated phone-call reminders, which can be both effective and less costly than a live caller.
Depending on the service, businesses and organizations that utilize online appointment-scheduling software can benefit from a very important piece of functionality: automatic e-mail and text message reminders.
• E-mail Reminder. This tried-and-true reminder is a very effective way of notifying clients, customers, students and patients of their upcoming appointments. Most of us use e-mail in our personal and professional lives; in some instances, it’s the preferred form of communication. And it’s not restricted to a home or office computer. Results of the 2009 Pew Institute study, “Wireless Internet Use,” show that 81 percent of mobile phone owners use their phones for something other than making and receiving phone calls, with 52 percent using it for non-voice activity, such as accessing and sending e-mail.
• SMS Text Message Reminder. A more recent form of appointment reminder, text message reminders can be as effective as e-mail reminders, given the large number of individuals who currently have mobile phone service. According to the aforementioned Pew Institute study, 85 percent of Americans own a cell phone. And chances are these persons carry their phones with them wherever they go, which increases the probability that they’ll receive the reminder in a timely manner.
The most obvious benefit of appointment reminders is customer, client, student and patient satisfaction. Sending an appointment reminder-whether by e-mail, text message or phone-shows that you care about that individual and appreciate his or her business. For those individuals, it demonstrates that your business, organization or practice is professional in the way it operates.
Another benefit of a well-organized appointment reminder process is a reduction in “no-shows.” Several studies have shown that appointment reminders can reduce a business or organization’s no-show rate by 50 percent or more. This is a significant statistic, as “no-shows” are the bane of many operations and can negatively affect an operation’s bottom line.
ONLINE APPOINTMENT SCHEDULING SOFTWARE PERFECT FOR AUTOMATED REMINDERS
Online appointment scheduling software, a type of Software as a Service (SaaS) is the perfect solution for both your appointment scheduling and reminder needs. In fact, some business owners and practitioners hadn’t even considered the benefit of reminders until after selecting their appointment-scheduling software.
Although other software may be available, an Internet-based program usually is the best option for most businesses and organizations. The reasons are simple: It’s easy to use, accessible anywhere, cost-effective and doesn’t require pricey hardware or any downloads or installation on your computer. You simply access the site that provides the service, login to your account, and manage your appointments.
A SaaS program is also the ideal way to collect and manage your client, customer, student and patient e-mails and mobile phone numbers for automatic reminders. Businesses and organizations that utilize online scheduling software take appointments in several ways:
• They allow online self-scheduling, where an individual accesses an appointment page online, registers (if required by the business), chooses a specific service and /or instructor, practitioner, etc., checks on the availability during a certain day and time, and then books the appointment or session.
• A receptionist, staffer or owner takes appointments by phone or e-mail and schedules them in the software.
• The business or organization uses the software for both self- and internal scheduling.
Once entered in the system-either by the person registering or the business administrator-e-mail addresses and mobile phone numbers will then be available for automatic reminders. The system does the rest and will automatically send the reminder prior to the scheduled appointment.
Appointment reminders have been incorporated in the fabric of business etiquette for many generations, and they’re just as important today as they were when your grandparents received them. Thanks to technology found in online appointment scheduling software, sending these reminders is now easier than ever. In fact, you won’t be the one sending them; your scheduling software will!