Reducing no-shows: How to write effective appointment reminder messages

A service I really appreciate is when the business with which I have an appointment sends me a text message to confirm. For professional service businesses that charge by appointment like hairdressers, physiotherapists, dentists and beauticians, it makes great business sense to do this. Not only do you reduce the risk of ‘no-shows’, you demonstrate your commitment to providing customer service.

So how can you make sure that the message you send your customers is as effective as possible?

Let me illustrate with real examples from two of my service providers: my osteopath and my hairdresser.

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On the left, the message from my osteopath is perfectly sensible. It explains the reason for the message, date and time. No surprises here. And they helpfully provide a phone number if I need to change the appointment.

But now look to the right to see how my hairdresser showcases a behaviourally effective text message using three elements:

1. My name – Using names is a great way of personalising the message and the obligation that is contained within it. It’s the equivalent of eyeballing me to get me engaged, and now my personal integrity is on the line if I don’t turn up.

2. My action required – Asking me to reply ‘yes’ to the appointment forces me to take action, reinforcing the agreement to turn up at that time. The osteopath’s message on the other hand was passive; there is no confirmation that I have received the message let alone that I have recommitted to the appointment.

3. Fail-safe contact – It seems like s small thing, but including the area code with the phone number means that if I am interstate and need to contact them the connection will work, removing a potential hurdle. This week I received appointment reminders from a business intended for someone else. Whilst they provided a phone number, I had no idea which state they were from so I couldn’t (be bothered to) let them know of their mistake.

Reminder messages are no doubt a great technique to use – short, sharp communications that keep both parties committed to the appointment. As the examples showcase, in the space of only 20 words you can make decisions that will materially benefit the effectiveness of your message, your business and your customer, so get texting.

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Bri Williams runs People Patterns Pty Ltd, a consultancy specialising in the application of behavioural economics to everyday business issues. Bri is a presenter, consultant and author who you can find out more about at www.peoplepatterns.com.au, [email protected] or by following on Twitter @peoplepatterns. Bri’s book, “22 Minutes to a Better Business”, about how behavioural economics can help you tackle everyday business issues, is available through the Blurb bookstore.

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