Although channel choice is particularly important for sending appointment reminders, the effectiveness of your messages can depend on a number of considerations.
By carefully designing your communications and understanding your users, services can improve the effectiveness of their reminders and confirmations even further. Today we will look at three considerations decision-makers should keep in mind when designing targeted appointment reminders.
Wording Is Important
So you’ve written your first reminder/confirmation message for your audience and you’ve made sure to include details like name, appointment time and location. But just sending a message with the basic details does not guarantee a decrease in non-attendance, the content of your message matters.
In a GOV.UK study, A Zero Cost Way To Reduce Missed Hospital Appointments, SMS reminders were shown to have varying levels of effectiveness based on their message content when used for hospitals. Among all the copy tested, mentioning the cost value of absence for the service within the appointment reminder reduced the number of missed appointments across two trials by the highest margin.
With these findings in mind, you should try and strike the right balance in your messages for readers to engage with depending on the service provided.
Give Recipients Choices
Have you ever received an appointment reminder and remembered you can’t attend or don’t require the timeslot anymore? Although well worded messages can prompt users to take action, some users may only attempt to reschedule/cancel their appointment when clear options included in the message for convenience, leaving your service with an unused timeslot.
This is where experimenting with choices can help reduce absenteeism. Reminders via email or SMS can be designed with multiple options beyond just the text reminder, potentially offering links to cancellation or rescheduling options. This is option is suggested by the findings by a 2014 review in Health Services and Delivery Research, which indicated giving the residents booking the option to adapt their booking themselves make action more likely.
By rescheduling or cancelling with adequate notice through appointment reminders, these timeslots can be reallocated to people who require them sooner and the cost of unexpected absences can be reduced, saving your service time and money.
Consider your channel
When developing a communications strategy, it is recommended that you also consider some of the drawbacks of using each channel. This could include the cost attached to using SMS or the reduced visibility of using email.
Doing due diligence and research into your channel options is necessary for seeing the best results. Whether you want to settle on one channel or plan on using a combination, tailoring your communications to reach users and achieve your objectives will ensure that your reminder distribution is efficient and effective.
Following on from the previous point, the most important part of sending appointment reminders is that it reaches all your users in a way that is accessible to them. Although smartphones are being used by a significant number of the population, knowing this rule does not pertain to everyone is important in catering to all users.
Ensuring there are alternatives to email and SMS available allows services to contact residents who would otherwise be digitally excluded, increasing the likelihood that your appointment reminder will reach their intended recipients. Leading digital appointment systems include other methods of contacting sending correspondence. For example, Stopford’s agenda appointment booking system allows decision-makers to craft reminder letters in batches fast and accurately to be then distributed to their recipients.
Looking for an appointment system that caters for a variety of reminder types? agenda has options for letters, emails and SMS to ensure your message meets your recipients the way you know fits them best. Contact for more details.