For many small businesses, getting people to their appointments on time seems impossible. But, with the right strategy in place, the task of reminding customers gets much easier. Here are some tips and some appointment reminder templates to get you started:
Which Reminders Should You Send?
Today’s choices give you the opportunity to customize your reminders like never before. At ReminderCall, you can choose between calls, text messages, or emails. You can even send a combination of all three. So which reminders work the best?
Surveys show that smartphone users still prefer reminder phone calls. But, among urban and younger populations, text message reminders are more popular. Furthermore, custom reminder templates allow you to treat your customers like individuals. Think about using different messages for new versus long-standing customers. If you serve a large Latino community, consider sending Spanish reminders. By customizing your message, you can target your reminders and get better results.
What are the Rules?
Did you know that you must get permission before sending automated messages to a cell phone? You must also provide a way for customers to opt out of your calls, text messages, and emails. Check out federal and state laws before starting your campaign.
Healthcare providers have different rules. On the one hand, opt-in requirements are more relaxed. The TCPA sees appointment reminders as part of medical treatment. So, in some cases, these do not require prior permission. That said, these same reminders constitute Protected Health Information (PHI). Because of this, they need more security. If you are a healthcare provider, you must consider HIPAA requirements as well when sending patient reminders.
Rules for Email Patient Reminders
If you are a healthcare provider, you need to consider HIPAA email rules. Many patients choose to respond with a long-winded response. They may include PHI. It is important to consider whether you have the staff to respond to those emails. That said, email appointment reminders are approved by HIPAA. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS):
“The Privacy Rule allows covered health care providers to communicate electronically, such as through e-mail, with their patients, provided they apply reasonable safeguards when doing so. See 45 C.F.R. § 164.530(c). For example, certain precautions may need to be taken when using e-mail to avoid unintentional disclosures, such as checking the e-mail address for accuracy before sending, or sending an e-mail alert to the patient for address confirmation prior to sending the message.
Further, while the Privacy Rule does not prohibit the use of unencrypted e-mail for treatment-related communications between health care providers and patients, other safeguards should be applied to reasonably protect privacy, such as limiting the amount or type of information disclosed through the unencrypted e-mail. In addition, covered entities will want to ensure that any transmission of electronic protected health information is in compliance with the HIPAA Security Rule requirements at 45 C.F.R. Part 164, Subpart C.”
Crafting successful phone, email, and SMS appointment reminders takes some thought. They require clear wording and must follow regulations. Luckily, ReminderCall has been creating automated notifications since 1998. Through the years, we have come to find what works and what doesn’t. Here are some templates for you to try:
Reminder Call Template
You have an appointment with Dr. Smith on <appointment date> at <appointment time>. If you need to make changes, please call the office at <phone number>. Press 1 to confirm your appointment.
This simple reminder satisfies regulations by stating the company name and phone number. By design, it does not include a keypress to cancel the appointment. Instead, it suggests calling the office to change the appointment. We have found that this technique reduces cancellations. It gives your or your staff the chance to reschedule the appointment right away. This enhances communication and improves customer service.
Reminder Text Message Template
You have an appointment with Dr. Smith on <appointment date> at <appointment time>. Call us at <phone number> with questions.
This simple text message reminder satisfies regulations while remaining brief. Like the call-template, it suggests calling with questions rather than canceling the appointment. Know that you can send longer text messages. But, if you do, some cell phone companies will truncate your message. So we recommend keeping text messages under 160 characters long.
Email Reminder Template:
A Friendly Reminder:
<First Name> <Last Name> has an appointment with The ABC Store on <appointment date> at <appointment time>.
Please confirm your appointment by clicking the button below:
Unsubscribe from email reminders.
This simple email is very helpful to new patients because it includes all contact information. Optional features such as a map to your office or an “add to calendar” feature are helpful too.
Download 26 Reminder Templates
Would you like to see more examples? The Ultimate Guide to Writing Appointment Reminder Calls, Text Messages, and Emails is a free download. It teaches you what to include in your reminders to achieve the best results. You’ll learn best practices for each reminder type and some of the rules to consider. Plus, you’ll get 26 Free Reminder Templates with English, French and Spanish examples!