How to Write Text Message Reminders for Businesses (and What to Include)Posted: August 17, 2021 - By Elizabeth Velez
Text messaging has largely expanded from simply being a personal form of communication. Now your mobile phone most likely receives automated messages from brands you follow, as well as businesses that offer you their services. Today, successful marketing plans include text message reminders that streamline business processes and communication. These reminders reduce missed appointments, a drawback that costs the United States healthcare system alone more than $150 billion a year.*
If you use the right reminder software, your clients will be able to manually confirm or cancel appointments directly from their phone, as well as reply instantly if they have questions, concerns, or are running late. This keeps your front office staff up-to-date without bothering your customers with a phone call.
As with any marketing tool, there is a strategy to how you create and send reminders via text. Here is your complete marketing guide to getting started with automated text reminders.
Appointment reminder best practices
The most important takeaway from this guide is ensuring you’re compliant with an SMS opt-in for every number you send a text message to. This form of communication is highly regulated by the FCC because many customers still pay for each message they receive.
An SMS opt-in is separate from one for email, so be sure your opt-in disclaimer clearly states that they will be receiving an SMS/text message. U.S. law places the burden of proof on the business, not the client, to document that they opted to receive messages.
Being compliant in your messaging also requires a clear and easy way to opt-out. Every appointment reminder you send should mention that the client can text STOP to unsubscribe at anytime. This applies to both promotions and text message reminders.
If you use a reminder service to send your SMS reminders, this may automatically be added to each text message so you won’t have to worry. And if the software is optimized, you’ll be able to easily opt the customer back in if they decide they want to receive appointment reminders again.
Text reminder send times
When it comes to appointment reminders, texting at the right time is crucial to success. It’s important that you don’t remind your clients too far in advance from their appointment, as well as too close to the appointment date.
The most helpful reminder services connect with your scheduling software to know exactly when your clients are coming in next. These apps also have delivery features that standardize your appointment reminder timing. For example, you can setup all final appointment reminders to automatically send 7 calendar days before.
Be sure to review your appointment data to confirm that your text reminders are beneficial to your clients. The initial timing parameters you choose may not get a lot of confirmations, for example. This could be an indicator that you need to adjust when you send your appointment reminders.
Respond within 24 business hours
Clients love texting because it’s convenient. It’s a great sign if they respond to your automated appointment reminders with a question because that means texting is a communication method that works for them.
Whether they send your business a one-off text message, or respond specifically about the appointment reminder, you should make it a rule to answer within 24 hours. One of the advantages of text messages is the potential for instant gratification for both parties.
Writing successful appointment reminders
Appointment reminder length
SMS stands for Short Message Service. While marketing emails can be bit a longer, text messages shouldn’t exceed 160 characters. Although an appointment reminder that is longer than 160 characters will still send to your client, SMS providers will charge as if it is two messages. Your best bet is to keep your message brief to ensure it’s truly read by your customer.
Businesses using a text reminder app should take advantage of custom tagging features when sending appointment reminders. A good example of a custom tag is your business name, often seen as [BusinessName] within a text reminder service.
Using custom features in your templates makes your text messages more professional. Also, since some clients won’t have your phone number saved, they may not know who it’s from without it!
Personalized text messages
Appointments are personal, so the text reminder should have personal elements to it. The first and last name of your customer should always be included. This is another instance where the custom tags in your software makes this possible, and is often seen as [CustomerFirstName].
Appointment reminder details
Now that we’ve discussed the text message ‘side dishes,’ let’s get to the main course: the appointment details! Appointment reminders can only be successful if they mention the date, time, and service the customer is coming in for. If you and your staff prefer customers call to reschedule, you should also include your business phone number within the text message reminder. The best text reminder anticipates their needs by providing the necessary information in one fell swoop.
Google Calendar integration
Yes, there is another way to optimize your text reminder: encourage them to save the date! With a sophisticated automated software, you can add a link that will give your customers the ability to add the appointment to their Google Calendar.
Since we’re discussing links, this is the perfect segue to our final best practice tip for appointment reminder copy.
Short link call-to-actions
Because of the suggested 160 character limit, without a link shortener any links you use will eat up that limit really quickly. But links that act as call-to-actions are important for automated text reminders to be successful.
For example, if you have a strict no-show policy, adding it to all text reminders could help decrease overall no-shows. There are many link shortener services that are free to use including bit.ly, so take advantage!
Templates for common text reminders
Now that you know all of the required elements to include in a text reminder, let’s go over some SMS templates. But remember: templates are meant to work for you. They can always be changed as your business needs and processes evolve.
Template text reminders by industry
- Hi, [PatientFirstName], your appointment for [Date/Time] has been scheduled at [BusinessName]. Click the link to add it to your calendar [SavetheDateURL].
- Hi, [PatientFirstName]. [BusinessName] missed you at your appointment that was scheduled for [Date/Time]. Let’s get a new appointment in the books for you right away. Please call us at [BusinessPhone] to get scheduled!
- Appointment reminder from [BusinessName]. 1.Patient: [Name] 2.Treatment: [Services] 3.Details: [Date] at [Start time]. Please text us back if you can’t make it.
- [PetName], is due for a recommended visit to [BusinessName]. Give us a call at [BusinessPhone] today.
- From [BusinessName]: We miss [PetName]! Our team would love to see you again. Give us a call at [BusinessPhone] to make an appointment.
- How’s it going with [PetName]’s medication? Feel free to text us back with questions or concerns. We only want healthy days for [PetName].
- [FirstName], you’re due for another visit to [BusinessName]. Give us a call at [BusinessPhone] and get the spa moment you deserve.
- Hey [FirstName]! We’re confirming your upcoming hair appointment on [Date/Time]. Reply C to confirm the appointment! Can’t make it? Call [BusinessPhone] to reschedule.
- Hey beautiful! A reminder from [BusinessName] that your appointment is on [Date] at [Start time]. Please arrive 5 minutes before your scheduled appointment time. If you can’t make it, please text us back to reschedule.
When thinking about the reminder text strategy you should create, consider important client touchpoints like upcoming appointments, preventative care and recalling lost clients. Once you have the core touchpoints covered, come up with some engagement building messages that show your customers you care. This combination will help you build a relationship with your clients, while empowering your staff to spend less time on communication.
Bottom line: automated text reminders will make your processes smoother
As a small business, it’s imperative to your bottom line to have a lean staff that’s able to be productive every hour in the work day. Automated text reminders will save them time, while continuing to bring customers back in.