What’s the likelihood that your dental text (SMS) or email reminders are getting the attention of your patients? How you answer could have much to do with your understanding about the digital “noise” competing for their attention.
Worse, that “noise” is also a potential cause for an increase in the percentage of appointment no-shows. This is especially true if you’re relying on SMS and email communication to prompt them.
According to SolutionReach no-shows could cost you, as a dental provider, just under $150,000 a year.
Text and email are not the problem
ConstantContact confirms the following about the value of digital communication:
- “Today 90% of text messages are read within three minutes of delivery.”
- 43% of consumers now access their emails via their mobile device.
- Text messaging (SMS) forces you to “get to the point” with your message, saving your reader’s time.
This confirms that for the most part your patients are reading your messages. And if you’re using these mediums you’re reaching them where they spend a substantial amount of time – their mobile devices.
So, that brings us to the deeper issues.
Frequency, timing, and value perception
Your reminder success via text and email is ultimately about engagement. Again, the SolutionReach survey highlights two “clear things” that respondents wanted concerning patient relationship management.
1 – Reducing no-shows…
2 – Improving patient communication. 1
Thirty percent of survey respondents said that reducing no-shows was their top priority. Among top responders their no-show rates ranged from 10 to 30 percent on average.
The lowest no-show rates had to do with messaging frequency. Analysis of over 20 million reminder and confirmation messages showed that…
“…a message sent three weeks ahead, followed by a message sent three days ahead and one three hours ahead increased confirmation 156 percent.”
“According to the National Institutes for Health, 75 percent of patients want their appointment reminders via mobile devices.” 2
This reveals the high level of success you can expect when relying on SMS and email communication to prompt, remind, and engage your patients.
If it’s about patient engagement…are you (engaging them)…or are you adding to the “noise?”
How to get the attention of your dental patients via text (SMS) and email and reduce the number of no-shows
1-Check your intentions when crafting text and email content
There’s an art and strategy to creating compelling content. Glance at your own inbox or a recent thread of company based text messages.
- What was the obvious “intention” of the communication?
- Did it accomplish its intended goal or…did it add the “noise” in your inbox?
It’s easy to “sniff” someone’s intentions isn’t it?
For example, an email subject line can reveal much about what’s to come…and whether you’ll take time to open and read it.
Your response also depends on the relationship you have with the sender. If you’re accustomed to a bottom-line promotion or reminder based message it’s not so off-putting.
But if you’re not on that level or if the content is just another run-of-the-mill message – it becomes more “noise” to be avoided.
Apply the same principles by walking-in-the-shoes of your dental patients.
- Lead with the relationship.
- Avoid message copy/content that misses the level and quality of your relationship with them (could be incentive to segment your patient list).
- Be clear and compelling more than creative and catchy. Clarity compels. Creativity can add to the clutter.
2-Connect emotionally through your text and email messages
Borrow a fundamental rule from the world of sales:
“People buy for emotional not rational reasons.”
That’s why your patient communications must ultimately engage them at an emotional level.
- Get their attention and respect it when you do.
- Consistently strengthen your connection with patients without hype.
- Give them something that sticks from the first words they read.
- Provide a solution that will result from their response.
Remember that benefits (solutions to problems) engage emotions. Appeal to their emotions more than you focus on your personal request for a response.
3-Attach value to every communication you send via text and email
Unfortunately, much of the digital “noise” you and your patients receive can have little or no value. In essence, it broadcasts rather than solves a real problem.
- If you’re reminding them about an appointment reveal a problem their response will help solve.
- Highlight a useful benefit their response will achieve.
- Share a resource link that confirms the benefit they’ll receive.
- Give them a bonus for reading, responding, and showing up for their next appointment (priority access, a free/valuable gift or perk, etc.).
Patient reminders via text (SMS) and email begins with the relationship. Make your words matter and you’re more likely to reduce no-shows and increase revenue as a result.
1,2 Source: https://www.solutionreach.com/guide/state-of-prm
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Last modified: January 24, 2020