Top 8 Tips for Sending Appointment Reminders to Field Service Customers – 2019
In no industry are appointment reminders more important than field service. Doctors and hair stylists alike may be annoyed when someone misses their appointment. But customers don’t come to you in their own time. Your team actually drives out to a customer’s home or business and arrives at their door. Meaning that if the client has forgotten their appointment, at best you have wasted a trip. At worst, customers can be quite unpleasantly surprised, even if they made and forgot the appointment.
No doubt, your company has been trying to figure out the ideal way to help your clients both remember their appointments and be prepared for them when that time comes around. And this means the strategic use of appointment reminders. Today, we’re here to talk about not just how to remind your customers, but the best ways to keep your clients aware of service and in the loop about the timing of your teams’ arrivals.
Let’s take a look at the top eight tips for sending appointment reminders to your field service customers.
Use Email for Early Reminders
Because of the difference in how people use and respond to these types of message, there is a contrast between email and SMS appointment reminders. Both can be seen and answered on a modern smartphone, but emails are something we read and answer at work while texts are quick casual messages we read and answer on the go.
For field service, you want to use both approaches, but not interchangeably.
One type of appointment reminders you send is early reminders, 24 hours or even a whole week ahead of when your team plans to arrive. This is to help customers make sure there is still room in their schedule on the day of service. Use email for these early reminders, and any reminder that you plan to send more than 6 hours before a service.
People are more likely to be at their desk, ready to adjust their schedule, when checking their email. And are more likely to re-read and check the details of an email that of an earlier text message. That said, some people never check their emails, so a single text 24 hours before an appointment can be helpful.
Use SMS for Immediate Reminders
SMS text messages, on the other hand, are the perfect reminder channel to use when you’re touching base with customers right before a service is about to occur. Naturally, this is due to the inversion of the points we just made. People are more likely to check their phones for a new text message while on the road, in line for coffee, or out to lunch.
Sending an SMS appointment reminder between four hours and ten minutes before a service should always be done with SMS, or SMS paired with an email if you want to be thorough. This way, customers who have forgotten about the service despite earlier email reminders will have a chance to check their phones and rush home to be there before your team arrives.
Choose-Your-Own Reminder Schedule
While you’re looking for the best reminder timing to get results, you should also consider that customers have their own reminder preferences. The best possible results will come from reminding each customer on a schedule that works uniquely for them. So why not let them choose?
Don’t just ask customers if they’d prefer email or text reminders, let them build their own reminder schedule. One that works with the patterns of their current life and has the highest likelihood of getting their attention when it matters most.
There are many ways to do this through your website. You can let them pick time slots from a predetermined selection, populate a list of times to be messaged, or highlight squares in a calendar. Whatever you and your web designers think will be most effective.
Improve Your Stats: Keep a Record of Reminders
Of course, the real trick is perfecting your timing between both automated and customer-selected reminder times. This means tracking when you send reminders to each customer and tracking which schedule works best. Keeping a record of reminders sent to each customer can show you the difference in how reliable they are ready for service and, combined, can show you trends of reminder success.
You may find that a reminder two-hours before service is more useful than one-hour reminders. Or that your best customer is one of those people who never read emails, so even early reminders should be through text. Every reminder strategy will produce results, and by tracking and studying those results, you can improve your technique.
Bold and Highlight the Important Details
This tip is all about helping your customers remember the important information from your reminders. If they see your 24-hour reminder email, they may remember that service is the next day. But they might forget the time and have to check back if the number doesn’t stick in their minds. But you can help the important details stick by the way you design your reminders.
When formatting your automated email and SMS reminders, focus on the most important information. Use bolding, larger text, and paragraph isolation to emphasise the date of the appointment, the time, and the address you’ll be arriving at. In fact, the more you can visually design your reminders around these points, the better. Then your customers can easily use visual (photo) memory to recall what they need to know most: When your team will be arriving.
Include an Easy Response Channel
Of course, not all appointment reminders have the effect you were hoping for. In some cases, a customer will realise that they have an unresolvable schedule conflict or an urgent question they need to ask before service. In these situations, your reminder is useful but now your customer needs a way to get back to you.
Both you and they will benefit when your reminders make this easy for them.
In an email, you can make this easy by making your reminder email address an inbox for priority customer support requests. Or include a large formatted button that will take customers to your contact page. In SMS, if your system doesn’t accept response messages, then include an email address or link to follow so customers who need help can get in contact fast.
This could help you save a service through rescheduling or helping a customer work out a problem before things go south on the day of service.
Get Appointment Reminders RSVPs
And while you’re thinking about responses from customers, you might also consider asking for service RSVPs. Especially for any field service that schedules a work order months in advance. When the time for service finally rolls around, you don’t just want to remind customers. You really want a confirmation that they have seen the reminder and despite the months that have passed, they are ready for service on the say in question.
By asking for an RSVP a week or so ahead of time, you can significantly reduce the chances of a no-show, missed connection, or last-minute rescheduling.
‘Sorry We Missed You’ Messages
Finally, don’t forget that your reminder system can also be used to address issues where customers really did miss their appointment. If your team shows up to an empty house, there’s one more step to take. Send a ‘Sorry We Missed You’ email.
This is the best way to let your clients know that they have missed an appointment and you are ready to reschedule with them. In fact, this is often better than urgent calls or emails when the appointment appears to have slipped your client’s mind. Often, there is no time for the client to fix the situation at the moment. So this allows clients to discover their oversight in their own time, when whatever took them away from your appointment has wrapped up.
Your ‘Missed You’ emails should be friendly, open, and — most importantly — include an easy path to reschedule the service.