If your dental practice still primarily relies on reminder mailings and person-to-person telephone calls to confirm patients' appointments, there's a better way of doing things: text messages. Leveraging technology to send SMS messages to your patients about upcoming appointments is efficient - and effective.
With an estimated 78% of people in the U.S. using smartphones today - a number that is expected to rise by 2021 - the odds are good that a majority of your patients are familiar with texting as a method of communication.
People Prefer Text Messages Over Other Communication Methods
While there are still plenty of people who haven't jumped on the texting bandwagon just yet, a December 2016 survey reported that 55 percent of respondents prefer to receive text messages for appointment reminders, compared to 35 percent who indicated a preference for email communication.
Beyond a simple preference for texts, 58 percent of consumers responding to that survey said they view businesses that offer text message communications more positively than less technology-friendly businesses.
A More Effective and Efficient Way to Reach Patients
The traditional way of confirming dental appointments means looking up and dialing a phone number and often waiting to leave a voice message. With the average phone call lasting 90 seconds, it's easy to see how much time can be spent every day on reminder calls. In contrast, sending text messages is fast, taking approximately 13 seconds to send. When you leverage technology solutions to automate the text reminders, your front office personnel can redirect that time to other more productive activities.
In addition to being faster, there's evidence that texting patients is actually more effective. Adobe's Digital Marketing Blog recently reported some surprising statistics. While email open rates hover around 20-30 percent, text messages have a 98 percent open rate, with 90 percent of text messages being opened and read within three seconds of receipt.
Using text messages can help minimize the number of no-shows and last-minute cancellations by providing a visual reminder right in the palms of your patients' hands.
Beyond Appointment Reminders
Text messaging also has applications that go beyond sending simple appointment reminders. Some dental practices have found that texting helps them keep their calendars full by sending notices to wait listed patients, helping to fill openings that otherwise may have gone unfilled.
Texting can also be an unobtrusive way to help build the dentist-patient relationship in a time-efficient manner. You can use text messaging to check on a patient the day after a dental procedure, to send information about preventive care and oral hygiene, or to send any other notice or communication.
As a good business practice, ask for patients' permission in advance before sending them text messages. You may be surprised how many patients will emphatically embrace this new way to keep the lines of communication open.
Leverage the Power of Dental Analytics in Your Dental Office
As you explore ways to improve your dental office's efficiency and revenue, don't overlook the power of dental practice analytics software.
With cloud-based storage, the ability to integrate seamlessly with other products and platforms, engaging and user-friendly views and the ability to analyze and leverage key performance indicators, Square Practice offers exciting features for dental practices of any size.