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Reduce no-show appointments: 10 practical tips you can use

How to reduce no-show appointments

Is there anything that derails your business more in a day than someone no-showing or arriving late to an appointment?

Perhaps you’ve already thought about the lost revenue from missed appointments that day, but how about in any given month? Let’s say your company typically earns $100-$300 an hour. If you get at least two dozen monthly no-shows on scheduled appointments, you’re leaving thousands on the table every month.

While it may seem like some people are just flaky, there are a few guardrails you can put in place to prevent most appointment no-shows. If getting people to arrive (and arrive on time) is crucial to your business model, keep reading to learn how to reduce no-show appointments in 10 different ways that you can implement today.

How to reduce no-show appointments

Getting customers to show up shouldn’t feel like a strain. With the right tools and tactics, you can avoid unexpected no-shows while keeping clients happy with your business. Here are 10 tactics you can implement right now to start reducing no-shows.

1. Send appointment confirmation texts

If your customers aren’t confident their booking has gone through, they may end up skipping their appointment instead of reaching out. Figuring out how to reduce no-show appointments can be as simple as learning how to send an appointment confirmation text.

With OpenPhone, you can quickly send confirmations for every appointment using one of two methods. First, you can set up snippets, which are pre-written templates that you can customize with appointment details before sending. Here’s an example you can send:

[First name], thanks for scheduling a [type] appointment at [BUSINESS NAME]. We’re looking forward to serving you [Date / time]. If this is correct, please text CONFIRM. If you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment, please call this number directly.

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Check out our appointment confirmation text guide for more examples.

Pro-tip: Ensure your customers opt into receiving texts through a digital or hard copy form. With a digital form, you can use our Zapier integration to automate confirmation texts each time you get a booking through your appointment scheduling app.

For example, you can use this Zap to automatically send an appointment confirmation text when someone books time through your Calendly page.

2. Test sending appointment reminder texts at different times

Sometimes, customers simply forget that they have appointments booked. Sending appointment reminder texts is a simple way for your team to ensure your clients keep you on their calendars.

To improve your appointment reminder system, try scheduling texts at different time intervals, like 24 and 48 hours ahead of an appointment. Then, stick with the time interval that leads to the best attendance.

3. Test making appointment reminder calls

If appointment reminder text messages aren’t doing the trick, you can try using phone calls instead. Some clients might respond better to live conversations, allowing your team members to build rapport and chat about rescheduling as needed.

4. Create a written policy that discourages no-show appointments

For better or worse, if your clients know they can skip out on their upcoming appointments without any consequence, many won’t bother reaching out when they can’t make their time slot. Putting a written appointment no-show policy into place can help your business avoid getting ghosted.

No-show fees and last-minute cancellation fees can be effective parts of any appointment policy. In the healthcare industry — in which healthcare providers lose an average of $200 with every missed patient appointment — these fees can help medical practices recover lost revenue and prevent no-shows.

If you have customers who consistently miss appointments, you can also set a policy that specifies you’ll end a customer relationship after a certain number of no-shows.

5. Keep a waitlist

No business should operate without a Plan B — and that’s the case when it comes to scheduling appointments, too. Keeping a waitlist can help you limit the cost of no-shows when they occur. If a customer doesn’t arrive at their appointment time, you can check in with other folks interested in same-day appointments.

It doesn’t hurt to let your customers know you’ll open up missed appointments to people on your wait list either. They may not mind being on standby as they live close to your business or are eager to get in. 

For customers that no-show, when they know your time is in high demand — which means getting back on your schedule will require a wait — they may be more likely to show up for their scheduled time slot.

6. Make it easier for customers to reschedule with you

If rescheduling is too difficult, your clients won’t bother to do so when there’s a conflict on their calendar. No one wants to wait in a long phone queue or dig through your website for a rescheduling form if they can avoid it.

You can avoid plenty of no-shows simply by offering an easy self-scheduling system on your website. If you get a lot of phone calls about rescheduling appointments, you can also use OpenPhone to set up an auto-reply that contains a link to your scheduling platform. Here’s an example of an auto-reply text you can send during business hours:

Hi [name]. Thanks for reaching out to [company name]. We’ll get back to you within 2 hours. To book or reschedule your appointment now, head to [link to scheduling platform].

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Over time, you can see the impact of sending these auto-replies on your call volume in your OpenPhone analytics.

7. Provide a better customer experience

A little self-awareness is critical for understanding how to reduce no-show appointments. The weaker parts of your customer experience could be the reason your clients aren’t showing up. For example, if there are always long wait times after clients arrive, they may not feel compelled to show up or show up on time.

There are many ways your business can improve the customer experience, whether it’s by adding entertainment to waiting rooms or setting wait time expectations upon arrival. To figure out what you can do to improve, you can ask for client feedback by sending automated text messages after appointments.

Here’s an example text you can send after someone visits to get feedback (and so they don’t just leave a negative review on another website):

Hi [name]. Thanks for stopping by [company name]. We strive to provide excellent customer service, and your feedback is important to us. I’d be grateful if you completed this brief survey: [link to survey]. Thanks for being a customer. To stop getting texts, respond STOP. 

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8. Address customer objections or fears that cause no-shows

Your customers may have objections or fears that aren’t related to your customer experience at all, but still lead to no-show appointments. 

For example, let’s say you have a healthcare practice and find that most patients are scared to get surgery. You can reduce medical appointment no-shows by proactively checking in and seeing how they feel before their scheduled operation.

For your business, step into your customers’ shoes and walk back towards the steps your customer needs to take before arriving for an appointment. Then list out their likely pain points and how you can address them through proactive customer service

9. Build relationships with your customers

Each interaction with your customer is an opportunity to make a deposit in their emotional piggy bank. As you continue to build rapport and create a valuable experience for your customers, those deposits can pay off in the form of loyalty — and a deeper commitment to arriving on time for appointments.

You can build stronger customer relationships by capturing important contact information in your CRM, including job titles and details from previous conversations. With OpenPhone, you can even auto-save call recordings, voicemails, texts, and call logs to your CRM. When you’re chatting with customers in-person, over the phone, or online, you can refer to your contact details to personalize conversations and further build trust.

Saving important dates, like birthdays and anniversaries, can also help you delight customers. Send a surprise, like a discount or a gift card, in celebration to encourage clients to return.

As you know, you can’t be on the phone 24/7. However, when you want to reduce your no-show rate, you should prioritize reviewing voicemail transcriptions from missed calls. 

On OpenPhone, you can read transcripts straight from your conversation threads — or even your email or Slack when you set up integrations. This allows you to proactively follow up with a booking link via text when someone needs to schedule or reschedule.

Zoom out to improve no-show rates

Beyond the strategies listed here, just a few operational tweaks can make a huge impact. Particularly, re-evaluating how you schedule bookings with customers. To learn more, check out our guide to the types of appointment scheduling for a full break down of the pros and cons of each type.

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