8 Best Practices for Email Appointment SchedulingNathalia Velez Ryan
If your business relies on appointments or reservations, you know how vital it is for customers to show up at the scheduled time. No-shows are a huge pain point for appointment-based services and can end up costing the business money and time.
That’s why using email for appointment scheduling is so beneficial: it creates a record that the customer can find with a quick inbox search and can help reduce no-shows. Plus, appointment emails help build a relationship with customers through clear communication.
But to ensure your appointment emails are effective, you must follow best practices and include a few essential elements. Let’s dive right into what those are.
1. Send an appointment confirmation email right away
Customers are used to receiving instant confirmations after making a purchase or reservation. So whether they schedule an appointment via website, app, phone, or in person, send them an appointment confirmation email right away.
This gives the customer peace of mind and provides a written record that they can reference if they forget the date or time. If you don’t send a confirmation, you’ll leave the customer wondering whether their appointment went through. Or worse, they could forget to add it to their calendar and miss their appointment altogether—costing your business the money and time we already mentioned.
Learn more about best practices and check out some examples and appointment email templates in our guide to confirmation emails.
2. Include personalized details
Every appointment email, whether it’s a confirmation or reminder, should include personalized details. The most important elements are:
- Customer’s name
- Appointment date and time
- Appointment type
- Confirmation number (if applicable)
- Who the customer will meet (if applicable)
For example, OpenTable sent me this email immediately after I made a reservation. It includes all the relevant details, directions to the restaurant, and an option to add the appointment to my calendar. As we discuss more best practices, we’ll follow along with the series of emails I received for this reservation.
3. Explain or link to your cancellation and rescheduling policy
Be transparent about your business’ cancellation, no-show, or rescheduling policy by including it in all appointment emails. You can briefly explain the policy at the bottom of the email or include a link to the full policy page on your website.
Additionally, make it easy for customers to reschedule or cancel by providing a button or link within the email. Zooming into the OpenTable email we looked at above, it includes easily accessible buttons to modify or cancel the reservation.
4. List your contact information
No matter how clear your cancellation policy is or how much detail you include in your appointment emails, there will always be customers who still need to contact you. So make it easy for them by including your contact information, like the customer service phone number or a link to live chat, in every email.
It may seem like a small detail, but seamless communication goes a long way in creating a positive customer experience.
5. Send a reminder email 24 hours before the appointment
Even when a customer looks forward to an appointment, sometimes life gets in the way, and they simply forget. This is a disruption to the customer and the business. But a well-timed appointment reminder email can help reduce no-shows.
Send a reminder email 24 hours before the scheduled time to give the customer another chance to put it on their calendar or cancel the appointment in time to avoid a fee. You can even include a Confirm my appointment or I’ll be there button, like OpenTable does below, to get assurance that the customer will attend.
6. Add an online check-in option
Some businesses, like airlines or doctor’s offices, require the customer to check in for their appointment. You can streamline this process for your business by adding a button to the reminder email, like TripActions does in the example below.
Additionally, you can link to forms or waivers the customer needs to fill out in advance, saving you time as you don’t have to wait for them to do last-minute paperwork when they arrive.
Important note: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulates what personal information you can include in healthcare-related emails. So familiarize yourself with these rules and ensure you adhere to them to avoid accidentally disclosing protected health information (PHI). If you use Twilio SendGrid and need to remain compliant with HIPAA, encrypt the message or offer a secure download link instead of including PHI directly in the email.
7. Pair scheduling emails with SMS
While email is the best channel for some messages, like appointment confirmations, others are more appropriate for SMS, like a reminder text an hour before the appointment. By combining email and SMS, you can send more targeted messages on the right channels and ensure the customer has a seamless experience.
All the communications from OpenTable we’ve seen so far have been over email, but when I ran a little late on the day of my reservation, the business sent me a text message to check on my estimated arrival time. It prompted me to respond with the number 1 if I was on my way, making it easy to communicate with the business and ensure that I had a table when I arrived.
Dive deeper into how to use these channels together in our guide, Using SMS and Email to Engage Your Customers in 2022.
8. Follow up after the appointment
Communication with the customer doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) end after their appointment—extend the relationship by sending a follow-up email to thank them for attending. You can also invite the customer to leave a review (like in the final email OpenTable sent me for my reservation), follow you on social media, or sign up for your email newsletter to keep in touch.
Send appointment scheduling emails with Twilio SendGrid
There are 3 key elements to creating effective appointment emails: a great template, personalization, and email automation. And Twilio SendGrid has your back with all of these.
You can use our free templates, like this patient appointment reminder template, or create one with our drag-and-drop and HTML editors. Then, plug in the details with substitution tags and use our email automation tools to ensure you send the right message at the right time.
Ready to start creating appointment scheduling emails? Try SendGrid for free today.