How important are meetings with new and existing customers for the health of your business? Although it is a very simple question to answer (hint: it’s very important), appointment management can be a tricky process.
For most business owners, appointment management is easy to maintain. The true challenge is ensuring that clients maintain their end of the bargain.
Late-arrivals and cancellations can be costly for any business. For example, imagine a doctor that owns her own practice. She averages about 10 appointments a day for $200 each. However, she has about five cancellations per week which is a $1,000 loss. By using texting (SMS) for appointment reminders, she can cut down her weekly cancellations to two thus bringing weekly cancellation losses down to only $400.
SMS is a great way to remind customers and clients about their upcoming appointments with your business. It provides the “just in time” reminder that automated emails may miss. In addition, using SMS with scheduling can help so businesses fill the gaps that cancellation leave behind. Whether it’s for a doctor’s appointment in the next few days or hair stylist confirming an appointment after it’s been scheduled, SMS can be an effective way to ensure customers keep their appointments with your business as well as maintain profit goals despite unavoidable cancellations.
Clients Never Forget With a Text
Did you know that text messaging is the most common smartphone activity in the U.S? The average American sends and receives about 32 text messages a day (Informate).
Since SMS is both used often and checked frequently, it is an effective means for appointment management. Common best practices include:
An initial text can be sent immediately or a day after a client schedules an appointment.
After confirmation, texts can be sent the day of or multiple times in the days leading up to the appointment.
Because of ease of use, clients can easily respond to the text confirmation so they can move or cancel the meeting if needed
Having a confirmation text a few days before the appointment can provide time for businesses to fill a spot if a cancellation occurs.
Deployment is a Breeze – SMS & CRM Are Very Compatible
Now that the benefits of SMS to manage appointments are crystal clear, how do you implement it into your existing scheduler? One of the benefits of using SMS for appointment management is how easily it integrates with virtually any CRM or API. This simple integration translates to easy implementation. A gateway SMS campaign can be integrated with a business’s scheduling software application to send triggered alerts to clients with upcoming appointments. Running all scheduling activities through one system reduces the chance of human error and provides a more seamless integration experience.
Most SMS solutions have the integration process mapped out to make implementation easy as possible. For example, the 3Seventy integration process happens almost instantaneously – with one phone call we can have you up and running.
If you have any questions about using SMS for appointment management, feel free to contact us, we are happy to help.
One of the major indicators of success for universities and colleges is student retention. Out of all the first-time, full-time students that enrolled in a 4-year university in fall 2012, 20% didn’t return for fall 2013 (NCES). One of the main reasons students don’t return in the fall is lack of student engagement due to poor communication. Notification emails are effective but, may go unchecked for quite some time. However, SMS can aid in boosting retention rates for many universities by maintaining a direct line of communication between student and university.
SMS for Deadline Reminders
In all the hustle and bustle of everyday student life, it is easy for important deadlines to fly under the radar. Unfortunately, missing important deadlines can drastically affect whether or not a student returns for another semester. Although email is still the preferred method of communication among many universities, it doesn’t boast the immediacy that SMS has. 90% of all texts are opened within 3 minutes, a drastic change from the 47 minutes it takes for 90% email response.
By using a basic SMS campaign, reminder texts can be sent out to students. Since these texts are more likely to be read than email, more students will be better prepared for upcoming deadlines. When students keep up with these important dates, like FAFSA or enrollment deadlines, they are better prepared to return for another semester.
360 Degree Student Engagement
Student engagement goes beyond communications between students and the university. Many university students do more than just study, they also engage in many different activities. SMS can keep students engaged both in and out of the classroom. Professors can utilize an SMS dialog campaign to facilitate class conversations while on-campus organizations, like alumni relations or Greek life, can send mass texts to keep members updated. Essentially, SMS can maintain 360 degree student engagement by simplifying communications from all aspects of student life.
Parent Communications with Schools are a Top Priority
Parental involvement is crucial for maintaining a child’s educational success. Parents report that good communication is a key component of a good school. However, maintaining parental involvement can be difficult if pertinent information can be lost in the fray. Nearly 87% of school to parent communication is through memos, emails, or printed notices to the parent. While email is an effective way for many parents to stay updated, it sorely lacks the timeliness and nearly-perfect SMS open rate.
Schools Use SMS For Attendance
Frequent absenteeism correlates to poor in-school performance by a child. Low attendance can severely damage a child’s education, especially with frequent absenteeism between kindergarten and 2nd grade. Lacking in reading proficiency by 3rd grade (Attendance Works).
When schools integrate SMS communications into their plans, then students are more efficiently counted and their parents can be assured that their child is attending class. In India, SMS-based attendance is taking off. The Information Kerala Mission (IKM)’s School Management System allows parents to get real-time SMS updates about when their child has shown up to class. An SMS attendance system in Bidar, India provides a cost effective way for educators to take attendance and save money. Each class’s attendance is sent to a specific monitor that takes count of both the students and teachers, which has “yielded vital data on education to better implement schemes.”
Important School News in Real-Time
Where do you go for real-time information about school closures? Parents across the US often huddle around the television or radio awaiting updates from their local news stations. However, what happens if your home loses power or the information doesn’t arrive quickly enough? SMS alerts provide the best way to get real-time information about school closures due to extreme weather or circumstances. The Anchorage School District in Alaska allows parents to receive SMS alerts about school delays and closures (KTUU). This is a useful method that offers another option for parent communications, beyond the automated emails and phone calls that some parents receive.
Using SMS for Parent Communications Works
Closing the gap between school and household is important for maintaining parental involvement in education. Hands-on involvement with parents can drastically shape a student’s academic performance – especially in younger students. Maintaining contact has become a lot easier with mobile solutions such as SMS alerts and updates. A simple text message could a big difference in educational success.
Curious how mobile technology can improve communications in your school? Learn More
The American Heart Association program Life’s Simple 7 is a list of seven simple ways to improve your heart health:
being more active, eating better, managing your weight, reducing blood sugar, avoiding tobacco smoke, and controlling both cholesterol and blood pressure.
This list has become more manageable for those of us with fast-paced lives. When we use mobile applications, wearable sensors, and SMS alerts, we create awareness of our habits (both good and bad) and can make healthier choices.
Here’s how we’re using Mobile Tools to support healthy behaviors:
According to a statement recently released by the American Heart Association, “people who include mobile technology in a comprehensive lifestyle program for weight loss were more successful in short-term weight loss compared to those who tried to lose weight on their own, but there isn’t any published data on whether the participants maintained their weight loss beyond 12 months.”
A good mHealth weight loss program offers similar elements to that of a person-to-person individualized program. The mobile tools and programs that focus on a calorie-controlled diet with food intake tracking and customized feedback based upon your entires. More organizations are including SMS to send reminders and deliver healthcare literacy. This can be triggered by the entries made into a mobile app such as “Remember to eat 2-3 cups of vegetables today. Dinner Recipe Idea…”
Tracking Physical Activity
Mobile programs boost physical activity, however there is little research to show whether wearable technology actually helps you be physically active. Using a tool such as MapMyFitness or another physical activity tracking tool is most helpful when the user gets customized feedback and support from social circles – many mobile tools are integrated into social networks or have their own.
The mobile apps using SMS to push out messages for smoking intervention can almost double the chances of quitting. However, about 90 percent of people using mobile apps fail to quit smoking after six months. The best approach for many, is using mobile health apps in combination with a traditional quit-smoking programs.
For healthcare professionals, mobile tools may actually boost screening for smoking. Many clinicians do not necessary ask about smoking during a patient exam. “Using mobile phones loaded with tobacco screening guidelines prompted nurses to ask patients about their smoking habits in 84 percent of clinic visits and to offer cessation counseling to 99 percent of smokers who expressed a willingness to kick the habit, according to a study from Columbia University School of Nursing published in Oncology Nursing Forum.” (source: MedicalXPress)
How DoSomething.Org Harnesses Text Messaging to Support Troubled Youth
In 2011, a young woman named Stephanie Shih was working in New York City at DoSomething.org, a nonprofit that helps young people start volunteer campaigns. Shih was responsible for sending out text messages to teen-agers across the country, alerting them to various altruistic opportunities and encouraging them to become involved in their local communities: running food drives, organizing support groups, getting their cafeterias to recycle more. Silly, prankish responses were not uncommon, but neither were messages of enthusiasm and thanks.
Then, in August, after six months on the job, Shih received a message that left her close to tears for the rest of the day. “He won’t stop raping me,” it said. “He told me not to tell anyone.” A few hours later, another message came: “R u there?” Shih wrote back, asking who was doing this. The next day, a response came in: “It’s my dad.”
DoSomething.org had no protocol for anything like this, so Shih texted back with the contact information for RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the country’s largest anti-sexual-assault organization. But the texter indicated that she was too scared to make a phone call. “This is the right thing to do,” Shih insisted. There was no reply. “Not knowing if she was safe or had gotten help or would ever get help consumed my thoughts,” Shih told me last fall. She printed out the text messages and handed them to her boss, Nancy Lublin, DoSomething.org’s C.E.O.
“I’ll never forget the day,” Lublin said. “It was like I’d been punched in the stomach.”
That week, Lublin and Shih started work on what two years later became Crisis Text Line, the first and only national, 24/7 crisis-intervention hotline to conduct its conversations (the majority of which are with teen-agers) exclusively by text message.
How it Works:
The Crisis Text Line provides a one-to-one style texting chat service to those in need who are too scared or uncomfortable to call. Teens are shockingly honest via text message, so this organization has opened doors for honest communication.
Beyond the one-to-one counseling, the organization has gathered the content of the messages and quantified the results to deliver a unique collection of mental-health data based on five million texts. Their data collection has given the world insights such as “depression peaks at 8 p.m., anxiety at 11 p.m., self-harm at 4 a.m., and substance abuse at 5 a.m.”
“The corpus of data has the volume, velocity, and variety to really draw meaningful conclusions,” says Nancy Lubin. She hopes that the data can eventually be useful to school districts and police departments.
It wouldn’t work out too well if we waited days or weeks for messages to arrive from across the country by horseback. Yesterday’s fun doodle from Google with a Pony Express game reminded me how lucky we are to live in an age of technology, and to pause and imagine a world without text messaging (SMS).
Imagine learning about the recall of a drug or food weeks after the company announced it. You may become terribly ill or worse … all because someone had to ride 500 miles on horseback to deliver the message to you, or for the newspaper to print the information and have it delivered.
The Human Disconnect Caused by Technology vs Advantages of SMS Technology
Yes, it is terrible that people feel so disconnected from each other and so much emphasis is put into the technology we use. However, these technologies have also caused us to be connected in new ways, and innovations such as text messaging have improved our lives.
1. Timely Communications. We can receive those time sensitive updates via text messaging in minutes. This applies to healthcare, operations, emergencies, and other time-specific updates.
2. Simplified Messages. While we can all enjoy reading a novel over the weekend, sometimes being forced to keep a message short helps to better get the point across.
3. Affordability. It is cheaper to send a text message than it is to send a letter through the US Postal Service. Really think about that for a moment. A single first class stamp currently costs $0.49, whereas a text message can cost as little as $0.01 (if not less).
4. Wider Reach. More people in the US have cell phones with text messaging capabilities than those who could afford the Pony Express back in the day. You can get your message to more people today than what would have ever been possible in the 1800’s.
Horses are great. The Pony Express is an important part of history; but so are technology innovations such as SMS (text messaging).
Texting is the fastest and most efficient way to connect with university students, so more schools are turning to this technology for campus-wide communications – from the college campus alerts about emergencies to basic announcements. Students know immediately if an emergency situation is occurring on campus.
More colleges and universities are taking up text messaging for college campus alerts, especially emergency alerts. This also includes important reminders such as class registration, payment updates, class cancellations, and events. Penn State University, Leigh University, Tarleton State University, and University of Maryland Baltimore are among the many colleges and universities offering important text message alerts instantly to all students and staff.
Back to School Challenges
As parents, students, faculty, and staff prepare to kick off the 2014-2015 school year, campus security is among the important challenges to prepare for. With the highly publicized school crimes over the past few years – including Sandy Hook Elementary and Virginia Tech – more colleges are offering text messaging for college campus alerts.
Think about the different ways that your school campus can use text messaging to make it a safer environment. How can we continue to address these issues of bridging a huge campus or even a small one? Please comment below with ideas you may have or places where you’ve seen college campus alerts done well. 3Seventy values the insights of our audience, so we want to hear from you.
While the Ebola outbreak has been a wild media storm in the US, it has been a harsh reality in Africa. Aid workers in Liberia have begun using text messaging to alert specific populations. “Workers with the United Nations Children’s Fund sent texts to a group of Monrovia teenagers telling them how to sign up for Ebola alerts.” (Chicago Tribune). It has become a two-way channel for health communications where those teens can reply back with questions about avoiding the virus and ways to prevent sickness.
“Since the Ebola outbreak began last April, the Trilogy Emergency Relief Application (TERA) system has sent out about 2 million text messages a month in Sierra Leone, reminding people to seek treatment early, avoid physical contact with others and not resist the efforts of community health care workers.” (NPR).
This is key in areas of the world where internet is not available everywhere, especially in Sierra Leone where 60% of the population lives below the national poverty line.
While literacy rates in countries like Sierra Leone are quite low (about 43%), it is likely for a few people to have cellphones in villages who can read the text messages and disseminate the information to others.
“Ivory Coast, richer still than Nigeria and so far Ebola-free, is capitalizing on the mobile connectivity of its citizens by sending out millions of mass text messages warning about the dangers of Ebola and how to avoid catching it. Smartphone penetration is still low in Africa relative to the rest of the world—in Ivory Coast around 25% of all mobile phones are smartphones, while 90% of households have access to a mobile phone.” (Wall Street Journal).
Mobile Apps Help Gather Information
In addition to these text alerts, mobile apps have been used for reporting Ebola cases and used as a resource for safety information. Scientists and developers all over the world are working hard to track and even predict the patterns of the Ebola virus. If you have not already heard about Flowminder, then you should search it. Flowminder is the organization from MIT that has created national mobility estimates for West Africa, and they have delivered population mobility maps derived from anonimized mobile phone call detail record (CDR) datasets – see the image below to get an idea.
“For us in Africa, connectivity is a life and death issue.”
This is the ability to send a text message to reach 911 emergency call takers from your mobile phone or device. It can be a life-saving alternative in several situations. For those in the community who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech impediment, making a voice call may be too difficult. Texting also becomes useful when voice networks are congested or making a voice call would put the caller in danger.
The availability of this service is still limited, but growing. There are currently more than one hundred 911 call centers in 16 states that can accept emergency text messages. The goal is to enable all mobile phone owners to send text messages to 911. The Commission encouraged industry-developed solutions to achieve this goal, and proposed rules that would require all covered text providers to support text-to-911 by December 31, 2014.
Campus Emergency Texts
While this is still developing on a national level, the university community is ahead of the curb with emergency text messages. Students, faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to register for campus emergency notifications. This is a safe way to ensure that everyone receives critical university notifications, as well as school closings and weather alerts
Primary and Secondary schools are adopting this emergency text message system as well. The Houston Independent School District announced that they will bring sending text messages to alert parents of any emergency situations at the school.
How would you want emergency text messages handled in your community?
Schools and universities alike have begun to use technology to their advantage as a security solution. According to Mashable, seventy-five percent of high school students and 90% of college students own a cell phone with over 70% that state SMS is their channel of choice. Adding a mobile strategy has shown to be the best form of communication to instantly notify the student body of a security threat.
Following the devastating shooting that took the lives of 33 people on April 16, 2007, Virginia Tech put in place changes to create a safer environment for their students and staff. Their improved reaction time and response plans may have helped enhance campus security and prevent further actions of the recent shooter.
On December 8, 2011, news blasts and blogs stated that “thousands of students were alerted by cell phone that a gunman was on the loose and the [Virginia Tech] campus was locked down.”
* 12:15PM – Derick W. Crouse was shot in his unmarked cruiser during a routine stop.
* Shortly before 12:30PM – Police received a call from a witness.
* About 6 minutes later – The first campus wide alert was sent by email, text message and electronic signs in university buildings.
– The campus was vacant and still as everyone was told to go indoors and stay put.
* 15 minutes after the witness called police – A patrolling deputy sheriff noticed the shooter.
– Deputy watches the suspicious Ross Truett Ashley pacing the Cage parking lot. As the deputy circled, Ashley took his own life.
Did the vacant streets alter his plans for greater violence? Did he know that thousands of students were already alerted by text marketing? Did the Virginia Tech mobile alerts provide a model for disaster response planning?
Some feel that due to the immediate release of the shooter’s whereabouts and actions through text message and other devices, lives were saved.
“The alert system worked exactly as expected,” said school spokesman Larry Hincker. “It’s fair to say that life is very different at college campuses today. The telecommunications technology and protocols that we have available to us, that we now have in place, didn’t exist years ago… We believe the system worked very well.”
Many government entities are starting to use mobile phones as an asset to help school safety, security, and police. 98% of text messages are opened, generally within the first 3 minutes they are received, and nations around the world are taking advantage of it.
Headquartered in Austin, Texas, TrueDialog is the preferred SMS solution for enterprise businesses and higher education. TrueDialog's cloud-based software and API make it simple to send mass text messages, communicate with employees, alert students and parents, and provide multi-user, team-based customer support at scale.