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Top 5 Reasons People Miss Scheduled Appointments

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Missed appointments are an infuriating and costly part of service-based businesses that you need to eliminate. But you can’t stop no-shows if you don’t know what’s actually keeping people from coming.

We did research on the top five reasons why customers miss appointments, and we’re going to give you solutions on how to fix them.

How much are missed appointments costing you?

Here’s what no-shows look like across different industries:

Your own business will lose hundreds of thousands of revenue each year if you aren't proactive, because no-shows have cascading negative effects.

For example, in the healthcare industry, patients who miss just one appointment have only a 30% chance of coming back within 18 months. And sales prospects lose momentum toward making a purchase when they miss a scheduled meeting with a rep.

You need a way to fight back against the heavy, cumulative cost that comes with no-shows. That’s why I’m going to show you the top five reasons people miss appointments and how you can combat them.

Top 5 Reasons Why Your Clients Miss Their Scheduled Appointments

Reason #1: The client didn’t know they could just reschedule.

Over 28% of the time in the healthcare industry and 30% of the time in sales, a person will miss their scheduled appointment for unrelated reasons that are completely out of their (and your) control.

These include:

  • Transportation problems
  • Illness
  • Conflict in schedules
  • Family emergencies

They also forget (but we’ll dive more into that number one reason later).

In these cases, the only thing the person can do is reschedule—and your job is to make it as easy as possible for them to do that, so you don’t completely lose their business. A reschedule is always better than a no-show.

So make it clear from the get-go that your business gives customers the option to reschedule, and introduce them to all the ways they can go about selecting another time and date. This could mean:

  • Linking them to your online portal if you’re in healthcare
  • Showing them your text option to reschedule if you’re a Salon
  • Linking them to your Calendly or Google Calendar if you’re a sales rep

The easier it is for the person to reschedule, the more likely they’ll do that instead of just flatout disappear. Online portals, phone calls, and text are the top three ways people currently prefer to reschedule appointments.

You also need people actively reaching out to people who missed to see if they want to reschedule. The key is to not let too much time pass between the missed appointment.

PC: GetApp

Reason #2: The client got cold feet.

Your client needs to feel like they’re going to be respected by you (especially when the appointment revolves around anything financial or medical-related). Otherwise they won’t show.

In fact, 56% of sales prospects miss their appointments because they get overwhelmed by other things going on at their office and feel like their scheduled appointment will just add to that stress. And over 7% of healthcare patients won’t show up to their appointment because they didn’t think they were going to be cared for and chose a different healthcare provider.

Clients can easily become afraid of being embarrassed, stressed, or treated poorly. So how do you prevent that?

You tell them upfront what to expect from the appointment, including:

  • Time length
  • General break down of how time slot will be spent
  • Where to meet, or how to connect
  • What to expect if you’re demonstrating or providing a service
  • Whether or not they should bring anything

Nobody likes the unknown, so eliminating that factor will always be a great comfort to your customer. Always address any possible fears the customers may have, identify that their stress is natural, and ensure them that your goal is to make them feel comfortable.

Breaking down what’s expected during the appointment will also help the customer gauge how manageable the appointment is alongside the other things they may have going on that day.

For example, say that a sales rep ends up having another meeting scheduled directly after the appointment they were supposed to have with you. If they know exactly what your expected time frame is, they’re less likely to make any assumptions that they need to cancel.

Always check in with the person before the appointment, ensure they have all the information they need to feel comfortable, and be open to rescheduling if needed.

Reason #3: Your business doesn’t stress the pain points of missing an appointment.

Sometimes missing an appointment just doesn’t seem like a big deal to your customer, and it’s your job to show them that it is.

In some industries (usually healthcare and fitness), businesses will do this by either:

1. Charging customers for missed appointments

2. Refusing service after a customer misses a certain amount of appointments

While these tactics work, your customers are going to lowkey get annoyed at you for them.

Which is why we recommend educating customers on how missing an appointment is going to hurt them.

What kind of pain points will they experience if they don’t show? Here are some examples for different industries:

HVAC — “If we can't service your unit, you're going to be overpaying for the same heating and AC. You're also at risk of your unit cutting out in the middle of this blazing summer or frigid winter. That would be terrible! Why live in fear of that happening?”

Healthcare — “Usually by the time you notice something on your own, it’s already gotten to a point where it’s going to be harder to fix.Why wait until a problem is out of control? Regular checkups can put your mind at ease and ensure you get early treatment if a certain issue does arise.”

Finance — “Don't you want to spend less and earn more without having to change your lifestyle? The sooner you start, the more you can save!”

Salon — "This pigment you chose will fade fast. If you want to maintain that shade, we'll need to do regular upkeep."

These conversations need to occur both during your initial sales process and as the customer is about to leave their appointment. 

Reason #4: Clients feel forced to pick a time-slot that doesn’t work.

While it's common to have a customer book their next appointment at the end of their current one (and it can greatly increase customer retention), make sure you aren’t pushing them into a time slot that doesn’t actually fit with their schedule.

Why?

Recent studies show that most of the time customers only agree to the dates and time offered to them at checkout because they feel forced to. They will even lie and say a time slot works for them so they can leave faster or don’t appear rude.

But this can be avoided if you give customers the option to adjust their appointments online. In fact, 35% of people prefer booking appointments on their own during non-business hours, because they can take time to double check their calendars and make sure a time slot actually works with their schedule.

So in addition to asking customers to book their next appointment at checkout, make sure you show them where and how they can adjust their appointment. There's no reason for them to miss their appointment if they're 100% certain the time slot works for them.

PC: Genbook

Reason #5: Clients get no appointment reminders.

Over 37% of no-shows in the healthcare industry and 62% of no-shows in the salon industry say they simply forgot about their appointment and needed a reminder. Forgetting is always the number one reason a person will miss a scheduled appointment.

Pretty obvious, right? But how would you go about making sure everyone of your customers gets a reminder so they don't?

Texts are seen and read 99% of the time, which is why almost 63% of people prefer them as a way to get reminders for their appointments.

PC: GetApp


Texts are also incredibly easy to send out to multiple customers at once when you have group message and template features, like the ones Text Request offers. Text Request even allows you to schedule appointment reminders in advance.

Automated reminders decrease no-show rates by 16%, and businesses without them are estimated to miss out on $26 thousand in revenue annually from no-shows.

PC: 10to8

What does all this mean for your business?

You need a way to effectively stay in touch with customers before, after, and between their scheduled appointments in case something comes up. Otherwise you can’t step in when they need to reschedule, get more information, or require reminders.

Want more tips on how to book and keep more appointments?

Check out our Appointment Scheduling Toolkit to get the ultimate guide on how to best manage your appointments for the max amount of profit.