SMS reminder nudges

Posted on Mar 17, 2017

some businesses use SMS messages to remind or nudge customers so that they can reduce no-shows for appointments. it reduces costs as they can better plan their business. 

I recently received two versions which on face value were of equal value to the business and customer, however when you look past the reminder, one stood out by enabling the customer to quickly feedback 

Parcel collection reminder 

Hospital appointment reminder  

Both appointments were inconvenient but the hospital reminder gave me a phone number to ring to rearrange rather than offering or maintaining the same contact channel to respond. 

Why the parcel collection reminder was more effective 

the parcel collection reminder offered me the ability to respond via SMS message and confirm whether or not this time was convenient. the hospital reminder asked me to call a number. 

SMS messages aren’t always received at a time that it is convenient to talk. I was not able to action my response immediately after receiving it so there was an inevitable delay in me trying to ring them. When it was convenient for me to ring them their offices were already closed. So I had remind myself to try again at another time – an unnecessary cognitive load. 

When i tried again their number was busy. so i had to again remind myself to try again. This happened one more time then it comepletely slipped my mind. I missed the appointment and didn’t get a chance to let them know. 

This no doubt cost them money, as they weren’t able to schedule another person in my slot. this also cost me, as no doubt they will pass the record that I failed to attend to my doctor, which could negatively impact any future referrals. 

On the other hand, the delivery company reminder allowed me to easily respond with one of three coded options. 1 for rescheduling for the following day, 2 for rescheduling to two days time and 3 for cancelling. 

the options are clear and easy to use and can easily be understood by an automated process without human involvement. 

they also acknowledged my response. This enables me to be confident that they ‘heard me’. 


If I were to make recommendations for improving the hospital appointment reminder system then I would suggest they use a tactic similar to the delivery firm. 

if they need to give customers an option to phone, then by all means do, but first they should enable customers to respond via SMS