The challenges facing the healthcare sector today, whether you work for an NHS Trust or a private health company, are increasing. In an ever-evolving environment, maintaining high levels of patient satisfaction is an unenviable challenge many healthcare providers face on a day-to-day basis.
According to The Guardian, the average person can see up to 3,500 marketing messages per day from brands and businesses wanting to catch their attention. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for businesses within the healthcare sector to ensure that their messages directly reach the person they were intended for, at a time that they will see and engage with it – on top of all of the other information already being sent their way.
SMS marketing offers a range of benefits to negate some of the challenges that businesses within the healthcare sector face today; providing direct communication with patients, helping your business offer a more efficient service and improving patient relations.
Most People Own a Phone
There are around 4.5 billion mobile phone users in the world. The chances are the vast majority of patients attending your practice own a smartphone – which means your opportunity to communicate with most of the people you treat is extremely high. This makes SMS marketing a highly effective communications channel for the healthcare sector, as it will help your practice ensure you’re capturing accurate information from as many people on your books as possible.
SMS marketing is brief: “90% of all text messages are read in under 3 minutes” (Mobile Marketing Watch). This means the recipient of the text message you send can quickly digest the information you are sharing with them. It also means they are more likely to acknowledge the most important information you’re sharing – making SMS business messaging a highly effective communication channel for the healthcare sector due to the nature of the information being sent.
SMS messaging can be used to follow up services that have been provided by you and to help you to improve the level of satisfaction in your service in future. SMS services allow you to design and route text surveys so that they respond directly to your patient’s answers. Business text surveys should be kept short in length and, in the case of healthcare providers, left relatively generic so that the respondent doesn’t feel they are answering personal questions to an automated service. SMS surveys can include topics such as: ‘on a scale of 1-5, how well do you feel you were listened to today?’ Or ‘on a scale of 1-5, how well was your problem addressed today?’
SMS surveys give patients a quick, easy option to have their say, making them feel valued by your practice. SMS messages can also be scheduled to trigger within 24 hours of a patient’s visit, making their responses to your survey extremely relevant and valuable. If negative information is sent in response to your SMS survey – issues can be addressed and dealt with efficiently, leading to a greater number of positive responses.
SMS messages are also easy to respond to. Most of us carry our phones with us throughout the day. According to the Huffington Post, we spend an average of 5 hours per day on our phones. Unlike TV or radio adverts and other forms of direct marketing – such as emails and posted leaflets – SMS marketing is hard to ignore since it arrives in our hand-held devices which we spend much of our days connected to. This makes business text messaging highly effective for the important messages you need to send to your patients, such as appointment reminders, ensuring your practice can continue running efficiently. It also removes the need for people to have smartphones, which is the only way patients would be able to receive emails throughout the day.
SMS marketing has been proven to be an effective tool in engaging with people. According to Marketing Tech Blog, SMS messages have a 98% open rate and a 45% response rate. This is huge, especially when compared to email marketing which has only a 6% response rate, making it a great channel to use within the healthcare sector.
Another benefit of SMS messaging for healthcare providers is how personalised the text messages that are sent can be. “78% of people surveyed consumers told Yahoo they want some degree of personalisation.” At Fastsms, our system ensures your messages are personalised for the intended recipient – a crucial step in providing high levels of customer service in an industry holding data as sensitive as healthcare.
Up to Date
SMS marketing can even help your surgery or clinic to stay on top of changes in your patients’ contact details – sending annual reminder texts asking for a simple yes or no response. Clarifying personal data such as contact details ensures the patient data you keep on record is up to date and accurate, which will help the overall service you provide remain efficient and effective.
What’s more, SMS marketing allows you to communicate with patients with real-time information. For example, if you have a number of cancellations, you can let patients know there is availability. You can also help your patients let you know if they need to cancel by sending a simple text, which will decrease the number of missed appointments and helping to keep the patients’ waiting time low. If you have a pharmacy linked to your practice – you could schedule text messaging alerts to let patients know when their medication has arrived.
SMS marketing can also be used to allow patients to book appointments. As new referrals come into your practice, the system can generate a text message to alert the patient to call to book an appointment. This puts the onus on the patient to actively book their appointment, making them less inclined to miss an appointment. It can also save both the staff and the patient time and energy through missed calls and voicemail messages as the text can be responded to at a time to best suit the patient.
There is a wide range of advantages that can be gained by using SMS marketing that the healthcare sector can benefit from. From personalised communications to convenient appointment booking and rescheduling – the range of opportunities presented by SMS messaging will help your practice to offer exceptional customer service and achieve high levels of customer satisfaction in an increasingly pressurised sector. Want to learn more about how Fastsms can help? Get in touch today.