Automated SMS and Email Appointment Reminders

If you’ve ever worked in a company that uses scheduled appointments for its customers, you probably know how bad for business a missed appointment can be: You loose revenue when a customer forgets an appointment and you have the extra work of potentially rescheduling the appointment.

In this blog post you can read about an “almost free” solution for sending automated SMS (texts) and email appointment reminders for your customers. The goal? Reducing customer no-shows!

When I recently worked on a project that involved making appointments with customers, I wanted to find a way to give the customers a friendly reminder about their upcoming meeting. I searched the internet and Android app store for suitable software or apps. I did find a few apps for Android but I wasn’t impressed with their features (too few or not the right ones). There are also various websites offering this type of service but they usually involve a subscription and a monthly fee.

Ideally, I wanted something simple with the features I needed (basically scheduling one or more reminders for the customers) and preferably free or very cheap with the ability to send to Danish (or any) phone numbers as well as emails.

Read on to learn more about my solution which uses nothing but an Android phone (could be your current phone), one app and Google Calendar.

The solution

I came up with this solution to schedule appointment reminders for the clients:

  • Schedule an event using Google Calendar. The event should be set to the time of the desired appointment reminder.
  • Use the app Tasker for Android to send out an SMS or an email (configurable using Google Calendar) to the customer at the time of the event set in Google Calendar.

This has several advantages:

  • It’s almost free: You use your normal phone, phone number and subscription. The only thing you’ll pay for is Tasker and the texts if you don’t have an unlimited subscription.
  • It’s customizable: You can send exactly the text you want. No standard text or ads in the text.
  • You can easily choose the output: I’ve chosen to use both SMS and email depending on the customers preferences.

Create the setup

The setup is split in two different parts: One for configuring Google Calendar including the syntax to use and one for setting up Tasker profiles.

  1. Google Calendar setup.
    • Create a new Google Calendar called something like “Company Appointment Reminders”.
    • Create an event. The title should include “remind1” or “remind2” (change if desired) to trigger the Tasker profiles. I like to include the order number or customer number to be able to identify the reminder. So the title could look like this: “Customer 54, remind1”.
    • Next, specify the event time. If you want to send a text or email at 9am, set the event from 9am to 9:15am. The 5 to 15 minute duration is to make sure that Tasker triggers for the event.
    • Then you need to specify the recipient. I use the location field for this. Type in either a phone number or email address in this field.
    • In the description field you type in your message. The message can also be predefined in Tasker but I like to write it every time (or copy/paste) to keep some customization options for the messages.
    • Save the event.
      Check out this screenshot to see an example:
  2. Tasker setup.
    • In Tasker I’ve created two profiles: One that’ll trigger with “remind1” in the calendar and one that’ll trigger with “remind2” in the calendar. The first one sends a text (SMS) and the second one sends an email.
    • The context for both profiles is the calendar “state”. For the email reminder, you send a HTTP POST to a script on your website (I use PHP). This script can send the email for you. Check out the pictures below to see how to create the profiles:Calendar state:
      SMS reminder task:

      Email reminder task:

That was my solution for a super simple SMS/email reminder system for customers.

Do you like it or have a better solution? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments.

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