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Appointments: Send Automatic Reminders

Tagged with appointments, api, xml, xmlapi
by Paddy Green
in Documentation

23-Feb-2015 00:00

Missed appointments cost businesses thousands of pounds in wasted hours every year, so it's a great idea to set up appointment reminders via SMS to give your customers a nudge. Our appointment reminder system takes the hassle out of sending appointment reminders - simply enter the details of the appointment and our system will do the rest. You can include information in the appointment that can be carried over into the message easily. The appointment reminder system is available from the main TextGoto menu, or just here. If you have any trouble, or need help, then please contact support at any time.

There are three ways to add appointments to the system - either directly on the form (handy for quick one-off reminders), by uploading an excel file of appointment data, or using our XML API.

Using the Form

This is the easiest way to add appointments. Just enter the information for the appointment, and click save. The appointment will be saved to your account, and appointment reminders sent out at the appropriate times.

These are the fields available:

Phone Number (Required)

This is the mobile phone number that the reminder messages should be sent to.

Appointment (Required)

This is the date and time of the appointment. It must be entered in the format yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm - don't forget to use the 24 hour clock!

Name (Required)

This is the name of the customer - it can be included in the message you sent by using tags - more on that later.

Reminder (Required)

This is the reminder period, and can be entered in a number of ways. The most common method is to just put a number, and this number is the number of hours before the appointment time that the reminder will be sent, so if someone has an appointment at 4pm, and you set a reminder of 6, then a message will be sent at approximately 10am. See the section on reminder periods for more information on advanced reminder periods.

Message (Required)

This is the message that will be sent, and by putting tags in the message, the information appropriate to that message can be substituted into the message body. For example, if you have an appointment for Dave, with an appointment of 2015-07-10 11:45, then a message of "Hi [NAME], this is a reminder of your appointment at [TIME] on [DATE]" will send the message of "Hi Dave, this is a reminder of your appointment at 11:45 on 10/07". There are several options for the information you can include in your messages - see the Advanced Messages section below for more information.

Location/Agent/Product (Optional)

These three fields allow you to add additional information that can also be included in the message - the Location of the appointment, the Agent that the customer will be meeting, and the Product or service that the appointment is for.

Uploading Messages In An Excel File

You can add all of the above information in an Excel file, which you can upload by simply dragging and dropping into the upload box on the Appointments page. You must follow our template file in order to upload appointments successfully, which you can download below:

Download a sample Excel Appointments file

The header line on the file must be exactly as demonstrated in the example file, and the data should be formatted as described in the section above.

Once the data is uploaded, it will be processed by the system, and reminders will be sent out automatically as requested for each message.

Advanced Reminder Periods

The most basic approach to reminder periods is to simply enter a number, and a reminder will be sent that many hours before the appointment. However, there are more advanced ways to set reminders, and you can also set multiple reminders for each appointment.

Reminder Codes

  • Basic - a reminder that is just a number will send a reminder x hours before an appointment.
  • Today - a reminder code of a number followed by T (e.g. 10T) will send a reminder at that hour on the day of the appointment, so 10T would send a reminder at 10am.
  • Day Before - a reminder code of a number followed by Y (e.g. 9Y) will send a reminder at that hour on the day before the appointment, so 9Y would send a reminder at 9am the day before
  • Week - a reminder code of a number followed by W (e.g. 18W) will send a reminder at that hour a week before the appointment, so 18W would send a reminder at 6pm a week before

You can combine multiple reminders by putting a comma between each reminder you want to send, so a reminder of 2,9T,17Y would send reminders two hours before the appointment, at 9am on the day, and at 5pm the day before.

Advanced Message Tags

When building your message, you can use tags in the message body that will be replaced by the appropriate data for the appointment being sent. For example:

Hi [NAME], this is a reminder that you have an appointment at [LOCATION] with [AGENT] at [TIME] on [DATE]

Which will send a message like:

Hi Dave, this is a reminder that you have an appointment at Preston Tyre Centre with Bob at 15:30 on 11/07

Here are the tag codes you can use in your message:

  • NAME: The customer name
  • TIME: The time of the appointment
  • DATE: The date of the appointment in the format dd/mm
  • LOCATION: The location of the appointment, if entered
  • AGENT: Who the appointment is with, if entered
  • PRODUCT: The product or service the appointment is for, if entered
  • RELATIVE: The date relative to today - puts either "today", "tomorrow" or "on [DATE]"

Adding Appointments Using The XML API

Advanced users might wish to integrate our reminder system with their own systems, using our XML API. For more information on the API, please refer to this starter documentation. The structure of the API call for adding appointments is below:

 <header uid='[USERID]' pwd='[PASSWORD]' action='ADD_APPOINTMENT'/>
   <phone>Customer Mobile</phone>
   <name>Customer Name</name>
   <appointment>Appointment Date/Time in format yyyy-MM-dd hh:MM - don't forget to use 24 hour clock!</appointment>
   <reminder>Reminder Period(s)</reminder>
   <message>The message to send, including appropriate tags for appointment information</message>
   <location>Location of appointment, if required</location>
   <agent>Agent, if required</agent>
   <product>Product description, if required</product>