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Automated voice message reminder system cuts down on no shows

In recent years the number of no shows for appointments at the doctor or dentist and others who provide professional services has been steadily increasing. Blame it on the “shrinking day” with trends towards busy households where both parents work while trying to juggle the demands of raising a family.

Any professional with sudden holes in the schedule can lose money. So it has been routine among doctors and dentists to call patients to remind them of their appointment. But that can take a lot of time, and most people are away at work or school during the day when the receptionist is likely to call. So catching the person in might be difficult.

A Mississippi company has a solution that frees up the staff while decreasing the number of no shows. AppointmentCall offered by Tavoca Inc. of Jackson is an automated voice message system launched this past June that reminds people about appointments or upcoming events.

“Most of the time for an appointment-based business, our product pays for itself within the first three days of the month,” said John Tadlock, president of Tavoca Inc. “If we get one person to show up for an appointment who otherwise wouldn’t have, the revenue would be what it typically costs for a month for our service. Our clients show an immediate decrease in no shows when they start using AppointmentCall.

“It is easy for us to prove to any business that our product pays for itself quickly. And that is just from a monetary standpoint. There are also public relations and customer relations benefits that are difficult to quantify.”

Pat Nelson, office manager for the Oxford OB/Gyn Clinic, says their office has seen an improvement in show-up rates since starting to use AppointmentCall.

“It has definitely been a great help,” Nelson said. “It saves a lot of time for the receptionist. She doesn’t have to spend as much time calling patients every day to remind them of appointments. We are very pleased with it. It just takes a couple of minutes to process the information in the afternoon. Basically we are downloading the information out of our appointment scheduling software, and it is automatically uploaded.”

Tavoca can serve customers anywhere in the U.S., and is currently negotiating to provide the services in the United Kingdom. Clients simply need access to the Internet in order to upload calendar information.

“That’s the only requirement,” Tadlock said. “Otherwise we don’t care where they are or where we are calling.”

The applications go far beyond just calling for doctor and dentist appointments. For example, Holmes Community College recently used Tavoca’s Registration Reminder service. This fall every student at Holmes received a phone call letting them know when to show up for registration and checking on their enrollment intentions.

“These reminder phone calls are a quick and effective way to make sure students know when to be on campus,” said Dr. Starkey A. Morgan, Sr., president of Holmes Community College. “We work hard to use up-to-date technology to enhance our students’ educational experience here at Holmes. Our distance learning online courses, our enhanced computer learning labs, and services like the Registration Reminders indicate our commitment to expose our students to the technologies that will drive the future and reward their efforts here at Holmes with better jobs and better life skills.”

Jan Reid Bunch, assistant to the president, said the system was the easiest and most efficient student communications effort they have ever made. Getting information earlier on whether students planned to attend was particularly helpful.

The cost per call for Tavoca’s services average less than the price of a postcard stamp, ranging from 20

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