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Let's say a customer booked an appointment for a class. Then on the day of the class, an SMS will be sent to the customer to remind him of the appointment. At this point, which is the better approach to cater for those in the waitlist:

  1. Ask the customer to confirm attendance (through a reply / click of a link, etc.) within X number of hours else the slot will be freed up for those on the waiting list.

  2. The customer don't need to do anything if he's attending. There's going to be a link for cancellation instead so the customer only needs to take action if he's cancelling.

There are pros and cons to both.

For no. 1, if the person is attending, then there's more motivation for him to "confirm". The call to action is less likely to be ignored. But then, there's this extra step that the customer must do.

For no. 2, if the person is attending then there's no more extra step. The hurdle is if the person is not attending, he may not bother about cancelling (and freeing up the slot) since he's not going anyway. The call to action is more likely to be ignored.

What is the better approach among the two?

  • I'd definitely go with Number 2. I already booked and paid the course. Why do you want me to do more work? Clicking on an link which will open my browser (and perhaps will take a while to load) is work. – BlueWizard Jan 21 '17 at 13:18
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I would go with reminder that includes a cancel link.

Don't force people to take actions, but coax them using affirmative language.

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If I scheduled a place in a class and then got there only to discover my place was lost because I didn't confirm within a set amount of time (I was in a meeting or on a plane or forgot my phone was on mute), I would not be pleased.

So this is, it seems to me, a business consideration.

  • What is the percentage of users who are likely to not confirm but still want to attend?
  • How many places can typically be resold to others if a scheduled user does not confirm?
  • Does the amount made by the reselling of an unconfirmed place exceed the amount lost by an angry customer (refund, loss of future income, staff time spent in dealing with the situation, etc.)?

If the business feels it is more desirable to maybe get extra money from a new customer who signs up at the last minute over satisfying an existing customer, then require confirmation. If the business would rather keep the existing customer, do not require confirmation.

  • I'm pretty sure the person in the plane had to confirm her flight at some point, same goes for hotels. You're proposing a false premise, because users understand or can be told they will lose the reservation if they don't confirm, businesses aren't charities and the whole idea behind that is that they actually SELL, not reserve spaces. The only way I could see this answer as valid is if the user pre-paid the reservation and aware that they will lose it if they don't attend the class – Devin Jan 19 '17 at 18:32
  • I'm proposing looking at the data. If the percentage of no-shows is high and there is high late demand for a slot, then that would indicate there is a business interest in requiring confirmation. AFAIK flights don't require user confirmation (although you do check in). My point is not just to assume that requiring a confirmation will solve a business issue; research it. – Eric Stoltz Jan 19 '17 at 19:07
  • Yes, check-in is one of the ways of confirmation for flights, same goes for open date tickets, some kind of economy offers and so on. I understand what you say, and I'll always recommend (s I did in my answer) to test and analyze the data. My point is that there are very few cases (if any) where a business will save a spot just because, resigning the chance to actually make a sale. Unless, of course, the user actually paid in advance and loses its deposit – Devin Jan 19 '17 at 19:19
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  • You cancel if there is no Second confirmation: This one is good for you as you get to know more certainly if the user is going. If the second confirmation is not made (some users might not get this for whatever reason) you might get some positive users out.

  • The user cancels explicitly: This is worst for you as some users might simply not bother to cancel. It is good for users who are going but would miss the message.

My suggestion is to stick with the second confirmation without leaving the user out if he doesn't confirm. These are the possibilities:

  • User doesn't second confirm: Either he missed it or he doesn't bother in telling he is not going. You could be prepared to tell next user in queue or maybe tell him there might be a free place (be careful with this last one).

  • User second confirms: You get the certainty that the user is going.

Another suggestion is to make a call:

If you call the customer and tell him, he can't ignore answering and you will get the most accurate answer you can get.

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First of all, to answer the question in the title: YES, INDEED.

Other than that, this is an archetypic case of "let's test it out", but in my opinion, I'd just use your first option:

Ask the customer to confirm attendance (through a reply / click of a link, etc.) within X number of hours else the slot will be freed up for those on the waiting list.

but I'd modify your flow a tiny bit, sending the remainder SMS with AT LEAST 24 hours anticipation.

If the user confirms, then great. If 8 to 12 hours before the event this is still unconfirmed, then go to waiting list. This way, users have enough time to confirm and plan the day in anticipation. Otherwise, they can cancel, leaving enough time to another user to plan her day and attend the class.

Also, the confirm message acts as a reminder of the class (which user may had forgot), so you're minimizing the chances of users not attending classes in 2 ways: reminder and confirmation

Keep in mind people may do plans and forget about your class, so thinking on the user and show you care about that is very appreciated

and if in doubt.... test, test, test!

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