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This Week’s Question: New Patients Through Patient Loyalty
I finally got around to doing that exercise you mentioned in one of your Webinars where I tracked the last 40 surgeries and big-ticket procedures I did to see where they came from. I was surprised to learn that 65% of them were from word-of-mouth referrals and current patients returning for more.
Then I realized how much I spend on getting new patients to see me and how little I spend on my current patients since they already know me. So my question is should I leave it alone and let that happen naturally as it has been or should I be doing more to keep in touch with my current patients?
Dear Dr. M,
I’m so glad you asked! Let me answer with another question:
What would it be worth to you in hard dollars to increase your current surgeries and big-ticket procedures from 65% to 80%? If that number excites you, then by all means, do more to attract loyal patients who return and refer because here’s the reality:
Patient Loyalty is the NEW Acquisition Formula
Patient satisfaction is good but patient loyalty is the real win. But its not enough for your patient to only be “satisfied”. They must be WOW’d to become a loyal patient who comes back repeatedly, refers their friends, and stays faithful to you even when your price is not the lowest. This is where your opportunity to beat your competitors resides.
Thanks to groupons, living social and medi-spa pop up stores, many thought patient loyalty was dead. Price was everything, and patients would switch service providers without thinking twice.
I now believe technology, skills & expertise and social networks have re-awakened patients to the fact that there is more to an aesthetic rejuvenation transaction than simply price. People (cosmetic patients) are tired of being serviced like a commodity that gives them a mediocre result.
This represents a big opportunity to the practices that recognize it. Building patient loyalty means your first priority is keeping the patients you already have, rather than focusing always on getting new ones. It also means giving your patients a great result consistently as well as a fantastic patient experience whenever they call or visit.
Here are 6 tips to build and maintain your own “real” patient loyalty:
- Communicate more personally more often. Get to know your patients and let them get to know you. It’s easy to do with today’s technology. Build a patient record of their likes, dislikes, family stories, etc. Reach out to them about what’s going on with you, your own family and your practice. Stay in touch regularly with emails, personalized letters, reminder notices and holiday greeting cards personalized just for them.
- Don’t take existing patients for granted. Many practices will do anything to win the business of a new patient, but tend to ignore existing ones. Spend as much time thinking of special ways to reward existing patients as you do rewarding that first-time new patient.
- Educate your patients. Patients have information at their fingertips but they haven’t heard it directly from YOU. Today you have the tools, like blogging, videos, and new web technologies, to explain and make your patients appreciate what you do, and how you do it better than anyone else.
- Patient loyalty begins with employee loyalty. Loyalty works from the top down. If you are loyal to your team, they will pass that loyalty to your patients. Employee loyalty starts with good communication and training on their role, as well as how they should better interact with your patients.
- Be reliable and flexible. Be easy to do business with. If you say a skin product will be back in stock by Monday, make it happen. If something goes wrong, be proactive in letting patients know and compensate them for their inconvenience. Be flexible in solving your patient’s problem. The phrases “That’s our policy” and “Unfortunately, that’s not possible” should be eliminated from your scripts.
- Don’t let customer service slip. As your practice grows, it’s easy to lose your focus on customer service, or take away the empowerment and accountability of your staff to focus on service. But remember, it takes 10 good experiences to make up for 1 bad one.
Statistics also show that building loyalty and retaining current patients is 3-10 times cheaper than acquiring new patients. Successful practices realize that 80% of their practice actually comes from a stable 20% of their current patient base.
The bottom line is you will grow faster and more profitably by nurturing this solid base of loyal patients, who then do the best job of selling YOU to new patients, at no cost to you.
If this sounds right to you, let’s talk. Click Here to schedule your own complimentary 30-Minute Patient-Attraction and Conversion Strategy Call with Catherine.
Do you believe there’s gold in your current patient list?
If so, what do you do to nurture them?
Catherine Maley, MBA is a business/marketing consultant to plastic surgeons. She speaks at medical conferences all over the world on cash practice building and trains staff to be converting rock stars. | View Author Profile | Get a Free Copy of her popular book, Your Aesthetic Practice: What Your Patients Are Saying