Focusing on patient retention can be the most cost effective marketing any practitioner implements. This bold statement is based on the fact that it takes more money, time, and resources to attract a new patient than it does to keep an existing patient. This is especially true for aesthetic practitioners who cater to out-of-pocket payers actively seeking elective treatments.
Granted, every location should strive to attract new patients on a continual basis. A strong marketing mix geared toward patient acquisition should always be in play. Patient retention strategies can be considered a sub-set of the existing marketing machine and cater specifically to those who’ve already experienced the practice.
The retention strategy’s overall objective is that a high percentage of existing patients remain loyal to the practice and return for additional care on a regular basis.
Data varies, but a “high percentage” can be considered 46%, a completely achievable number. Determining the retention rate can be tricky, primarily because patients may choose a new provider without letting you know. But a cursory examination of the year’s numbers will shed light on the existing retention rate.
Simply take the total number patients seen in a twelve month period, then determine how many of them you see on a regular basis. If there’s a large number of patients who might be retained or lost, task a team member with surveying them by phone or mail. Keep in mind that reaching out to inactive patients on a regular basis is a good habit to get into.
Regardless of the method used to reach the number, consider your Patient Retention Rate a Key Performance Indicator for your practice.
Loyal, returning patients become the foundation for continual growth and long term prosperity. With a solid number of steadfast patients, the practitioner is able to invest in technology, attract the best staff, launch new treatments faster than competitors, and dominate the local marketplace. Focusing on retaining patients really has no down side.
What does a patient retention strategy look like?
Creating your patient retention strategy requires that you view your practice through the eyes of your patient. That sounds easier than it is. When running a business, we’re busy taking care of patients and responding to the numerous issues that come up on a near hourly basis. We see our routine through extremely busy eyes. It’s easy to overlook the bonding opportunities that create long-term loyalty and retention.
Consider the first moment a prospective patient interacts with your practice. For many providers, this may be the first time the future patient lands on your website. It’s important to remember that the person is essentially interacting with you. Your website will make an impression.
Whether said impression is good, bad, or amazing is up to you and completely within your control.
It goes without saying that your website should load fast and be well organized so that it’s easy to navigate. Visual appeal is also important. After all, you’re an aesthetic professional dealing with external appearance. The essential elements are the Calls To Actions.
Clear CTAs give your future patients opportunities to forward the relationships. Solid CTAs are offers to book a consultation, download a success story or other material, join your newsletter, or request additional information about a treatment. Digital marketers recommend one, relevant CTA clearly posted on each web page.
But more important than all of these factors is the emotional resonance that your website conjures. While on your site, patients should get the feeling that they’ll be in caring, committed hands when choosing to visit you. Whether this is accomplished by testimonials, a personal story, or a combination of both is up to you. But one way or another, the website should make a lasting impression.
Patients may also find you via social media. Facebook and Twitter are enormously popular and many providers have found ways to reach new patients on these platforms. Instagram, due to its focus on pictures, is especially suites for aesthetic providers.
The keys to any social media marketing is in the word social. When you share an intriguing post with your followers, many of whom may be your patients, your audience may share that post with their own following. Essentially, social media give providers the opportunity to encourage word of mouth advertising in cyber space.
(It’s important to note that low website conversions or a sudden drop in conversions indicates other issues. The site may have a problem related to Search Engine Optimization, broken links, or other issues that cause it to stop appearing in the Search Engine Results Pages.)
Patient retention tactics begin immediately.
Once a prospective patient converts on your site, the real relationship begins. By converting, we mean that the patient completed a web form to request a call back or more information by email. Don’t take this interaction lightly. The response should be professional, personal, and exuding warmth and enthusiasm which further engages the patient.
On a side note, it’s important to remember that the team member who responds to prospects is one of the most important people in your organization. Likewise for the team member who answers incoming calls. This person singlehandedly sets the tone for all future interactions between your brand and your patient base. A true pro can make even the fastest phone call a positive experience. It’s worth investing in telephone training to make sure everyone on your team possesses these skills.
When the patient arrives for the initial consultation, the stakes increase dramatically. It’s one thing to connect via phone or email and quite another to be face-to-face. Now, when the relationship is in its infancy, the patient retention strategy goes into full swing. Consider the following:
- What impression does your lobby or waiting room create?
- Is it a special place for special people?
- Is your staff committed to making every interaction positive?
The goal is that each and every one of your patients is treated as if they’ll become the most important patient in your practice – forever. This is no easy feat to pull off. During busy times, it’s especially challenging. The welcoming environment goes a long way to making that impression, but it’s the personal touches that seal the relationship.
Our most recent Marketing Minute episode explores the patient’s journey in detail. For those new to this webcast, Alma’s Marketing Minute series focuses on a specific marketing activity and provides tactics that can be easily implemented to achieve the marketing goal. This episode titled Keep Them Coming Back gives providers new insights into keeping existing patients extremely happy.
In this episode, the foundation of any patient retention strategy is boiled down to its simplest form:
Give patients what they want when they want it and do so better than anybody else in your marketplace.
Again, it’s a concept that sounds easier than it is. So, as a bonus, those watching this Marketing Minute episode may download our free e-book, “The Five Wants, What Aesthetic Patients Truly Want from Providers.”
The episode fully explores the patient’s expectations and what they most desire from the treatment experience. Obviously, every patient wants a good result; and your technology should be capable of consistently providing one. But patient retention doesn’t stop there, because patients also want a WOW experience.
The WOW Experience and Patient Retention
Just as a good marketing mix requires different activities to work together, a patient retention strategy requires numerous components. They begin, as you know, long before the patient enters your waiting room. They continue long after he or she leaves. When put together to give patients the full experience they’re seeking, you should see an increase in patients returning for follow-up or additional treatments.
It’s fair to mention that patients may not be able to express why they didn’t come back. Humans are instinctual creatures. We may not always be wholly conscious of what we’re looking for other than a good result. As a professional working in the aesthetic industry, however, you know what patients really desire. This Marketing Minute episode will further illuminate it.
Focusing on patient retention provides additional advantages. Incidentally, your most loyal patients are also the patients who tell their friends and family about your services. They wholeheartedly believe in you and feel blessed to have become your patient. They want others to share the experience with them and encourage more people to visit you. They are well worth paying attention.