If you’re letting patients slip through the cracks, you’re not alone.
As practice management consultants, we can say that it is truly shocking to see how many practices forget to follow up with prospective clients. Whether your think your practice is too busy, or it simply isn’t prioritized, this process often falls by the wayside. The key elements of good follow-up are having a strong process in place, clear communication, and persistence. Not only will a good follow-up system help convert new prospective clients, it will help you retain your existing client base. Retaining patients costs significantly less than attracting new ones, and good follow-up is one way to keep them engaged and happy.
How can you make sure this happens?
First and foremost, to maximize the efficacy of your follow up system, make sure you get all clients’ contact information. (It is incredibly difficult, dare we say impossible, without it.) Make sure you have their name, e-mail address, and phone number at the very least – bonus points if you get their preferred method of communication. Even if a prospective client chooses to not have a treatment, save their information, and make sure they are added to any relevant e-mail or mailing lists. Remember, on your first interaction, it may not have been the right time for them to proceed, but you never know what the future holds.
UTILIZE TECHNOLOGY TO ASSIST YOUR EFFORTS
Fortunately, there is a whole host of software on the market which can automate this process. While these systems can be invaluable for any practice (especially busy ones), they are meant to assist your efforts, and cannot be the only thing the practice relies on. Most importantly, they are only made more effective by having a solid, internal process behind them.
A good rule of thumb is to follow up with a client on a three-day, 1oneweek, and then two-week schedule. If there is no response by the third attempt, it may be time to move on from that client. However, don’t cut them off entirely. Add them to a list of “cold” leads and put them on your mailing list. Continue to send them relevant content. You never know who may call back.
If your clients aren’t responding, review the methods in which you’re reaching out to them. Don’t be afraid to shake things up. While e-mail is the preferred standard, a phone call can be more personal. Use what you know about the patient to come up with a healthy mix of messaging mediums. Text messaging can also be a very effective communication method, and many practice management software systems can automate these, as well as e-mails. Be consistent and persistent in your messaging, but don’t harass your clients in the process.
REFRESHING YOUR MESSAGE
Aside from the method by which you reach out to them, your content may also need a refresh. You can only bombard a client with the same message so many times before they stop listening. Review your messaging. Is it too formal? Too casual? Is the content something your client actually wants to read? Review your response and conversion rates to fine tune messaging. Remember, what you’re saying and how you say it are equally important.
In your follow-ups and general communications, don’t neglect the soft sell. Include a strong call to action in all of your follow-up communications. Don’t forget, the overall goal of these follow-ups it to get a response from the client. In order to get a response, make sure you’re asking for one. More importantly, make sure the client knows you want to hear back from them.
EXPLAIN THE WHY, NOT THE HOW
Another reason why a client may not return to the practice is simply because they do not like what you have to say. As medical professionals, we have a tendency to focus on what the treatment is and does as opposed to why the client would want or need it. Reconsider your messaging. Put yourself in the client’s shoes to see what would resonate the most with them.
During the consultation, convey to the client that their procedure of interest is a solution to their concerns. Think about why they want to have the procedure done. For example, when explaining laser hair removal, the procedure is more than just an effective treatment. Instead, try to focus on how much time they will save and how much their quality of life will improve from not worrying about shaving or unsightly razor bumps on the beach.
Don’t be afraid to be persistent. Many times, when a practice gets an objection, they accept defeat and stop trying. Don’t give up. If a client says no, ask probing questions to find out why. Try to get to the real reason why they do not want to move forward. It may not be the right time, the right price, or the right provider for that individual client, but make sure you know for sure.
AVOID CALLS GOING TO VOICEMAIL
As simple as this sounds, answer the phone when it rings and be sure to return missed calls. There is nothing more frustrating to a client than calling an office and getting a voicemail. It happens; our practices are busy and often times the front desk team can’t be in two places at the same time. Often, it’s a simple as the client calling outside of operating hours. If there is a voicemail, get back to them as soon as possible. Studies show that conversion rates drop by over 70% when a prospect doesn’t get a call back within 15 minutes. Returning a call reinforces that that client is important to you. If it can be avoided, don’t let the first friendly voice the client hears be a recording.
Your follow-up calls are important. A simple check-in goes a long way in how clients perceive the practice. Post-procedure follow-up is also a great way to identify any shortcomings in your overall client experience. Clients remember the little things, and a proper post-treatment call ensures they feel like they’re being taken care of.
Don’t let little problems become big problems. Be proactive. Setbacks happen, but it is important to not make your problems become the clients’ problems. Team members get sick, flat tires happen, and a whole host of other issues may affect day-to-day operations. Something like an employee not coming in has the potential to ruin the practice’s schedule for the day. It is your office’s responsibility to minimize the damage. Predict how this issue will affect the practice. Clearly explain the setback to the client and be transparent. Just remember, the time to reschedule clients is when the incident happens, not when the client arrives. You’ll find even major setbacks are easy to overcome as long as they are addressed ahead of time.
PROVIDE A SUPERIOR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
The best way to get clients to return is to be the absolute best at what you do. Providing a superior experience is the simplest and most effective way to keep them coming back. Take some time to do an in-depth analysis of your client experience. Analyze every detail, from the time a client walks in the door to when they leave. Ask yourself if what you’re doing now would make an impression on you.
Center the entire experience around the client. Be attentive and understanding of their needs. Make them like you and your practice. Avoid side conversations and getting distracted. Nothing makes a client feel less important than being ignored. If possible, try to remember one fact about every client you have. While this may be difficult depending on the size and scope of your practice, it goes a long way towards building rapport when you remember an upcoming wedding or the adoption of a new puppy. If necessary, put these facts in your practice management system to remember for next time. It gives you talking points for their next visit and makes them feel valued. Make every client feel like they are the most important one in the world. When they keep coming back, they definitely will be.
Little things go a long way when it comes to the overall client experience. These gestures don’t need to be elaborate or expensive. Instead, focus on making them thoughtful and relevant. The sweetest sound in the world is hearing your own name. Remember your clients’ names and use them often. It helps personalize the experience and makes them feel even more special. Offer them a cold drink, or utilize aromatherapy. These gestures show that you value them as a client and that you value their experience. While they may seem small, little things like this can help differentiate and elevate your experience compared to the competition.
Jay A. Shorr, BA, MBM-C, CAC I-XIV is the founder and managing partner of Shorr Solutions, a Florida-based medical practice consulting firm assisting practices with their operational, administrative, and financial health. He served as the vice president of operations and practice administrator for a leading board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon and held partnerships in two leading South Florida plastic surgery centers. Shorr has served as a professional motivational speaker for nearly a dozen industry organizations. He is a certified medical business manager (CMBM) from Florida Atlantic University, a certified aesthetic consultant (Levels I-XIV) at The Aesthetic Show and The Aesthetic Academy, and a member of The Aesthetic Show’s 2019 Scientific Advisory Board.
Mara Shorr, BS, CAC II-XIV, is a partner and vice president of marketing and business development for Shorr Solutions, bringing more than a decade of marketing and communications experience to Shorr Solutions’ clients. She is a Level II through XIV certified aesthetic consultant utilizing knowledge and skills from her previous positions in marketing for two separate leading dermatology, cosmetic, and plastic surgery practices located in South Florida. Focusing on both internal and client strategies in traditional and new media, she is a public speaker and has written for a number of industry publications.