Let’s face facts…although the service you perform is extremely valuable and necessary, it’s also your business, and a business without customers can’t survive. And while we’re at it…let’s face another indelible fact, your patient is a customer.
What makes your business unique is the level of intimacy that you as a hearing health professional create with your customer. Your patient doesn’t just exchange money for services and expertise. They also trust you to make critical decisions and provide care that will ultimately improve their auditory and everyday health.
The practice of customer retention pertains to a business’ ability to retain its customers over a particular period of time. Any successful hearing health practice owner would agree that building a successful practice doesn’t just begin with acquiring new patients, but with keeping the existing ones. Being solely focused on attracting new business, can often lead to the neglect of the patients you already have. Patient retention is one of the key components to sustaining a practice that lasts.
There may be an extended period between the first time a patient visits your office and that next appointment. Below are some tips you can incorporate as you begin to create a hearing health marketing strategy to retain your existing patients.
Don’t Allow an Office Visit to Be A Missed Opportunity
Patient retention begins the first time a new patient crosses the threshold of your office. The idea of hearing loss, regardless of the causes, is a scary concept. A patient looks to you to have answers to their questions and relies on your expertise to recommend products and a treatment plan. Keeping patients informed with compassion makes them feel valued and strengthens the relationship between you and the patient.
The opportunity to provide your patients with exceptional customer service doesn’t just fall to you. Your receptionist is the first face your patient sees when entering your office and oftentimes is the voice your patient hears on the phone. A negative interaction with a receptionist can cause a patient to seek care from other hearing care practitioners.
Maximize your patient’s visit by asking questions that are tailored to their case, performing a thorough examination, and creating a care plan that is specific to the needs of each patient.
Convenience Is Care
The digital age has made technology a part of our everyday existence. Offering digital services on your website makes life for your patient more convenient and convenience can result in patient retention. One way you can achieve this is by offering a patient portal where a patient can access their patient history, online forms, devices they’ve been prescribed, etc. A patient portal makes a patient feel as if they have more control in their health. When choosing an online portal you can select a ready-built patient portal application, or choose to create a portal that’s more tailored to the needs of your business. Platforms such as Caspio.com provide no-coding solutions to help you build your own patient portal and offer a free trial to use their service.
Use Email Marketing to Leverage Patient Lists
When it comes to retaining your patients, if a patient isn’t pleased with their experience or doesn’t feel heard by their healthcare practitioner, there’s a high likelihood the patient may seek out another hearing care provider. Therefore, feedback is critical when looking to get insight about how to improve your practice. It further strengthens the relationship between you and your patient.
Sending an email asking for feedback is one method you can employ to connect with your patients in between visits. One way to request feedback from your patient is by sending an onboarding email. An onboarding email is used to get new customers familiarized with your business. By sending an onboarding email after an initial visit, you can reiterate topics that were discussed, acquaint patients with your practice, thank them for choosing your practice and ask for ways to improve patient visits.
A milestone email can be a short message that can go a long way in building a deeper connection and retaining a patient. You can send a milestone email on the anniversary of a patient’s first visit to thank them for being a valued member of your practice. A patient’s birthday is another occasion to send a milestone email. This personalized gesture expresses to your patient that their business is appreciated. Though not a milestone, sending a helpful reminder for upcoming appointments is another technique to provide out-of-office customer service to your patients.
Reengage your patients by sending emails that will help them to stay informed about the latest updates in hearing technology and health. Another benefit to sending informative emails is that it allows you the ability to highlight your expertise and shows your patient that you are knowledgeable about the most recent information in audiology. Creating an easy to read infographic can break down complex information making it palatable for your patient to read and understand.
A blog or newsletter is another avenue to keep your patients informed and the relationship with them ongoing. You can produce a blog or newsletter using content management software, such as Constant Contact, iContact, HubSpot, or Salesforce. Pricing plans for the use of this software can vary upon the needs of your practice, but should you need to be more frugal with your marketing budget, free email marketing services such as MailChimp, Sendinblue, Benchmark, OmniSend, and Sender provide no-cost options that will enable you to send emails that can keep you connected with your patients. Should you choose to use a free CMS platform there may be limits on the number of subscribers, as well as the number of emails that can be sent daily and monthly, but the benefits far outweigh the limitations by providing a noninvasive approach to keep your practice on their minds.
In business, the customer is always right. The same goes for healthcare. The relationship a hearing care practitioner sustains with their patient can be the difference between a robust patient list or the constant search for new patients. New patients are a necessity to grow your practice, but through maintaining a high retention rate you can ensure your practice is safeguarded for success.