Posted on July 16, 2014
Being in the business we’re in, we get a chance to talk to a lot of healthcare providers. The topic of conversation is usually what they are doing to optimize their practice. We talk about things like what marketing techniques they are using, whether offline or online, and how they are utilizing their website to better their business. The topic I’d like to discuss today is client retention, and the surprising fact that only a small percentage of practitioners are putting effort into this.
To be fair, the people we talk to are busy people. They want to maximize their time in appointments since that’s the way they make money. But client retention is super important for the long run. You want to build your practice to the point where a return visit is a no-brainer for your client because they have made it part of their regular routine.
Obviously, the number one factor in client retention is providing a great service. This means both a great customer service with a friendly greeting and comfortable environment, and a great treatment that leaves them feeling much better than when then walked in your door. Focus your energy on this first, and once you have it down, here are a couple tips to encourage repeat appointments.
Tip 1: Ask to book their next appointment as they are leaving the office
Every time you book an appointment, schedule an extra 5 minutes to walk your client out of the office. On your way, stop by your appointment book and ask them to book their next appointment right now. If you’ve provided an excellent service as discussed above, this is the best time to ask – when they are feeling great about you and about their treatment.
For some practitioners, like massage therapists, the next appointment may only be a week or two in advance, but for other practitioners, this can be up to a year in advance. If you are booking appointments this far in advance it’s important that you have an appointment reminder system in place, such as email appointment reminders.
Tip 2: Send out patient recalls
This is a great retention strategy that seems to be underutilized. Recalls is the simple process of sending patients postcards in the mail to remind them that they are due to book their next appointment. While it’s a bit of an investment (cost of postcards and cost of postage), you only need to generate one or two appointments for every hundred cards that you send to get a positive return.
A little bit of self-promotion here: rather than make the investment in postcards and postage, ClinicSense will automatically send recalls via email. What’s great about this is that emails are free to send and you can include a link to get that client to book online if you are using online appointment scheduling.
Tip 3: Survey your customers
Lastly, it is important to ask for feedback. The only way to really know what you are doing well and what could use improvement is to ask your clients directly. Satisfaction surveys are great at capturing this data, but you will also want to talk directly with your clients (and especially with those that left).
While lost clients are inevitable, with a clinic-wide focus on a great customer experience and integrating smart business practices, your clinic can be truly successful.