While effective marketing is important, it’s only as good as your patient care. Your marketing efforts will be put to waste if phone calls go unanswered (or worse, the person who answers is unhelpful or rude). Patient care is becoming a key differentiator for business and over 50% of consumers have cancelled a transaction because of bad service.
The Importance of Patient Care
The importance of patient care is growing, and for some patients, it’s even more important than the procedure or product itself. For dentists, patient care means more than providing a service like cleaning or whitening. It’s about creating an experience for your patients that is welcoming, friendly, and goes beyond expectations.
If you have a number of dentists in the same area as you, extraordinary patient care is a great way to stand out. Some even say that this above-average patient care is the new marketing. People are exposed to 4,000 and 10,000 ads every day. That means it’s harder to get patients’ attention with gimmicky ads and traditional marketing.
On top of patients’ inattention, a positive referral from a happy patient is much more effective than almost any ad. A happy patient is an ambassador for your business; they are more likely to recommend your practice to others, in addition to coming back themselves. This word of mouth marketing is much more trustworthy than paid ads, and many say referrals are the most valuable form of marketing. It’s why many businesses (including ours) reward customers for referring others.
The Real Cost of Losing a Patient
When measuring how much it costs to get a new patient, we use a metric called cost of acquisition. You can find your cost of acquisition for a given time period by diving your marketing spending by new patients. Keep in mind that it will vary widely between industry and location.
Have you found your cost of acquisition? That number is five times more than the cost of simply keeping an existing patient. This is a widely-referenced statistic in the business world because it shows the value in your existing patients and the importance of keeping them happy. Additionally, the success rate of selling to existing patients can be 70%, whereas it can be as low as 5% for new patients. Marketing aside, existing patients are the core of any business. 65% of all sales typically come from existing customers.
Marketing Strategies to Improve Patient Care
Patient Relationship Management
Patient relationship management is how your practice interacts and engages with your patients. In some cases, it’s synonymous with certain software, but overall the focus is on the relationship between your practice and your patients.
Whenever a patient visits your practice, make sure you collect their contact information, either their email address or phone number. After their appointment, follow up with your patients. Do they have any feedback or questions? Do they want to prebook their next exam? Do they want to follow you on social media or sign up for your mailing list? At the very least, show your thanks and appreciation for them as a patient.
Social media should be part of your customer service strategy and not just your marketing strategy. Many patients are turning to social media, whether they have something good or something bad to say about a business. 80% of people use social media to engage with businesses, so it’s important that your practice is there.
Whoever runs your social media should be equipped with the resources they need to answer patient questions. While you shouldn’t be giving dental advice over Facebook, basic questions about your hours and services should be answered promptly on social media. Some businesses use a “question book” type of document to handle this, but whatever method you use, make sure it provides the best patient experience.
Patient Expectation Setting
Setting expectations for your patients is another important way to align your marketing with customer service. While it can be tempting to try and entice patients with special marketing offers, your marketing should always be realistic. For dental practices, in particular, it’s the law.
For example, don’t advertise weekend appointments if your practice isn’t usually open on weekends. False promises cause disappointed patients and a bad reputation. If you’re unsure, the old saying “undersell, over-deliver” may be helpful.
Sharing Patient Stories
Sharing patient stories works similarly to word of mouth marketing. Both work well because they highlight the good work you do. Featuring patient stories in your marketing is especially effective because it’s relatable and authentic. Patient stories about how your practice went above and beyond can be particularly effective. Sharing patient stories can be done in a variety of ways, depending on your budget and the platform. It can be as simple as sharing patient reviews on your website to creating a video testimonial featuring a happy patient.
Patient Loyalty Programs
A patient loyalty program is one of the most effective ways to retain and reward existing patients. Rewarding patients who already know your business can be 25% cheaper than acquiring new patients.
While it can be a little more difficult for a dental practice to implement when compared to grocery and clothing stores, it isn’t impossible. Some dentists, for example, offer their patients complimentary teeth whitening. If you need help developing a patient care-driven marketing strategy, our team is here for you. We specialize in digital marketing for dentists and we’re ready to help you with reach more patients while keeping your existing ones. Contact us to learn more and to book a call with our team.