A lot of time and energy goes into gaining new patients for your practice. And, unfortunately, that’s only half the battle. The really challenging part is keeping them around.
Keeping your existing patients happy and loyal to you not only means you’re doing something right, it also means you have a patient who is more likely to recommend you to others. At no cost to you, they become a marketing agent for your practice.
So, how do you hang on to your patients and inspire a level of trust and confidence? Here are five ways to keep them coming back:
1. Build your brand
Your brand isn’t just about your logo. It’s about what your practice is known for and what you do better than others. It’s about setting and promoting a standard that patients expect. And, it’s about consistently meeting or exceeding those expectations. When patients see that you follow through on your brand promise, they know they can trust you and will be more likely to return.
2. Be mindful of appointment wait times
As a healthcare provider, you understand that days are unpredictable and things don’t always go as planned. And patients, well, they understand that waiting to see a physician is just a part of life. However, long wait times are the number one complaint of patients regardless of whether they are visiting the emergency room, a physician office, or the dentist.
Luckily, there are protocols you can put in place to help alleviate unnecessary wait times. For example, try to stop the problem before it occurs by making sure not to overbook yourself and allocating the appropriate amount of time for visits. And, if you know there is a delay, call and notify patients ahead of time. This courtesy will make patients feel considered and that their time is respected.
3. Maintain consistent communication
When you care about somebody, you invest time into that relationship. You call or text, making sure to keep in contact. Well, the same should go for your patients. Let them know you care by:
- Sending appointment reminders – they’ll definitely appreciate this if they scheduled their appointment weeks or months in advance. Plus, it will result in fewer no-shows for you.
- Following up – Send them a quick message saying thank you for coming in and let them know that you appreciate them. Or, when appropriate, call to check in on how they’re recovering.
- Sending a monthly newsletter – Keep them up-to-date on industry news or with any specials, events or announcements pertaining to your practice.
- Survey them – Send them an online survey allowing them to give feedback. This shows them that you care about their experience and looking for ways to improve.
4. Make it a team effort
The patient’s experience begins the first time they pick up the phone to make an appointment. If one person on your team is having a bad day and it shows when they interact with patients, it could heavily affect that patient’s experience. It’s crucial that a friendly, caring and empathetic “bedside” manner is consistent throughout your entire practice. So, be sure to set clear expectations for customer service.
5. Reward loyalty
And finally, one tried and true way to keep patients loyal is to make sure they know that their loyalty doesn’t go unnoticed. Keep your loyal customers engaged with you and reward their loyalty by giving discounts, coupons and going above and beyond for them. They will surely bring in new ones.
Loyalty isn’t something that comes automatically and it should never be taken for granted. Patients are keenly aware of the efforts you put in to retain their business. So, work to exceed their expectations, build their trust and provide them with peace of mind and you’ll surely inspire loyalty – and future referrals.