Marketing is not the only method a dental practice has of bringing in new clients. In fact, most new businesses including dental clinics rely solely on word of mouth. Within the marketing world, there is nothing better than clients who advocate for your business. Who would you trust? An ad campaign about teeth whitening? Or your friend who had the treatment done and can’t stop talking about it? I’d trust the friend. This is because we are most likely to trust someone we know. Plus, the human touch to a recommendation is better than any campaign material. Hence, many companies work on converting a paying customer into an advocate. Therefore, you need to utilize strategies to increase patient referrals to grow your practice.
What are referrals?
A referral in the medical field refers to recommendations made to a person for a consultation. Such referrals are invaluable for dental practices, since they are relatively inexpensive. It is also a great indicator of customer satisfaction levels, since loyal customers are more likely to recommend dental practices. Additionally, referrals can help you build your clinic’s reputation over time.
The amount of referrals you get depends on the quality of your service and your communication skills. Excellent treatment and an impeccable bedside manner consequently lead to high levels of customer satisfaction. Then these satisfied customers become brand advocates and provide referrals to your clinic. If you have a few loyal patients, then you can look into ways to increase patient referrals.
Channels you can use to increase patient referrals
1. Your current patients are your best advocates
Your customers are your best marketing tools. There is no one who can best describe your service better than someone who has undergone them. This is what you can consider word-of-mouth referrals. Plus, word-of-mouth advertising is useful in bringing local audiences into the clinic. Which satisfies one criterion of dental clinics.
Additionally, customers are more likely to refer you if you ask them to. Most of the time, customers do not realize it is something they can do. Therefore, you have to go out of your way to iterate that you accept referrals. That’s why many marketing strategies incorporate CTA (call to action) to direct audiences on what to do next.
Plus, it can be as simple as a paper with “We are accepting referrals” or “We’d love it if you referred us to your friends and family.” You could also ask your patients to refer you when you have a one-on-one session.
2. Partner with doctors in your area can help increase patient referrals
As a dental clinic, you should keep track of other clinics or practices around you, even if they are not dental ones. When a customer comes in for a problem that you can not solve, you refer them to a doctor who can. Plus, other doctors can do the same for you. For instance, a patient at an eye check-up mentions a toothache. The eye doctor refers them to a dentist they know. Voila, a new client. Partnerships can be a valuable investment. All it requires is a bit of time and effort. Additionally, you can reach out to dental clinics that provide complementary services and partner with them to provide a full range of treatments without expanding. Plus, it is very convenient as customers can get treatment from trusted doctors who are nearby.
3. Participate in local health camps as a method to increase patient referrals
Local health camps give you an opportunity to connect with residents and boost awareness of your brand. You can sign up for one or organize it yourself. Plus, you can do it with other dentists or doctors from different fields. Of course, you will have to invest a bit of capital into the event along with its marketing. Your marketing should include offline and online methods to generate leads and boost foot traffic to the event. Additionally, you can give freebies and pamphlets to entice people to visit your clinic. You can also partner with schools in your area to educate students about oral health.
4. Encourage online feedback and testimonials
Millennials and Gen-z heavily rely on reviews and testimonials before they buy a product. These materials include blogs, feedback on the websites, reviews, consumer generated product videos, etc. Around 92% of customers read online reviews before they make a purchase. Additionally, 12% of consumers read 10 reviews or more. Therefore, encourage your patients to leave feedback and give testimonials. Plus, reviews can help boost search traffic to your websites. Testimonials work because they come from a person and not a brand, therefore they are unbiased. Plus, they are not a sales pitch. Moreover, you can include them in your storytelling marketing.
Methods to increase patient referrals
1. Offer incentives as a strategy to increase patient referrals
There are no better motivators than freebies or discounts. After all, we only do things when we get something out of it. Asking your patients to refer you at no cost seems unfair. So what can you give your patients in exchange for bringing you referrals? Most companies choose to give points for each referral which go towards a hefty discount or free treatments. Other companies give cash rewards which perform the best. Who doesn’t like a bit of extra cash?
2. Provide a top-notch customer experience
This is the biggest factor when patients decide to continue with a dental clinic long term. In an industry so saturated, it is very easy for a customer to look for a new mentalist if you do not live up to their expectations. Therefore, your customer experience should be unmatched. This way you do not need to tell people that you are an amazing clinic, your patients will do it for you. Plus, your reputation is not what you say, it is what your customers have to say about you. Therefore, when you increase patient referrals, you also boost your reputation.
3. It is in the timing
Treat your asking for referrals like a marketing strategy when it comes to timings. You do not ask your audience to buy from you when they are in the awareness stages. Similarly, you do not ask your patients for referrals when they step into your clinic for the first time. You wait until they are comfortable with you and become regular patients. You first work to instill brand loyalty and then you convert them into an advocate. It is all in the timing, like publishing posts on Instagram to get the most engagement.
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