Marketing, of any kind, is not always about bringing in new clients. It is true, new clients bring in new profits; but what's keeping them from going to a new dental practice when it fancies them? Brand loyalty plays a big part in the healthcare industry. Moreover, brand loyalty comes from retained customers. Therefore, your aim should be to increase patient retention rates. But why is brand loyalty or customer retention crucial for a dental practice's growth?
Benefits of working on patient retention
Steady revenue due to a stable audience base
Why are 65%, 5%, and 8% important for dental businesses? These are the three magic numbers that will convince you to work on your retention rates. Existing customers make up about 65% of a clinic's business. If you increase patient retention rates by 5% then you can boost revenue by 25% to 95%. Additionally, about 81% of patients make their purchasing decisions based on trust. Therefore, when you increase patient retention rates, you are stabilizing your audience base, which leads to stabilized revenue.
A cost-effective strategy
Retaining a customer is 7x cheaper than gaining a new one. What does this mean for dental clinics? When it comes to your marketing budget, you have to choose between targeting a new audience base or retargeting an old one. Moreover, loyal customers spend as much as 67% more. You are more likely to sell to an existing customer than to a new client. Therefore, missing out on retention becomes an opportunity cost when you choose to gain new customers. Such lost opportunities can be disastrous as a dental practice cannot sustain itself without a steady revenue. Hence, if you increase patient retention rates, you essentially lower your marketing costs.
How can you increase patient retention in your clinic?
1. Make every session count
“You only have one chance to make a first impression” is a popular saying. Unfortunately, the first impressions do not last. Moreover, you have to keep working to sustain the excellent image your clients have of you. This is because about 32% of customers will walk away after one bad experience. Even after previously providing excellent service. Therefore, you should make every encounter with your client count.
Similarly, your reputation will not be based on one session with a client. Your reputation will develop over time, through thousands of appointments with hundreds of patients. Therefore, do your best in every appointment with a clear and open mind to increase patient retention.
2. Address concerns and work towards it
Within the dental industry, patient concerns can range from a low understanding of the process to discomfort. It is crucial that your patients can approach you with their concerns, no matter what they are. Sometimes even talking about the issues can immensely help your patients. People love feeling heard because it validates their feelings. Thus, you should have an impeccable bedside manner.
Additionally, dissolving their corners will go towards boosting the customer experience your clinic provides. Happy customers lead to customers who stay. Hence, addressing concerns in any way can help increase patient retention.
However, most human communication is nonverbal. Additionally, some people will have a hard time voicing problems due to anxiety, speech problems, impairment, etc. Therefore, you should be attentive and vigilant, no matter how trivial the issue may seem.
3. Always keep to your schedule
Time is money, and people hate having to waste their time. Patients will put up with a few minutes of delay once in a while, but they will not tolerate regular scheduling problems. All of your clients have work, house chores, and other responsibilities to attend to. Hence, they do not have the time for delays in their fast-paced life. Therefore, allow for some degree of delay when you schedule appointments. This can be 10 minutes to half an hour, depending on what procedure you are performing. Hence, to optimize your scheduling, you need to know exactly how long treatment takes and how much of a margin of delay you can allow.
4. Check-in when patients do not turn up
Your clinic is not the only one that can create scheduling problems; your patient can do it, too. This can include late arrivals, last-minute cancellations, not turning up for appointments, etc. Since these problems affect you more than it affects them, you will be the only one who will have to resolve these problems. Therefore, your patient's problems are your problems.
There are a few measures dental practices can employ to reduce scheduling hiccups. However, it does not eliminate them. All you can do is reduce the number of problems. For instance, most clinics have a cancellation policy. A patient can cancel an appointment 24 hours before their appointment with no repercussions. Or they can reschedule 24 hours before their session. Another example of a scheduling solution is appointment confirmations. If a patient does not confirm an appointment before the deadline, the appointment stands canceled by the clinic.
5. Work on your customer experience
It's the little things that count towards improved customer experiences. Consequently, improved customer experience can increase patient retention rates. To achieve an excellent customer experience, study your clients, their behaviors, and their expectations. You can improve customer experience with something as easy as providing a glass of water when your patients walk in. Or as complex as explaining the producers in detail to them.
You should remember that a part of the customer experience is predicting what your patient needs. For instance, you can provide distractions such as TV for those who feel anxious. You can also have several payment plans and methods for ease of transaction. Plus, listening to all their concerns and addressing them promptly is an easy method to drive up the customer experience.
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