4 Things That Prevent New Patient Referrals
We can all agree that patient referrals are the greatest compliment a patient can give a practice. It’s their vote of confidence in you, your staff, and the overall patient experience you provide. You could even call it a measurement of patient satisfaction.
So, what are your referral numbers like? Do they accurately reflect your perceived high level of patient satisfaction?
If not, you might be making an easy-to-avoid blunder that’s counteracting your hard work and keeping your patients from referring.
Let’s talk about the top four blunders we see in offices and how to avoid them.
1. You Don’t Communicate
To you, it’s common sense – of course you want patient referrals. But many patients don’t realize how valuable their referrals are to you. So guess what? You need to tell them!
Have your front desk team take this on. As the patient checks out, ask how their experience was. If they say it was great, remind the patient that you appreciate them and would love to have more patients like them. Give the patient a “send a friend” card to share and explain the benefits of referring a friend to schedule with your office. For instance, you could offer $50 off their friend’s first visit on the card. Make signs visible in the waiting area, restrooms, and operatories that detail the benefits of referring patients.
2. You Don’t Reward Referrals
Make referring patients a win-win! For instance, you could give your patients a discount on services or enter them in a raffle for a great prize (like an iPad or local trip) for each patient referral who schedules an appointment.
Remind them of your program through various communications. Create a program, a budget specific for referrals, and referral marketing and assign one staff member to be responsible for it. Be sure to track your numbers and incentivize your team.
3. You Don’t Follow Up with Your Patients
This is a huge no-no that can cause your practice to lose referrals (and existing patients). You must stay in contact with your patients beyond their appointment.
Keep your practice – and your interest in referrals – at the top of your patient’s minds so that if a friend ever asks for the name of a good dentist – it’s a no-brainer for your practice to be recommended!
There are multiple ways to do this. Here are just a few of them:
• Send a monthly patient newsletter
• Send follow-up emails
• Send a handwritten card or postcard
• Give patients a business card with your information and an offer on it
4. You Don’t Focus on Making the Overall Experience Worthy of a Referral
Referrals are ultimately generated by an outstanding patient experience. Check your numbers again. Do they reflect this?
The overall patient experience is a huge part of what sets your practice apart from the guy down the street. We recommend all sorts of things to our clients to ensure they give their patients the ideal experience, but the area that we spend the most time in and offer the most training in is the over-delivery of service. Efficient scheduling, a warm, welcoming environment (look around your lobby!), patient-appreciation gifts, and even events are all part of reminding patients that they are important to you.
The bottom line is that from the time a patient walks into your office until the second they walk out they should feel like the world revolves around them. Think about it: When you have an incredible experience at a hotel or restaurant or with a mechanic or retailer, aren’t you likely to go and tell your friends about them? You want to reward them for that service.
What are you waiting for? Start doing the things that will improve your patient experience and simultaneously increase your referrals. An area that is a CRUCIAL PART of fostering a referral-generating experience is your practice culture. We didn’t list it as an area you could be bungling above, but there’s no doubt 2020 disrupted and damaged your practice’s culture. Let Scheduling Institute show you how to restore and build the culture in your practice into your ultimate competitive advantage, and something that makes your practice an oasis for patients where they can’t resist bringing all their friends and family. Join us for Culture Fest 2.0 in October!