Yair Ariel • June-6-2016
How many of you have turned to your social media channels, review sites, or asked your friends about choosing a restaurant? Word of mouth marketing plays a significant role in the decisions that your patients make every single day. In many people’s minds, choosing a doctor is no different than choosing a restaurant. One seems just as good as the next on paper. The opinions of friends and review sites can make all the difference in forming a choice. And improve your patient experience is a huge influencer in patients promoting your clinic.
Let’s take a closer look at what people share and why they share it.
49% of people share what they know about products so that they can entice and encourage action. This comes from an urge to be helpful to others. (The Psychology of Sharing, NY times Customer Insight Group – http://nytmarketing.whsites.net/mediakit/pos/)
People also share with others as a way to inform them of causes and to find other people to identify with. We are looking for commonality with our friends, family, and peers. Before sharing, we consider what we know and what our friends might like, then share it if we think it will be useful to them. We trust what our friends and family say over any marketer. How can you encourage this in health care?
One of the best ways to encourage word of mouth marketing for your practice is to have a business worth talking about. People talk about excellent experiences – excellent patient experiences. If you can deliver something beyond their expectation they will spread the news.
Here are three tactics that you can use to enhance your word of mouth marketing.
1. Hone your interpersonal skills
You got into medicine because you wanted to help people. When you went into private practice, you found that there was a lot of administrative hoops to jump through. We’re not just talking about accounting and inventory. Your patients are looking to you to be communicative, compassionate, and friendly.
Let’s look at it from a different angle. When you go to your mechanic to get your car fixed, you want to be treated like more than just a brake job in bay 2. You want to have the situation explained to you in a kind, authoritative manner. This generates positive feelings in the middle of a bad situation.
Taking the time to speak with your patients can go a long way to improve your patient experience. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.
- Practice making eye contact.
- Take the time to sit down and discuss the issues going on, rather than focusing on your EHR system.
- Learn to listen. Your patients are looking to you as an authority figure, but don’t override the story they’re trying to tell you by butting in.
- Speak in plain English. There’s a huge temptation to use technical speak. If you must use a technical term, explain it in layperson’s terms.
- Train your staff to speak with a smile on the phone.
You’ll be a true standout when you take the time to show that you care about your patients as more than just the next insurance case. Making your patients feel special is just one step, though.
2. Ask for a referral
Great customer skills creates a great patient experience and will set the ball on the tee. Now you have to ask them to swing. If you want to drive more business, encourage your patients to make referrals. Asking for a referral can happen in a number of ways.
Your social media channel
Create content which is super informative and enriching that nudges your patients to talk about it with their friends. Include a call to action with it.
At the end of the appointment
Your best source of new patients is going to be from the patients that you already have. While the pleasant customer-service-driven experience is still on their mind, ask them to talk about you on social media.
Treat your employees well
Your employees are the cornerstone of your practice, from the administrative assistant to the nurse practitioner. Treat them well and encourage them to talk about how the practice to others. Giving people an inside view this way generates trust.
Use an email signature
The people within your practice are sending out email all the time. You might use an automated email marketing system. Use your email signature to ask for referrals and reviews by placing links to social medial platforms (at max, three) of your choice.
Referrals from other practices is a big source of patients for specialists. Network with other doctors and turn your charm on. Building relationships win the local medical community can net you a lot of referrals.
There are many other ways to ask for referral. Just remember to be authentic.
3. Offer a unique waiting room experience
The waiting room is the make-or-break arena of opinions about your practice to create the truly amazing patient experience. If you have a warm and inviting waiting room that is pleasant, that sets up a good initial impression. If your receptionist also makes eye contact with patients and has a good demeanor, that builds it up more.
You can go further, though. Your patients are there because they need to see you. While they’re more than willing to wait, they also want to feel like they’re doing something while they’re waiting. Offering television or magazines in your waiting room is the usual method of entertainment, but these can be boring, especially for children.
When the child is stressed about a doctor visit, the parents get stressed and so do the other people in the waiting room. This can erode that initial goodwill and improve your patient experience. To calm children down and keep them entertained, many pediatric practices (like Georgetown Pediatric Dentistry) are using technology like BEAM interactive games to create unique play spaces.
For the adults, provide free Wi-Fi so that they can look on their tablets and phones at their leisure. Make it fast enough so that the speed isn’t what they’ll be talking about. Most adults can keep themselves entertained with a good internet connection.
The trick to getting more word of mouth referrals is to provide excellent customer service and interpersonal skills to really improve your patient experience, combine that with a call to action, and drive it home with a waiting room experience that is unlike one that they have ever experienced. Your patients will appreciate you and keep you on their minds when their friends ask for a doctor referral.
BEAM interactive games is an award-winning interactive projection game system that instantly enhances the customer experience at your business with endless fun, excitement, entertainment and engagement. For more information about the BEAM system and how it can help make the difference in your waiting room, contact the BEAM Team today!