Discover the CEO of YOU™ – How to build a team of promoters. Building a practice is similar to building a house. There are many pieces that need to come together to create the final product and you will need different specialties to help put those pieces together. All these specialties combined will create the team that makes the dream a reality.
Similarly, in your practice, you as the CEO will need a team to help make your dream a reality. In this article we will discuss how to turn your patients into promoters of your practice and take word of mouth to another level.
What is the difference between a patient and a promoter?
A patient might talk about your practice if somebody asks about it, depending on the conversation. A promoter, though, goes out of their way to recommend your practice. They are so impressed with their experience that they want to share it with the world.
Since they are avid fans of your service, promoters are more likely to leave positive reviews, defend your practice against negative criticism, and be your voice in places you can’t be. They also give your practice more credibility and promote consumer trust, something many are lacking in our online world.
Why is it important to turn patients into promoters?
Ever notice how Starbucks customers love to carry around their cups and show off their purchase as they shop, walk, work or do just about anything? Starbucks is a prime example of a company who has taken a target audience and made their brand worth promoting. Word-of-mouth promotion is an extremely effective way to build new leads and retain customer loyalty. Starbucks has harnessed this word-of-mouth promotion by making their brand desirable post-purchase.
How often do you go to a restaurant or see a movie because a friend recommended it? That opinion probably means a lot more to you than online reviews from strangers or any advertising you see, because it’s from a real source you trust.
In today’s world of social networks, online engagement and transparency, the customer holds all the cards when it comes to how a brand is perceived. And businesses can thrive or fail based solely on the type of experience they provide to their customers. That is why it’s so important to turn your patients into promoters. They will broadcast the brand for you.
How to turn your patients into promoters
Promoters are more likely to share their positive opinions about your practice, either by writing reviews or defending your practice against criticism. This good word of mouth will make your practice look more credible and trustworthy. Here are a few excellent strategies you can use to make loyal promoters out of your patients.
1. Provide First-Class Customer Service
Customer service horror stories can spread in no time, and the White House Office of Consumer Affairs has reported that complaints about a company’s customer service have twice as much reach as positive stories, on average.
You can’t avoid complaints, but you can handle them the right way so each and every one of your patients feels like a priority. Start by genuinely talking with your patients and addressing them by name. A personalized message is much more effective at engaging the recipient and building brand loyalty.
If a patient has an issue, be respectful and empathetic as you take steps to solve it. The more comfortable you make the patient feel, the more likely they are to appreciate your customer service and provide valuable feedback that helps you improve your practice.
Always aim to go above and beyond in terms of service. Instead of learning about issues when customers complain, follow up with every customer to make sure they’re satisfied with their care and eyewear. Use patient surveys to catch patient issues before they arise.
2. Engage with Patients Online
Your practice shouldn’t be perceived as a place where patients can get glasses or contacts. Patients can buy these products anywhere. Instead of selling eyewear, you should sell your brand. And for patients to become promoters, they need to love your brand.
When you interact with patients and show them that you value their opinions, your patients will think and speak positively about your brand. This has become easier than ever thanks to how connected the world is online. With your practice’s website and social media accounts, you can interact with patients anytime, anywhere.
The way to reach patients is to engage with them directly. Use social media to publish posts that start a conversation, or questions that implore patients to share their opinions. Respond directly to your patients’ comments, tweets, and posts.
Create high-quality content that is useful and informative for your patients. They’ll appreciate that you’re publishing content they can use, and this may lead to them sharing it with their own networks. You’ll have the best results if you publish a diverse mix of content, such as articles, videos, and infographics. This ensures that you can reach different patient audiences no matter what type of content they prefer.
Set up your website so patients can interact with your practice. Reviews, a Q&A page, and live chat options are all effective when it comes to boosting your site’s interactivity.
3. Hold Events
One of the best ways to spread word of mouth about your practice is by setting up events. Not only are events fun, but they also give you a chance to connect one-on-one with your patients.
To get better results, keep your target market in mind during the planning phases. Your patients will enjoy an event even more if it has content that fits their own unique needs and interests.
Your patients can help your brand reach a larger audience more effectively than you could on your own. Facilitate this by encouraging them to talk about the event on social media before it starts, during, and after it ends. To spur more participation, you can offer small product giveaways for anyone who posts or tweets about the event.
4. Offer Freebies and Special Deals
Everyone loves getting something for free. As another tactic, you can consider sending occasional gifts to your patients. It doesn’t have to be anything major – most patients will perceive anything you send as a nice gesture.
Patient loyalty programs and referral programs are beneficial for your practice and build brand loyalty. Loyalty programs lead to more sales and reward patients for coming to your practice. Referral programs help you build a larger patient base while rewarding patients who spread the word about your practice.
Unexpected extras, even if it’s something as simple as an email with a discount offer or a personal letter from the senior doctor, give patients a positive impression of your practice. They’re also an easy way to keep your brand on your patients’ minds.
5. Encourage Evangelizing
Once a patient signs on the dotted line or clicks the “make appointment” button, you’ve initiated a relationship that you must foster. Encourage patients to spread the word about your practice and make it easy for them to do so with available share links or an incentivized referral or review program. Opinions of others impact how and where we spend our money. Happy patients will tell their friends, who will then tell their friends and so on, creating a broad web of evangelization.
In my practice, we give a referral card to every patient. In it we list the details of our referral program, the sites where they can review us and the rewards for referral. Using this active referral program, increased the percent of patient referrals from 13% to 28%.
6. Track and Measure
Today, practices can track more data to determine optimal traction and discover what content or messaging is resonating best with key patient audiences, as well as what isn’t. Tangible measurement is the only way to quantify social media, advertising and marketing efforts. Where are people reviewing your practice or service and what do they have to say?
Does your local media perceive you as a key player in your industry? Are people sharing your content across social media platforms? Once you determine what works, your practice can amp up strategies to build upon successful campaigns, ultimately extending your reach toward a broader net of raving fans.
The patients you have are equally as important as the patients you haven’t met yet. Creating opportunities to leverage happy patients further strengthens the reach and perception of your practice. Highlight the connections you’ve already established to attract new business using inbound marketing tactics.
Eyewear sales are the lifeblood of your practice, but focusing entirely on your sales means you’re only considering short-term goals without seeing the bigger picture. To build a strong brand that continues growing and keeps patients coming back, you need to develop a connection that makes patients want to promote your brand for you.
You can connect with your patients online through your practice’s web presence, and in person with events. Make sure that your practice also provides excellent service and the occasional bonus so it’s consistently making your customers happy. And finally, track your results so you can keep improving.
Do you have a success story about patient promoters? What are you doing to recruit new patient promoters? Is there something you’ve done that’s been really effective? Let us know in the comments below.
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Until next time, remember to dream big, take risks and become the CEO of YOU™!