At a routine medical appointment yesterday, a friend of mine was greeted with a chilling: “Please sign in, and take a seat.” No warm hello. No friendly smile. And no way to treat a regular member of the internal audience of this practice. Here's why:
The math is simple and straightforward. It costs at least five times more to attract a new patient than it does to retain an existing one. So keeping loyal, happy patients—your internal audience—is simply a top priority.
Your existing patient base is the backbone of your medical practice. And, without this core group, many provider practices would struggle constantly, or they would fade from existence. The long-standing and continuing relationships with loyal patients is a valuable business asset.
Internal audience marketing is a process of building your business from the inside. What’s more, it’s easier to communicate with people who already know and like you. And the current and previous patient can be a rich and influential source for referrals, inspiring testimonials and fueling word-of-mouth advertising.
A guiding principle needs to be: regardless of how long you’ve been in practice, each patient needs to feel special and appreciated—as if they are the only patient. Patients are not an interruption. They are the purpose of a provider’s work.
And, more than ever, patients have the ability to leave the practice and take their business elsewhere. And the surprising reason why most customers—a stunning 68 percent—quietly disappear is due to a feeling of indifference.
Providing consistently excellent care is what will set you apart from your competitors. Listening to the needs and concerns of your patients every time will help ensure higher levels of retention.
Every encounter is important. Everyone who you or your front office staff interacts with is your internal audience. And they can easily impact your reputation.
Give respect. When patients feel like they are an inconvenience or intrusion they are less likely to return.
Focus on needs and concerns. Engaging with your patients and listening with a compassionate ear demonstrates concern.
Stay on schedule. Patients understand the occasional office delay. But, when they are left waiting regularly, or too long, they feel an indifference to their medical needs.
A proactive strategy that shows you care about your patients improves retention. Calling to confirm appointments, sending reminder cards or emails, or using a customer service survey are all easy ways to connect with patients and their health issues. Some additional internal audience tactics include:
In the course of the next year, many practices will realize 80 percent of their revenue from about 20 percent of their existing patient base. What’s more, increasing customer retention by as little as 5 percent can increase profitability by 75 percent. For additional ideas about the payoff and payback from an internal audience-marketing program, please reach out and contact us today.
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