Has this ever happen to you? At a routine medical appointment yesterday, I 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.
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 healthcare practice. And, without this core group, many healthcare 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 healthcare practice from the inside. What’s more, it’s easier to communicate with patients who already know and like you. And the current and previous patient can be a rich and influential source for referrals, doing online reviews and fuelling word-of-mouth advertising.
Patient satisfaction is the key to patient retention…
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 practitioner’s work.
And, more than ever, patients can leave the practice and take their condition/’symptoms’ elsewhere. And the surprising reason why most patients, 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.
More internal audience retention tactics…
A proactive strategy that shows you care about your patients improves retention. Calling new patients after their appointment, sending reminder SMS’s or emails, or using a patient service survey are all easy ways to connect with patients. Some additional internal audience tactics include:
- New patient welcome and positive on boarding routine is a vital patient service process to deliver a warm welcome. Make a positive first impression as the foundation of a continuing, long-term relationship.
- Regularly inform all patients about the full range of clinic capabilities.
- Use ongoing permission-based email for continuing contact.
- Work to define expectations and then exceed them.
Patients expect a process of convenience and consideration. Create one for them.