What’s better than acquiring one new patient?
I know this sounds like a trick question, but the answer isn’t ‘acquiring two new patients.’ It’s retaining an existing patient. Many practitioners measure their businesses success by their increasing patient base: the greater the number of patients, the more successful your business. However, this is a mistake! Turning one-off patients into loyal customers who return for your service repeatedly is just as important, if not more.
You may be thinking, my retention levels of patients could be better or maybe you’ve never considered patient retention within your business, but you’ve started to notice that several patients have not returned and are wondering if you are doing something wrong?
In this blog we will investigate the importance of patient retention and what you can do to help boost and improve your retention levels
Why is patient retention important?
Of course, finding new patients is the goal for every small business, all businesses want to grow and expand their patient base – but this should not be at the expense of existing patients. Patient retention can benefit not only your brand but also your profits.
1. Existing patients are cheaper to convert than new patients
Did you know acquiring a new patient can cost FIVE times more than retaining an existing one.
This makes sense because for existing customers you have already done the hard work, they know about the service you offer, you don’t need to spend time and money on marketing to educate them about what you offer. If they’re satisfied with your service, they tend to come back for a treatment again. With a strong loyal patient base, you can spend less time and effort on advertising and social media trying to attract new patients.
If you are not focussing on your existing patients, you are leaving opportunities for competitors to steal them, as well as needlessly spending money on acquiring new patients to replace them.
2. Ensuring longevity of your business
If you have a patient base that you can, within reason, rely on them returning every 3 months for their botox or every 6-9 months for their fillers. You will have a much more secure business than someone who has a new set of patients every month.
Returning patients can allow you to look ahead and be confident investing into your business, to help it grow even further.
3. Repeat patients spend more
Loyal patients tend to not just buy more often but also spend more with each purchase than newly established patients. A study by Bain & Company found that increasing customer retention rates by just 5%, increased profits by 25%. If that doesn’t convince you of the importance of patient retention, I don’t know what will.
Existing patients have already gone through the buyer’s journey of researching and looking for a practitioner and have then experienced an outstanding service so they’re likely to come back for more.
With 50% of existing patients more likely to purchase a new treatment than new patients, it pays to invest time in your current patient base.
4. They’ll spread the word for you
Ask yourself, do you know the percentage of your patients that have come from existing customer referrals?
Patient retention is not just crucial for maximising the lifetime value of existing patients, it can also help with gaining valuable new customers. With 92% of consumers trusting recommendations from friends and family over brand marketing, your growth potential from established patients is huge.
As well as directly referring friends, happy patients can help you win new business through organic discovery. By leaving reviews on your channels and sharing social media posts, completely new patients, can find your business and be influenced to choose you. Reviews will increase the level of trust the new patient has because they can see that someone else has already had a good experience.
So, how can I increase my patient retention?
This is the million-dollar question, isn’t it? To get started here are a few ideas you can take into your business to improve your brand loyalty, patient retention and ultimately revenue.
Communication is key
1. Follow up
What communication do you have with your patients once they have left your clinic? Do you check in with your patients following treatment? Are they sent the aftercare information they require? If not, you could be losing valuable opportunities to increase patient retention.
By offering this continuation of care it helps to build a trusted relationship that could lead to them becoming a returning patient in the future.
2. Remind them
If you find that patients don’t return to your clinic when they are due their next appointment, rebook reminders could be your saviour! Reminding your patients to rebook is an important part of a patient retention strategy. A gentle reminder will increase the likelihood that a patient will return, the worst that can happen is the patient ignores the message, but the best outcome is a flood of repeat bookings that fill up your diary.
3. Keep in touch
Email will always be a simple but cost-effective way to keep your services at the forefront of your patients’ minds. Patients want to be kept in the loop, you could consider introducing a monthly newsletter that informs patients about new updates in your business; any new treatments you are offering or even asking for feedback about your business.
If you haven’t seen a customer in a while, sending a quick message lets your patients know you’re still there and want to see them again. You could increase the chance of them rebooking by including a sweetener like 10% off if they rebook. Everyone loves a discount!