How can you retain your patients?

Emma Carter • Jun 16, 2022

How can you retain your patients?

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 

There are a number of ways you can improve your communication with your patients.
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!

Don’t Avoid Difficult Situations

Have you ever had a patient come from another practitioner because they hadn’t dealt with a concern they had following treatment? This is a key moment that determines a patients decision to come back or find someone else.
When a patient messages you about a concern they have following treatment, this should be responded to promptly. At this stage they are worried and feeling vulnerable and the worst thing you can do is read the message thinking ‘I’ll respond to this later’ and then forget about it. Make sure to acknowledge their concern and offer any appropriate advice in a timely manner.
Even if you have offered this patient the best service possible, by not replying in their moment of need it could be the deciding factor for this patient to look elsewhere.
With negative feedback travelling 6 times further than positive feedback, you need to make sure that you deal with any concerns in a promptly manner to avoid any reputational damage. Proactively checking in with your patients is a simple way to make the patient feel cared-for, meaning a complication is less likely to shadow the amazing service you provided previously.

Improve your Patients experience 

Patient experience is a big reason why customers do not return. According to Dimensional Research a bad customer service experience resulted in 59% of customers not returning to a business. As a small business owner, you need to ensure you are delivering an excellent experience to your customers, not just a great treatment result. You may want to consider how easy it is for your customers to contact you if they have an issue or questions regarding a treatment?. Do you have an online booking system that makes it quick and easy for patients to book?
If you are looking to improve your patient experience, start with getting feedback from your existing patients as they know first-hand the service you offer. You could collect feedback via post treatment questionnaires, keeping an eye on your review pages (e.g. Facebook, SaveFace) or actively asking on social media. Then make a plan to address the areas of your patient’s journey with you that could be improved.

Introduce a patient referral and loyalty scheme

Did you know that the lifetime value of a new customer who found your business from a referral is 16% higher than a new customer acquired through another channel? Referral strategies are proven to work, and you can cater the offer to suit your business. You could give your patients a discount off their next treatment for referring a friend, or after a set number of referrals they are offered a free treatment. The idea of a referral scheme is to obviously get new patients onboard, but it also make your existing patients feel valued and incentivised to return.
Go one step further and think about personalising their referral incentive, for example, if a patient has always mentioned she is self-conscious over her Acne Scars, you may offer her a discounted treatment that will help this.
Other ways to incentivise returning patients:
  • Loyalty Schemes: (example) For returning patients, offer 10% off when they come back for their third treatment with you.
  • Everyone loves their birthday! Send out a marketing email to patients in the month before their birthdays, to acknowledge their birthday is coming up and offer a small treatment voucher.
  • National holidays or key dates are an easy way to engage with your patients. E.g. Easter, Christmas, Valentines day.
Just remember, there is a fine line with discounts, you don’t want to sell yourself cheap! Your industry knowledge is worth every penny.

How Aesthetic Nurse Software Can Help

All this information can be daunting, thinking of all of the new processes you need to put into place to improve your patient retention. However, with ANS you can have all of this information at the click of a button. Send automated messages to your patients to checking in with them after their appointment or remind them their next appointment is due.
ANS also collects all of your referral data! When a patient is entered into the software they can answer ‘How did you hear about us?’ making the referral process so much easier to record. Not to mention all your patient data is stored securely. If you want to send a Birthday Email to everyone with a birthday in July, we’ve got you covered!
Patient retention is all about engaging with your patients and making them feel valued, let ANS help you achieve this.

Click here to start a free trial today and find out!

If you would like to find out more about how ANS can increase your patient retention in your business, please feel free to drop us an email:

Max Hayward, Co-founder of Aesthetic Nurse Software

© 2024 Aesthetic Nurse Software (ANS).
Aesthetic Nurse Software Limited.
Website by Web Marketing Clinic.