Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility Proper Follow-up: Keep Patients Coming Back for More - Shorr Solutions

In this episode of Shorr Solutions: The Podcast, “How to Keep Your patients Coming Back for More with Proper Follow-Up”, host Mara Shorr teaches the skills your staff needs in properly answering the phone, marketing to existing/new patients, closing existing/new patient appointments, following up on scheduled appointments, and continuing to reach out to those who didn’t schedule an appointment.

Tune in now to learn the tips and tricks to remaining top of mind, making life easier for your staff, preventing no-shows, and keeping patients coming back for more!

Introduction:

We work with practices spread out all across the US but most importantly, they’re all in the cosmetic field. Let’s talk about how to keep your patients coming back for more with the best and strongest methods and appropriate follow-up when it comes to patients. We always like to talk about the conversion cascade, maybe you’ve heard us lecture on this before and it’s essentially your sales process. The key question is, how we keep those patients returning so that they can go on to have other services and refer new patients to your practice. One of the top things from the very get-go is how is your staff answering the phone? If they’re not doing a great job of answering the phone right off the bat you’re losing opportunities right then and there.

Top Missed Opportunities:

Here are some of the top missed opportunities I hear. Hello, this is uh Med Spa of South Florida uh can I help you, please. Right, they don’t answer the phone with a smile, and they don’t use proper wording. Now, if you close your eyes for just a second. So close your eyes. You can hear my smile, right now, right, you can hear that I have a smile. First, you can hear when I don’t have a smile. So, open your eyes back up again if you actually listen, first and foremost make sure every one of your team members smiles when they are on the phone.

The next thing is, you want to think of the wording over the phone. The wording is so incredibly important when your team answers that phone. Good morning, this is Smith Dermatology, this is Mara and I can help you. Right. It is so good morning, good afternoon, good evening, if you have evening hours. The name of your practice, you learned my name so now you as a caller know who you’re speaking with right the patient knows the name of the team member that they’re speaking with, and they know that that team member on the phone can help that patient. They’ve come to the right place so make sure that you have those four key components in place now.

The next thing you want to make sure your practice is doing for patients is asking for their contact information. The patient will at that point, launch into “Hi how much does Botox cost?” and your receptionist should answer, “Absolutely, I would be more than happy to speak with you about that today, but first may I ask, Who do I have the pleasure of speaking with today?” That’s a nice way of saying, so what’s your name. Make sure that you’re spelling their name appropriately in the system, make sure that you are repeating the name back to them. That’s how Mara gets turned into Laura. We want to make sure that we have the spelling. Then, “in case we get disconnected, what is the best way to reach you? What is the best phone number to reach you?” That’s a nice way of saying so what’s your phone number, even if you have caller ID, this is the chance to make sure that the number on the caller ID that they’re calling from is the best number to call them back on. Make sure that you have that information and also make sure their email address is up to date. Even if you have a phone number in the system, make sure it is up to date.

Just as an example, my father-in-law the other day had a doctor’s appointment and when he was running late to his appointment they called him, and he’s been going to the same doctor for the past 11 years. They called him and it was a work number, and my father-in-law’s been retired for 10 years because they never bothered to update that phone number in the system. Therefore he missed an appointment, therefore that practice had a big empty spot, a goose egg where they should have been able to see a patient. We want to make sure that we’re not missing out on simple opportunities like this.

How to Keep Your Patients Coming Back:

How can you keep your patients coming back and making sure you’re really retaining them? Automate as much as you can so people that have heard me talk before, know that I’m a big fan of using technology where we can because there are certain places that only people will do right. We’re not going to have technology answering our phones for us. We want to make sure that we’re freeing up our front desk folks to really speak to patients so that we can continue moving forward and use technology where we’re able to. We want to talk about using automated reminders for upcoming appointments. Send out 48 hours ahead of time, 24 hours ahead of time, and the morning of those appointments. People, especially in today’s world we are losing track of time. I can’t tell you how many days of the week we’ve all forgotten what day of the week it is because COVID is just messing with everybody right now so that’s going to be worse than it was before. You really want to make sure you remind your patients.

You also want to remind them to set up the automated reminders. When is it time to come back for a retreatment, and when are they overdue for their treatment? Has it been more than three months since their neurotoxin? Has it been more than one month since they’ve come back for their monthly facial, are they overdue on skincare that they love and swear by but quite honestly they might not realize that they’re about to run out? We want to make sure that we’re automating patient reminders as much as possible. Use your system whether it is your EMR and practice management system or if you have another system in place, maybe a third party that integrates that as well.

When the Patient is in Your Practice:

Now, when the patient is actually in your practice there are a couple of things you can do to make sure that you’re not missing out on those opportunities. Once you’ve had that patient consult and they’ve actually had their treatment, you want to make sure you’re booking them for their upcoming retreatment as soon as they’re ready to leave. You don’t want to let a patient walk out of your office knowing that they need to come back in three months for their neurotoxin treatment for example, and they walk out of the office and they haven’t booked and we know that they’re going to need another treatment again. If you miss that one patient and they go every four months instead of every three months that means that you’re losing out on one patient’s neurotoxin treatment, per year, per patient. If we say that it is several hundred dollars per treatment, and you then go from four treatments a year to three treatments a year, that is several hundred dollars your practice is leaving on the table, per patient. Think about if we add that up over 50 patients or 100 patients, think about how that money adds up so book them before they leave your office.

Then, during the course of the consult you want to ask the patient, do they have any other concerns? We don’t want to make assumptions about something that, oh well they must be concerned about their elevens because they came in for their crow’s feet. You don’t want to make those assumptions, they may be absolutely okay with the elevens.

Ask them if there’s anything else that they would like to discuss and you’ll be surprised what they do or don’t bring up because we know that we could go on and on about what a patient could use or what they could not use. Instead of asking when it comes to skincare, do you need any other products? What you want to do is say so I see that the products that you ordered and you purchased from us last time are really working, we had talked about an overall skincare regimen and this is going to be next on your journey. I am so excited are you ready, can we move on to the next stage at this point? Instead of saying, do you need any products? This is where we also want to have that conversation as a provider, but then also when they’re checking out. That is the time for the person that is checking the patient out to say it looks like you’re about to probably run out of your eye cream. We know this based on their purchase state and how long that product will probably last. I’ve put aside that product for you. Do you also need an SPF? So there are certain products we know everybody needs, and those are two great examples.

Putting Things Into The Patient’s Language:

I also encourage you to really use and utilize a questionnaire at your patient intake for interest for other procedures. I like to call this the other area of concern spreadsheet so we ask, do you have any other areas of concern? Now we want to make sure that we’re putting this in language that the patient understands. We want to talk about instead of giving brands names of particular products or instead of saying neurotoxin, Stiller, etc. What we want to say is, are you concerned about dark under-eye circles wrinkles next to your eyes, wrinkles between your eyebrows, wrinkles in this area you know we could go on and on sagging facial skin sagging neck, etc. We want to use it in a language that they understand. We also want to be sure that we have post-appointment surveys. That post-appointment survey should go out as soon as they check out, and we will make sure that we’re implementing it so that any survey that is a satisfactory level of let’s say four stars or five stars out of a five-star system automatically takes them to Yelp, Facebook, Google, and lets them choose where it is that they prefer. Now, when a patient isn’t in your practice we’re going to follow along and say what to do when they’re not actually in your practice.

Email Marketing:

Answer your website emails now, y’all I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this. They filled out a form online, and two days go by before your team answers, even on a weekend, your practice should be answering within the hour. We want to find out within reasonable hours of the day so let’s say between 9 am and 7 pm, there should be a one hour, or one-hour time span of how long it takes obviously closer, if possible, you can utilize alerts on your phone and say look our team isn’t checking their email that often, you can turn it off as far as which team members are responsible for answering emails in off-hours. You’re able to institute all types of words so utilize technology and answer your website emails now answer your leads now. You want to make sure you’re wishing your patients happy birthday, again you know when their birthday is. The technology there is going to be amazing and it is your friends so make sure you’re sending your patients a text message reminder, or a text message or an email on their birthday to wish them a happy birthday. It’s just a little something special.

Make sure you are sending out e-blasts, e-newsletters, etc. whatever it is you call it. I’ve heard people call them all sorts of things. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen practices that have come to us saying, I need to get more patients, I need to get more patients and we say, are you at least sending out email marketing to your current patients and the answer is no. We want to make sure that at the very least you’re sending out email marketing. Use those email addresses that you’re collecting on the phone, remember we talked about collecting contact information, email address should be one of them. Always checking, make sure you have their current email address so that is one key thing you can do now is make sure every single patient is in your newsletter database because that is going to be a game-changer.

I also say having a strong social media presence, and I’m not giving you all of the tips and tricks on social media here. I’m just going to leave you with a tidbit that not having a social media presence on a daily basis and on a regular basis, means that you are not as top of mind with your patients as other practices are in your area. They are not just following you, they’re following other practices and other practices are out there on Instagram, on stories, on reels, and they’re out there on Tik Tok, even on Facebook and your practice is not. That means that they’re not seeing your brand and your face and your material as often as they are other practices. We want to make sure you keep in mind a strong social media presence.

Communicate with your patients and find the method that they prefer so whether that is a text message, whether that’s email but you always want to make sure you’re communicating with them in the method that they prefer. You also want to make sure that you have an online chat so that online chat is going to allow them to communicate from the comfort of their own home that could be another method that they really wish to use. If they want to use text messaging, I can’t tell how many times we’ve run into this and we’ve seen this, it needs to be HIPAA compliant. Find out from your EMR find out today, do they have text messaging that is HIPAA compliant that can be integrated. I want you to make sure that if your team is communicating via text that we have a HIPAA compliant text format or system that is in place and as long as you’re not taking insurance because it does become more complicated. Having a self-schedule option with insurance just scheduling insurance-based appointments tends to be a little more complicated and you often want to double book there. I will say, look at instituting a self-scheduling option there.

Offering Financing Options:

You want to make sure you’re offering multiple financing options to your patients. I’ve talked about this in other lectures and other talks but make sure that you’re scheduling time to talk about multiple financing options that occur within your practice. What happens is that so often patients are not in a place where they want to admit that they need financing and that’s something that you want to make sure you are asking them. Would you like to discuss a financing option today to finance your dream procedure? That doesn’t mean that they have to sign up for it but we want to make sure that we’re including that because we don’t want a patient walking away because they’re embarrassed to talk money.

Private Label Skin Care:

You want to make sure that you’re utilizing private label skincare, this is another tip. Why sell private label skincare? It’s a great way to keep in touch. Look at the branding involved, use it as a marketing opportunity. It’s another touchpoint, it’s like having a business card in a medicine cabinet. A client of ours in Encino California uses a private label line and it is so easy to do. That way you don’t have to worry about the formulation yourself and again that patient is going to bed and waking up with your brand in their medicine cabinet every day.

When Patients Don’t Come Back:

When patients don’t come back for treatments you want to pick up the phone shoot them a text. You want to make sure that you are communicating with them for several different reasons. One is they don’t come back for re-treatments, another is that you have a new device you want to tell them about and then finally if you have an event, whether it’s virtual or live, make sure you’re making those outbound communications happen. Whether it’s phone or whether it’s text or whether it’s email but make sure that you’re making those personal one-on-one connections happen whenever you’re launching a new event or a new campaign.

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