I’m a great believer in Karma. I am not an overly spiritual person but I do believe that what goes around, comes around. I find this to be particularly the case in the work environment. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I attend an exhibition or I make a call to a client and they say something along the lines of, “I’m glad that you’re here. I’ve been meaning to call you about X and how you can help me with it.” This then generally leads to us carrying out some further work for that client.
Now this can be a difficult item to measure empirically, but without that meeting or phone call, I suggest that a good 60-70% of that work in question:
- Wouldn’t be carried out at all
- May be partially carried out
- May be carried out, but 6-12 months later
Purely that chance meeting or telephone call, makes a massive difference to any business. I’ve observed this phenomenon my whole working life and I am convinced of it – if you put the effort into keeping in touch with your clients, then ‘karma’ will lead to you benefiting from it.
How can we do this at the practice?
There are a myriad of ways that you can keep in touch with your practice’s patients. Your aims in doing this are:
- Showing that you value their loyalty – even more important in the current climate
- Educating and Informing – yes, I am quite sure that you may have told them about 6 Month Smiles a thousand times, but it can go in one ear and out the other! In marketing, we talk about the ‘Rule of Seven’ and that a client has to hear from you seven times before taking action. Your patients are no different
- Standing out from the ‘Noise’ – we are quite often bombarded with messages encouraging us to buy things. It can be difficult for anyone to get past this – the first few times that they hear from you, patients (or potential patients), are unlikely to even register you
- Even if not now – many of your patients are likely to be interested in the range of services that you offer at some point. That may not be immediately, but you need to keep reminding them, so that when they do take that decision, it is you that they come and see
- Creating desire for the treatments on offer
- To build trust
Keep in touch…don’t annoy!
As a medical professional you are in a slightly different position from the local pizza parlour who probably try and communicate with their customers at least once a week – this would be somewhat inappropriate for a dental practice! I suggest:
- An email newsletter every 8-10 weeks. This should be designed as an HTML template which will allow you to use it many times whilst still looking professional and fresh. If you use free software such as Mailchimp, you can get very useful reports that will detail how many of the emails were opened, what was clicked upon and so on. It also allows patients to unsubscribe – this means that you know that you aren’t annoying your loyal patient base and that even if the size of your ‘active’ database reduces dramatically, those who are receiving the communication, really value it.
- Recall Letters/Calls and Follow-ups. You may be aware of Nudge Theory – the idea that human beings don’t necessarily make the right choices as a matter of course even if they know all the facts. They have to be ‘nudged’ into doing what is good for them. The sending out of recall letters could be considered to fall into this category. However, remember to send up a follow-up recall letter after the first and then a phone call.
- Social Media. If you build up a following on Facebook and Twitter, this means that you can post items of interest and ensure that you are in your patients’ stream of consciousness.
- A printed newsletter every 3-6 months. Much as I have waxed lyrically regarding the benefits of an e-newsletter, there is something superior and tactile about a printed newsletter that wins over an audience and implies quality.
- A good old fashioned chat! I appreciate that you are busy but if you have the time, spend a little longer with a patient and find out more about their concerns and desires for their oral health and smile – it may just plant a seed!