As a business, often you are only as good as your last customer’s service experience. The Internet abounds with stories of both good and abysmal customer interaction experiences, and with the nature of social media today, you can bet that whether your patient experiences a wonderful personal experience with your company, or even the slightest oversight or rudeness, people are going to go viral with it on Facebook, Twitter, and other outlets. Social media has allowed every customer service experience to travel much more quickly than in the past through word of mouth. Every time your patient deals with your website, or with your office staff or medical practitioners, you need to ensure that they come away with a positive impression.
Dedicating yourself to being a medical company that delivers a great customer experience through support, interaction and education are just as important for chiropractors, optometrists, dentists, and medical doctors as it is for other companies such as clothing retailers and shoe stores. Zappos has built their billion dollar empire by focusing on ways to deliver excellent customer service. Nordstroms, who has never sold tires made the news when they purchased the Northern Commercial Company and honored a customer’s request to get a refund on tires they had purchased months before – even though they are a clothing retailer.
Offering a great product is essential to customer satisfaction, but don’t ignore all the other ways you can increase your customer satisfaction and guarantee that they will have nothing but good things to say about your medical practice when speaking to friends and family. Here are some sure-fire medical marketing ideas to help make your practice stand out from the crowd and ensure that you’re delivering excellent customer service.
Respond As Quickly As Possible
Speed is one of the biggest factors in good customer service, especially if your patient’s request is time-sensitive in nature. A response time report generated by STELLAservice in 2011 of 100 internet companies showed that their average response time was 17 hours. A follow-up study performed by Frost in 2016 showed the response time was still 17 hours. When your potential new patient fills out an online form asking a question or asks a question about your practice, the longer you wait to reply, the better chance they will seek that information from another provider.
In fact, the 2016 study showed just how important replying quickly to patient needs is — 41% of the consumers they surveyed identified being placed on hold as their biggest consumer aggravation. Make sure you don’t leave patients frustrated by being forced to wait to have their requests addressed.
Know Your Customers
Knowing and responding to your patient’s wants and needs is the key to great interactions. Your patients, like all consumers, love the personalization. Find out who your customers are, remember their names, and take notes of personal details when you interact with them. Being able to refer to their personal comments in the future adds an extra layer of personalization.
Encourage your patients to participate in the doctor/patient relationship by asking them questions. For example, Starbucks March 2012 new campaign to focus on improving relationships between customers and their staff by encouraging customer interaction. Each customer who introduced themselves by name was given a free latte – for a total of 350,000 free latte drinks.
Fix Your Mistakes
One sure fire way to gain a bad reputation is to not take responsibility for your mistakes. If your practice offers a product or service online or in other advertising, make sure you honor that offer, even if it was incorrectly printed. Transparency in any area of business is essential, and customer service is no different. Show that your practice has high standards by always striving for extra personal responsibility with your patients. Your goal is not to be right, but to have satisfied patients.
For example, an Amazon customer ordered a new PlayStation as a Christmas gift for his son in 2007. The customer was not home when the parcel was delivered and was instead signed for by a neighbor. The package was left outside the customer’s home and was quickly stolen. While Amazon was not legally responsible for this mistake, they made things right by sending a new PlayStation in time for Christmas and adding free shipping.
Go The Extra Mile
When you go the extra mile for your patients, you’ll end up with a happy customer and set yourself up for long-term future business and positive word of mouth. Being open to patient suggestions can be the difference between a happy patient and one who might start browsing competitor’s websites. One store that went the extra mile for a customer is UK-based Sainsbury’s. When three-year-old Lily Robinson wrote a letter to them in 2011 asking why Tiger bread wasn’t called giraffe bread, Sainsbury’s customer service manager replied that it was a great idea, and in early 2012, it was renamed “giraffe bread.” Little touches like that can help you build your brand positively.
Think Long Term
A patient can be for life, so think long term when dealing with them. When you keep them happy, they will be loyal and do free marketing for you through word of mouth. According to author Pete Blackshaw, if you have a patient who is satisfied with your service, they’ll tell at least three friends – but if they are not satisfied or angry, through word of mouth they can let up to 3,000 other people know how unhappy they are.
What type of customer service you provide can impact both retaining your existing customer base as well as cultivating potential patients. In fact, a recent survey indicated that up to 68 percent of consumers would tell friends and family about a negative experience by commenting about it on a social network. Considering that the average Facebook profile has 229 friends, it is easy to see how your patient’s reaction can quickly reach thousands of people.
Delivering a positive experience to your clients helps your practice in many ways, and can increase your bottom line and revenue stream. According to a customer service report by RightNow Technologies in 2011, up to 86 percent of American adults will pay more out of pocket to ensure a better customer experience, while up to 73 percent stated that friendly customer service has resulted in them falling in love with a brand. As everything about your practice involves branding, that’s something to keep in mind.
How you provide patient service through your website, including ease of use, the ability to contact your office, and reply time, means that having a great medical website design is one of the best ways you can initially make a good impression on prospective clients. At Optimized360, we understand how to help you deliver excellent customer service through your website, and how to increase your customer satisfaction with a unique, easy-to-use site.