Patient Referrals; Are You Automated?
By Alex Niswander
A big part of my ongoing newsletter is to get you thinking about things in a way you may not normally, and I like to think of things from the patient point of view. My family and I have had great Chiropractic experiences and not so great. Maybe you can learn from our experiences and think outside of the box. As a business owner myself, I find we try to be creative, but willing to invest in our business’ success.
If you are like most practices you fall into two categories. Either your staff is like a broken record asking over and over for patient referrals, or you simply never ask. Someplace in between is where you want to be, yet the reality is this is the right balance is hard to pull off.
There is no cut and dry method and not necessarily a right answer, however there are many things to think about before you begin your referral quest. Should you ask for referrals once a month, a quarter, a year? Should you ever ask? Another honest question to ask yourself, is does asking for referrals make you seem inferior to other specializes?
I think like any tasks there are right and wrong ways to do it. If I am the patient quite frankly “my doctor” personally asking for a referral would be a turnoff for me. If I liked my doctor, my progress and he/she did a good job for me, naturally I would send my friends and family to him/her and I wouldn’t enjoy being harassed about it if I wasn’t all so happy.
Now don’t misunderstand, asking for referrals is ok if done the right way and done by someone OTHER than the doctor. A member of the staff, the marketing person, etc is a much better choice to follow up with specifically designed questions to gauge their satisfaction as a new customer. Either a phone call or a paper survey form would be best for this.
Want to give them the feel of being anonymous, yet be able to know which patient completed it? Try sending their pre-paid return postage and survey with a cleverly placed ‘random’ number so that you can quickly find out which patient completed the survey. Then in their chart list their random number. This way if they choose to ‘remain anonymous’ they can, but you can discontinue asking them for referrals if you feel they are not the best candidate based on their survey answers.
The above idea is great if you are opposed to becoming automated.
Today in the dawn of our “Facebook” era, automation has become a huge business tool. It would be safe to say if you didn’t at least investigate costs and solutions for automating patient referrals you would be doing your business a great disservice. In fact I feel strongly that patients even find automated referral processes more professional than your office staff calling to ask for them.
What if there was a way you could enter a patient into a system and then it would take over and automatically run a referral campaign? What if was designed so they could “LIKE” your service on Facebook, Twitter and even ‘Pin’ you on pinterest.com? Wouldn’t this take a lot off of your plate while continuing to grow your referral base?
The truth is people like to share their good experiences and we are at a point in our country where “wellness” is an IN thing. That means you should take advantage of this and let your patients do the marketing for you through their friends and family network. Of course you could do much of this yourself, however your time is better spent out in the community meeting people.
Remember, Automation saves you time, money and makes you appear more professional and with the times and IT WORKS.