A few weeks ago, we released an article, “Your office is part of your marketing.” This article touches on the general topic of branding your practice. Every time a patient interacts with your practice it is an opportunity to brand your practice. What does someone experience when they walk in the door? How about when they call on the phone? How knowledgeable are the responses to questions they ask? What is their experience like? Is it professional? Is it consistent?
We help practices generate new leads but what happens to those leads when they pick up the phone and call the office? Is your staff trained to convert those new leads into patients? Updating your website for conversion optimization drives more leads but how can you increase you conversion rate inside the practice?
One of the elements we integrate into nearly all healthcare marketing campaigns is call tracking. When integrated properly, call tracking provides a great deal of information about whether your marketing is working or not. We can use call tracking to help understand which campaigns are generating leads and what types of leads they are generating. Another benefit is that our call tracking system allows us to listen in on recorded phone calls between new patients and healthcare staff. From reviewing hundreds of these calls, we have noticed a few insights that, if correct, will help you convert and retain patients.
- Have a real person answer the phone.
Sometimes in small offices, this can be difficult but we encourage all offices to have a real person answer the phone. Patients calling in expect to be able to ask questions and schedule an appointment. If they are forced to leave a message, 7 out of 10 times they won’t.
- Ask for the sale.
Often, in an attempt to be nice, the receptionist or person answering the phone does not attempt to close the sale. This person may give away too much information and scare the patient or they may act indifferent about whether the patient schedules an appointment or not. In our review of healthcare practices, we have seen that many receptionists are not trained salespeople but they are serving in that role. Invest in some basic sales training for this person and you won’t be sorry.
- Be helpful.
It is shocking the number of practice representatives that appear to be burdened by a patient call. A patient calling in is great news because they are interacting with the practice. Be friendly and helpful. Find a way to help solve their problem. You can listen in on the conversations between your receptionist and new patients. Is that how you want your patients to be treated? If not, change it.
- Be knowledgeable.
Many practices have a receptionist that takes calls. Unfortunately, this representative also is forced to field difficult and technical questions. It is important to have a knowledgeable representative on the phone that can quickly and efficiently answer questions. If that is not an option for your practice, it may be a good idea to have a hygienist or doctor on call to be able to take over the call in a more complex situation. If you have someone on the phone saying I don’t know or I can’t answer that, this reflects poorly on the practice. The receptionist needs to know what to do or say in each situation. Whomever is on the phone needs to be confident in their responses to questions.
- Be available.
Let’s face it, some practices have strange hours. For the average patient, it is difficult to understand when the office will be open or not. If you have work-friendly hours, that is great. If you are closed every Monday or Friday, that can be a problem for some people. We have found patients often will delay care because they have a hard time remembering to call during certain hours. In fact, when we monitor healthcare lines, we see a great deal of non-emergency call activity early in the mornings and between 5PM and 7PM in the evenings. Unfortunately, most practices are not available during this window. Even worse, many offices don’t answer the phone during the traditional 12:00PM – 1:00PM lunch hour, which is the highest volume time for calls for many practices. Worst of all, we have discovered through our call analysis that patients are extremely reluctant to leave a message for the healthcare practice. Instead, they will call back at a later time. If it is a first-time caller, they will likely call the next practice they find in their Google search and book an appointment with them.
These are just a few tips on how you can improve your new patient conversion and existing patient satisfaction. As always, each practice is different but the concept of creating a positive and consistent patient experience applies to all practices. Review these tips and implement them and I guarantee you will have more and happier patients.
If you read this article and are interested in utilizing our call tracking system, feel free to contact us. It is very affordable and can help track the success or failure of your print and online marketing. The recordings can also be a great sales training tool to help understand and advise your staff on how to better interact with patients.
At Zipline, we spend a lot of time testing new ways to generate more business for healthcare practices. While there are always some sort of hot new method to experiment with, if you are really looking to generate new patients, conversion optimization is the first place we recommend you focus.
What is Conversion Optimization?
Conversion optimization is the process of making minor changes to a website to see if they increase the percentage of traffic that contacts you or make a purchase. This can be a difficult process for an inexperienced marketer but it is very much worth the effort. If you are new to conversion optimization, there are a variety of tools like Google Analytics, CrazyEgg, and Optimizely that can help.
Can you explain it in a way I can understand it?
Many practices aren’t excited by the idea of conversion optimization, but I guarantee if you spend the time to optimize your site, you will be excited by the results. Every dollar spent optimizing the conversion rate of your website amplifies the value of each marketing dollar spent afterwards. Say for example, you have a conversion rate of 2%. If you spent $500/month on marketing and got 1000 visitors that would translate into 20 patients, not bad. If you wanted to grow to 40 patients you would need to spend $1000 dollars each month. You might say, not a big deal if the revenue from the patients is covering the cost. But let me show you what you can expect from a good conversion optimization campaign.
So what should I expect?
Imagine if you spent some time optimizing the conversion rate of your website. A well-optimized site could have a much higher conversion rate. What if we spent time optimizing the conversion rate of the site increasing it from the 2% to 5%. In one month, with the same exact marketing budget, the website would generate 50 new patient leads. If you doubled your marketing budget as mentioned previously, you would reach 40 new patients. After spending time executing a conversion optimization strategy the same increased budget would yield 100 new patients in the same amount of time.
In this example, with a non-conversion optimized website you would spend $12,000/yr in marketing and generate 480 new patients, not bad. If you optimized for conversions, you could spend $6,000 and generate 600 new patients. So if you were to spend $12,000/yr after optimizing, you would pull in a whopping 1,200 new patients with the same exact marketing budget as if you didn’t optimize.
If it’s so easy, why doesn’t everyone do this?
Because it isn’t easy and most people don’t know about conversion optimization or its compounding effects.
So where do I start?
There are a number of great articles on conversion rate optimization online. Take a look at some of those and don’t worry if they aren’t healthcare specific. While there are some healthcare specific conversion optimization practices, many of the methods you’ll find in these blogs span multiple industries and will work for any website. Also, if you would like assistance with your conversion optimization, we can help. We even offer a a free healthcare website conversion rate analysis that you can take advantage of. It will help you identify low hanging fruit you can focus on immediately. During our free consultation, we will provide you with a list of tools you can use to better track your conversion rate.
Many practices frown on the idea of a post-visit survey. Many feel that it will inconvenience their patients or take too much time from staff. Others are just not interested in getting true feedback from their patients.
We believe that patient surveys are a great tool both for gaining insight into how patients view your organization and for extending your relationship with the patient. Surveys don’t have to be long and daunting, they don’t even have to be on paper. Today, a practice can create a short email survey using a free or low priced tool like Survey Monkey. You can even set the survey up to be anonymous so the patient is comfortable giving true feedback. Using a digital survey also removes the need for staff to tally the results. You can log into your survey account at any time and see statistics on response trends. You can also read the individual survey responses if you want to dig deeper into how patients feel about your business.
While a survey can take time from both the practice and the patient, it also comes with a number of benefits. We have listed some of the biggest benefits below:
- It will help understand how your staff and practice are performing.
- It shows patients they matter and you care about their experience with your practice.
- It helps set a framework for extending your relationship with your patient outside of the office visit.
- It can be another opportunity to inform patients about your email list or social media accounts. You can even offer built-in opportunities to connect. This works great because they are taking the survey on some sort of device where it is easy to link to these other services.
- It can provide an opportunity to request online patient reviews. These are critical for your local search engine optimization and they are hard to get. We find that often people will leave them as an extension of the survey.
- It can provide you with insight into how your patients found your office.
- Patients can provide critical feedback that can help your practice better compete with other practices they have interacted with. You also have a chance to respond to negative feedback before it translates into negative online reviews!
These are just a few of the biggest benefits we have found to patient surveys. If you still aren’t a believer, we suggest you give it a try anyway. We challenge you to collect 25 survey responses and tell us you don’t see the value in surveying your healthcare patients post visit.