September 14, 2010
The Don'ts of Patient Referral Programs
When it comes to patient contact, many plastic surgery, dermatology, and cosmetic dentistry practices shy away from consistent communication with their current and past patients. This is the biggest mistake you can make. Why?
Well, patients already have an interest in your aesthetic services and what you have done for them. Don’t shy away from patient contact! Here are some tips for what not to do when it comes to patient referral programs and communications.
Never Do These Things to Your Patients
- Never forget to have a special reward for patients who refer more than “x” amount of people to you. Just one patient provides a good amount of income potential to you, however, multiple patient referrals should be dually rewarded. It's not necessarily ethical in all states to offer physical gifts, cash, or even gift cards to 3rd party retailers in exchange for referrals, but it is just fine to offer something such as a percentage or dollar amount off of a future procedure for the one referring.
- Never ignore your patients once you have seen them and their procedure is done. Patients take this personally, believe it or not. In Catherine Maley’s book, "What Your Aesthetic Patients are Saying", patients reported feeling like their doctor didn’t care about them after they took their money. That’s obviously the last thing you want your patients to think of you, so stay in touch through occasional emails and direct mail contact as well as phone calls. Referrals will follow.
- Don’t email patients for anything, even for patient referral rewards offers, without their express permission first. Whether asking this information from them in-office or on your website, getting their permission to contact them is essential and will protect your practice. With the strict CAN-SPAM laws in place by the federal government, you don’t want to take the risk of upsetting someone by contacting them without their permission first.
- Never forget to contact your patients in the first few weeks and months after their procedure. Check on their status and see if they have any questions for you or your staff. You should ideally schedule phone calls one week after their last appointment, then two weeks after that, then four weeks after that for three months. Inform your staff that a rapport should be the first priority; this means asking questions of the patients and having a genuine concern for their well-being. By doing this follow up, believe it or not, you’ll be ensuring a future referral from that patient because of the caring staff contact and the attention they paid to the patient.
By avoiding these "don’ts" for patient referral programs, you’ll be securing a better relationship with your aesthetic patients as well as giving them incentive to refer their friends and family to you.
To contact EggStream Marketing for help today, simply call us at 951.665.8360 or contact us online.
To read our follow-up article about "The Do's of Patient Referral Programs", click here.
Updated April 1, 2013