How to Maximize Your Patient Lifecycle and Retention

maximize-your-patient-lifecycle-and-retention

Forty-four percent of businesses report that they concentrate their marketing efforts more on customer acquisition than retention, investing an average of five to 25-times more of their marketing budget in landing new patients. But does the strategy pay off? Calculating your customer acquisition cost (CAC) will help to shed light on that answer, but generally speaking, it’s much more valuable to place more of your marketing dollars in building patient retention. In fact, a miniscule 5% increase in customer retention can offer as much as a 95% improvement in profits. Considering these numbers, we’ve created this guide to help you learn about the patient lifecycle and how you can use customer retention to build your business and boost your overall return on investment (ROI).

First, Consider the Cycle

Before we can discuss customer retention strategies, it’s useful to review the patient lifecycle. The patient lifecycle refers to the phases or communication touchpoints a patient generally goes through when interacting with your medical aesthetics clinic. The lifecycle begins with the patient becoming interested in a particular treatment and ends with their referral of friends and family. More specifically, the stages of the patient lifecycle are as follows:

  1. Reach: Your business gets the attention of a prospective patient.
  2. Acquisition: Interested patients research what you have to offer and book a consultation.
  3. Conversion: Prospective patients become paying ones.
  4. Retention: The paying patient happily completes their treatment plan.
  5. Loyalty: Patients refer others to you and return for more treatments.

While your business may lose a patient at any one of these touchpoints, focusing in on patient retention will ideally strengthen this cycle, lower your loss rate, and reduce acquisition costs.

Tips for Patient Retention

While maintaining some patient acquisition efforts outside of referrals can serve as a sort of safety net for business growth, in an ideal world, successfully focusing in on and cultivating the patient lifecycle could be enough to sustain your business. The following tips are some of the ways you may be able to do just that.

Start with Employee Satisfaction

Happy employees make for happy patients, which in turn increases patient satisfaction and loyalty. Just as your patients want to feel supported and valued, so do your employees. Those who feel satisfied, challenged, and happy about their careers are much more likely to not only have a more positive attitude when serving patients, but they’re also more likely to go the extra mile to ensure they fulfill their roles to their optimal potential. Some ways to boost staff morale may be to ensure each staff member’s role is clearly defined, employees have access to ongoing clinical education and career advancement opportunities alongside all the resources they need to fulfill their roles, and to ensure their feedback is heard and incorporated into your day-to-day operations. The more educated and personally satisfied your employees are, the better their levels of productivity and contributions to your clinic’s overall profits will be. Ensure all staff have responsibilities that contribute in a meaningful way to the daily functions of your clinic and make time for employee feedback. You may also consider having staff participate in the hiring of new employees to ensure a seamless fit from your new hire’s first day. Overall, investing in the health and happiness of employees is a valuable strategy for strengthening your clinic’s patient satisfaction and retention rates for a greater ROI.

Focus on Creating Partnerships with Patients

When patients feel that they can contribute to their overall outcomes, they feel more satisfied with the results. Rather than simply telling patients what to do, work with them to establish a holistic long-term plan that works with their lifestyle and leaves them feeling excited to achieve their goals with you. Consider pairing treatment plans and skin care recommendations with fitness, lifestyle, or nutrition advice that offers patients the feeling that their long-term success and happiness matters. Be ready to refer nutritionists or personal fitness experts if you don’t happen to have a staff member on hand who can fill this role.

You may also consider an online portal where patients can see any recommended complementary therapies and skin care routines based on current and past treatments, while also booking appointments or accessing pre- and post-treatment care documents. This helps keep communication easy for patients who prefer a digital-based approach and are more at ease having access to this information whenever they need it in a way that works with their lifestyle. Also ensure a designated staff member is available for immediate questions via phone or email to help field more urgent patient concerns. Remember that while a symptom may seem minor, patents may become anxious. Having a way they can connect with your clinic and receive an answer in a reasonably responsive timeframe can go a long way to improving patient satisfaction and retention.

Engage with Patients Outside of the Appointment

Consider all communication touchpoints with your patients, rather than just the beginning and end of each treatment plan, to better maximize the ROI of each patient lifecycle. Each time a patient communicates with your clinic, they are creating a new impression. While positive past experiences may help lighten the impact of one negative experience, it’s important to treat each touchpoint as potentially your first and last. Every patient can easily become your best advocate or your worst detractor—ensure you’re doing everything you can to push them toward the former.

Ensuring proper support throughout the treatment plan to earn trust and encourage direct communication to resolve patient concerns is a first step to generating better word of mouth. When appropriate, share the love with patients who post positive feedback online. These patients have gone out of their way to offer a glowing review, so take the time out of your day to thank them for it and repost if appropriate. Finally, go the extra mile to learn more about your clients than simply their aesthetic goals. Ask them about what they do for a living or for fun, whether they will be traveling soon, when their birthday is, or if there are any other special occasions or events coming up. Make a note in their file and ensure you follow up. Send birthday greetings or congratulations if they hit a new career milestone. Send them a reminder to book their next appointment and wish them bon voyage before their big trip. If a patient sought out your services before their wedding, send an email to check in with them the following year and wish them a happy first anniversary. These little acts of appreciation outside a patient’s appointment time can go a long way toward building patient loyalty.

Keep in Touch and Get Smart About Your Treatment Devices

Following each treatment plan, patients enter the advocacy phase where you hope that they will talk up their experiences to friends, family, or online followers and spread the positive word. Keeping in touch during this time while also ensuring these patients are kept abreast of new service offerings can help to keep you top of mind if they do start discussing aesthetic treatments with friends and family. 

Email marketing can be an effective way to keep in touch with past patients and restart that first phase of the patient lifecycle again when a new treatment or device is added to your clinic. Of course, adding new devices to keep past patients engaged and interested can add up. Instead, consider investing wisely in a multi-treatment platform. Offering some of the most commonly requested treatments, Venus Versa™ offers three unique technologies—Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) with SmartPulse™, NanoFractional Radio Frequency with SmartScan™, and proprietary (MP)2 technology that combines Multi-Polar Radio Frequency and Pulsed Electro Magnetic Fields—and 10 different handpieces for the most customizable treatment solutions. Applicators may be purchased separately and used on the same device platform to make expanding your services menu much more affordable, while offering patients new treatments with a device they already know and love.

Start strengthening your patient lifecycle today with Venus Versa™. Contact an expert to get all the details.

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