Make it a beautiful day in your neighborhood.
We all live in a small community — even if you live in a large city, you have a neighborhood. Within your community you probably have:
- A close network of friends and colleagues,
- An online social network that you go to for advice or recommendations,
- Regular businesses you visit for groceries, coffee, doctor visits, veterinarian services, etc.
As a business, you need to know how to tap into that local community; how to become the place that is recommended for eyecare services. In order to do that, you need to become a part of that community.
Word-of-mouth referrals used to be, and still are, a bonus to a business. Referrals should consistently flow into your practice from happy patients and people in the community that respect you. As every business owner knows, a referral is more likely to buy from you than a new lead generated from an advertisement.
As such, it makes sense to take your referral-building efforts a step further and make this process a priority in your practice. Here are three ways to do it:
1. Be active in online small business forums and social networks. People go online for insight, information and recommendations. By regularly engaging in online interactions, posting comments and sharing your knowledge, people will begin to perceive you as a trusted expert in your field. When the time is right to have a procedure that you offer, your practice will be the logical choice.
2. Host events. When trying to build your patient base, you’ll always get questions from potential patients like, “Why should I go to your practice?” and “What makes your practice different from the competition?” This is where your happy patients will be the strongest voice — and the best advertisement — for your practice. Communication between your existing patients and potential ones can be fostered through small get-togethers. Attendees can mingle with each other, as well as your staff, to get a real feel for the patient experience and the results to expect from your office. Your staff will meet potential patients in a more relaxed environment, helping deepen the patient/doctor bond.
3. Provide a five-star experience, every time. Give your patients an experience to remember when they come to your office. This, more than anything, will get them talking — and referring.
Make it seamless to make an appointment.
Have your staff walk up to each patient in the waiting room and greet them by name when it’s time for their exam. Avoid just yelling their name at the doorway. If you do have a wait time, communicate regularly on the status of the appointment and provide refreshments, entertainment or free Wi-Fi to make the wait more tolerable.
If you aren’t giving five-star service, find out why and fix it! The best referral program will be useless if you have lousy customer service.
Remember: you can’t set it and forget it when it comes to referrals; you need to consistently nurture relationships so that they continue to refer.
This article originally appeared in the April 2017 edition of INVISION.