4 things that prevent your patients from referring

2015 05 12 15 59 09 147 Geier Jay 200

We can all agree that referrals are the greatest compliment patients can give a practice. It's their vote of confidence in you, your staff, and the overall patient experience you provide. You could even call it a measurement of your patient's satisfaction.

So what are your referral numbers like? Do they accurately reflect your perceived high level of patient satisfaction?

If not, you might be making an easy-to-avoid blunder that's counteracting your hard work and keeping your patients from referring. I'd like to talk about the top four blunders we see in offices and how to avoid them.

Jay Geier is the president and founder of the Scheduling Institute.Jay Geier is the president and founder of the Scheduling Institute.

1. You don't communicate

To you, it's common sense -- of course you want referrals. But many patients don't realize how valuable their referrals are to you. So guess what? You need to tell them!

Have your front desk staff practice a referral request. As the patient checks out, remind her that you appreciate her and would love to have more patients like her. Give her a "send-a-friend" card to share and explain the benefits of scheduling an appointment with you. "Your friend will get $50 off their first visit." Make signs visible in the waiting area, restrooms, and operatories that detail the benefits of referring patients.

2. You don't reward referrals

Make referring patients a win-win! For instance, you could give your patients a discount on services or enter them in a raffle for a great prize (like an iPad or a local trip) for each referral who schedules an appointment.

Remind them of your program through various communications. Create a program, a budget specific for referral, and referral marketing and assign one staff member to be responsible for it. Be sure to track your numbers and incentivize your team.

3. You don't follow up with your patients

This is a huge no-no that can cause your practice to lose referrals (and existing patients). You must stay in contact with patients beyond their appointment.

“Keep your practice—and your interest in referrals—at the top of your patient's minds.”

There are multiple options, not limited to the following:

  • You can send a monthly patient newsletter.
  • You can send a follow-up email.
  • You can send a handwritten card or a postcard.

Keep your practice -- and your interest in referrals -- at the top of your patient's minds, so that when a friend asks for the name of a good dentist, it's a no-brainer.

4. You don't focus on the overall experience

Referrals ultimately are generated by an outstanding patient experience. Check your numbers again. Do they reflect this?

The overall patient experience could possibly be what sets your practice apart from the guy down the street. We recommend all sorts of things to our clients to ensure they give their patients the ideal experience, but primarily the overdelivery of service. Efficient scheduling, a warm, welcoming environment (look around!), and patient-appreciation gifts and events also are part of reminding patients that they are important to you.

The bottom line is that from the time patients walk into your office until the second they walk out, they should feel like the world revolves around them. Think about it: When you have an incredible experience at a hotel or restaurant or with a mechanic or retailer, aren't you likely to go out and tell your friends about them? You want to reward them for that service.

So, what are you waiting for? Start doing the things that will improve your patient experience and simultaneously increase your referrals.

Jay Geier is the president and founder of the Scheduling Institute.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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