Note: This is the 2nd article in the Cosmetic Patient Progression Lifecycle series. If you missed the 1st article on Discovery, click here to access.
The absolute easiest way to fine-tune practice processes and enhance patient engagement is to compartmentalize the patient journey with your practice into ‘buckets,’ or stages, and then define key elements within each stage that can be used to propel the patient toward the path of making a buying decision with you. In marketing terms, this is known as your funnel.
Your goal is to attract, engage and support patients at each stage in your funnel. Your messaging at each stage will be different as the practice/patient relationship evolves.
There are seven primary stages in the Cosmetic Patient Progression Lifecycle: Discovery, Initiation, Action, Strategy, Commitment, Implementation, & Community. This article focuses on the 2nd stage ~ Initiation.
Initiation – By this point, your prospective patient has navigated through the Discovery stage and has determined to explore a relationship with you & your practice. The patient will usually contact the practice to either request information (such as cost) or to make an appointment. This could be via phone call, internet inquiry, email, or a walk-in.
This initial contact is an extremely important entry point, as it has the ability to not only influence the patient’s decision to make an appointment with your practice, but is also statistically proven to help drive procedure scheduling rates at consultation.
Prepared patients are patients that buy. Unfortunately, many practices do not use this important initial contact as an opportunity to prepare the patient at all.
Successful practices view this touchpoint as yet another marketing tool, using it to engage the patient and begin the practice/patient relationship. They will also use the time to make sure the patient is, in fact, a candidate for the procedure they are requesting. This is not the time to simply schedule an appointment and hang up the phone.
The goal at this stage is to build an emotional connection with the patient, while also using this opportunity to promote the practice and overcome any potential objections the patient might present at consultation through education and vetting.
Here are some excellent tips to ensure a successful first call:
- Build a relationship with communication & connection. Patients have a perceived problem they hope you can help them solve, and in order to help them, you must first develop trust. Believe it or not, trust in a relationship starts by simply providing your name! Then, ask the patients name and use it often in the conversation. Provide other staff member names (when applicable). Present your practice as a team whose only mission in life is to be there for the patient. Engage the patient by listening to their needs, but stay in control of the conversation by asking questions.
- Ask qualifying questions to make sure the patient is actually a candidate for the procedure of which they are inquiring. For example, let’s say a patient thinks he or she is in need of liposuction of the abdomen, so they call your office and ask for the cost of liposuction. In reality, they may require a tummy tuck, which could be 3-4 times the cost of the liposuction procedure. If we simply quote them a liposuction fee range and schedule an appointment, we are doing the patient, and the practice, a disservice. Chances are high they show for consultation, are told they require an abdominoplasty, have sticker shock when provided a quote estimate, and leave the practice without scheduling a procedure, never to be seen again. This is every physician’s nightmare. It is much better to spend the additional time on the phone to ensure the patient is a candidate than to lose valuable in-office clinic time.
- Overcome common objections prior to the consultation.We’ve already discussed providing fee ranges, but what other common objections do your patients present as a reason not to buy the day of consult? Objections are potential deal breakers such as scarring, recovery limitations & recovery time, or the infamous: “I need to go home and check with my husband (or work).” Address these during the call, and you will not find the need to overcome them in consultation!
- Promote the provider!!This seems like a no-brainer, but having conducted hundreds (thousands?) of secret shopper calls over the years, this is an area in which many practices fall short. For instance, does your doctor perform 200+ breast augmentations per year? You definitely want to let a breast augmentation prospect know this! Is your spa nurse injector is a national trainer for a leading filler? Let them know this! Provide specialized training, awards, and accolades of the provider with pride, especially when relevant to the procedure of interest.
- Present a call to action. Using the either/or closing method, you might say, “Dr. Wonderful has an open consultation slot this Thursday at 11:00 am or Monday at 2:00 pm. Do either of these times work for you?”
- Miscellaneous: Confirm next steps. Ask if they require help obtaining financial assistance. Make sure there are no additional questions you can help them with at this time. Ensure they have your contact information should they have further questions prior to consultation. Let them know they will receive info via mail, email, or text (if applicable). The basic rule of thumb always let the patient know the next steps to avoid being perceived as that ‘pushy salesperson.’ Again, an unprepared patient will not be prepared to buy!
Interested to see how your staff handles initial phone calls from prospective patients? Click here and type “Free TSS” in the Contact box. Your practice will be secret shopped by phone within 2 business days. You will then be provided with a complimentary 30-minute call to review findings and receive strategic & proven recommendations.
Be on the lookout for next week’s post when we take a deep dive into Stage 3 ~ Action.
To Your Success!