In this increasingly competitive sector client retention is becoming vital to the success of aesthetic practices.
Equally as important as calls coming into a clinic are the outbound calls made from the clinic to the patient, and here at Aesthetic Response we have recently been running a series of highly successful outbound call campaigns, to re-engage lapsed patients of some of our clients. As a guideline we consider anyone who is overdue their treatment by at least 6 weeks as lapsed, whilst clients overdue their appointment by 2-6 weeks are considered to be a 'delayed returner'.
A recent estimated figure for patient retention in the aesthetics sector is an average of only 50%! If you are not already doing so, you need to take a careful look at your database to see what your own patient retention rates look like. If you find that there is room for improvement consider implementing regular outbound calls to clients who are due, or are overdue treatment, ensuring that you retain as many as possible – up to 65%!
So how do these unique outbound campaigns work for our clients? When one of our practitioners approaches us with a list of lapsed patients to contact, we ensure that we are provided with as much information as possible about each client so that we can establish a rapport when they initially answer the phone. This is paramount to the success of these campaigns as we do not want these clients to feel as though they are in receipt of a cold call. It also helps to be armed with an offer, such as complementary products, a facial treatment or a discount as the basis of the call.
Once a rapport has been built, the kind of questions that we pose to lapsed patients include: "How did you find the treatment experience?"; "Have you gone somewhere else for treatment?"; "What are your specific recollections of your last visit to clinic?" and "How comfortable were you with XXX, your practitioner?" These questions encourage an open discussion between our Patient Advisor and the lapsed client to gain a real insight into their specific reasons for not returning.
The feedback that we receive makes it clear that a main cause of patients becoming lapsed stems from personal financial issues. Often we hear that patients view aesthetic treatments as a 'luxury' or a 'guilty pleasure', so they reduce their treatments to the bottom of their priorities, especially if their financial situation changes. This is why treatment plans offered by clinics are a good way of retaining clients, as it guarantees their repeat attendance and helps them to budget their personal finances.
Often, lapsed patients are pleased with the clinic's effort to call and they explain to us that they simply haven't gotten around to rebooking because their busy life distracts them and allows them no time to themselves. These clients tend book an appointment there and then on the phone, re-engaging fully with the clinic.
There are of course clients who have been dissatisfied or disappointed with some aspect of their treatment. It is estimated that 96% of these lapsed patients won't let you know why they are unhappy with your service, so clear feedback can be really valuable as you aim to grow your practice. If you make mistakes along the way it's really useful to understand what they are so that you can address them moving forwards. Staff must have the skills to be able to gently probe the client if there has been dissatisfaction with the previous treatment experience, and this is the perfect opportunity to gain vital feedback for the business to be able to move forward and develop. It is also an ideal time to explain any changes that have been made since the patient's last visit and that the practitioner would be pleased to see them again.
Where the patient has since moved on to another clinic, this can provide an opportunity to learn what it is they were looking for in a clinic/practitioner, and to identify if there is a gap in your own service provision.
From a busy practitioner's perspective, the biggest obstacle in client retention can be finding the time to pick up the phone to speak directly with the client. As a dedicated enquiry management service, Aesthetic Response have the essential skills to effectively re-connect with lapsed clients on your behalf. Our outcomes from these outbound calls are very positive, and we are able to successfully re-book roughly a fifth of all the lapsed patients we call. This is a highly valuable strategy for aesthetic clinics to implement as these are clients who would not book again without this direct approach.
If you have any questions about these campaigns or would just like to know more call us today on 0191 495 8400 - we will be happy to talk you!