In these increasingly challenging times client retention
is becoming more important than ever.
In these increasingly challenging times client retention is becoming more important than ever.
The sector is under increasing pressure at the moment. What is already an increasingly competitive market is now experiencing the additional pressures being brought on by the current economic challenges we are all facing. Without doubt treatment cancellations are up, repeat bookings are down and a number of clients are cutting back on what they are spending. In the face of this uncertainty, you need to ensure that you are being as proactive as possible.
It’s estimated that patient retention in the aesthetics sector sits around 50%, which is maybe much lower than you may have thought it to be. Ideally retention rates should be least 65% so, you are not already doing so, I’d recommend you take a careful look at your database to see what your own patient retention rates look like – and can I suggest that you make this a priority! If you’ve reviewed your statistics ask yourself if you’re OK with what you see? Are you feeling concerned or even a little shocked? If you can see there’s room for improvement, you can consider implementing outbound calls to clients who’re due, or are overdue treatment, having valuable conversations to ensure you retain as many as possible.
These outbound calls to clients and patients can be equally as important as calls coming into a clinic. For a number of years here at AR we’ve run highly successful outbound call campaigns on behalf of clients, re-engaging with lapsed patients. 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’.
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’ve as much information as possible so that we can establish a rapport when they initially answer the phone- this is normally done through revisiting their patient profile on the clinic’s CRM system. This is paramount to the success of these campaigns as we don’t want these clients to feel as though they’re 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 recently?”; “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 have received over a number of years and various clinics makes it clear that a common reason for patients to lapse stems from personal financial issues. 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 when 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 the majority of these lapsed patients won’t let you know why they’re 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 need to have the skills to be able to gently probe the client if there has been dissatisfaction with the previous treatment experience. On a positive note 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 to affirm 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. Our outcomes from these outbound calls are very positive, and we are able to successfully re-book roughly 20% of all the lapsed patients we call. At a time when new client enquiries are slowing down outbound campaigns can prove to be a highly valuable strategy.
For information about how we can support your practice please call us on 0191 7203000