Online Scheduling: Everything You Need to Know Fill Your Book

This is a sentiment we can all relate to. There are only so many hours in a day to check things off our to-do lists. We have places to get to, people to see, and things to do – you know how it goes.

When it seems like all we do is go, go, go, it helps to have some shortcuts to help us get our lives in order. At the end of the day, here are three things we know for sure about today’s consumers:

People are busy.
People want things to be easy.
People like options.

Gone are the days of calling in a food delivery order, thanks to apps like Uber Eats, Grubhub and DoorDash. Between your phone, tablet or computer, everything is available right at your fingertips and presented in a way that busy people can easily decide between options (see what I did there?).

So, with the shift towards automation, it should be no surprise that online scheduling has become a preferred method of booking appointments. In fact, according to a GetApp survey, nearly 70 percent of consumers prefer online scheduling for service appointments compared to only 21 percent preferring to book by phone.

More and more healthcare providers are using online scheduling tools on their websites for the following reasons:

  • Enhances patient-experience with fast and easy booking
  • Provides 24/7 access to scheduling
  • Frees up time for front office personnel
  • Increases the number of monthly leads (on average, online scheduling tools generate four additional leads per month for hearing healthcare providers).

By offering patients solutions at the touch of a button, we remove the last barrier to entry standing between patients booking their appointments. Once we get them through the door, it’s time for the provider to shine and help patients hear well again.

Still not convinced?

Allow us to address the biggest objections you may have (skeptics, pay attention!):

 

You say: “Online scheduling is going to mess up my calendar/block scheduling/PMS.”

We say: Online scheduling tools such as those offered by Sycle and Blueprint are integrated directly with your practice management software and come equipped with the capability to only book during pre-selected times. The Blueprint OMS booking tool is specifically designed in a way to work with block scheduling and is always updating in real-time based on the practice’s Blueprint OMS schedule.

 

You say: “Patients who book online are more likely to cancel/no-show.”

We say: The benefits associated with providing real-time online appointment booking far outweigh a possible cancellation or no-show. Even if patients cancel or don’t show to an appointment booked online, their patient file will be flagged for follow-up so you can continue to nurture that lead.

Blueprint OMS will also display a patient’s cancellation/no-show rate. Therefore, if someone with a known, high no-show rate books online, the practice can take whatever measures necessary to ensure the patient will attend the appointment, be it a follow-up call, implementing a no-show policy, etc.

 

You say: “Is online scheduling HIPPA compliant?”

We say: Yes! Online scheduling tools were built out to be both HIPAA and GDPR compliant. Blueprint’s online booking system is fully self-contained—all data remains within Blueprint OMS, and no information is exchanged with any third-party platforms. Additionally, all online bookings are made on a secure website that uses HTTPS to encrypt all communications and ensure privacy.

Adopting a consumer-centric approach and offering your patients the flexibility to schedule their hearing appointments online can save you time, increase your monthly leads, and better serve your patients.

About the Author

Julia Shreckengast joined Consult YHN in 2015 and serves as Marketing Account Executive, providing support to Associates by managing creative projects and developing/executing marketing plans. Prior to joining Consult YHN, she helped promote the city of New Orleans as a member of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation. Julia graduated Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Tulane University.

Looking Ahead: 2020 Marketing Trends

Can you believe we’re nearly halfway through 2019 already?! It’s important to start thinking ahead about the marketing trends you can expect to emerge or intensify in 2020 so that you’re prepared for their potential impact on the playing field.

Below are the three biggest trends that Consult YHN’s marketing experts think you should know about now. Because trust us—the future of marketing is coming quicker than you think!

1. Optimizing for on-SERP SEO aka. “on-Search Engine Results Page (SERP) Search Engine Optimization (SEO)”

That’s called a zero-click result, and it’s just begun to change the game in terms of SEO. People want their information quicker than ever before. Google has heard their plea and you can bet it’s giving the people exactly what they seek.

Roughly 61.8 percent of search results across Google are now being answered with zero-click results – changing the real estate space on the coveted “Page 1” of Google and, in turn, making more and more keywords less profitable. Google is spidering through the top results of relevant content for any keyword or search query and serving up “featured snippets.”

It’s still a bit of a waiting game as far as how this will change SEO at large. For now, just know that the more real estate you can hold on Page 1, the better off you are.

You can do this by keeping your website fresh with relevant content and vie for that coveted #1 spot or even a featured snippet. Check out your keywords to see where zero-click results are coming up in your area and where those featured snippets are pulling from. Also, see what questions people are asking relevant to our industry and provide concise answers to those questions on your website.

2. Optimizing for voice search

Just ask your BFF: Siri, Alexa or Cortana – voice search is shaking up the way we conduct search queries. That’s right, 20 percent of all search queries on Google are now being conducted by voice search.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and personal digital assistants are making it easier for busy people to get answers to their questions fast and hands-free. The outcome: marketing content has become more conversational. Make sure you are watching this trend and adding a conversational (yet professional) tone to any unique content or blogs on your website.

But our friendly AI voice assistants aren’t just here to give us answers—the next wave in voice search will be a shift towards transactions. Amazon’s Alexa can already place an order for pizza from Domino’s or request a ride with Uber. Voice assistants will soon be able to book appointments and perform more transactions for us. This may sound like the plot of an episode of Black Mirror, but we promise it’s real – so buckle up!

3. Chatbots

AI is #trending. Chatbots are taking over the customer service space and are starting to replace human agents in some areas. Believe it or not, 56 percent of customers prefer to communicate with customer service reps via instant message rather than pick up the phone.

The most common use of chatbots is in the form of instant message pop-ups on business websites. These messaging tools not only give customers 24/7 access to support, but they can also capture leads and help move customers along to their point of purchase.

Of course, there are situations when a human agent can provide much more detailed and personalized customer service, but for FAQs and scheduling appointments, chatbots can help save time, cut costs, and provide convenience to customers.

The world of marketing is constantly changing. That’s why it’s important to partner with a company like Consult YHN to ensure your marketing strategy adapts to these changes. If you want to chat about any of these trends or talk strategic marketing, contact our team of experts today at marketing@consultyhn.com!

About the Author

Julia Shreckengast joined Consult YHN in 2015 and serves as Marketing Account Executive, providing support to Associates by managing creative projects and developing/executing marketing plans. Prior to joining Consult YHN, she helped promote the city of New Orleans as a member of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation. Julia graduated Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Tulane University.

Marketing New Technology: How to Ensure Your Patients Purchase from You & Not Your Competitor

As we all know, hearing technology is rapidly advancing, and new products are hitting the market every few months. From a marketing perspective, it’s important for providers to understand their patients’ relationship with technology adoption.

Remember, everyone’s relationship with technology is different. Take the iPhone for example: some people will camp outside of an Apple Store just to be the first to own the latest model, some wait for their techie friends to try it first, and others refuse to upgrade their phone until they absolutely have to do it. 

But what about hearing devices?

Interestingly enough, there’s a very similar application of how patients adopt new hearing technologies. Below is Consult YHN’s take on the technology adoption curve applied to the hearing industry.

Based on nearly seven years of data and a sample size of over 70,000 patients, this curve points to insights on the different segments of your database, their relationship to new technologies, and the marketing touchpoints to drive conversions.

As a practice owner, how often do you think patients upgrade their hearing devices? Every 5 or 10 years? Our data shows that on average, patients upgrade their hearing devices every 3.6 years. If you want to ensure patients don’t go somewhere else to purchase their next set of hearing aids (which 40 percent of patients do), the below graph illustrates the number of times you need to contact your patient to ensure your patients remain loyal to your practice and purchase their next set of hearing aids from you.

 

FIRST ADAPTERS – Innovators

Also referred to as techies and visionaries, these are the patients who are eagerly awaiting the next hot device to hit the market. There are no sensitivities to price or technology for these folks. They are current users with a hearing aid that may even be less than a year old. Because of their readiness to purchase new technology, they only require a couple of touchpoints or marketing interactions to drive conversion.

Focus on the bells and whistles of the technology – what are the latest and greatest features that are really going to wow this audience? Remember, the first adapters may be the first to kick off sales of a new product, but they only represent five percent of current hearing aid users.

EARLY ADAPTERS – Enthusiasts

Although very similar, there are some key differentiators between first and early adapters. This group of customers value new technology but have purposely waited to make a purchase. They’re more hesitant to test drive new products and will most likely look to resources and reviews to consult first before purchasing. Gathering testimonials from your innovators (first adapters) will help move the early adapters along in their purchase decision.

1st MAJORITY – Pragmatists & 2nd MAJORITY – Conservatives

This is where a new device really gains momentum – it has now been road-tested and has built some credibility in the marketplace. The first and second mainstream customers are the peak of our contact curve, representing the majority of untapped opportunities. So, you want to make sure you are hitting this audience with the necessary touchpoints and the right messaging to convert them.

At this point in their hearing health journey, they are hovering around that 3.6-year mark of average device replacement. It’s important to tout the proven applications of your technology – not just the bells and whistles – how these new applications will impact real-life users in everyday situations.

This segment requires more nurturing – between 3-5 touchpoints for first mainstreamers and 5-7 for second mainstreamers. But making up 50 percent of hearing aid users, they’re worth it!

 

LATE ADAPTER – Skeptics

By this point, the newest technology has been on the market for some time. Anyone making a purchase after a product’s introduction is considered a late adapter or a skeptic. They are risk-averse and price-sensitive, so these individuals need the benefits of upgrading their hearing aid devices to significantly outweigh the cost.

If you can afford to offer discounts, value-added services, and/or accessories with a hearing aid purchase, this may be the only thing to entice this group. Be mindful though of the number of touchpoints required to convert skeptics: between 7-9 interactions.

RESISTANT ADAPTER – Resisters

Finally, the resisters. This is a group who are, yep, you guessed it: resistant to change! More often than not, this group of customers will only upgrade when they absolutely have to. Because they represent a small percentage of hearing aid users and require constant nurturing to convert, they are too costly (of your time, money, and energy) to build a separate marketing strategy around.

Of course, these patients are no less deserving of better hearing and can still benefit from your care – we just recommend focusing on other motivations outside of tech, like wellness, when marketing to this group.

If you want to learn about more ways to engage with your database, reach out to your Account Manager and schedule an appointment with the Consult YHN Marketing Team.

About the Author

Julia Shreckengast joined Consult YHN in 2015 and serves as Marketing Account Executive, providing support to Associates by managing creative projects and developing/executing marketing plans. Prior to joining Consult YHN, she helped promote the city of New Orleans as a member of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation. Julia graduated Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Tulane University.

The Benefits of Tracking Your Marketing Initiatives

Whenever practice owners claim their marketing isn’t working, we always respond with the same question: “Are you tracking your marketing activities?”

tracking-your-marketingThere are so many marketing tools available such as call tracking, Google Analytics, or even our Direct Mail Calculator that can help you be more strategic and deliberate with your marketing efforts.

Tracking is no longer optional—it’s essential. Executing a successful marketing plan requires taking a deeper look at results to gain insights and direct you on how best to market in the future.

So, let’s look at the different ways tracking your marketing initiatives can benefit your practice and offer some guidance to help set you on course for success.

 

Tracking Your Marketing Mix

Use your practice management software to track which marketing activity drove a patient to your practice. It is important to gauge what your current marketing mix consists of, how many leads each activity is driving, and where there is room for improvement.

A healthy marketing mix includes activities that target new leads from the community, taps into your current patient database, and secures a continuous flow of referrals from current patients and physicians. Identifying segments that are missing from this mix helps direct your focus towards future forms of marketing that will directly impact your schedule and bottom line.

 

INSIDER TIP

Establish an organized process for how you are labeling your opportunities in your practice management software. Create unique sources to detail exactly which activities your patients are responding to daily. Some practices even add secondary sources to capture a further level of detail. For example:

Primary Source Secondary Source
Physician Referral Doctor Name
Community Outreach Sunrise Nursing Home
Digital Google – PPC

To ensure accurate tracking, make sure staff members who are responsible for inputting this data are all on the same page regarding what each referral source represents.

Adjusting Your Marketing Strategy

Taking a close look at the results of a marketing campaign can help you course-correct any missteps in current marketing strategies. The primary goal of any marketing effort is to make the phone ring. If your tracking data indicates that you are falling short of industry benchmarks for call response rate, then there may be an issue with the audience you are targeting. Identifying this variable, via the data, alerts you that it’s time to reassess the variables making up your target audience. Often, this fix is as simple as readjusting the profile of the target audience – maybe you aren’t marketing to people in the right demographic, or are reaching out to areas too far from the office location. Tracking can help you identify these types of “red flags” and aid to steer you in the right direction strategically.

INSIDER TIP

Don’t wait until the end of the quarter to officially log your tracking notes. Keep a spreadsheet handy and equip your front office personnel with the right online tools to capture and appropriately track leads as they come in.

Improve Organizational Efficiencies

It’s important to own the patient experience from initial call/touch-point, to pre-and post-appointment, right through to purchase and beyond. Identifying where certain patients are getting trapped in the sales funnel can help your team members focus on their individual roles in generating more sales.

For example, are you seeing calls come in from a direct mailer, but they are not converting into appointments? Maybe it’s time to sit down with your FOP (Front Office Personnel) or Office Manager to understand how they are handling incoming calls and discuss the best ways to get the schedule filled. Are completed appointments not converting into sales? It might be time to meet with your providers to discuss best practices for closing sales. [FYI: the Consult Employee Development Program provides free training for your staff year-round.]

 

INSIDER TIP

Tracking can provide valuable details on where patients are in their hearing health journey, so you can tailor future messages directly to their situation. Instead of a generic message, reach out to your Tested Not Sold (TNS) audience with personal phone calls asking why they haven’t purchased and follow up immediately with your Cancel/No Show audience, communicating that you’re sorry they missed their appointment and it’s important to you that they reschedule to meet with your provider.

Send Your Data to Consult YHN

Once you’ve collected your marketing data, the biggest challenge is, of course, figuring out what it all means and what to do with it. Our marketing team can explain the data in real-time with quarterly marketing ROI reports to help you continuously refine your marketing strategy and drive more quality leads to your practice.

If you don’t already have a marketing plan in place for 2019 or if you have any questions about tracking your initiatives, reach out to your Account Manager today.

About the Author

Julia Shreckengast joined Consult YHN in 2015 and serves as Marketing Account Executive, providing support to Associates by managing creative projects and developing/executing marketing plans. Prior to joining Consult YHN, she helped promote the city of New Orleans as a member of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation. Julia graduated Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Tulane University.

2018 Year in Review

It’s that time again to reflect on the past year, and we probably aren’t alone in saying that 2018 was a whirlwind. We enjoyed a busy, but productive and exciting year.

Take a look at what we were up to and what’s on the horizon for 2019.