Database = More Qualified Leads: The Who, Why & How

Many of the practices that I speak to assume marketing is centered around bringing in new people. While that is a key component, that is not all that marketing is. The definition of marketing provided by the American Marketing Association states: “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

Notice how “customers” are the first audience they call out? They are the easiest people to market to, yet practices tend to leave them by the waist-side.

Here are three reasons why you should be marketing to your patients:

  1. You have an established relationship with them. You already invested the time (and money) to get them in the door. Regardless if they purchased or not, you should want to maintain that relationship with them, so they continue to come back.
  2. Out of sight, out of mind. The hearing industry has evolved into a heavily competitive environment, so your patients are bombarded with advertisements from the larger, big box competitors that have the million-dollar marketing budgets. If you aren’t communicating with them on a consistent basis, they are more likely to go elsewhere.
  3. It is less costly. As opposed to marketing to the whole 65+ community, it won’t cost you nearly as much to mail something to your patients. It would be even cheaper if you sent them an email! The ROI is also much higher because you are marketing to more qualified leads.

Here are the facts*:

  • Compared to ads, inserts, digital marketing and traditional direct mail results, database marketing had the highest ROI – 99%!
  • 68% of completed appointments that came from a database initiative, converted to units sold.
  • Practices who ran an Consult YHN Upgrade event where they targeted their TNS and OOW patients, on average made almost $31K in profit – just from one 3-day event!

Here is what you can do:

  • Document where your patients came from and what the result was from their appointment. This will help you tailor your messages to those specific audiences. It will also provide insight into whether your marketing is working appropriately.
  • Devote 10% of your marketing budget to database marketing and implement it. This can consist of letters, birthday cards, postcards, newsletters, etc. These messages can either be delivered through the mail or the internet.
  • Execute fun events to get patients to come back into the office. You can do different things like a patient appreciation week, a wine & cheese night or even host Q&A sessions with both hearing aid and non-hearing aid users.

Here is how Consult YHN can help:

  • We can organize your database by establishing the correct referral sources and working with your practice management software on developing segmentation lists.
  • We can design any marketing piece that you want to send out to your database.
  • We can host your next Upgrade event.

All you need to do is contact your Consult YHN representative or the marketing team to get started. We will work with you to make your practice profitable by keeping it top of mind with your patients.

 

*These facts are based on the data that our Associates provide to us that is captured in Consult YHN’s quarterly marketing ROI report.

About the Author

Lindsey Pierangeli joined Consult YHN in 2012 and serves as the Marketing Manager. Previously, she held marketing positions with advertising agencies and worked on accounts such as Amazon and Coca-Cola. Lindsey graduated Magna Cum Laude from Johnson and Wales University.

Creating a Robust Patient & Professional Referral Program

Attracting new patients is critical to your practice’s health, growth and long-term stability. Recently Dr. Howard Ong, owner of Seal Beach Dentistry, and Dr. Kathy Wentworth, owner of PetPoint Medical Center and Resort, two members of Insights from the Outside, a panel of clinician practice owners created by CareCredit from multiple disciplines, including dentistry, veterinary medicine, ophthalmology, audiology and optometry, shared their best practices on growth through referrals, many of which may provide insight and inspiration for hearing health professionals.

For healthcare businesses to be successful there must be people walking through your door and patients getting treatment. It’s absolutely critical for every practice, not just a new practice, to continue to build a new patient base.  You think that because you have something to offer people, that they will just find you. The problem is, for the most part, they’re not going to. And because it’s the nature of the business to lose patients who may move or no longer need your care, it’s important to keep increasing the underlying patient base. You have to start with the end in mind and create referral programs that help your practice grow.

There is a big difference between patients who are referred to you by friends, families or a health professional and those who find you through other mediums. When patients are referred, there is a sense of trust. That’s because they have a personal recommendation. It’s human nature to trust the advice of a friend or family member. And because the existing patient shared information about you, how you treat people and your services, the new one comes in with an understanding of what you do and what you offer and an expectation that they will be happy with your care and services. The quality of the patient is much better and the likelihood of the patient following through with your treatment recommendations is higher.

To create a robust referral program, you have to start with your current patient experience. No one is going to refer a doctor to friends and family if they are not 100% happy with every aspect of that practice – from the first call to treatment and follow-up. The entire experience must be exceptional so they’re excited to share that experience with others. If patients have a good experience, they are going to stay. And if they stay and you treat them well, they are going to recommend patients.   People want to feel like they belong and that they have chosen the right office for care.

Here are a few ways to increase referrals:

1. When the time is right – ask!

The best time to ask for a referral is when patients are delighted (i.e. when you’ve had a successful procedure or a successful delivery of a device). Anytime other than that, it loses its value. It takes time to develop that habit because it has to be a behavior in the team to recognize when that delight moment happens. Everything kind of freezes and we take the opportunity to ask for a referral.

2. Offer a small incentive.

It’s really not about the money for people; it’s about them being delighted and wanting friends and family to have the same experience. So, if they’ve had a great experience, ask and offer a small credit on their account as a thank you.

3. Get out and meet your “neighbors.”

Doing on-site promotions with property managers and business owners in the community can be very successful. Most property managers and businesses are excited because it doesn’t cost them anything and it’s an event they can offer their residents or employees.  Provide information and presentations on preventing hearing loss – any topic that will educate and encourage people to be curious about you and your practice.

4. Be part of the community.

Professional community talks are another way to expand awareness of your practice. It’s about building relationships with other colleagues and those in your referral funnel. It is great exposure and even though it may not be the number one draw for referrals, it will definitely make your practice visible and an authority of hearing health.

5. Be of service.

Being active in service organizations can not only be rewarding personally, it can be a source for soft referrals. When you participate in community events and fundraisers, people see you being helpful and involved and are more inclined to think of you when they or a friend need a great community audiologist.

6. Look for unique referral opportunities.

One unique source of referrals are patients who have come to our practice through the CareCredit Provider Locator on which we get a free listing. For us, CareCredit is part of the patient experience and our referral process, because it helps us help patients get the care they need.  If patients can’t get the care, they certainly aren’t going to be referring friends and family. We are seeing an increasing number of new patients come in through that source.

7. Be social.

Social media is obviously a hot topic today and can be used to generate referrals. Content can be educational and entertaining. Remember, being social also means being personable. Take pictures of staff during the day, from serious procedures to light-hearted pictures.  Existing and prospective patients like that they can get to know you and see what you’re all about.

Ultimately, when people know you care, that you’re committed to doing the absolute best for them, referrals are a natural outcome. It truly starts with why you chose to be a healthcare provider in the first place – to help patients get healthy so they can live active, connected lives.

If you and your team deliver on that promise in a way that is respectful, encouraging and unique, you’ll see your practice grow.

 

This content is subject to change without notice and offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual business, financial, legal, tax and/or other advisors with respect to any information presented. Synchrony Financial and any of its affiliates, including CareCredit, (collectively, “Synchrony”) makes no representations or warranties regarding this content and accepts no liability for any loss or harm arising from the use of the information provided. All statements and opinions in this blog post are the sole opinions of the authors. Your receipt of this material constitutes your acceptance of these terms and conditions.

About the Authors

Dr. Howard Ong started practicing dentistry 24 years ago and joined the practice 10 years ago. Dr. Ong is specially trained in implantology, and has focused his love for implants and surgery by completing his Masters ICOI. He has also completed his Masters in the AGD program.
Dr. Ong is a member of the ADA, CDA, Harbor Dental Society, AGD, ICOI and holds a certification in DOCS and the Seal Beach Dental Study Club.

Dr. Kathy Wentworth, owner and medical director, is board certified as a Diplomate in canine and feline practice. She has been practicing for 17 years in Southern California and has expertise in all types of pets in both conventional and integrative medicine. PetPoint is a family owned and operated 16,000 square foot premier pet care center that offers everything for your pets’ health and wellbeing.

Online Chat: How to Start, What to Expect

For years, Apple, REI, Disney, and many other industry-leading companies have been using online chat to achieve superior customer experiences and increase sales effectiveness. Research shows that visitors who chat are 7.5 times more likely to complete a purchase than visitors who don’t chat. Chat also leads to greater customer satisfaction and more frequent repeat business, but is it right for professionals and private practices?

The theory behind chat is simple: Make it easier for potential clients to communicate with your practice, interact with a greater number of potential clients, and schedule more consultations and hearing tests. Though the theory of chat for your practice is simple, the practice of chatting professionally is difficult to execute. Is it worth implementing in your business? What are the costs and the benefits of chat? Should I manage chat in-house or outsource the management of my chat? What’s a budget-conscious way to get started?

Through our years of experience and testing online chat with more than 500 high-growth U.S. businesses, we have answered these questions and many more. Since our beta test period and launch in April 2016, we are now serving hundreds of businesses internationally and have used all of the data from our clients to compose these statistics. Our clients range from small rural one-provider, one-location practices to 15 provider practices in the urban core.

Adding online chat is simply a change in approach. Would you prefer clients leave without signing a contract, or would you prefer them to purchase today? Would you prefer your web visitors to be in control of calling you for a hearing test, or would you prefer to collect their information and have your most effective scheduler call them?

What Should You Expect?

Benefits

  • Interact with new clients outside of normal business hours and increase web conversions.
    • Because chat is more effective than a life-less, “Request an Appointment” button, you will convert more web visitors into new clients when your office is closed by live interaction with the client.
    • Our goal as marketers should be to meet the buyer where the buyer wants to buy.
  • Lower communication barriers help increase the frequency of communication with new clients on your website.
    • Our statistics show that 4-6 percent of web visitors are likely to engage with online chat.
    • Of the total chatters, over 40 percent will be new clients.
    • With an experienced and high quality chat agent, you can expect to collect contact information from 50-60 percent of those new clients.
  • Better organic search ranks due to longer user session duration.
    • When clients chat with your practice, they stay on your site for a longer period of time. Longer session durations lead to higher organic Google search results.
    • Because the average chat length is between seven and eight minutes, chatters are staying on your site longer.
    • Compared with the same period in the previous year, we noticed an average session duration increase of 10 percent.
  • Fewer current client calls to your practice during peak hours
    • Our client data shows that 61 percent of chats are taken from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. CST., 19 percent are taken before 10 a.m., and 20 percent are taken after 4 p.m. By answering client questions during the day, your staff can focus their efforts on outstanding in-office client service.
  • Increase in client satisfaction.
    • Your office will be more accessible to clients throughout a greater portion of the day. When accessibility increases, new client satisfaction increases. Not only will new clients be impressed, current clients will use it during your busy days and while they are at work

Costs

  • Professionally managed chat is a financial investment.
    • If you chose to have a professional manage your chat service, expect the starting rate to be $99-399 monthly.
  • Increased website bounce rate.
    • We noticed a slightly higher bounce rate after installing chat on practice websites, however, the evidence suggests that the benefit of session duration outweighs the negative effect of the slight increase in bounce rate. We only saw increases in Google organic rankings after adding chat and never decreases.
  • (Potential) Client frustration for poor chat execution and framing.
    • Chat is easy to do poorly. If done poorly, clients get frustrated, staff get frustrated, and chat is ineffective.
    • Just like the phone, if your team has poor service, poor phone skills, and poor scripting, your phone conversations will not be effective.

How Can I Start?

There are three options for implementing online chat for your practice. 

  1. Outsource chat to U.S. professionals.
    • Chat agents who are well versed in the hearing process and nuanced differences between different treatment types will be more effective at answering chats. This will lead to better client experiences and more effective collection of new client information.
    • Additionally, if the agents know about your practice offerings, they can build value for your practice.
    • Hiring U.S. agents who work in-office is an effective way to control quality and increase chat effectiveness.
    • This option is best for offices without large call centers.
  2. Outsource chat overseas (most chat companies).
    • There are hundreds of options to outsource your office’s chat. Service can range from per minute fees to a flat monthly fee, however, be aware that these chat agents do not know much about audiology or specifics about your practice. They often chat for businesses in a variety of industries and countries.
  3. Manage chat in-house.
    • Chat software can be placed on your site easily. There are services that range from free (Tawk.to or MyLiveChat) to more than $100 per month (BoldChat, LiveChat).
    • This works best for practices with a large call center already established for extended hours.
    • It is difficult to reliably answer chats if it is not the staff person’s main responsibility.
    • Beginner mistakes to avoid:
      • Having a pre-chat survey.
        • Do everything you can to decrease new client barriers…that’s the whole idea of chat!
      • Making the chat box look “spammy.”
        • You want the box to look trustworthy, not like a cheap service outsourced from another country.
      • Not tracking your results.
        • Make sure you are keeping track of the effectiveness of your chat.
      • Believing your clients when you survey them about chat.
        • If you ask a client, “Would you have come here to the office if not for our chat?” he/she is going to say “Yes!” 100 percent of the time. No new client wants to admit that convenience of chat alone was enough to get them into your practice.
      • Not having a “pop-out” window.
        • Pop-ups are generally annoying and detract from the web page, so it is important that your pop-out is tasteful and looks like a real human is on the other end.
        • Pop-out chat welcome messages are responsible for starting productive chats 75 percent of the time.

When you boil down these details, you need to make sure that you are achieving a better ROI with chat than you could with another marketing activity. That’s the golden question we should always ask ourselves before making any marketing purchase: “Can I use these marketing expenses more effectively in another place or on another project?”

Here is the proprietary calculation we use to estimate the ROI for our future clients based upon our current client data collection:

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Please Note: The above calculation will give you a likely ROI to revenue. Keep in mind that this is with highly trained HearingChats Specialists. Each practice’s results will be different.

Just like direct mail, Facebook marketing, and Google Adwords are not for everyone, chat is not for everyone. When chat is implemented deliberately and correctly, however, it can be an extremely effective tool for driving revenue and “wowing” existing clients.

If you are interested in implementing chat on your practice’s website, whether you are looking for a professional service or you are looking for help getting chat setup in-house, feel free to chat on our website and our team will gladly offer complimentary help.

About the Author

Scott Hansen is the CEO of HearingChats, the world’s leading professionally managed chat service for hearing professionals. While achieving his master’s in Business Administration at the University of Missouri–Kansas City, he was awarded a certificate of achievement by the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation for his entrepreneurial work. Scott has owned and managed some the country’s fastest growing privately held businesses. Feel free to contact him at 816-205-8009, or chat online at HearingChats.com.

Master the data, better serve your customers!

Marketing has changed. Since 2000, essentially all businesses prepared for these changes with toll-free numbers and considered themselves ready for inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is waiting for consumers to call — or text, or visit, or click through to — your business.

Use of the word waiting doesn’t do the concept justice, however. Inbound marketing is not passive, it’s active waiting, or, more correctly, encouraging consumers to contact you. Inbound isn’t a battle for prospects’ attention. It’s not a hard or aggressive sale as much as it is a strategy for presenting your business. Through content on your website, social media, blogs, etc., you encourage consumers who find your products and services relevant to their needs to reach out to you.

Inbound is often applied to the customer journey — from being total strangers to having an awareness of your business, then moving through stages of familiarity and consideration of your offerings, and finally into the decision or conversion phase, where they choose to become customers. A smart business presents content in appropriate channels that suits the interests of prospects throughout this journey. Each portion of your content collection should relate to the buyer’s unique position in the journey and then advance him/her toward conversion.

The trick is knowing if and how the content and the channels are actually moving the customer along in his/her journey. That’s done with data. Even though we’ve moved into instant, digital everything, some significant parts of a buyer’s journey still happen offline, and offline actions must also be tracked and measured.

Offline data gaps can occur due to material differences among marketing channels. Facebook is a terrific place to build awareness and create a community, but social platforms are not where consumers typically go to make purchases or gain deep knowledge of your products/services.

At the other end of the journey, phone calls are rarely first touches. A customer who phones your business may want information that they couldn’t find on your website — and there’s a good chance the customer is ready, or is almost ready, to buy. If you’re not measuring phone calls, you’re likely missing substantial data. The technology of call intelligence platforms makes taking inbound calls while collecting data, recording, transcribing (and more) a simple proposition. Most tracking platforms integrate call data with CRM, practice management software, and other marketing platforms, giving business owners a more complete picture of their potential customers.

Why is call tracking important? It’s a digital world, but calls are far from dead. Even though the integration of the web and smartphones into everyday life has changed our world substantively, phone calls are still alive and well in the marketing process. Capturing, tracking and acting on the intelligence of your phone calls is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity.

In fact, the continuing evolution of phone technology has created an environment where mobile searches can result in immediate calls and conversions — all from the same device. Measuring which search queries, ads and content make those calls happen, therefore, will be key to building and refining a winning overall strategy.

About the Author

Jerry DeRosa is Consult YHN’s Vice President, Marketing. He draws from more than 25 years of marketing experience with expertise in direct and retail marketing, advertising and digital media. Previously, Jerry was Director of Marketing Communications for Wolters Kluwer Health, a medical information, data and publishing company.

The Importance of Customer Surveys

Most of us start the day raring to go – energized after our first cup of coffee, ready to tackle the day’s activities and anything that comes our way! Even though we may have the best of intentions and believe that we are expressing ourselves positively in front of customers, plus offering the best in class service, often, there’s a disconnect between perception and reality. What we believe to be true may not necessarily align with our customers’ viewpoint. That’s why it’s so important to solicit feedback from our customers – candid commentary regarding their experience on every visit.

Why Customer Surveys?

Beyond being a courtesy to customers – truly caring about their interaction with personnel by asking for their overall satisfaction – surveys gauge customer loyalty in real time. We all know that the records in the patient database are a primary key to business success, but did you know that businesses are fourteen times more likely to sell to an existing customer than a new one? This means intimately understanding the patient journey and correcting any bumps along the way. Administering surveys and reviewing feedback regularly allows insight into any systemic issues within the business that need attention. Also, if there are any unhappy customers, reaching out ASAP to remedy their grievance is the best practice and may turn a soured customer into a champion.

The Net Promoter Score

Net Promoter Score IconsOne way to measure customer engagement is by establishing a business’ Net Promotor Score (NPS), a leading indicator of customer loyalty that has been adopted by more than two-thirds of Fortune 1000 companies. The NPS, measured on a scale of zero to one hundred, establishes how connected a customer is to a business. Ultimately, every business’ score should be upwards of seventy, which equals “world class” service. The only way to evaluate whether a business’ NPS is on the “world class” level is to first understand the current NPS score and then make strides to improve customer experience, if needed.

As a consumer yourself, you likely know more about the NPS rating than you think. If you’ve ever rated a business via an online survey by answering the question “How likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?” then you’ve helped a business better understand their own NPS rating!

By soliciting your customers’ opinions about their experiences, you are not only extending them a courtesy, but you’re actively evaluating how connected they are to your business. Your overall profit can benefit in a big way from keeping customers loyal to your practice – and that requires asking how satisfied every patient is with his or her experience after leaving your office.

Interested in learning more about customer surveys? Contact Consult YHN’s Marketing department for details about our exclusive Consumer Survey Program – 800.984.3272, option 8 or marketing@consultyhn.com.

About the Author

Keara M. Piekanski joined Consult YHN in 2010 and serves as Director, Product Management. She has over 13 years of marketing experience and develops products and services for Associates. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Pittsburgh, is Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certified, and is pursuing an MBA at Villanova University.

Lead Generation: What is it and where do I start?

LeadGen2

Generating a steady supply of patients and maintaining a full schedule is a critical part in developing a profitable practice. However, we all know it can be a challenging process. Now is the time to reevaluate your business to determine what initiatives are effectively driving traffic to your office and what things you can be doing differently to generate more leads. This methodology is what marketers call “lead generation”.

In order to diversify your pipeline, you’ll want to attract, nurture and retain a combination of new acquisitions, prospects and customers. To accomplish this, create a plan that communicates messaging to each segment of your target audience via a multi-channel approach; aka your lead generation strategy.

Here are some tips to consider when you’re developing a lead generation strategy:

–  Identify your target audience

Begin by focusing on two major target segments. One type includes the residents within our community who you’ve never met; people won’t visit your location if they don’t know the practice exists. Consider targeting areas within a close proximity to your office, possibly where the majority of your patients are already travelling from.

The other audience segment includes the people already in your database. These leads are uniquely qualified because you have established a connection with them; now all it takes is nurturing that existing relationship. Consider not only your current patients, but also contacts in your database who haven’t physically visited your office. These leads could have been connections from a lunch and learn or health fair; however, these contacts never took the next step to schedule an appointment with your practice. This group tends to get overlooked, yet they are one of the strongest prospect segments.

–  Identify your messaging

Your practice’s selling point is a key message that needs to be communicated to all audience segments. Consider which of your products or services are different or better than what your competitors are marketing in the community. Put yourself in your patient’s shoes and think about what motivates their behavior and buying decisions.  Try to uncover the real reasons why your patients came to your practice and purchased, instead of patronizing one of your competitors.

If you are having trouble identifying your differentiator, ask your patients directly why they chose your practice.  Encourage patients to rate your practice on things like atmosphere, staff, and services; it will not only help you identify your unique selling point, but it will also determine how you can improve your customer service as well.

The other option is to think about your “why” statement. Why did you become a hearing health provider and/or start your business? Integrating this personal statement about your practice helps you stand out among your competitors.

–  Identify goals and objectives

It’s essential to have goals and objectives established when developing a successful strategy. Identifying these benchmarks and milestones allow you to evaluate the success of your outcomes. Make sure your practice’s goals are aspirational, yet attainable, and ultimately support the purpose of your current business strategy. When you are developing your goals, determine if you want to measure by quantity, quality, or both. Examples include growing overall profitably by a certain dollar amount or percentage, achieving or increasing measurable ROI, obtaining more qualified leads, or gaining additional insight into what makes your target audience tick.

–  Determine what to offer

Think about what you can offer your audience that will entice them to convert into a lead. While price is important, it’s not the only reason why people will express interest. If your competition is beating you on price, you have to present the target audience with a relevant benefit that addresses their needs. Then, build your sales and promotional material around that “pain point.” You can create an offering with less perceived obligation and more perceived value (for your leads) and provide it free of charge. This could be a booklet, gift, demonstration or anything else related to your product or service. Think of it like a door opener; something to discover interested individuals and get the conversation started.

Once you have determined what offer(s) you want to promote, you should include a call-to-action (CTA) to support it. This CTA is an instruction to the audience to provoke an immediate response. Something as simple as a “call today” or “call to schedule an appointment” will suffice – and remember to include contact information. Creating this type of urgency will entice consumers to reach out to the practice.

–  Determine the best multi-media approach 

The lead generation techniques of the past look quite different then the modern version. The methods for generating leads in today’s marketplace need to feed your sales pipeline from various channels. This year at AHAA’s Convention, our team will be presenting a multi-faceted lead generation strategy that introduces you to new products and strategies you can employ right away to reach beyond traditional efforts.  Decide which approach offers your practice the most promise after hearing from the business owners who have already boldly embraced today’s lead generation strategies.

Lead generation is the backbone of an effective marketing campaign for your practice. Without a continuous flow of fresh leads, your practice could have difficulties thriving in today’s competitive arena.  If you can’t make it to Convention this year, reach out to your Associate Manager; he or she will help you develop your lead generation strategy and diversify your approach to customer acquisition and retention!