Patient Trust: Why It’s Important and Five Ways to Build It

According to the FBI, millions of elderly Americans fall victim to some type of financial scam or confidence scheme every year. If that’s not enough cause for concern, they’re being inundated by industry disrupters—managed care, discount plans, big boxes, and OTC (Bose and Apple)—after spending more than a year in isolation, fearing for their health as a result of the pandemic.

That’s why it’s never been more important for practices to establish credibility and build trust with patients.

Without the reputation, name recognition, and marketing budget of a major tech company like Bose or Apple, this is a practice’s best defense against growing competition, patient skepticism, and the lingering stigma against hearing aids. Because while we all know how incredible today’s hearing aids are and the profound difference they can make in the lives of those who need them, convincing patients of this is perhaps your greatest challenge.

So, what can you do to cut through all the noise and earn your patients’ confidence and effectively deliver life-changing hearing healthcare?

#1. Make a good first impression.

Because most patients are finding your practice online, that’s where you really need to shine. To establish yourself as the local hearing health expert, engage existing patients, and entice prospects, it’s vital that you have…

A) A well-designed, user-friendly website that not only highlights your expertise and credentials but also serves as a resource for people seeking hearing health information. Not sure if your site is up to par? Let our in-house marketing experts conduct a website assessment!

B) An excellent online reputation. Add Vidscrips and video testimonials to your website and Healthy Hearing Premier Profile flex space and make sure you have plenty of positive reviews on Google and Facebook.

#2. Be consistent.

Your brand image and messaging need to be consistent from your website to your doorstep, and with every interaction a patient has with one of your staff members. If you have multiple locations, each office should follow the same scripting and best practices in addition to providing the same quality of care. The only way to achieve this kind of uniformity is through regular, ongoing staff meetings and professional development. The Consult Development Programs are designed to ensure everyone in the practice is working together as a team to maintain a positive brand image, provide superior customer service, and support practice growth. Also, make sure that your hours, services, and other practice information is consistent across all of your marketing assets and channels. Even a seemingly minor inconsistency can make a potential patient think twice about choosing your practice.

#3. Be transparent.

Ideally, patients should already know who you are and what to expect before they ever step foot in your office. Does your Front Office Professional know how to handle price shoppers and address questions about OTC hearing aids? Do your providers know how to prevent and overcome common objections? Again, this is where regular staff training and meetings can have a major impact. With the right scripting and the right mindset, even the most skeptical customers can become satisfied patients. If you don’t already have a value statement, I encourage you to develop one and share it with your employees along with your business goals. Every member of the practice should be able to articulate why you and why your practice.

#4. Make strong clinical recommendations.

When making the recommendation for hearing devices, do you resort to showing patients the full smorgasbord of hearing aids you offer, or do you lead the conversation to a strong clinical recommendation? Patients are coming to you because you are the expert. So, make a clear recommendation and tie it back to their hearing test as well as what you’ve learned during the appointment about their lifestyle, hobbies, career, and budget. That way, patients know you’re not just trying to sell them the premium product but rather there’s a legitimate clinical reason behind your recommendation. It also shows you’ve been listening to them and are committed to finding a solution that meets their individual needs.

#5. Educate patients.

Education and exceptional patient care go hand-in-hand. Both inside and outside the practice, you should seize every opportunity to educate patients about the importance of good hearing health. In addition to attending/hosting community health events and creating educational content (blogs, articles, and videos) to promote across your digital channels, you should always have a collection of up-to-date educational materials in your office. You never know—sending a reluctant patient home with a brochure to review with their loved ones could just provide the push they need to move forward in their hearing journey. It’s also important for providers to explain the blank audiogram before putting patients in the booth. This helps patients and their companions understand what to look for, thus creating greater transparency throughout the testing process.

Industry disruptors and COVID-19 aren’t going away any time soon. But if you and your entire team can openly, honestly, and effectively communicate with patients, then you will lessen their skepticism and increase their trust, leading to greater satisfaction and retention.

Consult can help.
Learn more about our Development Programs!

About the Author

Leah Breuers is the Director of Vendor Relations and Key Account Manager. She has extensive experience in the medical field selling and managing multi-million dollar businesses with a strong focus on customer service, training, increasing profitability. Before joining Consult in 2009, Leah worked both inside and outside the medical industry for emerging and Fortune 500 companies. In her time with the organization, Leah has worked with some of the largest, most engaged accounts and has routinely grown her portfolio by double digits year over year.

Define a Winning Business Strategy with Our Four Elements of C-A-R-E

Industry influencers are creating a defining moment for hearing healthcare businesses. Will yours be among those that rise to the challenge and thrive?

When you combine the economic decline created by the pandemic last year with the increasing presence and influence of Third Party Administrators (TPAs) and brand-name OTC options, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the threats. So, what should you do about these threats? Well, any business coach worth his/her salt will tell you that the best defense is a good offense. That’s why it’s never more crucial to have a strategy for your business—one that’s focused on C-A-R-E.

Of course, patient care is always at the forefront of everything you do. And we’re all aware of the benefits of self-care (seeing to your own physical and mental needs). Those are both important, but they’re not the types of care to which I’m referring—I’m talking about business care!

How often do you really think about the wellness of your business? I don’t mean the day-to-day operations of working in the business. I’m talking about the strategies that safeguard you from the threats of matters like reduced reimbursements and unexpected shutdowns. I can’t promise an easy, magic solution. But I can give you an easy-to-remember formula that will help you to be more thoughtful about the current health and future of your business:

Let’s break down what it means to C-A-R-E for your business:

Create

Specifically, creating opportunities to help more people hear well. This one is fairly straightforward: it’s about marketing! Let the members of your community know who you are, what you do, why hearing wellness is so important, and why you and your practice are best equipped to serve their hearing healthcare needs. Here are some pointers for how to approach this with your marketing:

  • Establish a budget (as a general rule-of-thumb, we recommend 10-12 percent of your revenue goal)
  • Identify your strategy:
    • Diversify your communication approach, just like you would monetary investments. Direct mail, physician marketing, and community outreach are all still prevalent, among other traditional methods. It’s also more important than ever to have a strong digital presence.
    • Research the demographics of your community and identify target zip codes for mailers.
    • Strategize your reach and frequency with a calendar of marketing events.
  • Use call tracking software to assist in measuring return on investment (ROI) for each campaign.
  • Keep manufacturer co-op funds in mind. I heard a rumor that nearly 75 percent of co-op funds allotted to practices go to waste because they’re not used before they expire. Don’t let this happen to you!

If you’re thinking: “easier said than done,” talk to your Consult Account Manager about utilizing our in-house marketing agency for help with the planning, execution, and measurement of your marketing efforts.

Acquire

Once your marketing plan has created the opportunities, that doesn’t mean that your schedule automatically fills up. The purpose of a marketing plan is simply to get the phone to ring. It’s the responsibility of your front office staff to appropriately coordinate patient care and convert those incoming calls into appointments.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • What is each incoming call worth to your business? For example, I recently did the math with a practice, and we found that based on their average revenue per opportunity appointment, each time their phone rang, it represented a potential $950 in revenue.
  • Does your front office understand the importance of each incoming phone call?
  • Does your front office staff recognize their own importance? Have you told them? Not only do they often shape a patient’s first impression of the practice over the phone, but they set the tone as soon as a patient walks through your door.
  • Is your staff properly trained to triage calls and identify opportunity appointments?
  • Are there scripting and scheduling protocols in place that helps your front office staff set your providers up for success when patients come in for their appointments?

Retain

The typical hearing aid user will purchase an average of 3-4 pairs of devices in their lifetime. Unfortunately, customer loyalty is not a given. According to HubSpot’s research about customer acquisition and loyalty, 50 percent of U.S. consumers have left a brand that they were loyal to for a competitor. My point is that you should never get too comfortable, even when your business has a great number of loyal patients. Don’t underestimate the effort required to retain your existing patients. You should have a strategy for communicating routinely with patients in your database so that they don’t end up going elsewhere when they’re ready to purchase that next pair of hearing aids.

When keeping in touch with these patients, the focus should be on educating them about their options, so that they’re empowered to make informed decisions about their own hearing healthcare. A combination of letters and calls with targeted messaging is the key to success here. You can do it yourself, or opt for more turnkey approaches, like the Consult Database Program or Consult Upgrade. No matter the chosen approach, existing patients should make up approximately half (or more) of a practice’s hearing aids sales if said practice is five years old or over.

Expand

You should get the most out of the opportunities that you already have on your schedule. It’s kind of like working out. Some forms of exercise are more effective than others, depending on your goal. For example, the trainer at my gym taught me that if I only have 30 minutes, I should spend the majority of that time focused on strength training rather than cardio. How does that apply to your business? Well, if your goal is to help more people hear well, but there are limited hours in the week for you to do so, how do you make the most out of that time? Here are some of my recommendations:

  • Consider what you’re saying during your consultations. A study done by Hearing Health Matters found that patients’ perceptions and interest levels in hearing devices were significantly different pre and post-appointment.

  • Is it possible that what you are saying is making your patients uninterested in hearing devices? Are you doing the majority of talking instead of listening? Are you focusing too much on the features of the devices rather than the challenges/needs of the patient and the impact that the devices would have on their quality of communication? Have you considered that there might be a more effective way to conduct your consultations?
  • Improve your likelihood of success by including a companion. Are you making it easier on yourself to get patients to accept help by asking them to bring a loved one to their appointments and also involving those loved ones in the process?
  • Set up your schedule to effectively accommodate your patients. Does your schedule allow you to achieve your financial goals without sacrificing patient care? Do you know how many hours are required to do both?
  • Do you have a strategy for discussing purchasing options for patients who were not referred by a TPA? Do you verify benefits before each appointment to identify patients who are eligible for a discount program? Are your providers well-versed in discussing purchasing options with patients so that they’re providing price transparency and appropriately educating and empowering patients to make the choice that’s in their best interest?

Like personal wellness, one day of exercise a week isn’t going to get you in shape. Getting healthy and fit requires a constant and ongoing commitment. The same goes for your business. It takes continuous effort and some C-A-R-E. Can you get fit on your own? Sure, but it’s a lot easier and faster if you have a personal trainer to show you what to do, remind you how to do it right, and hold you accountable to your goals.

So, why not let Consult’s experienced team of experts act as personal trainers for your business?

About the Author

Ridgely Samuel joined Consult YHN in 2005. She has held several positions within the sales and operations teams but has found her passion for developing others in her current role as a Training Manager. Ridgely has experience working as a financial analyst for a former Fortune 500 company, holds a degree in Business Administration from Wake Forest University, and is a certified Six Sigma Green Belt. When she’s not working or acting as a chauffeur for her two daughters, Ridgely can be found relaxing in a hammock with a novel, tossing tennis balls for her dog, or paddleboarding on the lake.

Six Tips for Building & Maintaining a Stellar Online Reputation

We live in an age when a business’s online reputation can either be one of its strongest assets or a major liability. The modern patient has more options than ever when it comes to their healthcare, not to mention a plethora of information at their fingertips at all times. And you can bet they are doing their due diligence before choosing a new doctor.

Not only are prospective patients reading your online reviews (8 out of 10), but they’re reading more than just one or two (more like 10+), and an overwhelming majority (85 percent) trust them as much as personal recommendations.

We all want healthcare providers we can trust. And in 2021, nothing is more powerful in building that trust than positive online word-of-mouth. If your practice has a poor overall review score, it could be driving away hundreds of leads a year into the arms of your competitor.

Aside from attracting new patients, online reviews can also help your practice retain more existing patients, increase patient satisfaction, and improve your Google search rank. Google uses more than 15 percent of review “signals” (i.e., review quantity, velocity, diversity, positive vs. negative sentiment, etc.) as one of the most important local organic search ranking factors. It also displays review information in its listing when someone searches for a specific provider.

So, how do you build and maintain a stellar online reputation? Below are six tips guaranteed to help you obtain more five-star reviews as well as boost the overall credibility and visibility of your brand online.

1. Ask patients for online reviews.

Soliciting patients for reviews makes many healthcare providers uncomfortable. Being open to feedback is essential to building a loyal and satisfied patient base. Patients can provide tremendous insight about your practice and the level of care and service provided. As for the different ways to ask patients to review your practice…

  • Automated emails and/or text messages: In 2021, sending review requests via text or email through your marketing automation software is a must. Not only does it require very little work from you, but it simplifies the process for patients. It’s best to personalize these requests with the patient’s name and send them one to three days following their appointment. Thank them for their visit, let them know how much you value patient feedback, then ask them to share their experience and include a link to one or more of your review websites. To comply with HIPPA when asking patients for reviews, be sure to let them know they can post anonymously and don’t need to include any personal health information or details about their visit.
  • Marketing collateral: Essentially, any materials your practice is already giving or sending patients following appointments are ideal places to ask them for reviews—appointment cards, after-care instructions, letters, postcards, etc. Include instructions on how and where they can review your practice and a link or use a QR code they can scan with their smartphone. Two other great places to request reviews: your newsletter and on flyers throughout your office.
  • On your website: While you want prospects to find your practice on the top review websites they might be checking (more on that later), it’s worth noting that you don’t own any reviews that are posted through a third-party site. Having a landing page on your own website dedicated to patient reviews will ensure you have plenty of great testimonials to use for marketing purposes. You do, however, want to include links to your third-party review sites on that page.
  • On social media: Social media is perfect for sharing all the amazing reviews you receive as well as asking for new ones. You can post the link to your website’s reviews/testimonials page or ask followers to leave a review right there on your Facebook page.
  • Ask during appointments: Over 70 percent of consumers say they’ll leave a business a review when asked. So, directly asking patients face-to-face while they’re in the office could very well be the best strategy if you want your number of online reviews to soar. Have your front office staff mention it to patients on their way out, perhaps while handing them a postcard with instructions. There’s also plenty of ways providers can bring it up casually as they’re wrapping up with patients. Here are two examples:
    • “It was great seeing you today, Suzie! When you get a chance, would you mind leaving the practice a review on our website or Google? A lot of people look at online reviews nowadays and I want to help as many great patients like you as possible.”
    • “In a day or so, you’ll be receiving an email with instructions on how to leave us a review online and I’d appreciate it if you could take a minute to do that because I really value the feedback I receive from patients.”

7 out of 10 people will provide an online review if they are asked

2. Make it easy for patients to leave reviews.

The more options you can give patients on how and where to leave your practice reviews online, the more likely they are to follow through. It should be easy for them to review your practice whenever it’s convenient for them, on any device (smartphone, tablet, or desktop), and on whichever platform they prefer and can easily access at that moment. To decide which of the many review sites you should be on, check which ones your competitors use and ask patients which ones they visit most often. While your website, Google, Facebook, and Healthy Hearing are the top platforms we recommend, others may also be worthwhile—Yelp, Healthgrades, YellowPages, ZocDoc, etc. Google’s algorithm favors businesses that have reviews on multiple, credible third-party sites but looks at the number and quality of the reviews on your Google My Business profile first.

88% of patients use a Google search to find a physician or treatment center while only 30% search directly on a review site

3. Respond to every review—positive or negative.

If a patient takes the time to sing your praises, the polite thing to do is to acknowledge it and thank them. It gives patients the instant gratification of being “seen” and heard online and, more importantly, shows them you value their time and opinion. Your response doesn’t need to be lengthy—a simple, “Thank you for your feedback” or “We’re so happy to hear you had a positive experience at our practice,” will do.

So, what do you do when you receive the dreaded one-star review? Before you respond, take a moment to think back to that patient’s appointment. Maybe even share the review with your staff and have them collectively reflect on every touchpoint they had with that patient. Think about why he/she could have felt compelled to leave such a review. Don’t react right away but do try to respond within 24-48 hours. Also, avoid a generic response that doesn’t address any of the specific complaints/issues raised in the review. When possible, it’s best to personalize your responses by including the person’s name and details about their experience. Apologize then thank them for their feedback and communicate that you plan to make improvements based on their interaction. For example:

  • “We set a high standard for our practice, and we are so sorry that this was not met in your interaction with us.”
  • “We always aim to deliver a great experience, and we are gutted when we don’t meet expectations. Thanks for taking the time to bring this to our attention. We will use your feedback to improve our procedures to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

Will your response be enough to convince that dissatisfied reviewer to give you a second chance? Maybe. At the very least, it leaves room for the possibility. Whereas an aggressive or insincere response or no response at all almost certainly ensures they’ll be getting their hearing health needs met elsewhere in the future (not to mention potentially turning other potential patients away). Lastly, try not to dwell too much on negative reviews—no business can expect to receive five stars every time. Instead, use them as a learning opportunity and focus on getting more positive reviews.

53% of customers expect businesses to respond to their online review within 7 days and 20% expect a response within 24 hours

4. Share your successes and positive reviews.

Highlighting your expertise and achievements as well as the positive experiences of your patients can do wonders to set your practice apart online. Share rave reviews regularly on your social media pages in addition to displaying them on your website. The same goes for the rest of your successes. Recently received an award or made a local “Best Of” list? Featured in an article or local news broadcast? Celebrating an anniversary or expanding to a new location? Involved in a local organization or cause? Shout it from the rooftops! Don’t be so modest. We all expect businesses to brag from time to time and are instinctively more trusting of businesses with accolades worth bragging about.

94% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more

5. Make sure your website is up-to-date and user-friendly.

Simply put: people (as well as Google) are less trusting of businesses that have outdated, messy, and/or poor-performing websites. Today’s consumers expect and demand a seamless browsing experience. That said, you should periodically check to make sure the links on your site work, its pages load fast (under 3 seconds), and the information most visitors are seeking (your contact info, hearing aid information, hearing health tips, etc.) can be found quickly and easily. One of the most important characteristics of a user-friendly website is mobile compatibility/responsiveness. If your practice uses postcards or flyers with QR codes to request and collect online reviews, that means patients will be writing reviews on their mobile devices. Thus, your site needs to be as easy to access and use via smartphone as it is on a desktop.  

60% of consumers read online reviews on their mobile device in 2020

6. Be consistent.

Just because you’ve amassed hundreds of reviews and have a perfect, five-star rating, that doesn’t mean you should take your foot off the gas. While top-rated reviews are great, consumers only look at a business’s most recent reviews. If your best review is from five years ago, it’s not going to be as relevant in their mind (a lot can change in five years!). You want to make sure you always have a consistent flow of fresh reviews coming in. Fresh reviews provide new content for the search engines to discover, thus helping more potential patients find you. Updating your website and social media pages frequently with new reviews can also increase the number of reviews you receive.

73% of consumers only pay attention to reviews written in the last month

In conclusion, your practice’s online reviews have a direct impact on its bottom line. The easiest and most effective way to gain more reviews and manage your online reputation is to use a review generation tool like Consult’s Online Review Builder. This simple software add-on sends automated review requests and reminders to patients, flags, and filters out negative responses (allowing you to respond to them discreetly), gathers reviews from several popular websites, and displays them on your website’s reviews page. Talk to your digital partner—even if it’s not us, chances are they have a similar service that will integrate seamlessly with your existing software and systems. Lastly, make sure you know what people are saying about your practice online. It only takes a few minutes but by ignoring your reviews, you could be missing out on hundreds of new patients every year.

Find out how Consult’s in-house marketing agency can take your digital marketing to the next level!

About the Author

Genevieve Amabile joined Consult YHN in 2019 and serves as a Marketing Account Coordinator. Prior to Consult YHN, she worked as a Social Media Coordinator for a staffing agency and interned with Seven Mile Publishing & Creative in Avalon, NJ. Genevieve graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications in 2018. In her free time, she enjoys baking, reading, and listening to her favorite true crime podcasts.

Patient Recall: The Key to a Successful Comeback Plan

During the COVID-19 shutdowns this spring, many practices struggled with finding the right way to communicate with patients. Overwhelmingly, practices that followed a plan and stayed connected to their database and/or used a service like Your Patient Contact Center (YPCC) to make calls to patients realized two great benefits.

First, those practices reassured patients that they were still there for them and would continue to serve their hearing healthcare needs moving forward. As business returned to normal, those practices kept patients informed about the additional safety procedures they put in place as well as any changes to their hours and services. A remarkably large percentage of practices were quick to implement curbside service and offer remote care options to patients who couldn’t come into the office.

Second, but equally important, it was their existing customers who felt most comfortable coming back into their clinics and purchasing new devices. Whether it was a result of pent up demand or increased family interaction placing a greater value on hearing healthcare in general, it was these patients and their purchases that led to the recovery of many practices.

Of course, this didn’t just happen overnight—it was the practices that put a concerted effort into patient recall that saw the quickest recovery to their business. These practices strengthened their patient relationships and stayed top-of-mind because they took the time to pick up the phone and call their patients. They checked to see if their patient’s existing devices were working optimally or upgraded them to newer technology.

In addition to being a smart business strategy, patient recall is and always has been founded in good healthcare. You need to remain in contact with patients—before, during, and after each sale—to maintain a loyal database. Now, more than ever, it’s vital to invest in patient recall. Not only is new customer acquisition expensive, but the industry is becoming more competitive every year. Leveraging your relationships with existing patients is simply the most cost-effective way to build brand loyalty, drive awareness, and increase patient referrals.

Finally, let’s consider another challenge practices face in maintaining patient relationships: rechargeability. For many years, practices have relied on free or low-cost batteries to keep their patients coming back. While certainly a great innovation, rechargeable hearing aids have significantly reduced the number of office visits patients need to make. That’s why practices need to put greater emphasis on outbound calls to engage their database. At Consult YHN, our most successful Associates make patient outreach a priority and are rewarded because of it.

When it comes down to it, you have two choices: hire an additional staff member to handle your outbound dialing or outsource it to a service like YPCC. The good news is that we can help you with either decision. We hear a lot of practice owners express initial concern about the cost of patient recall. What many don’t realize is that it’s actually an incredible bargain when you consider the end result: a more loyal patient database, increased sales, and most importantly, better patient care.

Click here to learn more about Your Patient Contact Center or talk to your Account Manager today to get started!

About the Author

Bill Connerton is the National Vice President of Sales at Consult YHN. Bill has been with the company since 2011 and has worked extensively with some of the largest practices in the country. He has developed and lead a team of Account Managers that drive behavior change in practices, including the development of business owners who partner with Consult YHN.

Five Simple Ways to Create a Five-Star Patient Experience

Think about the last time you received top-notch customer service. Did your doctor call to check up on you the day after a procedure? Did a restaurant give you extra sauces and napkins with your delivery? Did your accountant send a handwritten note on your birthday?

Now think about the last time you received terrible customer service. How many friends and family members did you tell? Did you rant about it on Facebook? Did you write a scathing Yelp review?

The truth is that the customer experiences we remember are the ones that were either fantastic or truly awful. And unfortunately, it’s usually the latter that gets the most attention:

Customers who have a bad experience are 2-3 times more likely to write a negative review than happy customers are to write a positive review.

Needless to say, bad reviews are bad for business:

80% of people will choose to go elsewhere if they read bad reviews about your business online.

A positive customer experience is key to building loyalty. As the saying goes, “a happy customer is a loyal customer.” And you can’t underestimate the value of loyalty:

Loyal customers are 5 times more likely to purchase again and 4 times more likely to refer a friend.

During my years working in a private practice in Florida, I oversaw all our community outreach events (health fairs, hearing seminars, Lunch & Learns, etc.). Anyone who knows me would tell you, I’m perfectly suited for this type of work. When I wasn’t in the office, I was out in the community, talking to people, learning about their hearing history, and conveying to them how important hearing is to their relationships, livelihood, and overall health.

Once you scheduled an appointment with me, you were my patient. I sent my patients appointment reminders, I called them the day before their appointment to confirm, and on the day of, I made sure to greet him/her upon arrival (“George! Welcome! It’s so nice to see you again!”). This didn’t happen overnight—it took time to build these relationships and good habits. I was fortunate to have a boss who pushed me to do more, be better, and try harder. Sometimes it was difficult, but the outcome was worth it.

I realize the Coronavirus has complicated what good customer service looks like. Healthcare providers have had to quickly adopt new safety and sanitation protocols to protect staff and patients while continuing to provide the same high level of care.

But the pandemic has also made exceptional customer service all the more important. Even something as small as extra bread with my takeout pasta seems to mean so much more. Years from now, it’s the people and businesses that took the best care of us during this challenging time that we’re going to remember most and be loyal to.

Below are sure-fire ways to increase patient satisfaction and build greater brand loyalty—not just today, but in the months and years to come.

1. Be accessible.

Today’s consumers expect and demand greater convenience in every aspect of their lives, including their healthcare. For younger and more active patients, offering services like online scheduling, automated appointment reminders (via email and text message), and live chat can be differentiators for your practice. Keep in mind that some of your patients are also more tech-savvy today than they were just a few months ago. With the pandemic forcing older Americans to remain largely confined to their homes, many have relied on video chat and other apps to shop, work, connect with loved ones, and even meet with doctors. The best thing you can do for your patients right now is to make yourself available to help them, especially the most vulnerable. Consider implementing curbside and teleaudiology services if you haven’t already.

2. Stay connected.

Now more than ever, your patients want and need to hear from you. So much that we recommend overcommunicating with them. Consistent outreach and follow-up with your database is crucial to increasing patient satisfaction and driving sales. Continue to update your digital properties (website, social media, Google My Business, Healthy Hearing profiles, etc.) to reflect any changes to your hours and services as well as the safety precautions your office is implementing. This should also be included in all of your marketing collateral. Use social media to stay top-of-mind with patients and make calling your database a priority. How often should you contact patients to ensure they purchase their next set of hearing aids from you? Click here to find out!

3. Make a good first and second impression.

Your website is often your patients’ first impression of your business. If it’s cluttered, outdated, slow, and/or difficult to navigate, visitors will have a negative perception of your practice (follow these ten tips to take your site from good to great). Just like your website, your office space should be a positive reflection of your brand and the quality of care you provide. Old or unsightly furnishings can suggest a lack of pride and attention to detail while a mini-fridge filled with bottled waters says, “We care about your comfort.” A fresh coat of paint and a fresh pot of coffee (or Keurig) can go a long way in creating a more inviting atmosphere where patients feel welcomed. Once it’s safe to have communal items in your waiting area again, be sure to have fresh new educational and marketing materials (flyers, posters, brochures, etc.) for visitors. Aside from offering valuable information that can help patients make the decision to invest in their hearing, they lend to your credibility as an “expert.” Finally, toss out all those old magazines—no one wants to read about the Royal Wedding anymore (well, except me, but that’s a topic for a much different blog).

4. Don’t keep them waiting!

How do you feel when you arrive to an appointment on time but the doctor doesn’t see you for 20 minutes or longer? Honor your patients’ time with respect. If you’re overbooked and struggling to manage your time, have your Front Office Professional (FOP) do a double knock on the door 5-15 minutes before your next appointment or a single knock when the patient has arrived. This can help keep you focused. Need more time with a patient or wrapping up a sale? Take a quick second and let your FOP know so they can inform your next patient. This is where having a fresh cup of joe and ample reading materials will come in handy.

5. Ask for reviews and referrals.

I’ve already touched on the importance of positive word of mouth but allow me to really drive the point home: nearly 90% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust their best friends’ recommendations and people are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend. If you’ve done everything right and created a positive experience for your patients, then this part should be easy. A satisfied patient is already more likely to recommend your practice to a friend or family member. But why wait for that to happen when all you need to do is ask? There are several ways to ask for patient referrals and, I promise, none are as awkward as you think. In addition, you should be sending automated online review requests through your practice management software (email and/or text message) after each appointment. It helps to plant the seed while the patient is in front of you. Let them know they’ll be receiving a message then explain how valuable their feedback is and that you’d really appreciate it if they could take a few minutes to share their opinion.

Change is hard. I’m the first to admit this. But we all understand the value of good customer service. If you’re following the above recommendations, keep it up. If not, take it one day at a time and gradually make the changes needed to ensure that every person who walks through your front door has the best experience. As my mom always says, “it’s the little things that often make the biggest difference.”

Consult YHN can help.
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About the Author

Julie Gesuale joined Consult YHN in 2010 and currently serves as an Assistant Account Manager in the company’s Hospital and University Division. Her diverse professional background includes customer service, marketing, and project management. When not working, Julie enjoys spending time with her wife of 15 years and her two rescue dogs, Sheldon and Leonard. She’s also been singing in church and community choirs for over 25 years.