You run a successful practice. You have your regular patients who come in every month for facial treatments, injectables, laser or body contouring. You're on first-name terms with them, know all about their family and even follow each other on Instagram, then one day they stop booking in. Initially you put it down to their busy schedule, or a holiday? Then another month goes by and still they don't book in. You send an email or pick up the phone and they tell you "Things are hectic" and they'll book in when they can. Then they go quiet.......
So what went wrong? Why have they stopped calling and booking in?
Here are the Top 5 Reasons why Patients leave.
1. They Don't Feel Valued.
Your Patient comes in monthly for medical-grade facial, and every 3 months for anti-wrinkle injections. You know they love what you do, but are you taking them for granted? When was the last time you offered existing patients added value on regular treatments? Are they seeing 'special offers' for new patients on your website but because they are a regular they don't qualify for the offer? If the patient doesn't feel valued or have their loyalty recognised then they believe you won't care if they return or not so are more susceptible to being tempted by offers at a different clinic. If that clinic then makes them feel more valued than you do, they are unlikely to return to you.
Always treat your existing Patients the same way you treat new Patients. Reward loyalty with skincare products or something of value (such as a free peel). Let them know about introductory offers for other treatments and ways they can benefit from promotions in clinic. Show them that you care and that you value their loyalty.
2. You're Keeping Them Waiting.
You're busy, appointments are running over and your Patient has been waiting 15 minutes already. Busy clinics can fall behind as all it takes is for one or two patients to arrive late or take longer to get dressed post-treatment and the whole schedule suffers. Your Patient then gets anxious as perhaps they are parked on a meter? Maybe they need to be back at work and a delay will cause problems for them? Anxiety can quickly turn to anger and you do not want an unhappy person in your clinic.
People understand delays can happen so informing them of a possible '5 or 10 minute delay' the moment you anticipate a problem will go a long way in placating them, so bring them a coffee and explain that you'll see them as soon as possible. Keep them updated and whatever you do, don't move them to an empty treatment room to wait or they'll feel even more isolated. If you know the delay may be longer, give them the option of rescheduling. Nobody likes their time wasted and the Patient's time is just as valuable as yours.
3. They Don't Receive The VIP Treatment.
From the moment they book in, your patient expects a certain level of customer care. You're one of the best clinics in the area and with that comes certain expectations. Do your staff make it easy to book in for their appointment or does your patient constantly have to chase you to book in? Are they welcomed by name and brought refreshments whilst they wait or are they barely acknowledged when they arrive? Are your team courteous and happy to see the patient or are they just 'one of many?
Make everything easy for your patient, from the moment they call the clinic to the moment they leave, and even after the appointment with your follow-up service. Ensure you are up to date with their treatment plan and read through the notes before they arrive. Prepare the treatment room ready for their arrival and have their favourite drink ready. Talk with your patient, ask for feedback and offer them personalised recommendations. Is the patient happy with the results of their treatment and was the treatment itself pleasant? Are you making it easy for them to book in for their next appointment and is the payment process straightforward? If you always strive to give the same kind of VIP treatment you'd expect to receive at a 5 star hotel then your patient will stay loyal.
4. You Do Not Offer What They Want.
Your patient may be happy with what they have at your clinic, but when was the last time you introduced a new treatment or skincare line? Are you up-to-date with the latest technologies and trends in Aesthetics or are you happy to tick along offering the same as you've always offered? Patients are educating themselves and there's a wealth of information out there on the internet, in magazines, on TV and of course, by word-of-mouth. Everyone wants the latest thing. Your skin tightening treatment may well be the best, but if your patient thinks it's old-hat because you've offered it for years then they'll have their head turned by the new kid on the block who's offering the latest treatment all the Hollywood Stars love.
Educate your patient using your website, eBlasts and in clinic and explain to them why new isn't always better. Explain why you offer what you do and show them the benefits using Before & After materials and testimonials. Look at investing in a new device if you can see it fills a gap in your treatment menu, then advertise the new treatment effectively. Make your patients aware of all the options you offer (you'd be surprised at how many people are unaware of what you have available at your clinic). Re-invent lesser-promoted treatments and get the excitement back.
5. Their Circumstances Change.
There will be some patients who have a change of circumstances which is why they stop booking in at your clinic. Perhaps their income has been affected by a change or loss of a job? Perhaps they have moved further away from your clinic and the travel is a little bit too far for them to justify? Maybe they have a stressful life event such as a divorce, bereavement or birth and are more focused on what's going on in their own life? These things are beyond your control, but that's not a reason to write them off.
Stay in touch. They may be going through a bad time or change of circumstances now, but it won't be forever. Keep them on the mailing list. Send them details of offers and invite them to clinic events. When their circumstances change again, they'll gravitate back to the clinic who reached out to them.