Reduce Patient Churn Rates Through Relevant Communication

A calendar with a pencil and stethoscope on it

So Oprah called it quits last week. She’s moving on from her daytime show with millions of fans, celebrities, and people around the world lauding what a tremendous job she did. The reason she was so successful they say, is because she was real, she came across as human, a regular person. Because she connected. She’s curious. And because she values others.

Oprah is bigger than life, dazzling, humorous, and a spectacular communicator. So what lesson can we take from her to help us become more successful? Better communicators, marketers, and relationship builders? Is it relevance?

At Patient NEWS we refer to relevance as customization or personalization – it’s the way we help our clients create excellent communications to achieve their topline goals. Patient acquisition. Retention. Effectively launching a new service. Successfully adding an Associate. Unique offers, product information, health education, compelling stories, and the latest news related to each practice are all relevant pieces of information that will connect and engage patients with the practice and create a stronger relationship. The old “right message to the right people at the right time through the right vehicle”!

In a recent CMO Council survey on loyalty, most marketers said they were communicating to consumers and promoting their products by web/email, 30% used blogs and online communities/social networks. Yet according to consumers, these are three of the least utilized resources. There is a perception of a lower investment in these channels, but when you look at consumer preferences towards printed mail and relevant messaging, you’ll see that it’s probably likely that your best patients came from your direct mail efforts and referrals, i.e. you get what you pay for!

It’s amazing how many dental practices neglect regular mail communication to 100% of their target audience, either existing patients of record or the community surrounding the practice. This directly relates to growing attrition rates, no shows, reduced case acceptance, referrals, and a lack of new-patient growth. In the study, Losing Loyalty: Tthe consumer defection dilemma, for the average brand, 52% of known highly loyal consumers either reduced loyalty within the first year or completely defected in their second year. It also noted that the economy is having a significant impact – many leading brands experienced a drop in total number of highly loyal consumers.

Comprehension improves when information is in a written paper format. It allows patients to understand the meaning and take the time they need to digest the information. And when you consider that the majority of folks feel fear, anxiety, or other negative emotions around their dental visits, you can imagine what a positive impact relevant communication could do to alleviate these symptoms thereby reducing no shows or cancellations.

When we educate consumers about the relevance of their oral health to their overall health, relationships, career trajectory, we increase their desire to maintain their health, teeth, and great smiles. We increase their willingness to bump other priorities for dental treatment, we improve case acceptance. Everyone is juggling their discretionary spending and prioritizing what they want right now. What is too expensive when first presented becomes digestible when more information is revealed and the financial resources are reallocated. Relevant communication builds and strengthens trust, a key to securing patients for life. How often have we encountered a difficult or challenging situation, and when it comes down to it, if we had been better communicators the situation may have been minimized or avoided altogether? And people want to be valued – not just by their friends and partners, but also by the companies they do business with. When you go above and beyond to provide relevant communications and assist your clients, you will increase case acceptance, referrals, and lifetime value.

In a survey of 1000 consumers, 51% indicated that traditional mail is still their preferred method of contact (this stat is a little lower than many recent studies that have shown an 80% preference for printed mail), but still worthy of consideration when you’re allocating your marketing budget. At minimum more than half, and in some regions close to 100%, of your patients prefer to receive printed mail. Interestingly 64% of respondents indicated that promotional offers were the top forms of traditional mail, and 68% sited junk mail as the leading email received! A multi-channel marketing in mix is the most effective, but regardless of your patient preference, traditional mail is the only method to reach 100% of your patients or prospective patients! When you send relevant value-added communications, you attract attention, improve retention of the piece, and improve marketing response and return on investment.

“Extend a hand of connection and understanding.” – Oprah Winfrey?

Feel free to call Patient NEWS for immediate expert advice and more free information on developing content and marketing your dental practice. We respect your time. You’ll talk to a real person experienced in dental marketing between 8:30am-6:00pm EST, outside of these hours your inquiry will be returned within one business day.

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