Generating new patients can be a challenging proposition, therefore, most practices must invest heavily in their marketing to fuel continued growth.
While getting a potential new patient to engage with your practice might receive an abundance of your resources and attention, it’s only part of the equation. Capitalizing on opportunities you create through marketing is often an overlooked yet critical component to your overall success.
Leads are great. They are an important goal of any marketing campaign. The more high quality leads you generate, the better you’ll be. But leads aren’t patients — yet.
“Intake” refers to the process of converting these inbound leads to patients.
In working with dermatologists, plastic surgeons and medical spas all over the county, we’ve identified a few common challenges that can limit the success of your new patient acquisition efforts.
Challenge 1: Phones not being answered in a timely manner or going to voicemail.
Solution: If you have an extremely busy practice, calls ending up in voicemail might be unavoidable. The best way to solve this is to have a defined call plan. The goal should be to try and reconnect with the potential new patient as soon as possible. Studies show that the odds of contacting a lead after the first hour decrease by over 10X and that means a missed opportunity.
Be fast in your response time and you will win more new patients. Think about developing an action plan that will ensure someone on your staff calls each voicemail from a lead within 30-60 minutes.
Challenge 2: Inbound calls going to staff members who aren’t properly trained to answer questions or schedule the consultation.
Solution: This is certainly a challenge when you offer a speciality procedure, like Coolsculpting or Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass surgery. Here are some things we recommend to address this:
- Conduct Training With Your Staff – Schedule some time to train your staff to ensure they are knowledgeable about the procedure and can handle inbound calls in a consistent manner.
- Create a Call Script – Identify qualifying questions you should ask prospective patients and include a list of Frequently Asked Questions & Answers. This will help your staff members communicate what differentiates your practice clearly and consistently.
- Record All Intake Calls, and Then Listen to Them – Monitoring your inbound calls will allow you to ensure your staff is adequately trained to efficiently and successfully convert those inquiries or leads into patients.
A well trained intake staff will increase your conversion rates and help fuel patient growth.
Challenge 3: New patient prospects staying on hold for longer than 1 minute.
Solution: Studies show that potential clients don’t like to be put on hold. In fact, if left on hold for more than one minute, nearly 60% of inbound callers will hang up. Try to structure your intake plan so no one is on hold for more than one minute without having a staff member personally acknowledge the caller. Consider ringing multiple phones at the same time if the caller is interested in a high value service. Or maybe you could provide a live chat feature on your website to ease phone call volumes. These options will help reduce call drops.
If a potential new patient calls your practice and then drops off the call because they were left on hold, that’s a lost revenue opportunity. No one wants to lose the potential for new patient revenue because a caller was left in “hold limbo”.
Challenge 4: Form Fills going to wrong person or not being responded to in a timely manner.
Solution: This is an issue we see regularly. There are a couple of simple solutions that if implemented can be a fix.
- Create a Lead Nurturing Program – If you’ve received a form fill inquiry, you should have the prospects phone number and email address. This will allow you to respond immediately and have multiple email touchpoints with the interested party. You can also use email as an opportunity to educate the prospect on why they should ultimately choose your practice to meet their needs. There are multiple tools available to help you automate this type of email program.
- Use the Call Plan for every inbound form fill (see Challenge #1) – Always follow up. Too many leads are left unconverted because practices don’t initiate contact in a timely manner. Don’t leave leads cold. If you don’t go after them, your competitors will.