Picture for a moment a potential patient who has decided to book a consultation with your practice. If she’s like most people, chances are that she’s going to have to work that appointment into a day that’s more juggling act than mere schedule. For example:
If she has a job, she had to arrange time off from work, which likely cost her in hourly wages or personal time off.
If she has children, she either had to schedule her consult during limited windows of availability or arrange childcare.
She probably had to build in extra time because every doctor’s appointment seems to entail an extra 30 minutes or so sitting in the waiting room because the doctor is busy with other patients.
It’s enough to dissuade all but the most committed patients from scheduling a consultation, let alone showing up and booking a procedure. And while it’s true that potential patients can’t do much about the above constraints, the fact is that there’s plenty that doctors can do to help people manage them better. It’s about offering features and services that make it easier for potential patients to pursue and accomplish their aesthetic goals — reducing friction as marketers call it — and it should inform every element of your online marketing strategy.
Your practice website: It should go without saying but it bears repeating. Not providing appropriate contact information creates the kind of friction that stops website visitors in their tracks. (According to KoMarketing, 44% of website visitors will leave a company’s website if there’s no contact information or phone number.) At the very least, your practice’s phone number and email address should be prominently displayed on every page; if they’re not, it’s time for a redesign.
Your mobile presence: Today’s time-pressed patient conducts her aesthetic research on the go, consuming chunks of content on the bus, during her lunch hour or waiting to pick up the kids. Having a mobile version of your website makes it easy for her to do so; incorporating compelling calls to action and click-to-call capability increases the odds that she’ll go from researching her options to reaching out to your practice.
Your technology: From restaurant reservations to airline tickets, today’s consumer is used to buying products and scheduling services whenever and wherever she wants, often without talking to a human being at all. And she’s increasingly demanding similar services as a consumer of healthcare: When 77% of patients believe that the ability to book, change or cancel appointments online is important, providing a self-scheduling option is all but required.
You and your staff: Let’s face it. Consultations run long, procedures are prone to complications and even the most efficient practices keep the occasional patient waiting. In such cases, the sticking point isn’t the ease of access; it’s the quality of your customer service. The fact is that today’s patients truly are healthcare consumers and they factor their customer-service experiences into their impressions of their care. The best way to ensure those impressions are positive is to train and empower all members of the team to acknowledge and respond to patients’ frustrations before they become real obstacles.
In their own ways, each of the above addresses the challenges patients face in working their medical care into their already busy lives. From conducting research to making contact to having a positive experience when they come in, they’re all ways to reduce friction as people navigate their aesthetic journeys.
Bottom line? The smoother you make the process, the more likely those journeys will lead them to your door.