Ease the Path to Your Practice: Less Friction = More Patients

If you’ve ever booked a flight, bought a book or considered competing products online, then you know that the Internet’s ability to provide an abundance of information is both its blessing and its curse. On the one hand, we all love having options; on the other, it can often lead to a sort of “analysis paralysis” that makes making an actual decision a stressful experience.

Now put yourself in the shoes of someone in the above scenario when they’re considering a face lift or tummy tuck — a potentially pricey, definitely emotion-laden decision — and you can see how the process can become overwhelming and even grind to a halt.

That’s why aesthetic consumers relate to doctors who take the time to help them make sense of the overload along the way. By sharing their expertise, they help demystify the process, removing potential obstacles and clearing the path toward a confident, informed decision.

It’s about reducing the friction that inevitably arises as aesthetic consumers embark on their individual decision journeys.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, reducing friction as a marketing term typically refers to the obstacles potential customers face in completing online purchases — a complicated sign-up form or slow-loading checkout page, etc. But for aesthetic consumers, the most progress-impeding form of friction goes deeper and starts earlier. Simply put, it’s the natural hesitation they experience when they can’t find the information they need to feel confident that they’re making the right decision.

The doctors who will succeed in the long-term will be those who reduce the friction those consumers face. Consider the following tools to help smooth the process:

Before and after photos: Nothing bridges the gap between an aesthetic inclination and an end result like before and after photos. Little wonder, then, that photo galleries are among the most-viewed pages on both RealSelf and many doctors’ practice websites or that 68% of RealSelf users say they’re highly influenced by photos when choosing a doctor.

More photos = less friction.

Answering questions online: Let’s face it, answering questions online can be a touchy subject, but approached professionally, it’s an invaluable tool in the battle against “junk science” and outright misinformation. And given the significant role that online interaction plays throughout people’s decision-making processes, doctors who dismiss the idea of answering questions online are less likely to get the opportunity to answer them in person later.

Accurate information = less friction.

Encouraging reviews: Utilitarian products aside, it’s safe to say that nobody buys anything anymore without seeing what other people have to say about the person or company that’s providing it. Yes, expertise and board certification are still the gold standard but reading the stories of others’ aesthetic journeys helps smooth the path for those that may be just starting out.

Insights from other users = less friction.

Posting prices: Posting procedure prices online remains a hot topic — and it will always be a strictly individual decision — but the fact is that most aesthetic consumers factor price information into their final decision. Even if it’s only one of many factors, giving potential patients an idea of what they’ll pay before they get too far along in their research removes one more obstacle that can impede their progress.

More transparency = less friction.

Doctor Takeaway

Reducing friction works both ways

If you want to help patients reduce their wrinkles — or accomplish any other aesthetic goal, for that matter — the first thing you have to do is reduce the friction they face when they’re conducting their initial research. And while the goal is to make things easier for consumers, the benefits also accrue to doctors who become empowered providers by lending their voice, sharing their expertise and laying the groundwork for connections that can pay off down the road.

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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