Keep in Touch: New Patients are Nice but Current Ones are the Key to a Better ROI

retention marketing, ROI, existing customers, repeat business

If you’re like many aesthetic professionals, you probably spend a hefty chunk of your marketing budget trying to acquire new patients. In fact, you may be spending too much.

Don’t get us wrong — you definitely should be investing time, energy and money into turning high-intent consumers into new patients. However, focusing exclusively on doing so may mean you’re overlooking a more readily available — and potentially more lucrative — audience: your existing patients. As marketers in countless industries have discovered, customer retention often provides more bang for fewer bucks.

Consider some statistics compiled by the folks at Econsultancy.com:

  • Attracting a new customer costs five times as much as keeping an existing one (Lee Resources 2010).
  • The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20% (Marketing Metrics).
  • 71% of consumers have ended their relationship with a company due to poor customer service (KISSMetrics).

For cosmetic surgeons, the upshot is inescapable: With more and more patients opting for injectables, chemical peels and other short-term fixes that require serial visits, the prospects for promoting repeat business are essentially built in. Here are 3 ways to facilitate the process:

Provide great service: Yes, it’s stating the obvious but, really, it can’t be overstated: If a patient is unhappy with their first experience with your practice, they’re unlikely to pursue a second one. And make no mistake, their interpretation of their “experience” isn’t limited to the exam room or operating table. It begins with the response they receive to their initial inquiry, the treatment they receive in your waiting room and the attention they get when they have issues or concerns.

Manage your email list: Email is the perfect platform for staying in touch with patients on their terms. A post-procedure follow-up email not only demonstrates your commitment to their care but can be used to invite them to opt in for subsequent emails. Use those messages to introduce new products and services, offer exclusive discounts and alert subscribers to special events; then monitor the results to see what messages pique their interest.

Provide social support: Providing post-care customer service via social media isn’t a big deal now but it’s going to become increasingly important in the years to come if for no other reason than consumers find it a fast and efficient way to get heard. Doctors who respond accordingly don’t just retain existing customers; they have a golden opportunity to get introduced to a larger audience, which, of course, opens the door to acquiring new patients.

Customer retention and customer acquisition don’t have to be two parallel lines that never meet, says Jerry Jao, co-founder and CEO of Retention Science. In fact, when done right, customer retention campaigns can actually bring in new business. How? Through word-of-mouth and referrals, of course.

In economic terms, the result is a virtuous circle in which each iteration of the cycle reinforces the previous one. On a more practical note, it’s also a cost-effective path to a busy surgical calendar.

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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