It’s every marketer’s worst nightmare: Churn.
It’s what happens when customers, who are notoriously fickle with their loyalties, come to a company, only to leave eventually for your competitor. If you’ve experienced this in your dental practice, it’s probably not specifically about your practice. Every business experiences churn.
Patients are easy to lose, and that’s just a fact of marketing. Today, experts estimate that out of 26 unhappy customers, only one will complain directly to your company. The rest will simply leave. This may lead you to wonder what you’re doing wrong, why your patients are leaving for your competition, and how you can improve your level of customer service. If you’re asking these questions, you’re not alone. This post is designed to help you understand how to retain patients, why they leave, and what you can do to stop at the whole churn cycle.
Why Patients Leave: 5 Things That Will Send Them Through Your Competition’s Doors
While some amount of churn is random, owing largely to customers in decision or preferences, lots of churn can be prevented. The first step is to understand why it happens. With this in mind, here are the five most common reasons that customers churn in today’s environment:
1. You Play Favorites
We get it, there’s some level of intelligence associated with paying the most attention to your loyal, returning patients. Those patients are worth more, and it’s easier to sell to them. Despite this, though, you don’t ruin returning clients by neglecting the clients that are coming to your company for the first time. If you do this, patients will catch on. If they feel like you’re playing favorites with your more established patients, they are simply going to leave.
With this in mind, focus on customer service. 84% of customers say that salespeople don’t share enough information with them and that this causes frustration which makes them want to take their business elsewhere. Once this happens, you’re in a deep, deep hole. It takes an average of 12 positive customer service experiences to make up for a single negative experience.
With these things in mind, it’s clear that you’ve got to start treating all your patients equally. Instead of rewarding loyal patients for expected Behavior, start focusing on nurturing new clients, as well. When you pay your full attention to both pursuits, you have a better chance of creating a more balanced patient base.
2. You Make Things Inconvenient
People love convenience. When you make working with your dental practice inconvenient, it’s not going to fly. In an age where Amazon rules everything, virtually everything can be had within 2 days, and for free.
Customers are used to shopping online more than ever before and it’s clear that offering an inconvenient or clunky sales process will just earn your abandonment. With this in mind, focus on making your patient’s journey as simple and streamlined as possible.
If you can look at your pipeline and identify where you’re losing patients, you’ll be able to find a way to resolve the pain point and retain business. Additional elements, like a mobile app, or online payment processing will go a long way toward making your onboarding experience more streamlined as well.
3. Your Wait Times are Too Long
If you work in retail, it’s likely that you still have some checkout counter somewhere. Well, these checkout counters can be fantastic because they allow you an opportunity to interact face-to-face with your customers and create a real relationship, they can also be a serious liability.
Today, 86% of customers will leave a store if the line to checkout is too long. With this in mind, it’s time to start asking if you have developed a line management system for your retail business.
If you haven’t, now is the time to start thinking about why, and how to build one. The answer may lie in building more check-out stations, hiring more staff, or utilizing a technological waiting line management system, which can also be helpful.
4. You’re Not Innovating
Customers today get bored. Who can blame them? There’s so much to look at in today’s retail environment. Modern customers have the option of choosing from countless companies, countless products, countless marketing schemes, countless checkout options, and more. There are dozens of ways for them to get the things they want.
Because of this, your practice can either innovate or sink. If you are offering patients the same old products, goods, and services they’re used to, and you’re finding that you’re experiencing a lot of churn regardless, the answer might be that you’re not innovating enough. Innovation isn’t something that you can plateau on. It requires constant maintenance and a close attention to detail. Once you’ve done it once, you need to keep redoing it, adjusting it to your patients, and ensuring its scaling with your business. The process goes on forever. To ensure that innovation is as efficient and targeted as possible, identify a couple of common pain points in your business. Next get your team to put their heads together to find new ways to route around the issue and provide better service for both employees and patients.
5. Your Competition is Just…Better
Nobody wants to hear this, but sometimes patients leave because your competition offers a better service or a wider range of solutions. In this case, it’s time to put your feelings and offensiveness aside, and figure out what action you can take as a result.
While every dentist wants to think of their dental practice as the best on the block, this isn’t always the case. The great news is that you can use this as a lesson. What is your competition doing that you’re not? How can you mimic or improve upon their offerings?
Are they paying attention to patients in a way that you are not, but should be? Thinking about all of these things won’t make you any weaker as a dental practice, it will only improve your offerings and make you more aware of your surroundings.
If you’re not sure what your patients like about your competition, consider sending out an email survey to past patients. The feedback might be hard to read, but it will certainly be illuminating.
Keeping Patients in Your Practice
Although there’s no way to retain 100% of your patients 100% of the time, there are ways to reduce churn in your dental practice and ensure that the patients that you worked hard to earn stay where they belong.
But improving your customer service, taking lessons from your competition, and understanding how you can treat each patient equally and compassionately, will improve the offerings of your practice, and ensure that you are building long, happy customer to client relationships.