How to get patient referrals and a new, simple series of strategies to utilize your existing patient base
Happy customers are a testament to the amazing job you and your staff are doing. They also represent a tremendous opportunity to grow your practice. How to get patient referrals? Part of it is leveraging your satisfied customers.
More than 80% of satisfied customers are willing to refer products and services to others. Happy patients are one of the most underutilized marketing resources. Here are some easy strategies to exponentially increase your number of happy patients and grow your practice.
Set up a simple referral program
You will need to decide from the start how you would like to track and reward patient referrals, and how to keep it simple.
One idea would be to offer up a free session for every three new patients an existing patient refers. You can track referrals by asking new patients how they discovered your practice to book an appointment. If it was from an existing patient, be sure to document it on that patient’s record in your practice management software.
Other incentives regarding how to get patient referrals include discounts on services or free products. Create a one-page handout explaining the referral program and give it to each patient at checkout. To cover all your bases, you should always seek the review of legal counsel to make sure the rewards you are planning to offer are legal and compliant.
How to get patient referrals: test with your loyal and happy base
Your best and most loyal patients are a good starting point to test and refine your patient-driven referral program. Search your practice management system for a list of patients who have been with you the longest and ask them if they would be willing to pilot your referral program.
Once you feel comfortable that you have a solid set of strategies in place, move on to finding your “happy” patients. Create and implement a patient satisfaction survey to identify your happiest patients. If they are not happy, then this is an opportunity to address the concern and fix the problem. If they are happy, you can ask if they are willing to share their positive experience with others — then give them the one-page handout you already created.
Pro Tip: Make your patient satisfaction survey digital and add automation so that when a happy patient is identified, it will send them information about the referral program. It will require some initial setup time but will save you a substantial amount of time and effort over the long haul.
Using referral cards
Design a referral card your patients can give their friends and family. The size of the card should be unique (bigger than a business card and smaller than a postcard) so that it sticks out in a pile of other business cards.
Make sure the referral card has a compelling offer for the recipient. For example, “$19 Initial Session.” Include a line for the name of the referring patient for tracking purposes. Write a sample script for your staff to use in conversation at checkout.
Be sure to mention their reward if they refer X number of people (or whatever reward system you have created). They should also handwrite the name of the patient on the card. Make it super simple for your existing patients to be the hero and help someone they know feel better.
The simple share
One key in how to get patient referrals is simply asking your happy patients if they would be willing to follow you on social media and give a “shout out” to their friends, family and connections.
Ask them to post a testimonial, tag you and add hashtags (i.e., #nameofpractice, #chiropractor, #backpain, #neckpain) so that you can track and monitor the comments and shares. The keyword hashtags may help to get the post seen by others searching for those keywords. They can also tag friends they think might need your services.
Create a mock post as an example, print it out, and give it to them to reference as a guide for their own post.
Ask your patients if they would like to share their email addresses to receive a monthly email newsletter filled with healthful tips and insights. Include a section in every newsletter that directs them to forward/share the email with a friend or family member.
Everyone knows at least one person with health challenges who could benefit from chiropractic care. An added bonus from this approach is that you may find it helps with the retention and frequency of existing patients.
Pro Tip: Include a link to your digital patient satisfaction survey in every email. This will enable you to compound your efforts and leverage existing automation to grow your referral numbers. Continually explore ways to automate your strategies as much as possible.
Contests and patient videos
Gamify your referral program and make a contest out of it. The patient with the most referrals in a calendar month will receive a prize you deem appropriate. In case of a tie, put all the names of the eligible patients in a hat and choose a random winner.
Ask your happy patients if they would be willing to create a short video sharing their story and how the practice helped them overcome their challenges. Combining video with a patient story is a powerful tool that will resonate well with potential new patients. Be sure to get them to sign a waiver to use the video. Ask your legal counsel for the one-page document.
Post the video on your website and all your social media accounts. Ask your patient if they are willing to post it on their social media too.
Test, analyze and find the winning strategy
As with any marketing strategy, results don’t happen overnight. Remain patient and diligent. Be mindful of what is working and what is not.
Don’t be afraid to test strategies in small doses and analyze the results every 30 days. Learn from the losing strategies and move on. Pour gasoline on the winning strategies and light them on fire.
JAY RESIO is CEO of SpineNation. A Pittsburgh-based marketing and technology entrepreneur, he founded SpineNation (digital health for back, neck and spine) due to his back pain journey. He had two degenerative discs, which led to herniating the same disc (L4-5) four times over five years and had five surgeries in six years, with two artificial disc replacements (L3-4, L4-5). Learn more at spinenation.com.