by Daniele Lattanzi

Out of all of your advertising, marketing and networking efforts to grow a practice, the most important piece of the puzzle is word-of-mouth referrals. That’s because approximately 85 percent of small business new customers come from word of mouth. In many healthcare settings, the rates can be even higher.

Here are 5 ways to capitalize on the potential of word of mouth, launch a successful referral campaign, and reach more new patients than ever.

Start Within

If you want to change the world, start with yourself. Those words of wisdom have been said many ways. Ghandi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Even Michael Jackson said, “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.”

We aren’t necessarily talking about changing the entire world, but we are talking about improving the lives of others, reaching more people, and that can, indeed, have a positive impact on the world. More immediately, we are talking about generating word-of-mouth business; for that, we may need to change ourselves.

People who are “satisfied” or “moderately satisfied” are unlikely to refer. Patients who are completely blown away by your level of care, are the ones who will refer their friends and family to you.

To do that, make sure you are giving excellent service, a welcoming environment, and addressing the reasons a patient came to see you in the first place. All of the improvement in the world can mean virtually nothing, if you have not addressed the patient’s biggest area (or areas) of concern.

So start within–outstanding results yields referrals.

Get Your Team on Board

The next step to generate lots of great referrals is to get your team on board. Even if you are in an office of two people, you both need to be on board! A coordinated team effort will help you:

  • Keep it focused, so that you get results.
  • Keep each other motivated, since you’ll likely do many “asks” for every referral obtained.
  • Stay coordinated, so you aren’t asking the same few people over and over, making patients feel uncomfortable.

Make it a Game

When you and your team are on board, play two games: an internal one and an outwardly facing game. Internally, what is your target? How will you and your team keep track, and what reward do you want to go for when you meet a certain number? The game could be new patient referrals, or it could be something that comes as a result of more referrals, such as a certain number of patient visits in a week or a specific gross income.

(If you are not already, make sure you are keeping track of these kinds of key practice statistics–you can’t win a game if you don’t know your targets and how far you have come!)

Then determine your outwardly-facing game, for patients who play the word-of-mouth game. What will you offer them? A discounted evaluation for their friends? A discount on a service for them? A prize? Ideally, your game should also have a cumulative effect–better reward for more referred new patients.

Offer a “Buy Now”

You don’t want your game to last forever, so also be sure to offer an incentive to make something happen right now (like a free referral week, but other times are just discounted). Having a “buy now,” that then repeats later, might create ebbs and tides in new patient inflow, but it also lets you grow to accommodate the influx, while keeping the reward imminent. This is a great part of UNS Marketing Solution’s strategy.

Keep Going

Button for Word-of-mouth referral program

Grow, stabilize, and grow some more. Keep word-of-mouth games going, and you’ll grow and keep going.

Daniele Lattanzi

Practice Management & Digital Marketing Expert | Helping private practitioners grow their dream practice

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