10 Ways to Grow Patient Loyalty in Your Acupuncture Clinic
For any acupuncture practitioner, the ideal scenario is a roster of patients whose trust in your expertise—whose trust in you—has convinced them to commit to long-term treatment.
But in reality, patient retention is one of the great challenges for any acupuncture practice. Sometimes you feel a little helpless as patients come and go, never to be seen again. And the answer is not simply being a great practitioner. After all, there have never been so many distractions. Life is busy. Enthusiasms wax and wane.
So what will plant the seeds for patient loyalty?
Here are 10 ideas to help keep your patients coming back again and again.
1. Creating a great atmosphere at your acupuncture clinic
The atmosphere of your acupuncture clinic is crucial to delivering that special experience a patient will want to repeat. No matter how excellent the standard of your treatment, the memory will be marred by ugly lighting, uncomfortable furniture, dirty restrooms, bad smells, or lame muzak.
So resonate good vibrations all the way and turn your acupuncture clinic into a special zone. People will want to return.
And if you need ideas to jazz up your clinic, try to remember the professional environments that have left you with a lasting good impression. Then maybe ask for the name of the interior decorator.
2. Appreciate your patient as an individual.
Whenever we meet a new person, we often fall back on categorical thinking. After all, it saves time. It’s easy to reduce a person to a stereotype, be they a sports jock, an aging hippie, a soccer mom, a surfer dude, a nerd, or a trophy wife.
But nobody wants to be pigeon-holed. Sure, we may appear to be one sort of person most of the time, but inside we all secretly feel like Walt Whitman: we contain multitudes, right? So what if we contradict ourselves?
So don’t rush to figure out your patient too quickly. In fact, be on the look out for surprises. Loyalty will grow when a patient feels appreciated as an individual.
3. Be realistic, but go the extra mile
Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Records, said: “The key is to set realistic customer expectations, and then not to just meet them, but to exceed them, preferably in unexpected and helpful ways.”
This one is a bit of a no-brainer. Never make promises you can’t keep, but always try to go the extra mile with your patients. Alas, there is no shortcut to that, and sometimes patients will take your efforts for granted. But the majority will come away with the impression that you really care—and come to trust you have their best interests at heart.
4. Be professionally organized
Are your files all over the place? Appointments out of order? Telephone numbers misplaced?
Disorganization is not only a time- and money-wasting hassle for you as an acupuncture practitioner. It also communicates a very negative impression to a patient. So keep your operation streamlined and up-to-date with professional Acupuncture practice management software.
This investment can also help eliminate the burden on your patients. Cut down on repetitive form-filling by processing new patients with an integrated system. The patient experience should be smooth sailing. Patients will feel more confident if you’ve got everything under control.
5. Engage your patients with their treatment plan.
A patient wants to feel that their treatment has direction. If they see their plan on paper, they won’t lose track.
6. Focus on the positive aspects of a patient’s progress
In the words of the old song—Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive. This may sometimes mean looking for the silver lining in a heavy cloud. But it’s the only way to inspire confidence and to clear the path for positive steps. A patient should always leave the acupuncture clinic feeling more optimistic than when they went inside. That way they’ll come back to repeat the experience.
7. Follow up after a session
Don’t send your patient out the door and hope for the best. Show you care by following up on their progress by phone or email.
8. Invite honesty
It’s not always easy, but try to cut through the formalities and find out how your patient is really feeling. You’ll have to create the context for a kind of personal communication that allows your patient to express doubts and concerns. But your patient will be grateful.
9. Get on social media
You can’t ignore how the majority of people today engage with society. Online communities are very real. So join in. Put aside time to be active on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. This will invite your patients to engage with your acupuncture practice on social media and feel a part of your community of patients.
10. Say thanks
Finally, take the time to express your gratitude to a patient. Acknowledge what you get out of the experience, not the least the opportunity to practice your passion—the art of healing.
Remember—loyalty inspires loyalty.
Guest blog post by Matt Leask.