Patient services can be complex. It’s a constant juggle to pinpoint the right mix of services that makes patients satisfied, especially now that the popularity of online information and reviews are driving patients to search for better healthcare providers.
Healthcare consumers want to purchase medical services the same way they purchase other products or services—by researching online, reading reviews, and seeking referrals.
In fact, well over 80% of patients research doctors and practices online before finally deciding on a specialist. Patients today are much more savvy about researching and making choices rather than just accepting their general practitioner’s referral. But a patient’s decision is just the beginning. It’s patient loyalty that’s priceless, and that builds a medical practice.
This is where many in the medical field become baffled by exactly how to first drive those initial choices and then convert that initial decision into loyalty. Medical practices often sink too much of their marketing budgets into traditional marketing endeavors such as ads in print publications, direct mail postcards, or the yellow pages. However, what patients, as consumers of healthcare services, want most is surprising—they want easy access to information and consistent care.
The business and leadership global consulting firm McKinsey & Company surveyed nearly 30,000 American consumers and found one overarching element they all valued when it came to loyalty to any business, including medical or healthcare practices. That one key element is consistency in messaging. In fact, McKinsey & Company found that there are three particular areas of consistency that matter most to healthcare consumers.
Patients come into contact with a medical practice through several ways over time, ranging from an online research to calling or emailing for more information, and then to actually coming into the office for medical care. Consistency throughout the patient’s overall journey is “30 percent more predictive of overall customer satisfaction than measuring happiness for each individual interaction.”
That journey begins with the practice’s website, where the potential customer will look for consistent messaging in both general tone and specific information about their condition through ongoing information articles (blog posts) and other condition and symptoms specific content such as downloadable guides (eBooks), infographics, interactive assessments and checklists. Clear, professional, and consistently posted information establishes trust that the practice is positioned as experts and leaders in their field.
In reporting their survey findings, McKinsey & Company said, “One of the most illuminating results of our survey was that positive customer-experience emotions—encompassed in a feeling of trust—were the biggest drivers of satisfaction and loyalty in a majority of industries surveyed.”
Delivering a positive and professional experience at each level of interaction is what matters for building long-term relationships with patients, who are then at least twice more likely to generate referrals. This takes place through all representations of the practice, from the tone and voice of blog or social media posts, to the receptionist in the front office, and to the doctor who will be caring for the patient. Once again, a practice’s website is the first line in delivering this level of consistency.
From the information presented on a practice’s website through the follow-up phone call after an exam or service, consistent communication is vital. The survey’s take-away is this: “A company’s brand is driven by more than the combination of promises made and promises kept. What’s also critical is ensuring customers recognize the delivery of those promises, which requires proactively shaping communications and key messages that consistently highlight delivery as well as themes.”
The bottom line is that marketing through consistent and positive patient care—through every interaction and opportunity for communication, beginning with online content—is the key to developing patient loyalty. And once patient loyalty is established, those patients are at least twice as likely to refer a practice to others.
At Baker Labs, we believe in the power of content marketing and use a variety of digital strategies to help doctors grow a reputable practice, attract new and loyal patients, and establish their role as a leader in their field. We understand that effective healthcare marketing must not only produce good results, but it must remain compliant when doing so. Contact us for a free marketing assessment of your medical practice.