Every PT practice needs to look at patient retention as much as they look at acquiring new patients. Of course, you do need to continue marketing and reaching out to potential patients to keep your business growing. But it’s also important to keep an eye on your existing customers and put effort into ensuring that they’re happy and likely to stay with you.
Patient retention strategies for physical therapists can make a big difference to how loyal your patients are and to your bottom line. You can change how your practice deals with existing customers and find ways to ensure they stay loyal to you. Further than that, it is possible to ensure that not only will your patients stay, but they will also be so happy with your practice that they write reviews, give you valuable feedback, and talk you up to everyone they know.
Why is patient retention is important?
Finance Online has collected 70 recent customer retention statistics from companies such as Deloitte, American Express, and Qualtrics XM Institute. These statistics show the importance of customer retention and, conversely, how expensive patient churn can be. Here are just some of the findings:
- “89% of business buyers would purchase from the same company again after a good experience.” – Salesforce
- “There is a 60% to 70% chance of selling to an existing customer.” – SmallBizGenius
- “Loyal customers are gold: they are worth 10x more than the value of their first purchase. Existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products and spend 31% more, when compared to new customers.” – Invesp
- “Acquiring a new customer is five times as expensive as retaining an existing customer.” – Invesp
It’s not just the cost of acquiring new patients that’s the problem if you don’t have a good retention rate. You’ll have a less stable practice, with a lesser reputation, and you’ll earn less money if you’re constantly losing patients to other PT practices.
In addition, if you keep your existing patients, you have more chances to upsell them. Equally, you have the opportunity to add them to your mailing list and keep marketing to them. You can’t as easily do that with one-and-done patients.
While you’re always going to lose some patients over time, it really is possible to increase your retention rates and reduce patient churn.
Patient retention strategies to consider in your physical therapy practice
You’ve seen how important it is to retain existing patients as well as to get new ones. Read on for our patient retention strategies for physical therapists below and keep more of your patients happy and loyal.
1. Provide an exceptional patient experience
Customers of every type of business have higher expectations and want a great customer experience. This applies just as much to PT practices.
Here are some recent statistics showing how easy it is to lose patients or to keep them depending on what sort of patient experience you provide:
“Over 4 out of 5 respondents would leave a brand to which they are loyal after three or fewer instances of poor CX (and about 1 in 5 after only one instance).” – Emplifi
“Emotion is key to retention. While price remains the number one driver of churn, it declined in importance by 8% from 2018. Emotional factors – like loyalty and fair treatment – increased in importance and made up three of the top four reasons for switching brands.” – CallMiner
From Proving the Value of CX: How to Place Customer Experience at the Center of Your Business by Forbes Insight with Arm Treasure Data, 77% of people consider a company’s customer experience to be equally as important as the quality of its products and services.
It’s important to provide a top-quality experience for your patients, not only during treatment but before they book and after treatment too.
They should get a top-notch experience from the moment they walk in the door until they leave, and you need to follow up afterward and keep in touch.
2. Deliver on your promises
Keeping your word really matters when it comes to your patients. It’s best not to make promises you can’t keep.
Again, this is part of providing a quality customer experience. You don’t want to let your patients down or promise them something and then not deliver it.
This applies both to sticking to practical things like appointments, but also to being honest about the care you can provide and what results your patients can expect.
As you can see from the statistics above, it doesn’t take a lot for patients to become disillusioned with practice and decide to transfer to a competitor.
Keeping your word consistently has benefits for both you and your patients. It feels good, it builds your reputation, your word-of-mouth marketing will increase, you’ll get great reviews which will attract new patients, you’ll build loyalty, and you’ll retain more of your patients. For your patients, they’ll know they can count on you, no matter what, and that they will get the service they expect.
3. Reward loyalty
If your practice is small, you probably know who your most loyal patients are without thinking about it. Even for larger practices, you still probably have an idea.
Loyal patients, as you’ll have seen in the statistics we included earlier, spend far more and are more likely to try new services. It also costs less to keep them around than it does to attract new patients.
Obviously, it then makes complete sense to reward your loyal customers for staying with you.
You could set up a formal loyalty program, if you want to, or work out how you can offer even more value and customer happiness to your loyal patients.
You could offer VIP priority booking, discounts for booking in advance or paying upfront, an insider newsletter, occasional vouchers for a percentage off their next booking, and other ideas.
Think about what will make your loyal patients feel even more special.
4. Optimize for your customer journey
Your patient’s experience with you doesn’t start when they visit you for the first time. It starts from the very first moment they become aware of your PT practice.
They may see an advertisement, read a blog, find you on social media, check out your Google Business Profile, or find you on an online directory.
However they find you, potential patients should find a top-quality, attractive, helpful, and consistent presence that lets them easily find out what they need to know and get in touch.
This includes making sure your website is ready for visitors, with clear and simple navigation, helpful, well-written content, and simple ways to contact you and to book.
Your social media presence should be consistent across all platforms with the same branding and tone of voice. Patients increasingly like to be able to talk to businesses on social media too, so it’s important to ensure that you keep up with your direct messages on your social platforms.
Any business directories should also be well-presented with quality images, clear information, and consistent presentation of your name, address, and phone number (your NAP) to ensure people can get in touch easily.
It’s worth taking the time to regularly review your patients’ full customer journey from start to finish, from before they’ve even met you, to what experience they receive at your premises, and to aftercare.
Everything matters. The smallest thing could be the difference between a great experience that has them sticking with you and telling their friends about you or choosing to go to a competitor.
5. Personalize your messaging
Personalized emails can make your patients feel special and increase loyalty if done well. While adding first names to your emails is easy to do, that’s not enough.
You can personalize your messages by segmenting your email list based on what you know about your patients. If you have more than one practice, for example, you could create an email specifically for patients in that local area to give them a special offer if you want to both get more business for that practice and create something special for those loyal customers.
Going further than that, you could create individual offers for each of your loyal customers. Get to know them really well, find out their preferences and needs, and wow them with a tailored, individual offer that’s just for them. This will take some extra work on your part as you’ll have to research what will work best for each person, but it can make all the difference in keeping your retention rates up and your patients extremely happy.
If you have the software, you could take this to a further level and create dynamic offers where you can ask patients to complete multiple steps to get a bigger discount.
6. Be available and interact through chat, email, and text
Attention spans are short now and customers tend to want what they want now. They want to be able to connect with you and message you in a variety of ways to suit them.
We have already talked about being available on social media for any customer messages that come via direct messaging, but customers want to have the choice. It’s important to be available and to respond as quickly as you can via chat software on your website, via email, and even by text.
The more ways you have to contact you and the more responsive you are, the happier you’ll keep your patients.
7. Ask for feedback
You’re not going to get to know your patients and what they think about your practice if you don’t ask. Simply chatting to patients when they’re with you can bring up helpful information smoothly and without a huge amount of effort.
You can also send surveys to your loyal patients or to your new ones to see what they think. You’ll likely get a different perspective and fresh thoughts and ideas from both types of patients.
Offer feedback forms at reception for people to take away. Let people have the option of filling in the form by hand or clicking a link to fill it in online.
You could offer prizes to encourage people to complete your surveys and get more responses.
One other bonus from asking for feedback is that you’re likely to get some genuinely lovely feedback that you can use as reviews on your website. You could also encourage these people to leave reviews on your Google Business Profile, on any other review site, or on Facebook.
Once you have your feedback, collate the feedback into subjects, such as feedback on your treatment rooms, feedback on your reception and how you handle queries, feedback on your website, etc.
It will then be easier to see the spread of opinions by subject instead of all at once.
You will get some negative feedback. Hopefully, it will all be constructive, but even if it’s not, try not to take it personally. Look at it objectively from the patient’s point of view. Look at whether it’s a common point of view or not. There’s no point in changing your entire practice and the way you do things for one person’s opinion if everyone else is happy.
Use your feedback, both good and bad, to see how you can improve.
8. Analyze data
As your business continues and you treat more and more patients, you will start to build a whole set of data on everything from your website’s statistics to what the most common injuries are. This data is gold for learning what patients want, learning how (and what) to improve, and for your marketing.
Take the time each month to look at last month’s data and analyze it thoroughly.
Look at KPIs like your retention rate and your churn rate. Look at your social media stats, common keywords, and feedback.
Take everything you can from this data and make use of it to improve everything you do, from patient care to your marketing.
This is priceless information that will give you deep insights into your practice and where you can improve.
9. Be transparent
It’s inevitable that at some point, something will go wrong. You’re only human and you may well make a mistake. Or you may have a personal situation come up, like illness or childcare falling through.
If you have a problem that’s going to impact your patients, let them know with as much notice as you can. And be honest with them. Most people will understand if you have a genuine issue, especially if it’s a rare occurrence.
What people don’t like is feeling that they’re in the dark or being lied to. They want honesty and transparency. That’s a huge part of taking care of your patients and giving them the best experience possible.
Being upfront and open can even make people feel better about your practice. It builds trust and enhances your reputation.
10. Use software to simplify things
There’s a lot to do when running any business, especially if you want to increase patient retention and offer the best service you possibly can.
However, there are ways to take some of the load off yourself.
Employ live chat and chatbots to answer messages on your website.
You can save time by writing up standard answers to frequently asked questions and by programming chatbots to answer your messages quickly. You will still need humans to answer the more complicated queries, but chatbots can take care of at least basic questions for you. They can also be there at 3 am when you aren’t to pick up and give people answers.
While you can do really well by sending out single emails to your customers, it’s far better to use segmentation to separate marketing messages out to the right people and to send automated sequences so that you don’t have to.
You can do so much with automation when you have the right all-in-one marketing platform. You can post to and update your Google Business Profile and business directories without the need to do each one individually, manage and post your content, manage your email marketing and your paid ads, and so much more.
Save yourself as much time as you can by using software wisely.
Why not schedule a demo of Surefire Local’s business intelligence marketing software? With our software, you can easily manage everything from your ads to your email marketing to your reviews, all in one place.
There’s just one login to get to your clear and well-laid-out dashboard and then you can manage every aspect of your marketing right from there. You don’t need to log in and out of different pieces of software. You don’t need to learn multiple platforms. Everything is right there to hand to help you manage your practice beautifully and market to both new and existing patients.
You can ask for and reply to reviews, send emails, write your content and manage your content calendar, update over 80 business directories in one go, and so much more.
Everything is easy to find and completely under your control. And you can easily get up-to-date statistics, reports, and data to help you make decisions.
Book a demo with our friendly team and see how we can make life easier for you when managing your successful PT practice.