Encouraging Patient to Patient Referrals
It’s the dead of winter (seems like not so long ago, doesn’t it?), and you wake up at night to the chatter of your own teeth. The shivering shakes you from your once-cozy bed and you venture into the hallway, feeling your way through the dark toward the thermostat.
The heat’s turned up, but the temp continues to drop. Your furnace—the one that was just fixed last fall—is broken.
First thing the next morning, you call the furnace guy to complain. Then you head to work where each “How’s it going?” is met with, “Let me tell you a little something about the guy who fixed my furnace.”
Marketers will tell you this is the dark side of word-of-mouth marketing. Thanks to a mentor long ago who once used this analogy with me, I’ve started to refer to this as “the furnace guy effect”—if it works great, no one generally hears about it; but if it breaks, everyone hears about it.
This can often apply to a medical practice, too, be it a family practice or a physical therapy office. And from a business owner’s perspective, it hardly seems fair, doesn’t it?
You put a lot on the line to create a business that serves a base of clients, empowering them to achieve positive physical outcomes. It stands to reason, then, that there should be more balance when it comes to word-of-mouth referrals—a system that encourages clients who have positive experiences to speak of those with the vigor and enthusiasm they would of a past, not-so-great experience.
Well, the secret starts with you—and essentially anyone who has direct patient/client contact. Along with simply doing your best to ensure positive experiences and outcomes, the next thing you can do to improve your “word on the street” marketing is so simple, I bet you may not have even thought of it:
When you know a client or patient has achieved relief or reached an important milestone, ask him or her to share the experience with others. Even if it’s simply shared with family or close friends, first-person, anecdotal praise is paramount in the establishment of a solid referral network.
Don’t simply assume that positive experiences will always be shared once the client leaves your office. Give him or her permission to boast about the experience of working with you, letting them know it’s OK with you—encouraged even—if they wish to share the details of your interactions with those who might one day seek similar medical guidance.
Just don’t be the furnace guy—someone who gets talked about only when someone’s unhappy. A simple request, and perhaps even a little encouragement, can go a long way in creating a positive word-of-mouth network for you and your practice.