Learn from Catherine’s 40+ years as marketing and business advisor for top aesthetic practices around the world:
• Take charge of public feedback on your practice.
• How to drive business while getting great reviews.
• Easy coaxing techniques to get your customers to take a survey.
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Welcome to “Beauty and the Biz.” Discover how to grow your practice with effective cosmetic patient attraction, conversion and retention advice from author, speaker, trainer and cosmetic practice business and marketing coach, Catherine Maley MBA.
Welcome to “Beauty and the Biz” where we talk about the business and marketing side of the cosmetic practice. I’m your host Catherine Maley, author of “Your Aesthetic Practice – What Your Patients are Saying” as well as consultant to cosmetic practices to get them more patients and more profits.
Today’s episode is called “Who do you think you are?” So let me ask you a question. Do you think you would attract more patients and make more money if you knew how your patients and prospective patients perceived you, your staff, your office and your processes? Of course the answer is yes. I know you don’t want to hear any negativity about your practice but that’s the very thing that’s costing you because you don’t know.
So unhappy patients we all know are more than willing to share their unhappiness with you via poor online reviews, right? A lot of times you’re getting those poor online reviews because the patient didn’t feel like they were heard or understood and because of that they’re going to be heard or understood one way or the other, so if it’s not with you they’re gonna do it online, reaching out to their fake friends. So you’re better off understanding now what’s happening with your patients. The happy ones are great but the unhappy ones are the ones that cause trouble and a lot of times even the ones who didn’t go online and complain about you probably 90% of them never complained about you online, but that’s the problem. Ten times as many or nine times as many, whatever that is, they’re unhappy and they just left you quietly to never return again and then they may badmouth you one on one with their friends or anytime the subject comes up. So though you’re just worried more about the ones who do complain and those and then especially the ones who don’t complain because here’s the thing you don’t know what you don’t know. So how do you find out? That’s what I’m going to talk about today.
I want to talk about patient surveys. This is where you’re gonna discover the hidden issues. I do consulting, a lot, most doctors don’t want to know this kind of stuff. They just don’t want the negativity because they already have enough issues going on and I get that, but boy there’s such great intel in a patient survey because you’re gonna find out crazy things that you never even knew. Things like what we have found out in the past, like you have a rogue aesthetician who’s hurting your patient retention, or maybe your office is in need of a cleanup or a facelift and that’s the kind of thing you don’t notice because you’re there every day but a brand new patient or a returning patient, they’re noticing things like that. Or maybe even your consultation process is turning patients off and who knows what else and that’s the point you don’t know unless you ask so if you would take a deep breath and listen to the patients, they’re gonna tell you an awful lot of what you need to know to be your best.
So what you learn from that’s gonna be invaluable and look at it this way, it’s a whole lot cheaper to fix little nuances going on in your practice than it is from losing revenues from unhappy patients who never return or refer their friends, right? It’s so much easier to fix that then to keep going and finding more patients who also are gonna have the same issues. I hope that makes sense. So thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever to conduct a survey and it can really be eye-opening. It’s a really good practice building exercise and you can even turn it into a cash surge so I’m gonna show you how to do that coming up.
Let’s talk about the three steps to an effective patient survey. I break it down into the who, the how, and the what. So here’s step number one: who to ask. Now here’s the thing, you’re looking for candor so you don’t want to just pull those who already love you because they’re great but they already love you. You want to talk to those who came in for a consultation and were never heard from again or those who came in once for a small procedure and then never returned or even those who had a procedure, even surgery and then never came back for their follow-up. I mean wouldn’t you want to know why? That’s really good intel. So that’s the thing about the survey, you ask the people who love you and you also ask the people who don’t because that’s where you learn some good stuff.
Here’s step number two: how to ask for the survey. People hate surveys, it’s a funny thing we hate surveys but we don’t hesitate to complain any other time so that’s just human beings. So it’s got to be fast and easy. Personally I think the most popular online patient survey is Survey Monkey. It’s super easy to set up and use, and it compiles all the responses for you. This is what I would recommend if you use something like Survey Monkey – send out the survey and then send out one or two follow-up reminders and keep it tight, this doesn’t need to go on longer than two weeks. I highly recommend you send it out mid month and then have it end the last day of the month. Send out the reminders and now you’ve got some urgency there and there’s a better chance that they’re going to respond.
Now here’s step number three: what to ask. So you’re trying to ask as few questions as possible because you know when you’ve had a survey and you agree to it and next thing you know it’s got 30 questions and you’re like, “are you kidding me? I have work to do here” and you’ve given somebody a homework assignment. So you keep it as few questions as possible and just the ones that are affecting your bottom line, so think about what the patient goes through in your office and ask your questions according to the steps in your process.
For example, here are some questions that I personally would ask:
Were the telephones answered quickly? Because you want to find out if they can’t get past these phones you need to find that out right at the get-go.
Was it easy to make an appointment? Maybe they can get through the phones but if they can’t get to you, like it’s not easy to get an appointment for whatever reason.
I’m also big on were you treated courteously by my staff? This is where you find out where you might have some staff that are lovely to you but really awful to the patients. I’ve seen that a lot actually. Another good question, how genuinely interested did we seem in you as a person? Because if you think about it, aesthetic and cosmetic rejuvenation is all about a patient feeling really good about themselves and how are they going to feel really good about themselves if they’re treated poorly in your practice? The irony is killing me on that one. The whole point is a patient wants to feel better and that means they’re going to a practice where other people also make them feel better, certainly they don’t make them feel worse by being rude to them or dismissive to them. Another great question is would you refer your friends and family to us? I love that question. Now anytime somebody answers the question with a no, you would include a box where they can freestyle and type the reason why they’re answering no. That’s where all the gold is, in the comments. Anyone can fill out a survey with a quick yes/no but you want more than that, you want to hear why they’re saying what they’re saying. And then I love this question, to wrap it all up because you know what they say when you ask a good question you get a great answer, so what’s one thing we could have done to improve your experience with us? And you can get all sorts of great responses from that. Some people are super creative and there’s a really good chance that you’re gonna get a great idea that’s easy to execute, absolutely free or minimal cost and it makes all the difference in the world
So with patient surveys I would stick to probably 10 to 12 questions at the most and then make sure there’s plenty of room for them to type in their comments. I love those comments. Now here’s the exciting part; the biggest problem or challenge with the patient surveys is the low engagement rate. You know nobody wants to fill out this stuff, everyone’s in a hurry, they’re not dying to stop and focus on you and they don’t want any more paperwork to do or any more homework, so you need to make this fun and compelling. There needs to be something in it for the patients for you to get their attention and get them to participate. So here’s a strategy that works well (and by the way even with this strategy you should expect maybe around a 10 to 15 percent response depending on lots of things).
So here’s the point, let’s say you use Survey Monkey or any kind of email message, it’s going to email the survey out to your patients or your non patients and you need a subject line to get that thing opened. You certainly do not have a subject line that says, “Complete our patient survey”. No one’s going to open that. You need a survey subject line like “Here’s a free $50 gift card for you because…” Now the curiosity of that alone should actually compel them to open the email and then the rest of your message inside offers anyone who provides their feedback and completes their survey a $50 gift card towards anything in your practice, and again you have a tight expiration date on this. But here’s the beauty of that – you’re going to get a nice cash surge and a great stream of cash paying patients filling your calendar because you gave them a reason to do the survey and complete it and then get their $50 gift card. This has been one of the greatest things I ever thought of quite frankly, because it wakes up old patients who you haven’t talked to for a while. A lot of the patients are excited to help you grow your practice with invaluable intel that they’re gonna provide to you and it just kind of wakes everybody up and it gives you a nice little surge of patients you haven’t seen for a while. Some patients who never did return, now they return, who knows, things change all the time.
So that’s why I just love to use a patient survey not only for the intel but also for the resurrection of some of the relationships you had. Now I would plan on pulling patients annually or at least bi-annually because it’s going to help you stay on your game rather than rest on your laurels, because things change in your practice – staff changes, you change, all sorts of things change, circumstances change, so make this a habit of sending this out at least once or twice, once every one or two years just so you stay on your game. I really like that idea. Now if you feel like this is a hassle and you want to do it but just feel like it’s a hassle, I’m more than happy to help you with this. My team, we do this a lot so we can set it up, we can send it out, we can collect the responses and then you and I can go over the results to learn from the data. There’s no obligation to buy anything, but I do charge for ninety seve$497 for this because it definitely it takes some work to get this done. So if that sounds good, just leave me a message at my website at www.catherinemaley.com. Your patients perceptions about you and your practice is really good stuff to know.
I’d love for you to subscribe to “Beauty and the Biz” and please share this with your colleagues and with your staff, and then I would love for you to follow me on instagram at CatherineMaleyMBA. That’s it for today, we hope you found valuable insight on this episode of to “Beauty and the Biz”. For more episodes, tools and Catherine’s free book, visit www.catherinemaley.com and be sure to subscribe to get the latest practice building strategies delivered to you and don’t forget to share this “Beauty and the Biz” podcast with your staff and colleagues.
She is a business/marketing consultant to plastic surgeons. She speaks at medical conferences all over the world on cash practice building and trains staff to be converting rock stars.