Bill Lee’s recent post “The Things Customers Can Do Better Than You” on the Harvard Business Review blog offers some great food for thought.
Lee urges us to change our assumptions about customers, and to quit thinking they only buy products and services. Instead he recommends mobilizing customers the way Facebook and other forward-thinking companies do who “look to their customers to grow their businesses.”
This got us thinking at RPR… What can patients uniquely do better than their plastic surgeons? How can patients help us stay competitive and even lead us into the future? Is it possible that our patients know better than we do about how best to market and grow our practices?
Patients know more about each other than you know about them
Unless you are the same age and gender as your patients, you need strategies that enable you to know what they’re thinking in relative real time. Surveys and benchmarking data are powerful tools for reaching the heart of the matter.
Insights from your patients can be used internally to motivate staff and improve practice performance. Objective data enables you to tailor your outreach to other patients.
Patients are more credible than you are
This makes your patients your best marketing team! Nothing is more trustworthy than a past patient sharing their experience with a prospective patient. If you acknowledge this reality, you can use this phenomenon to gain competitive advantage. Encourage your patients to spread the word to their network of friends and help you extend your reach through social media including ratings and reviews.
Patients are more persuasive than you are
To today’s consumers, your patients are more believable than your website or marketing materials. Invest in marketing channels that maximize the reach of your past patients’ experiences. Publish patient comments and reviews on your website. Post patient comments and reviews through your social media channels.
Patients understand buyer needs better than you do
You’ll do better if your let your patients tell you what’s important to them. Patient satisfaction and benchmarking data reveals many opportunities to improve practice performance. Use patient feedback to get what you want – higher conversions from the web and at consult plus increases in retention and referral to build your practice over time.
Patients would rather affiliate with their peers (your other patients) than with you
Knowing this is half the battle. Invest your energy and dollars in marketing efforts that bring your patients and their friends together. Online, this means participating in environments where patients can interact with each other and you. In the office, this means having seminars, open houses, and encouraging prospective patients to bring a friend or family member to their appointment.
This may help explain why patients who bring a friend or family member to their consult are 20% more likely to schedule surgery!