As practice owners and many times new business owners, we are thrown into the worlds of marketing and advertising to bring new customers into our practice. This includes patients but it also includes physicians, DME providers and relationships with community resources. These customers are necessary compliments to the services provided in rehabilitation including local fitness centers, community centers and programs to provide continued education and support to our patients.
Once a client base is established, it is vital to continue to bring new clients into a practice but to also show appreciation for their loyalty and continued support. Customer relations management can be the difference between practice sustainability and high volume turnover which takes a large amount of staff and time to manage. By developing a plan for customer loyalty, the basis of a company is not only acquiring patients but continuing to provide them with updated service and quality care. An ongoing CRM plan can include many activities to assure customers are happy with the services they have received and to assure they will continue to seek your services in the future. A plan may include:
1. Be honest: A customer must know what they are purchasing, whether it is a tangible item such as a piece of equipment, or a service such as Physical Therapy treatment. By having a discussion about covered benefits and non-covered services in advance, a plan of care can be established and agreed upon prior to initiating services.
2. Don’t surprise the individual with additional/hidden costs: Customers appreciate your honesty and value having all information necessary to make an informed decision. Surprise costs will lead the customer to think there are other items they are not aware of which will lead to distrust over time. This perceived deception will ultimately ruin a customer-provider relationship.
3. Help find what the customer needs: Assisting a customer access necessary service is a vital part of being a Physical Therapist. Whether the customer needs to access local community programs or to access services closer to their home to increase compliance, these acts of good service will lead to improved customer relations. These acts will come back to the practice by having the customer then share their positive experience with others they come in contact with reinforcing your marketing strategy. Providing bridges of access to necessary services is a responsible cornerstone of practice management.
4. Add personal touches to the care: Send a simple handwritten Thank you note after a client enrolls with your service/practice or a congratulations card once they achieve their goals. The note is a gesture which states your true appreciation of the customer choosing your service in a competitive market. Thanking someone for their effort in choosing your service establishes a basis of mutual respect and appreciation.
5. Call the customer/Solicit Feedback: Taking time to call patients and customers to ask what they think is an extremely valuable tool. This provides an opportunity to check on patients after discharge to see if they have maintained their goals and exercise programs, assure they have accessed the appropriate community services to support their rehabilitation, as well as assess their level of satisfaction with services provided. The phone call is an opportunity for open discussion as well as gaining targeted information from that consumer. This can head off future problems and work towards establishing an ongoing relationship with the customer. This will again lead to customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and developing consumer loyalty is achieved through simple, calculated tasks. By showing customers you are loyal to and honest with them, they will be satisfied with your services and be loyal in return. Feedback in any format will help you understand how your services and attempts at consumer satisfaction are perceived. Consumer perception is vital to the long term growth and sustainability of your practice. Without it you operate in a vacuum implementing strategies which may be unnecessary or unwanted. Loyal customers are your biggest asset in the maintenance and growth of your company.