Start Building Patient Loyalty by Asking the Right Questions
When is the last time you reached out to your patients and asked for their honest, unvarnished opinions on your practice?
Let me ask that another way:
When is the last time you surveyed your patients (present and recent past)? Was it a patient-friendly survey – quick, convenient, and anonymous? How did you react to what you learned?
If you haven’t done surveys in a while (or ever), you probably have some legitimate reasons for resisting. Maybe you feel like you simply don’t have the time to invest in it. Maybe you worry that asking survey questions will just “open a can of worms,” prompting patients to “look for something to complain about.” Or maybe you believe that you already know what your patients would say, based on your conversations… with happy patients.
But no matter your reasons for not surveying, consider these 3 reasons that it’s time to start:
- Surveys give you a reality check. Even if you have a very clear picture of what patient loyalty looks like (in areas such as satisfaction, trust, comfort, and likeliness-to-refer), you can’t really measure how well you’re performing against those standards if the only measuring stick you’re using is your own intuition. Survey responses help you identify the gap between where you are and where you need to be. One of the most surprising – but fixable – findings is that often, patient loyalty is greatly impacted by how well patients feel they are cared for by your staff, on the phone and at the front desk.
- The survey itself is a branding message. Think about that for a moment. We live in an era when everyone – including your patients – is surveyed so frequently that those providers who never seek feedback are often perceived as arrogant or uncaring.
- Survey responses provide the starting point for your loyalty strategy. Your patients’ survey responses give you access to the facts you’ll need if you’re serious about building patient loyalty.
But be warned: all 3 of those benefits will quickly turn into liabilities if you ask poorly planned questions, fail to acknowledge patients’ feedback, or fail to demonstrably act on what you learn.
Ask the right questions
To get a reliable gauge of patient loyalty, your survey questions must be broad enough to cover the entire experience with your practice, from initial call, to front desk greeting, to their treatment experience, and all follow up communications. They also need to be asked in a way that actually gets at the information you need.
Sounds obvious. But without careful planning, you’ll end up gathering answers that tell you little, and lead you nowhere.
Finally, be sure that all of your survey questions engaging enough, clear enough — and short enough — that patients stick with it and actually submit a completed survey. Low response rates can waste your survey investment. A rule of thumb is to make sure your survey is short enough and easy enough to understand that your patient can complete it within 5 minutes.
In upcoming blog posts, I’ll share my favorite tips for creating, distributing, interpreting, and following up on patient satisfaction and loyalty surveys.
Often, a key driver of patient satisfaction is the initial experience your patient has on the phone when setting up an appointment. If you’d like to know how Skybridge Americas can help you increase patient satisfaction and loyalty with our inbound patient care and appointment scheduling team, please reach out. We would love to know more about your goals and talk about how we can help you achieve them.
by Bobby Matthews
Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing
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