Referrals are the cornerstone of most practices’ marketing success, but with increased competition some struggle to attract consistent patient numbers.
Referrals from doctors, patients and others provide an important barrier lowered introduction to your service. Referrals accelerate trust building and lower any credibility barriers.
While many doctors recognize this, they can tend to neglect simple methods and proactive steps to build their practice.
Also, many doctors may feel uncomfortable asking for referrals or believe they may seem desperate for more work. In discussions some have also suggested professional insecurity and collegiate ridicule.
Whatever the reason, we observe there are at least a few things most practices can do to improve their referrals regardless of any barriers to action.
First, Be Referral Ready
To be referable ensure that you deliver what you promise, when you promise. Your patients need to be clear of your service and the value you provide.
Don't rely on accidental referrals, it is important to get clear on who you want to attract as patients and how your referrers can help you attract those patients.
So that you are not left scrambling when your pipeline stops flowing, do not wait for your new patient appointments to dwindle or dry up.
Ensure your referral process is in place now so you can drive high quality referrals consistently moving forward.
14 Tactical Actions To Generate More Referrals
Here are 14 ways to get more patient referrals:
1. TARGET LIST - Create a referral program with a suitable list of referrals. Be sure to label your target list maybe along the following lines
a. Strong Referrers
b. Occasional Referrers
c. Past Referrers
d. Never Referred
You may also want to tag the list by geography, referrer type, or other important metrics. Systematically build a the lists profile using their online references.
2. THANK REFERRER - Capture all referrers and recognize and thank new referrers or irregular referrers. How your appreciation should be personalised, brief, and offer something useful. Sometimes a simple phone call or a handwritten note is good.
3. AUTOMATE - Prepare standard correspondances and value added responses. Automate these pre-set systems. This makes it easy, quick and consistent
4. OUTREACH - There are many ways to open a conversation and leverage the ongoing communication. Use technology like triggered email marketing, macro text expanders or video and create standard processes to communicate one to many people easily. Other outreach actions can involve alliances, associations and other networks.
5. PATIENT REFERRALS - Offer patients who don't refer another way to make recommendations like case studies, online reviews, or being available to talk to future patients.
6. FULL SERVICE - Ensure your referrers know your full scope of service, or how you can help them help more patients. How often do doctors assume their referrers and patients know fully what they do, e.g. a referrer may only refer Hernia patients to a general surgeon but not know he also performs bariatric procedures.
7. MAKE IT EASY - Add a link to submission forms on your website and help referers by answering common questions.
8. INSPIRE - Remind referrers why your special. Inspire confidence and lower barriers or risk for referrers. Where referrers are unfamiliar with you, let them know how remarkable or unique that may give them something to talk about, maybe along the lines of:
a. What you do
b. Your training and experience
c. What happy patients are saying
d. Possibly that 80% (or whatever) of your practice comes from direct referrals.
9. VALUE - Provide valuable content that helps your referral sources answer any question their patients may have. Make it something special for them to share.
10. INVITE - Always have something to invite a referrer to or be part of. Talks, presentations, events, seminars or webinars on topics that may interest your referrers. Topics could include recent research, treatment news and trends, that can help them do their job better.
11. BUILD - Consider your practice suppliers as partners. Make sure they're aware of who and how you help patients and understand how they can help you build your referrer base.
12. TREAT - Consider your patients as partners, too. Let them know you view them as important, and tell them you hope they'll do the same with you. Give a referral or positive feedback to patients. It's one of the best ways to get one in return.
13. SOCIAL - Update your LinkedIn, Facebook Page, Google+ and other social profiles so they consistently reinforce your offer and why you are special. Use regular content updates to improve the quality of your social channels. Maybe connect or reach out to referrers via social channels
14. ASK - It never hurts to be direct, simply ask for referrals. You’ll get a lot more referrals if your timing is appropriate and you directly ask. As you’re completing a treatment with a patient, simply ask if they know anyone who would benefit from similar treatments.
Many Happy Returns
There is always a way to improve referrals and the above list is just an overview.
Use these suggestions jump-start your own idea generation and create a consistent referral process that works for your ideal target patients and your referral networks.
Be referable and focus on your ideal clients. Tap into your networks in a proactive way. By putting a referral system into place now, you are more likely to receive lead-boosting referrals throughout the year.
Talk to Us
If you would like to hear more, call us at 1300 880 230 and see how we could help.