In today’s competitive environment, word-of-mouth marketing in healthcare is important to sustained success. However, for providers whose passion lies in delivering quality care, broaching the subject of referrals is often uncomfortable. These strategies will help boost your confidence when asking for patient referrals so you can remove obstacles.
Earn Before You Ask
Asking for referrals from patients when you don’t know them well, or aren’t sure how they feel about you, contributes to the awkwardness. Thus, start by asking people that have relied on your practice for a long period and with whom you have an established rapport. With this strategy, asking for a referral feels more like asking a friend for a favor that benefits others.
Loyal patients are typically happy to share their positive experiences with others because of how your health services affected their quality of life. Sales coach and author Jeffrey Gitomer is a big proponent of earning referrals before you ask, as he points out in the video below.
Develop a Script and Practice
In any area of life, people are more nervous about an experience when they are not prepared. It may seem odd to take time away from patients and other important healthcare tasks, but dedicating some effort to formulating a comfortable script and practicing helps instill confidence.
Keep in mind that the point of a referral script isn’t to memorize it as you would lines for a play. Instead, it is to get more comfortable with the content of the message so that you can deliver it more genuinely and dynamically at the right moments.
Seize the Day
Timing is important to referral confidence as well. Patients experience an ebb and flow of emotions when shifting from feeling bad to improving or returning to full strength. When you contribute to a patient’s recovery through quality care, you become a virtual hero to that person. One of the best times to gently ask for referrals is when a patient tells you of their satisfaction.
For instance, following a compliment, you might say, “Thank you so much for telling me that. The greatest reward of my job is seeing patients feel better. Please tell others you know who are struggling that I’d like to help them too.” A more assertive alternative for the last line is, “Do you know anyone else struggling with the same issue who might need to see me?”
Take a Team Approach with Other Providers
Some healthcare systems are attempting to implement a model similar to the Mayo Clinic total care approach. They coordinate care among generalists and specialists and deliver information to patients via a digital portal.
Remember that other doctors are often your best source of referrals. In addition to providing quality care to their patients, you can earn provider referrals by communicating openly and showing respect for the referrer’s relationship with the patient.
Asking for referrals isn’t as challenging if you identify the right people and times to make the request. When you focus on a genuine desire to help people in need rather than on business outcomes, your patients and other doctors will notice and want to tell others about their experiences.
As an expert at marketing in healthcare, Response Mine Interactive can help you get more referrals and make sure you are staying in HIPAA guidelines when doing them, did you know we are HIPAA compliant marketing agency?
Learn more and see how we can help your marketing strategies by contacting us today!