5 Strategies to Increase the Average Lifetime value of your patients?

By Loran Simon | Our Service

Now you know the average lifetime value of your patients and what this means for your clinic, it's time to turn your attention to how you can increase this value.

Even small incremental increases in average LTV means your patients are generating more revenue for your company, which in turn means you can afford to spend more to acquire each new customer. But before we look to an acquisition strategy, there are a couple of other metrics you’d do well to keep an eye on. In no particular order, these are retention rate, customer acquisition cost and churn rate.

You don’t have to gone through business school to know of the Pareto principle, otherwise known as the 80 / 20 rule. In general, 20% of your customers represent 80% of your revenue and if we couple that with the other well known business adage that attracting a new customer costs 5 times as much as keeping an old, it pays to keep a close eye on who’s generating income and how to keep them.

The above isn’t to say that lead generating marketing is a waste of time and shouldn’t be done. Far from it, for your practice to grow, you definitely need to effective strategies to get new patients through the door. But the reality is that new customers churn at very high rates. The key then has to be to have a solid approach for getting new customers and and an equally robust approach to get your customers coming back.

For some practices as much as 60 to 70% of of first-time patients don’t return, but if you can get your patient to attend a second visit, the likelihood of them becoming a loyal customer increases to a whopping 80%.

So, while you cannot dilute your new customer generation efforts, you should be keeping a well trained eye on what you need to do to keep those hard won new customers coming back.

Tip # 1 - Treat your new customers like VIPs

That’s right if you want to see more first time patients coming back, think about what you can do to incentivise them to do do. Give them a nice fat discount on their next visit to ensure you reach that next all important milestone - the second visit, at which point you are well on your way to creating a loyal, long term customer.

Tip # 2 - Keep in touch with your existing customers

Harvest your existing relationships. It’s probably true that as much as 50% of your active patients need something right now. They know you, you don’t have to work as hard to cut through the noise because you are already familiar to them. Keep in touch on email, on text or make use of the telephone and the post. With so much digital noise, offline channels can be very effective and can complement what you’re doing via social media or on email.

Tip # 3 - Give them a reason to return

Check-ups are hugely important to health of your patient’s mouth, but it's also an important revenue line for the practice. Getting to see every one of your active patients at least twice a year for hygiene is what builds practice.. A very significant percentage of restorative appointments will be scheduled immediately after a check up, so ensure you have a foolproof system for scheduling these and ensuring they happen. SMS message reminders, calls if they get postponed or cancelled. The importance of this line of work cannot be underestimated, educate your staff on why they are so important to the business finances.

Tip # 4 - Re-engage your lapsed customers

Industry experts suggest that on average, patient attrition in dental practices is between 15 and 20% - one of the highest in healthcare. Perhaps a more scary figure is not what percentage die or move, it’s how many are influenced away by their friends to another dentist (we’ll come back to this later). Before it comes to that, make sure you have your lapsed customers on your radar. These are patients who may have lapsed some time ago, or these might be patients who have more recently drifted from their treatment plan.

Think about these groups differently: what’s might be required to entice and incentivise truly lapsed customers to come out hibernation vs those who might have postponed or cancelled several appointments but still have an active treatment plan will likely be different. Be creative and think about what’s going to be most effective a reward or incentive for each group.

And, if they’ve lapsed before, they might be prone to do it again, so think about what you can you do to keep them coming back - rewards programmes are great ways to keep customers returning again and again.

Tip # 5 - Education and Experience (theirs not yours!)

There is a simple reason why I’ve bundled these together but it might not be all that obvious. Let me explain. Nowadays, ‘self-directed search’ is what we all do. We control our own buying journey more than ever before. We might be looking for the same outcome as before ie. trustworthy advice but we’re doing it differently. We will still be seeking out others’ opinions, particularly friends and family, doing research about potential solution providers, listening to experts, only nowadays we’ll do much of this online and we’ll be a lot further down the line in making a decision about who will treat our teeth, before we ever speak to the practice we might have chosen.  We will have looked up online views and reviews, done a google search, posted onto our social media network to get recommendations and even watched a couple of videos on youtube!

So you see being in all the right places at the right time and being part of the online education of your prospects as they move through the buying cycle is vital. Getting known for giving good advice, tips and tricks or even the purveyor of funny memes makes it much more likely you’ll be found when your prospect next has a dental problem they need to address, or decides it's not too late to get the teeth they’ve always wanted.

Let’s not also forget that if you’re NOT wowing your existing customers with your superior patient care and experience, then they are going to be much less likely to be boasting about their super sensitive dentist to their friends and family.

Experience is everything. If you go the extra mile in terms of making everything seamless, easy, relaxed, friendly, then they’ll repay you in kind when next they go online to write their review (don’t forget to prompt them) and talk to their friends, whether that’s virtually or face to face.

At Somnowell we can help with you both your customer acquisition and strategies to help keep those all important new and existing customers coming back.

Our Digital Advertising and Social Media and SEO service used together are a sophisticated and effective strategy to keep new patients enquiring, but also to help you turn those fresh new leads into steady, loyal customers (who don’t mind giving the odd review or two).

If you missed our post on how to calculate the average lifetime value of your customer, then click here to read it now.

And if you want to speak to one of our team about how we can help, then please book a 15 minute strategy call below.

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Loran Simon

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About the Author

After generating more than 85,000 patients for our own dental lab, and for the clients of our digital marketing agency for dental practices, I cracked the code for running successful online marketing campaigns.