You have a secret weapon: It’s called patient care.
The rise of OTC hearing aids, third-party administrators, and big-box retailers has brought more awareness to hearing loss — but they all emphasize a product as the solution.
Your focus on the patient experience is what sets you apart. And there are plenty of ways to make that experience even better right away.
Take Your Time
Today’s patients research heavily before contacting your office, but they don’t know what they don’t know.
Give yourself ample time to get to know them, their concerns, and their unspoken fears. Your insights will help them feel seen, heard, and understood — which they’d never experience on a website or at a big-box store.
Get the whole team involved. Paint a clear picture of how each role can provide a premier patient experience. For example, your patient-care coordinator might well glean important insights and build better rapport from an extra minute or two spent with a patient at the front desk. All patient-experience processes and expectations should align with your practice’s mission statement. Ensure your team understands your mission and how they can help deliver on it.
Audit What Your Patients Encounter
You need to know what your patients experience if you’re going to optimize your patient care. But you don’t know what you don’t know.
As an owner or provider, you can learn from walking in your patients’ steps, but your team knows you. They’ll act differently when you ask for the patient experience, no matter how hard they try. If you can, get someone you know to be a “secret shopper,” from calling to book the evaluation to the end of that first appointment. Their feedback will be priceless, especially about moments of decision-making.
Maximize the Initial Patient Contact
When a prospective patient calls your office, their perception is their reality. If they feel like just another item on your patient-care coordinator’s checklist, they might go elsewhere for their hearing health needs. Keep these four tips in mind with each caller:
- Make sure you understand each caller’s pain points
- Keep the practice’s mission statement in mind
- Learn how to guide each call — not too short, not too long
- Be natural — talk with the patient, not at them
If you don’t already have a practice mission statement, now’s the time to develop one! It’s the first — and most important — step in creating a more efficient practice. Everything else falls in place behind it. Your mission is what your practice works toward every day — for example, “To help the community hear better.”
Make sure your mission statement is clear and to the point (no more than two or three sentences), understood and internalized by all team members, and reviewed annually to ensure it still matches the goals of the business.
Use Patient Care Follow-Ups
These are calls your staff makes to patients nearing warranty expiration, nearing the four-year mark with their current devices, or who got tested but opted not to treat their hearing loss.
Are you thinking, “This sounds salesy?” Let’s reframe it: Your competitors aren’t shy about bombarding your patients. And it’s probably salesy. That means you have a chance to stand out by being authentic.
Be friendly. Arm yourself with information that personalizes the call. And express the true issue in a way that signals value. For example, if a patient’s tech is almost four years old, the message might be, “We want to make sure you’re still hearing the best you can.” Who doesn’t appreciate when a provider follows up to ensure everything is going well?
Authentic patient care follow-ups:
- Maintain your relationship with your current patients
- Educate prospects so they make informed decisions
- Set your practice apart from your competitors
- Generate a consistent source of opportunities
Validate Their Objections
This skill sets the providers in your practice apart as truly adept practitioners. You need to empathize with your patient, meet them where they are, and fill in only the knowledge gaps keeping them from moving forward. Peppering them with a barrage of facts and hoping the right one lands won’t work.
Any objection is really one of five core issues: no hurry, no worry, no value, no companion (e.g., “I need to discuss it with my spouse”), or no money. Ask open-ended questions, such as, “Can you tell me more about that?” so you can determine the core issue.
With that core identified, it’s time to validate, which is a three-part process:
- Acknowledge their concern. Your patient will feel heard and understood, making them more receptive to the next step. If you skip this, you come across like you have an agenda that’s more important than their concerns.
- Motivate your patient. Educate them with any missing information or additional perspectives. Help them imagine what’s possible (e.g., “Catch the next whispered ‘I love you’ from your spouse”), which builds value for your recommendation.
- Ask a question. You’ve learned what’s important to them, so ask something that will change the dynamic and address their readiness to move forward with treatment. An example might be, “What questions would [insert companion name] have that I can prepare you to answer?” If they respond with another objection, repeat the process.
But Wait — There’s More
There are plenty of other ways to fine-tune your patients’ experience with your practice, but some of them take longer to bear fruit. Here are three we recommend that work well for our member practices.
This web-based tactic uses the information in your patient database to send emails to your patients — and your patient data triggers the emails automatically.
For example, a patient’s warranty expiration date can be the trigger to send an email warning the patient of the upcoming expiration. But you can also explain in the email why upgrading their hearing devices is so important to their hearing health!
Marketing automation is a simple but powerful method of patient outreach that saves time, strengthens your patient relationships, and increases the likelihood of better outcomes.
Your whole team can benefit from training and coaching tailored to audiology clinic best practices. Learn how to connect better with patients, increase treatment acceptance, and give them a reason to refer their loved ones. Professional development helps create a culture of providing a consistently exceptional experience for every patient at every touchpoint.
Analyze Inbound Calls
Reviewing recordings of the calls your practice receives helps you determine when opportunities are missed, when callers who aren’t viable prospects are treated as prospects, and when viable prospects are successfully converted to appointments.
As you might have guessed, this creates invaluable opportunities to fine-tune your patient-care coordinators’ phone skills and give them kudos when deserved.
Take the next step toward a premier patient experience.