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Why Word of Mouth Referrals are Important for Medical Practices

Word of mouth is the most valuable marketing tool available to any business, whether you’re a pediatrician in Naperville or a shoe repair store in Austin. Around 90 percent of consumers trust suggestions from their friends and family more than traditional print, radio, online, and television advertising. In the medical field, referrals are even more effective due to the importance most patients place on finding a great provider. 

Still, even though word-of-mouth marketing is proven to be the most effective tool, many businesses choose to dedicate their marketing efforts toward other areas, such as growing their following. But to really boost person-to-person referrals, medical practices should spend more time engaging with the audience they already have. A loyal patient will end up being much more valuable in the long run than an uninvested follower on social media who signed up for your newsletter giveaway. 

How to Increase Person-to-person Referrals

The first thing providers can do to create word-of-mouth momentum is to provide excellent care. For this to work, every person in the office needs to do their part to ensure the patient is satisfied from the time they schedule their appointment to when they check out. Patients will be more likely to refer your practice if they have been treated like a person and not simply a number. Providers should always make an effort to stay on schedule. Make sure to spend time with each of your patients and listen to them while they are in the exam room. Also, a small way to impress your patients is to remember their names. Don’t be too busy to spend some time talking about their lives outside of their health. Getting to know your patients more personally can greatly enhance your chances of a referral. If you notice a patient is particularly enthusiastic about your practice, you can ask them to spread the word, and even offer discount coupons to those who refer a friend. 

But great care is not enough. Your office should be inviting and engaging for your young patients. You want them to feel comfortable in an often uncomfortable setting. When thinking about how to increase your word-of-mouth referrals, consider opportunities outside of care itself to impress your patients. For instance, if your office has a unique story to share, like your practice is particularly respected in ADHD treatment, then that information should be shared with your patients. Having a story to share helps you earn a reputation in your community.

Social Media

Many people use their social media accounts as a central method of communication. If your patients make a post related to your practice, the reach of that referral increases exponentially than person-to-person referrals. Pediatricians should consider creating content for their website that would be useful for their patients to share. 

Many pediatricians have leveraged Instagram and Facebook to carve out an audience. 

Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson is a pediatrician and mom with over 5 thousand followers on her Instagram account. She shares parenting and children’s health information like how to prevent food allergies in children and how to baby-proof your windows on her Instagram account. Her consistent content creation is often shared and commented on, which has brought new patients to her office that wouldn’t have known about her otherwise. Providers should consider creating similar content. Simple videos, blog posts, and podcasts that your patients share on their personal accounts act similar to in-person word-of-mouth referrals but have the added potential of reaching more eyes and ears in less time. 

Online Reviews 

Similar to social media, online reviews also have the added benefit of reaching more people outside of one person’s social group. While word-of-mouth suggestions are most trusted, online reviews come in a close second. Around 80 percent of internet users check review platforms such as Yelp and Google Reviews consistently, and many are encouraged to buy a product or service based on the reviews. 

Providers should consider listing their office on various review platforms to allow their patients to leave comments. The more consistent, recent, and highly rated reviews, the more likely new patients would be interested in scheduling at your practice. 

Pediatricians should remember that while referrals start with excellent care, that is not enough to trigger word-of-mouth suggestions. Providers need to go above and beyond to encourage their patients to share their experiences. Their entire appointment should wow the patient from the moment they contact your office. Creating opportunities for online person-to-person suggestions such as social media shares and online reviews should also be considered.  Pediatricians should remain a helpful source outside of their office buildings. No matter if you are a pediatrician in Dawsonville or a pediatrician in Salem, dedicating time and energy into increasing word-of-mouth referrals can greatly benefit your practice but your patient’s overall experience as well. 


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