How many of you have had a patient from your practice come to mind only to discover from your CA they have not been in for months? How does it make you feel when you think about all the work, energy and perhaps even money that went into attracting and converting that patient to care? This inevitably leads to frustration, depression and fuels the need for more new patients.
While many chiropractors are focusing on attracting new patients, it is safe to say that most of them could improve their practice by refining their patient retention skills and numbers. According to Chiropractic Economics, the average chiropractor has a patient visit average between 10-15. The number one reflex of poor retention is to focus on attraction in order to replace patients leaving. Although this provides a temporary fix, it does not address the core problem.
Regardless of the marketing strategy, every chiropractor I have spoken to agrees that it is more cost effective and less work to maintain existing patients rather than attracting new ones. When added to actual clinic hours, planning and execution of internal and external marketing events can quickly create a life that is out of balanced and not conducive to a long career. While there is no possible retention problem without new patients, one must also realize that without a sound retention strategy, practice growth is merely a dream. Having experienced poor retention early in my career, that void ignited a passion for communication and better understanding patient emotions and behaviors.
I always believed that when you are ready to listen and fully recognize that what you are doing is not working, the universe sends you a message. That message came to me at a seminar in Hoboken, NJ. I was listening to a very successful speaker, who had created several multimillion dollar businesses. He was discussing a break-through communication technology called emotional mapping. Emotional mapping is the process of identifying all major emotional states that people go through during the sales cycle. These emotional states happen at different points during the sales cycle and they must be acknowledged and addressed. I call them emotional touch points because you want to know what emotions to address and when to address them. Emotional touch points deal with the how and when to communicate so that the client feels completely understood and at ease.
This successful businessman said that the root of his success was based on two things:
1) A very precise assessment of how his clients feel at various touch points during the sales cycle and
2) A customized and leveraged communication strategy to address those specific emotional states.
After coming home from this seminar, I decided to get to work and crack the retention code. So I started asking patients how they felt emotionally at various touch points, such as before and after receiving their consultation and examination, before and after their report of findings, during a relapse etc. In the end, I interviewed over 1400 patients from my office.
While the interviews required time and energy, the results of this research made it all worth while; I managed to identify the exact emotions patients have during their health journey. I discovered there are 12 specific emotional touch points during this journey:
End of Health Coverage
Asking for a Referral
Introducing Other Healthy Initiative (Exercise, Nutrition etc.)
Proposing Wellness Care
Having Kids Checked
My research revealed something extremely useful and amazing. During these 12 emotional touch points, I found out that 90% of the patients I interviewed felt the same two emotions.
Once it was clear how all my patients felt at these emotional touch points, I developed an automated video communication strategy or system based on their feelings and emotions. This allowed me to connect with the conversation patients were already having in their heads but had not yet expressed verbally. The data from my research gave me the upper hand when it came to communicating and connecting with my patient’s innermost feelings and emotions.
I want you to think about your best patients, the ones who love what you do, the ones that are committed to chiropractic for life. The wellness patients that talk about you everywhere they go and bring you gifts. Do you think they bought into chiropractic logically or do you think they bought into chiropractic emotionally? Are they emotionally or logically committed to you, your practice and your services? Which one? I am sure you will agree that your best patients have a strong emotional tie to your practice. The problem I see is that even though we know that patients buy into chiropractic based on emotions and go through a very specific emotional journey, we continue to communicate the same way we have for over 100 years and wonder why patients don’t stay. Maybe there is more to communication than just telling THE story.
Remember, we are first in the emotional relationship. Once we establish that relationship through the knowledge, understanding and the dealing of the emotions at hand, we are then given the right to conceive the chiropractic relationship. Antonio Demasio once said: We are not thinking machines that feel, rather we are feeling machines that think. When you focus on relationships, you consummate patients that are indebted to you that will stay and refer. New patients then become the source of growth rather than the pill for a struggling practice!
Dr. Clayton Roach
He has been in chiropractic practice since 2005. He graduated from Logan College of Chiropractic in St. Louis, Missouri with honors and decided to come back home to serve the people of Nova Scotia. Originally from Cheticamp in Cape Breton, Dr. Clayton Roach is bilingual. His focus is on educating his patients about chiropractic and their health in general while solidifying the facts and clearing the myths. This leads to an environment that is conducive to healing and feeling better. He looks forward to meeting you and making your chiropractic experience one that you will value and be grateful for for the rest of your life.