There’s more to your marketing than budgets and schedules; it’s also vital to have a plan for what comes next.
Many dental practices spend a considerable amount of time, effort and money developing their online presence, with budgets spread across everything from a dedicated website and social media channels to SEO and PPC.
We all know the importance of marketing when it comes to attracting new patients. However, even marketing-savvy practices can find themselves falling at the final hurdle by failing to allocate the resources to cope with their new, hard-earned prospects.
Lead generation is hugely important, and yet worryingly, some practices have been missing out on almost half of the leads generated online by their marketing budgets, simply by not responding to enquiries efficiently and effectively. That’s almost half of your marketing budget under-performing, and (depending on your treatment focus and conversion rate) potentially a much greater level of sales forfeited.
If this sounds like your practice, it’s not too late – there are a number of steps you can take to turn the trend around.
Know who’s in charge
Often, leads can slip through the cracks because there isn’t one person (or a team, in a large practice) dedicated to responding. We recommend having an assigned staff member – typically a treatment coordinator – who is tasked with managing enquiries from marketing channel sources.
Work on your process
Having a simple process in place can make a huge difference:
- Create a list of all enquiries that can be referred back to;
- Log all enquiries, whether by telephone or online, in a task list;
- If you use a lead management system (more on this later), ensure that all enquiries are added to this system;
- Periodically review your enquiries, including the response time and contact rate from your team;
- Analyse sales performance, including conversion from enquiry to consultation, and conversion from consultation to treatment acceptance.
Following these steps will help you to optimise your response to leads, but if you’re interested in taking contact management to the next level, there are several ways to build upon this.
Use technology to enhance the process
In today’s climate, competition for patients is intense, convenience is prized, and patient expectations are high (especially for high-value treatments).
Aligning themselves to these expectations, the best practices are focused on offering exceptional customer service and slick, timely delivery through technology and automation. While it’s possible to survive and thrive by managing the patient journey manually, moving to an automated system (we recommend DenGro) can save time, eliminate missteps and allow you to build in useful layers of detail, including clear performance reporting.
Prioritise by treatment type
If you have multiple leads to work through, begin prioritising by treatment type. It might be tempting to contact general and lower-value enquiries because they need less work, but HVTs will add value to the bottom line. They may take a little more effort to get on board, but the investment will be worth it.
Time it right
If a prospective patient comes to you, try to contact them as soon as possible, within two working hours (one is even better) of receiving their enquiry. This is the vital period when leads are most interested in your treatments and what you have to offer. If you don’t act fast, the chances are that they’ll simply go elsewhere. According to DenGro, there’s a 27% increase in new enquiries converting to patients when they’re contacted within two hours.
If you’re following up leads or treatment plan acceptance, it’s helpful to know which days are best for contact success. A study by MIT has found that Wednesday and Thursday are the prime days to get in touch with leads, with Thursday being 49.7% better than Tuesday (the worst day) when it comes to making contact.
Similarly, not all times of day are created equal. The same MIT study showed that the period from 4pm to 6pm was best for making contact. Lunchtime – often thought to be a convenient time for calls – was actually far less successful.
Don’t be afraid to persist
Many practice staff recognise that when selling treatments, it’s useful to nurture enquiries and win them over – but inherently restrain themselves for fear of appearing ‘salesy’.
However, it’s worth remembering that when a patient contacts you for information, and you follow up at just the right time, you’re actually making their life easier. This is a win-win situation: the patient gets what they’re looking for, and you’re able to take them off the market (meaning they won’t be approaching a competitor).
People are busy and not everyone is available to pick up the phone the first time you call. In fact, we recommend that a practice should try to contact a lead at least six times and a minimum of three times over a period of a week. This gives practices the best chance of reaching new leads, and provides potential patients with enough opportunity to respond.
Different sources typically require more attempts, so you may find that leads generated by social advertising, for example, require more attempts than someone contacting you after a Google search. This is because search engine users are further along their buying journey, having identified a need and sought you out, whereas those reached through social ads are often more passive.
Ask us to help
We’re always keen to help practices manage their leads to get the best return on their marketing investment. We’ve worked with clients in the past and on an ongoing basis to help implement these systems, with the weight of experience guiding our recommendations. If you think now is the time to start looking at your options, get in touch and let’s discuss where you could go.
Do you have a question about patient lead management? We can also book a DenGro demo and arrange a preferential rate for our clients – just let us know if this is something you’d like to explore.