In states where it’s not banned, dentists often turn to incentive programs for referrals. While I’m not opposed to incentive programs, incentives for referrals isn’t necessarily a good marketing tactic. Word-of-mouth is the most effective and efficient way for dentists to get new patients. Referred patients have a good reputation for long-term retention, so providing an incentive to increase word-of-mouth among your exiting patients seems like a good idea, at least on the surface.
Have you ever referred a friend to a business – like a particular golf pro shop or gym? How does it make you feel to provide a friend with information on where to get the best service? For most of us, giving good advice and helping our friends feels rewarding. Our conscience says “good job” for being wise and informative. There’s no guilt because there’s no tangible referral incentive. Yes, incentives can actually keep people from making referrals because they feel bribed. Emotion plays a big role in word-of-mouth referrals.
How to Ask for Referrals
There are alternatives to incentive programs. You can boost referrals very easily by asking for them. If you know that your team is friendly, helpful, and provide superior service to your patients, you should not feel guilty asking for referrals. Here’s a script to help you.
Doc: “Looks like we’re all done. Your numbness will subside in a few hours.”
Patient: “Tanks, docyer.”
Doc: “Is there anything else I can do to help you before you go?”
Patient: “Nyo, I dohn tink so.”
Doc: “Just so you know, I’m always happy to have new patients, so if you like our office, be sure to tell your friends about us, okay?”
Patient: “Suer ting, Doc.”
This scenario is painless for the doctor and the patient! Notice that Doc asked “okay?” at the end, just to get a response from the patient. In the patient’s mind, he’s agreed to make the referral if an opportunity arises.
Referrals in the Internet Age
In addition to actual spoken referrals (true word of mouth), today’s dentists have the opportunity to use the Internet for referrals. While Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and your blog may not generate a ton of traffic, it certainly can’t hurt to work these social avenues to your advantage.
- Post daily updates to Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus daily, asking questions and commenting on your patients’ posts.
- Have your team members comment on your blog and share it on their personal Facebook pages.
- Tell your patients to follow you on Twitter, then if you have a cancellation, post the news on Twitter.
For more information about maximizing your Internet presence, call Modern Dental Practice Marketing today at 972-781-8861.