Okay, you’ve spent the weekend in the hot sun at a Health fair. It was very successful! You screened 85 people and have 40 appointments scheduled! It’s now Monday morning…WHAT DO YOU DO NOW?!
It’s at this point when you realize how important it is to be prepared! We all want more patients…but there are basic rules of interaction that are required for a new contact to become a new patient. It’s all about relationships, and relationships follow predictable patterns I call the three “C’s”.
1. Contact: Meet the person face to face. You did this at your Event.
2. Connection: Use questions and listening techniques to develop a relationship with this stranger. They won’t be a stranger by the time you’re done.
3. Courtship: We turn contacts into long term patients with frequent communication, thoughtful acts, attention to detail and active listening. (It sounds similar to couple behavior doesn’t it?)
So let’s break these three points down.
Contact: Your event accomplished this. If you made a good first impression you will have a long list of contacts that need follow-up.
Connection: For some people this comes naturally. When my oldest daughter was little she would start conversations with strangers in the grocery store. Her conversations almost always began with a question and ended with her telling them her name! For others, this will take practice. Here is a list of questions to ask people as you conduct the screening.
Courtship: This stage is critical to establishing a long term relationship.
When you’re “courting” new patients, I recommend the following 5 steps.
1. Keep all patient information in a database. AcuGraph has the ability to keep ALL of your contact information in one place. Once all of the contact data is collected you can export it into any contact manager or email program you prefer.
2. Add a personal note into the AcuGraph database. This should remind you of the conversation with the person. Remembering a detail they tell you will really make an impact! You can enter personal notes about the contact in the “Custom Field” when you are adding a new patient. I prefer to change the name of the field before the event so I don’t forget. To do that, simply click the Preferences button on the top right of the AcuGraph screen. Inside the Preferences window look to the bottom left for the “Custom Field” option. Change the name of the field to “Screening Notes”. Now you’ll remember where you put those notes so you can refer to them when you make your customer service calls!
3. Rank the contacts into 3 categories BEFORE you leave the event. Look through the sign-in clipboard and put an A, B or C by each name. Since sometimes we can’t follow-up with everyone, this priority system will help.
A = Must follow-up. Either they set an appointment or there was a good connection.
B = Great people to remain in contact with. They are influencers and you know you can help them, just something interfered with setting the appointment. Follow-up is about timing, and you never know what could change in someone’s life.
C = Stay in touch. There wasn’t that connection that you had with B’s, however, things change, and you never know who they know.
4. Make contact within 24hours. Don’t be too eager or direct, a simple email with their screening results and your friendly cover page will do. Remember, keep things personal! People develop relationships with YOU. When you contact them try to reference something they told you during the screening.
5. Personally call the patient within 72 hours. This phone call will improve your appointment show rate…so don’t skip it! Having your assistant make the call is not the same thing. I know you’re busy, but this is IMPORTANT. The effect of personal contact is powerful…even if you just leave a voicemail!
As you practice event follow-up you will naturally get better at it. There is nothing like having a plan when it comes to adding New Patients. Start at the event by asking contacts good questions, capturing all data in the AcuGraph database, give yourself a follow-up deadline, then rank and review the contacts as you prioritize your efforts.
Start with simple emails and phone calls, then build an automated system so follow-up becomes easier after each new event. When you maintain a ‘people first approach’ during and after events, you’ll always have a stream of new patients.