Getting the most from your client communications
What’s your reminder compliance level?
If you know the answer off the top of your head, you’re in good shape. Often we work with veterinary practices who have full appointment calendars and busy schedules, so they think their reminder compliance is high and their business is growing. But sometimes the numbers tell a different story.
Analysing the number of patients in the database, reminders sent, and appointments on the schedule can show opportunities to increase the ratio of reminders-to-appointments, which also increases revenue. We often find that at least 25% of patients in the database have no reminders attached to them, and of the patients that do have reminders, 50% are not responding. This can leave a great deal of potential revenue on the table.
For example, a smaller established practice with 6,000 patients may have as much as 1,500 patients in the database with no reminders attached, and another 2,250 have been sent reminders but haven’t responded. If the average cost of a veterinary visit is £50, recovering just 50% of that number would yield £93,750 in additional revenue each year.
If we apply the same formula to a larger practice with 25,000 patients, bringing just half of those patients without reminders and non-responding patients back into the practice could generate more than £312,500 in additional revenue each year.
For patients that do have reminders attached to their medical records, it’s certainly tempting to forgo postal reminder cards and only send email reminders. Email reminders are quick, easy, and cost-effective. But in reality, the email inboxes of your clients have become incredibly full with marketing promotions from a host of different companies, so email reminders from your practice can, unfortunately be missed. This is not to say they shouldn’t be used, they should, just in combination with other methods.
It is essential to have a clear and consistent reminder/recall strategy. When assisting our customers with our Rapport client communications program, we’ve found that the following reminder formula typically yields the great results.
30 days ahead of service due date
Send an email reminder. While Rapport does offer text reminders – and some clients will prefer to receive their reminders via this channel – email reminders allow your practice to include more information about the services due, as well as any special offers and promotions. (Rapport can automate these reminders so they are sent exactly 30 days ahead of the service due date, rather than running them once per month.)
15 days ahead of service due date
For those who haven’t responded, send a follow-up email plus a reminder postcard. Postal reminders seem to generate better responses when they are used 15 days ahead of the date rather than 30, perhaps because there’s a greater sense of urgency. In addition, using automated reminder cards in conjunction with automated email reminders, spaced 30 and 15 days from the service due date, creates less of a burden on the front desk. Appointment requests come in consistently all month long rather than all at once.
Past the service due date
For those who miss their service due date, we see the best results when clinics send postcards and email notifications at 15 days past the date, and a final email notification at 30 days past the due date.
It may seem like a large number of email and postcard reminders are being sent at any given time. However, following this protocol actually decreases the number of reminders sent overall because response rates increase prior to service due dates.
Other marketing ideas
The concept of combining emails and postcards for maximum results can also be applied to seasonal marketing campaigns, which are sent to all patients (or targeted to specific groups of patients) to drive clients and patients through the doors at specific times during the year, such as:
- Dental month
- Flea and tick prevention
- Pet nutrition (tied to healthy weights) or summer (tied to outdoor activity)
- Senior wellness
- Holiday cards in December (which can tie to wellness for the following year)
In working with practices to create targeted marketing lists and create effective campaigns, we find the following formula most effective:
- Send an email three to four weeks ahead of the season
- Send a postcard to clients who have not responded one week ahead of the season
- Send an email again to clients who have not responded at the start of the season