I’ve recently carried out a secret shopper exercise with a number of dental practices across the UK and the results have been a real eye-opener. It seems that the majority of practices are well-versed and skilled in their ability to ‘snatch defeat from the jaws of victory’.
The secret shopper format was simple – I put myself in the place of a young couple who had just moved to a new town with their seven month old baby – they were now looking to join a new dental practice (it was quite easy, because that’s the situation my daughter is in right now).
I sent an enquiry to that effect to each of the target practices’ websites using their online enquiry form.
I did it using my mobile phone – that’s how over 50% of potential patients would do it – busy people making enquiries on the go. As such, I was hoping for a simple and intuitive way of making contact.
At least a quarter of the practices I approached lost at the very first hurdle – either there was no contact form on their website, their website was not responsive (and, as such, impossible to read) or, in a few cases, the website was non-existent or not loading.
And so those practices lost the opportunity; and the sad thing is, they’ll never know, which means the problem will continue.
For those that did receive the webform enquiry, the responses (or lack of) were worrying to say the least.
“Seven days after the forms were sent, 40% of practices had failed to respond.”
So, like the practices above, they also lost.
Of the ones that did respond, most replies were short and immediately talked about cost. There was little in the way of rapport building.
Only one or two picked up on the clues within the enquiry and responded in a personable and bespoke way – and they significantly increased their chances of winning the business.
“It’s easy to see how that enquiry could be worth at least £3000 to the practice.”
Let’s look at that enquiry again – it’s two for the price of one. Two adults who could join the practice’s patient plan. At £15 a month x 2 people x 12 months, that’s £360 a year. If the couple stayed for five years, that’s £1800. And, if they were both to have a small amount of private treatment in that period, it’s easy to see how that enquiry could be worth at least £3000 to the practice.
Would that make you think a little differently about how you respond?
The key point is, the couple ARE going to join a practice in your town, so why wouldn’t you compete to make sure it’s yours that they choose?
For me, it’s simply a case of either looking at a webform enquiry as a bit of an annoyance that requires a standard, off the shelf, factual response or seeing it for the business opportunity that it is and ‘crafting’ a personal reply that is likely to appeal to those enquiring on an emotional level as well as a practical one. If your competitors are not doing it, it’s an easy win…an open goal.
How annoying is it, to get a potential new patient looking to join your practice and then to lose them for the lack of a little thought and a bit more time in responding?
Perhaps it’s a good time to review your process for dealing with webform enquiries, it might just transform the fortunes of your practice.