One of the great things about being an academic is having an army of students who can do your bidding.
I was the director of the Practice Management course at Columbia for nearly a decade. During that time, I asked my students, as part of the course, to poll their patients about the reasons they left their previous dentists. I had been doing this consistently in my private practice and I was curious if my results jived with the dental school patients’ responses.
My students collected over 1000 responses. Here’s a summary of what I found, which was, to my surprise, consistent to my own queries in my private, Midtown Manhattan practice. Customers, or patients, leave businesses and practices for the same reasons.
By the way, you too should be asking all your new patients WHY they left their former dentist. It’s helpful knowing a new patient’s sensitivities.
THE 80:20 RULE, RULES
Here are the results. As in many areas, the 80:20 rule applies.
Contrary to what you might think, 80% had nothing to do with the dentistry. Only 20% of respondents thought the dentist was “rough”, “hurt” or did “bad work”.
The 80% again was broken down to 80:20, with 20% leaving because they relocated, moved or changed schedules making it inconvenient.
Fees were, even in the dental school setting, the reason given by only 10% of all respondents.
IT’S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY!
The remainder, the biggest portion, were complaints about their non-dentist related experience in the dental office. Many reported not being “cared for”, “heard”, or “treated poorly”. This is in line with a statistic published in a 2015 Forbes article that 68% leave because of poor attitude or indifference on the part of the service provider.
So, based on these results, “customer service” or crafting a better Customer Experience (CX) or in a practice’s case, Patient Experience (PX), might be the single most important thing you can focus on to keep your patients happy and prevent turnover, or what I call “leakage” or otherwise known as CHURN.
According to research done by Bain and published in the Harvard Business Review, a meager 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s revenue by 25-95%. And, It’s 5-25X more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing customer. (HBR)
Do you have a Patient Retention Management Strategy?
Do you have a strategy to craft and improve your customer experience or PX?
Focusing on New Patient Acquisition Strategies as most practices do before shoring our your PRMS’s and PX is tantamount to putting the cart before the horse.
Perhaps a different and potentially more effective practice building strategy for the new decade is to focus on PX (patient experience)?
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To your excellent success,
Michael and the PPS Team