With the increase in virtual meetings, the popularity of cosmetic influencers and even the harsher seasons requiring a few more steps to healthy skin—dermatology services are in demand. In fact, Google Trends found that dermatology was the highest-searched medical specialty in 2021.
With all this attention, competition is fierce. Dermatology is the third most competitive specialty and consumers aren’t loyal to their dermatologists—with 56% of Millennials and Gen X both saying they’re likely to switch dermatologists in the next 2-3 years. So, what can be done to attract and retain customers?
People Talk and Consumers Search
Dermatology consumers use more than ads or physician referrals to find a new provider. Many times, people turn to family and friends for recommendations. And recent customers also share their good and bad experiences with their family and friends. Word-of-mouth (WOM) communication plays an important part in attracting new customers, and this is where capitalizing on the customer experience can turn into impactful organic marketing.
WOM is even more effective than paid ads, resulting in five times more sales.
If someone doesn’t have a recommendation from a friend or family member, they turn to the next best thing—online reviews. Yes, some will research things like a dermatologist’s medical school, training hospital and certifications, but what most people really pay attention to is how others rate their experiences through online reviews. As many as 81% of patients consider online reviews when selecting a healthcare provider. And they can be picky because 72% of patients want a doctor with at least a 4-star review and 80% expect at least 5 reviews before they’re willing to trust a provider.
Online reputation is a simple yet influential area that healthcare marketers should be taking advantage of to get new customers. Even if you're not an SEO/SEM expert, there are a few key tactics you can use to help improve your online presence. Increasing your review count and star rating will raise where Google ranks you in local search results. And by automating review requests, you will give your silent majority of happy customers a way to quickly leave a glowing review when they're still feeling satisfied with their experience. Optimizing your Google Business Profile (GBP) can also boost where you appear in local search. The more accurate information you add to your profile, the more likely it is for Google to match your profile with a search query. Check out our checklist for advice on optimizing your GBP.
Communication Is Key for Building Brand Loyalty
Within the first 7 seconds of encountering your brand, people will start to establish their opinion. A marketer’s first job is to create a positive brand association that initially brings new customers into the office. The next and arguably most important task is to create an experience that leads to brand loyalty. Providing a positive experience cannot be overstated. 67% of customers are likely to stop buying products from a brand due to bad customer experiences and this can be costly because it’s 5-25 times more expensive to acquire a new patient compared to retaining an existing one and 44% of US consumers switch to the brand’s competitor—so not only will you lose revenue, but your competition could benefit from this error.
What role can a marketer play in the customer experience? Many people attribute their dissatisfaction for a practice to a lack of communication and a disconnected and siloed experience. For example, say a potential customer sees an ad on Facebook promoting a sale on chemical peels and they go to the website to learn more. After digging through the site, they can’t find how long the sale lasts so they call the office. But when they reach the front desk, the staff member isn’t aware of the sale and puts the customer on hold. Out of frustration the customer hangs up and the sale has been lost.
It’s important to have reliable communication with customers and all team members at every possible touchpoint.
There are also online interactions from marketers that help to establish a brand’s identity and mission. Having an active social media account and responding to online reviews and comments can help to set expectations of what the brand stands for. An up-to-date website with a FAQ section can help customers know what to expect for their appointment and when visiting the practice.
Because many procedures and services have a direct effect on their appearance, dermatology consumers have high expectations. These expectations aren’t only in the care they receive, they are also carried throughout the entire experience with your brand. When investing a lot of time and money into themselves and their quality of live, people expect a seamless and elevated experience. With our current, convenience driven world, consumers expect that they’ll be able to do everything online whether that be paying their bills, scheduling appointments or purchasing products. Providing this digital experience is almost required now as 94% of customers would be more likely to choose a new service provider if that provider offered online booking options.
By bringing digital technology inside the practice, marketers can improve the in-office experience by adding an extra touch of modern and a communication tool at every touchpoint so customers and staff can be informed on office policies, initiatives, promotions and more. Considering 81% of consumers conduct research before buying, what better time to provide them with the relevant, trustworthy information they need about procedures and services than when they’re already in the mindset to act. This improved communication is also what people want as better communication between doctors and patients has shown a significant relationship to patient loyalty to a physician and hospital. And by expanding this technology into every room of the practice, the brand voice and your messages can influence each interaction a customer has in the building and ensure clinical staff are receiving the same, up-to-date information as customers so there isn’t any miscommunication.
To learn how you can improve your marketing efforts with a communication channel for customers and staff in every room of your office, read our blog, Why Healthcare Marketers Shouldn’t Ignore In-office Marketing, or visit our product page.