Everyone can see that the world has changed. Let’s look at this from a marketing perspective, particularly the 4 C’s of marketing.
It wasn’t too long ago that:
- No one would have known what a zoom meeting was. The ability to communicate conveniently from the comfort the patient’s own home has increased exponentially. This makes the cost to the customer considerably lower, particularly in terms of time.
- Many would have said it was impossible to run businesses which were classically face-to-face in a more hands off way. Yoga teachers, dance teachers, restaurants and pubs have all been thinking out of the box to deliver their services with little or no contact making their offering much more convenient to the customer.
- The older demographic wouldn’t have known how to use the technology. The customer is now more competent as they have been communicating with the family.
- Patients (customers) have become conditioned to be concerned about personal contact, it will take time for this conditioning to ease in their mind.
The customer‘s expectations of how a service can/should be delivered has changed – in order to keep up we need to step into the mind of the customer.
The ability to offer services in a more convenient manner has had a paradigm shift.
People have become more used to communication digitally, they have become tech savvy and now know how to use that technology.
Customers have got more used to reduced (time) cost by not having to travel, for example restaurants (they get a takeaway instead), yoga classes (they join a zoom meeting instead)
What will the brave New World look like?
I predict that:
- Patients will now expect at least part of their journey with you to be digital.
- Patients will be more tech-savvy and be able to use digital media to communicate with the practice.
- Patients will be more aware and concerned about close physical contact, at least in the short term. They will therefore expect physical contact to be kept to a minimum.
- The context we live in has changed. Patients have become used to fast moving and fast changing social context and will be therefore more open to adaptation in your new patient journey. This makes it an ideal time to move into the digital era, be more relevant and efficient.
I therefore suggest you get planning, I recommend the following:
- Create a new patient journey flow
- Draw a diagram to represent this flow
- Which parts can be made digital?
- Which parts can other people do with training?
- In what way has the social context changed? Create a list, for example:
- people don’t want to leave their homes
- social distancing is the new normal
- concern and feeling scared about spreading or catching the virus and creating a 2nd peak
- convenient solutions now required in a different way to before
- Think about how the new social context is relevant to you, your practice and how you can use technology to improve things.
This is how I imagine the New World will be
Patients will continue to use practice websites as the primary mechanism to investigate their dental problems (Google optimisation), identify possible solutions as well as evaluate alternate providers (remember, whenever we make a purchase decision we will always have a list of potential solution providers, we may come to an answer about which provider we use very quickly – sometimes in milliseconds, or, it may take us some time – sometimes years).
They will continue to evaluate providers but have a different criteria for comparison.
In order for a dental practice to make it onto the list of potential solution providers when the patient is evaluating, the practice will need to fulfil the new patient’s criteria of:
- “Allowing me to be as distant as possible so as not to spread the disease.”
- “I’m scared of catching the disease, so I don’t want to see too many people.”
- “I want the lowest time cost option as I’ve become used to spending more time at home and doing the things I want to do.”
- “I’ve got used to using technology to communicate, I think it’s relatively quick and simple to do.”
The primary mechanism to encourage prospective patients to take the next step is therefore going to be a virtual consultation.
Patients will be happy to contact the practice either using a virtual chat system (this can be automated) or by completing a form on the website.
The consultation will be offered via a Zoom (or similar) meeting, it will be the 1st part of your new patient consultation where you can have a broad discussion about patient concerns, possible treatment options and get the patient booked in for the 2nd part of the consultation which will be clinical.
The booking for the new patient video consultation and booking into the clinic will all be done virtually with participants in any geographical location, not necessarily at home or in the practice. This video consultation may or may not be done by a clinician. The patient has then spent the least amount of time out of the house, keeping them safe but also allowing them to do more of the things they want to do in their leisure time.
Follow-up e-mails will be sent to patients after their virtual consultation to follow up on the process and ensure they have no unanswered questions.
A reminder e-mail will be sent to patients prior to their clinical assessment, reminding them of how the practice is taking social distancing seriously helping to keep the patient safe.
When the patient comes into the practice the e-mail marketing system will be automatically updated, removing them from any prospecting list and adding them to a patient list.
Once they have been in for their appointment the e-mail system will automatically ask for a review.
Resources you could use
- Aweber – for e-mail marketing. Plans from $19 per month.
- Calendly – for virtual consultation scheduling. Free plans available.
- Zoom – for virtual consultations. Free plans available.
- Zapier – for linking virtual consultations into e-mail marketing. Free plans available.
- Manychat – for virtual Facebook chat bots.
So, are you ready for the brave New World?