When it comes to boosting the bottom line of your aesthetic practice, the difference between making a little or a lot could be as simple as your communications approach. Houston plastic surgeon Henry Mentz, M.D., FACS, offered advice about the liposuction business in particular at the 2016 Aesthetic Meeting. His top tips: Return phone messages promptly — within five minutes, ideally. Consider responding via text to potential patients, when appropriate. Emphasize the role of the patient-care coordinator and focus on follow-up care.
1. Respond Instantly to Calls
Here’s the old way of thinking: It’s fine to wait five hours to respond to a voice mail message from a potential liposuction patient. Here’s the new way of thinking: Forget five hours. Try five minutes.
“Responding to a call in the first five minutes has been shown to be the most effective,” Dr. Mentz says. “If you respond to a call 30 minutes later, the effectiveness is something like 25% less. People want an immediate response, and you’ll lose that patient if you don’t call them back immediately.”
The problem, Dr. Mentz says, is that physician offices often don’t understand the importance of customer service like, say, Apple or Macy’s do. “They’re very professional businesses that are streamlined with huge staffs who learn an ongoing message of friendliness to customers, attention to detail and immediate response.”
By contrast, many employees at physician offices come from hospitals, he says, “where the message is that it can wait.”
At his clinic, Dr. Mentz says, three full-time employees handle calls for six plastic surgeons. If they’re all on the phone, he says, the goal is to return messages within five minutes. He acknowledges that there’s more work needed to get there.
2. Consider Your Texting Strategy
At Dr. Mentz’s clinic, mobile users make up anywhere from 60% to 70% of web traffic. “It used to be patients sitting at their desk and browsing on their computer,” he says. “Now they’re looking for services like Yelp on their phone.”
Dr. Mentz says his clinic’s goal is to allow users to click a button on the site and be able to communicate with the office through a 24-7 online chatline instead of a phone conversation.
“This is where we want to go,” he says. “Everyone wants to communicate by text rather than talking. A lot of these ladies are at work or they’re between things, and they don’t want to talk to anybody. They want to text. I see this as a very valid strategy for assisting patients who have questions.”
3. Hire a Savvy Patient-Care Coordinator
Patient-care coordinators can play crucial roles in a cosmetic surgery office, Dr. Mentz says. “We love to be the patient’s friend, but as surgeons, we don’t have two hours for the patient. Having someone else do the legwork is very powerful,” he says. “It has to do with getting the patient to the clinic, creating a friendly relationship and introducing the patient to the doctor in a way that’s meaningful.”
It’s especially useful to hire a patient-care coordinator who’s able to make a connection with the patients your practice sees the most. A female 30-something care coordinator, for example, may be able to relate to other women and “identify and focus on what they’re after,” he says.
NEXT: 4. Emphasize Follow-Up Care
Some plastic surgeons perform liposuctions and then say “see you later,” Dr. Mentz says. His clinic has a different approach: It focuses on aftercare, including day-after-surgery nurse visits to homes, post-operative garments, massages and laser procedures for scars.
Disclosures: Dr. Mentz reports no relevant disclosures.